Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Juggling work and job hunting

This has been a crazy time for me and WineTalent. After a spate of marketing, my plate is yet again full with new orders--which leads to resume reviewing, candidate screening, interviewing, client visits and negotiations--and ultimately to new hires.

With my juggle I get behind in some areas, and am sure when work is busy for my candidates and they are also working at finding a new job, some things get pushed to the side.

My only advice is to prioritize and then to get to work. Your current position has to be your top priority. Being a solid contributor to your company will pay off when it's time to move on. References are very important, so keep focused on your work.

Next, when job hunting, use resources to your advantage. Set up searches and agents on any job boards you use so that new, appropriate positions are sent to you for your response. If you are overwhelmed with information, retool your search parameters to make only highly desirable positions end up in your inbox.

Now, make sure you have a general version of your resume ready for a position. Having a chronological resume updated at all times is very important. When that great opening pops up, you can zip off your resume and not be bogged down with other matters that could distract you from ever responding to the position. You can also always add some custom elements to the generic version that apply directly to the opening you are interested in.

So, your resume's out and you get that call. Return the call as soon as you can, and if your schedule is crowded, let the caller know that you may have to get back to them. Many of us are over-scheduled now, and a last minute meeting isn't always going to work out. But be creative. Ask if you can call them back during a certain time, or give them times that would work when you could talk at length, and see if there is a schedule match. Thinking past "No, I can't" to "How about if we talk at 3:30 on Friday?" will make the interested party know that you are eager to connect, and are keeping both parties schedules' in mind.

Interviewing can be tricky. Interviewers often understand if an early morning, lunchtime, or evening time is the only thing that will work for you. But, some companies can't make allowances for your interview time constraints. So, if the job is important enough to you, you're going to have to figure a way to get there--and not jeopardize your current position.

You're interviewing, it's going well, and they want to contact your references. A great idea is to contact your references beforehand so that they are expecting the call. When I'm calling references, I always get a quick response when the reference knows why I'm calling. They are is hoping to help out a great candidate. I always recommend giving more than the number of references requested so that they are assured of reaching a few people, and aren't stuck waiting for return calls.

Good News: They are interested in hiring you and need to negotiate your offer. Don't do this at work. Make time to call them back when you are out of the office. Another idea is to have a contact at home that can be a conduit to you. I often can negotiate offers faster if a candidate's spouse or partner is open to me leaving messages with them and having the candidate contact me when they can. That way they can already be thinking about it by the time they reach me and have some ideas in place. But don't worry if you don't have a reliable contact outside of the office. Voicemail is a tool that you can use to take messages and return as soon as possible. Most companies won't leave offer terms on a message, but you can know that they have a response for you.

Yea, they want you. If you need to, have them send you an offer letter and/or contract. That way you can read through it when you have time, and respond appropriately. You also can do it away from work, where you aren't thinking about work matters.

Lastly--don't abandon ship. Always let both your old employer and your new one know that you need "at least two week's notice" before you can start your new position. It is the professional thing to do, and will keep you smelling like a rose with everyone.

Congratulations. You successfully juggled your work with your job hunt--and found a great new job.

Gotta run, calls to make, references to check, clients to call.