About This Blog

This blog shares the best career, leadership and recruitment advice from marketing, communications and sales A-players who help companies achieve brilliant growth.

 

This blog is brought to you by Smart, Savvy + Associates. We are a specialized recruitment firm with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

Our Expertise:

We place roles in marketing, public relations, client services and project management, digital communications, graphic and digital design, sales and sales management. Check out our Job Board for current career opportunities.

Workshops are delivered by leaders we’ve come to know and respect—they’re guaranteed to serve-up solid insights and bolster your ability to lead with confidence and influence.

We know what employers really want – and it goes way beyond experience and knowledge. We craft resumes and tune-up social profiles based on our up-to-date knowledge of what hiring managers and CEOs want to hear and see from you.

Our Coaching programs will help you get intentional about career planning with the help of a professional career-coach and supportive peer group.

 

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Conversation Starters

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Career | 0 comments

Conversation Starters

Wondering how to break the ice when you meet a new person at a networking event or are stuck beside someone on an airplane? Not sure how to take your conversation beyond the classic few “how are you/who are you” questions? Tuck a few of these intriguing, next-level questions in your back pocket, and you’ll be perfectly prepared: How do you make decisions when the stakes are high? What do you think is better – to be considered nice or to interesting? A living legend. Who comes to mind for you? If you won a huge sum of money, what would you no longer do? Who is your worst imaginable marriage partner? What do you consider to be the best work you’ve done? Are the best five years of your career ahead of you or behind you? Is there a piece of music you consider special? Why? Who’s the most creative person you know? Tell me about the first car you ever bought? If you could travel to the past in a time machine, what advice would you give to the 12 year-old you? Who has offered you the most useful career advice? If you had to live somewhere else, where would you live? What makes a person a good travelling companion? Tell me about a decision you made that has had a major effect on your life? What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes? (Did they end up being your favourites?) What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday? Did/do you have a nickname – what’s the story behind it? If you could create your own nickname what would it be? If you could revisit one day in your life, which day would it be? Would you rather be at the beach or in the mountains? How do you think you would do on Survivor? Have you ever won anything? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten? What is the origin of your last name? Which four people would you want with you in a bomb shelter? For which 2 accomplishments could an employer highly recommend you? What would you improve about your school or university education? Is your career playing out like you hoped it would? If you had to save three things from your house (besides pets or people) what would you save? If you could do anything you wanted to and money was not a factor, what would you do? Where were you on September 11th 2001? If you were to create a soundtrack for your life, what songs would you want on it? Who do/have you worked with that you really respect? If you could win a ‘life-time supply’ of anything what would you want it to be? What do you “know now” that you wish you “knew then”? If you had an extra hour every day what would you do with it?  ...

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One Profile You Need To Have On Your Sales Team

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

One Profile You Need To Have On Your Sales Team

We celebrate them at the Olympics, we cheer them on in university stadiums and we go wild when “our team” wins the fill-in-the-blank Cup. Turns out there is more to dribbling a ball down a court, or spiralling a ball down a field, than once assumed. Behind the entertainment factor, athletes are some of the hardest working individuals around. They’re not simply on the court/rink/field for a few hours, rather they are training 24/7. Whether they’re weightlifting, dieting, practicing or meditating – athletes are constantly grinding to perform better and be the best versions of themselves. So what does this have to do with sales? We’re not saying go out and recruit Lebron James as your newest account manager (which would be cool if you did!) but athletes make for excellent sales potential. Athletes develop mental toughness, a hard work ethic and the endurance needed to succeed; all of which are relevant when it comes to a career in sales. If you are staring at a resume with university athletics or pro league experience, give it a second look. The transferable skills learned in the gym or on the court are almost innumerable, but here are a few of them:   1. Team Players Looking for people who cooperate to achieve a higher purpose, even though they realize they might not get along with everyone along the way? Welcome to an athlete’s world. They know how to put aside personal feelings and put the team above themselves. They truly know what it means to take one for the team and put in the extra effort to make things work.   2. Goal-Oriented This one needs no further explanation. Who better goal-oriented than athletes? This is literally what they live for, and they understand the importance of making their goals is for their own and the overall team’s success. Combined with their competitive spirit, hitting targets should be no problem for athletes-turned-salespeople.   3. Coachability Athletes truly understand the importance of feedback, criticism, and using those towards their own personal development. They’re very accustomed to having someone talk over their shoulder and push them to be better. Athletes are very malleable, impressionable, and easy to train – they are able to apply this from the court to the boardroom.   4. When the going gets tough… We’ve all heard the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is particularly true for athletes as every athlete has been through a season of loss during their athletic career. Those times when they or their teammates just can’t seem to make the scoreboard move and they experience L after L on their W/L record. Athletes know that loss only means, you work harder and you don’t give up. They dig their heels in a put in the work, until those W’s start to roll...

