October 2009 » CHICAGO JOB MARKET
INTERVIEW PREPARATION BLOG

Archive for October, 2009

My Recruiting Experience Says: The Employment Picture Has To Improve Shortly!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

How is your interview process going? Unemployment rates still remain high despite a lot of positive economic news. That creates a lot of uncertainty among job seekers. On one hand they hear that many economic indicators are improving. On the other hand jobs remain scarce.

My over twenty years experience as an executive recruiter tells me that the employment picture has to improve shortly. Therefore, you need to sharpen your interview skills. Review some of my past interview preparation tips and really hone in on your interviewing skills. It will be when you least expect it that a job opening presents itself; so you need to be ready! Continue to network and meet key decision makers in your field. These are the champions who decide the employment fate of their companies. Often times they can also create jobs for you if you are the right person in the right place at the right time!

The Pay Czar Strikes Again!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Treasury Department pay czar Kenneth Feinberg last week announced sharp cuts in total compensation at the finance and auto companies under his control. But while he cut total compensation by half, he substantially increased one important element, regular salaries. The move reflects the complexity of regulating something that mixes politics and economics.

Mr. Feinberg oversees seven firms that accepted bailout packages:

1. American International Group Inc.

2. Citigroup Inc.

3. Bank of America Corp.

4. General Motors Corp.

5. GMAC Financial Services

6. Chrysler Group

7. Chrysler Financial.

Is this smart? Is this effective? Is this even American? I say, “no” on all three counts! My over twenty years as a recruiter tells me that supply and demand works! Trying to control salaries is not smart. This is something one would expect from a socialist or communist country. Furthermore, it is not efficient from a market standpoint. The supply for top-notch executives capable of bailing out these seven firms is very small and the demand is very high. Therefore, staffing experts at these firms need to do everything possible to recruit the best and brightest. Tying their hands in the employment process is not what they need in such a critical moment in their existances.

Need To Improve Math Education!

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, less than 40% of 4th and 8th graders are proficient in mathematics! This test is often called the nation’s report card and was given early this year. It also found significant scoring gaps between white students and Hispanic and African-American students.

Countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan faired a lot better than the U.S. What this means is these countries are better prepared for the technical future! Future scientists, engineers, researchers and technical professionals start with education today. As a result, we need to completely overhaul our science, math and technical educational system if we are going to continue to be a leader in technology in the future. This also means a lot more in the way of public and private partnerships including mentoring promising minds.

Unemployment Widespread Across The Globe!

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The most recent (for August) average unemployment rate for the 29 members of the Organization for economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was 8.6%. This was 2.3% higher than a year ago. Some examples included:

1. France at 9.9%

2. The United States at 9.7%

3. Canada at 8.7%

4. U.K at 7.3%

5. Germany at 7.7%

6. Italy at 7.4%

7. Japan was the lone bright spot at 5.5%

What this means is the hardship that you are feeling is being felt widespread across the globe. Though there are no simple answers, I do once again repeat two important messages for you:

1. Resumes will not get you hired. Instead, you need to network. This includes joining associations in your field and meeting key decision makers.

2. Do not overlook temporary positions. Since companies are continuing to hire temporary workers, include yourself in the mix because these often lead to full time positions.

Dow tops 10,000 for first time in a year

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

The Dow Jones industrial average has reclaimed 10,000 for the first time in a year.

The Dow crossed five figures in trading Wednesday, seven months after it hit a 12-year low of 6,547.05 on March 9. The comeback by the stock market’s best-known indicator is the most visible sign yet that investors believe the economy is indeed recovering from the financial crisis and recession.

Cheering erupted from traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as stocks briefly moved above the psychological barrier. The Dow at times fell back below 10,000 in the normal ebb and flow of trading, but finished at 10,015.86, up 144.80 points.

“People feel more comfortable and feel like there’s less risk in the market when you get above a psychological point like 10,000,” said Carl Beck, a partner at Harris Financial Group.

Upbeat earnings reports from chip maker Intel Corp. and banker JPMorgan Chase & Co. Wednesday gave the Dow its final push past 10,000.

Investors are increasingly shaking off lingering doubts about the economy. However, analysts still warn that problems like rising unemployment and a weak housing market pose a threat to a solid recovery.

