What’s Your Story? Our 5-Step Elevator Pitch Builder Sep08

What’s Your Story? Our 5-Step Elevator Pitch Builder

One of my first questions when screening a new candidate is: can you give me a two-minute overview on you? The first reaction is often awkwardness – the kind of awkward that ensues when people give their LinkedIn profile the 3rd person treatment. I include the words “two minute” for an elevator pitch because most people need a time frame. I think it helps give the impression that the ‘story’ I am asking for should be succinct, short, and to the point. I don’t specify “professional background” because I’m curious to see how you respond. But what do I hear? Despite the running cliché of mirror-practiced elevator pitches and major networking fails, most people lack the ability to answer this simple, focused question: who are you and why are you here? Here’s what I usually get in reply: Dazed and Confused: Do you mean about me, as a person, or my work history? I’m definitely not asking about your romantic history, so let’s just agree-to-agree that— at least in this professional setting — you (as a person) and you (as in your work history) are one in the same. Ramble On: Long, rambling, high in detail, low in focus, and uncomfortably hazy in end point. You lost me somewhere between where you were born, your first job in high school and your latest management philosophy. I am still not sure what’s important and what’s not. Total Recall: A chronological breakdown of one’s work history, often recited bullet-for-bullet from their hard copy resume. One word: redundant. Appetizer. Movie Trailer. Elevator pitch. Do you see a pattern? They’re all a bite-sized sampler of the bigger picture – all meant to entice, spark interest, and act as a sales mechanism for what’s to come. Likewise, when I ask for your two-minute personal overview, I...

The Number One Hiring Mistake That You’re Probably Making Jun08

The Number One Hiring Mistake That You’re Probably Making

First impressions are powerful ~ will the first date pave way for a second? Will the business card exchange lead to a sale? Can the eager interviewee transform sweaty palms and dry mouth into career magic? In fact, first impressions are so paramount you’re probably weighing if this article is worth reading solely based on my first sentences. (How am I doing so far?) Along with getting second dates and sales leads, first impressions are also, unfortunately, the common denominator of many bad hiring decisions. According to Monster, many recruiters derive go/no -go conclusions within the first six minutes of an interview, and many say the first 90 seconds are imperative for making a good first impression. Even more alarming, one study in 2000 revealed that judgments made in the first 10 seconds of an interview could predict the outcome of the interview. From a hiring perspective, these quick, uncognitive, and emotional decisions are a disaster and contribute to about 50% of hiring mistakes. In fact, from any perspective these quick decisions can lead to disaster. Imagine applying this philosophy to anything else in your life: would 10 seconds be enough to buy a car, choose a spouse, or decide you even want the new job you’re interviewing for? Would 6 minutes even be enough? (We’re hoping you’re saying no at this point.) We think we can tell a lot about a person quickly — we have this bias that makes us think we can tell a person’s Myers-Briggs, Birkman, and Kolbe scores just by the way they smile or shake a hand. But we can’t; vital decisions, like hiring, retention, and the makeup of a team, should not be made within the blink (or a few blinks) of an eye. Hiring requires contemplation, deep thought, and most of all, money. Hiring on an impulse is costly not only financially, but to your team, and, let’s...

Tips and Tricks for Skype Interviews Mar26

Tips and Tricks for Skype Interviews

As recruiters, we Skype on the daily and we’ve encountered the best of the best and, unfortunately, the worst of the worst. Since everything comes with its learning curves, we thought we’d share our accumulated insights about Skype do’s and don’ts. The overarching theme is simple: act as if the interview is the same as a face-to-face meeting. Would you shave for an in-person interview? Then please, get rid of your 5 o’clock shadow for your Skype interview. Would you wear a button-up shirt with PJ bottoms to an in-person interview? Then please, wear a complete outfit and don’t just dress up your upper half. (Besides, you never know when you need to stand up to go grab something during a Skype interview…). Based on Smart Savvy’s collective years of experience, here are our recruiter’s tips for that upcoming Skype or Facetime interview you have and want to ace. 1. No Narcissism Just kidding – but really, don’t stare at yourself the whole interview. We know Skype offers that lovely little “picture in picture” screen that shows yourself and severely heightens your sense of self-awareness, but do your best to ignore it. Our Comms/PR guru Marina Guy even suggests covering the screen of yourself with a post-it note so you can instead focus on staring into the camera and at the screen of the other person. Focus on the recruiter and maintain good eye contact, which will also limit other bad habits we’ve seen, such as constantly fixing your hair. 2. Build a Frame Once a recruiter can see your dirty laundry basket, that is the only thing they’re going to see the entire time. If you think a bedroom with open doors to your wardrobe or a psychedelic painting in the background is a good idea, think again. In the case of a background...

