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The Zebra’s Stripes – The Fine Line Between Acceptance And Rejection

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 29, 2014 in Interviewing Skills, Job Search

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Motion dazzle is the effect from high-contrast patterns creating visual illusions. For instance, zebras moving together in a group create a large mass of moving stripes making it hard for predators to visually pick out individual targets. This can also be true of great candidates. When a skilled and polished group of individuals interviews with an employer, it is often very difficult for the interviewer to figure out who stands out and how. It’s part of a recruiter’s job to see below the stripes to find the “extra” factor about each candidate to help the employer’s decision.

I love my work.

I truly enjoy helping my clients hire the perfect person for the job. I love working with my candidates to locate positions that are a great fit for their skills, experience and interests, and then helping them to wow their future employer in the interview.

This week was a busy week in our office. We extended four offers of employment for our clients that were accepted. It isn’t always the case that offers will be taken. There are times where an offer is turned down for reasons that have little to do with the position being considered, but more on that later. In my position, there is no better call to make than the one that helps bring a professional search assignment to a successful conclusion for both parties.

The flip side of that enjoyment is the melancholy requirement of notifying the candidates who didn’t receive the offer. It’s human nature to ask: “Why?”, “What could I have done better?” or “Why not me?” These calls were really tough for me this week. I had to notify nearly a dozen people who were in the latter part of the interview process that they wouldn’t receive the offer – when nearly all of them had told me they ranked the positions as one of their top choices.  All of these individuals had strong backgrounds and terrific personalities. Unfortunately, to answer their questions, there really are no strong, concrete reasons to identify what they could have done to make the decision go their way.

It’s often a tough decision for a company to decide whom to extend the offer to between two, or more, well qualified people. Employers often find themselves starting to split hairs over experience or skills that may not be material to the success of someone in the job just to try and make the decision. When it comes to that point, it could be any number of things that tips the scales one way or the other such as perceived length of commute, level of enthusiasm expressed in an interview, overall mid- to long-term cultural fit within the organization, or even something found on a social media site that an employer relates to – or doesn’t like.

Although the employer has their work cut out for them to decide between the dazzling stripes of the candidates, even when they are ready to extend an offer to their top choice many times it is actually the second choice person who receives the offer. Among any number of reasons the top choice may have received more than one offer during their job search, taken a counter offer from their current employer as they were resigning, or even got cold feet. If you are one of the top choices, your skills and experience got you this far, but don’t be too hard on yourself about the outcome of a final selection. Very often the second choice is selected for the offer due to the reasons mentioned – happily accepts – and goes on to be wildly successful at the company.

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The Groundhog – Six More Weeks For The Old I-9

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Mar 25, 2013 in Job Search

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The New and Improved Employment Eligibility Form (Form I-9)

Groundhog Day, celebrated annually on February 2nd in the US and Canada, is a quaint end-of-winter tradition. Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks. This year, the Pennsylvania groundhog “Punxsutawney Phil” did not see his shadow which, according to folklore, should mean an early spring for the area. Recent snows seem to contradict the famous woodchuck’s prediction. Although six weeks of prolonged winter weather wasn’t expected, we can expect at least six more weeks for the old I-9 form before it gives way to the new.

The Employment Eligibility Form (Form I-9) has finally been updated and is available to use. Employers should start using this new form now, and may not use the old form after May 7, 2013.

After performing numerous I-9 audits for our clients in the past year, we want to make sure that you’re aware of the hot buttons that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) looks for that may make you incompliant.

So what’s new about this form and the instructions? First of all, the complete form lengthened from five pages to nine pages total.  The boxes in the form are now much bigger and easier to fill out, but there are a couple major changes you’ll need to educate your team about.

(The first six pages of the form are the instructions. The form itself begins on page 7.)

  • Section 1 is the entire first page of the form, what the employee completes. Here, the employee now has the option to also provide a phone number and e-mail address as part of their personal information. The employee does not have to do so, however, and can mark “N/A” in those fields instead. If an employee is providing an I-94 Admission Number, there is now a line for this, separate from the USCIS Number line, and has additional lines for the passport number and country of issuance accompanying it. The preparer/translator section at the bottom has been enhanced to stress the importance that USCIS puts on this section.
  • Section 2 is still just for the employer to complete, but is now on its own page following Section 1. At the top, there is a line for the employer to add the employee’s name as listed in Section 1. Pay attention to this box and make sure to complete it. This is a new major change that can be easily overlooked! Section 2 still contains the identification boxes but List A now has additional and improved boxes for the documents used. The List B and List C columns have clearer fields for the required information (the name of the document, the issuing authority, the document number, and the expiration date, if there is one). Under the Lists, there is still a separate line to add the employee’s date of hire and it is slightly easier to see. Lastly, the employer has more room to write in the company’s complete address in the certification section.
  • Section 3, at the bottom of the second form page, remains almost the same with the benefit of bigger boxes and some minor formatting of the form. If an employer needs to do a recertification on the employee, this section must be used.