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How To Hire Proven #StandApart Marketers

Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

How To Hire Proven #StandApart Marketers

At Smart Savvy, we’ve interviewed a lot of people over our 10 years (6000+). 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) their contributions. Here are a few signs that you are dealing with a #StandApart candidate: They have been assigned difficult tasks ahead of their time (and their peers) They have led cross-functional teams, with success They have (regularly) presented to company leadership They have been progressively promoted (and in some cases, rapidly) They are clearly identified as the “Go-To” and “Make It Happen” person on their team They know where they are headed and can articulate why they have changed jobs They have been re-hired by a former manager (people want them on their team) They have re-hired former team members (people want to be on their team) Each interview is an investment. However the cost of a bad hire is huge — your credibility as a leader is also at risk. That’s why we suggest: invest in some scuba gear and you’ll be sure to reap the rewards. Saying that, you can always rent some from...

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The Digital Marketing News You Need To Read

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 in Social | 0 comments

The Digital Marketing News You Need To Read

The digital landscape is a constantly evolving one; once you have your finger on something, it begins to slip away, change, and become (almost) unrecognizable. What is this thing now in my hand that I no longer know how to use but once loved? (iOS 10, we’re looking at you). Then you start to feel old and just use Facebook.  But in all seriousness, the digital marketing-tech marriage is evolving far faster than we wish our Pokemon were. If we could report on every exciting trending Twitter topic, or every techy tabloid headline about who’s in the works for what, we would. But, it turns out, there are just SO many. So instead, here are the bigger changes in digital marketing that either happened recently or are in the works for near-future changes. And don’t worry, this won’t just be about VR.   1. Twitter gives us more characters Okay, not quite more characters per se, BUT it no longer attributes important aspects of a tweet (such as photos, GIFs, and @ replies) as part of its precious 140 characters. It is creative freedom at its truest form. No longer will the world need to stress over how to squeak in that oh-so-perfect GIF or worry about unnecessary two-part tweets when getting in an important argument with an online foe (*cough* Trump supporters). We could not be happier about this Twitter change.  [WPGP gif_id=”5982″ width=”600″] 2. Google unveils their digital assistant And we were all hoping it would be like Jarvis from Ironman. Because they showed up late to the game, everyone’s expectations are fairly high that their computer interaction will be slightly better than either of our good friends, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana. It works within Google’s new messaging app, Allo, and will soon appear as a “smart speaker,” very similar to Alexa. But the real question remains: why is Google’s unnamed while the others are? Is this gender neutrality at its finest or will this ruin the personalization between human and smartphone?  3. Snapchat plays with AR It appears Snapchat is hopping on the wearable tech train, as it should be. They’ve made all the necessary steps to work towards some kind of a wearable Snapchat headset, something along the lines of a Google Glass but created solely for social purposes. Facebook will have Oculus and Snapchat will have this (whatever this IS is yet to be fully determined). Stay on the edge of your seat for more AR goodness, as well as more Facebook vs. Snapchat warfare.  Photo: Vanity Fair 4. LinkedIn Learning goes live After acquiring Lynda.com a while back, LinkedIn has just this morning revealed their targeted, personalized e-learning program called LinkedIn Learning. It will reportedly use much of Lynda’s content (who wouldn’t) and be targeted at both individuals looking to learn and companies looking to further train their employees. We see great things in the future for LinkedIn Learning and we’ll be sitting in the front row, with our notebooks open, putting our hands up and asking questions, if you need to find us....

