Insights for Candidates
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INSIGHTS FOR CANDIDATES

INSIGHTS FOR CANDIDATES | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it
Tim Tonella's insight:

The content on this page - "Insights for Candidates" - is a collection of publications, articles, and blog postings that have been curated by MatchStar to address specific problems and opportunities for job seekers.  We compile content that is unique, practical, and relevant to those  looking for new opportunities and in need of ideas for improving their odds at getting hired.  Feel free to share any topic of interest with your friends, co-workers, and associates!    Tim Tonella, CEO, MatchStar Venture Search

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Is It OK to Talk Politics in a Job Interview?

Is It OK to Talk Politics in a Job Interview? | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

"If you know your 'would be' future employer shares your same political views, does it make sense to talk politics during the job search process?" 

Tim Tonella's insight:

Ok, we’re about to go to the voting booths next week, and this election – in particular – is as polarizing as anything I’ve ever seen.  People are so sensitive about their views on both sides, that any off cuff comment can vilify a candidate (in this case a “would be job seeker”) within seconds.  I live in San Francisco, and it’s surprising how many people want to share their political opinions, even though normal business protocol begs to stay neutral.  So what should you do – as a candidate (and one that may be actively interviewing) – if a prospective employer subtly throws out an opinion to gauge your personal political perspective?  My advice:  do what all great politicians have mastered themselves; learn the “art of the pivot.”  Just because you did your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google homework – and have a 99.9% confidence level that your future boss’s political leanings vector in one direction – just shy away!  Why take any risk at all?  Even if you know that your interviewer was the former national President of the Young Libertarians (and you’re ready to start ripping in on powerful less-intrusive government diatribe), how can you know with certainty whether that person wants to hire birds of the same feather?  Maybe he/she is indeed of that political ilk, but potentially disagrees with you on just one major issue?  Or perhaps this leader – albeit very personally committed to his/her own views – is trying to specifically build a culture of diverse perspectives?  I have seen terrific candidates literally torpedo their otherwise great interview by casually throwing out one seemingly harmless opinion. Now, at the executive level, employers do want to know about the character, motivations, and values of their prospective team members.  So there is a way to thread the needle without creating controversy.  For example, saying that you appreciate a company culture where people feel comfortable in being themselves; probably wouldn’t offend anyone.  Or, you could potentially cover of variety of sensitive political topics by simply saying:  “I’ve always believed anything we can do to help support families, or family unity, is probably a good thing.”  Although there clearly is a vigorous debate going on right now around “PC,” it still remains a landmine for those in job search mode.  So best to just stay clear. Remember, it’s pretty darn hard to say much negative about the Swiss . . . and they’ve worked pretty hard to keep it that way!

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Potential Dangers of Applying Direct (and Bypassing Recruiters)

Potential Dangers of Applying Direct (and Bypassing Recruiters) | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

"The recruiter doesn't think I'm a match.  But no one can sell me better than me, right?  Maybe I should just reach out to the company directly. Is this wise?"

Tim Tonella's insight:

Hey, if a recruiter rejects me for an opportunity, maybe I should just go direct, right?  This blog posting by Phoebe Spinks hints at a frequently asked question: “Is the recruiter my friend or foe?”  I’ll start off by unequivocally stating:  “Yes, we are ALWAYS a friend, always looking to help, and always willing to keep an open door (well, almost always . . . more on that to come).  Remember, retained search firms, like mine, are conducting exclusive searches for a reason – the client is PAYING US to take on the burden of the search (time, prep, research, resume spam, and so forth) out of his/her hands.  We are provided a level of information about the need, company, culture, chemistry, and other critical attributes that no interested candidate could ever obtain independently.  So if WE cannot present a particular candidate, it’s because that person is either significantly off-target with the requirements or our existing bench is far more qualified.  Hence, if a candidate doesn’t make muster with us, then he/she almost certainly will not with the client.  On the other hand, working with a recruiter can provide you valuable non-public insights about the opportunity, help you change your resume and other positioning docs to be in better alignment, and even sell you to the client.  All of that stacks the deck far far better than the rogue approach of trying to go direct.  However, diverting the recruiter’s process – when discovered (and it’s usually discovered) – pretty much guarantees a lost valuable relationship.  Such folks may find themselves black listed not only to future public opportunities but non-publicly available ones as well . . . while permanently cutting ties with a “future coach” who spends 24/7/365 in the field.  It’s the candidate’s call, but perhaps the best approach for future success is to simply ask the recruiter for an honest assessment of where he or she fell short, and then just move on to the next opportunity.  Consider this:  A bridge not burned is one you can still cross!

