Sunday, March 23, 2014

Secrets Job Seekers Need To Know To Get Hired

Here's my way of doing things. If I find a topic I want to investigate I do a lot of digging around the issue to find the answers I need. 

That works pretty well and when the topic is around looking for jobs and career topics I have a range of resources available to cover a lot of issues relating to finding a job, how to search for a job and that kind of thing. You can check out some of them here on my job/career board.

But there were some questions that I couldn't find answers to, that really left me mystified. It seemed like there was a whole secret system in place that nobody talks about but which works against some job seekers when they are looking to get into the workforce. I wanted to know what those hiring were thinking but never saying out loud! 

So I  thought I'd tap in to a local recruitment consultant who does very good work and I asked him to 'spill the beans' on some questions to see if he could shed light on these areas of arcane lore when it comes to job seeking. 

Here's what David Franze from Vespa Consulting came back with in answer to my questions. 

What is the real criterion for selection when,  say the job is entry level but pays what the applicant is willing to work for AND they can do the job easily. 

This is a common frustration for job seekers who apply for roles that are perhaps perceived to me a level or 2 below their skill set. While there are many valid reasons for people applying for lower level roles, employers still struggle with the thoughts that the same individual will leave for a better (higher paying role role) more suited to their skill set when an opportunity arises. 

The way to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in this type of scenario is to position yourself based on the level of the role. i.e. A common interview question employers will use to address these concerns are "where do you see yourself in 1, 3 and 5 years time?" Your answer needs to be in line with the level of the role, so consider answering with why you are passionate about this type of role, how your skill set will add value to the business and that you are open to what the future holds.

When someone has been self employed and looking to return to a employed position - what is the thinking that is unspoken but can rule someone out from consideration?

This is a really interesting, I for one like seeing ex business owners as job applicants. to me, someone who has owned their own business generally has determination, are innovative, decisive and have business smarts. Employers concerns are generally based around how an ex self employed candidate who is use to just managing their own workload will fit into a team environment.

Again, the best way to answer this type of question is to understand the role, demonstrate how your experience in this type of role has benefited previous clients and how you have had to integrate yourself into clients teams on many occasions and give examples.

Again, these are perceived challenges employers see and you really need to demonstrate your soft skills experience well. Prepare for interviews by having scenarios of previous experience in your head ready to go.

What if the person hiring thinks you are qualified to do the job effectively but we don't think it will be challenging /they might leave when they get a better offer/ they won't be able to be managed/ they might not stick around long term if there is no career fast track? 

This is very similar to Q1. 

What happens to a resume when it is received - what are those looking at it wanting to find and what do they hate seeing?

In the current market, with a lot of candidates and not as many jobs, it's not uncommon to see up to 100 applicants for a role depending on the level of the role. In short, 1 recruiter, with 100 resumes and competing priorities means you need to make an impression on paper.

Tip 1  Keep the resume short, nobody wants to see resumes longer than 6 pages, ideally, 3-4 pages give or take.

Tip 2 Use keywords, much like SEO, your resume needs to have the keywords in it that are in the position description or the job advert. So, tailor your resume to meet the criteria with keywords based on your experience.

Tip 3. Have an "Achievements" section for each role. This is where my eyes go first on a resume, to me, the achievements in the role show what you have done that is over and above what was expected in the role. Use your Achievements section to brag a little about yourself. This might include over achieving on targets, delivery of a big project, implementation of a new system and so on.

And Tip 4 , PLEASE, check for grammatical errors. Yes, we may be pedantic, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression so take the time to go over your resume a few time before submitting it.

What do they expect people to do at interviews to be successful

Be prepared, do your research on the company you are interviewing at, who are their competitors, what are they trying to achieve, their history etc etc. Do some pre-work.

Also, have examples in mind of how you can demonstrate your experience and lastly have some questions prepared. When interviewers ask if you have any questions, they would always like to hear at least 1 or 2. So again, its all in the preparation.

What do they think about follow up thank you letters

I think a follow up email is a nice idea and most recruiters or hiring managers would be pleased to see a thank you email. Good touch.

Why don't they bother responding to applicants when the applicants are expected to go to some trouble with their applications and interviews?

