Originally published here – http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/187668011.html
Dear Matt: I’ve been to a few interviews recently in which I had to complete an assessment test. I was not prepared for this. Why do companies use assessments, what are the most popular assessments out there, and what role do these play when companies hire?
Matt says: It’s important to understand why a company would use an assessment, also known as a pre-employment test. Remember, a company’s purpose for hiring is to add talent to their team, so they are going to use every measuring stick or resource possible when recruiting and hiring.
“The goal of an assessment is to give clients a clear picture of who you are as a candidate,” says Nikki Francois, a Recruiter at CorTalent (www.cor3talent.com), a Minnetonka-based recruiting and human resources company. “It’s difficult for employers to learn everything about a candidate during the interview process.”
For example, CorTalent is an authorized Prevue Assessment distributor. In this assessment, hiring managers can customize a benchmark to highlight the preferred skills, traits and characteristics they would like to see in a candidate. It measures a person’s cognitive abilities, motivations and interests and personality relative to a specific job opportunity. Other popular assessments include the DISC, Profiles International and Caliper.
Even if you know you have to take an assessment, it’s not typically something you can study for, says Francois. However, it’s important to answer honestly — not how you think the employer wants you to answer. For example, Prevue Assessments measure abilities, interests and motivations and personality characteristics; there are no wrong answers.
Some companies ask or require candidates to complete assessments on site during the interview process, while other companies will ask candidates to complete this on their own time. Some tests monitor validity and can tell if you were trying to sway the answers to what you thought the hiring manager wanted to see. Therefore, it’s important to take these assessments seriously and answer honestly.
If you are a job seeker, assessments can seem overwhelming. The important thing is to look at them as an opportunity to show the employer the real you. Sometimes, personalities, motivations and interests, skill set, or culture fit just doesn’t align, but that’s okay because it’s really about finding the best fit for you personally and the best fit for the company.
“Some assessments may seem over the top, but keep in mind that the company you are interviewing with is invested in making the right hiring decision,” says Francois, “so that usually means they are interested in investing in their employees too.”
CorTalent is proud to be a newly certified company by the NWBOC – National Women Business Owners Corporation.
About the NWBOC:
The National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) has led the way for women business owners to obtain WBE Certification. Created in 1995, NWBOC was established to increase competition for corporate and government contracts through implementation of a national certification program for women business owners. The development of our national Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) certification program, sponsored by IBM, involved cooperation and input from over 700 public and private sector individuals. The result was the creation of the WBE Application, the process, and the NWBOC Standards and Procedures.
NWBOC was created in response to needs identified by the Procurement Special Interest Group of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO.) The investigation revealed that to a large degree corporate America and government agencies had not received, nor recognized, the benefits of contracting with women suppliers. Only a small fraction of corporate and government contracts were with women-owned firms. This mindset prevented purchasers from obtaining the best value in their procurements, and it limited women business owners from penetrating these markets, which has stymied their business growth. Research has shown that after developing supplier partnerships with women-owned firms, many companies and government agencies have enhanced their bottom line for their shareholders, and taxpayers, respectively.
Learn more at www.nwboc.org/About.
Originally published here – http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/168460386.html
Dear Matt: In addition to my résumé and cover letter, I’ve been sending letters of recommendation from past employers and colleagues. Another thing I’ve been doing is emailing my performance reviews to employers as well as adding quotes from my LinkedIn profile to my résumé. Do these help set me apart, or do employers find these wishy-washy?
Matt says: I often hear from job seekers whose sole goal is to provide the employer with as much information as possible. More information can be helpful, but it needs to be presented at the right time and the right way.
“As recruiters, we tend to focus more on the résumé than letters of recommendation or cover letters,” says Jenny Holte, lead recruiter with Twin Cities-based CorTalent (cor3talent.com), a people management and consulting services firm. “I think letters of recommendation are great things to bring to an in-person interview with a hiring manager. When speaking about your past roles you can mention that you’ve received letters of recommendation from your previous employers. Let them know you have brought those letters with you and ask if the hiring manager would like to see them.”