Back to Basics: Phone Interview Tips Jan13

Back to Basics: Phone Interview Tips

Even with the growing popularity of Skype, Google Hangouts and Facetime, the old-fashioned phone interview is here to stay. After all, once your resume’s been flagged for a skill match, it’s a recruiters’ next logical step: phone interviews are efficient, cost-effective and often a great predictor of cultural and behavioral fit. But for many, it’s just downright hard to have a thorough and relaxed conversation on the phone with a stranger – especially when that stranger’s evaluating you. Is that silence because the interviewer is writing down what you’re saying? Or are they still waiting for you to say something interesting? The phone interview is your one opportunity to get in the door. You need to take the time to prepare yourself, just as if you were having a real face-to-face interview. As pointed out by learnvest.com, “You might have the best intentions, but what you say and how you say it (tone, pace, inflection, etc.) can easily be misinterpreted.” So, after you’ve done all your essential pre-interview research and connected with your #standapart self, take some time to review these six essential tips for giving your best phone interview – some of them obvious and some of them definitely not: (A special thanks to Jane Terepocki, HR Administrator and Recruiter at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)  for sharing her experiences and tips with us.) 1. Make a List, and Check it Twice Preparation is a given. What might not be so obvious is the importance of creating an “example list” to refer to during the interview. Think of the standard interview questions (strengths, weaknesses, skills, conflict) and create a list of 8 to 10 examples that you can access during the conversation (without the long thinking pauses). Jane @MEC recommends that you choose examples from across your entire work history. Hiring...

#StandApart: Serda Evren, VP Corporate Comm + Philanthropy, MasterCard

Communications leader by day, Dear Abby by night. Serda Evren, VP of Corporate Communications and Philanthropy at MasterCard Canada is tasked with creating, protecting, managing, mitigating, building and telling stories about MasterCard, but her hidden talent adored by her colleagues, friends and family: exceptional giver of unsolicited advice. Maybe this is the result of her time spent in the US capital honing political communications or navigating the challenging waters of Canadian telecom PR? One thing is for sure – Serda has the special sauce to drive communications and lead high performing teams. Lucky for us, Serda has shared her tips for success. Practice Makes Perfect Serda began her career in the heart of the political scene: jumping from Queen’s Park to immersing herself in a Master’s Program in Washington, D.C and studying Political Psychology in the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial. She then transitioned from politics to PR, working at Rogers, and is now mastering the payment tech scene at “not your grandfather’s plastic anymore”—MasterCard. “Building a career isn’t a straight line,” Serda explains. “It should be about curves, ups and downs, sharp edges. That’s how you figure out what brings you satisfaction and gets you out of bed every morning.” And now, what gets her out of bed every morning? The opportunity to work with wonderful people who are always willing to listen, help and support her and she is able to do the same for them. Know Thyself Serda’s number one rule for being #StandApart is easy – being real and walking into work day-in and day-out with a sense of authenticity and sincerity. “People who #StandApart to me are those who are true to themselves—or if we can use the buzzword of the year ‘authentic’—they admit to their weakness and own their...

#StandApart Profile: Dorit Shackleton, Senior Director, Cloud Communications at SAP

Working as an enterprise account manager at HP in the late 90’s, Dorit Shackleton was what you might call killin’ it. As in 190%-of-quota-in-her-first-year killin’ it. Quickly identified as a high-performer, Dorit took on the gold rush mentality of the dot-com boom with a sense of fearlessness. She hopped on a plane to San Francisco and then after a few years, sensing burnout despite still being in her twenties, she hopped a plane out (for a three-month leave backpacking around the world; coincidentally just a month before the dot-com bust). With that same fearlessness, Dorit took on a new role in London, and then – leapt again – to start a new, values-centered life in Vancouver. Within 5 weeks of her arrival, she’d lined up a job with Business Objects and made her move from Sales to Marketing. Dorit credits “lots of support” in landing her most current role: Head of the Cloud and Line of Business Communications team at SAP. “I always try to help other people and add value wherever I go. I never work in a silo, and when another team comes asking for something, I always try to be ready to add a little more.” Here is her #StandApart profile:   Describe your current role in 140 characters or less… I lead a global communications team at SAP that focuses on cloud business solutions.   One word that best describes how you work. Collaborative.   What is your “Superpower”? (What is the one thing you do you do better than most?) Enthusiasm! I tend to look at what we CAN do, how we can pull together to get something done, not why it can’t work.    Moving to Vancouver gave my family the outdoorsy, active lifestyle we love and that...

Smoke Out the ‘Pretenders’ May27

Smoke Out the ‘Pretenders’

How to Hire Proven, #StandApart Marketers   At Smart Savvy, we’ve interviewed a lot of people over our 8 years (4500+). We maintain: no one has the potential to pull the wool over your eyes like a marketer.  When we evaluate candidates, we adhere to the 20-60-20 rule.  In the workplace there is generally a top 20%, a middle 60% and, unfortunately, a bottom 20%.  With each interview, we are always looking to identify individuals who fall squarely within the top 20% of their field.  Those who truly #StandApart. When meeting with candidates, look beyond first impressions (the leading cause of hiring blunders) by performing a ‘deep dive’ through their career (scuba vs. snorkel).  For the bulk of our interviewing, we focus squarely on contribution and results.  Look for evidence of growth and professional proof to support claims of greatness.  When you spot a pattern of concrete, quantifiable accomplishments, you will know that you are zeroing in on a #StandApart candidate. Midway through our interviews, we reach a section that we often refer to as “The Humbling”.  At this stage we ask two questions: What have you done that has had the most dramatic impact on your employer’s bottom line — Specifically, what have you done that has increased revenue, streamlined efficiencies or decreased expenses for your employer(s)? What have you done (throughout your career) that would cause you to #StandApart from other candidates who will be applying for similar roles? Inevitably interviewees slip into describing the character traits that differentiate them from the pack.  Although we are keen to learn who people are, at this stage of the interview we must remain focused on what they have done.  You’d be surprised at how many ‘marketers’ have a difficult time articulating (much less quantifying)...

