All posts by Mike Sweeny

Founder and Principal of MAS Recruiting. Mike Sweeny MAS Recruiting focuses on: Retained Executive Search Recruiting Retained Search Recruiting (below Executive level) As a Philadelphia area based boutique executive search and retained recruiting firm, MAS Recruiting offers clients a strong level of recruiting expertise and an unprecedented level of service not received from larger retained recruiting firms. We have a national list of clients. Our client list includes emerging-growth up to Fortune 500 companies. We have strong experience in retained search within a multitude of industry verticals including: Advanced Materials-Chemicals Searches involve clients who develop advanced materials in the area of inorganic optoelectronics, transparent conductive electrodes, nanotechnology, nanomaterials (nanowires, nanotubes, nanocomposites), conductive coatings, polymers, biofilms, organic chemistry, synthetic chemistry, computational chemistry, OLEDs Business Consulting Searches involve clients who work in the business consulting industry. Clean Tech Searches involve clients in green energy such as solar energy, wind energy, ocean wave energy, power systems, smartgrid, battery technology, algae-to-biofuel E-Commerce Searches involve companies who develop web-based software platforms (.Net, Ruby, Java) used in recruiting, online videos, social media, e-retailing, e-commerce Financial Services/Payments Searches involve clients who develop platforms for online billing and payment services (EBPP/EIPP) as well as mobile banking and payments Food & Beverage Searches involve clients who work in the food & beverage industry Healthcare Searches for clients in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, research, healthcare information technology Retail Searches involve clients who work in the retail industry Software Searches involve companies who develop business process software, communications software, network software, healthcare software, mobility software, telecom software Technology Searches involve companies who develop technology in cable, communications, imaging, media, RF/RFID, robotics, security, VOIP, wireless, semiconductors

Choosing the Proper Recruiting Model To Assist Your Company with Hiring

Choosing the proper recruiting model to work with your company is not an easy task. Many companies feel that all recruiting models are the same; when in fact there are vast differences. Let’s start with an explanation of the two most common recruiting models:
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Winning Recruiting Strategies For A Tight Job Market

For those of you in the “trenches” of daily recruiting, it is pretty obvious that the job market has become very tight for many positions; especially many technical roles. Gone are the days from a couple of years ago when a company could just run an Internet ad for a position and get several great candidates who applied. This was the case, but not in this market. Candidates have or are gaining the advantage in the market.
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Recruiting Strategies To Assist in Filling Hard-To-Find Technical Positions

Anyone who has been hiring recently knows that it is becoming tougher and tougher to find good candidates for tough-to-fill technical positions. Examples of these position are found in Information Technology, Software Engineering, as well as other disciplines.

We’re in a tightening labor market where the candidates, not the companies, are beginning to get the upper hand. It’s happening slowly but surely and, with the economy improving, it is only going to get worse. I see recruiters struggling because companies don’t yet recognize this shift in the market. The mindset of hiring managers is still to ask recruiters to provide multiple candidates who met their “must have” criteria (usually a length list).
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How To Attract The Best Talent To Your Company

The key to success in attracting top talent is to make your company an employer of choice. A company must set itself up as a solid, well-organized enterprise and create compelling reasons for top-notch professionals to work there. Those reasons can include excellent compensation and benefits, advancement opportunities, regularly scheduled performance reviews, and other popular perks such as flextime.

Finding the top talent is often a difficult task. Most often, these individuals are not actively seeking new employment. That means companies have to dig deeper to find the top 5 percent. Direct hiring from primary competitors is a company’s best strategy. This involves sophisticated networking and sales ability.

One networking tactic is to determine which of your current employees have already come to you from key competitors. Ask them whom they would recommend hiring from those competitors. Even if a top candidate is ultimately not interested in your position, he or she may be able to refer someone else.

Typically, companies don’t part with top talent. This talent is often well compensated, which makes the stakes higher. In addition, a company will fight to keep them. Therefore, you must be able to offer something that their current employer doesn’t satisfy, such as a new technology or–best of all–a compelling company vision.

Communication With Candidates

Throughout my years in recruiting, I have always strived to communicate well with my candidates. I know that this has been appreciated, because I have received many compliments from various candidates who appreciate me keeping them in the loop as to where things stand with a certain position.

My philosophy is simple: I look at candidates as an “asset” and someone that I want to build a relationship with. I know that candidates realize that I am just the conduit between them and the company and that the company makes the final determination on how they want to hire. However, my goal is to keep the candidates as informed as possible. If I cannot help them with this particular job; it is possible that I can help them in the future (even years down the road). With technology the way it is today, it is pretty simple to stay in touch with candidates if you want to make the effort and value the relationship.

Excellent communication with candidates not only builds goodwill with your candidate base, but it also serves to build your brand. Hopefully, this will stay in the mind of a candidate if you ever reach out to them in the future.

Advice To Companies Having Problems Filling Certain Positions

I have seen a lot of companies over the last several years struggle to fill certain positions. Most of these positions tend to be either Information Technology or Engineering related.  With the unemployment rate nearing what the government refers to a “full employment”, it is understandable why filling certain jobs has become a real challenge.

