Understanding Artificial Intelligence and its Effect on the Job Market

Earliest Signs

In the 15th Century in the Netherlands, if you were a weaver, it was a manual skill you learned from your mother, and she from hers.  It was a coarse-weave you created, but it was the only thing available.  At least, that was so until the steam or water-powered textile loom came along and took away a large part of your livelihood.

That technological behemoth could turn out high quality, finely woven cloth by the yard…by the mile!  That was “automation”—and its first big impact on human labor.

People have railed at automation in the past, and these weavers were said to have thrown their wooden shoes (sabot) into the machines in protest.  It may not be true, but it could possibly be where we get the word “sabotage”.

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There is a Difference

We need to make a distinction here.  Automated Manufacture (AM) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are two completely different concepts, and that must be perfectly clear.

Automation is not an intelligent process.  It does eliminate some jobs (usually very difficult ones), but also creates many others.  The machines must be maintained by someone, and usually more is produced, so it must be sold, shipped, and handled, requiring more people.

Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is a simulation of human thought process by a program designed to take unregulated input, interpret it in a human-centric context, and respond as a human would.  For example:

A pair of empty paint cans come down twin conveyor belts, heading for two filling stations—one automated, the other controlled by AI.  On the AM side, the can comes to a stop under a spigot when it hits a solenoid switch.  The AM dispenses one gallon of paint, applies a lid, and presses it closed before sending it on to the labeling machine.

On the AI line, the conveyor is halted when a camera recognizes that a paint-can has arrived.  It follows it protocols, fills the can, puts a lid on it, and sends it off to the labeling machine.  The net effect is the same, however…

Let’s imagine that the cans fell over, or that they are upside down.  Now what happens?  The AM machine is going to pump a gallon of paint and make a mess.  The AI machine will not.

It has been trained to react to problems.  Maybe it has an air-powered piston that will kick the can into a “reject” container.  If it is really sophisticated, it may have a system to rotate a can under its scanner until it recognizes that the can is oriented properly before proceeding with the operation.  In either case, no paint was wasted, no mess was made, and the company saved money.

There are lots of examples of routine, middle-skilled jobs that involve relatively structured tasks, and those are the jobs that are being eliminated the fastest. Those kinds of jobs are easier for our friends in the artificial intelligence community to design robots to handle them. They could be software robots; they could be physical robots—Erik Brynjolfsson; American Academic, Professor /Director at MIT

AI Learning

As AI advances, it can be left on its own to experiment (either in reality or in simulations; it has no way to tell the difference).  It has massive speed and infinite patience so it can try every possible combination within the parameters given by its human teacher.

After thousands and thousands of tries, it learns to group certain actions together that lead to success, and eliminate strategies that always fail.  This is the way humans learn, too.

Advantages

A sufficiently indoctrinated AI is called an “Expert System”.  Consider an AI programmed with all the knowledge, techniques, and strategies of the top 20 Thoracic Surgeons in the entire world.  That would be great if the International Space Station had a remote Robotic Surgeon and an astronaut had appendicitis.  And that’s only 250 miles.  How about that same unit (dozens of copies) all over the world run from a central location, or each being discrete and autonomous?

That expertise can cover any field from auto mechanics to particle physics, but it can go a step further and freely combine the knowledge of one field with another in order to make new connections and extrapolations that humans might not make for years, centuries, or ever.  The fact is that a hacker doesn’t know what an electrician knows, who doesn’t know what a gardener knows, who doesn’t know what an electronics engineer knows, and so on…  Blending of knowledge could remove most of the impediments to our progress.

For example, we talk about esoteric materials—like Carbon Nanotubes—being necessary to build a “space elevator”.  We require a material strong enough to support its own weight from Geo-stationary Orbit all the way down to the surface of the Earth so that a ride into space would cost between $1-3.00 per kilogram, instead of our current price of up to $20,000 per kilogram via rocket.

That’s all very noble, but it is difficult to accomplish.  Scientists have been working on this for decades and still haven’t come up with an answer.  An AI might be able to solve the problem in weeks or months.  Maybe we already have the knowledge for anti-gravity, warp drive, or teleporters, but it is spread over dozens of fields and professions, and might never be discovered because there are so many barriers to understanding between disciplines.

