Author Archives: Things Career Related

About Things Career Related

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center, as well as critiques LinkedIn profiles and conducts mock interviews. Job seekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. He started the first LinkedIn program at the Career Center of Lowell and created workshops to support the program. People from across the state attend his LinkedIn workshops. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related and Recruiter.com. Connect with Bob on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

3 facts about this impersonal job search: why adapting is important

With the COVID-19 pandemic, job seekers don’t have the option of attending in-person networking events, job clubs, buddy groups, or coffee meetings; at least for the time being. A time will come when they can engage in face-to-face networking. When this will happen is not certain, but it will happen.

woman typing a business plan on laptop

Similarly, face-to-face interviews are canceled at most companies. Job candidates look forward to interviewing at companies, as it promises the hope of landing positions at their desired companies. Again, a time will come when job seekers will return to face-to-face interviews.

This is the problem. What’s the solution? Virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, Facetime, GoogleHangout, and other video platforms are the solution. The good ole telephone can’t be dismissed, but it doesn’t offer the intimacy that video conferences do.

1. What’s missing

Being in the moment is the most obvious missing piece in networking and interviews. Eye contact, a clear view of people’s facial expressions, body language overall are sorely missing. I, for one, feel more alive when in the moment of having human contact. I’m an introvert, so this is not an introvert/extravert thing.

Also missing is physical contact such as shaking hands, handing a networking partner your business card, or even a tap on the shoulder. The same goes for in an interview scenario where the handshake is considered one of the most important components of body language.

What about eye language? This is also key in both scenarios. Eyes speak. They can show sincerity, intelligence, interest, concern, or on the flipside dishonesty. Companies that use AI in their pre-recorded video interviews believe that eye contact counts for a lot.

We are human. We enjoy being present. There’s comfort in standing or sitting across from someone. Shaking hands, making eye contact, and the rest. Even getting in our cars to drive to networking events and interviews are part of the job-search process. There’s comfort in this.

2. What can job seekers do?

This will take a little practice for job seekers. It will require them to get into their stretch zone. They’ll have to make use of whatever resources they have. Maybe they’ll need to spend money they don’t necessarily have. It will require them to readjust their thinking.

If you’re looking for work, this is a time when you’ll have to rise to the challenge of the impersonal job search. At least for the time being. It will require a different mindset. For example, you might be using a laptop which rests on your lap or sits on a table. This is your contact with a person or people miles away.

Getting used to looking at that little bright dot at the top of your laptop will seem weird at first or forever. But it’s something you need to do in order to make eye contact with whomever you’re communicating. I do webinars on a regular basis and believe me, it will never be natural.

Smiling at someone or ones on the other end of the line might also seem weird but it’s something you’ll have to do. People will judge your enthusiasm based on your smile. Smiling will show you’re friendly, approachable, likable, et cetera.

Finding the proper space to conduct your video interview might be a challenge, as well. Find a place in your home or apartment that is well lit. I find bright overhead lighting as well as lighting directed at my face on both sides to be the best. There’s nothing less appealing than dark lighting.

Note: Arlene Pierret, a recruiter at Facebook, recently said during a panel discussion for Hope Summit that recruiters will most likely give you a break on your space, but it’s best to handle it professionally.

Your background is also important. It should be devoid of embarrassing clutter in the background. I’ve seen people with laundry piled up in the background. Not good. What’s acceptable are nice prints, books, plants, et cetera. A room with items in it also reduces echo.

Background noise is also a negative. I’ve spoken with people who’ve had to conduct their virtual meetings from inside a closet, which in return causes an echo. Try to find a room that has items in the room and, most importantly, a door you can close.

3. Why this can be a good thing

The good news is that this impersonal job search is prepping you for remote work. You might be learning how to use Zoom or other video platforms. You have to practice better time management skills. No one is looking over your shoulder telling you what to do.

You’re learning to adapt to less than ideal circumstances. Like me, you’re realizing that there aren’t enough rooms in the house and that you can’t escape to a quieter place outside the house, but you’re adapting and this is a good thing.

You might be spending more time with loved ones; time you didn’t have in the past. You’re having family meals that might have been seriously curtailed by your former work schedule. I know these seem like small things now, but you will look back on them with fondness.

Employers are still hiring

If you think employers aren’t hiring, think again. Employers are hiring, albeit slowly. A few of my clients have been offered jobs during the pandemic. Some of them are being delayed with onboarding, others started immediately with a little difficulty in terms of logistics.

Employers continue to prepare for a time when they will open their doors. This means that you might be offered a job that begins in a few months, which is a long time. So be smart and consider looking for other positions. From a SHRM.com article:

Says, Joseph Puglise, senior director of executive search and recruiting at JMJ Phillip, a global executive search firm, “We’re seeing a mixed bag around how companies respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have many clients that are pushing the interview process forward for critical openings, with slight modifications.”

Champion of job seekers, Susan Joyce, publishes a weekly list of companies that are advertising positions. It is an extensive list, but Susan stresses:

Employee referral makes you stand out among the vast crowd of people who apply anonymously. So, leverage your network (LinkedIn is helpful for this). Find people who work at one of these employers IF you want to work for that employer.

Nonetheless, take a look at the list of open positions Susan publishes. It might give you ideas of other similar companies to include on your target list.

You have more time to do what you should, research employers of interest. Many job seekers spend the majority of their time on their computer applying for jobs. They blast off tens of resumes a week and wait for a response from employers.

Instead use this time developing a company list and researching them extensively, thus setting you up to write tailored resumes and being prepared for interviews.

Your work future might be different

Adaptability will be required if you want to jump out of the gate to land your next gig. For example, you might have to change your career if you were in industries like retail or food. This isn’t to say you can’t get back to what you love. But “transferrable skills” will become a familiar term.

Things will be different when you land your next gig. In other words, you might not return to an office, or if you do the employees could be staggard, as The Washington Post suggests. Working from home could be a thing for quite a while.

Or working at home might become the new reality. It costs some companies less to have their employees work from home. They can reduce office space and overhead costs.

Hopefully you’ve have become more proficient with video interviewing platforms. You held buddy networking groups and job clubs online. You learned better time management skills. Don’t take these skills lightly.

There are organizations that weren’t up to speed with this simple technology before COVID-19 hit. They’re playing catch-up. You could be a savior that teaches them more about the technology you’ve been learning.


There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head. Things have changed dramatically. Now is the time when we can embrace the change or buckle under it. I opt for embracing it and adapting to the way things are and the way things will be.

12 ways to show high emotional intelligence in the job search

I recall a time when I was leading a Résumé Writing workshop before COVID-19 struck. (Now I’ll be leading webinars for the unforeseen future.) As the story goes, one gentleman was staring at me the whole time. He never spoke, just shot daggers at me as I was conducting the workshop.

happy jobseeker

We’re told as presenters to look at the friendly participants because they’ll give you courage, but the one who looked like he could kill was the one I focused on. He was my challenge.

He was not angry with me, but his demeanor told me learning about writing résumés was not on his mind. He was probably thinking about how he was unjustly let go from his previous job for arguing with his boss for the fifth time in three months.

We’ve read a great deal about the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace, particularly for those who hold leadership roles. But what about how EQ applies to your job search? Without a strong degree of EQ, your job search is doomed. Below are 12 ways you can demonstrate EQ.

Self-awareness and self-management

This means you’re in tune with your emotions and abilities or lack thereof. You’re also capable of managing your emotions and abilities.

1. Own your emotions. Grief is one of the five phases of job loss. It also happens to be a phase people experience when they’ve lost a loved one. Be intuned with your grief but don’t let it consume you. Understand that your unemployment is temporary.

Anger is also one of the five phases a person will face when they’ve lost their job. Although a natural feeling, it can be the most detrimental to your job search. People can see it in your eyes and posture, hear it in your voice. This is the quickest way to push them away.

Someone with high EQ doesn’t show their grief and anger; rather they find ways to channel them. Perhaps turning to exercise, meditation, or seeking therapy. This is part of managing your emotions.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Emotional intelligence means you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses and can discuss both in a factual fashion. When it comes to your strengths, be sure you can back them up with proof of how you’ve demonstrated them.

In terms of your weaknesses, don’t be disingenuous with statements like “I work too hard,” or “I’m a perfectionist.” Many job seekers have been told they need to turn their weaknesses into strengths. This ploy can be seen miles away. Employers want people who are self-aware, who can recognize their weaknesses and overcome them.

