Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The X Factor

 We have a co-worker whose daughter** recently auditioned for the TV show, The X Factor.  I've always thought this was a unique title because what really is an "X Factor"?  How do you define this term?  According to Answers.com, "X-Factor" in very general terms means the unknown factor or the unexplainable thing which adds a certain value to that object, element or a person.  

Then it hit me...this is what my clients have been wanting from the candidates I submit!  It's the item that is always wanted but never fits neatly on a job description.  In an effort to better explain this "unexplainable thing" I read different articles that might shed light on this most defining characteristic.  This article from LinkedIn was one such article and I thought it captured many of the things that add that certain value to a candidate.  I found it to be a good article but, interestingly enough, some of the points seem contradictory.  But, then again, isn't that what makes the X Factor so unique?

[Excerpt from "8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees", Jeff Haden Feb. 21st, 2012]

1. They ignore job descriptions. The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.
When a key customer's project is in jeopardy, remarkable employees know without being told there's a problem and jump in without being asked—even if it's not their job.
2. They’re eccentric... The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group into a team with flair and flavor.
People who aren't afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.
3. But they know when to dial it back. An unusual personality is a lot of fun... until it isn't. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, the best employees stop expressing their individuality and fit seamlessly into the team.
Remarkable employees know when to play and when to be serious; when to be irreverent and when to conform; and when to challenge and when to back off. It’s a tough balance to strike, but a rare few can walk that fine line with ease.
4. They publicly praise... Praise from a boss feels good. Praise from a peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person.
Remarkable employees recognize the contributions of others, especially in group settings where the impact of their words is even greater.
5. And they privately complain. We all want employees to bring issues forward, but some problems are better handled in private. Great employees often get more latitude to bring up controversial subjects in a group setting because their performance allows greater freedom.
Remarkable employees come to you before or after a meeting to discuss a sensitive issue, knowing that bringing it up in a group setting could set off a firestorm.
6. They speak when others won’t. Some employees are hesitant to speak up in meetings. Some are even hesitant to speak up privately.
An employee once asked me a question about potential layoffs. After the meeting I said to him, “Why did you ask about that? You already know what's going on.” He said, “I do, but a lot of other people don't, and they're afraid to ask. I thought it would help if they heard the answer from you.”
Remarkable employees have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of those around them, and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.
7. They like to prove others wrong. Self-motivation often springs from a desire to show that doubters are wrong. The kid without a college degree or the woman who was told she didn't have leadership potential often possess a burning desire to prove other people wrong.
Education, intelligence, talent, and skill are important, but drive is critical. Remarkable employees are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to do a good job.
8. They’re always fiddling. Some people are rarely satisfied (I mean that in a good way) and are constantly tinkering with something: Reworking a timeline, adjusting a process, tweaking a workflow.

Great employees follow processes. Remarkable employees find ways to make those processes even better, not only because they are expected to… but because they just can't help it.

As a candidate, what is your X Factor? Hiring managers: What is yours? (By the way, when these two can be successfully met and reconciled, do let us know) 

**Note: When Camille Powell becomes famous and makes platinum records you can say you knew of her in the very beginning. The CRG office is ready for our 15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Not to Annoy Your Recruiter During a Phone Interview

By Kristi Gregory, Staffing Consultant

As a recruiter, I talk to many people day in and day out, including people who may or may not be looking for employment.  If you have posted  your resume on a job board, or even if you have indicated on LinkedIn that you’re open to career opportunities, I (and many others) are going to assume that you are either looking for employment or are open to hearing about a new opportunity.  Having said that, here are a few tips (somewhat tongue in cheek) I recommend to people who fall into those categories.

  1.  Do not answer the phone if you’re unable to speak openly about a job opportunity at that time.  If you’re picking up your child or children from school, doing your grocery shopping, getting your hair done, have  your hands inside a chicken (yes, I’ve had someone who told me that), or using the restroom (yes, I’ve had this happen as well, numerous times), DO NOT ANSWER the phone.  Simply let the call go to your voice-mail and call back when it is a better time for you to talk
  2.  This piggybacks on #1, but thought it deserved a little more attention.  If you receive a call and you’re currently unemployed and/or sitting at home, watching TV, press the mute button before answering.  There is nothing more distracting than a TV that is blaring when you’re trying to talk to someone about a job opportunity.  If it’s distracting to me, I assume it’s distracting to you as well.  Same goes for a barking dog; put it outside or move to a different room, if possible.  There is no way you can hold a conversation with someone if that is in the background.  (I would say the same for a crying child, but, hey, I’m a mother, so I know that’s inevitable sometimes and there isn’t much you can do, depending on their age.)
  3.  Be interested to hear what I have to say to you, or at least pretend to be.  I’m here to help you achieve your dream of getting the best job possible.  I’m not a bill collector, so please don’t treat me as such.
  4.  Try to have a pen and paper handy by your phone, especially if you’re at home.  This shows that you’re prepared at all times to speak to someone who may be calling you about a job.  If you’re driving and unable to jot any information down, simply tell me and I will be happy to send you an email with the information you need.
  5.  A word of advice: do not have an outgoing message on your voice-mail that is suggestive or lewd in any way; do not have music playing during your outgoing message or have a ring tone that plays for me while I wait for you to answer your phone.  Also, if you currently have an email address that has the words “sexy”, “hot”, “big”, or anything that is super personal in nature other than your name, either change it or get a temporary one that you use for professional use only.  (I realize this does not fall under the phone etiquette category, but it has to be said.)
There are other examples, but I felt these were the most important ones to mention.  As recruiters, we truly want to help you find the best job for you, but you have to do your part as well.  Give us a chance and you never know what could happen!