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Aspyre Solutions Named as Top Career Expert by Tim’s Strategy

12 Aug

Aspyre Solutions is very proud to be featured on the Tim’s Strategy list of approved career experts.  Tim’s Strategy is a new online directory that includes a growing list of the best career experts in the world across multiple categories, including career coaching, resume experts and personal branding. Each expert organization or professional is personally selected and approved by Tim’s Strategy creator and former consumer marketing expert Tim Tyrell-Smith himself.

Written from the perspective of a job seeker and a hiring manager, the site delivers free advice, tools and templates to support anyone looking for a new job, to create a new career path, network into a better situation or find the right life/work balance.

Check out Aspyre Solutions on Tim’s Strategy.

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I’m Just Going to Say It: Bad HR Practices Make Everyone’s Life Difficult

2 Aug

So…what are your thoughts on the idea around telling a potential employer that you’ll “work for free”, as part of an effort to potentially get yourself in the door at a company?  If you’re an intern, sounds like a great idea.  Even for you entry-level folks who could eventually monetize that extra experience.  But outside of that, I question such desperate tactics and the message a candidate would be sending about the value of their talent.  Punk Rock HR wrote a good article last week about why candidates ought NOT to work for free, which sounds pretty common sense in normal circumstances… but given the state of the job market, maybe not so outlandish an idea for some people.

And I agree with PRHR.  That idea sucks.

Because now more than ever are people struggling to make ends meet and pay the bills.  If you’re a resident of NYC or Boston in particular (and probably any other equally-indebted metropolitan area), transit fares are on the rise, while service quality is on the decline.  Congress is “talking” potential tax breaks, while adding in other places.  And sales tax in some states has risen exponentially in the last 18 months alone.

The lengths that job seekers will go to these days in attempts to impress, or even satiate, HR alludes me sometimes.  Granted, there’s a certain air of desperation floating around the professional atmosphere, but to what degree should job seekers be reduced to begging at the feet of some recruiter or hiring manager, to get a couple of scraps of employment?  Aren’t we all better and more highly skilled than that?  Of course we are.  Unfortunately, economic circumstances remain as they are.  So with that in mind, what are we, as HR professionals and business owners, doing to shift that perspective and better the situation where we can?

I have hired, fired, fought and questioned the legality and ethics of numerous employment situations in my tenure as a recruiter and career adviser. And on the other end, I have been the intern, the job seeker, the hiring manager, the newbie, the senior associate, the boss and the owner of various companies, and I’ve found one thing to be fairly consistent – my disdain for the American HR system.  Now do NOT confuse that with a lack of respect for HR professionals, because at the end of the day, we are all just doing our jobs, and many of us simply regurgitating orders from a higher power that we may, or may not, agree with. Now it’s a known case that third-party recruiters and internal HR folks aren’t always on the same page when it comes to recruiting processes and details.  It helps if you are, as it’s a partnership.

And despite classifying myself as a former HR professional, I was very often miffed by the manner in which my candidates were treated by either internal recruiters, hiring managers or department heads with whom they were interviewing.  While I worked with literally hundreds of fantastic companies whom I absolutely loved partnering with, others I found to be misleading about either the terms with which they were talking to my candidates, or establishing a so-called business partnership with my recruiting agency.  In fact, I’m happy to share my top ten complaints around bad human resources practices, as they best relate to you (and once upon a time, me) as the job seeker:

10. HR filling their pipeline with resumes, “just in case” they decide to pull the trigger on hiring for a particular position.  Why?  Because unemployed people don’t like to sit around hoping and praying any more than they already have to.

9. Overlooking very relevant skills for the exact wording of a job title.  Marketing Associate and Communications Coordinator… same thing.

8. Assuming that someone who has worked in all corporate environments cannot physically function or breath, let alone work, in a casual or agency environment.  In some cases, this may be true, but not always.

7. Knowing in advance what a candidate’s salary expectations are, and after three mutually successful interviews… offering them $15K less.

