Monday, February 16, 2009

Job Search Techniques - Prepare

People looking to change job roles or move to a new organization need to prepare in two main areas. Know yourself and know what you are applying for.

Firstly is self knowledge. You need to make an honest assessment of yourself in terms of skills and competence. A good way to do this is to make a skills audit and ask friends / relatives / co-workers for honest feedback on your level. You need to understand yourown motivations, dreams and desires.
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Where are you heading in your career long term?
  • What about your family / life balance?
Answering these questions will help guide you to which companies and which roles you should be applying for.

Secondly is knowledge of the company and role you are seeking. Do your research.
  • What is the core business of the company?
  • How does the organisation make money?
  • What is the job you are applying for?
  • How does that job add value to the company?
By having information on these two areas you will be able to match your skills, experience, hopes and desires with the opportunity at the company. You can prepare interview question answers by listing your recent career achievements and showing how these fit to the job you are applying for.

The key element of a job search is passion. If you are passionate about the opportunity you are applying for, it will show in your communications to the company. You will submit a perfect CV, you will turn up to interviews on time, you will ask sensible questions and give detailed answers, and you will have enough information to make the right choice on a new job.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Connect the Dots

Here is a story, based on a real life account, that demonstrates the importance of the Human Resources function ensuring adequate communication between all people involved in the hiring process.

Mr X is a talented overseas Vietnamese with over 10 years IT marketing experience gained in Europe where he grew up and in the USA. He had decided to return to Vietnam for family reasons and is looking for a suitable position that will allow him to continue his career.

Company ABC is a large US multinational in the IT field. ABC has been in Vietnam for over 10 years. Recently the company promoted it's first Vietnamese into the role of country manager.

Through his job seeking activities, Mr X found out the ABC had a vacancy as head of business development. A role he would be well qualified to fill. About two weeks after submitting his details he was excited to be called in for an interview.

Mr X was interviewed by a young and inexperienced HR administrator. The interview went well however the administrator could not tell him about the details of the job, the strategy of the company, and Mr X did not meet any of the people he might be working with if he was successful.

A week later Mr X was thrilled to get a call from ABC company asking him to come for a 'technical interview'. He met the technical director, Mr Dung, of ABC company and they had a long and rambling interview of over one hour.

About 10 days after that Mr X was called by ABC company. His technical interview had gone well and he was told that Mr Dung was impressed by Mr X skills and knowledge, something that that Mr X was happy to know as he knows from experience that in the IT field different companies have different requirement levels in this area. The next step would be a meeting with the Regional Manager Mr Tan in Singapore.

It took a further 3 weeks to arrange an interview time with Mr Tan who was busy managing activities in 11 countries across the region. Mr X and Mr Tan had a good interview, again over one hour in length. At the interview Mr Tan explained that the role in Vietnam was more about attitude and personality and less about technical skill.

Back in Vietnam the HR manager of ABC had heard about Mr X and decided she should meet with him. So Mr X went along after returning from Singapore for another one hour interview. Three days later Mr X was excited to get the call from ABC that his next and final interview would be with the Country Manager.

It took another 10 days for the appointment with the Country Manager to happen. The meeting went well, however it was the first time he had been interviewed by ABC company in Vietnamese (all the other interviews were in English). Mr X was also surprised that the interview was so short, only 15 minutes. He took that as a good sign.

Let's re-cap here. Mr X has been in the ABC recruitment process for over 65 days. He has had 5 interviews. He has been flown to Singapore and back at ABC expense and met their most senior manager in Vietnam.

Imagine Mr X surprise when the HR administrator calls him to say that ABC were not interested in continuing his recruitment because his Vietnamese language skills were too weak and that he did not have a strong enough technical background for the job.

Wow. Mr X is now gaining a certificate of Vietnamese language from a university. He is also updating his facebook page and his 300 friends now know about his treatment with ABC company. He has re-started his job seeking activities and has committed to not getting too excited about any one opportunity.

ABC goes on recruiting in this unstructured way. They waste people's time (mostly their own) and build up then crush hopes. ABC has not yet woken up to the fact that now we are in a connected society. In the past these sorts of things would be known by only the job applicant and their family and friends. These days good job seekers will search the web for information about prospective employers.

In the Executive Search industry companies such as ABC are referred to as 'banana clients'. Consultants are reluctant to send their best candidates to such clients for fear of the treatment Mr X went through.

For large companies internal communications is one of the biggest obstacles to business. HR has a pivotal role in connecting the dots, streamlining the recruitment process and protecting and building the employer brand of their company. Good companies partner with their professional services firms to ensure good quality 'candidate care' and to build a strong reputation in the market.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When to hire and when to fire

Whether you employ one person, or fifty, choosing the right employees can be a challenge. How do you know which of the candidates will be worth their weight in gold, and which will waste your money? Well, the "secret" to hiring the right employee is to give equal weight to five different factors:


Sometimes, the best applicant is not the one with 20 years of experience. Sometimes, the best applicant is not the one with the Master's degree. Focus your interview questions around all five traits, and the "right" employee will emerge.

What if you cannot decide? Look closely at the experience, because past experience is the best indicator of future success.

If you're struggling with current employees, here are four guidelines to determine it's time to let someone go:

You are doing (or re-doing) their work
They fail to reach their goals on a regular basis
The employee has not taken your feedback to heart
They negatively impact other employees around them

Business owners do not have the luxury of keeping poor or mediocre employees. You must keep only the best employees for your business. And, don't feel guilty for letting go of inefficient or unproductive persons. You're growing a business, not running a charity.

Plus, I've learned by experience that I'm not doing anyone any favors by keeping a bad employee around... not the employee, not my customers, not the rest of my staff, and not me!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

HR2B Begins Year of the Ox

HR2B is a Vietnamese company. In addition to giving world class customer service to our clients and candidates, tradition is very important to us. Here on our first day back at work, the 8th day of the new lunar year of the water buffalo HR2B staff and management pay their respects and pray for a good year ahead.
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