Tuesday, October 24, 2017

There is a Time and a Place

I have always been outspoken, even as a child.  However, my Mother taught me early on that there is a time and a place for discussions about certain topics.  As I grew older, more mature and started to wear a professional "hat", I learned that depending on your profession, the workplace is generally NOT a good venue for political discussions, religious discussions, and of course - sexual discussions, and any other potentially polarizing topics.  You never know who will over-hear you, what their personal beliefs are, if they might be offended and how they might react.

In our current political environment, the need for decorum is becoming more and more evident, and fortunately, the lack of tolerance for inappropriate words and actions is becoming less and less standard.

My professional responsibilities include interviewing and hiring many people every year.  Even though my sensibilities are certainly not delicate, I am often astounded at what people will say during an interview process.  While I have not walked a mile in their shoes, I am still of the school of thought that if you are trying to obtain a job, that you would be on your best behavior during the interview process.  Bringing up your opinions on various political topics, politicians, racial topics, gun rights, women's rights, religious beliefs and of course, the never appropriate sexual innuendos is not a step in the right direction toward securing that job.

Many will say "What about the right to freedom of speech"?  "I have a right to have my own beliefs".  All that is true, there is freedom of speech in this country and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.  At the same time, there is a level of decorum that should be adhered to.  Take into account that the job you are interviewing for and the folks you are interviewing with also have a right to their own beliefs which might differ greatly from your own.  In turn, they have a right not to hire you due to something you said during the interview process.

Always keep in mind that it is also your right to work in an environment where you are not discriminated against or made to feel uncomfortable.  Everyone you work with has that right as well.  This is why keeping your political beliefs, religious beliefs etc. off the table at the workplace and definitely during the interview process, is important.  I shouldn't even have to mention sexual advances and innuendos, but with the recent headlines, it seems it needs to be included.

Comedians have a term "learn your audience" because not every audience is going to get your jokes, understand your humor or think specific content is funny.  The same goes for the workplace.  Get to know the people you work with before you say something that might put your job on the line.

As a rule of thumb, while interviewing for a job it is never a good idea to express your religious or political points of view during the interview process if the job is not in either of those arenas.  Should a person interviewing you ask you specifically about your religious or political views and those views do not pertain to the job at hand, be polite but clear and state that those topics are not of any relevance to the position.    It is actually your right to not have to discuss those topics to avoid any type of discrimination.

There is a time and a place to present your opinions on every topic imaginable, just know your audience and remember that everyone is entitled to their opinions, they might just not be the same as your own.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Identify Yourself

When contacting a Recruiter or potential employer it is important to identify yourself.  Whether you are submitting a resume for the first time, or checking in via voicemail or text about the status of your resume, it is crucial to let the other party know who you are!

A typical recruiter or hiring manager will have multiple people in the interview process at once.  Many recruiters and hiring managers are trying to fill numerous jobs at once.  By identifying who you are when you reach out, it will save you and your point of contact precious time.

Here are just a few example scenarios:

Phone Call / Answered:  "Hi, we've spoken in the past and I saw you had an Ambulatory role posted online, I'm really interested"  - typically this dialog goes on for a few more minutes, but I'm unable to look the person up in the database to see if they're qualified for the role until they take a breath and I can ask them who they are. 
Solution:  "Hi There, this is James, we spoke back in May.  I'm an Ambulatory Certified Analyst and saw you have posted a role that fits my qualifications do you have time to discuss"?

Voice Mail:  "Hi, I'm calling to find out if you have gotten any feedback from the client about my resume, let me know".  - the recruiter / hiring manager will have to try to run your phone number through the database to see if your information comes up, or try to call you back and ask who you are. 
Solution:  "Hello, this is Mark, I'm calling to see if XYZ Hospital has responded to my resume"?

Text Message - "Hi!  Did you get any feedback from the client yet"? - I have to text back "who is this"?.  It would be impossible for every recruiter/hiring manager to have the phone numbers of everyone they have in the submittal/interview process in their phones.
Solution:  "Hi!  This is Trina.  Did XYZ Hospital respond to my resume yet?"

Email: - Hi, I'm interested in hearing more about your go-live projects" - often there is no resume attached, no name and no other contact info.  Typically these emails do not get responded to.
Solution:  "Hi, my name is Adeola, my resume is attached for your review, I'm very interested in your upcoming Epic go-lives".