Disadvantage—You’ll have to learn

Jobs like data entry and server maintenance have the potential for going the way of the dinosaur.  These are easy tasks for early and basic artificial intelligence programs.

If you want to go into the field of artificial intelligence yourself, it’s going to be necessary to study things like statistics, robotics, and algebra.  There are even courses of study arising in our educational institutions.  Do your research to make sure that they are not just pandering and are actually offering something of value.

If you want to stick to the more familiar things, then Data Science is probably a very good bet.  We’re still going to need human minds to figure out how to sort Big Data to get the most use out of it.  So make sure you understand things like Ruby, Python, Hadoop, SQL, Java, and JavaScript, of course.

Jobs will go, but new ones will arise

AI will displace workers—there is no doubt—but people already working in Tech will have a relatively easy time of upgrading their skills to remain relevant.  For people outside of tech, there are still opportunities.

The job of teaching AIs how to understand spoken English is falling to actual English teachers.  By simply expanding their skills a tiny bit in the computer field, they suddenly become a much-desired commodity in the world of computer AI development.

If you step back and look at technology from every era, it has displaced jobs but also created a lot of jobs—Ginni Rometty; American Businesswoman, President/CEO of IBM

It’s only going to get better

AI will eventually be able to spot a cyberattack in mere microseconds, and end it.  Right now, however, security is a great field to be working in.  Some employees still make poor judgments like open unexpected e-mail attachments, or follow links to unvetted websites.  And, as with anything new, IoT, or the Internet of Things, is exposing us to a brand new collection of vulnerabilities.

In the latter case, the camera which you have covering your inside front door so that you can see when the kids get home from school—it might be hackable and accessible to anyone in your neighborhood.  The same is true for that nanny-cam you keep in the children’s bedroom “just in case”.  If you can write code that delivers unhackable IoT devices so parents know that strangers aren’t watching their children, you’ll have a job for life.

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The Takeaway

Knowing that change is coming, and is inevitable, is what will allow you to be prepared.  Don’t wait until the last moment.  If what you are doing now is likely to change substantially, start building your adaptation strategy immediately.  This is all the warning you are likely to get so take advantage of it!

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon:  Tech Employment Opportunities Still Ranked Near the Top in U.S.

Tech Employment Opportunities: Still Ranked Near the Top in U.S.

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When you compare the number of job openings available, the overall job satisfaction rating, and the rate of remuneration, skilled technical jobs are among the leaders.  Why?

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Beyond Compensation

First, let’s discuss this topic of salary.  The top 10 Tech Jobs right now have a median pay-rate of between 68k and 125k.  When you average the medians for those ten jobs it comes in at a nice $98,250 per year.  It would be hard for most human beings to even be dissatisfied with a mere $68,000 per year.

Those Top 10 jobs in technology, according to a July/2017 summary, released in early August were:

Job Title Median Salary Open Positions Percent of Job Satisfaction
1.  Solution Architect 125k 2,200 74 %
2.  DevOps Engineer 110k 2,700 84 %
3.  Data Scientist 110k 4,200 88 %
4.  Data Engineer 106k 2,600 86 %
5.  Software Engineer 101k 17,000 70 %
6. Database Admin 93K 2,900 76 %
7.  UX Designer 92k 1,700 80 %
8.  QA Manager 92k 2,500 74 %
9.  Mobil App Developer 85k 2,100 74 %
10. Sys Admin 68K 4,000 74%

Clearly, these jobs are in demand; people are being compensated appropriately; and, most importantly, people feel that their job has purpose, and that they are appreciated for performing it.  The truth is, there are large factions of workers — whole sectors of our economy — where people never reach a 50 percent job satisfaction rate.  There is something inevitable about the advancement of technology, which in turn, offers a greater sense of job security in an ever-changing market.

Ubiquity

Why are there so many jobs available?  It is because older companies (which did not traditionally consider themselves data-centric) are now finding themselves in need of the same tools that modern businesses have already adopted. In fact, without them, they just can’t stay competitive.  Jobs in the technology sector will continue to flourish as the holdouts come to terms with modern business practices.

More importantly, our economy is slowly, yet inevitably, switching to an information-based economic model.  Automation is eliminating many manual labor jobs, making it more difficult for those in any position of political influence to reinstate manufacturing jobs which no longer service a purpose.

STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are now dominating almost all professions.  An auto mechanic must be computer savvy in order to operate the diagnostic equipment.  An outside sales rep can’t simply rely on a clipboard and carbon paper forms, because without a smart phone, tablet, or laptop, that person is hopelessly outclassed by their competitor.

Ordinary jobs are no longer “ordinary”, so the sooner we get over that notion the better it’s going to be for all of us.  If you’re currently in a job that doesn’t employ technology regularly, take a technology course (in school, online, or even self-taught) because every skill you learn makes you more useful and will help keep you employed until you’re ready to retire.

No one wants to be replaced because they went to their boss with a great idea, but when the boss asked them to create a “PowerPoint presentation” for the managers meeting they said “A power-what?”

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The Takeaway

The demand for people with any sort of technical skill is high, but the number of graduates has seen some fluctuation in recent years.  However, someone with a two or three year community college degree — or even someone who is completely self-taught, yet possesses an excellent skills level – will still possess an add value in the job market.

There are currently 627,000 unfilled technology jobs across all sectors of the economy (USA Today, April/2017).  They might be in Healthcare, Banking, Farming, Retail, Real Estate, or anything else you can imagine.

When the whole economy is looking at an unemployment rate of over 5 percent, and the tech sector shows less than half of that amount, it is time to upgrade your skills in order to maintain your relevance in both the job market or as an existing employee.

 

Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Five Tips for Embracing Change in the Workplace

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New policies, management alterations, technological modifications, shifts in company culture, and varied expectations are just a few of the common changes that can occur in the workplace at any given time. While adapting to new procedures is often challenging, an employee’s reluctance to adapt can certainly disrupt the direction of his or her career. Given this fact, there’s no denying that in today’s workplace, flexibility is the key to success.

Here, we review some practical advice on adapting to change in the workplace according to Bob Miglani, bestselling author of “Embrace the Chaos” which discusses moving forward in times of professional uncertainty.

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1.  Accept the new normal.

Most people tend to idealize the past, and often for good reason. However, holding on to the memory of how things once were is counterproductive when changes are present.  As Miglani states, “Let it all go. Let go of the old promises, the way we used to work, the people we used to work with, and the kind of workplace we originally signed up for. Let it go because it doesn’t exist anymore”. However, he continues, “It’s not doom and gloom… some of the best opportunities in life are presented to us when we open up to change”.

2.  Maintain a positive inner dialogue.

It’s quite easy to balk at a new procedure or shift in circumstances, especially when we didn’t find issue with the previous set of regulations or methods. Of course, accepting a new point of view is not something that happens overnight, but maintaining the ability to view any potential change with a positive attitude is certainly integral to one’s capacity to adjust to new situations. “What helps is to have a mentality where we think more about the possibility than impossibility”, says Miglani.

3.  Rework your goals and set out to achieve them.

It’s common for extreme or sudden workplace changes to leave us feeling somewhat directionless or even suspended in a state of limbo. Therefore, when our surroundings change, it’s to be expected that our plans and aspirations will also need to be adjusted. According to Miglani, “By setting a clear goal for ourselves, we can bring about a wonderful new mind shift that helps to direct our energy that is often wasted in so much workplace change”.

4.  Take charge of your own actions.

As in all aspects of life, there will always be factors within our careers which are not within our control. However, as Miglani reminds readers, a great portion of anxiety and stress can emerge from the uncertainty that occurs when we feel we have lost control of a previously manageable situation. This is why it’s important to own our actions, even in a changing workplace. “Allowing ourselves to be pulled into our work, focusing on specific tasks we can do gives us great happiness, fulfillment and meaning”, says Miglani. He continues, “Effort has the possibility to breathe fresh air into a stagnant life”.

5.  Avoid isolating yourself.

Sudden change can sometime cause an individual to feel a sharp reduction in their comfort zone. In fact, this is true of workers on all levels where unfamiliar “terrain”, so to speak, can easily result in the tendency to isolate one’s self. Unfortunately, however, this particular pattern is conducive to neither productivity nor success. Miglani advocates the importance of reaching out to others in both your professional and personal network during times of change. Not only will this help you remain plugged in to your evolving work environment, but it will also expose you to other perspectives, opinions, and even advice. Often, circumstances aren’t quite as dismal (or as unmanageable) as we envision them to be. “Speaking with others allows us to break the negative pattern in our head from all the confusing messages we get at our workplace, boosting our spirit, our resiliency tools, and our energy”, says Miglani.