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Your Secret Weapon in the Job Search - EXERCISE!

Your Secret Weapon in the Job Search - EXERCISE! | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it
You already know that there are tons of different elements that are important for success in your job hunt. But, exercise? 
Tim Tonella's insight:

Ok, let’s talk about something SO important to the job search . . . and something very close to my heart – exercise, fitness, and personal training.  What does personal fitness have to do with a successful search?  Everything; and it can be summed up in one word – ENERGY!  Following candidate interviews, clients frequently comment along similar lines:  “I just didn’t feel the energy,” or “He/she is a very smart, focused, energetic person.”  Particularly in the start-up world, where long hours tax one mentally and physically, CEOs crave those with endurance, good health, and a tireless attitude.  For sure, ten cups of coffee and a few red bulls can get you through a sprint, but that level lasts about as long as a 3-day trip to Vegas.  Long term, it’s a marathon, and launching a serious diet, exercise, and meditation plan – concurrent with your job search – will work wonders.  Call it the power of cosmic connections, the law of attraction, or whatever label fits your bill, but highly energetic people are contagious, in hot demand, and WIN more often.  CEOs always respect those who have the discipline, commitment, and endurance to stay physically fit.  I’ve been training for close to 40 years now and can testify personally that without “my daily gym bread,” it would be hard to get through the day.  For those that are older, the benefits are compounded further – and even more imperative – in competing in a youth oriented society.  So get started today and NEVER stop; your career depends on it!      

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5 Things on Your Resume That Make You Sound Too Old

5 Things on Your Resume That Make You Sound Too Old | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it
Tim Tonella's insight:

There’s no doubt that age discrimination exists, and often it starts with a simple picture, self-description, or the resume itself.  This blog posting touches upon a few simple things that are absolute giveaways (although I disagree with the ‘double space’ between sentences comment).  Often times, candidates simply cannot see these torpedoes given their own pre-established habits and biases.  So a terrific litmus test is to give your resume to an intelligent 30-something executive and ask about his/her first impressions when reading your C.V., bio doc, or business social media profile.  Discrimination is REAL (we see it weekly), so don’t fall into the trap of sabotaging yourself before you even get a call back!

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Three Steps For Finding Your Perfect Job, Career, And Life

Three Steps For Finding Your Perfect Job, Career, And Life | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

"What would you give to have your perfect job, career, and life? "

Tim Tonella's insight:

I found this 2014 Forbes article particular insightful for folks in their 40s, 50s, and beyond, who are no longer looking to “climb that proverbial ladder” or build up their resume.  Whenever someone is in transition after having worked for a few decades, the decision making process about his/her future career often becomes a much more introspective proposition, as the shortness of future time calls out for deeper meaning in our work and lives.  The “8 questions” posed are terrific starting points in crafting a strategy for that next meaningful experience. 

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13 Tech CEOs Share Their Favorite Job Interview Questions

13 Tech CEOs Share Their Favorite Job Interview Questions | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

Tech CEOs from institutionally backed companies are know for their brash questions and out-of-the box thinking.  Here are a couple "zingers" worthy of preparation!

Tim Tonella's insight:

I really enjoyed - and would endorse - this blog posting because it's not an opinion, but real examples from primarily venture backed CEOs.  Being able to think quickly on your feet, adjust, and respond with a compelling answer requires a combination of preparation, personal cool, and composure.  These CE example are a great starting point and test for determining whether you are ready or not!  

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6 Things to Consider for Your Linkedin Profile Picture

6 Things to Consider for Your Linkedin Profile Picture | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

Is Your LinkedIn Photo Ruining Your Chances?