3. Take on challenges. Rather than turn and run the other way, a job seeker with high EQ will face difficult or uncomfortable situations. It might mean making the decision to change your career, attend networking events requiring you to leave your comfort zone, or join LinkedIn and use it to its potential.

The majority of people who enter our career center take on the challenge of finding a new job, while others wait for a job to find them. Those who come to our center and approach me with hunger in their eyes possess high EQ.

4. Dress and act the part. First impressions are essential. In the job search, prior to the interview, smart job seekers understand they are on stage from the time they leave their house to the time they return. Demonstrating high EQ is not only necessary at the interview; it must be integrated into your daily life.

I recall one recruiter who was unemployed and attending my workshops telling me that she scans the room for people who might fit a role she would be filling in the future. If she sensed any negativity, that person wouldn’t get hired. Remember that being a fit is part of getting hired.

5. Take care of yourself. One thing I ask my clients is if they’re exercising. Are you walking or running? Going to the gym? Even parking in the spot farthest from the grocery store? Other ways to take care of yourself are refraining from nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and cutting down on food intake.

When I was out of work I increased my walking time from 45 minutes a day to 90 minutes or more. This helped clear my mind from the obsessive destructive thoughts of being out of work. I also lost a few pounds, which was helpful for my self-image.

Social awareness of others and managing others

This means you’re aware of others’ emotions and abilities. Further, you can use your social awareness to manage relationships. While you might see this as pertinent only to leadership roles, it also applies to the job search.

6. Understand the job search is stressful for others. And that you’re not alone. The feelings of uneasiness and anxiety are natural. This, however, doesn’t give you the authority to lash out at others, including family. Control your negative behavior.

My colleague Edythe Richards, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, states, “People with active EQ are able to handle the stress of the job search without it getting them down, and have good impulse control (2 other elements of EQ).”

Furthermore, realize the job search is stressful for other job seekers. Practice empathy. If they are visibly upset, put yourself in their shoes.

7. You’re willing to help others. When you need help in your job search is the time you should think of other people who are also looking for work. Not everyone who is in need thinks of helping others, but those with high EQ realize that helping others will garner help in return.

You will get a sense of accomplishment that propels you forward. You also win the respect and support of others. On the flip side are the ones who only look out for themselves and, as a result, turn people away.

8. Be a leader. Taking the aforementioned trait, you not only help others; you are a leader by example. You show up at job clubs or networking groups (virtually nowadays) with your head held high. Although things aren’t going well, you show a positive facade.

One of my clients, a VP of Engineers, just landed a job that will begin in June. He remained positive throughout his job search. There were times when I could see the stress on his face, but he maintained the “I will prevail attitude.” He was a leader to others in the group.

9. Don’t blame others. Blaming others for your mistakes is a red flag to employers. If someone is let go because of poor performance, they should admit their mistakes and talk about how they won’t happen again.

People who have high EQ realize that mistakes are inevitable. Those who openly blame their situation on their boss or colleagues come across as someone who can’t own up to their responsibilities. They will not learn from their mistakes, as employers see it.

10. Gravitate toward positive people. I remember when I was laid off from my marketing position and how I spent approximately three weeks commiserating with a colleague who was also laid off. We sat in a small, smoky bar and drank, blaming management for not keeping us during an acquisition.

I soon came to realize I wouldn’t improve my situation by commiserating with this person. It was getting depressing…and expensive. I stopped meeting with him and sought positive people with whom to be. Positive people bring out positivity.

11. Take and give criticism well. No one likes to be criticized for what they do, but people who have high EQ see it as constructive criticism or advice. Of course certain criticism is not constructive and should be disregarded.

People with high EQ will also give constructive criticism with the intent of helping others. This might mean helping someone with their résumé or LinkedIn profile, how to network, and provide interview tips.

12. Learn from your mistakes. One common problem job seekers suffer from is not being able to understand their mistakes, and then correcting them. Take a woman who has been “let go” from multiple companies for continuously arguing with her boss.

She will have a hard time keeping her job if she doesn’t develop EQ. She may see this as difficult to do, but her future jobs will rely on it. Employers who dig for deeper information regarding why you left your previous job can smell this like a bloodhound.


The man who appeared so angry in my workshop left at the end without saying a word (normally people hang around to ask questions). I thought it would be the last time I’d see him.

When I picked up his evaluation form, a saw what appeared to be a tome of comments. I also saw the highest-ranking, 5 out of 5, for every question on the form. Furthermore, he attended many more workshops…always appearing angry.

Photo, Flickr, Christian L87

5 ways to approach decision-makers at your target companies

Many job seekers believe that the first thing they must do after losing their job is to update their résumé. After updating their résumé, the next step is to apply online to as many jobs as they can and wait for the interview offers to come pouring in. Good plan? Not really.

Job Interview

If you think the above scenario is the way to go, I have a suggestion for you. It would be far better to be proactive in your job search by approaching companies for which you’d like to work. Easy to do? Not really, but your success will be greater.

Here are five steps to take when making connections at your desired companies.

1. Discovering which companies are growing the fastest is the start of the job search. This should be your first step, yet so many people don’t realize how valuable this information is.

I tell job seekers that they should have a list of 10-15 companies for which they’d like to work. Many don’t; they have a hard time naming five. Yet if some of them were asked to name their top five restaurants, they could.

2. Once you’ve located the companies you’d like to researched and decided which companies are the ones for which you would like to work, you should dedicate a great deal of your computer time visiting their websites.

Study what’s happening at your chosen companies. Read pages on their products or services, their press releases (if they’re a public company), biographies of the companies’ principals, and any other information that will increase your knowledge of said companies.

Your goal is to eventually make contact and meet with people at your target companies, so it makes sense to know about the companies before you engage in conversation. This research will also help when composing your résumé and cover letter and, of course, it will come into play at the interview.

3. The next step is to contact people in your network–former colleagues and bosses–who might know people in your desired companies. Don’t be afraid to approach them; they’ll most likely help you if you left on good terms.

If you don’t have familiar contacts at your target companies, you’ll have to identify new potential contacts. You might be successful ferreting them out by calling reception, but chances are you’ll have more success by utilizing LinkedIn’s Companies feature.

LinkedIn’s Companies feature is something job seekers have used to successfully make contact with people at their desired companies. Again, research is key in identifying the proper people with whom to speak.

You might have first degree connections that know the people you’d like to contact—connections who could send an introduction to someone in the company. These connections could include hiring managers, Human Resources, and directors of departments.

Let us not forget the power of personal, or face-to-face, networking. Reaching out to job seekers or people currently working can yield great advice and leads to contacts. Your superficial connections (neighbors, friends, etc.) may know people you’d like to contact.

4. Begin initial contact with those who you’ve identified as viable contacts. Your job is to become known to your desired companies. Will you be as well known as internal candidates? Probably not, but you’ll be better known than the schmucks who apply cold for the advertised positions—the 20%-30% of the jobs that thousands of other people are applying for.

Let’s face it; going through the process of applying for jobs on the major job boards is like being one of many casting your fishing line into a pond where a few fish exist. Instead, spend your time researching the companies so you’ll have illuminating questions to ask.

So, how do you draw the attention of potential employers?

Send your résumé directly to someone you’ve contacted at the company and ask that it be considered or passed on to other companies.

The risk of doing this is to be considered presumptuous. As well, your résumé will most likely be generic and unable to address the employer’s immediate needs.

Contact someone via the phone and ask for a networking meeting. This is more acceptable than sending your résumé, for the reason mentioned above.

People these days are often busy and, despite wanting to speak with you, don’t have a great deal of time to sit with you and provide you with the information you seek. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t get an enthusiastic reply.

Send a trusted and one-of-the-best-kept-secrets networking email. The approach letter is similar to making a cold call to someone at a company, but it is in writing and, therefore, less bold.

Employers are more likely to read a networking email than return your call. Unfortunately, it’s a slower process and doesn’t yield immediate results.

You might prefer sending a message through LinkedIn. If you’re going to do this, make sure there’s another point of contact, e.g., someone the recipient can go to ask about you. Include in your message a person trusted and liked by your desired contact. Her’es an example:

Hi Karen,

I see that you’re connected with Mark L. Brown, the director of finance at ABC Company. I’m currently in transition and am very interested in a senior financial analyst role.