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To Conclude

The most important factor to keep in mind is that as our surroundings (professional and otherwise) are capable of change, so are we. The evolution of circumstances is not an exclusively external process, as human beings are capable of incredible feats, which includes the amazing internal ability to change, learn, and adapt at will.

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon:  6 Common Workplace Concerns and Solutions

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

 

How to Stop Procrastinating at Work

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Procrastination is a common facet of human behavior.  In fact, it is so universal that we wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised to find it evidenced in everyone from a farmer of the mesopotamian era to a corner cubicle of modern times. The basic fact of the matter is:  People have a tendency to get bored and distracted. In the course of your daily grind, you’ve probably experienced some form of monotony and agitation more times than you could easily count. Interestingly enough, this is likely regardless of your profession or income level.

At this point, we have to step back and acknowledge (from both a worker standpoint, as well as from a managerial perspective) that we’re dealing with a near-fundamental trait of human nature. Conversely, this is not to say that we should just throw our hands up, unfettered of any notion of improvement.

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Here, we try to gain a better understanding the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ of procrastination so that we can get a more firm grip on it (and ourselves) for the overall benefit of not only our careers, but the workplace we occupy.

The Two Types of Procrastination

Overload

Becoming overwhelmed is a very common cause for what may appear to the outside observer as simple procrastination. When you are overwhelmed, the mind can tend to shut down a bit. Yet, this isn’t always a bad thing, since ‘shutting down’ serves the purpose of giving your reeling mind time to reassess, reevaluate, and figure out a new (hopefully more viable) approach to the problems being faced.

Boredom

A high percentage of disengaged procrastination very likely results from simple boredom (aside from, perhaps, one would hope: Nascar drivers and airline pilots). However, this is really no great surprise. The typical workday for the average mid-level office worker is a far enough cry from an action movie; but even if it weren’t, human beings have the capacity to turn just about anything into a humdrum habit once it’s been repeated enough.

The Solutions

It all comes down to you. To understand the problem and move to address it, you have to understand your own reasons for doing it. Potentially, the largest single aspect to all of this lies in the observation of your patterns, moods, and behavior; which is absolutely necessary before you can hope to enact any real change in them. After all, that is the entire point. You’re reading this piece in the hopes or interest of understanding how to address your (or admittedly, your employee’s) issues with procrastination. If you fall within the former category, then this piece should speak to you directly. If the latter, then it is not a huge leap to take the material and put together some quick in-office practices that may help.

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Here are a few tips and tricks to remember that can help you minimize excessive procrastination:

  • Acknowledge and identify what’s blocking you; whether it’s fear, financial concerns, tedium, etc.
  • Make yourself accountable, to yourself, first and foremost.
  • Set goals; keep them small and follow through with them, on a daily basis.
  • Actively and intentionally reward yourself for achievements, no matter how small.

Don’t let procrastination hold you back, from either excellence in your career or pursuit of growth in and for yourself.

 

Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Four Ways to Impress a Recruiter in Your First Meeting

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Capturing the attention of a quality recruiter is often easier said than done. However, provided you have earned that well-earned connection, there are certain actions which can help propel your name to the top of a recruiter’s list.

Your initial contact may either be an in-person or virtual meeting (via Skype or GoToMeeting, for example), or the recruiter (or HR representative) may choose to schedule a phone interview with you. Regardless of the platform, it is crucial that you win over this individual from the very beginning. One place to begin gaining a recruiter’s praise is to secure a clear perspective of what they are looking for in a job candidate and strategize fittingly.

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Recruiter, career strategist, and author, Jenny Foss, helps summarize some of the best approaches to “wowing” a job recruiter on your very first consultation.’

1.  Quickly show that you can cover the essentials.

The first course of action for a typical recruiter is to ensure that a candidate is capable of a job’s essential requirements. However, Foss explains, “That said, you should study the job description closely or talk with people working in the department [if possible], and then (before the interview) list out the things you think are the most important deliverables for the role”. So, while you want to remain primarily focused on the basics during your initial conversation, touching upon some your strengths as applicable to the more detailed specifics of the position is also imperative.