Rather than sit back and hope that the perfect candidate falls into your lap, companies need to look at their sourcing and recruiting methods and processes and determine what needs to change.

1. Are we too strict with our job requirements?

I see this as the main culprit to not filling jobs. Many companies have job descriptions that have requirements that are way too restrictive. Rather than have 7 or 8 MUST have requirements that must be satisfied, re-look at the requirements to see if any of the MUST haves can be converted to NICE TO HAVE.  With a certain amount of training, you could get new hires to the level that you seek.

2. Can we be more flexible with the role?

Many companies today still do not offer employees some work from home flexibility or the ability to perform a role remotely. There is very little cost or downside to offering this flexibility and not having it, puts your company at a major disadvantage to those companies who do offer such flexibility.  Offering this option will also great increase the pool of potential candidates for your roles.

3. Are our salaries competitive?

Because of the slow economic conditions over the last 8 or so years, companies have offered current employees very minimal annual raises.  When they get to the point of hiring again, they are quite shocked to see what certain hard-to-fill roles command in today’s market.  These companies struggle to come up with competitive offers because of concerns with internal equity.  In order to attract star candidates, companies are going to have to make very compelling offers or risk losing the candidates to another companies.

4. Are our benefits competitive?

While base salary and bonus potential seem to be the key components in any job offer, having a competitive benefits package is a close second in priority.  Having a benefits package that is both comprehensive and priced well are very important to landing star candidates.  One area where I see companies struggle is offering competitive vacation or PTO levels to experienced candidates.  It is not realistic to expect an experienced candidate to drop from 3 or 4 weeks vacation back to 2 years vacation.  Companies need to make these candidates “whole” in order to be competitive in today’s employment market.

5. Is our interview process too cumbersome?

In a softer job market, companies could take their time with the hiring process.  This would include multiple phone or onsite interviews as well as extended time between these interviews.  Ina a soft job market, candidates do not have many options and, thus, are compelled to wait.  As the job market heats up, the opportunities for candidates increases, and therefore, companies must speed up the timing of their hiring process in order to capture the star candidates.  Remember, everyone is looking to hire stars, and stars don’t stay on the market very long!

Hopefully, these points will help your company make the changes necessary to improve your hiring rate and fill more jobs.

Should I Pay Someone To Help Me Find My Next Job?

I get asked by candidates quite often if they can pay me to help them find their next job.  I tell those candidates that 99% of recruiters (including myself) are paid by the client when we make a placement.  Companies come to a specific recruiter and engage his or her services to recruit specific talent to fill specific roles.  Generally, recruiters do not work as “talent agents” to represent individual candidates to “shop” them around to various companies.  I will never accept money from a candidate in order to help them find a role.  I don’t feel that it is morally right to do this.

However, there are firms out there that will charge candidates really good money to represent them in their job search.  Under the guise of “Career Counseling”,  these firms will help candidates put together a resume, coach them on how to interview, and then tell the candidates that they will market their resume to various companies and recruiters.  There is a substantial fee for all this so-called service.  In addition, these firms generally get the candidates to sign an agreement that the candidate will owe a certain additional fee to the Career Counseling company if the candidate finds a job, whether the Career Counseling firm helps makes the placement or not.

There is something wrong about this business model where you lead the candidate on to think that your firm will open up doors for them and never do.

My advice to candidates is NEVER pay anyone to help you find your next job.  It may be OK to pay someone a small fee to assist you to prepare and/or update your resume, but most recruiters that I know, will give advice to candidates for free.  In addition, there are a lot of free templates online that a candidate can use to prepare their resume.

 

 

Job Seekers-Expanding Your Social Media Brand

More and more recruiters are finding candidates through social media than the traditional job boards.  Most people have heard of LinkedIn which remains the most popular site for recruiters when they search for candidates.  It is a must for all active and passive job seekers to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile.

I came across a new site the other day called beBee www.bebee.com which seems to offer a lot of promise.  While it is not nearly as well-known as LinkedIn, it seems like a site that most potential job seekers should be on.

beBee is a Personal Branding Platform founded by serial-entrepreneurs Javier Cámara and Juan Imaz.   The network was created to allow people to showcase and share their personal brand and market themselves to employers, clients, customers, vendors and media in their respective industries. beBee allows users to network with each other through common personal and professional interests, uniting their personal and professional lives in one place.

The startup was established in February 2015, and originally launched in English, Spanish and Portuguese before expanding in French, Italian, German and Russian in 2016. beBee has more than 11.5 million users and is aiming to have 40 million users by 2018.

While my experience with beBee is limited, it seems like a well-managed and easy-to-use site.

Creating Job Advertisements to Attract Stars!

Think of your job postings  the same way that you think of any advertisement that you see on TV, online, or in print.  Boring advertisements won’t catch the eye of the intended consumer, much the same as a boring job posting won’t catch the eye of the stars that you are trying to attract.  You need to give these stars a very good reason to want to interview with your company and leave the relative comfort of their existing jobs.