Tim Tonella's insight:

So is this REALLY a big deal?  The answer is often times "yes."  These simple 6 points indeed have an influence on first impressions.  And while certainly most recruiters will not rule out an experienced candidate on a photo (or lack thereof) alone, the candidate may definitely have to climb back uphill to address the issue.  The absence of a photo - off first glance - generally causes suspicion, and most people will make a quick judgment that someone is hiding something or simply doesn't care.  A hip photo, serious mug shot, artsy display, portrait with your dog, and the like, may show one's character or personality, but it will definitely alienate a percentage of people.  So why not play the odds - particularly when job searching - and post a warm, professional photo that actually makes it easy for someone to feel comfortable reaching out to you? Yeah, it's often unfair to judge a book by its cover, but judging by "first impression" is an element of human nature.  So this one is a no-brainer, even more so since YOU are the author and poster of your own social media profile. Now that said, I have a friend who likes to just put Brad Pitt's photo in all of his shots.  As long as Brad doesn't mind, that qualifies as a funny, good first impression!     

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C-Level Executive Resume Tactics

C-Level Executive Resume Tactics | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

Everyone wants to know how to write the perfect resume to get noticed.  The key here is to just do one critical thing . . . 

Tim Tonella's insight:

There's an awful lot of insight packed into this very short blog that hits right on the mark. Think of a resume as a movie trailer; you have a minute - if not seconds - to grab someone's attention.  It is imperative that a candidate comes out immediately with his/her greatest accomplishments, and paints that narrative for the prospective employer.  This is your own 30-second "elevator pitch," and you need to quickly define why that accomplishment is your crowning achievement . . . and how that success will translate into solving your target employer's key business objectives.  

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10 Job Search Tips for Introverts

10 Job Search Tips for Introverts | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

Even though introverts are often creative, thoughtful and work well with others, it often seems that extroverts have the edge in the job search process.

Tim Tonella's insight:

I saw a stat once that described half of all people in the workforce as inherently introverted in some way.  As the article implies, this has no bearing on one's ability to be spectacular at their job.  But if you are a self-describe introvert and interviewing for a position where a large composition of your team are semi-introverted, then that may actually be a selling strength for you.  Understanding how to motivate team members is critical in collective performance, and A-personalites sometimes struggle with those sharing less outgoing characteristics.  So why not make your understanding of this group a real asset?  Comunicate this point, and you may be surprised at the positive outcome.

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The 4 skills everyone should have by age 18!

The 4 skills everyone should have by age 18! | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

"If the future generation is going to be successful, they'll need a few essential skills at their disposal.  But are we teaching our kids how to best prepare and cope with the realities of a tough, competitive job market?"  

Tim Tonella's insight:

Although I usually write about job search advice for adults, this interesting posting from a former Harvard admissions interviewer really hit home.  With informal stats showing half of recent college grads are unemployed (and even more living in their parents’ proverbial “basement”), perhaps the quickest way to a better personal income statement is simply helping your millennial son or daughter move out, move up, and move off the family payroll!  The four pillars noted may seem obvious, but devil’s always in the details . . . or, as we like to say, in the execution.  Money management has always been an under-served focus for young people, but a strongly run bottom-line allows more flexibility for which job a person can accept based on top-line income.  Likewise, time management – another skill often not specifically taught in classrooms – is critical to anyone’s success.   It’s been said that the ONLY real limited resource any of us have is, indeed, TIME.  Finally, the article’s emphasis on developing “conflict resolution” skills is literally at the heart of personal relationship building, employee retention, and future growth in any vocation.  Just turn on the nightly news this week, and you will find college students struggling to find a vehicle for managing their own disappointment over events such as the national election.  While some are protesting in the streets, others are attending emotional support groups, joining crying rooms, or receiving pick-me-up care bears. Regardless of where you come down on these issues, one fact is clear – it’s important to develop a “mentality” for handling situations that may not go your way.  The reality of the working world is that we don’t always get that coveted raise or win over the job interviewer. Sometimes there is inherited bias, while other times we just didn’t cut muster as well as more qualified candidates or competitors.  Getting back on that horse – with a new game plan, a positive attitude, and without pushing blame onto others – may be the quickest route to independence and a bright future!   

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The Top Resume Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job

The Top Resume Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

Recruiters are generally looking to screen out - rather than screen in - candidates at first pass. Getting NOTICED is the first step!