2.  Make your enthusiasm known if you’re interested in the position.

A candidate who is both qualified and excited about the job is a valuable asset to any recruiter, especially if you’ve made it to the next phase of the interview process. “[Assuming] you are reasonably interesting in the opportunity, you’ve got to make that instantly clear to the recruiter during the screening call,” says Foss. This ensures recruiters that their time invested has not been wasted; making it more likely that they will contact you if and when another, more suitable, position becomes available.

3.  Radiate a “cultural” match.

While online research and speaking with connected members of your network are effective ways of obtaining strong cultural cues about a particular organization, you cannot always be completely sure of a company’s culture until you actually beginning working there. However, any information you do gather will certainly help you score points with your recruiter during your initial conversation. Find opportunities during the conversation to show that you can relate to the company’s ethos; as this offers your recruiter a solid platform from which to convince other decision-makers in the company that you are truly a top-candidate for the job.

4.  Recognize the recruiter’s role and commitment to the process.

Simply stated, a recruiter wants to believe in you. Their goal is to come away from the conversation with a viable contender for the position. After all, it is at the basis of their career to align hopeful job seekers with a position in which they will not only thrive, but also provide value to the respective organization. “So,” with this in mind, Foss adds “never be afraid to ask for the interviewer’s input on how you can put your best foot forward with the hiring manager or for clarification on any questions you don’t understand. [This] person wants to send you through to the hiring manager. Make it easy to do so”.

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Remember that when the right strategy is in place, you are more likely to win the game, or in this case, land the job.

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon:  Navigating the End of Your Job Interview: What Questions to Ask

 

Fred Coon, CEO 

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

How to Let Your Interviewer Know You’re a Perfect Cultural Fit

Let’s say that you’re a top-flight programmer, but you’ve decided that you’re not going to work just anywhere.  After figuring out exactly what you wanted to do, you took the time to do additional research and figure out precisely where you wanted to do it.

The problem remains, however, that even after you know that a prospective employer has an employee gymnasium, quiet rooms where you can grab a quick nap during the day to refresh your mind, an espresso machine, an open-door policy for all executives, and a convivial atmosphere where everyone’s ideas are accepted openly, you still have to convince them that you fit their perceptions of a good employee.  How do you do that?

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Don’t Oversell Your Enthusiasm

The temptation may be to fawn over the company’s product line or services; to gush over the importance it has in your daily life. However, they already have customers who love their product; what they need is someone who is going to extend their product line, enhance the public’s perception, or improve their current offerings.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you use their products regularly; you must demonstrate that you not only desire to improve their offerings, but that you have the skill to do so, while fitting into their community structure.  According to a 2014 survey, HR people are now paying considerably more attention to that last category.

For example, while the CEO of AVON® is Sheri McCoy, 75% of the CxOs, 65% of the Board, and 60% of the Management Committee are male.  AVON’s male-focused product line is relatively small, so why are men overrepresented?  Simple—they persuaded someone at the hiring level that they could integrate with the company in a positive way, and make a difference.

An Emotional Connection

Being passionate about the company’s objectives, and then backing that up with a plan for how you are going to further them, is a key success factor.  If you can describe the challenges an employee is likely to face, and have a plan for dealing with them, you’re already one-step-up on the competition.  By showing them that you’re going to add value, and not require a great deal of handholding, you become a valuable asset.

Moreover, integration is not restricted to day-to-day business.  If part of the company culture involves donating laptops to under-financed schools or toward scholarships for kids to attend college, mention that you’re aware of it.  You can even outline some plans for your own ideas to enhance the effectiveness of their projects.  Make clear to the interviewer that you want to work for the company and further all of its goals.

Fit In

There aren’t many companies that value the lone-wolf approach (if that’s your style, and you found a company like that, congratulations).  Most companies prefer integration and teamwork, so when you’re talking about solving a problem, use the word “we” more frequently than you use the pronouns “I” or “me”.

Nevertheless, if a large part of your job is interacting with customers, make sure you emphasize that a happy customer is a valuable repeat customer.  Without them, “we” wouldn’t even be in business (yes, you slyly included yourself as part of the company team there, helping the interviewer to think of you that way, too).