This is my biggest frustration in recruitment, and to be fair, its (hopefully) a minority that ruin it for the rest of us. I have worked with recruiters in the past who didn't respond to applicants and quite frankly, didn't care. There are good and bad in every industry but within my own I hate to see this as a practice. Put simply, it's basic human respect, you get what you give. There are also many employers out there who advertise roles directly as well and what recruiters and employers may not realise is that by not responding to applicants, they are damaging their brand. 

Summing up

So there you have it. The questions that are never asked with the answers nobody ever tells you when you are looking for work. Plan this as you would if you were running your own business. In real terms - your career IS your business.

  • Customise each application to the particular position
  •  Tailor your resume and cover letter every time
  • Demonstrate your achievements
  • Research the company 
  • Double check for any errors or omissions in your documents 
  • Follow up with a thank you
  • Rehearse your responses to typical questions you'll be asked 
  • Consider the questions you will ask if you are granted an interview
As well, think about how you can activate your networks. Get your profile 'spick and span' on Linkedin and look for companies you can approach directly, not just in response to an advertisement. 

Oh.. and if it needs saying - clean up your Facebook page if it is showing you in party mode, chronically whingeing or engaged in other activities that don't add to your reputation as a potential job candidate.

Consider how you can be more flexible in the kind of job you might take and the locations you might consider for the right job.  

If you are looking for a role that is not so high-powered as one you have held in the past, make that clear that you are looking for steady work but not the stress that comes from more highly charged (and paid) positions. You're prepared to work hard but not chasing promotion any more.

And while you are in job seeking mode, pursue activities that will aid in landing that job when it finally comes around. Learn some new skills and things to do that you can feel good about while you are not yet in that job you want to find. Feeling good about yourself helps others feel good about you too. 

A word to employers...

Another factor in all this seems to be that many companies hiring don't do it very well and I would suggest that an employer looking to add people to the business would do well to be approaching this part of their business with the same degree of professionalism that they give to operational and customer service areas.  Hiring poorly, whether it is directly or through agencies with low standards of service, you can be doing your reputation harm, in addition to costly mistakes. 

Hiring well begins with knowing your business well and having a well articulated vision for the business, clear roles and responsibilities delineated for each position in the business -  not just making up ads for the position by people who don't understand the role and what's important and what is just 'nice to have'. A bad hire can be costly so using a professional to help you get it right can be much more economical and convenient  in the long term, than being 'penny wise, pound foolish'. 

You can find David Franze at
Vespa Consulting  0402 474 555 

Related articles 

And you can find me here! 

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 Lindy Asimus  0403 365 855
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Friday, March 14, 2014

"Should I Buy This Business?" - How To Know If You Should And How Much It's Really Worth

"I've seen a business that I can get for a good price and I wanted to know what you think.."

So came the request.

Now the business, as it turned out, was in another state. Nice part of the world. A shop only a few years old and the owner wanting to sell because of health issues in the family.

You've heard of that one, right?

"Do you have the full financials for the period they have been trading?" I asked.

"No, but they sound okay."

So here we have "a good price" and "okay financials" ... but no real data.

What followed was series of more questions with very few answers and none of them backed up with any evidence. But it was a good story and on the face of it you could see how picking up a newly established business with fit-out for less than half the price paid new for the equipment seemed like a deal.

When considering buying a new business there a lot of questions to be considered before embarking on the process of narrowing down the issues that will allow you to make a good decision.

Personal Issues When Buying A Business

Before any merit of a business is considered, we need to be clear on our purpose and intention for making that jump.  If we are to buy a business what business has the capacity to produce a return that we would be happy to achieve?  How much would we need to achieve to make it worth the risk and sweat and hard work that will surely go into it?  Are we skilled in this industry or are we completely green with no knowledge at all?  Is your temperament suited to working with the customers your business serves?

Importantly, can you afford to stop work and getting a paycheck and invest money into this venture for the first year, without taking money out of  business? Realistically, that might be what needs to happen.

Due Diligence - Your Job To Know The Real Position Of The Business You Want To Buy

Beyond your own suitability for owning a business is the question of whether you want to build a business from scratch, or buy one that's a going concern.

Either way you need to be able to know how to research the market where the business will be.  You must understand the competition it faces and the trends that will affect the longer term viability of the business. Anyone  trying to sell a Music CD store or video rental shop might find themselves hard-pressed to get a sale for it now.

What's the long term outlook for this industry?
Who's leading the market for this nationally?
Who owns the top position locally for this?
What can your business offer customers - that they want - that they can't get already?

