Interviewing/Internships and Business Travel

Being that it is graduation and let’s-find-an-internship season in recruiting, this is geared towards all of you juniors, seniors, and grad students attending live interviews, especially out of town and looking at potential internships.

Internship realities:
*Unpaid internships are illegal except under a very few circumstances (Non profit, working for the government, ie a law clerk for a congressional member). If you aren’t getting paid, it probably isn’t following established legal criteria.

The best thing to do is check with your Career Center.

-Only a VERY FEW, very large global companies will pay for your lodgings during an internship. Assume you will be responsible for covering your own rent/accommodations for the duration of your stay.

There are always a lot of questions from candidates about what they should think about in terms of the cost for interviewing. The single best thing you should remember, if nothing else: SAVE ALL YOUR ORIGINAL RECEIPTS. You will need these to get reimbursed, NOT your credit card statements. Without your receipts, you will not get reimbursed.

Here are some basics:

-Most companies *should* pay your airfare and hotel (for at least one night) upfront when you are invited to interview from out of state; make sure you understand how many nights at a hotel a company will cover. Generally they will use a corporate account or travel agent, so you shouldn’t even have to worry about it. *Always ask*!!

*This is usually only relevant for actual employers, NOT employment agencies, who will expect you to pay out of pocket. Sometimes they will offer to reimburse you part/all of the expenses if you end up getting the job. ASK THEM and GET IT IN WRITING if that is the case.

If you would like to stay an extra few days at your own expense, most companies don’t care when you arrive/leave for flights.
B />The caveat: if you are are looking to move to a city, and your resume/profile has a *local* address, then expect to pay for your own travel expenses. />TIP: if you are interviewing with more than one company in an area, you can try and negotiate additional hotel nights with one employer if another is paying your airfare.

-If you can drive to an interview, have a car and prefer to do so, you should be reimbursed for your total mileage; fill up your tank at the beginning of your trip and save the receipt/s. Keep in mind that you will be paid for the trip to and from your interview, on those dates, and not for side trips to sight see. If you live 250 miles from the interview site, they will generally expect 500-550 miles round trip on your expense report, not 800-1200 over the course of 4 days. he IRS annually outlines mileage guidelines:

You can also ask if a train is an option, but you may need to be reimbursed for your ticket.

-Most employers will provide you with lunch or dinner; if not, save all your receipts during your trip. You will generally be given an expense reporting template to file.
BR />-It’s important to understand that your expense report is considered part of the corporate accounts payable cycle, and as such will most likely be paid to you, in a physical check via USPS, at the end of the cycle which could be anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Companies cannot/will not send you cash, paypal, or direct deposit in most instances. (This is also how business travel works for employees as well.)

Hope this helps clear up some of the mysteries of business travel.

How NOT To Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is rapidly becoming even more of a recruiting and job seeking site these days with its acquisition by Microsoft. "Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Seekers" is still one of my most popular blog posts, so today I’m going to give you some insight on what *not* to do on LinkedIn. This applies in general, not just for job seekers.

Please Do Nots:

-Use an empty profile that has your name, location, company name, job title, and nothing else. It’s frustrating and tells us all almost exactly NOTHING. If you are going to use LinkedIn, at least entice us with *some* details. If you have taken the time to create a LinkedIn profile, at some point in your career you thought it was worth doing. Either that or you are a techno-lemming.

-Put an inappropriate picture up. LinkedIn is NOT Facebook. It is a *professional* networking site. I’m not saying you need to use a $500 executive head shot, but I do suggest you be in clothing that covers your more private parts, and doesn’t include a bucket of beer and you trying to Mambo. Also, it should be a picture of YOU. Not your wife, hottie boytoy, kids, or pets. If you don’t have a picture of yourself, use a personalized branded logo or icon. Studies prove that imagery increases your traffic.

-Try and be clever in your profile. Unless you are a stand-up comic, it brands you as juvenile. This includes using "fake" profiles such as "Super Man" from "Planet Krypton" or "Captain Jack Sparrow", profession "Pirate".