Although there is no advertised position at ABC, I’d like to speak with Mark about the responsibilities of a senior financial analyst role in ABC’s finance department. It is early on in the process, so I’m also scoping out the companies on my bucket list.

I’ve attached my resume for you to distribute to Mark and anyone you know who is looking for a senior financial analyst.

Sincerely,

Bob

PS – It was great seeing our girls duke it out in last weekend’s soccer match. I hope the two teams meet in the finals.

A networking meeting with the hiring manager or even someone who does what you do continues your research efforts. You will ask illuminating questions that provoke informative conversation At this point you’re not asking for a job, you’re asking for advice and information.

Two things could come out of a networking meeting. One, if they’re trying to fill a position within, your timing might be perfect and you might be recommended to the hiring manager. Two, you’ll ask for other people with whom you can meet. This is a great way to build a strong network.

5. Sealing the deal. Follow up with everyone you contacted at your selected companies. Send a brief e-mail or hard copy letter asking if they received your résumé or initial introductory letter. If you’ve met with them, thank them for their time and the valuable information they’ve imparted. Send your inquiry no later than a week after first contact.


People in the career development industry will never say finding a rewarding job is easy. In fact, the harder you work and the more proactive you are, the greater the rewards will be.

Take your job search into your own hands and don’t rely on coming across your ideal job on Monster.com, Dice.com, or any of the other overused job boards.

Your job is to secure an interview leading to the final prize, a job offer. But being proactive is essential to finding the companies for which you’d like to work, identifying contacts within those companies, and getting yourself well-known by important decision-makers.

 

25 activities to make your life and job search easier during COVID-19

Tempers are starting to run high in our household. When we were first quarantined about three weeks ago, life went surprisingly well. Think about it; even the most congruent families will start to feel like caged tigers after awhile. Well, our time just arrived.

Yoga

I came home from a five-mile walk to hear the crashing of pots and pans. When I asked my wife what was wrong, she said the pans weren’t cleaned properly. An outburst like this is not common in our household. Yes, the time of implosion has definitely arrived.

In an article from Psychology Today, the author lays out the psychological symptoms of social distancing and being quarantined:

Perhaps you’re experiencing some of these symptoms or all of them—especially if you’re working from home for the first time, homeschooling your kids on top of this; on furlough; or unemployed.

For whichever reason it is, you didn’t choose the situation you’re in. But you realize you can’t let yourself and family members become angry at the slightest drop of the hat. You have to reduce the anxiety and possible depression you’re experiencing.

For me a daily four- to five-mile walk does the job. It gets me going in the morning before settling down in my chair, which is my office, to conduct the work I have to do. My wife enjoys cooking better meals than what I produced as well as taking walks with one of her friends.

We also love talking with our two daughters and parents—who are within driving distance but self-quarantined—via Facetime, Zoom, or the phone. Here are some ways you can reduce the stress in your life.

Ways for everyone to make self-quarantine more bearable

Stop using your treadmill as a coat hanger. You’ve been looking at that thing for years wondering why you’re not using it. Now’s the chance to use it if you don’t have anywhere to walk.

Catch up on old The Office episodes. This is one of my favorite shows, especially the seasons starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott. I also recommend Ozark on Netflix or Luther on Amazon Prime.

Search through your bookshelf. I don’t understand why people, like a colleague of mine, re-reads books. That’s not me. Maybe you’re a re-reader.

Start that puzzle you purchased at the beginning of the pandemic. My wife bought one that has yet to be assembled. Maybe we’ll get to it. Maybe.

Stay in touch with family. One of the things I love doing is talking with Mom during my walks. As mentioned earlier, my wife and I Zoom and Facetime with the girls. It’s the next best thing to being there.

Tell your spouse you’re taking a walk. A long walk. You need to get away from your kids if you’re home-schooling them. That’s okay. Take turns; don’t do it by yourself.

Gas up the minivan. We called it forced family fun (FFF) when the kids were younger. We’d corral them in the van and tell them we were going for a ride. Of course they’d want to know where we were going. The answer was, “You’ll find out when we get there.”

Bake a cake. Or brownies, apple crisp, cookies, or whatever strikes your fancy. Our son who is home from university was exposed to baking. It didn’t take.

Take yoga online. My daughter has taken a liking to watch and perform yoga exercises. I tell her it looks too painful for me. This video with Yoga with Adriene has close to 3.5 million views.

Take a hike. For the more adventurous people, find an area that isn’t heavily populated—maintain social distancing—and enjoy nature while you’re walking ascending trails and climbing rocky terrain. Just don’t fall.

Break open a great bottle of wine. You have the right to relax. How you decide to do it is up to you. After the kids have gone to bed, take the moment for yourself and your loved one.

Ways for job seekers to utilize this time

Look at this time of self-quarantine as an opportunity to ramp up your job search. Despite the hit our economy has taken, it is going to rebound and employers will need to fill positions that employers were originally going to.

Note: for other great advice, check out a post that is heating up.

Develop a wellness strategy. Sabrina Woods advises job seekers to create “more calm and enhance productivity by:

  • Creating and following a schedule every day.
  • Paying attention to how much news/media you consume, as these will impact your state of mind.
  • Staying connected with friends and family (set up phone and video chat dates).”

Take on a project. A valued connection of mine, Sarah Johnston, writes that she’s painting old furniture as a way to take control of the chaos we’re experiencing. Take your mind off the job search by doing something that is cathartic.

Take inventory. My valued colleague, Maureen McCann advises to “research what you have to offer the market.” She created a great video summarizing how to do this. Check it out.

Read books relevant to your job search. Jim Peacock, another valued connection, is always peddling books and even writes reviews. Or read some fiction to take your mind off your search.

Join a free or inexpensive virtual program. Speaking of learning, Edward Lawrence suggests joining virtual trainings which are inexpensive or free through the Massachusetts Council on Aging, The Professional Development Collaborative of Boston, or MassHire in Massachusetts.

Now’s a great time to update your résumé and LinkedIn Profile. My connection Susan Joyce advises taking this time to finetune your LinkedIn profile. She suggests, among others, that you focus on your problem, actions, results (PARs) to write accomplishments.

Grow your LinkedIn campaign. People who I’ve coached know that I’m a staunch advocate for building one’s like-minded network and then engaging with them. Great opportunities arise from LinkedIn.

Networking must go on. I wrote an article that talks about how I run job club meetings via Zoom. We jokingly call ourselves the Brady Bunch, but it’s all serious business. Mark Babbit suggests reaching out to mentors and former colleagues via video platforms.

Be proactive and reach out to recruiters. They have time on their hands and any recruiter worth their weight in salt will welcome new connections that fit their industry. More importantly, recruiters are hiring for certain industries; maybe yours.

Be prepared for video interviews. “Practice zoom interviewing, use zoom to grab informational meetings, get very comfortable in front of the lens, it’s going to be more prevalent than ever, says Andy Foote. He offers some tips which you can read in the post.

Talking about being prepared; know your story: Gina Riley advises job seekers to get an understanding of employers’ pain points and be able to explain through your stories who you can solve them.

Attend virtual events. Do you want to take a deep dive into networking? Brenda Meller suggests attending virtual professional association events and gives as examples some events she’d attend: Detroit Together Digital, American Marketing Association, or Troy Chamber of Commerce

Take online courses. This suggestion comes from my valued connection Paula Christensen. If you’re not taking advantage of LinkedIn’s free Premium upgrade, do it. You can take advantage of LinkedIn Learning.

Take care of yourself. Vincent Phamvan says it well: “Spend some of your time on activities outside of your job search. Spend time with family, take walks, try to eat healthy meals. This will keep you mentally fit and ready to rock your upcoming interviews.”

Back away from high expectations. This one comes from Patricia Harding, and I thought it was so insightful that I’ll allow her to say it: “I think it’s also ok to back away from high expectations of yourself (and others) and slow down and do nothing now and then.”

Read what many other career-search pundits have to way about the job search in this COVID-19 time.

Photo: Flickr, Timothy George

Hot Job Interview Trends for 2020: What the Experts Say

It is 2020 and you are in the job hunt, either because you are unemployed or looking for a better gig. While the hiring process might be painfully slow, you still must shine in the interview, and this means every stage of the process.

Interview Prep

This is why you need to need to understand the interviewing trends for 2020 if you want to be successful in landing your next position.

Advice from 5 Job Interview Experts

Here’s some good news: I asked 5 interview authorities to weigh in on what to expect in 2020. They tell you what to do before the interview, what to do during the interview, and what to do after the interview.

