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Recruiters share 6 things job hunters can do to stand out

(BUSINESS NEWS) Some of this advice may seem common sense, but recruiters confide in us how infrequently candidates actually adhere to their advice.

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Real advice from real hiring folk

Job candidates typically adhere to online reviews, advice from professional friends, and personal experiences for tips on securing their dream position. While some may provide legitimately helpful advice, some may not – and bad advice can be counterproductive in the job search.

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To avoid such, we went straight to the horse’s mouths – the recruiters and hiring managers – and collected a list of things they wish candidates would do more often. If the job search has been solemn for you or any other candidates you know, share and use these exclusive tips.

Six tips for success

1. Ask meaningful questions
Typical questions like, “What’s a normal day look like in the role I’m applying for?” are okay, but candidates should think deeper. The best and most successful candidates treat the interview as a conversation.

Says Renee Diaz, Senior Recruiter with Vitamin Talent, “I would say [candidates] don’t genuinely interview the employer during their interview. They just answer and often ask vague questions. They don’t dig about the people – “rough” days, “best” days, biggest accomplishments, why the interviewer chose this company, or why are they still there.”

Lucas Mitchell, Director of Luna Data Solutions gives a great example: “I wish just one candidate would ask me how their role contributes to the business. I talk to more people than I can count that don’t care what their role does, they just want a job. That’s great, and congrats on wanting to earn an income, but if you don’t know why your job is vital for the business to grow, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.”

Mitchell concludes:

If you don’t know why your job is vital for the business to grow, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.Click To Tweet

Justin Williams, Corporate Recruiting Manager with All Native Group, points out another interesting question to ask: “I have seen on rare occasion a candidate ask to meet with the team or tour the office so they can see what the culture is like. Now normally we won’t tour the candidates or have them interview other people unplanned, but I must say this is really impressive when they do. It shows above-and-beyond initiative and interest in our company. Out of the hundreds of interviews I’ve done, I’ve seen only 2 people do this. I hired them both times.”

2. Follow directions
It’s understandable to want to go above and beyond when applying for a job, but don’t overlook the basics.

Kevin Smits, Owner at Palmas Capital Partners explains that, “quite often [candidates] won’t follow the directions we give them to apply. We are very specific in our process and if they can’t get the steps right, we know they aren’t going to be a fit.”

Even if it’s exhausting, remember that each application, resume, and cover letter should be carefully crafted for each different company and position. And yes, reading and following directions is a part of the process.

3. Follow up
If you want the job, its natural to follow up. Smits also suggests doing so by sending a simple yet thoughtful thank you note. Thank them for their time and tell them you enjoyed meeting them.

Call back something specific from your conversation.

4. Understand and explain the impact of the job function
Brett Simon, Division Director with Modis, says candidates should “understand and be able to articulate how their job function impacts the rest of the organization. People that can do that effectively are always ahead of the curve.”

Renee Diaz once again outlines how imperative thorough research beyond just your desired role is: “Too few candidates research the company – who they are, what they do, their competitors, recent news AND they don’t research who they are interviewing with. It SHOCKS me.”

Good research makes you look more interested, more educated, and better equipped for the role.

Not only that, but it also provides you jumping off points for conversation and deeper questions (hello, #1) in the interview.

5. Have an elevator pitch.
DUH. Allyson Hoffman, agent with Vitamin Talent, explains that having a elevator pitch is a golden yet often forgotten rule, “I wish more candidates had a clear elevator pitch. It’s especially important for those just starting out or making a career shift. Don’t make the hiring manager figure out who you are and what you want to do.”

Don't make the hiring manager figure out who you are and what you want to do.Click To Tweet

6. Don’t dwell on the past
Although past experiences may be applicable and relevant, recruiters want to see up-to-date information. Staci Kae Alter, founder of Click Career Consulting says, “Everyone should have an up-to-date summary on their profile and resume so we understand what all of the past work history listed below has culminated in.”

How do you know what’s up to date?

Rob Howard, Director at Brooksource, suggests: “A candidate should never talk about experience at length that is older than 5 years old. Of course there are special circumstances, but use that as a general rule of thumb.”

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Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

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Business News

Keep your company’s operations lean by following these proven strategies

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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Business News

How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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