-Build your network with the generic "I’d like to add you to my network." Well, obviously. But why should I care? Who are you? What do you want from me? I have gotten to the point that if someone doesn’t at least write me one personalized sentence then I ignore requests.

-SPAM groups by doing nothing but put up promotional crap. I’ve gotten people kicked out of groups before because all they do is put up sales ads. Believe me, I’ve been asked to be a moderator on several groups because I’m vigilant and try to keep the integrity of those groups; if it becomes too much, I leave them. The single biggest complaint from group members is TOO MUCH SPAM.

-Post questions that you could have answered with just one Google search. Guess what…it brands you as someone that doesn’t know what you are doing and as unable to figure the simplest thing out, which presages poor professional habits. (This goes for online discussion communities as well.)

-Be argumentative in discussions. If you chime in with a well-thought response to an ongoing discussion, and other people disagree, withdraw from the conversation. Just because you hold a certain viewpoint doesn’t make it automatically valid. Don’t engage in an online debate; it isn’t worth it.
B >
-Forget that LinkedIn is a multi-cultural and international community. I was once on an HR discussion thread where an HR professional from India was asking a question about the best astrological forecast to extend an offer to a candidate. There were two people from North America that got themselves a lot of heat for telling the poster how "stupid" her question was. Moral of the story: be culturally sensitive; if you cannot say something nice or add value to the conversation, move along and leave it alone.
BR />-Update your profile multiple times in a day. Again, this isn’t Facebook or Twitter. Keep that utility worthwhile for yourself, and don’t send 15 updates a day to everyone in your network, or you might find yourself losing your professional connections.
B >In short, keep your LinkedIn profile (and your brand)what it is meant to be…professional

Embracing Professional Change

I know a lot of people who really don’t like change. I personally feel a certain amount of change regularly is good, but I don’t like out and out chaos in every facet of my life at once.

As professionals get older and have worked for the same employer for many years, often they become entrenched in the identity of working for XYZ. When, for some reason, their jobs end, they desperately cling to the belief that they need to find another position inside the same employer. While this seems like a logical thought, the truth is often that although they may be qualified, and have a good review history, if they were eliminated from one job, the chances are that they will not find another one inside the same organization.

I’ve seen this happen at several local employers in the area in the last decade: Microsoft, University of Washington, HPE, Amazon, and Boeing. The truth is, if you were singled out for a RIF, or left your job for some other reason (ie sabbatical, FMLA), you already have a mark against you. Often, when decisions are made to eliminate positions, factors that are considered can include seniority (which skirts the ageism line), cost to the company (ie lots of time off for medical/personal issues) or less than stellar annual reviews ("meets expectations" rather than "exceeds expectations"). Rather than try desperately to try and get another role in the same organization, this is a time to look at new opportunities.

Take stock of your skill set. Perhaps it is time for a change, or to pursue some classes or a certification that will lead you into a new area. Reinvigorate your career. This is the time when working with a career coach/counselor (the difference is whether or not the person has a related degree like Social Work, Psychology, Organizational Management, etc. Coaches usually don’t.) You can also go to your local state unemployment office for free services such as testing or skills evaluations. If nothing else, get your resume updated and reviewed by people that know current trends (this would be hiring managers in your field, recruiters/HR folks, or people at your local unemployment office’I caution against ‘certified resume writers’ unless they have either a recruiting or HR background, as they probably aren’t familiar with legalities associated with current hiring practices or how Applicant Tracking Systems work.)

If you are content with your current job/career, it is time to start networking. Most people that have been with the same organization for years make the mistake of not building out their professional network, especially on LinkedIn.
‘ Start with people you have worked with, especially former managers/supervisors and peers.
B />’ Then look for recruiters that may specialize in your skill set, both agency and corporate professionals.
‘ Next, concentrate on other professionals in your discipline, possibly that you have met at a conference or other professional event.
B >’ Finally, take a look at your social circle. Some great general contacts to cultivate are auto mechanics, real estate agents, hair stylists, B2B sales professionals, waiters/bartenders, taxi or ride-sharing drivers. These are professions that tend to meet a lot of people and have clients in a variety of industries.