Do not rely on traditional methods to get the interview. Show your value.  

Austin Belcak has a unique view on how to get to interviews with blue-chip companies. He has helped hundreds of people, whether they have worked with him directly or gleaned vital information by following him on LinkedIn.

These are Austin’s thoughts:

Do not let unemployment numbers fool you. We are currently experiencing one of the most competitive job markets in history.

Relying on resumes, cover letters, and online applications is not going to be enough in 2020.

If you want to land interviews at high caliber companies, you need to focus on three things:

1. Build relationships with the people who can influence the hiring decision

After you press submit on your application, fire up LinkedIn and use it to find your potential hiring manager or colleagues on the hiring team. Reach out to them, show them you understand their needs/goals, and find ways to illustrate your value in relation to those things.

2. Find ways to illustrate your value on your terms

How many times have you said, “I know I can do this job, but nobody will give me a chance!”

If people are not recognizing your value, you need to find ways to clarify it for them. One of my favorite strategies for this is putting together a Value Validation Project (VVP).

3. Develop a Value Validation Project (VVP)

Value Validation Projects are deliverables that illustrate your ability to do the job by providing suggestions, ideas, or feedback to the team’s biggest needs or goals.

For example:

  • If you are targeting a marketing role, you could do a quick competitive analysis, and then package that data with 3 suggestions to help the company get more visibility.
  • If you are aiming for a data analyst role, you could work to find a source of publicly available data that you can use to parse and tell a story. Check out this example of an analyst who used Twitter data to capture consumer sentiment about different airlines.

VVPs are highly effective because they give you the opportunity to say, “I have done my research, and I know what your goals are. Here is exactly what I bring to the table.”

You are also doing that in your own words, via a medium you are comfortable with, that offers a lot more flexibility in terms of visuals, data, and content.

That is going to set you apart!

More about Austin: Austin’s LinkedIn Profile, Austin’s website.


In 2020, research will be even more important.  

Sarah Johnston, a career coach and former recruiter, is a strong believer in doing research before going to the interview. All too often job seekers fail to research the position, company, and even the individuals conducting the interview.

According to Sarah, you must know the employer’s pain points. Here is what she has to say:

The average corporate role gets 250 online applications (Source). And that is rising at a staggering rate thanks to automation and the Internet. Of those candidates, only 5 to 6 will get called in to interview.

The best way to beat the competition is through preparation before you interview; have a good understanding of your target audience, what they care about, and their pain points.

When you are researching your target audience (the company and the individuals who interview you), it is smart to look at the corporate website for press releases, mission, and diversity statements.

As companies are becoming more mission-centric, I am seeing an uptick in interview questions focused around values and the importance of inclusive cultures.

It is also important to interview the people who are going to interview you. Take the time to look at their LinkedIn pages to read more about their training, experience, and for common ground.

If you have time, do a search on your favorite search engine for podcasts they’ve been on or news articles that reference their work. I suggest identifying 3 to 5 connection points that you can use to make small talk during the informal part of the interview.

Finally, one of the best — and surprisingly most overlooked — ways to research and prepare for the interview is to look for pain points or “clues” in the job description.

Read between the lines to better understand the culture, reporting structure, and the actual job requirements. Consider that every bullet point in the job requirement section could be turned into an interview question.

For example, let’s say that the job description reads:

“Identify, initiate, and drive process improvement solutions that will ultimately provide operating efficiencies and synergies within the supply chain, resulting in cost reduction and increasing service level to customers.”

This could be turned into a behavioral question in the interview:

“Tell me about a time that you identified and drove a large process improvement solution in a previous role that led to increased operating efficiency. Tell me about the solution and the results of the implementation.”

Be prepared with your answer to this question.

More about Sarah: Sarah’s LinkedIn Profile. Sarah’s website.


It is not only about job-related skills. It is also about personality.  

Biron Clark is a former technical recruiter and is now a career coach and trainer. He foresees more emphasis being placed on hiring for motivation and fit in 2020. Expect more questions that will get to the heart of your drive and personality fit.

Biron says:

I expect that employers will be interested in learning about your personality and motivation just as much as your technical background in 2020.

The average person is spending less time in each role when compared to past decades, so employers are conscious of hiring people who are not only qualified but also excited about the day-to-day work and the general work that the company is doing.

This helps them reduce turnover and find long-term matches for their company.

To prepare for this, make sure you’re ready to answer questions like, “What about this role caught your interest?” or, “Why did you apply for this position?”

They may also ask, “What do you know about us?”

These questions are a chance to show you’ve done more research than other candidates. A bad answer here can derail your interview, but a great, detailed answer can set you apart and help you win the job… even if someone else was better-qualified.

Other questions to be ready for:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What motivates you?
  • Where do you see yourself in 2-3 years?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What would you be doing if money weren’t a concern?

The bottom line is employers do not want to just hire someone who is only capable of the work. They want to hire someone who is also motivated and excited to do the work.

My prediction for 2020 is that you are going to see more employers trying to learn about you as a person and asking about what motivates you, what interests you, what you actually want to be doing in your life and career. And if you cannot explain this, you may miss some great job opportunities.

One more area to be ready for: Behavioral questions. Employers want to know how you think and how you’ll react to situations. Be ready to answer questions like:

More about Biron: Biron’s LinkedIn Profile. Biron’s website.


Do I want to work here?  

Susan P. Joyce, publisher of JobHunt.Org and career strategist, shares her concern about finding the right work environment. And how do you do this? By asking questions during the interview. Our 4th interview expert feels this is an important piece of the puzzle.

Here’s what Susan has to say:

A job interview is frequently viewed as your opportunity to “close the sale” – convince the employer to make you a job offer. And it is. But, the job interview is also your opportunity to learn if the job is a good fit for you.

I made a big mistake early in my career by not paying attention in the job interview. I was more interested in leaving my old job and not paying sufficient attention to where I was going next.

So, until my first day of work, I did not notice that only male employees had window offices while the women all worked in cubicles. OOPS! I stayed less than a year.

When you interview at the employer’s location, observe the whole environment and the employees there.

  • Do people look happy or stressed?
  • Is the location noisy or quiet?
  • Do you see others of your gender and/or race there, and do they seem comfortable?
  • Does this place look and feel comfortable to you?

You will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewers. Leverage this golden opportunity to learn more about whether you would be happy working there. Ask questions like these:

  • How long have you worked here?
  • What is the best part of working there?
  • Why is this job open?
  • Did the previous employee leave or get promoted? If the job is new, what brought about the need to create the position?

Be cautious if everyone has worked there less than a year, this job is filled frequently, or they struggle to say something nice about the organization.

Note: If you feel the opportunity is right, ask if you can take a tour of the company. This is when you can observe the employees to get a picture of their mood. Any good employer will gladly give you a tour of their company.

More about Susan: Susan’s LinkedIn Profile. Susan’s website.


It isn’t over until it’s over.  

Ashley Watkins is an executive resume writer. As a former recruiter, she has a unique view from the other side of the table.

Ashley offers sage advice on what to do after the interview, which can be as important as before and during the process.

She advises:

Follow instructions.

At the close of the interview, most recruiters and hiring managers will give detailed instructions about the next steps. But if the timeline isn’t offered, ask the interviewer when and how you should follow up (email, phone, or not at all).

If you are scheduled to hear back in a week but get crickets, wait until that time has come and passed before you reach out to check your status.

Do not stop at the timeline.

Take it a step further, and use this as an opportunity to refresh the interviewer’s memory about why you are such a great catch. Share a few short success bullets that align with the goals of your target role.

Also, do not be afraid to reattach your resume or LinkedIn URL. Make it easy for your interviewer to review your work history and accomplishments again versus sending them on a wild goose chase in the company’s database.

Always ask for feedback.

Although many companies have strict policies about what information interviewers can release, you may encounter a recruiter who is willing to share some tips — or you may discover an upcoming role that is a better fit. Then, you can quickly express your interest in the opportunity.

Build a relationship.

Another way to further your interaction with your target company and build a mutually beneficial relationship with a recruiter is to make a referral.

If you know a friend or colleague who would be a great fit for a different job, offer to make the introduction. Now, you have established yourself as a resource.

Breathe.

Not knowing where you stand after an interview can be frustrating. Understanding the hiring process for your desired position can relieve some pressure.

Take the time after an interview to reflect on things you learned, areas for improvement, and any red flags.