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How To Effectively Read A Resume

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

How To Effectively Read A Resume

So you have a pile of resumes on your desk — wait, scratch that, this is 2016. So you have an inbox with hundreds of unread emails, and they’re all from candidates interested in working for  your  organization. Cover letters, resumes, portfolios. How will you know if they’re a fit for your position and your organization overall? Here’s how to read between the lines, interpret off the paper, and effectively understand a person’s resume: Don’t Jump To Conclusions Resumes are a story. It is easy to read what’s there and harder to uncover what’s not. Encourage yourself to DIG DEEPER! Gaps between positions and/or career trails don’t always make sense. Don’t let this scare you. There’s almost always a reasonable explanation; consider contract work (the candidate may not have stated this on his/her resume); a Master’s degree (blank space in career may be a forward-move in education/skills); or an illness (people get sick – they also get better). Give the candidate the benefit of the doubt to avoid the assumption that it was because the candidate was an unwanted commodity on the job market. Know Your Companies There should be a part of your brain marked “Glassdoor,” filled with reputations and reviews of the companies in your city and your space — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Before a candidate says “YES” they hopefully have done research themselves on your company. Knowing where a candidate chooses to work will help you better understand how selective they have been and will also give you a window into the types of cultures and companies they work well in. Look for patterns and allow for one-offs. How Important Is Progression? Career progression should be high on your “should-haves” list. You want to see clear advancement; someone who is climbing upwards either within the same organization or between separate organizations. But bear in mind that progress is not always linear and clear on paper. Not all organizations title their roles the same way (especially with companies trying to outdo their competition and retain employees with a creative competitive edge.) Think: People Operations Manager (Indiegogo) Chief Happiness Officer (Pivotal Labs) Crayon Evangelist (InteQ Corp) Ambassador of Buzz (Grasshopper). Titles are also influenced by the size of the company, and may be country-specific. ‘Coordinator’ in Australia may mean ‘Manager’ in North America. Look at the role and responsibilities holistically before passing up a ‘not-so-good-on-paper’ candidate. Focus On Transferable Skills The focus on industry-relevant experience is becoming increasingly laser-focused. It’s difficult to make a jump from, say, CPG to software. Just because someone’s area of focus may be ‘specific’ and different from your offering/brand/cliental, doesn’t make them irrelevant. This person will have likely done quite a bit of research on the industry (they’ve wanted to switch industries for a while, and you can bet they are learning yours like the back of their hand). This fresh perspective could add unexpected value to your firm and position!  Focus on the skills they’ve acquired and mastered in previous roles, and see how those can be applied to the one they’re interested in at your organization. Don’t let their out-of-industry experience mark them as an automatic...

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

Posted by on Sep 8, 2016 in Career | 0 comments

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 am not looking for a lengthy infomercial or demonstration of all your various skills. I’m just hoping for an interesting, attention-catching, honest-to-goodness account of what brought you to our meeting and what makes you ‘you’. I want to know, from your own point of view, what stands out. And I want to hear you sell it. I’ve scanned your resume. I know the stats. A true “elevator pitch” on your personal brand should elevate those facts by outlining (succinctly): who are you, how you stand apart and where you want to head. And by the end of your ‘pitch,’ I want to believe you can get there.  Smart Savvy’s 5-Step Elevator Pitch: I’m a XXX expert with a passion for X and Y. How I got here was through my experiences as an YX at XYZ companies And through my personal journey in XXXXXX. I’m unique in that I bring to a future employer XYZ skills/qualities I’m currently seeking opportunities where I can do XYZ (or add value in XYZ ways). And here’s a challenge: Why not share you own succinct, clear and targeted personal overview here. Tell us: who you are, what you’re looking for, and where you’re...

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Using Psychometric Tests During The Hiring Process