True story: one of my friends started driving for Uber when life took a downturn and ended up being part of several new ventures professionally based on conversations with riders.
B >
If all else fails, it may be time to put out a shingle and start your own consulting business. ‘ Get a business license

‘ Create an LLC (there are online services that can help walk you through this)

‘ Get a website up and running

‘ Open a business bank account
B > dentify the one or two services you offer, and start getting the word out to your network.

Starting a business isn’t that expensive, but one of the best things you can do is get yourself a good accountant or bookkeeper and understand how taxes work as a contractor.

Resources: h SBA (Small Business Association is another resource for information. The truth is, change helps to keep us from stagnating, and is not a bad thing. It can be scary but is a reality of life today.

The Long-Term Ramifications of Ghosting An Employer

My company recently attended the fall career fair for a local school with a strong academic program. We had several hundred people drop off their resumes for 2019 graduates. My team went through the resumes from candidates that expressed interest in the role we have to offer (currently we have one approved position for entry level for next year, and that is for one of the hottest jobs on the planet…Machine Learning Engineer.) We also offer potential work visa sponsorship, which is not something every company can offer.

I reached out to the ~25 candidates that had submitted a paper copy of their resume. I introduced myself, told them I was following up from their interest at the job fair, and asked them for a digital copy of their resume and for 3-4 times they would be available for a 60 minute functional screen with one of our engineers. I told them what to generally expect in the call, how to prepare, and that based on their availability they should look for a confirmation from our scheduling team.

We have already been through about 30% of the applicants (in terms of initial calls.) We increased the number of screeners and asked for dedicated times from them for phone screens. All of this to provide prompt response and a good candidate experience.

Imagine my surprise when our Coordinator sent me an email the day before a candidate was due to have a phone call, telling me she had reached out to this candidate twice to confirm, and had not received any response. I texted the candidate and asked if he was still available or needed to reschedule. I got no response either. We told the screener not to bother trying a second time if the candidate did not answer.

The candidate *did* answer the phone…but told the interviewer that he was "too busy with homework to take the call." He didn’t ask to reschedule. Keep in mind, the time was scheduled based on the candidate’s availability. He had three opportunities to request a reschedule, including one via text.

I have declined this candidate via email (politely), and noted this entire proceeding in our candidate database. The bottom line is that this candidate will probably never be considered for a job at our company again.

This sort of unprofessionalism is what can make or break an initial "first impression", and it can have LONG term implications. If you are a student and too busy to set up preliminary conversations, then don’t submit your resume until you ARE ready. Being ghosted is no fun for anyone, but in this case, it cost someone a valuable career opportunity.

One Way To Fail An Interview – Making Assumptions

One of the biggest reasons candidates fail onsite interviews is because of a behavior referred to as "making assumptions". I am very aware of this, as early in my career it was one of my main failings as a candidate. I spent a lot of time learning to *listen* and ask questions rather than just jumping in with what I thought was certainly "the right answer". These days in my career, if I am the candidate interviewing, I always wait for the interviewer to finish the question before I jump in; I ask clarifying questions throughout the dialogue, and I tend to ask "is that what you were looking for?" when I answer a question to make sure the interviewer isn’t looking for more from me.