Sometimes rejection can be a blessing in disguise. Keep pushing until you land that right-fit role.

More about Ashley: Ashley’s LinkedIn profile. Ashley’s website.


Wrapping it up  

As you can see, the interview doesn’t only consist of the meeting between interviewers and you. There is a before, middle, and end. Make sure you have all the bases covered. If you accomplish this, you will be successful in 2020.

Take it from the experts:

  1. The interview process is longer these days and involves more work to prove you are the one to earn an interview.
  2. Research, research, and conduct more research.
  3. Interviewers want to know more about you than just your job-related skills.
  4. Try to learn about the company during the interview.
  5. There’s still work to do after the interview ends and can be as important as the actual interview.

More Expert Advice and Hot Trends for 2020:

This article previously appeared in Job-Hunt.org.

To lose a job: 9 steps to take to get back on track

There’s a saying in the career development world: “You’re not in my club unless you’ve lost a job.” It’s not a kind saying, but it puts things into perspective. Many people have lost a job or two or even three. No one will ever say, “Losing a job is fun.”

Contemplative Man

To lose a job for any reason can be a blow to one’s self-esteem. Even if you were laid off because the company had to cut costs, usually to offload salary, you might think you failed.

If you were let go for lack of performance or you didn’t see eye-to-eye with your manager, this can be particularly devastating. You may feel that you’re incapable of returning to the productive employee you once were.

The same applies to having to quit under pressure. Your boss was constantly harping on you for small mistakes or accused you of missteps that you know, deep in your heart, were correct actions. But because they’re the boss, they hold the power.

No matter how you wrap your head around what happened, you can’t let go of what went wrong. You lose sight of what you did well. Negative thoughts swim around your mind. People who look at your situation objectively assure you that you weren’t to blame. What can you do to get back on track?

1. Don’t deny your feelings of despondency

Being unable to concentrate on what’s going around you is natural. Your mind circles back to the fact that you’re out of work. You might have been told to hold it in. I believe this applies to only when you’re in public. When alone let it out, but not at the expense of loved ones.

You may be experiencing feelings you’ve never had before: bouts of crying for no apparent reason, short temper with family members and friends; a diminished sex drive; lack of motivation. These feelings, and more, are symptoms of unemployment; you’re not going crazy.

When I was out of work, I tried to recognize the feelings I was experiencing. It wasn’t always easy, but I realized my unemployment was temporary. You should also realize your situation is temporary.

2. Take a hiatus

You’ve heard of the saying, “Get back on the horse.” This is true, but you don’t have to do it immediately. I’ve talked with job seekers who say they’ve taken a week off to regroup, to get their bearings.

While some might believe that you should begin the job search the day after you lost your job, I’m not one of them.

To get back on the horse immediately might be more detrimental than helpful, as your head might be swimming in negative thoughts of self-doubt. Or you might not have the energy you need to succeed. Proper mental health is required to be successful in your job search.

This said, don’t take a “vacation,” as many of my job seekers have. They figure summer is time to vacation, right? Wrong. The best time to look for work can be the summer when many employers are talking with potential employees.

3. Evaluate the situation and be able to explain why you’re out of work

Given three reasons why you are unemployed—you were laid off, let go, or quit—determine which it was and assess the situation. People who possess self-awareness are honest with themselves and with others.

The first reason—being laid off—is easiest to explain. One of my customers said, “I had no choice. The company could no longer afford my salary.”

While this is true, it would be best to go into a little more detail, such as, “We lost two major accounts that I was working on (as a software engineer). While my work was stellar, our customers decided to pull out.”

The second and third reasons—being let go, or quitting—are a bit harder to explain. These answers must be short while giving an honest description of the situation and, most importantly, explain what you’ve learned from the situation.

One way you might explain being let go is: “My boss and I agreed that I wasn’t a fit for the position, that I lacked some of the skills. I understand the requirements of this job and know I can excel in this position.”

4. Tell people you’re out of work

I tell job seekers there’s no shame in being out of work. And I’m sure they say under their breath, “What would you know?” Plenty. I’ve been out of work myself and came to find out that my feelings of self-doubt were wasted.

In order for others to help you, they need to know you’re looking for work. The people you tell aren’t limited to your former colleagues and supervisors. They should include family, friends, and acquaintances.

Don’t disregard people who live across the country or even the world. Social media allows us to hear of opportunities in various areas of the country. Your brother in New York or San Francisco might hear of position openings close to where you live.

Instead of thinking that you need to go it alone, think that you need the help of others. This speaks to my next suggestion.

5. Be willing to accept help

I find this to be one of the largest roadblocks for many people; they just can’t bring themselves to ask for help. There are two things to remember: one, your job search will be shorter if you have help.

Two, most people like to help those in need. It gives them a sense of fulfillment. Look at it this way, you’re helping others by asking for help. Psychologist assert that helping others gives people a feeling of achievement. As someone out of work, you will experience the same. So pay it forward.

This isn’t to say you should approach everyone in your community and ask, “Do you know of any jobs for me?” To tell people you’re out of work (related to #2) should be enough. For safe measure, however, “ping” people to stay top of mind. An occasional request like, “Please keep your ear to the pavement for me” should suffice.

6. Don’t sleep the day away

You might be halfway through your job search and feel like giving up the fight temporarily. Don’t do it. Stay the course. If you need motivation, have someone check in on you to see how you’re doing. If they catch you in bed, it’s time to get back to the routine.

As difficult it may be, develop a routine. You don’t have to rise at 5:00 am so you can go to the gym before the workday. But getting up every morning at 6:00 am, taking a walk, eating breakfast, and getting out of the house would be much more productive than sleeping until 10:00 am every morning.

You’ll feel much better if you are productive, not if you rise late and watch television. I honestly believe that developing a routine is essential to your mental health and finding a job. Another suggestion is to attend your local One-Stop career center for career-search help.

7. Take action to prepare

As hard as it might be, you will have to focus on four major areas in your job search. My valued connection, Erin Kennedy, outlines what job-search measures to take to update your job search and to begin moving forward. These are steps you will take in the early phase of your job search.

Update your resume Does it convey your message and brand? Is it up-to-date with your current role? Are your most recent accomplishments listed?

Update your LinkedIn profile as well. Do you have a current photo? Have you utilized the new “featured” tool to display projects and achievements?

We are all going through this same challenging time so reach out to your contacts. Check in on them. Set up a Zoom meeting so you can chat face-to-face.

Better yet, invite others as well! This is a great time to deepen your relationships and create new ones. We need each other right now.

How are your interviewing skills? Stuck? Enlist the help of an interview coach, or Google interview questions and practice your answers in front of a mirror (watch your facial expressions). You’ll most likely be interviewed via video or phone.

Get your written–resume and LinkedIn profile–and oral–reaching out to your contacts, practice interviewing online–communications in order. The better you’re prepared, the better you’ll do than your competition when the final rounds of interviews arrive.

8. Practice using video conferencing

To Erin’s fourth point, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be smart about interacting with others. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue to network. We might have to do it in smaller groups via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.

Using video conferencing and the phone will prepare you better for interviews you’ll have in the near future. This is how companies are conducting interviews today. So, the more prepared you are with the technology, the better you’ll perform.

You probably didn’t think it would come to the point where you’d be going through multiple phases of the interview process participating in video meetings, but this is today’s reality. At least for the time being.

9. Seek professional help

You’ll probably experience many feelings, including anger, fear, self-doubt, etc. If you become consumed with these feelings, it might be best to seek the help of a therapist.

This is not unusual, trust me. I went through a plethora of feelings and, yes, I did talk with a professional. It allowed me to clear my mind.

If it gets to the point where all you can think about is the past and present, and fail to see the future, this can be an indication of depression or stress. It’s worth talking to a therapist when you reach this stage. Most insurance policies cover mental health services.


It’s hard for people who haven’t lost a job to understand how difficult being unemployed can be. It is a loss of self-esteem, a familiar routine, and might be a cause of embarrassment. The above are some simple suggestions to follow.

Those who are in my club of people who have been unemployed at one point can be the best people to speak with. For some of us, it’s not our first rodeo. We have some sage advice to offer. Seek us out. We’re here to help.