What hasn’t changed?

  • ALL new hires must complete this form.
  • The employee is still required to complete Section 1 by the date of hire, and the employer is required to complete Section 2 within 3 days of the date of hire.
  • The employee is still required to present documentation from either List A or, List B and List C.
  • EVERY line needs to be PROPERLY completed in full, without abbreviations, or the form will not be considered compliant.

Hopefully this form will make it easier for both the employee and the employer to complete all of the required information, and reduce the number of technical violations for the employer. This form and the instructions can be found here

This guest post was contributed by Tricia L. Kleber, PHR, CCP.

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The Bird – Navigating the Virtual Jungle (Twitter)

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Feb 22, 2013 in Job Search

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For those of us who don’t tweet on a regular basis, or at all, Twitter can be confusing. For instance, what are all those people trying to say when they use a hash symbol (#)? When you only have a limited number of characters to write for one tweet, what kind of communication is that symbol going to convey? Twitter Help Center: What Are Hashtags? And how can that help your job search?

Using the # symbol in front of a word in a twitter post allows those tweets to be grouped with every other tweet that has that same word tagged with that symbol. This allows you to more easily search for that word. Clicking on the tagged word in a tweet post (using the hashtag will create a hyperlink) will automatically produce the search, or grouping. Manually searching for the tag in the search bar of Twitter will also generate the complete grouping. This is also how Twitter trends are produced. The more people with the same hashtags at the same time means something is a hot topic (“trending”).

When you are searching for a something with multiple items, such as names (first and last) or companies, if only the first word is tagged, only the first word will group. Searching with spaces will only produce the separate words that were tagged. i.e. #Dixion #Hughes #Goodman. This can help you find “Dixon Hughes Goodman” or separately all of the tweets that mention any or all of the words. Most of the clutter can be reduced by eliminating the spaces between the words and searching the entire term as one word. If you needed to tag a company with more than one word in its name in a post, tagging the first word would not allow a search of the following words. Group all the words together, i.e. #DixonHughesGoodman vs #Dixon Hughes Goodman (where only “Dixon” will tag), or even #DHG.

The recommended article on the Twitter Help Page from the New Yorker explains the first part well, and then elaborates on the “other” use of the hashtag. The article describes the use as similar to an emoticon (read: smiley face), and has nothing to do with searching or grouping. The author described the use of the tag “like coughing into a handkerchief”. #notmystyle

You would probably not have an occasion to search for such a group of words as #justanotherdayatwork but the sense of muttering or sighing after a sentence is almost instinctive with this use.

The twittering birds can be useful in the job search jungle. Any recruiter with a twitter account will be tweeting up a storm about the positions that are available. The hash symbol will let you search exactly as it appears. #accounting jobs will only tag “accounting”. #accountingjobs means that only if you search “AccountingJobs” will you find the grouping. #Accounting #jobs is probably better for searching purposes as it will grab posts that tag both “jobs” and “accounting”. Want some quick tips on job searching or links to some great articles recommended by career coach gurus? Search tags like #jobsearch, #jobhunt, #networking, #jobsearchadvice, etc.


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The Tectonic Plates – The Shifting Fault Lines Of Age Discrimination

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 6, 2010 in Building Confidence, Career Path, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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The plates of the earth may be shifting as they do before an earthquake.

I had a conversation this week with a client that started out,
“Honestly, Carolyn, we’re looking for a little gray hair.”
When I asked them to tell me more, he replied,
“We want someone experienced to lead us out of this recession in order to emerge a stronger organization in the next three years.”
I found this completely refreshing since I hear from so many executives that find themselves between jobs with more than 20 years experience, that they feel they are being passed over for up and comers with less experience.