Tim Tonella's insight:

This blog post from Undercover Recruiter hits on some basic 101 mistakes that anyone can make in putting together an effective resume.  I also really appreciated all the graphics and charts regarding how recruiters quickly vet through the oceans of resume databases and incoming email attachments.  However, for senior executive roles, we’re actually a bit more forgiving on things like spelling or punctuation issues.  We prefer to actually coach C-level candidates and help them prep their presentation docs prior to submission to an actual client.  That said, what’s more important is understanding the candidate’s overall “message,” and how he/she will position themselves as something truly different in the marketplace.  Telling a great story about yourself – your uniqueness and success – and how that experience and history maps to a potential client need, is the first order of analysis.  Resume formatting, wording, chronological history, and so forth are all secondary to first understanding why the candidate is, or is not, special.  We cannot always infer this from a resume (or any other communications piece for that matter), so it’s up to YOU to sell yourself quickly.  I refer to my first sales training class – eons ago – and our instructor's final send-off statement:  “Remember, if the customer has not bought, it’s because the sales person has not yet effectively made the case!”

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The Biggest Mistakes C-Level Candidates Make When Seeking A New Job

The Biggest Mistakes C-Level Candidates Make When Seeking A New Job | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

After interviewing a string of unprepared senior level executives for various jobs, I started wondering what was going on."  

Tim Tonella's insight:

Building a relationship with a top notch recruiter should be looked upon as a long-term “investment.”  For sure, the time to build these relationships is when you DON’T need a job.  As a good friend of mine once said, “It’s hard to get insurance when your house is burning down!” The benefits are endless, not to mention those off-grid introductions to hiring execs and boards that may have a need, even though no formal position has been publicly launched.  Hence, with the right timing and connections (aka your recruiter buddy), such opportunities often equate to no competition, less negotiations, and better chemistry with the boss.  Although the author of this Forbes article accurately assesses the risk of c-level folks reaching out to recruiters unprepared (outdated resume, inconsistent social media profile, lack of research, etc.), I would add that such deficiencies could be mitigated by building that relationship early on.  A good recruiter can also become a friend and act as that intimate sounding board for helping you design your personal pitch, branding/messaging, and accompanying online support strategy.  Look at it as a down payment on future therapy sessions for figuring out your next move and the most optimal path for success.  Remember, there really isn’t much security in any role with any company – you’re in one day and out the next.  This is a hard reality we’ve seen countless times over and over.  So next time that irritating recruiter floods your email inbox, perhaps a quick, cordial, honey coated response would be a valuable 5-minute use of your time?  Who knows; tomorrow your home may be on fire!

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My Personal Formula for a Winning Resume

My Personal Formula for a Winning Resume | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

Without defining personal achievements in a role, "experience and history" have limited value.

Tim Tonella's insight:

This LI posting from a sr. Google advisor does a good job focusing on a key area that many people overlook – describing the IMPACT they made during a specific job tenure.  Key word inclusions, position title responsibilities, personal skills, and educational backgrounds provide very limited information on one’s actual accomplishments.  “Experience” only has value if a potential hiring manager can connect that experience to his/her own personal challenges.  In order to do so, the hiring company needs to see your experience framed (the problem as it was when you arrived and the status of your organization after you left).  As recruiters, we need to see what you did specifically to implement change, and we want to see that impact quantified and measured.  For a deeper dive, read my 2014 blog posting, "How to Stand Out on a Resume, Every Time" found at http://www.matchstar.com/how-to-stand-out-on-a-resume-every-time/. Remember, everyone has skills and experience, but that doesn’t mean you stand out from anyone else with the same attributes or work history.  It’s up to the candidate to tell that “story” and to do so in such a differentiated and compelling way that the potential hiring executive feels equally compelled to make that return phone call!  

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What to Do About YOUR Digital Skeletons? 

More than one-quarter of people (26%) are worried that material from their social networking pages and other accessible online information could adversely impact their career.