Job-search clubs going from in-person to meeting online with Zoom

As a career strategist at MassHire Lowell Career Center, I lead a job club for our clients. Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, we met in-person in a large room. At these meetings, there would be anywhere between 10 and 20 people.

safe-meet-new-people-994x400

We didn’t meet in person often—only every second and fourth Tuesday of the month—but our clients enjoyed the opportunity to get out of their house and share the news of their job search or participate in a mock interview.

The mock interviews were a key activity of the job club meetings—sitting in the hot seat and being interviewed by me or another member of the group while being filmed with a digital camera. The rest of the participants provided feedback at the conclusion of the interview on the interviewee’s answers.

Times have changed

Now, all of the in-person meetings have been thrown out the window. We’re confined to our homes, only allowed to venture out for groceries, gas (who needs it, though?) takeout food, and exercise. Life has changed rapidly.

To pile insult upon insult, we’ve experienced the worst number of unemployment of all time. Our labor market is truly in a crisis. Hopefully a two-trillion-dollar relief fund will help the new and currently unemployed. But the future is unpredictable for everyone.

For the unforeseeable future job seekers can’t network in-person. They can’t share ideas on how to better search for jobs, talk about potential opportunities. tout their happy landings. So, what can job seekers do?

Go to virtual communication

The only solution to continue networking, even meet for social reasons, is to go online. The phone is another option, of course, but it’s not as intimate as using platforms like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangout, and others. (Employers have resorted to interviewing candidates online.)

The job club I lead, since the pandemic has forced us to practice social distancing, has had two meetings via Zoom so far. We haven’t let the pandemic phase us. The first meeting garnered 15 members, the second 19. There are 21 members in the group.

The first Zoom meeting was all about job-search talk. I would normally insert my advice in the past, but I wanted the group to simply touch base. It wasn’t as rewarding as meeting in-person. But it was the best we could do.

The second meeting was our Zoom mock interview. I had one member interview another member. The logistics were not hard. There was no need to make one of them a presenter and the other a guest. Zoom makes it extremely easy to facilitate mock interviews.

After the mock interview, the other members provided sage advice to the interviewee. I inserted my opinions as well, but I wanted the group to be more self-sufficient. Besides, many of the members have had far more experience interviewing candidates than I have.

Of course I recorded the event. The interviewee gladly allowed me to share the recording with the members. She said it was a learning opportunity for everyone.

Although the mock interview was but an exercise, it still demonstrated to the other 17 members what it’s like to be interviewed online. A few of the members have experienced video interviews. For the majority of them, however, this was a new experience.

I ended the meeting encouraging the group to form smaller buddy groups. I want them to reach out to each other without having to attend a formal job club event. As job seekers, they need to be self-sufficient. Already some of our members have contacted me asking with whom they should connect.


To use a cliche, online job club meetings are becoming the new normal for our members. Given the positive acceptance thus far, I’ve considered increasing the job club meetings every week if only to get these job-searching warriors together.

If you lead a job club at your career center, consider doing it online. Don’t let the momentum die because you can’t meet in person for the time being. Of all the platforms, I highly suggest Zooom.

Employers, job seekers, students, and career strategists—stay the course

As a career strategist at a MassHire career center, I’m asking employers to keep the hiring wheels in motion. Employers, you might have to close your doors, due to the Coronavirus, but this doesn’t mean you can’t stay the course.

man climbing

Job seekers, I’m talking to you, too. This is not the time to give up. Especially not now. There will be some who will give up; don’t be one of them. Develop a competitive mindset and don’t let other job seekers beat you to the jobs that are available. There are jobs available.

These are certainly tough times. We get this. My clients are stressed enough trying to get their careers on track, so taking 14 days or more off is not what they want. They want to work and need a job “yesterday.”

Employers, you have time to fill positions

Employers, you have more time than ever to interview candidates for open positions even if you have to shut your doors or limit access to the public. If you have open requisitions for positions, fill them. Be creative in the ways you employ your new hires.

Our career center has been instructed by the state to deny access to the public. This is smart. But we’ll continue to work and communicate with our clients via telephone and Zoom. We’re going to make it work.

I’ll offer my customers the option of Zooming and advising via the telephone. This is not ideal, especially in a service industry where that human connection is so important. But, for now, these are the best ways our career advisors and I can service our clients.

Recruiters, you can go about business as usual. You have technology like Zoom/Skype, assessments, the phone, and text—to name a few—to continue interviewing job candidates who are already in the pipeline.

Hiring managers, you can still communicate with recruiters, HR, and most importantly candidates. Consider how job seekers are feeling about this new normal. It doesn’t feel that great for them. Many of them will sink into despondency.

My LinkedIn colleague and good friend, Mark Anthony Dyson, offers some great ideas for technology to use in his article, Increase Your Work-From-Home Efficiency: 9 Handy Tools for Remote Workers, published on Job-Hunt.org. These tools are free or inexpensive. Use them.

Job seekers, more than ever you need to stay the course

I don’t want you to give up your search. Reach out to recruiters at the companies you’ve been communicating with. Also reach out to hiring managers, if possible.

Demonstrate your desire to work. Show employers you’re not giving in to this temporary pandemic. At the same time prepare ahead of time; drive forward networking with new and existing connections. Use Zoom or Skype to conduct virtual meetings.

Continue to update your resumes for potential jobs. Write tailored resumes to each job. Complete your LinkedIn profile, continue building your focused network, and engage on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn at least four times a day, 20 minutes each day.

Reach out to new recruiters and staffing agencies in your industry. If you are engaged with employers, don’t disregard other possibilities. Things going slow? Don’t rely on employers who are dragging their feet.

For my clients who have job offers but haven’t started, consider approaching other employers to begin communications. If you’re asked whether you’re working, you can truthfully tell them you’re not.

Consider volunteering until you land your next gig. Volunteerism has proven to be one of the best ways to conduct a job search. Think about it; you can volunteer 20 hours a week and spend the rest of the time using other methods to job search. If you volunteer in your industry, use it to fill a gap on your resume.

Lastly, get out of your house. Take walks, go on road trips, do your hobbies. In other words, don’t let life stop.

Students, you need to stay on track as well

My daughter is a senior who is supposed to graduate in May. Her senior year has essentially been ruined. You probably have the option of completing courses online. Take advantage of this. Don’t let your studies slide.

And professors, don’t let your students down. I’ve heard of professors who refuse to adopt new technology to teach their courses. Don’t perpetuate the stereotype that older workers cant’ use technology. Accept help. Hire an assistant.

Seniors, your goal is to graduate. You may have been robbed of the last semester of your senior year, but there’s still the possibility of having a party to beat all parties when this disruption as ended. My daughter will.

Career strategists, you’ll play a large role in helping job seekers land

Job seekers need your guidance. They need your expertise as well as your moral support. You know what employers are looking for in resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and interviews. You know how to brand your clients.

If you’re in the public realm, like me, be empathetic and stretch yourself further than before. I’ve found that some of our clients arent’ shy about reaching out, but there are others who don’t know how to ask or think they don’t have the right.

Career coaches and resume writers, you’ll be in high demand. I know how hard you worked in the past. Now your plate will be overloaded, not simply full. Perhaps you’ll have to outsource your resume writing.

Your client base will change. Whereas you had employed clients, your new ones will increasingly be unemployed. The might not be able to afford your high-end services. Consider offering a menu that is more affordable.


Employers, I know the pandemic has changed business as you knew it. There are more fires to put out. Don’t forget the most important fire at hand; hiring an employee to make your life easy.

Job seekers, the search goes on. Don’t give up. Don’t rely on an extension of your unemployment insurance benefits. If you’re newly unemployed, apply for benefits immediately.

Students, make us proud and ace your online classes. I know the future seems scary, but eventually the economy will right itself.

Career strategists, your role is more important than ever. Be prepared for more demand. And be that supply job seekers need. I’m dedicated to helping my clients and taking on more MassHire clients.

Photo, Flickr, Y-Shumin

Are recruiters to blame? 4 tips for working with recruiters

Recruiters are often the front line of the hiring process; they advertise an open position, read more résumés than they’d like, interview and screen multiple candidates, and finally present the best of the best to the hiring manager (HM).

Recruiterman

And for this service, employers pay a hefty price—25% to 30%—of the new hire’s first annual salary. You could say recruiters are the middle-person between job candidates and employers. You could also say it’s a pressure-filled and thankless job at times.

Recruiters earn their salary from their employers. Some candidates don’t understand the pecking order of the hiring process. In this sense, these candidates might feel slighted. I witness this in my role as a career strategist in an urban career center.