If you’re an employer looking for leaders, here are a few reasons you might want to join my client in their pursuit of people with more experience rather than less:

MYTH: Older workers can’t or won’t learn new skills.
REALITY: Those over 50 are proving their ability to learn new skills by becoming the fastest growing group of Internet users. Career-changers in their 40s and 50s are taking courses to enhance their skills.

MYTH: Older workers aren’t flexible or adaptable.
REALITY: Because they’ve seen many approaches fail in the workplace, they are more likely to question change. But they can accept new approaches as well as younger workers can as long as the rationale is explained.

MYTH: Older workers are more expensive.
REALITY: The costs of more vacation time and pensions are often outweighed by low turnover among older workers and the fact that higher turnover among other groups translates into recruiting, hiring, and training expenses.

MYTH: Older workers take more sick days than younger workers.
REALITY: Attendance records are actually better for older workers than for younger ones.

MYTH: Older workers don’t stay on the job long.
REALITY: Workers between 45 and 54 stayed on the job twice as long as those 25 to 34, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics in 1998.

MYTH: Most older workers are too “overqualified”:
REALITY: YOU GET MUCH MORE THAN YOU PAY FOR. It’s like getting a Ferrari for the price of a Miata. Forget the foolish business about “overqualified.” Many older workers are ready to throttle back but not ready to stop working. They will step into a non-management job after years of running the whole show and be content with that. A retired Army colonel and high-end management consultant, is happy as a clam driving a bus for the local transit authority. Would a twenty-something with no experience dealing with difficult people do as well? And if they ARE willing to manage for you, the value of their experience is exponential.

MYTH: Older workers can’t keep up with the younger generations in work habits.
REALITY: OLDER WORKERS HAVE BETTER WORK HABITS: Inaccurate stereotypes lead hiring supervisors to assume that older workers can’t perform the way younger workers do. That they will miss work or not get as much done. Deciding a candidate who’s a standout on paper isn’t worth an interview because of unsupported assumptions about age means you miss terrific talent you could have brought on board. She may have missed two days in 30 years. Don’t rely on unfounded assumptions to rule out older workers.
In a study of work habits in 39 separate organizations that included 3000 non-management workers, those younger than 26 years of age were found to be substandard in all six work habits: work standards, safety awareness, reliability/follow-through, attendance, punctuality, and avoidance of disciplinary actions. Workers in the 26 to 45 age range were average on all six. Workers age 46 to 55 were above average on four of the six categories. Workers over 56 were above average on five of the six and twice as far above average as the 46 to 55 year-olds on four of the five. If your hiring needs lean heavily on work habits, you should be looking for people with gray hair.

The biggest irony in all this is that the over 50 crowd is the population that actually has money to spend. They own upwards of 70 percent of the financial assets. Their per capita discretionary spending is two and a half times the average of younger households. They hold almost half of all the credit cards in the United States.
You need people who think like them on your team so you can capture that business. Leave your competitors to duke it out over the twenty-somethings whose credit has just dried up.

To curry this market, you need to have a connection to it. Your marketing, strategic planning, and customer service functions need people who can relate because they are over 50 themselves.

Unless you’re selling youth-exclusive products, having someone on staff who does NOT answer “Thank you” with “No problem” is a plus. If you want to appeal to the full range of customers, you need a full range of ages to serve them.

Now, for all you job seekers out there that fit this bill, here are the caveats:

  • You must be comfortable with your computer skills. You can’t rely on having as large a staff of direct reports as you may have had in the past so make sure you can function self sufficiently.
  • Don’t try to negotiate every job opportunity that comes your way into something that’s perfect for you before you even start. There are four or five more of you that can do the job if you seem too demanding before you even start. Instead, take the time to make yourself an exact fit for what they want. If it’s a mutually beneficial situation you’ll be able to make changes and adjustments to your schedule or personnel roster AFTER you’ve proven yourself first.
  • Be flexible. Companies need adaptable, creative, amiable people at all levels. Just because you’re used to doing something a certain way in the past doesn’t mean you can’t learn a new trick or two that can create efficiency.
  • Express a high energy level. If you’re carrying around a few extra pounds, get some extra exercise. The loss of just a few pounds does miracles for your confidence not to mention your appearance.
  • Be prepared to commute longer than you might want or even move should the job demand. No one wants to move or commute and while the economy is improving, executive jobs don’t grow on trees.
  • Network. Regularly interact with people at levels above and below your job title as well as within related areas of expertise. Going to an event filled with IT professionals when you’re a CFO makes you the big fish in a small pond. You’ll learn about companies you’ve never even heard of, and who knows if they don’t have just the perfect opening for you!