Love Monday #57: What do you do? Apr28

Love Monday #57: What do you do?

I overheard a little girl and her mom talking in a walk-in medical clinic the other day. She asked her mom, “what do you do again?” The mom said, “Don’t you remember what I do, dear?” The little girl said, “Oh right, you’re an accountant. So, do you write 1-100 all day?”  I had a laugh and remembered an important lesson: what you do is all perspective (how well you do it, how much you do it, who you do it for and how interesting/fulfilling/rewarding it can be). And yes, there are times our employers ask us to run through brick walls for them, but there’s also the little things: a nice or adventurous lunch out with colleagues, a website that makes your day easier and the universal truths of human connection that drive how we do business. A restful #LoveMonday to all those recovering from the Vancouver Sun Run! Why Should I Run Through A Brick Wall for You? When it’s your turn to do the talking in a job interview, try out one of these must-ask interview questions to really assess your fit. … @RebeccaColeman shared this great article with tips on how to stop people from congratulating you every time you tweak your LinkedIn profile. … It’s a veritable online wish list: make any webpage print-friendly, kill your online accounts for good, 10-minute email addresses for when you want something free. @Buzzfeeddiy offers up 33 amazingly useful websites you never knew existed. … What’s for Lunch? 24 sandwiches to try before you die in Vancouver  … Doing it “the Amazon way” reveals this universal truth for getting it right in...

Get on Board: Cultural Fit Matters Jan22

Get on Board: Cultural Fit Matters

What if I told you, as a job candidate, that besides a skills and experience checklist, you’re also being measured by a cultural fit cheat sheet? And sometimes it will take three or four interviews for a company to figure it all out? CEO, Kristine Steuart reveals some of those behind-the-scenes team-building details in her latest post for the Allocadia Leading in Change Series. In it, Steuart describes the process her and her partners stick to when bringing new people on board (a timely topic, considering their recent appointment of SAP-vet, James Thomas, to the role of Chief Marketing Officer). When I read the post, I couldn’t wait to point out a few of the big candidate a-ha’s I saw in her post. I’ve seen one too many marketers nearly at their wit’s end in the midst of a complex recruiting process. The problem? They think the drawn out hiring process is all about them (and their perceived shortcomings), when in fact, it’s all about the company. The long and the short of it is this: if you are applying for jobs in a vacuum of skills & qualifications -i.e. if you are forgetting about the goals, culture and people of an organization – than you are doing nothing to prove your fit. Here’s what you can learn from Allocadia’s hiring process – and how it translates to your own “cultural fit cheat sheet” for getting the job:   1. Don’t be shy about working within your network (they are working within theirs) How can you compete with the friend of a trusted friend who’s got the skills and already passed the pre-screen test of someone they wouldn’t mind eating lunch with? You can’t. The job goes to them. When candidates ask me if it would be too pushy/presumptuous to let...

Love Monday #44: Happy When? Jan20

Love Monday #44: Happy When?

The Do-What-You-Love (DWYL) mentality promises you’ll never work a day in your life, but – and here’s the crux of it – it takes most of us a lifetime to pinpoint that “what.” We’re qualified, yes, but interested…? Maybe? Sometimes? Flat out “No”? We’ve dug up 5 #LoveMonday career links looking at the full DWYL package: from recruitment to employee perks to happy fulfillment, including the real recipe for professional success and Tony Wright’s resume in disguise. Happy reading… Answer this: I will be happy when _____? A fabulous post from HBR challenging the notion of why we can’t stop working and turning the notion of “professional success first” on its head. Turns out, happiness IS the precursor. Here’s why… … What do you really want in your new hire? Entrpeneuer.com says that while experience (i.e. numbers of years worked) may give your candidates a certain level of aptitude, it certainly doesn’t influence or add to their overall attitude. Here’s what you need to try in your next job post. … The era of the oddball interview question is not over yet. Brush up on the outer reaches of your creativity by reviewing Fast Company’s list of the weirdest interview questions hiring manager ask. For example, the brain-busting: “What is your least favourite thing about humanity?” (ZocDoc, Operations Associate interview). Read more… … If Oprah’s Favourite Things show was an employee perks package, Canadian success story, Shopify, would be the BRAND! NEW! CAR! Read Techvibes account of some of the sleigh-worthy (as in Santa) employee benefits offered by Canada’s 2013 Employer of the Year nominee. … A recruiter’s search for the best candidate goes far and wide. Here’s how to keep your name on the top of the heap, without ever submitting your resume to the pile: Tony Wright’s Reverse Resume says to potential employers, “I’m not looking for a job, but…hypothetically speaking…here’s what it would take for an opportunity to...