Said job seekers feel that recruiters are unresponsive, clueless about the role, don’t have their interest in mind, make them promises that fall through, ghost them, among other faults. In some cases, job seekers’ complaints are warranted, but in other cases their blame is unwarranted.

Understand that recruiters are humans, too

No one takes a job to fail. They don’t start on day one with the mission of being a lousy employee. Some people may approach their job halfheartedly, not quite sure what they’re doing, but they don’t say to themselves, “I want to be the worst employee possible.” This applies to recruiters, as well.

Recruiters face the possibility of failure on a daily basis. Agency recruiters, who get paid only when they place a candidate in a company, face rejection from the companies that employ them.

Likewise, corporate recruiters who have the ear of HM—more so than agency recruiters—get frustrated when they find the ideal candidate, only to be rejected for one reason or another.

According to Steve Levy, a principal recruiter, and social media consultant, a very small percent of recruiters are cut out to succeed in their trade. I talked to him recently to get a feel for the life of a recruiter.

Steve’s goal is foremost to find the most qualified candidates for his boss, but he also aims to help candidates succeed in their job search. The two are not mutually exclusive. If a candidate is not a fit for Steve’s boss, he’ll refer them to other companies where they might be a fit.

Hiring managers ARE the bottleneck

But it’s not this simple.

It’s often said that HMs are looking for the purple squirrel, someone who meets all the requirements of the position, plus some. This might be true, but only because of their reluctance or fear of hiring the wrong candidate and having to start over.

Hiring the wrong candidate is costly. This can include opening a new requisition for a replacement; paying a recruiter fee, yet again; weeks of searching for a replacement; setting up benefits; training; and, if the employee was customer-facing, the possibility of lost customers due to damaged relationships.

Recruiters and candidates are both victims of HMs who are unresponsive, making them wait days, if not weeks, for the verdict. The candidate is in a state of limbo, waiting anxiously by the phone for a yea or nay from the recruiter.

The recruiter on their part tries to keep an open line of communication, but they only know as much as the HM tells them. Being in a state of limbo is disheartening for the candidate and recruiter.

Then there’s the fact that HMs aren’t necessarily astute when it comes to interviewing candidates sent to them by recruiters. I asked recruiters who frequent a Facebook group, Recruiters Online, how they feel about hiring managers.

One respondent, Steve Lowisz, added, “Most hiring managers have never been trained on how to work with internal or external recruiters….We need to stop, and educate them on the process of how to interview”

4 tips to make the recruiter’s job easier

Apply for jobs for which you’re qualified

One major complaint recruiters have of job seekers is that they apply for jobs for which they’re not qualified. If you have little to no experience in program management, don’t apply for a program management position.

“Carefully read the job description,” Levy advises, “to make sure you are qualified. If you’re not, don’t apply.” Sounds like a simple directive, right? Unfortunately some job seekers don’t heed this advice and use what’s called a “spray and pray” approach.

Write a sound résumé

This starts with expanding more on positions that are relevant, not positions you performed in the past. Shelby Mangum weighed in from Recruiters Online about telling the proper story with your résumé:

“The jobs most relevant to what you’re applying to, typically most recent, and had the most seniority should have the longest bullet points. Too many times I see people with barely an explanation of their current director job, but they tell me all about that entry-level coordinator job from 7 years ago.”

There is some difference of opinion when it comes to the length of your résumé. Levy, for example, says, “I don’t care if a résumé is three-pages long. If it has great content, I’ll read the whole thing.”

Other recruiters require that their candidate submit one-page résumés, presumably because they’re too busy to read the deluge of résumés they receive. Levy says this is laziness.

These are two of the basic tenets of résumé writing. Candidates must also sell themselves with their résumé. Keep the summary short, but provide an accomplishment or two within it to entice the recruiter to read more.

In the experience section, this is where you really want to hit recruiters on the head with accomplishments that include quantified results. Trish Wyderka, a résumé writer and coach writes, “The advice that I give to all my clients is to be sure [they] address how [they] can help a company make money, save money or save time.”

Finally, candidates need to submit résumés that can pass the applicant tracking system (ATS). this speaks to a tailored résumé that fits the job’s requirements. A generic résumé, which fails to address the required skills and experience, will fail miserably when it is “read” by the ATS.

Ace the interview

Interview older man

Job candidates need to be better prepared for various types of interviews. Gone are the days when you received a phone call telling you to come in for a face-to-face interview, perhaps followed by another.

Today, the interview process is more complicated, to say the least. Many of my clients who haven’t had to look for work in the past 10-30 years are shocked by the way companies are interviewing candidates.

The interview landscape is changing. Traditional interviewing isn’t going away anytime soon; however, newer innovations are emerging on the scene.

Employers are using personality and analytical assessments. To job seekers, these are challenging not only because of the questions that are asked but also because candidates are timed.

Despite the failings of traditional interviews, recruiters still use telephone interviews to determine a candidate’s salary range, as well as if the person can actually do the job. Recruiters also conduct in-person and Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and other electronic interviews.

The first bit of advice is to arrive at an in-person or Skype interview prepared to answer the difficult questions. Former recruiter, Jenn Gorius Gosselin, advises, “Know what you can do, what you want to do and why the job and this company interest you. Ask for the job if you indeed want it.”

Recruiters want to hear your enthusiasm for the job and company. During a telephone interview, recruiters need to hear the enthusiasm in your voice, and they need to see it in your body language in an interview.

Know where recruiters hangout

Jobvite.com claims that 87% of recruiters and other hiring authorities use LinkedIn to find talent. However, the majority of job seekers are on Facebook (approximately 65%). This might be the case because two billion people use Facebook compared to 650+ million LinkedIn members.

If you want to know where recruiters hang out, it’s not as simple as you’d imagine. LinkedIn is certainly populated by recruiters, but Facebook has become a platform of choice for many recruiters. Levy says he’s disenchanted with LinkedIn and uses Facebook and Twitter as much, if not more, than LinkedIn.

Louysa Akerley says, “I use primarily LinkedIn, but I really feel that Facebook is an untapped market for recruiting since the majority of the population is on Facebook, while only a certain percentage are on LinkedIn.”

Lastly, create a strong presence on social media

Do yourself a favor by cleaning up your Facebook profile eliminating any incriminating photos and reference to politics. Then befriend recruiters who serve your industry. As for LinkedIn, make your LinkedIn profile complete, connect with recruiters and industry leaders, and engage with your connections. This way you’ll cover the two major social media platforms.

Photo: Flickr, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education

Photo: Flickr, Seattle Search

Hot LinkedIn Trends for 2020: What the Experts Say

To land a job in 2020, you will need to have a strong LinkedIn profile. And, that profile needs to clearly brand you. But is a strong, well-branded LinkedIn profile enough? According to four LinkedIn experts it isn’t.2020cubes

I asked Hannah Morgan, Kevin Turner, Jessica Hernandez, and Andy Foote for their insights for the year ahead and received answers ranging from the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) to building a strong network and engaging with your network.

Branding with Your LinkedIn Profile

Before I share the experts’ advice, let’s start with the basics—branding yourself with your LinkedIn profile. This will always be important.

In 2020 job seekers will have to put more effort into writing content for not only SEO, but content that resonates with hiring authorities. Yet great content won’t be enough:

Background image and head-shot photo

You’ll need to brand yourself with images that speak to your occupation and industry. These will include most notably your background image and photo.

More people are coming around to including a background image. After all, who wants that ugly, light blue image behind their photo? (LinkedIn Help: Adding Background Image.)

A head-shot photo is a must. Increasingly more people are realizing that to be memorable, trusted, and liked, they must have a quality photo. LinkedIn members are owning their photos by making them more theme-based or they’re presenting a casual pose.

LinkedIn Headline

Greater emphasis should also be placed on the Headline. There are a plethora of articles that talk about the importance of keywords and/or a branding statement to go with them. The following Headline includes keywords and a branding statement:

Finance Manager at Company X | Financial Planning and Analysis | Auditing | Saving Organizations Millions.

The About section

Job seekers are giving this section more attention, and that is a very good idea. They are including more content that tells their story which includes statements of their greatness. Think about the passion you have for what you do, and how well you do it.

Hint: share quantified accomplishments that prove your value. Write this section in first-person point of view.

Experience

You will be wise to provide more descriptions of your jobs in your Experience section. Your resume probably includes duty and accomplishment statements, but this is where you want to create the WOW factor with your profile. Stick with the accomplishment statements and personalize them.