Don’t be a Drone

You don’t have to toe the party line.  Interviewers, if they are sensible, are not looking for a new best friend.  If you’re in the right sort of cultural environment you are often appreciated if you have a different way of thinking about problems.  It can be a very attractive feature.

Different approaches to problem solving can be a huge benefit to a company.  Getting people to think about new approaches to problem-solving can banish longstanding hang-ups and bottlenecks; it can provide new “Eureka!” moments that could completely change the way a company does business.

Admittedly, it’s the job of the employee to conform to the corporate culture.  Expecting to stand it on its head and make it do your bidding is unrealistic.  But there’s little harm in being different, and often large benefits.

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The Takeaway

Cynics tell us “Sincerity is great; once you can fake that, you’ve got it made”, but the truth is, as Abraham Lincoln pointed out, “You can fool some of the people some of the time…”  Even if you succeed, you won’t be happy, won’t do a good job, and you’ll be looking for something new in very short order.

If you find the place where you belong—the place you truly want to be—treat it seriously and show them that you fit, and not just that you want the job.  Anything else is just self-sabotage.

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon:  Who’s Interviewing Whom: Valuable Tips for Job Interviews

 

Fred Coon, CEO 

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Five Initial Signs That Your Job Interview Went Well

Of course, the ultimate sign of a successful job interview is being informed that you’ve secured the position. There are, however, some other — more immediate — signals that a prospective employer may be seriously interested in you as a candidate.

Here, we review some direct indications that you have “aced” your job interview.

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1. References were requested.

According to CareerBuilder.com, “If the hiring manager asks for a list of references, it means they are seriously considering you and want to make sure you are a qualified candidate”. Hiring a person who is the wrong fit for a position can cost a company thousands, so investing in this process is a good sign that an employer is considering hiring you.

2. You were called back for a second interview.

This is one of the most notable indications that a company is interested in you as a candidate. Interviewers who are unsure of an applicant, will tend to be more elusive as to “when and whether you could expect to hear back,” according to CareerBuilder.com.

3. They introduced you to other team members.

If you’ve been given the opportunity to meet with individuals not included on your original interview schedule — particularly those in high level positions — this can be taken as a positive sign. CareerBuilder.com reiterates, “Bonus points if they are a president or senior executive”. When high-level employees have been made aware of your presence, it’s safe to guess that news of your skills and expertise has created a “buzz” throughout the company.

4. You were asked about the specifics of leaving your current position.

Job candidates who have made it to the “short list” can expect hiring managers to request details regarding the length of time they will need for their job transition, or what agreements may be in place with their current employer. Employers looking to move toward a job offer are keen on identifying and solving “any potential roadblocks that would slow down your departure from your current organization”, according to CareerBuilder.com.

5. You were asked about your salary requirements.

While it is not recommended that interviewees volunteer their salary needs during a typical job interview, if a hiring manager directly asks you the specifics of your compensation requisites, this can often be taken as good sign. Although some interviewers may be looking to whittle down their candidate list through this process, many will not bother to bring up earnings unless they are already viewing you as a top match for the position. However, candidates should at least be sure they are prepared with this information, should the topic be broached by the employer.

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To Conclude

Although there may not be one definitive sign that you have landed a job immediately upon leaving an interviewer’s office, there are certainly ways of gauging the quality of your job interview. Each time you meet with a hiring manager, you are gaining valuable interviewing skills; so even if you did not acquire that particular position, you likely came remarkably close if you experienced many of the indicators listed above. Therefore, remain on track, learn from your feedback, and you should soon find yourself in receipt of a well-deserved (and well-fitting) job offer.

More from Stewart, Cooper & Coon:  Interview Advice: Answering The Question, “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Tips for Brainstorming a New Career Path

Time and Change

Sometimes we become so overly-involved in our established paths and daily routines that a day may come when you lift your head and wonder, “What am I doing?” Sooner or later (and sometimes more than once) we most all arrive at such a crossroads. This is a time for reflection if not a stern reevaluation of just what we’re doing with our lives. Beyond the childhood ambitions of becoming a firefighter or astronaut, deciding what exactly you want to do with your career is, most often than not, a rather daunting prospect.

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This is because, unlike our childhood selves, we have come to see that life is a journey of many detours, rather than a singular destination resulting in automatic happiness and contentment. Additionally, personalities and interests and talents may develop with time, and preferences frequently change. Colloquially speaking, you may have utterly loathed broccoli as a child, and it may well now be your favorite food. What changed, other than time and experience?