Holte has seen individuals weave recommendations from LinkedIn or quotes from other sources into their résumé in such a way that it feels a part of the résumé, and she likes that. “I do think it’s a nice touch that can set some candidates apart from others, but it must be done well,” says Holte.
The key is to pick out one or two quotes — no more — that are specific and unique. Blend the recommendations into the résumé somewhere on the first page if you can (such as in a bulleted profile section), so that the reader has to look at them to get to the end. List the person’s name, title and company so there is a point of reference; individuals who managed you directly are best.
As for performance reviews, Holte does not recommend including them in the application process. Bring them with you to an interview and if appropriate, mention that you have copies if they would like to see them. However, overall, this method does not hold a lot of value.
No matter what add-ons you send, the key to any success in the job search is highlighting how your background fits that specific employers’ needs.
“Providing a clear picture of your capabilities, accomplishments and then adding an endorsement really gives the recruiter an idea of what it would be like to worth with you,” said Holte.
Originally published here.
A resume client recently sent materials to update his resume. Included was his StrengthsFinder 2.0 profile, which was completed in his previous corporate role.
StrengthsFinder 2.0 is “The #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 BusinessWeek bestseller that introduced the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment with features that include a personalized Strengths Insight Report, an Action-Planning Guide, and a web-based Strengths Community.”
I can understand why the client sent me this information. I ask them to send any documentation that highlights their skills, achievements, experience, background and strengths. But it got me thinking, would adding one’s StrengthsFinder results to a resume do more harm than good? The reason is, if I added 5 specific characteristics as identified in StrengthsFinder, it may actually hurt the job seeker. Why? The recruiter may read their traits/skills and stereotype them before they even get to interview them. They may view those results and think, “maybe this person wouldn’t fit into our corporate culture?” Or, “this person seems to be the exact opposite personality type of what we are looking for.”
Missi McKown, a Recruiter at CorTalent, a Minnetonka, MN-based recruiting and human resources company, agrees.
“When I see the StrengthsFinder top 5 traits on a resume, I cringe a little,” says McKown. “While I would hope that a salesperson I am looking to find would have the qualities of “Winning Others Over” or “WOO” I don’t really want to see it spelled out on the resume. Maybe it’s just me, but it somehow feels disingenuous. I know that sounds weird because this trait has been revealed in a test, but I’d rather discover that in my own conversations with a candidate, rather than having it emblazoned on a resume with five bullet points.”
McKown says that if a candidate has a solid understanding of the job they are applying for and knows that your skills/traits align, and that the company you are applying for values the Strengths Finder 2.0, listing these traits on your resume could backfire in ruling you out as a candidate if the person reading your resume doesn’t fully understand Strengths Finder 2.0 or if they misinterpret your traits/skills, ultimately doing more harm than good.
Bottom line: Include your strengths, but not your StrengthsFinder results on your resume.
Originally published here – http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/161783435.html
Dear Matt: I appreciated last week’s article on compensation. I dread talking salary; can you provide more thoughts on this topic?
Matt says: You are not alone. Employers often dread this conversation too, says Erica Edgar, Recruiter/Project Manager at CorTalent (www.cor3talent.com), a Minnetonka-based recruiting and human resources company.
“No one likes talking about money,” said Edgar. “It’s an awkward conversation. You need money to live, so you need to be open and honest about it, whether or not you want to be. When job seekers are not willing to discuss compensation, it’s a red flag. Even though it’s uncomfortable, it helps manage expectations for both the candidate and the employer. Sometimes people don’t want to share what they’re making because it is so much less than what they think they should be making, but being honest is still the best option.”
So, how do you best answer the question: What type of salary are you looking for? This was touched on in last week’s Ask Matt (ww2.startribune.com/careermanagement), but here are some additional thoughts:
First, answer the question by talking about your total compensation. Employers want to hear what you’re currently making. If your salary is $50,000 and your benefits are worth another $10,000, reference your total compensation as $60,000 and start from there. Provide a range and explain that you’re open to the entire opportunity and benefit package and want to stay within the competitive range for the opportunity. If the company is unable to provide the total compensation you’re hoping for, maybe they can be flexible in providing additional vacation time.
