Job Seekers

9 Tips for Attending Networking Events

by Veronica Blatt

image of recruiter networking eventToday’s guest blogger is Nicholas Hutchison, our membership marketing associate. Thanks for sharing your experience, Nick!

Last week I had the opportunity to meet many new friends and fellow business professionals at a GRYP – Grand Rapids Young Professionals meet-up. Within a few of the groups I got to meet, there was some conversation about do’s and don’ts of networking events. I kept mental notes on what tips were discussed and I wanted to share them with you as a job seeker or business professional in hopes that you will make your next networking event a successful venture. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Cities for Job Seekers

by Dave Nerz

What I am about to say may seem obvious. Location is a critical factor in a successful job search. For some job searches, location may be as significant as your experience and qualifications. An old saying goes “eggs are cheaper in the country.” Well, some jobs are just more plentiful based on location. In addition to the availability of open jobs, there are also other factors that make location important. Read the rest of this entry »

Myths About Recruiters

by Liz Carey

A9VVL0GZ09The Recruiter Myth

Recruiters are often perceived as mysterious and secretive by candidates, and, to some extent, that’s true. The sensitive nature of their work does require a level of discretion normally reserved for CIA agents. Being entrusted with helping shape a person’s career is a huge responsibility, and a responsibility recruiters take very seriously. Read the rest of this entry »

Before Searching Indeed for a Job

by Dave Nerz

find-job-300In today’s job market, the first thing many job seekers do is start searching Indeed for a job. Some of these jobs are posted by corporate recruiters or HR staff making internal hires, but a significant percentage are posted by independent recruiters seeking candidates for the employers they represent. I recently asked a group of independent recruiters what a job seeker should do before going to Indeed and applying for jobs. Here are the results of those conversations: Read the rest of this entry »

Job Seeker Tips: Writing Thank You Notes

by Veronica Blatt

coffee-cup-desk-pen-300Today’s guest blogger is Nick Hutchison, business development intern for NPAworldwide. Nick is a junior at Davenport University studying business and marketing. We are happy to have him on the team!

After recently attending an etiquette training session as a team building experience with NPAworldwide, we had many takeaways. The most important takeaway for me was the importance of a thank you note. Thank you notes can happen in many fashions; email, handwritten, etc. The importance of a thank you note is best described by this survey infographic from CareerBuilder:


Some of the highlights from the infographic are:

  • 22% of employers are less likely to hire a candidate if they don’t send a thank you note after the interview
  • 86% said it shows a lack a follow-through
  • 56% said it indicates that the candidate isn’t really serious about the position
  • 89% said it is okay to send a thank you note in the form of an email

Thank you notes from both candidates and employers can make all the difference in the hiring process.  Following are some job seeker tips for writing thank you notes:

  • Send the note on the same day as the interview
  • Keep notes brief, 2-4 sentences
  • Send after every interview, not just the first interview
  • Mention a key topic from the interview
  • Make each note personal

To improve the candidate experience, here are some tips for thank you notes from employers:

  • Send a “thank you for your time” note after a candidate is chosen
  • Offer where to look for new opportunities within your organization
  • State the position the email is in reference to

Whether you are a job seeker or an employer, it’s important to write thank you notes. Be timely and follow the job seeker tips above for the best results! Do you have any other job seeker tips you can share?

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How the Best Bosses Impact A Career

by Dave Nerz

image of young boss with business teamAs we move through our careers, the bosses we have shape us. As your career progresses, you will learn from good bosses as well as bad. Our styles, methods and flaws are likely a reflection of how bosses made us think and work. Sometimes your relationship with a boss causes you to stay with an employer and in other cases it can drive you to search for a new career. Let me share with you my Mount Rushmore of the best bosses.