Tim Tonella's insight:

This slide SideShare presentation walks through a very important aspect of job seeking in 2016 –  what to do about our own “digital dirt.”  I’m always amazed at how many candidates never dig deep in researching what comes up from key word searches about themselves online.   Today, our digital skeletons last forever for the entire world to see and includes everything from tiny law suits, past employer agreements, home purchase data, employee personal grievances, and even divorce documents.   If a recruiter can find out all of this in, oh, 10 minutes, then your next employer certainly can as well!   The first step is identifying the issue and then learning how to sweep it under the rug, as “removal” is often impossible.   Best option – learn restraint and make sure you’re extremely careful with everything you put on online in the first place!

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The Kiss of Death - Accepting Counter Offers from Your Current Employer

The Kiss of Death - Accepting Counter Offers from Your Current Employer | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

If you accept a counter offer from your current boss to stay, the overwhelming odds suggest you will be GONE within a year!

Tim Tonella's insight:

I thought this re-post was so on-target.  In our two decade long experience placing sr. execs into venture backed companies, the overwhelming number of executive candidates that back out of an offer (in return for a counter-offer) are usually gone from their current employer within a year.  Most company bosses feel any loss of a good employee is a failure on their part, and, hence, will do almost anything to save face with upstream management.   However, once potential disloyalty is established (whether perceived accurately or not), it's only a matter of time before that employee is passed up for promotions or side-benefits, and then frequently let go at the first strategic opportunity.  Moreover, the fundamentals for why the candidate was considering leaving in the first place are usually multiplied after the counter and decision to stay put.  If you tell your spouse you're getting divorced, don't expect her (or him) to feel particularly good about you just because you've changed your mind. Once trust is broken, it becomes that much harder to win back.  This is a human emotion that will always exist no matter what the other side presents.  So always think about the motivations for why you would leave (as a candidate) and hold tight to those before jumping back for a "long-term" promise . . . even if more money is dangled in the short-term.     

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5 Expert Tips to Help Recruiters Find You on LinkedIn

5 Expert Tips to Help Recruiters Find You on LinkedIn | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

"Over 90% of recruiters are using LinkedIn according to the 2013 Jobvite social recruiting study, to search, contact, and keep tabs on candidates.  But guess what?   So is EVERYONE else!"

Tim Tonella's insight:

Here are some great practical tips on improving your LinkedIn profile for potential recruiters.   How to most effectively structure your LI profile is a book-length discussion, with many pundits clearly disagreeing.  One thing is for certain however; just about everyone will go to LI first to get a bird’s eye view of you!  In most cases, a Google search on an individual’s name will return his/her LI profile within the top 3 search results.  Given this will often be your “first impression” – like it or not – the first half of that profile really does matter.  So make sure that what people see is the narrative you are trying to communicate to your target audience.  Like a resume (albeit far more limited in flexibility), your LI profile is your own personal “commercial” – and not a collection of facts and figures.  When you read your own profile, is there a clear story and message that pops out?  If not, time to do some editing!

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The Myth of the Passive Job Seeker

The Myth of the Passive Job Seeker | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it

Why it makes sense for just about everyone to be passively seeking . . . 

Tim Tonella's insight:

Great points made in this article!  In today’s market, everyone should always be in a state of preparation and openness for new opportunities.  In the early stage tech world, companies morph at the speed of light, while acquisitions, funding problems, and missed pivots can turn a seemingly wonderful experience sour very quickly.  The time to buy auto insurance is BEFORE the car catches on fire!  Creating a complete LinkedIn profile, updating your resume, building a social media public persona, and committing to industry networking activities will be the magnet that draws others to YOU.  It’s always better to have options to mitigate against unforeseen circumstances, but those options don’t happen by accident.  As echoed in Sun Tzu, “In war prepare for peace; and in peace prepare for war.”

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The Question Interviewers Always Ask (and How to Answer It)

The Question Interviewers Always Ask (and How to Answer It) | Insights for Candidates | Scoop.it
These tips will help you answer the dreaded "Tell me about yourself!" with ease.
Tim Tonella's insight:

What really matters here - whether you're interviewing for a junior level position or executive role - is to focus on your greatest acheivements and how those track specifically to the needs of the prospective employer.  Companies - in spite of the small talk in interviews - have very specific problems, and they need to visualize you solving them!  So the candidate needs to probe for those 2-3 mission critical issues, and connect the dots from a previous solved problem to the company's current challenges.  Do this, and you'll be in the final hunt!

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