Often, we think of candidates as job-seekers. But what happens when roles are reversed and a business must seek the perfect worker? Believe it or not, this is more common than most would think. Unfortunately, some companies end up scaring talent away in their pursuit. Let’s pinpoint the common mistakes to avoid:
Online applications save time — but only for the company. Most online applications are too long, especially when they reiterate the same question over and over. This frustrates prospect employees and often filters out some great candidates. Automated questionnaire assessments leave no room for contextualization or elaboration either. For this reason, in-house applications are best; they expose candidates to the business’ environment and require some form of interaction.
Many businesses like to discuss salary only once a candidate has been selected. While there are various reasons to do so, this places a lot of pressure on the candidate, especially when the question of money is posed to them. When a business and candidate are on two separate pages about salary, the situation grows awkward and hard to move past.
Lengthy, ambiguous job descriptions reveal nothing about the company or the position. Avoid skills like “outgoing,” “dynamic,” “responsible,” and other generic personality traits. Instead, focus on concrete skills and requirements so candidates can determine if they qualify for the job. Similarly, capture the essence of the company’s culture because roles and responsibilities are only part of a career. By overlooking these details, companies represent themselves poorly to the candidate.
Maybe not for every resume, but at least after every interview, contact candidates regardless if the they got the job or not. This is a common courtesy that affects a company’s image as an employer.
Last year’s Global Workmonitor Survey (Randstad) discovered 84% of Canadians believe experience plays a bigger role in finding employment than education. Similarly, 82% of Canadians view temporary work positively. So when faced with the decision of returning to school or entering the workforce on a contract-to-contract basis, which should you choose?
Temporary work can offer invaluable opportunities that college and university classrooms cannot. Hands-on work within the industry is a great way to network, develop skills, and acquire new interests — all factors that will inevitably place you in a great job. Returning to school for a post-graduate degree or certificate, however, deprives skilled workers of such experiences. While the benefits of education cannot be denied, those who have already spent years formally refining their skills may feel disadvantaged by having postponed their careers.
If it’s a matter of expanding, updating, or diversifying skills, even irrelevant jobs can accomplish this. Temporary work is about meeting people, gathering information, and learning about workplace dynamics, challenges, and conditions. These are the environments that teach various soft skills like initiative and flexibility — two qualities employers find attractive. By focusing too much on education and not enough on experience (or vice versa), it will be difficult to progress in the workplace at first. As well, some companies give their employees the chance to return to school later in their careers, so maybe the decision is not one or the other, but rather which comes first.
This has been an ongoing debate and both sides have valid arguments. What are your thoughts? Should graduates and returning professionals go back to school or jump right in?
Up until now, we’ve offered advice on answering and posing tough interview questions, but now it’s time to look at the screening process broadly, so that job seekers can prepare for what’s to come. Here are a few ways to ensure your next interview accurately represents who you are and what you can do.
When parsing a job description, pay special attention to the required skills. Next, research each one individually to get a feel for corporate expectation and demand. If possible, look-up previous professionals who occupied this position and assess their performance. Depending on the position, this may be difficult to do; only some senior level jobs move into the public eye.
Think about the various job challenges and devise a list of skills not explicitly stated in the job ad. Find a way to let these qualities shine. In effect, you will meet the benchmark, demonstrate your industry adeptness, and offer more than was asked. This shows your ability to think critically.
The more interviews you attend, the more you will refine your communication skills. As well, you will learn about different corporate cultures and opportunities, which may benefit you in your job hunt. Perhaps, it may even open your eyes to career paths before unknown to you.
In the very least, participating in more interviews will develop strong inter-personal skills. It also prepares your stories (responses) by testing their effectiveness in the field. Essentially, the more interviews, the more efficient you become in the process overall — from researching, preparing, appearing, to landing the job!
Helping Hints: Characteristics of a Bad Candidate
- Arrives late to an interview
- Complains about his/her current job
- Discredits other members of past/current teams
- Interrupts interviewer
- Speaks inappropriately (profanity, ill sense of humour, etc.)
- Sits unwelcomely (arms crossed, slouched, etc.)
- Strays from the question
- Avoids eye contact
Two new studies released by Gartner Inc. reveal that the IT industry may break from its slump in coming months. After 13 years of “flat spending” around the world — 0.4% year-over-year growth — Gartner projects IT investments to reach $3.8 billion in 2014. If these projections come to fruition, this will equal a 3.1% increase from 2013 in the following categories:
Looking back on 2013, these developments reflect change in corporate priorities around the world. As noted in last year’s report, although amid a supposed “information age,” the lack of investment indicates something inherently off.