If you’re willing to take a step back in compensation because there is opportunity for growth with this new company, be sure to explain that during your interview.
Know your answer to the compensation question before you go into the interview. Be sure to have a realistic understanding of what you’re willing to consider but also what you realistically need. Even if the opportunity is attractive, if the compensation does not meet your needs you will be distracted by your personal situation and it will influence your success in the role, said Edgar.
Remember, while compensation is important, culture, fit and opportunity are also a big part of the equation. “The best advice is to be honest about where you’ve been and what you need,” said Edgar. “Be honest about your skill set, your interest in the company, and where you see yourself going.”
Originally published here – http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/161077385.html
Dear Matt: Why do employers ask “what salary are you looking for?” when they know what they want to pay? How do I present my case and get what is fair?
Matt says: What type of salary are you looking for? Most people dread that question, but it doesn’t have to be something job seekers fear. In fact, it should be a very open and candid conversation.
Employers are looking for honesty in this answer says Rob Duncan, lead recruiter of CorTalent (cor3talent.com), a Minnetonka-based recruiting and human resources firm. The best way to answer it? “Here’s where I’m at now, and here is what I would love to have.”
Provide a range for potential employers with your current salary as the starting point and a “love to have” number as the ending range. Always mention that you are open to the entire opportunity so you can continue the discussion even if you’re a little bit higher than their desired compensation range.
“Future compensation is always going to depend on market value and where your previous compensation has been,” said Duncan. “When someone receives a new job offer, they are typically not going to get a huge increase from their last position. If you’re on the low end of market value, it’s rare to receive a huge jump to the high end.”
Keep in mind that more goes into your compensation than just your base salary alone. If you are receiving commissions, bonuses, or overtime and company-paid benefits, add it all up and present your compensation number as your total compensation, said Duncan. If you start by saying, “My base is $45K and I receive bonuses and commissions on top of that,” the 45K number is what the employer is going to remember. If you instead say, “My total compensation is $60K which includes quarterly bonuses that I have achieved for the last 6 years straight and monthly commissions,” that is a more accurate representation — and the higher number will stick in their mind.
One thing managers don’t want to hear is this: “This is what I think this job is worth based on my research of salary.com” or payscale.com or glassdoor.com. Be careful when looking at compensation data online, as there are too many factors that go into how those numbers are figured — and they are not always accurate.
“Employers are expecting and hoping to hear the truth,” said Duncan. “When job seekers are not willing to discuss compensation, it’s a red flag. Even though it’s uncomfortable, it helps manage expectations for both the candidate and the employer.”
Originally published here – http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/145762785.html
Dear Matt: I went to a first interview and thought it was going to be a feeling out process for both sides. Well, I got offered the job at the end of the interview. I was totally unprepared for this. When it came to talking about salary, my interest in the job and possible start date, I didn’t know what to say. Is this a common trend nowadays — to offer a job on the first interview?
Matt says: This experience is happening more and more frequently, said Missi McKown, Recruiter at CorTalent, a Minnetonka-based recruiting and human resources company (www.cor3talent.com).
“Employers are doing their research before posting the job to know what type of candidate they are looking to hire,” said McKown. “When they see the right candidate they are not waiting to extend the offer, even if it’s on the first meeting.”
In fact, this happened recently with a CorTalent client, McKown said.
“We had already spent a considerable amount of time with the candidate on our end and by the time the candidate was in front of [the employer], they had a clear picture of the candidate’s background, experiences and what they could bring to the table,” said McKown. “Once they met in person, our client did not hesitate to extend an offer.”
Always expect the unexpected in an interview. Many companies are motivated to hire, so before you go you should be prepared to know what type of salary the position offers or what you would be willing to accept. You should also have a transition plan in place to know the timeline between leaving your current employer and starting at your new employer.