Creating compelling job advertisements will take you some time and effort, but in the long run, this time and effort will really pay off as the quality level of the applicants should significantly improve.

Below are some best practices that I have put together to assist you in crafting job advertisements that will attract and excite potential star applicants.

1. Research What Leading Companies Are Doing

Want some ideas of how other industry leaders are crafting their job advertisements? Then, look online at various job posting sites to see what your competition and leading companies are doing in developing their ads. It seems like a pretty easy way for you to get some general competitive intelligence as well as some great ideas for your advertisements.  Doing this research also may assist to get your creative juices flowing!

2. Know Your Target Audience

What type of skills or background are you trying to attract with your job advertisements?  Job ads which try to attractive information technology applicants or engineering applicants should not look the same as ads which try to attract sales applicants. Technology and engineering applicants are generally excited more about your technology versus sales applicants who may be focused on both the technology as well as your customer base.

3. Why Do I Want to Work For Your Company?

This is probably the most important piece to your job advertisement.  Stars will generally only leave their current company if they see another company who has a more exciting technology or product as well having as a smart and passionate team that is working to develop and sell such a technology or product.  Stars don’t leave to go to a boring job!  Stars sometimes hit a “rut” in their current job and may poke around to see “what else is out there”.  The opportunity to become part of an exciting company and work as part of a smart and creative team would be very appealing and exciting.

You need to be able to point out all the pluses with what your company is doing (e.g. describing your exciting  technology or service, some background on your workforce, any awards that your company, product or work culture has won, etc.)   Don’t be shy in your description!  Feel free to brag!

4. Develop a Descriptive Job Title

Boring job advertisement titles (such as Senior Engineer or Sales Representative) won’t tell your target audience anything about your company or the actual job itself.  A sharp title such as Senior Engineer-Designing Cutting Edge Consumer Electronics Technology will certainly catch someone’s eye; more than likely these will be the top folks that you are seeking for the role.  A secondary reason for having a more descriptive title is for SEO purposes as people search for the jobs online.  The more keywords in the title that correspond to the type of candidate that you are seeking will raise the odds of the top stars spotting your ad.

5. Creative Description of Duties, Projects

Too many job advertisements read like boiler plate job descriptions.  While you need some “job description verbiage” in any job advertisement, you need to take the time to specifically and creatively describe the role’s duties and describe any products or projects that the role will work on.

One other pet peeve of mine as I see this a lot is don’t include a sentence at the end of the duties that says “Other Duties As Required”.  What does this tell anyone?  It is quite boring and actually takes away from any creative flow to your ad.

6. Accurately Describe Essential versus Nice-To-Have Skills

Again, just like the job duties section of the ad, take the time to accurate describe what are the ESSENTIAL Must-Have skills to be successful in the role versus the NICE-to-Have skills.  I see too many job advertisement skills sections that contain a long list of must have skills that makes it virtually impossible that your company will find some who is a master at all these skills.  In fact, not separating the must-have skills from the nice-to-have skills will be a turn off for many applicants applying for the role.

By following these six steps, you can optimize your job advertisements and help ensure a higher level of applicant quality.

Resume Format-Best Practices

I have heard for years that the traditional resume would eventually be replaced.   Sites such as LinkedIn have certainly come close to replicating or potentially replacing the traditional resume.   However, the traditional resume still holds much value, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon.

So, if the resume still is an important piece in a candidate’s job search, what format is the best?

I am still a big fan of the traditional chronological format. Some resume creators champion the skills-based format; however, most employers don’t like this format as it can be used to cover employment gaps in a candidate’s work history.   I also don’t feel that a candidate needs to engage a Resume Consultant and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to develop a resume or online resume website.  There is a lot of free information and templates online that a job seeker can use to develop a resume.

My rule of thumb to candidates that I speak with is that you cannot have a “one size fits all resume”.   The job market is so competitive today and employers are so specific in what they want, that a job seeker needs to customize their resume for each job that they apply to. How is this done?   The job seeker can develop a resume, but then will need to “tweak” their resume based on the job posting that they are applying to.   Make sure to use the key words found in the job description as many internal company recruiters used Boolean based searches to locate candidates in their company’s Applicant Tracking Systems.   As long as you can back up anything that you put on your resume, this customizing is a smart move.

I am also asked by candidates on the proper length of a resume. There seems to be a misconception that you need to limit your resume to two pages.   While two pages would be ideal, it is very difficult for an experienced candidate to keep a resume to two pages.   Three pages is certainly fine.   For scientific or research candidates, the length of your resume would certainly be longer because you will need to include information such as patents, publications, or speaking events.

Make sure to include a descriptive sentence or two under each employer that you work for as many people may not know about each employer that you worked for.   Also, include the month and year for the start and end of each employment. It also doesn’t hurt to include GPA information under each degree that you have.   I am also a big fan of cover letters which can be tailored for each job that you apply to.

Remember, your resume is just a door opener for you.   A well-written resume should great improve your chances of success.