Taking a few extra seconds to identify yourself will help assure you get a timely response!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Nail a Telephone Interview

How to Nail a Telephone Interview
I’ve posted blogs with interview tips before, but this topic is always relevant.  More and more interviews are being done over the phone, particularly in the Tech industry. 
If you’re going to be sitting in on a video/skype/facetime interview – see other important tips here:  http://engagemehit.blogspot.com/2011/10/tips-for-video-skype-interviewing.html

The Dreaded Telephone Interview 201
Ø  If you’re using your cell phone, make darn sure you’re in a place with great reception.
Ø  Take the interview call in a place where you won’t be interrupted by people, dogs, noises etc.
Ø  Try to build rapport early in the conversation.  If you can, start the call out with a bit of friendly banter with the potential employer – even if it’s just a comment about their weather.  Show interest in them, how their day is going etc.  The employer wants to hire someone they like, someone that they’ll enjoy working with.  It isn’t all about experience and qualifications.
Ø  Always keep your answers to the point, you will likely have only 30 minutes to impress your potential employer:  When answering questions about your experience, follow this rule of thumb:
1.       Answer the question positively – “Yes, I do have experience with XYZ”
2.       Explain where you have had the experience – “I worked on XYZ at my previous 2 employers, so I have almost 10 years of experience with it”
3.       Explain your experience with enough detail to make sense but not so much detail that you’re running on and on and on – “I started building XYZ about 9 years ago, XYZ has changed some since then, with my last employer I was not only responsible for the build, but I trained new employees on how to build and I served as Lead Analyst throughout the implementation.”  If the potential employer wants more specifics, they’ll ask.
Ø  Don’t start talking until you’re sure they’ve finished talking.  Many conference lines have a bit of a delay.  I’ve sat in on more interviews than I care to count where the candidate and the potential employer spent most of their time talking over each other because both were jumping in before the other had finished talking.  Its ok to have a brief pause before you start answering a question.
Ø  Never, Never, Never, downplay your qualifications!  Talk about what you do know and discuss your qualifications confidently.  Don’t elaborate on what you don’t know!  If a client asks you about a qualification that you don’t have, just say “I haven’t had any experience with that yet” or “I have a working knowledge of that from my experience at my last client but it wasn’t my focus” etc.
Ø  Don’t try to oversell yourself.  People that say things like “I’m the best in the business with XYZ” or “you won’t find someone more qualified” and similar statements typically get overlooked for job openings.  It’s a rare candidate that can pull off that level of narcissism and get away with it.  Confidence is good, an over-active ego is not.
Ø  Don’t get defensive, ever – for any reason.  I’ve had candidates flat out yell at me when I’ve told them I don’t think they’re right for the position.  If you feel the person interviewing you is mistaken about your qualifications, politely explain where you feel they’ve missed the mark, never yell, never become rude.  Typically, the person interviewing you knows what they’re talking about, but if they don’t, consider it an opportunity to educate them.  Turning them off by yelling or being rude isn’t going to get you the position.
Ø  Always have a copy of your resume in front of you so you can refer to it if necessary.  If a recruiter submitted your resume, ask them for a copy of what they sent prior to the interview.
Ø   Wrap Up:  Typically the potential employer will ask if you have any questions.  During the interview you should have been jotting down any points you want to cover.  At this time try to ask a few questions, not just to show interest but to show you’re paying attention.  Also, take this time to bring up any points about your qualifications you feel you might have missed earlier in the interview.
Ø  Thank them – before hanging up cheerfully thank them for their time and express your continued interest in the position (if you are still interested) and ask when you might expect to hear back.

After your interview has concluded, take a few minutes to review any notes you’ve taken and go over the call in your mind, then write a thank you note via email to express your continued interest, reiterate how your experience lends itself to their needs and your excitement in hearing back from them.  No matter how good you are, you can’t win the job 100% of the time, but by following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to nailing telephone interviews!




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Communication Highway

Technology is advancing so fast most of us cannot keep up with the new trends and software and gadgets.  Over the years I've found that many people that have a career in Technology, don't always embrace it after-hours.  My brother has been a programmer within Healthcare IT for over 20 years.  He didn't get his first Smart Phone until 2015.

With all this new technology there are now multiple ways to communicate with others through social media (Facebook, LinkedIn etc), email, telephone, text, Skype and the list goes on.  How is one to know the best way or fastest method to reach their recruiter?  Ask! That's how!  Always inquire with your recruiter what method of communication they prefer.

A few things to keep in mind when contacting your recruiter:

  • Recruiters at any given time could have up to a hundred candidates submitted to various job opportunities AND on top of those folks, they are also responsible to communicate with and care for everyone they have placed on projects.  This means that recruiters are typically open to answering communication 24/7 if the need is urgent.
  • ALWAYS include your first & late name when contacting your recruiter.  Recruiters receive 100s of emails, phone calls, texts etc. a week.  If you do not include your name in the text, email, voice mail, how are they to know who they're to respond to?  (I regularly get emails saying "do you have any upcoming go lives?" with nothing else, no phone, no name, no resume.  If your email address doesn't have your name it in, how am I to know who I'm communicating with?  I also will receive random texts that go something like this:  "Hi!  Any word from the client yet?".... What client?  Who are you?  There is unfortunately no way for me to memorize every phone number of every person I've submitted to a client.)
  • Don't be offended if the Recruiter responds asking "who is this?".  Recruiters typically keep good track of who they've submitted and who they have working on projects, but we don't always remember everyone's phone number or email address. 
  • All recruiters utilize a database to keep track of candidates, consultants, activity and so-forth.  Anytime you update your phone number or email, it is best to notify the recruiters you work with.  With this being said - most data bases will allow Recruiters to search for someone via email or phone - but providing your name in your communications will net you a much faster response.
  • Social Media - for me Facebook is a professional no-no.  I strongly believe that Facebook (Instagram, Snap Chat etc) is for friends and family and not for work related communication.  LinkedIn is for business!  Save your professional communications for professional web sites.  If a recruiter contacts you via Facebook, ask for their email/phone and reach out to them that way.  Facebook can be professional suicide.  If a potential employer is scrolling through your Facebook feed - you never know what they might be turned off by - political posts, cat videos, family conversations.
  • Message Alerts - we all get message alerts on our phone.  Personally I receive text messages, Skype messages, LinkedIn, Pinterest messages, Snap Chat Messages, Facebook messages, email messages from both personal and business accounts and phone calls.  To cut down on the noise & insanity I've turned off every alert except for email and text.  Typically the best method to reach your recruiter will be phone or email, followed by text and LinkedIn and so on. 
  • Which brings us back to - Ask... Each recruiter will have their preferred method of communication and they'll be happy to let you know the best way to reach them and at what times, just remember to include your name when you reach out :) 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Challenges of Working From Home

There are PLENTY of up-sides to working from home;  not having to deal with morning or afternoon commute traffic, not having to "dress up", not dealing with the constant office interruptions, being more available for your family and many more.  I've worked from home for over 16 years and the #1 question I get asked is:  "I want to do what you do! How you I find a job where I can work from home?"  There is no easy answer to that question and not everyone is wired to be able to work from home and by "wired" I mean mentally, not technologically.  Working from home takes patience.  With that being said, there are a few drawbacks to working from home like; neighborhood noise (no matter where you try to hide in your home to take a business call you can still hear your neighbor's dog barking or that chainsaw running etc), Delivery Personnel knocking on your door, electricity or internet outages, your own animals or children making noise and other unexpected interruptions.  I've dealt with all of those issues over the years but by-far the most challenging has been the assumption of others that because one works from home that means they are available at anytime.
Most people that do not work from home seem to believe that everyone that does work from home is therefore available at the drop of a hat for an impromptu visit, a lunch break, to do them a favor like picking their kids up from school or letting their dog out or any number of other things.  I have often thought, if I was working in an office would people assume it was ok to call me as ask me to leave my office to go pick up their children?  Probably not.  This is not to say that I mind doing favors for my neighbors/friends/relatives whenever possible, but I do work 8 - 10 hrs a day and cannot always flex my schedule to meet their needs.  Its surprising how often people will get upset when you are unavailable for lunch or when they randomly stop by and you meet them at the door, phone to your ear - muted - on a conference call, letting them know you don't have time to hang out with them at the moment.  I'm absolutely convinced they wouldn't just stop by my business office if I worked downtown and expect me to drop everything and have a cup of tea and a chat with them.  Regardless of my efforts over the years to help people to understand that I actually am busy during normal business hours and often well beyond them, the concept of the belief that since I'm home I can't be that busy has not changed.
Working from home is a luxury that I have never taken for granted, it has allowed me to be very active in the raising of my children, to have animals that get a fair amount of attention and to excel in an industry that I love, but it certainly hasn't come without it's challenges.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Candidate Fraud - Just When You Thought You'd Seen It All

I've been in the Healthcare Technology Staffing Industry for almost 10 years, and the Recruitment/Staffing industry for almost 20....  I honestly thought I'd seen it all, from the lamest to the most elaborate excuses for not showing up to work or to an interview - to the most outrageous reasons for being fired, but recently I learned there was a level of unprofessionalism I had yet to uncover.

Not long ago while pre-screening candidates for an upcoming training related project I communicated via email and spoke with a very friendly woman with an unusual name.  She was polite, well spoken and knowledgeable.  Later a technical subject matter expert also spoke with the woman and was impressed with her technical knowledge and communication skills so it was recommended that the candidate be hired for the project.

The next step was for the candidate to speak with a travel agent and schedule travel... however at that time it was discovered that the candidate booking the travel was a man... he provided ID, Credit Card and other information with the same name as the person that had screened for the job.  When called to inquire if he was the same person that was screened, he had difficulty communicating, spoke very little English and made excuses to get off the phone, eventually he admitted to having someone else screen for him because "he just didn't have time". 