6. The “Hurry Up & Wait” tactic.  Company X needs someone in that chair YESTERDAY, and when the perfect candidate comes strolling in, the hiring manager is out on maternity leave, with no one to replace her.  Call back in three months!

5. HR generalists recruiting for specialized areas, in which they have no knowledge of applicable skill sets.  “This candidate knows ActionScript 3, but I see NO mention of Flash on here… Can you explain that please?”  Of course I’m never allowed to email the resume to  the Creative Director… DIRECTLY!

4. This conversation: “Hi Janet, just following up on my email and my previous voicemail regarding that great candidate I sent you on Friday for the Marketing Manager role.  Please let me know if this is still a priority for you, as he’s considering other options as well.  Thanks.”

3. Rejecting a candidate without any explanation of where they didn’t stack up.  Unfortunately, this one will never change, and likely it’s because they “weren’t a good culture fit”.  Although in HR’s defense, try saying that without royally offending someone, and inspiring a potential legal retaliation.

2. 3 in-person interviews for a contract or freelance position.  Generally, the interview process should span less time than the job itself

1. Hiring a new employee and providing no support or on-boarding process whatsoever to get them acclimated to their new role.  It’s not a matter of hand-holding.  It’s expensive to hire new people… and it’s three times as expensive to hire their replacement when they quit.

And as an amendment, one more that makes the list, and unfortunately, will always remain on it:  Sh*tty recruiters.  They don’t return candidates’ emails, calls or inquiries, they submit their resumes without informing them first, and generally treat them like another paper in the stack.  I was a good recruiter, as were my colleagues and my agency in general.  So I say in all honesty that as a job seeker, perhaps you have to be most cautious about this one, because in some cases working with a recruiter can do more harm than good.  That’s an article for another time, as well as a few good tips on how to circumvent ALL of the situations above…

Stay tuned!

Switching Gears in Careers: Keep the Mojo Flowin’

21 Jul

Monday’s teleclass on “Finding Your Niche in Life & Career” was a great success!  If you missed it, be sure to tune into the next teleclass on August 16, “Career REInvention 101”, as we’re going to cover some of the most important key points from Monday’s discussion, but in more depth, and pair them also with additional valuable information on successful preparation and planning for a career shift!

One of the key points we talked about in terms of defining a niche was how a true work-life balance successfully combines your personal values and interests with your professional purpose.  In other words, you’re identifying the aspects of who you are as an authentic individual, in addition to what you believe you are good at, and the values that drive everything you do, altogether as a jumping off point to figure out what type of work really best fulfills your personal agenda of feeling balanced, satisfied and motivated.  And even if you’ve known for awhile the type of work that perfectly fits that bill, the next step is figuring out how to move forward and even monetize it, which often involves making some kind of shift into a new career, or out of an old one.  Or both!

The trick is maintaining and manifesting (more) positive energy and motivation throughout this process.  How do you do that on a daily basis?  Do you do visioning exercises?  Do you give yourself a pep talk each morning when you’re in the shower (or wherever)?  Do you hang lists, images and other visual reminders around your personal space to keep you focused on the goal?  What works best for you?

We’re going to talk a lot more about that idea of “empowerment” through this whole process of career and personal reinvention on August 16.  Check it out here.  In the meantime, I’m curious what you do to keep that mojo flowin’!  Thoughts?

“I Don’t Get It: I’m the PERFECT Candidate…”

5 May

Any recruiter, career coach, advisor, HR professional, friend, colleague or cousin will give you their own spin on “why that company hasn’t gotten back to you.” There is always the possibility that you just weren’t qualified enough, or outright lacked an important skill or credential that someone else DID have.  Still, the biggest complaint I hear from job seekers is that it really wasn’t that obvious to them why they were passed over, and they’re left scratching their head when they initially thought they were the “perfect candidate”.  So what might have happened?  Here are a few possibilities that can easily go overlooked when you start to play the ‘ponder and assume’ game of “what happened to my resume?”

  • You applied with an out-of-state address.