This combined with other recent economic reports confirms that the recession
is likely over and our economy is starting to recover. However, we may see a
spike to 10% unemployment before a major drop because the jobs data
traditionally trails other economic indicators. The last time we had a 10%
or higher national unemployment rate was June, 1983 when it the rate was
10.!%

The Dow is now up more than 50 percent from its March low. But it remains nearly 30 percent below its peak of 14,164.53 hit in October 2007.

The index first finished above 10,000 on March 29, 1999, in the midst of a powerful rally that ended with the dot-com bust at the start of this decade. Stocks then fell below that mark last October as investors sold stocks in a feverish panic following the downfall of Lehman Brothers.

The latest round of earnings reports, which will continue to pour in over the next few weeks, are the key to keeping the market’s rally alive, analysts say. If earnings fall short of expectations, stocks could stumble.

Together, the reports quieted fears that major U.S. companies won’t be able to boost profits through sales growth and not just massive cost-cutting, which was a main driver behind the improvement in second-quarter results.

Investors displayed little reaction to minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting that indicated policymakers were conflicted over whether to expand or trim a program intended to drive down mortgage rates and support the housing market.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues agreed to slow down the pace of a $1.25 trillion program to buy mortgage securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Instead of wrapping up the purchases by year-end, the Fed last month said it would do so by the end of March.

Source: Associated Press

Dow tops 10,000 for first time in a year

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

The Dow Jones industrial average has reclaimed 10,000 for the first time in a year.

The Dow crossed five figures in trading Wednesday, seven months after it hit a 12-year low of 6,547.05 on March 9. The comeback by the stock market’s best-known indicator is the most visible sign yet that investors believe the economy is indeed recovering from the financial crisis and recession.

Cheering erupted from traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as stocks briefly moved above the psychological barrier. The Dow at times fell back below 10,000 in the normal ebb and flow of trading, but finished at 10,015.86, up 144.80 points.

“People feel more comfortable and feel like there’s less risk in the market when you get above a psychological point like 10,000,” said Carl Beck, a partner at Harris Financial Group.

Upbeat earnings reports from chip maker Intel Corp. and banker JPMorgan Chase & Co. Wednesday gave the Dow its final push past 10,000.

Investors are increasingly shaking off lingering doubts about the economy. However, analysts still warn that problems like rising unemployment and a weak housing market pose a threat to a solid recovery.

This combined with other recent economic reports confirms that the recession is likely over and our economy is starting to recover. However, we may see a spike to 10% unemployment before a major drop because the jobs data traditionally trails other economic indicators. The last time we had a 10% or higher national unemployment rate was June, 1983 when it the rate was 10.!%

The Dow is now up more than 50 percent from its March low. But it remains nearly 30 percent below its peak of 14,164.53 hit in October 2007.

The index first finished above 10,000 on March 29, 1999, in the midst of a powerful rally that ended with the dot-com bust at the start of this decade. Stocks then fell below that mark last October as investors sold stocks in a feverish panic following the downfall of Lehman Brothers.

The latest round of earnings reports, which will continue to pour in over the next few weeks, are the key to keeping the market’s rally alive, analysts say. If earnings fall short of expectations, stocks could stumble.

Together, the reports quieted fears that major U.S. companies won’t be able to boost profits through sales growth and not just massive cost-cutting, which was a main driver behind the improvement in second-quarter results.

Investors displayed little reaction to minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting that indicated policymakers were conflicted over whether to expand or trim a program intended to drive down mortgage rates and support the housing market.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues agreed to slow down the pace of a $1.25 trillion program to buy mortgage securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Instead of wrapping up the purchases by year-end, the Fed last month said it would do so by the end of March.

Source: Associated Press

No Salary Czar Needed!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

One of the most misguided policies of the Obama administration is focusing on ways to reduce executive’s pay. Even having a pay czar is a waste of valuable time and money! This is contrary to everything I have learned about the free market system.

In theory, this policy has some merit including placing a huge chunk of compensation into stock that cannot be touched for several years. This supposedly will better link a manager’s efforts with the economic well-being of the company. Unfortunately, this will also have many bad side effects including complicating efforts to recruit the best and brightest to run underperforming companies like Bank of America, which is currently recruiting for Kenneth Lewis’ replacement.