The Motivator/Results Boss – Kenny

One of my first bosses was Kenny Sanders. He was both inspirational – in almost a cheerleader kind of way – and at the same time a results-focused freak. He was like the player Jerry Maguire represented in the movie, with a “show me the money!” approach to the business world. While my current employees would have preferred me to adopt more of the cheerleader components of Kenny, I think the results focus had a more lasting impact. I remember Kenny (by the way who has a boss that actually goes by Kenny?) always had us clearly focused on the numbers and the deals we were doing.

The Risk Taker/Empowering Boss – Bill

Still early in my career, I was hired as a sales manager by a boss. He was the consummate risk taker. Bill always had a bet going with someone about something. In fact, when he hired me he was breaking a company guideline on how to fill an open position based on seniority and process. He wanted me and didn’t care what the HR department had laid out as the “proper” way to do things. He pointed his reports in a direction and then let us do our work. He hated to be surprised by things and although he was quiet and reserved in most instances, maybe not one to share much unless asked, he expected full disclosure from his direct reports. No holding back. I saw my fellow direct reports try to work him and hold back details…it was the downfall of many. The best thing you could do is step into his office and say “I made a mistake, let me tell you what happened” and let it loose. He would get mad and reinforce your mistake but when it was over, it was over. Mistakes did not get repeated.

The General – Dave

Dave was always at war. With corporate, with the distribution channel, with customers and with his staff. He was a win-lose guy. He wanted to win and everyone else needed to lose. He sent people on “missions” and into “battle.” He was not ex-military, but it sure felt that way. He demanded perfection and complete loyalty from employees. He supported employees to the ends of the earth, right or wrong, he was there 100% of the time. While he was fun to work for because everything was so clearly black or white, I learned a great lesson from him. When he is gone you need to remain comfortable with how you worked and what you did even for a new boss, perhaps less directive and less supportive. So it was a business is a balancing act. You cannot always win; you need to find more win-win options and exercise the win-lose scenarios less frequently.

The Coach – Manny

As you mature in your career and in business, sometimes you need someone to hear you out and offer ideas. Manny was a great listener and could offer feedback on the many options in front of you. He never needed his way, just offered advice. Always told you when you did good things, was willing to work with you on any ugly task or situation side-by-side, and was gentle on you when mistakes were clearly made. He made you want to do more, take more chances and to take on the ugliest of challenges. Never demanding, but rather a good reminder of what was required and when it was due.

So through your relationship with a boss, you are picking up leadership traits, styles and perhaps learning to do things a certain way. The best bosses can be making you better. The bad ones could be taking you down a path that will require correction in the future, perhaps even a search for a new career. Be aware and take the best and leave the rest behind.

Anyone willing to share their Mount Rushmore of best bosses or worst bosses?

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3 Reasons Job Seekers Should NOT Expect a Return Call

by Dave Nerz

image of man waiting for phone callWhat if you were a BMW car collector and reseller? You made your living by finding out about all the great BMWs available, buying and reselling these to others that collect BMWs. What if every day you got calls from people asking you to spend your day talking about Mercedes? Got so that every day you could spend 6 to 8 hours talking to collectors, owners and resellers of Mercedes. Do you think that spending 6 or 8 hours a day on Mercedes discussions would improve or damage your income, skills and reputation as the best darn BMW reseller in the world? You could learn about how to make Mercedes run more like BMWs, you could become expert in being the nicest BMW collector in the world, but your sales and income would forever be impacted by investing so much of your time on something that is not going to support your core business.

Think of a recruiter as that BMW expert. As a candidate you may be the Mercedes enthusiast. While you are working on similar searches, they are not exactly the same. Every minute invested in non-core activity (other than learning, searching, discussing BMWs) is time lost that will impact income.

I use this example to show what candidates expect of contingent recruiters. Recruiters tend to get a reputation for not being helpful to candidates in the ways candidates expect. There is good reason for recruiters to remain focused on what makes them income. Most recruiters understand the expectations and reasons for candidate calls, but candidates do not understand the lack of action they get from recruiters. Candidates are sometimes all about the Mercedes and the recruiter is collecting and reselling BMWs. This is why recruiters don’t return your call.