In the past almost 20 years I have never experienced anything like this.  Maybe I'm naïve in thinking that people would never go to this length and assume they wouldn't be caught. Not only did the candidate make a huge mistake by having someone else screen for him, but the woman that accepted the call and took the interviews for him is just as fraudulent.  Even more concerning is the fact that they must've gotten away with this in the past. 

Had the candidate managed to get to the client site without the deception being discovered, it wouldn't have taken the client long to determine he was not a fit for the job.  The repercussions could've been deep and long lasting for everyone involved. 

From a candidate/job-seeker standpoint it is NEVER advisable to falsify information or allow someone else to represent you in the interview process. 
From an employer standpoint, it is increasingly more important to fact check and back check each candidate prior to placing them on a project.


Friday, October 7, 2016

The Recruiter – A Consultant’s Main Source of Support

The Recruiter – A Consultant’s Main Source of Support

Within most Healthcare IT industry firms, the Recruiter is a Consultant’s main source of support.  This means that the Consultant should have their Recruiter on speed dial.  If the consultant gets stuck in an airport due to a delayed flight and will be late to the client site, they should call their recruiter, if the consultant feels they are being treated unfairly at a client site, they should call their recruiter, if their payroll check is incorrect, they should call their recruiter – etc., etc., etc.  It is primarily up to the Recruiter to make sure things flow smoothly for the Consultant throughout their engagement. 

All that being said, it is up to the Consultant to remember important facts about their engagement:  What are their responsibilities, who is their main contact at the client site, what time are they due on site, when they should enter their time and expenses and how to use the time/expenses applications and so forth.  While a Recruiter should be the Consultant’s go-to person, consultants have to keep in mind that their Recruiter is also managing dozens of other consultants at the same time.  Recruiters are there to help the consultant but not be their fulltime personal assistant. 

While there are likely plenty of consultants that have worked with inexperienced or unknowledgeable recruiters, recruiters can only provide you with the information they are aware of, which occasionally means you’re flying by the seat of your pants for the beginning of your engagement.  Learning to “wing it” is a great strength for consultants in the Healthcare Technology industry.

During a standard onboarding process there is a ton of information being exchanged between the firm and the Consultant; from standard onboarding paperwork to infinite details about the client, travel, payroll, responsibilities and more.  It is up to the Consultant to consolidate that information into one place so they can easily return to it if they forget something.  A good suggestion is for the Consultant to create a folder on their laptop/phone/smart pad and place important information there.  If the Consultant receives the names and contact information for people at the client site in an email, copy and paste that information into a document, label it “Client Contacts” and throw it in the folder along with any other important items like directions, hotel confirmations, rental car confirmations, travel expense particulars and so forth. That way the Consultant can easily refer back to the folder instead of calling their Recruiter to ask questions that have already been answered.

Below is a list of the most important reasons to contact your recruiter:

You are being held responsible for many tasks at the client site that were not part of the original job description.  (While it is great to work for a client that has faith in your abilities and feels you can handle additional responsibilities, if you were engaged to perform instructional design and a few months into the engagement you’re managing a team of trainers, conducting training classes AND completing instructional design tasks, it is time to call your recruiter.  The recruiter can bring the changes in scope to their management team who can in turn speak to the client and discuss an hourly rate raise.)

You are frustrated for any number of reasons and considering quitting the engagement.  (In most instances, the issues you are dealing with can be dealt with and corrected.  Never quit an engagement without having a heart to heart with your recruiter first and if the decision is made for you to exit, give notice whenever possible)

You are unable for any reason to be onsite on time or you’re taking vacation time.  (If you are taking vacation, always clear the dates with the client and then let your recruiter know. If you are stuck in an airport or you’re ill or any number of reasons you might not be on site on time – call your recruiter, even if you have your client site manager’s number, call the manager first and then your recruiter. The same goes for running late to an interview)

You have discussed something specific with the client that affects your engagement.  (If the client has informed you that dates of your engagement are changing or that your responsibilities are going to change, that they have an issue with something you’ve done, contact your recruiter immediately so it can be documented.  It is always important to have a paper trail)

And finally, always remember your recruiter is there to help and support you, treat them as you would a colleague.  If you happen to land a recruiter that is not supportive, it is OK to remind them that you have expectations and be clear about what those expectations are.  At the very least you should hear from your recruiter via phone or email once a month during your engagement, once a week is ideal.  Additionally, don’t have unreasonable expectations, remember that your recruiter is also managing up to dozens of other consultants, along with trying to fill multiple job openings.  With that in mind, don’t email or call your recruiter multiple times a day with minor issues, save your thoughts for the end of the day and make 1 phone call or send 1 email encompassing all of your needs.  By working together and forming a relationship built on mutual respect, your recruiter will be your best ally in the industry.