“But I will move as soon as I get a job!” This one is a double-edged sword, and very commonly an obstacle, unless the positions that you qualify for require very very specific credential/qualifications/clearances, making locality a non-issue due to the narrowness of the candidate pool to begin with.  Or, you got lucky because the company already exhausted their local talent pool, pushing them to look outward.  The concern companies have with out-of-state candidates is often the transition time from “you’re hired” to “welcome to your first day”.  When a move is involved, whether they’re right or wrong, it’s often assumed that the candidate will need longer to sort out their affairs, and the company is looking for someone to start in the role ASAP.  You can always put a local address on your resume, but prepared to answer to the expectation that you’re available immediately to interview and start.

  • You stated your salary range in your cover letter… without knowing what the job pays.

By all means, if the salary range is listed in the job description, or the recruiter tells you upfront, if it’s within your range – say so.  However, even if you’re pretty sure of what it might pay, be wary of stating your range up front if you’re not specifically asked to do so, because you risk pricing yourself out against other candidates, or conversely, you risk undermining your value by going too low.  Save this discussion for the interview, if possible.

  • Despite your stellar skills, you lack “industry experience”… and someone else doesn’t.

How much weight is put on having the exact industry experience of what the company is involved in?  If you have a major cell phone company hiring for a print project manager with tele-com experience, and you have 10 great candidates with tele-com, and one amazing candidate who’s worked in everything but, there’s no guarantee that amazing candidate will make the cut on skills alone. There are reasons why industry-specific experience is critical to some companies –  language and nuances and practices and other aspects that are specific to each industry.  Even if the job is the same, it is likely that a company doesn’t have resources to train in those areas, and they just can’t take the risk on that new hire not coming up to speed quickly enough.  If that’s the case, it may simply be out of your control.  Move on!

  • You Lack a critical skill component… that you didn’t consider critical.

Same thing if there’s a required software element. It may seem like a small thing to you to not be an expert in “Software X” (you can learn on the job – you pick things up quick, etc. etc.). But if 3 other candidates have it and you don’t, you might be out of luck. Again, most companies lack the time and resources to train someone in the required software or skill areas, even if it’s something minor, and let’s face it, EVERYONE  “picks up new technologies quickly”, so that’s not likely to hold any weight.  Research in advance what type of applications or software knowledge is important to the company and the role, and look at online software training resources like Linda.com to get even the basic understanding of the tools, and you will increase your chances of getting noticed.

Sometimes you’ll just have to rest on the fact that you have no idea why a potential employer may have passed on your resume.  There are a number of circumstantial reasons that can come up – someone was promoted internally, the position was put on hold due to lack of funds, the candidate after you had the same alma mater as the HR Manager, they already have 5 people named Harry who currently work for the company and they want to avoid any further confusion with the email system.  Focus on the areas where you do have control to optimize your candidacy and your chances of getting noticed.  There are tons of “rules” and “how-to’s” out there, but the most important thing is to really pay attention to the company you want to work for, and what it is they want out of that perfect candidate.  Target, personalize and then sell yourself as the fantastic front-runner you are!

New Tele-Seminar Series: Taking the Leap

30 Mar

This month jump-starts a fresh and exciting new 5-part tele-seminar series for young professionals and those entering into the career realm entitled Taking the Leap.

In an age where logistics and circumstances so often define our career decisions and our lives, it can seem like an impossibility to truly follow one’s passion in the face of adversity and challenge. The “Taking the Leap” tele-seminar series explores the lives of 5 young professionals who each made different decisions to take a leap of faith, and ultimately invent and reinvent themselves to create a career and life they are passionate about.  As young professionals  it’s easy to be blinded and overwhelmed by social, professional and financial obligations, and not realize the many different possibilities that are open to you when it comes to navigating your career path.  Not everyone opts to take ‘whatever comes their way’, to settle for earning a steady paycheck, or to take the road most travelled.  Hear the experiences of a few extraordinary people who faced the typical challenges of being a young professional, and redefined the norm in pursuit of their passions… and succeeded.

For more information and to register see the Events page.  Sign up for all 5 seminars and registration for the fifth one is free!

Register Now for the 5-Session Series

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