And so it is the same for professional careers. Naturally, the financial incentive plays a powerful role in one’s decisions of what path to take. There is, however, so much more to that equation if you want a career that is not only lucrative, but fulfilling and personally rewarding. There is no unwritten rule that says you can’t take pleasure in your work; in fact, the most productive and rewarding careers are those that intersect both passion and professional performance.

Strategy

With this in mind, how then, does one go about searching for the career that best suits individual interests and goals? The first good notion is fairly simple: Isolate keywords that align with your strongest professional experience and perform some basic online searches based upon those areas. Extrapolate a little and develop a touch creative. For example, if your work history is in sales, begin searching for and targeting fields which overlap with your technical expertise. If you have some computer skills, you could then try searching for “technical marketing”. The combinations are nearly infinite.

In all, it comes down to a matter of both strategy and approach. To take the refinement even further, consider some of the following questions:

  • What are your ideal work days/hours?
  • What kind of activities would you most enjoy throughout the day?
  • What manner of office or corporate culture most suites your preference?
  • What kind of people do you want to be working and collaborating with?

The answers to these questions will help you continue to filter as well as enhance your professional aspirations. The greater clarity you can put down on paper for your ideal match, the finer the returns will be for the companies that match the profile, and subsequently you can demonstrate why you would be such an excellent fit for their openings.

More from Stewart Cooper & CoonWhat To Look For In A Job Posting

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Wrapping Up

When it comes down to it, you have to really consider not only what you want, but what you don’t. If a company profile or history strikes you negatively, think twice before investing your time into it.

More so, remember that any choice you make is just a single step forward, not the whole game. Therefore, don’t become overly preoccupied with the notion that this new transition is going to a ‘forever’ choice. Rather, be aware that it could well just amount to few years of good experience and powerful new networking, or even just a springboard, which is equally valuable. There’s always tomorrow; so make it a good one.

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon: Making Your Dream Job a Reality

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Job Seekers: Four Ways to Stand Out to Your Recruiter

When working with a recruiter, it’s common for job seekers to assume they can finally relax and allow their consultant handle all the work. While recruiters carry quite a hefty load of responsibilities to assure a successful matching of candidates and companies, there are certain actions that job seekers can take to increase their leverage among competitors, resulting in an accurate and speedy placement.

Related:  Behind the Scenes of Corporate Recruiting

The goal is to create a reason for your recruiting consultant to truly advocate for you; to become their “go-to candidate” for the best positions. So, how does a job seeker increase their value in the recruiting world?

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Sjoerd Gehring, Global Head of Recruiting at Johnson & Johnson, shares four key pointers:

1.  Be Ready and Organized.

One of the most important factors in a successful recruiter/candidate relationship is communication. Ensure that your recruiter is aware of your goals, skills and experience, as well as reasons for any noticeable gaps in your employment history. If they are in the dark as far as your background, they cannot effectively “sell” you to an organization, let alone the right one. “So”, Gehring advises, “proactively send them an updated resume if there have been any changes since the last time you spoke. Then, have your work portfolio and references prepared and ready to go as soon as they ask for them. Respecting their time – and lack thereof – will help you stand out”.

Related:  The Right Way To List Job Titles On Your Resume

2.  Honesty is the Best Policy.

If you are tempted to misrepresent yourself in any way because you think it will fast-track to toward a better position, let go of that notion immediately. This includes exaggerations or withholding important information that may impact your future employment. Without honesty, there cannot be trust, and if your recruiting consultant feels they can’t trust you, they may be quite hesitant to place or refer you. Gehring reiterates, “Just think how badly it will reflect on you (and the recruiter!) if you hold something back or tell a ‘white lie’ that later comes to light; [and] be under no illusion, these things always do”. If you do feel somewhat underqualified for a position, Gehring suggests highlighting your transferrable skills in an honest way.

3.  Show Your Enthusiasm.

Gehring agrees, “Recruiters are looking for qualified candidates who are serious about switching to the company they represent”. If a particular role is meaningful to you, by all means, let your recruiter know. Perhaps an organization possesses a similar value system to your own or you have a high esteem for their dedication to philanthropy or readiness to take on new forms of technology.  “Whatever your reason, demonstrate that affinity, so the recruiter knows why you’re committed to securing a role at their company,” suggests Gehring. Moreover, this information can be used to your advantage as a recruiter promotes you to the company as a well-suited candidate.