  1. Recruiters have limited time. Are you asking the recruiter to spend time outside of a core area of focus? Not returning your call is a calculated business decision.
  2. You want to CHANGE careers. Are you telling a recruiter that you want to change careers? If so, consider this: recruiters help people move into roles they are very qualified to do and where there is a proven track record of results. They are not typically career coaches helping you move from one profession to another. If they see a call as a coaching session, they will not return it.
  3. Your resume is on too many job boards. If your “car” is already being sold online and listed in every enthusiast’s magazine, then the recruiter needs to move on to candidates that are not as well known. Recruiters do not get paid a fee when employers can grab your resume off many different job boards. If you have not established a win-win relationship with a recruiter, they will not take the time to even present you to a client. They need to know you are talented, looking for a job in an area where you excel and not posted on every job board out there. If your resume is all over the web, you may not get a return call.

Don’t get angry about these comments, just look for the nugget of truth in each of them. These are real. I am not saying they are right or wrong, I just want candidates to be realistic. These comments do not hold true for all recruiters, but most focused contingent recruiters cannot and will not be accommodating to every candidate. Their goal is income and survival in their competitive industry.

Job Seeker Tip: Find a recruiter expert in your industry. Engage them in a discussion about your proven track record. Limit the exposure of your resume to the just one trusted recruiter. Tell them about target companies you want to work for. Have a weekly talk about opportunities and action being taken. Be patient, be truthful, be open to change and something good could happen!


Too Many Job Interviews!

by Veronica Blatt

frustrated-business-womanI think I have a new pet peeve – candidates who are subjected to endless job interviews. I’m talking 5, 6, or more interviews. It is madness! What do employers think they are gaining by this?

Here are 3 ways excessive job interviews are harmful to employers:

1. The best candidates back out. Top candidates simply don’t need to put up with an excessively-slow hiring process. They have other options, and will exercise those options.

2. The employer looks indecisive. Having candidates interview repeatedly sends a message that a company is disorganized, or indecisive, or both (or worse). That is not a strategy for attracting top talent.

3. The employer’s reputation is harmed. More and more candidates are posting reviews of their interview experiences on sites like Glassdoor. If the interview process is long, drawn-out, poorly communicated, with silly questions, candidates are going to share that information online. This negatively impacts an employer’s ability to attract top talent for future roles.

What’s behind all these job interviews? Fear of making a bad hire. No doubt about it, hiring decisions are big and important and need to be “done right.” Here are five ideas that will help employers feel more confident that they have an interview process that both evaluates candidates fairly and accurately and allows the employer to hire the person who can best “do the job.”

1. Develop a standard set of questions. Make sure every candidate is asked the same set of questions (and that the answers are documented). This is the only way to know if candidates are being evaluated on the same criteria. Pre-recorded video screening is a great way to do this.

2. Develop (and use!) a scale to score a candidate’s answers to interview questions. For each question, determine in advance what would be strong, average, and weak answers.

3. Determine, in advance, what success on the job looks like. For example, a specific project will have been completed, a new store will open, sales will be increased by a certain percentage or similar. Once success has been defined, it will be easier to develop questions that help an employer determine which candidates are likely to meet those targets.

4. Figure out which information needs to be gathered during each step of the process, and who needs to be involved. Without a defined process, candidates often are asked the same questions over and over again. Not only does this frustrate the job seeker, it also does NOT add value to the hiring process, since there is no new information being shared. If possible, limit the number of people involved in the interviews.

5. Tell the candidate in advance what kind of information is being sought. Job interviews are stressful! It *is* possible to have a rigorous interview process that still allows a candidate to focus her preparation on the skills and information that are most critical to an employer’s needs.

Too many job interviews alienate the best candidates and don’t improve hiring results. What’s your best tip for improving the hiring process?