Many owners of restaurants and retail stores complain about issues that the owners should have taken into account before they opened the door to a new business. The cost of doing business is an element that is crucial to understand.  Employee wages are just one element that is a factor you need to expect as an ongoing cost.  Wages are a cost but being cheap and exploiting people isn't necessarily going to give you value for money.  Those employees you hire can be a real asset to the business and done right can be instrumental to generate income for you too - not just cost money.

Cash-flow - The Ins and Outs

Yet it is money you have to find and is only one part of the costs for you to have calculated when it comes to determining your options regarding the financial stability of the business. Opening hours, pricing, realistic numbers of tables you can fill and meals out the door... all of these have implications.  If you are running an eatery: times of service, levels of return you can make during a sitting, selection of menu items, cost containment and minimal waste. All of these are factors that will have bearing on the ability of the business to perform at a level that is workable. How well your business is located, marketing plans, rent and operating costs - all of these are issues you need to have answers for in order to know if a business is worth buying or opening.

And you need real numbers - not just "sounds right" numbers you made up, or someone told you.

To test your business value now or check the value of a business you might want to buy, check out this great app to calculate the real value of that business.    This will help you find your way through the maze and has been designed by a certified business valuer,  and is easily accessed. (I respect their professional ability but have no vested interest).

 A 'Quick Business Appraisal' APP is currently available for IPads & IPhones.

An Android version is also available from Google Play:

As it turned out, the business that was being looked at we began with, was just sending up too many warning signals for it to be a good buy for the person who asked for help in assessing the deal. 

Thankfully, he wasn't made a fool of in that deal, but he'll know a lot more about what to ask for in future as he looks for a business to buy.  The right business, for the right reasons.  

Related business articles:

When it comes to starting a business - passion alone is not enough
How to tweak your business for more sales
How to step-up in you business for better results
Prepare now for that business you want to sell later
Make your five year plan for life goals and for your business vision

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Control Quality In Your Business

In the past 20 years we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of business franchises available worldwide. But what is a franchise really? At its most basic level, it is a method – a system- that can be replicated and each task in the business defined and able to be carried out by anyone, with minimal experience and at the lowest cost. That is to say, that a 16 year old with no experience can come into the business, follow the steps to deliver the same quality product as someone who has been doing it for many years and with great experience. 

Of course you may not want to be employing juniors and you may not want to start a franchise empire but the elements of a franchise – the thing that makes it worth the money they command - is a proven business model that is captured, documented and to which employees adhere. What does that give you? It means that you have a framework for training new employees and a consistency to your service that allows you the business to perform in a reliable and predictable way and an end to having to ‘make it up as you go along’.  Employees know the answers to anything they could need to know, and you are not caught up in spending time telling them over and over the same things. 

For the customer, it means they can rely on getting the same standard of service from your business next time they visit you. This reliability is a comfort and reassuring for customers and it is a money saver for you the owner, as well as being a marker toward your business being optimized and sale-ready all the time. In real terms, that means you own a business which is more desirable to a buyer, a higher sale price you should command when you do want to sell, and a more profitable business every day. 

You don’t want to franchise? You don’t have to go that route to have good systems. Your current business model, with your existing policies and procedures are the starting point to creating your own system to manage and optimize your business. If you have some policies and procedures you can use them as they are, or tweak them as you develop your system. Where there are gaps in the current model, these can be filled and additional components added as required and any procedures or policies modified as better ways of doing a task is developed. This provides you a framework to deliver consistent results but does not hamper you in any way. 

Some business owners think that because they are a one-off and creative kind of business that policies and procedures don’t apply to them. In reality, the most creative businesses also need procedural structure for some elements of the business. These systems let the creativity happen where it is required, and the support mechanisms in the business to free up time, deliver good back up and assist with the delivery of the more creative elements. Very often good systems mean the business is able to scale in a way that was once impossible. 
 How are you managing the processes in your business? Could they be improved?

Areas For Procedures And Policy Review To Consider:

  • Administration
  • Operations
  • Internal relationships (employees, HR, recruiting, performance)
  • External relationships (suppliers, JV partners)
  • Financial
  • Marketing
  • Web and Social Media 
  • Management + CEO responsibilities
  • Training
Good systems let you manage more effectively, save time and cut needless duplication as you maintain a consistent and high level of productivity that every successful business needs. 

 For more information download 7 Steps To A Growing Healthy Business Here no strings attached.

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