One possible cause of this is the fact that 26% of IT spending occurs outside of businesses. This is because spending responsibilities now fall into the laps of CMOs (chief marketing officers) and CDOs (chief digital officers), as opposed to CIOs (chief information officers). Of the internal spending, however, the survey estimates 72% of companies have been investing in SaaS, 47% in IaaS, and 43% PaaS, leaving BPaaS at only 17%.
Overall 2013 wrapped up with strong interest in mobile technologies, IT modernization and cloud computing, with professional services and big data sitting on the back-burner. Further into 2014, IT service trends may feel the impact of outsourcing reductions, but nonetheless, the service sector will continue to grow 4-5% through to 2017.
In 2013, Canada ranked ninth on a global workplace survey that measured skill shortages across the world. Although Japan, Germany, the US, and other front-running countries reported worse conditions, it seems Canadian employers still struggle to fill high-end positions in many industries, including construction, engineering, and technology. Outlined in the report, one cause of this problem is a lack of relevant skills in the workplace, especially in new graduates.
The November 2013 IT Employer survey, conducted by Hays Canada, revealed a similar talent shortage moving forward. In fact, in 2014, up to 64% of IT companies in Canada may suffer from “moderate to significant” shortages. According to company respondents, this is due to a lack of training and professional development as well as a drop in market interest. Originally, in 2013, 16% of businesses believed they would downsize, but the final number came to 31% — this illustrates the severity of the situation. On the flip side, however, businesses want to see more results this year and 39.5% expect to increase staff size in future months.
An issue explored in previous articles — the loss of a generation to retirement — also came up on the survey. For 2014, 46% of businesses look to implement a succession plan to smoothen the transition ahead. At the same time, businesses will need to think about growing demands for benefits, bonuses, and pensions. As well, the ability to work remotely has become a big push among young professionals, so this is something businesses will have to engage.
Negotiating salary is not something everyone is comfortable doing, nor is it something every job candidate should do. Especially in structured companies, where the industry’s saturated with skilled professionals, this may be a risk not worth taking. If, however, you’re confident in your abilities, talking numbers may help you land your dream job. To do so, you need to know your own market value as well as your bottom line.
As a part of your due diligence, determine the company’s typical salary ranges, as well as the common benefit packages offered to new employees. Having this information on hand will help you deal with “salary traps” in an interview. Knowing the company’s average and measuring it against the industry standard will help you formulate a response. Shooting too high or too low is a fatal mistake, so proceed with caution.
Outline Your Expectations
If the employer knows your expectations upfront, there’s a greater chance of compromise. Although both sides may need to show flexibility in this regard, transparency illustrates a willingness to work something out. Although you do not need to list a precise salary figure, this may be a good chance to discuss other benefits and incentives. Perks can equate to nearly a quarter of your final salary, so think about these as much as the pay rate.
Support your Credentials
A good resume’s not enough. If you’re determined to get more money, you need to highlight your past successes — show the employer why you are worth more. This can be done through sales figures, project contributions, and other quantifiable examples. Regardless how well you pitch yourself, however, some employers will remain headstrong. If you’ve chosen to negotiate, be prepared to walk away if the conditions do not align with your expectations.
OMERS Venture, the venture capital firm tied to the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, intends to boost investments in technology-based businesses by nearly 200%. Though OMERS’ first round raised nearly $183-million, the firm plans to run a second round for tech startups this year, which could introduce many new job opportunities and developments to the sector. In light of this, job seekers are urged to keep their eyes peeled in coming months for market openings!
When applying to startups, keep a few things in mind. Firstly, develop your resume in a way that highlights past positions that show commitment, progression, and innovation. This means you should favour long-term history as opposed to temp work. In saying this, for the job itself, moving up in the business may feel limited due to the fact the environment is more team-oriented. Everyone contributes and everyone’s responsible for the growth of the business. Although it may feel like more work for less money (sometimes), the rewards are typically greater.
Technical experience is an asset for startups, but so are soft skills. Applicants must possess a strong ability to collaborate and communicate in a variety of situations, including those outside of one’s area of expertise. In this sense, there are more opportunities to grow diversely as a professional. In large tech companies, one may land a position in a specific department or sector, whereas startups typically have yet to establish such boundaries. This is exciting and stressful, so keep this in mind as positions start to open-up in light of upcoming investments across Canada.