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Before the Interview

by Veronica Blatt

smiling-woman-interviewToday’s guest blogger is James Seidel with James Seidel & Associates located in Kelowna, BC, Canada. JSA is an owner-operated firm with clients across western Canada. The firm primarily places candidates in I/T, engineering, and sales. James is a former leader of our IT Trading Group and is currently serving on the NPAworldwide Board of Directors.

Your resume has earned you a job interview, and now you have the most highly competitive stage of the recruitment process to overcome.

The interview process, in general, has become less subjective and more structured – with increased use of psychometric testing as an example. Despite this, first impressions still count and the key to success still lies in being prepared.

  • The time to start thinking about the potential employer, your aspirations and questions you may wish to ask, is not when you are sitting in reception immediately before the interview (or in the car afterwards!). Careful and effective thought before this stage will pay dividends later. Here are some pointers: Research the organization thoroughly – most organizations expect candidates to undertake research prior to the interview. Look at their website, go to Linked In and see who’s who in the department you’re looking at, read the annual report and press releases. Find out all you can about the organization, including company history, organizational structure, size, locations, profitability, and competitors. If at all possible, speak with colleagues who may have worked there.
  • In advance of the interview, and immediately before, think about the likely questions you are going to be asked and how you will answer those questions, as well as the questions you would like to ask. Bear in mind the two most common formats are the Standard Interview and the Behavioural Interview. Research them both. Give some thought to how you would answer some of the questions for each, then have someone ask them to you.
  • Know where to go for the interview – be sure you can arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Make sure, if possible, that you know who you will be seeing for the interview, what position they hold within the organization, the amount of time they have allotted, and the likely format of the interview.
  • Dress smartly – you are generally less likely to offend by dressing conservatively. Put another way, it is generally wiser to be the best dressed person in the interview room than the worst dressed.

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Job Seeker Salaries on the Rise

by Veronica Blatt

blue-arrows-growthI took a look at some of the placement data we capture from our members, and it is clear that job seeker salaries are on the rise compared to a year ago. In fact, two-thirds of the placements reported by our members this year involve a salary of at least USD $80,000 annually, compared to 63% of placements a year ago. In each of the past two years, the single largest salary category is $100,000 and above. The growth in job seeker salaries is consistent with a candidate-short market; traditional laws of supply-and-demand are clearly at work.

The highest salaries we have been seeing are in the chemical process and IT / hardware / software / electronics areas. Here is a sampling from the past four months:

  • Plant Manager, chemical industry, $180,000
  • Director of Operations, chemical industry, $175,000
  • Business Systems Project Manager, food & beverage industry, $163,000
  • IT Site Manager, food & beverage industry, $132,000
  • Senior Performance Analyst, software industry, $127,000
  • Senior Project Manager, oil/gas, drilling industry, $120,000
  • Test Engineer, electronics & semi-conductor industry, $118,000
  • Process Control Engineer, chemical industry, $110,000
  • Production Engineer, chemical industry, $105,000

It is interesting to note that in the chemical process segment, we have had both an increase in salaries as well as a decrease in the number of total placements year-over-year. Members are anecdotally reporting that clients are still too slow to hire, in the mistaken belief that there is still widespread unemployment. There is still tremendous demand for candidates (chemical process jobs represent about 37% of the total jobs in our shared database), in spite of the recent decline in the price of crude oil. Candidates have an extremely short shelf-life and are able to command multiple offers. Counteroffers have also increased as companies are reluctant to lose high-value employees, knowing they may not easily find new talent.

There has been a modest increase (6%) in placement activity in the IT / hardware / software / electronics segment, and another modest increase (7%) in the manufacturing / mining / construction /supply chain segment. Jobs in the IT / hardware / software / electronics segment remain especially plentiful and account for approximately 20% of the total openings shared by NPAworldwide members.

Independent recruiters should be in a position to financially benefit due to the rise in job seeker salaries and the continued talent shortage.

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