Posted by on Sep 1, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

Using Psychometric Tests During The Hiring Process

How would you describe your hiring process? Intuitive? Personal? Subjective? What about technical or scientific?  The next time you hire, you may want to consider getting to know your candidate from a new perspective by inviting them to take a personality or aptitude test. More and more, the recruitment industry and HR departments are looking to data to help legitimize the hiring process through talent measurement tools called ‘psychometrics.’   WHAT Some of these tests have gained notoriety over the years, such as personality test Myers-Briggs which ranks individuals on four distinct areas (but is actually not recommended for hiring purposes). Others, such as the Birkman (a must-do for internal employees at Smart Savvy) assesses both personality and behaviour, and gives a comprehensive overview of how you work and where your career strengths are. There’s also the Kolbe, DISC, EQ-i, and StrengthsFinder (which we’re hosting a LeaderLounge session on in September, if you’ve ever wondered how to put your strengths into play in the workforce.)    WHEN Hiring managers and recruitment firms use psychometric tests varyingly. You may encounter them: After an initial resume screening (this method helps recruiters and HR managers weed through piles of resumes before moving forward to in-person interviews) As part of the interview process (either used in the decision-making process or used not for selection but rather simply to facilitate discussion) In the final stages of candidate deliberation (to truly assess one candidate against another and seek further evidence of personality traits or strengths that were not satisfied in conversation).   WHY Some believe that psychometrics can be used to add to the candidate experience and ensure that how they’re treated during the hiring process is nothing but fair. Rather than making gut instinct decisions, decisions become founded on test results and concrete information afforded by the candidate themselves. These tests also save the job candidate time: If a test screens them out, chances are the job wasn’t for them to begin with. As mentioned, we use the Birkman here at Smart Savvy during our interview process. We’re wondering, how do you use assessment tools and tests in your hiring or recruitment process? Which psychometric tests do you use and why? Tell us below in the...

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The Top Ranked Competencies That Employees Look For In A Leader

Posted by on Aug 24, 2016 in Leadership | 0 comments

The Top Ranked Competencies That Employees Look For In A Leader

Being a leader comes with its challenges.  You’re pulled in one hundred different directions in one day (#nosweat) and you’re trying to understand each employee on a personal level so your mutual work can benefit. But it’s not always easy to tell. Susie in Sales does well with direct, blunt communication, while Ross the Developer prefers to communicate quite simply only over email. Jane from Department X is going through a divorce and Jim from Department Y just welcomed his first child into the world. Professional environments are strung together by complex emotions, experiences, and perspectives. As a leader, it can be difficult to cut through all of that noise and understand what people need on a base level. Benefits? Culture? To be pushed and challenged? To be encouraged and supported? Here are the top areas where leaders need to excel in for employees (and the entire organization) to be healthy (as studied by Harvard Business Review):   1. Being ethical and sticking to it 67% of individuals stated this as the number one factor for solid leadership. Clearly conveying a strong moral compass helps to create a safe environment, garrisoned with trust and fairness. If you practice what you preach and are consistent, your employees will know that you’ll play by the rules, won’t throw anyone under the bus, and will give credit where credit is due. Communicate your values and stick to them and you’ll create an environment of safety and trust.    2. Being organization and goal-focused Employees need direction, but not too much of it. When the leader has the blueprint of the entire plan, but allows employees to take their specific parts and run with it, everyone benefits. You’ve often heard that nobody likes a micro-manager, and it’s true. 59% of employees want a leader who’s the overall organizer, but they want autonomy to play their part and organize their own pieces.   3. Communication  Communicating expectations was rated as the third highest important leadership competency (56%), and “communicating openly and often” was ranked sixth out of ten (42%). Having open, honest dialogue with your employees shows not only what you can contribute, but what they can contribute as well. It shows that everyone’s opinion is respected, as well as their time and effort by communicating expectations.    4. Commitment to growth and progression Nurturing growth and ensuring others are progressing in their skills (and careers) is vital. When you teach someone something or allow them to grow on their own, it creates a bond of appreciation and loyalty. The old adage “a person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected” rings true here; employees who are encouraged to grow will work harder and better than stifling environments. Having an environment that encourages growth also means accepting failure gracefully and being “open to new ideas and approaches.”    Here is how Harvard Business Review broke down and interpreted their data, from 195 leaders in 15 different countries:...

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The Biggest Social Moments From The 2016 Rio Olympics