One of my greatest accomplishments was initiating and implementing – before the deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system that increased productivity by 58%.

Better content that brands you should continue throughout your LinkedIn profile. In Education you can tell a story. Do not skip adding your volunteer experience. Companies appreciate those who volunteer. Think branding!

Ensure that all of these elements consistently support your brand.

Advice from 4 LinkedIn experts

Gone are the days when your profile was seen simply as an online resume. Also gone are the days when your profile sat on the Internet waiting for hiring authorities to find you.

Now, with more than 675 million members on LinkedIn, you must be more proactive to be found. This means that, as a job seeker, you also need to consider multiple components of your LinkedIn campaign, not simply your profile.

Many resist getting more involved in their LinkedIn presence, and this resistance to developing a focused network and engaging with their network is human nature, as it takes hard work. But doesn’t being successful take hard work?

To discover which LinkedIn trends you should follow in 2020, I asked these four renowned LinkedIn experts their thoughts on this topic. Each of them offer valuable advice:

Hannah Morgan—your activity on LinkedIn matters  

Having an updated and robust profile is important, but posting, sharing, and commenting on LinkedIn will generate attention to your profile faster. In fact, posting updates on LinkedIn almost guarantees more people will view your profile.

LinkedIn users interact with content from peers and colleagues more than influencers or organizations. So what you share will get noticed.

Post information and topics most important to your network and potential fellow colleagues.

According to LinkedIn’s 2017 Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide, these are the topics users care about:

  • Industry Insights
  • Tips/Best Practices
  • Jobs/Skills
  • Leadership
  • Industry Events
  • Product or Service Information
  • Employee Perspectives

Here are some more tips to keep in mind when posting on LinkedIn:

  • When sharing an article, explain why you are sharing it.
  • Use three relevant hashtags when posting an update.
  • Respond to every comment on your posts.

There’s another reason to be active and positive on LinkedIn. Everything you like, comment, share or articles you’ve written are visible to anyone who looks at your profile.

Your activity shows the topics you are interested in, your communication style, and that you know how to use LinkedIn. You can see anyone’s Activity section, so go check it out. If they haven’t liked, commented or shared anything in 90 days, you won’t see any activity.

However, if they have been active, you can see all their likes, comments, and shares.

At the end of the day, being active on LinkedIn by commenting and sharing articles relevant to your field helps people understand your career interests and calls attention to your professional reputation and personal brand. When people see your photo and Headline along with the career-related updates you share, it puts you top-of-mind.

More about Hannah: Hannah’s LinkedIn Profile, Hannah’s website, and Hannah’s articles in Job-Hunt.

Kevin Turner—better SEO  

Back in 2005, I remember joining LinkedIn as one of its first million members in the US. Then in 2011, the membership hit 100M globally, and now we are entering this new decade 675M+ members strong. It makes sense that being found on this platform is more challenging than ever.

Continued change

Change itself will continue to be a constant state. If you have been active on the platform long enough, you have seen experts gaming the system, LinkedIn losing control, resetting the algorithms, and gaining it back again, time after time.

When you are in the business of monetizing data, as is LinkedIn, losing control, means losing money, so LinkedIn must continuously stay ahead of the experts. Nowhere was this more evident than in the early years, when getting your profile on the first page of a search was too easy.

The search results suffered, with top rankings given to profiles that were unread-ably swimming in a sea of keywords.

We should expect change, just when we think we have figured it out.

Keywords and personal SEO

Keywording an LI profile, to increase exposure, is now just a starting point of your personal SEO. Yes, you still need to implement in-demand keywords, but you can’t just stuff them in anywhere or leave them in lists.

These keywords should address your target audience, represent your niche value add, support your goals, and we must ensure they are consistently, grammatically, repetitively, and contextually used throughout each component of your complete ALL-STAR level profile.

Engaging other members

Engagement is what turns the world’s largest database of professional resumes into a vibrant community.

Social platforms exist for dialogue. So, those who regularly contribute, thoughtfully listen, respectfully nurture the conversation, and show they are always learning, will be rewarded.

Authentically publish, post, comment, like, and share every day to maximize exposure and establish your knowledge leadership.

Analytics and AI

Predicted Analytics based in the current and future state of LinkedIn’s AI, On and Offsite Tracking, and Psychographic Profiling will be taking on a more significant role in defining members’ value, ranking, and suitability for hire.

Beware that a misguided social campaign, off or on LI of flaming, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, hate, plagiarism, negativity, and even connectivity relationships (guilt by association) will negatively impact ranking, promotability to opportunities, and potentially lead to expulsion.

On the positive side, AI will be deciphering your content and actions to predict your unlisted hard and soft skills. Audit your reputation across the Internet, repair if needed, and refocus it to get you to your goals.

Remember the most valued social currency is based on the gold standards of Authentic Sharing, Caring, and Reciprocity.

More about Kevin: Kevin’s LinkedIn Profile and Kevin’s website.

 Jessica Hernandez—building strong networks  

The power of LinkedIn resides in building relationships and engaging with your connections.

In 2020, liking, commenting, and starting conversations is the best way to engage not only with colleagues but also with hiring managers, decision-makers, and those on your “get to know” list.

I encourage everyone (not just job seekers) to focus time on building and expanding their network by:

  • Connecting with 3-5 people per week.
  • Engaging with your network by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts.
  • Posting at least once per week, sharing relevant industry news, or publishing articles in your area of expertise.

I’ve found that most people don’t actively network on LinkedIn until they’re in job-search mode, but that’s when you should already have a strong foundation in place. You don’t have to wait until you want to make a career move to start engaging on LinkedIn.
In fact, it’s better if you start now.

Admire a few companies? Dream of being on their team one day? Follow those companies on LinkedIn now, look for connections employed by those companies, and start engaging with their posts.

Research who the hiring managers and decision-makers are within the company and request to connect with them. You can start building relationships long before asking for help in a job search.

Not foreseeing a career move anytime soon? That’s OK. It’s still important to connect and engage on LinkedIn. Many of the relationships I have with others in my industry started by liking their posts, following their work, and adding to the conversation.

Make it a goal to invest 10-15 minutes on LinkedIn every day engaging with people instead of just scrolling through the feed.

More about Jessica: Jessica’s LinkedIn Profile and Jessica’s website.

Andy Foote—video, causality, hashtags  

I have three predictions for your LinkedIn campaign: video. causality. hashtags.

When it comes to putting yourself out there and doing everything to be noticed, it is hard not to imagine a time when the About section will be a video. Whether that happens in 2020 or 2025, I don’t know.

I think LinkedIn users do not care about LinkedIn profile visits as much as they care about whether those visitors took action as a direct result of something they saw (or read) on their profile page or elsewhere on LinkedIn.

The missing link on LinkedIn is, and has been for a while, is causality. What causes people to take action on LinkedIn? That’s the holy grail.

People “browsed” me. OK. So what? Most of the time LinkedIn does not even show the route they took (80% of my profile browsers don’t come via Homepage, via LinkedIn Search, via LinkedIn Profile, via People similar to you, via Messaging, via Groups, via Other).

Seriously, what the heck is “Other” and how does that help me? So, I predict that LinkedIn will figure out a way to provide meaningful browser route data, hopefully soon. We are more or less operating blind without knowing this.

LinkedIn is 100% invested in hashtags. I think they are incredibly powerful, and we are just scratching the surface in terms of potential.

Hashtags plus analytics equals a new, efficient, and intelligent way of branding and content distribution.

Imagine a “hashtag dashboard” where you can see clicks live, time on page, and re-shares. I am thinking bit.ly combined with Google analytics, in a LinkedIn wrapper. Exciting, yes?

More about Andy: Andy’s LinkedIn Profile and Andy’s website.

The Bottom Line

Here you have it; all LinkedIn experts agree that content is not enough when it comes to your LinkedIn campaign. Yes, it is important, but so is being more proactive in developing a focused network and engaging with your network.

Let’s recap. To have a stronger LinkedIn campaign, you will need to:

  1. Create a profile with strong content and images.
  2. Engage, engage, engage. This is where the work really comes into play.
  3. Pay attention to SEO; it’s important in being found.
  4. Develop a strong network and engage with it.
  5. Make sure you use hashtags to the fullest and video might play a larger role in your profile.

More About Expert Advice for 2020:

This article originally appeared on Job-Hunt.org