4.  Maintain Graciousness.

Perhaps your consultant has placed you on track toward a position that doesn’t quite appeal to you. If this is the case, don’t feel obligated to accept an ill-fitting role. However, it’s important to graciously advise your recruiter of your concerns as soon as possible so that they can begin working toward a new opportunity for both you and another candidate who would perhaps be a better fit for the position. On the other hand, if you are set for an interview, and experience a rejection, do not blame your recruiter or consider this the end of the road. Again, remain gracious for the opportunity, and move forward. You recruiter is likely actively working toward filling another role, so it’s important to remain in their good standing.

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Conclusion

As Gehring reminds candidates, as with any relationship (whether personal or professional), you receive what you invest; and this certainly applies to the affiliation between job-seekers and recruiters. Remaining conscientious, honest, motivated, and gracious can only bring positive results.

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

The Unemployed’s Guide to Getting Hired

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Those who are currently – or have ever been – unemployed can attest to the fact that it is certainly not a paradise. Despite the constant media banter about the ‘gainfully unemployed’ and those who adore consuming government benefits, we have yet to actually meet many people who would embrace a lifestyle of absolute minimums and purely subsistence level income (if even that, which it’s very often not).

In the vein of a realistic approach – and one that doesn’t commence by belittling those in an already uncomfortable position – let’s have a look into some of the particular (if not completely unique) challenges faced by those currently unemployed and seeking a good position.

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To begin, and this one is obvious, getting a job is considerably more difficult if you don’t already have one. Many people will tell you that this is all a matter of perspective and attitude, and to a degree they’re not entirely wrong, as impression matters a great deal. However, preconception can matter even more, and the conventional wisdom (antiquated as it is) does hold that if you’ve been let go from your previous job, there must be a good reason for it, and it most often tracks back into thoughts of the quality of your work and performance. What this perspective fails to account for is that we live in a day and age of major, sweeping layoffs; not the fine-edged, carefully tailored pruning of corporations of the past. Huge swaths of people will be sheared off the payroll for purely budgetary reasons on a common basis these days, and there is little to nothing they can do about it.

Moreover, the longer you’re unemployed, the more heavily the (possible) discrimination weighs. Consistent studies show that after eight months of unemployment, the hire rate drops by over 50%. That is a staggering number.

The Upswing of Impression

Despite having the uphill struggle already in play, impression can be a powerful ally to offset these poor misconceptions. By and large, the majority of your advantage comes in the face-to-face interview. Overall, these few tips will go a long way toward not only getting your foot in the door, but your feet under a desk:

  • Don’t appear too eager: As earnest as you may be in your ambition, visible over-eagerness is often, and unfortunately, read as desperation. While there are few situations more worthy of desperation than being unemployed (say, with a family depending on you), being perceived as such is almost always an instant shutdown. Therefore: Don’t be too quick to agree, don’t pander, don’t be overly obsequious. Although generally affability is important, seek the right balance and remember your value. Approach the interview with it firmly in mind that you will be a worthy asset to the company.
  • Stay active: Even when you’re off the job, you can still be active in ways that demonstrate the quality of your abilities and person. Volunteering is a huge bonus, especially in ways that give you managerial or organizing positions. Even if you spend a year traveling the globe, that allows you to bring some pretty relevant cross-cultural experience to the table. Get creative.
  • Be persistent: This is the big one and perhaps one of the most challenging. Powering through a wall of what can feel like pointless and endless repetition is, in a word, tedious, and possibly depressing, if you are not receiving the results you desire. However, if you can manage to stay positive and keep at it by sending out resumes and applications every day, following up with leads, and doing your research on companies you’re looking into, then it will pay off.

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The Takeaway

Although job-seeking while unemployed certainly holds its tests and trials, keep your ears open for advice and support that rings true, and maximize it to your advantage. Once you get past this hurdle — no matter how long it takes — you will be that much stronger for it; which is, after all, the very purpose of challenge, itself.

Further Reading:  The Best Ways To Save Time During Your Job Search

 

Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200