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in Social | 0 comments

The Biggest Social Moments From The 2016 Rio Olympics

The Olympics is a unifying time like no other: Canadians once divided on economy or politics sit side-by-side in uniform red-and-white to cheer on the young Penny Oleksiak or hold their breathe for Andre de Grasse’s ten-second sprint. Said unified nation also takes to social to give their support, conversate with other supporters, and occasionally yell at an athlete or an opposing country. These are the most social games to date (does that surprise anyone?), with Twitter giving each sport its own hashtag emoji and with content going viral fairly easily. Here are our favourite viral moments from Rio 2016:    1. #PhelpsFace I know we all have our game faces but Michael Phelps just brings it to a-whole-nother level. The Internet immediately blew up, with many saying his anger was directed at competitor and previous gold medal winner, Chad le Clos. Not so, said Phelps in a later interview. He was apparently “in the zone” and just listening to pump-up music — which we can only assume was heavy metal or screamo.      2. The Fame of Fu Yuanhui The swimmer Fu Yuanhui gained MAJOR fame in Asia when she won a bronze medal in the 100m swim and had no idea during a post-race interview. The journalist was actually the one to tell her of her win, and her surprise is straight precious (see below). Her followers on Weibo (China’s #1 social platform) skyrocketed from 550,000 to 4 million fans following the darling interview. The goofy 20-year old is now being called “China’s Sweetheart” and we can’t wait to see more of her in interviews. Fu Yuanhui goofing around after her team won the relay’ Here's Our Favorite Olympian of Rio 2016 Fu Yuanhui is all of us (but 1000x more loveable)Don't ever change! #olympics #rio2016 #fuyuanhui Posted by Asian Crush on Wednesday, August 10, 2016   3. The Infamous Green Pool Sorry, what? Blue turned very green for the high dive competitions. Not only was it green, but it was also murky and smelled strongly of sulphur. A fantastic environment for high-performance athletes, right? Arguments surround why the pool turned green in the first place: perhaps PH levels, algae, or copper sulfate. Either way, Twitter blew up, with Kermit the Frog and Shrek making many tweet appearances and Clorox even jumping on the wagon to promote their bleach.   5. Michael Phelps’ Cups Not to mention Michael Phelps twice, but every non-athlete watching was wondering “what are those?” while every athlete watching was thinking “those are the signs of the greatest therapy ever.” This moment was the first (if I recall) big viral moment of the Rio Olympics and the Twittersphere was quick to jump on the “why” behind the bruises. No, they’re not hickies and they’re not from a fight, they’re from cupping, a form of physiotherapy that draws blood to an affected area and helps with soreness and recovery.    7. #DeBolt The bromance is real. Following the men’s 200m semi-finals, Andre De Grasse sped up to run in tandem with Usain Bolt, who simply laughed off the young athlete’s cheeky ambition. Giggles and post-run hugs ensued between the two, and the entire internet collectively swooned. The bromance continues. All smiles between Bolt and De Grasse as they cross the finish line #DeBolt https://t.co/vtHo2cGKHv — CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 18, 2016 People search all their lives for what...

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The Most Common Mistakes Hiring Managers Make

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

The Most Common Mistakes Hiring Managers Make

Do you talk more than a job candidate during an interview? Do you hire carbon copies of yourself and end up with a team of people just like you? Do you hire solely for cultural fit rather than skill set? We’ve seen it all before: Well-intentioned hires that become quick mistakes.  In this video, Horizon Recruitment interviews 3 industry experts on hiring (including our own Peter Reek #humblebrag, as well as Warren Smith of The Counsel Network, and Feras Elkhalil of IQ/IT Tech Recruiters) and where the gaps lay between HR and the job candidate. With many years of acquired knowledge, we lay out common mistakes that we’ve seen in hiring, and how to put a better foot forward in terms of interviewing and hiring. Anyone (and we mean anyone) involved in HR, hiring, or the onboarding process, should see this video.   [embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PP64jF5mmw[/embedyt]   Here are a few Sparksnotes for you from the video itself if you’re not a Youtube person.  Common Mistakes Made By HR Managers: The “I’ll know it when I see it” mistake. Know what you’re looking for before starting out on an interviewing spree. The tyranny of the urgent error. The urgent things of the day get your attention but the important things get put to the bottom of the list. Make hiring a priority and talk to your clients or candidates before 4:30 pm in the day.  Hiring people similar to yourself. Good teams need complementary skill sets and diversity in order to be a stronger collective.  Common Mistakes During The Interview: The one-sided mistake. You’re not there for airtime, you are there to facilitate a conversation and learn as much as possible about the job candidate. They are evaluating you as much as you’re evaluating them.  Lack of preparation. Know what you’re looking for and WHY before you sit across from a table with anyone. Common Mistakes After The Interview: The silence problem. Momentum is key in a job search, and long gaps in communication are demotivating. If there are long spaces of silence, it sends the message that you’re not interested. What Great HR Managers Do: Have an end and a start date to your search. Make smart decisions and don’t let plans drag on unnecessarily.  Be a great perspective-taker. They understand how the candidate is viewing the search and the company. They have a sense of objectivity as well and don’t take things personally. Are the best possible ambassadors for their brand. ...

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