Instead, the “invisible hand” espoused by Adam Smith has guided companies and managers through free markets for centuries. True, there are criminals that misuse their power, but does any evidence exist that criminals are less prevalent in highly regulated situations? In fact, evidence shows the contrary. Look no further than communist countries like Russia and China where payoffs and corruption run rampant!

Instead of trying to reduce executive’s pay, having a pay czar and focusing in on all these big government programs, the administration needs to re-focus on the real engine for jobs creation, small businesses. To that end I have two suggestions: 1) providing more and easier access to capital and 2) expanding successful programs like SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), which provide training to entrepreneurs to start and expand small businesses. These will be the real drivers for more jobs, which will do more for our economy than being on an executive pay witch-hunt.

Don’t Work For Free

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

I read an article on page 6 of Sunday’s Parade Magazine entitled, “Should Unemployed People Work for Free?” My short answer is No!

Though the article does make some good points including: 1) 58% of the participants in the cited Georgia Works program were hired full time by the companies where they worked for free and 2) the state paid both their unemployment benefits and a weekly stipend for transportation, child care and other expenses. Furthermore, I realize that the recent national unemployment rate rose .1% to 9.8% and the Georgia state unemployment rate is even higher at 10.2%, but this sets some very bad employment precedents.

First, there is no guarantee that the candidates will land a full-time job. These companies could just use them for free labor. Second, the time spent working for free actually takes away from job finding efforts. Finally, companies continue to hire temporary workers. Therefore, workers can actually make money on a temporary job assignment, which can also lead to full-time employment! Especially since one of the major trends in employment is temp-to-perm conversions. This means an employer hiring someone on a temporary basis, trying them out for several months and then converting them into full-time employment once they have proven themselves.

Also, job seekers need to spend more time honing their interview skills. This is the case since research shows that the most important part of landing a job is selling yourself in the interview. Unfortunately, many candidates do a very poor job. Especially during these tough employment times, one needs to be very well prepared and stand out among the competition. Therefore, instead of providing free labor, one should find ways to better market themselves to employers.

Working for free does not prove anything. Instead it marginalizes your abilities. A better way to spend your time is networking. This means joining associations in your field and meeting key decision makers. If you want to volunteer your time, a more efficient way to do so is with associations in your field. Associations are primarily non-profit. As such they tend to lack the resources to actuate many projects. By volunteering, you may meet the heads of many companies that you wish to work for!

October’s Technical Recruiting Tip Video Is Available

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/technical-recruiting-tips/ and click on #4 to view this month’s technical recruiting tip, the 4th magical interview question, “What does that mean?” As I mentioned last month, open-ended interview questions tend to elicit a lot more useful career information from candidates.

As a result, you want to ask, “What does that mean?” in conjunction with other interview questions such as, “what do you do?”
This will prevent a job candidate from talking in generalities during their interviews and help you to better pinpoint their true job skills per your employment requirements.

October’s Interview Preparation Video Is Available

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

To view this month’s interview preparation video, please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/interview-preparation-tips/index.php and click on #4. The title is practice on videotape. This is the case because the most important part of landing a job is selling yourself in the interview. To help you prepare for your interviews, I have created the acronym C.O.P.

C stands for copying. What you want to do is get a little ringed memo pad that will easily fit into your pocket or purse. Then over the next 3-4 days, you want to copy down all of your accomplishments and skills that are related to the job you are interviewing for. The way you will know what is important to capture for that interview is to look at the job description and research the company. Both will offer you clues as to what is most important for the hiring manager. Let that information guide your interview preparation.

When you cannot think of anything else, then you are ready for the second step, which is O for organizing. In this step, you what to take the interview preparation information that you copied in step one and organize it into a useful format. I recommend rank-ordering it from the most important down to the least important and then memorizing your top ten accomplishments and skills that are related to the job you are interviewing for.

Finally, P stands for practice, practice and more practice. I recommend practicing your interviews on videotape. I also recommend getting a friend that you can trust to be your practice interviewer. Have this practice interviewer be really tough on you during your mock interviews because research shows that the tougher you practice your interviews, the easier the actual interviews will be for you. Furthermore, if you practice your interviews on videotape, you will be able to quickly see your interview mistakes and be able to quickly correct them before your actual interview.

We have even created a more detailed version of interview preparation called the Real Benefit Exercise. Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/real-benefit-exercise.php to learn more. In any case, remember to practice your interviews on videotape and remember the acronym C.O.P. to help you during your practice interviews.