I’m often asked “When’s the best time of year to start a job hunt?”
There really is no one “job hunting season”. But know that it usually takes longer than you expect, so starting a search near Memorial Day with the expectations that you’ll be in a new job for July 4th would be, for most people, unrealistic. I tell most job-seeking professionals who are between jobs to expect a three-month campaign, and if they’re working full-time, due to less time available for networking, a transition taking about six months is not unusual.
Job fairs usually follow the calendar of the school year. In other words, they are usually not scheduled during the summer or close to the December holidays. While I think job fairs are usually a mixed bag at best, some are well-run with quality companies who have real jobs. Better to use the job fair ad to see what companies will be there, then check their web sites to see if there are jobs in your career area. Not every open job is posted but what’s there will give you an idea of what their needs are.
There are certainly times of the year where it’s more difficult to sit down with network contacts or hiring managers. Mid-December through the first of January is tough because of their many out-of-the-office commitments. But many recruiters are available at this time of year so try to reach them then.
It’s not as easy to reach networking contacts or hiring managers from late June through mid-July. This is when many people are away on vacation. While this may continue through the summer, the toughest period is the two weeks around July 4th.
So plan ahead when you’re hoping to make a transition. While the time of year might not have a huge impact, hitting your stride when people are around will be to your benefit.
Clients often ask about finding “best companies” lists, especially “Best Companies to Work For” lists. One key source is your regional weekly business journal. Business journals often gather info then publish lists on an annual basis. And business sections of regional newspapers, as well as national business magazines, publish their lists. Organizations that serve groups such as minorities, older Americans, and the disabled put out their own lists.
Of course, there are many lists online. About.com and other sites list “best companies to work for”.
And the best way to learn, first-hand, about good companies is while networking. Ask your connections if their company or organization is good to work for, and why they feel that way. If a company’s culture and goals match yours, it’s a good bet you’ll be happy there.
“Tell me about yourself” is often the first things an interviewer says to you. Whether face-to-face or on the phone, this is a question that candidates usually hate to hear. Why? Because it’s such a broad question. Where do you start answering it and what do you say?
The person saying “Tell us about yourself” doesn’t want to know where you grew up or how many kids you have. They want to hear you talk and see how you formulate your thoughts. And they want to hear how you present yourself, especially in relation to the open job.
Your answer? It’s not in a book. It should be customized to the job AND to you. And you can prepare for it beforehand so that it feels and sounds as real as you are. First, what are the 5-8 things that are MOST important to them in this job? Then, What are three “success factors” you have that relate to those? Success factors are those aspects of you that make you successful.
That means you won’t launch into “I have 18 years of med tech experience and I’m seeking a company that will let me grow”. That kind of answer says nothing real about you.
Instead, try: “When I look at what you have defined as important for this position, I see several points of connection. Three of them are: my technical expertise, my skills in project management, and my people skills. Which of those would you like me to start with?”
This kind of response engages the questioner. And it narrows the question in the way YOU want.
Give this approach a try and you’ll quickly begin welcoming the question “Tell me about yourself”, and you’ll be making it work for you.
HR is increasingly known within companies as the Talent Acquisition and Retention center. In other words, it’s no longer the HR of old, busy only with compliance paperwork. While paperwork is indeed a part of what they do, their role is now viewed as vital in getting the right people into the company or organization, and therefore increasing the bottom line.
Result: Today, you must be prepared for the behavior-based interview. This is the dominant interview “style” used by companies today, and since HR is training hiring managers to interview this way, it’s in your best interest to know what to expect. They use this method because it more accurately gets them to see if you really have the talents and skills they need to get the job done.
While we could spend this entire space on behavior-based interviewing, let’s just say it’s focused on you providing examples about your strengths and achievements. In short, interviewing isn’t about the interviewer’s gut feel any more: instead, you need to perform.
The cost of a bad hire — whatever the reason — is enormous. If someone ends up being a “wrong hire”, then the whole organization suffers, because it’s estimated that it costs three times that job’s salary to re-do a search for the right person to fill it. That loss is in hard dollars spent on salary, benefits, bonuses, relocation packages, and so forth, not to mention lost time spent by those who interviewed you.
That’s why they’re being so careful, and why you are going through multiple interviews.