When I meet with a candidate first thing before they start their loop, the two pieces of advice I give them are to listen to any hints or feedback their interviewer is giving throughout the conversation, and to talk through their thought process. Often if a candidate is going down the "wrong path", the interviewer will ask them a question that is geared towards helping them get back on the right path, or a clue as to what the interviewer is actually looking for. "Making assumptions" is diving into a question either without waiting for the interviewer to finish setting up the question/scenario or just jumping into the question without thinking through what all the possible answers could be. It is often driven by excitement, or thinking that you know exactly what the question is about, and could be apprehension about interviewing in general. The impressions that can be drawn from consistently not listening are lack of interest, arrogance, poor collaborative skills, lack of communication abilities. In some large companies, those qualities may be less of an issue than in a smaller organization. But given that almost every candidate I speak to is looking for a highly collaborative environment where they can be mentored, handling an interview by not listening and taking hints/feedback gives the opposite impression.

I know it is frustrating when a lot of companies are unable or unwilling to give you specific feedback about your interview performance; this is why it is often a great opportunity to work with an agency – recruiters will often give their feedback to the agency to help coach candidates. Most candidates want to know "why" companies are so hesitant about giving direct feedback, and the truth is that behavior, communication skills, and personality are all highly subjective. On top of that, there is a chance that a candidate will decide to take legal action against a company if they are given feedback they are not happy with. Recruiting is part of Human Resources, and the single most important goal of HR is to protect the company legally as it relates to human beings.

I recommend finding some mock interview scenarios nearby. If you are in school still, check with your career center. If you are working, talk to friends/colleagues and set mock interviews up; you can do it a library, in a coffee shop, even in someone’s home. Most recruiters or people managers are happy to give an hour of their time to help someone they know improve their communication skills. Set up scenarios and then take video that you can refer to later (there is absolutely no better way to find out what you are like in an interview than seeing it for yourself). Interviewing, like anything else, is a skill. Practice can help you hone your style and become more comfortable with the process.

A Hiring Manager Gives You Tips on Interview Prep

One of my current hiring managers offered to write a guest blog on what he looks for in candidates when prepping for an interview. Here are his words of wisdom:

As an interviewer and hiring manager, here are 3 things a candidate can do to have a good interview experience:

1. Familiarize youself with the company and what they do. Go to the company website, create an account or make a purchase. Read the latest news about the company ‘ Set up a Google news alert for the company for a few days before the interview

2. Do not use the same impact story across all folks in the loop. Have 2 to 3 impact examples that you can share with the folks in the loop

3. Have questions ready for the interviewers ‘ ask about business, culture, career path, etc. Any information that you need to make a decision to join this company or not. You are also interviewing the company- make sure the fit is mutual

The Job Bait and Switch Tactic Doesn’t Work

I’ve had three memorable candidates in the last two years interview for positions to try and get a "foot in the door" for higher-level positions by getting an interview. (In all cases, Director titles.) In no instance was there a Director role open, nor was there ever any conversation with either me OR the hiring manager about the possibility of the role being up-leveled in the near future (in fact, one of the roles reported to the existing Director!)

The first candidate was a very smooth talker. We had concerns about bringing him in, but he was a domain expert and had worked at a direct competitor so was very familiar with the space. His attitude once he got onsite was…"smarmy" is the best descriptor. He schmoozed up to anyone with a title, and talked down to the IC’s (Individual Contributors) he would be potentially managing. I closed him out after his interviews, and he was convinced he had done stellar. He was shocked when we declined him.

The second candidate was actually someone we wanted to hire. We made him an offer, but even after I, the hiring manager and the group Director had conversations with him (all of us telling him the same thing, that the offer on the table was our best and final offer) he *still* tried to get more money and a bigger title.

Finally, a candidate that was a submittal from a third party (agency) to an Engineering Manager position went through two phone calls and a full round of interviews, and then when an offer was presented he tried to indicate that he wasn’t interested in the role he had interviewed for, he wanted something with "more scope, more responsibility." When I explained to him that this wasn’t an option, his was response was very telling: "If there’s nothing HR can possibly do to innovate and adapt for this particular case, it’s then my turn to… wait for a better role fit later down the road if at all possible." The response from the SVP? "Please flag the profile, because we don’t want candidates who are negotiating for higher positions deliberately after interviewing to be a part of our company."