It’s also important to gain a complete understanding of the job, your role, expectations, company culture, department challenges and goals and idea of who you will be working with and/or management work style. Be prepared to ask questions related to those scenarios so you have a clear understanding of how you would fit with the company.
Look beyond salary and title, dig deep to gain a true understanding of the job, company and how you fit in.
If you are offered a job on the first interview, but are not quite ready to answer yes or no, requesting more time think about it is completely reasonable, said McKown.
“By knowing what you are looking for before the first interview, you will be able to recognize it when you find it,” McKown said. “It will also give you the confidence to accept the new opportunity when it presents itself to you.”
by Barb Dusek
You will find very few who are more passionate about helping organizations excel at finding, selecting, and retaining talent than Mary Nutting and Alissa Henrickson of CorTalent. These dynamic women partner their talents to bring the term “right fit,” into action for companies of all sizes in a variety of industries. Here is a sample of what they shared with us at our October Breakfast Club learning event.
First, talent management starts with culture. And, as Mary shared with us, a company needs to understand their own values and beliefs in order to be effective in matching a person to the culture. She suggested we start asking ourselves questions like, “have I clearly articulated expectations to staff, and “does the organization routinely listen to ideas from employees?” The costs of employee turnover are very high, no matter how you slice it. Therefore, the first key to a successful process is to start by answering these critical questions about culture.
Second, recruiting is a process; not a single event. Alissa did a great job of helping us recognize that creating (and following!) a consistent process, in a timely manner, is crucical for both the potential new hire and the organization. Hiring managers want to know if candidates are really invested in their company. Yet, those same hiring managers can drop the ball of selection activity and end up losing the very candidate they needed. Stay the course is the message here. Maintaining active engagement with the candidate is vital.
Third, orientation is not a substitute for onboarding. Both Mary and Alissa spoke about the need to think of onboarding a new employee as an activity that spans well beyond a traditional orientation meeting. Onboarding connects new employees with coworkers, their new manager, and others in the company. This doesn’t happen overnight. So, like recruiting, we need to think of onboarding as a process, not a single event. Plan to meet and debrief what is working and what is not working with a new employee at least four to six times in their first three months on the job. Doing this will intentionally build a relationship of value.
Building relationships, and connecting those relationships to each other, creates a culture of community. And it is community, not company, that creates a sense of loyalty.
We had the privilege of having talent management experts, Alissa Henrikson and Mary Nutting, with us as guest speakers at our October Breakfast Club event. Each offered excellent comments about how to find, select and retain talent best suited to the needs of an organization. (See their presentation here.) By far, the comments that rang the loudest to me were all about culture. Using their words, Mary and Alissa clearly made the point that all organizations should “hire like you mean it!” In other words, have a clear understanding of what your company culture is. Without knowing yourself, first, you have little chance of making a good match when bringing in a person to join your team.
A division of AssetHR
If you’ve applied for a job online or through a company Web site, follow up via phone within three days. Before you make that call, re-read the job description and pick out two key points that match your experience to the job that you can discuss with the hiring manager. Use examples to show them why you should be considered.
If you get the hiring mangers voicemail it’s okay to say that you will follow up again in four to five days if you don’t hear back from them.
Find other ways to connect with employers or hiring manager – for example, through LinkedIn. This way you can also show off more about your background and experience through your LinkedIn profile.
When you conclude an interview make sure to ask the hiring manager what the next steps are in the process. Then simply ask what the best way to follow-up with them is. Be sure to get a business card to send them a thank you.
Don’t just apply for a job and hope that you’re going to get a call. Turn yourself into a viable candidate by following up and thinking outside the box on ways to separate yourself. Here’s a tip: Research the company and mention a core value of yours that aligns with one of their core values. This helps show the employer that your background aligns with the culture of the company. Employers want the right fit as well as the person with the right skills/experience.
Never ramble when leaving a voicemail or writing the thank you. Practice before calling, be precise and confident.