Certain myths about older workers (50+) may allow potential employers to hesitate in hiring them, but most employers realize the true value in hiring employees who have been around for a while. The tectonic plates in the earth are responsible for much of the shaking and rumbling that major cities on a large fault feel every year. You don’t have to be young to be a shaker and a mover in a company and employers know that a truly experienced and wizened worker with “a little bit of gray hair” can lead their companies back into a “boom.”

From Four BIG Reasons to Hire Older Workers by Mary Lloyd.
And The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA
Download this fun handout!

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The Underbrush – Breaking Through

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 2, 2010 in Career Path, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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The Wall Street Journal reports some good news for 2011 accounting grads- make sure you use your college’s career center if you’re interested in Big 4 accounting jobs. You can also send resumes and cover letters directly to the Director of on campus recruiting at the Big 4 of your choice asking for an interview. Grades and activities will play a big part in their selection, as will internships, but these are some promising numbers:

PwC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] says it plans to recruit about 5,500 undergraduates and graduate students from U.S. campuses for the year ending June 30, 2011, for internships and full-time jobs. That’s up from 4,600 the prior year, and 4,800 the year before that…

Competitor Ernst & Young says it plans to hire 6,450 U.S. college students for full-time jobs and internships in the year ending June 30, 2011, while Deloitte LLP says it will hire 5,000 in the year ending May 31, 2011. KPMG plans to hire 3,400 in 2010, and 3,900 next year.”

Quote taken from the original article PwC Pays for Priority by Joe Walker

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The Desert – Winds Of Change

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 11, 2010 in Building Confidence, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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The Job Search Jungle is back in the desert!

Greetings from Las Vegas! The hot winds are high and bringing good news!

Its nearly 100 degrees outside today in the desert with high wind warnings but it’s even hotter and windier inside Fordyce Forum 2010 at the M Resort.

Hot topics presented here by leaders in the recruiting industry have an across the board consensus that hiring is continuing to grow across all segments. The winds of change signal that the candidate market is beginning to narrow again. Top candidates are getting multiple offers and employers are making counteroffers to key personnel upon resignation.

The forecast is good for job seekers and employers alike. Polish up your resume, enriching it with appropriate key words so employers will be able to find you as they add back jobs they eliminated last year and enhance their benefits to compete for the best talent.

Use the power of the winds and ride them to success as we kick off the summer of 2010!

Carolyn Thompson

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The Tiger – Go Get ‘Em!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 5, 2008 in Executive Coaching, Lessons Learned

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When given the task to pick an animal for my “job search jungle” blog, I was immediately drawn to the commanding and charismatic tiger. After beginning my research, I learned that the tiger was the national animal for several Asian nations, including Korea. And as a Korean-American, I found this information quite fascinating. Was this a coincidence, that I picked an animal that represented my heritage??? Well, that’s a topic for another blog…

Tigers are powerful, highly adaptable, and one of the post popular and recognizable animals in the world. Whether in the board room or in the playing field, we grew up hearing the phrase, “get ’em tiger”. This has been a part of the American vernacular throughout generations. Tigers are also known to be fiercely territorial and this trait can be extremely damaging in the workplace. In Corporate America, you’ll find many “tiger managers” with this destructive trait. Throughout my 15 years of human resources and recruiting experience, I have encountered tiger managers who enjoy being the best, the brightest, the fastest, and who are very territorial. Even when given the opportunity to strengthen their team and hire a new staff, the tiger managers’ natural territorial defenses kick in and they employ someone who’s less threatening. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they hire candidates who may not be as bright or talented, for fear of being outshined. Hiring the weaker candidate will often leave tiger managers with incompetent staff and higher turnover. Thus, in the end, wasting time, energy, and money.

Moving up in the ranks of Corporate HR, I was fortunate to have managers and mentors who did not possess destructive tiger traits and they taught me the value of building and developing the best team. As a Partner and Recruiting Manager for CMCS, an (8a), women and minority owned company, I make it my mission to hire people who I think are smarter and better than me. So to all those tiger mangers out there…it should be obvious, but hiring the best talent is what’s best for you and your business, even if that means paying a bit more. Surrounding yourself with competent staff will free yourself to start tackling those business development projects that have been pushed aside for way too long.

Courtnie Cho
Partner, CMCS

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