Defining your career path? You need to work on it

I often write about the importance of collaboration. It has been said that companies should invest and have invested in technology, projects and programs (for example team building or mentorship) to improve collaboration between and within teams. Technology has changed the way we collaborate and exchange information. Conference calls and emails have completely revolutionised our way of working.

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There is an aspect of your work that remains isolated and you should keep it isolated and personal.

What is it? Your career management. Receiving advice from colleagues or your manager is clearly important; however, your career path definition needs to be a personal investment and you cannot rely on collaboration. Managing your career path does not mean undermining colleagues or diminishing other people successes. Managing your career means creating your own path with your efforts. Take risks, join new teams, have different experiences and think about these experiences.

Do you want to be in contact with a recruiter? Do not use Facebook!

We can exchange and receive information in real-time; this dynamic and multiple sources’ network boosts innovation, knowledge sharing and relationships’ building.

The organisations have to embrace this revolution and their efforts are focused on (virtual) collaboration and cooperation. The results of this revolution brought also the organisations to be more open:  they have opened their doors to the external world. For example, the recruiting function has been affected by this cultural change; think about LinkedIn, the meetups and Glassdoor. You can search about the company using different media and get to know better the company culture. If you want to reach out a recruiter, it is super easy.

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So, why are you using Facebook? Why would you contact a recruiter via Facebook? Why would you move a contact from the professional level to the personal one? A recruiter might decide to do not answer a message. Additionally, your message might not show up because it has gone to the “spam folder”. So, I would not do it…and if you ask, the recruiters should not use Facebook to find candidates for the same reasons.

Do not say ” I am the perfect candidate”

I am a recruiter and I interview candidates for a living; there are times when the interviews are really positive and other times when they are not.

If you are going to be interviewed by a recruiter, your preparation is fundamental; however, the real difference is made by what you are ready to talk about. Example? Knowing the company’s financial results won’t necessarily help you. So what? Do not memorise the financial results but be ready to talk about your experiences. Considering that you are under pressure while interviewing, you can easily make mistakes recollecting the financial results.

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One of the most asked question by recruiters is: why do you think that you are the right candidate for the job? You can answer talking about your professional experiences, the projects that you have been involved in or the career development path you want to join; these are valuable answers. The worst answer ever? “I’m the perfect candidate”. Let see a few reasons why saying that you are the perfect candidate is not a good idea.

1) You are evaluating yourself …what you think it is not necessarily true.

2) You’re evaluating yourself…however, the recruiter is the one there to evaluate your application.

3) You are trying to impress the recruiter. Interviews are not created to impress but to present projects, your experiences and skills. An interview is not a date!

3) If you have never worked for that specific company, there are definitely things that you do not know about them (processes, tools, the culture).

4) Showing self-confidence is fine.  However, saying that you are the perfect candidate is still not the best way to get started and set the right framework for the interview.

5) If you decide to ask questions to the recruiter about the role or the experiences needed to be successful in the job.. why should you ask these questions considering that you are the perfect candidate? you should know the answers already. The only thing that you are doing is proving that you are not the perfect candidate. You can be a good candidate, a very good one.. .not the perfect one.

Suggestion? Even if you really think to be the perfect candidate (or very close to the recruitment’s needs), well, do not say that.

Interview questions? Don’t talk (too much) about your team

Being prepared for an interview is not always easy. You think about the possible questions, you make a research about the company, you review your resume and you decide how much time dedicate to these activities; I know, looking for a new role is a job.

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In order to be well prepared, you have to think about how/what you are going to answer the questions. For example, you need to decide the level of detail that you are going to provide. When the recruiter will ask you a question you need to decide which details you are going to present… and you need to do it in a few seconds. You need to be ready to present cases or activities that you’ve completed/achieved or that are part of your daily job.

In most cases, our achievements and activities imply teamwork and shared responsibilities. However, even if it is important to show that you are a good team player, you have to present what degree of command you have for your activities. Showing accountability does not mean that you are not a team player. Mentioning only the activities that you are doing with the team is not enough to present your role.

Dear recruiter…

Dear Recruiter,

I hope that you’re ready to start the new week.

There will be new candidates to be interviewed, feedback to be delivered and you will surely have to organize (or reorganize) one or more recruiting processes.

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You have to remember that your relationship with the hiring manager is very important. You have to work on it, you have to listen and you have to understand the recruitment needs; however, do not forget to have opinions. Being available and responsive with a manager does not mean always that you need to agree with her/him. If you do so, well, apart from creating problems in the recruiting process itself, you will always be considered as a support and never as a partner. A recruiting process is only successful if there is a true collaboration between the recruiter and the hiring manager. Remember that having opinions is a good thing; a recruiter without personality or opinions will be always an average recruiter.

Finally, what is the worst thing to tell to your hiring manager? This role is difficult.

What would the answer to the question if I was the manager? Well, what are you doing here then?

It is not always about the candidate

When you are a recruiter you know that you are providing a service; you have the mission of delivering a great service to your customers. Your customers are not only external ones (the candidates) but you have also internal clients (the business leaders and your team for example). However, the usual recruiter’s approach is focused only on the candidate experience. The candidate experience is the result of the interactions between the candidate and who is providing the service (the recruiter and/ or the interviewers). As it happens with other services, the attention to the details is fundamental to reach a good level of customer satisfaction. For example, the recruiter needs to provide a close support during the recruiting process, needs to be responsive and give to the candidates punctual and detailed feedback.

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As mentioned before, we must not forget who is providing the service; in this case, the recruiters and the interviewers. The candidates have surely their priorities and their needs; the business stakeholders (who are interviewers in this case) have them too. Providing a good service is linked to an old rule; no, the rule is not “the customer is always right”, because it is not true.  The old rule is treating other people like you’d like to be treated and understand the importance of a request. A request can come from the business or the candidate; as recruiter, you need to evaluate what is the most important one in that specific moment; it is not always the case that is the candidate’s one. It is just common sense approach based on mutual respect and prioritisation. The respect for the candidates, the interviewers, their commitments, their time, the recruiting needs and the respect of your time and priorities as recruiter are just a few things that you need to consider. It is true that the candidates choose a company also for what they have seen during a recruiting process; however, as recruiter, you need to remind yourself that a recruiting process is not only about the candidates.

 

Presenting well? It is not so easy

We often think that a great presenter is the one who always uses specialised and technical language. On the contrary, when we use simple words we think that we are showing a lack of knowledge.

In order to impress the audience, we tend to overcomplicate our way of presenting. I did it too, of course. We want to impress the audience and we want to be perceived as subject matter experts. Are we sure that it is the right approach?

When we feel that we are losing the attention of the audience, we change our strategy. Completely. How? We try to simplify our messages using examples and speaking slowly. We need to keep in mind that when we explain a process, we present slides or when we are just telling a story we are appreciated only if understood.

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When I interview candidates, it often happens that they try to impress. However, the result is not always great.  Being specific and giving details is clearly good. Extremely good.  Unfortunately, when we are under emotional and time pressure, we risk losing our focus.  In these cases, the answers result too complicated and full of not relevant details. Answering in a simple way is often much more effective.

It is often said: less is more.

Do you know the magical formula for being a great manager?

We usually hear that there is a magical formula to be a great manager. There are managers who adopt a very sympathetic approach and other ones who are much more demanding; there are managers who prefer to delegate and empower their teams.  On the contrary, there are other ones who prefer a direct and close supervision (the so-called micro –management style).

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Are we really sure that there is the magical formula for being great managers? Generalising is always difficult considering that organisations are made by people, the dynamics between employees, the structures and processes. However, there is something that all people managers should pay attention to.

What is it? As people manager, you need to adapt your managerial and leadership style considering the people of your team.

How can you do it? You need to know your team. Very well. It requires a lot of effort, time and energy; however, you need to discover more about your team members’ needs of supervision, coaching, freedom and collaboration.  Your role as manager is understanding and listening before doing things. For example, if one person of your team is extremely process oriented, is it worth checking if she/he is following the processes? Probably it should not be your priority as manager.

It is clear that each manager adopts one style or approach; however, people managers need to enable and empower their people following different and adaptive approaches. The secret? Before embracing a magical formula, you should know your team.

Transparency at work? You need it.

What is one of the most important values which create a positive organizational culture?
Transparency. As transparency, I mean having clarity about the organizational structure, the work streams, the career plans and the recruiting processes. Considering that organizations are open systems built by their employees, the transparency is the result of the human interactions and the processes’ implementation.

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You can create various social links with your team members, external stakeholders, colleagues of other departments and your manager. Let’s talk about the importance of the relationship with your manager. We always expect full transparency from our managers. As mentioned earlier, this transparency is related to the operational and the career management level. We expect transparency; however, are we always direct with our managers? I do not think that it is always the case.
If you do not have an open and direct relationship with your manager, I definitely advise having one. Why? It allows you to work with a greater confidence and it makes easier to discuss a mistake. Having an open dialogue enhances trust and empowerment for both sides. Creating this link allows you to manage and think about your career in a more responsible way.

The data scientist self-promotion is like the hacker case.

The recruiting world is influenced by trends, temporary or medium-term ones, as it happens for other areas and departments of an organisation.

This post is not about any employer branding or talent acquisition strategy. I’d like to talk about a specific job title: the Data Scientist. Oh yes, we will talk about a job title, not a job profile. Why are we not talking about a job profile? The Data scientists have different expertise, skills and focus considering the organisations they work for. Another variable to be taken into account is the tech stack.  So, defining or discussing the job profile is extremely complicated.

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During the last two/three years, we’ve observed a surge of the need of data experts; it is especially true if we consider the Data Scientists, the insights’ experts. No problem so far, considering that companies discover their needs and try to fill the gaps looking at specific expertise into the labour market. The problem does not stem from the need to have one or many data scientists; the issue rises with respect to the research of this profile. Many professional who minimally work on the insights part are used to define themselves data scientists. It happens very often. If a professional manages data, the Data Scientist job title is listed on Linkedin. However, a Data Manager is not automatically a Data Scientist.

Do you remember when many software developers were used to defining themselves hackers?

We are in the same situation…. Data rhymes with Scientist as it happened with Software and Hacker.