It is perfectly fine to look at external opportunities with an eye towards a promotion, especially if you aren’t making any headway with your current employer. But trying to apply for a job, especially any sort of people management position and then trying to turn it into something much greater at the interview/offer stage leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the recruiter and hiring team.

Sometimes it *is* possible to get a "Sr." uplevel. Perhaps you have been an Operations Manager for eight years; it is entirely possible and plausible that you might be upleveled to a Senior Operations Manager. The process needs to start with a frank conversation with the recruiter/hiring manager at the BEGINNING of the process, not well down the road to interviews and offer negotiations. If you try that tactic, you are going to earn yourself a reputation for dishonesty and underhandedness.

This Simple Attribute Could Cost You Your Dream Job

I spend a significant amount of time communicating via email with candidates to set up meetings/phone calls. I have a Recruiting Coordinator that sets full interview loops, travel, and phone screens with hiring teams (although sometimes I do this myself the RC is super busy or it is a management level candidate.) Generally I am responding to either employee referrals, LinkedIn outreaches, resumes I’ve sourced online, or direct applicants to my positions via our Applicant Tracking System (applications from our corporate website).

And I have found far too many examples of candidates, especially entry/early career stage, who don’t actually pay attention to what I am sending them. This is simply a lack of attention to detail.

It is frustrating when I send an email requesting a phone call with them and they don’t give me the information I need. (Please note this isn’t an auto-generated mail, it is coming from my email address and I fill in the info as needed in the subject line and name)

Here is my standard request for incoming candidates (those that have applied directly to our roles). The subject line is the company name – position title:

Hello *first name*,

I am a recruiter, and you recently expressed an interest in one of my openings. I would like to set up 20-30 minutes with you to go over your background, the process, any questions you may have, etc. Please reply with the following if you are still interested:

‘ The best phone number to reach you

‘ 2-3 times you would be available for a 30 minute call between 9-2:30 Pacific Time

90% of the time, if I get a quick response, candidates *don’t include a phone number.*
BR />

Here’s the thing: I don’t automatically ASSUME that the number on your resume is the best way to get hold of you.

Often candidates will reply asking "what job is this for?"

Candidates, you should be keeping track of what jobs you have applied for. If you have applied for multiple jobs at a company, *tell the recruiter* you have done so. "I have applied to three different software engineering positions with your company; can you tell me which team this is for?" You look disorganized, unprofessional, and desperate (looking for ANY job) when you don’t even know what job you are talking about. *Hint: most recruiters will have the teams/groups they recruit for in their LinkedIn profiles if not the actual JOBS they are recruiting for. I have both on mine.

Many times candidates don’t check their email, *including their junk folders*. If I try twice with no response, I will send a politely worded sytem-generated decline and the reason in the system is "Candidate Did Not Reply".

If you use multiple email addresses, CHECK ALL OF THEM WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A JOB. I have had more than one candidate create their account on our website with one email address, but they don’t used it anymore. Guess what? *That is the address we use, not the one on your resume, including offer letters. Login and update your email address if it has changed.

And the one that kills me: candidates that don’t apply with a resume. If you apply via a LinkedIn file, that is ok, *as long as you have a complete profile* that gives me the same level of detail as a resume, not just "company, title, dates" with no content. Again, you will get an auto-decline email.

It is a super competitive market out there. I have done everything I can to give candidates a chance to move forward with a job they have expressed an interest in; it is up to them to do their part.

Bad Attitude Can Cost You Opportunities

A few weeks ago, I found a very promising candidate for a technical role. I contacted the candidate, set him up with an hour long phone call with the hiring manager, and things went well; the manager requested an on-site interview.

Before that happens, I always schedule a recruiting call to go over the process with the candidate, answer any questions they have, then ask them a few HR-specific questions such as their general salary expectations, if they need relocation whether they are a renter or homeowner (it determines the type of package we provide), and if they are on a work visa.

Thing were going fine until I got to the visa question. I asked the candidate, "Will you require any sort of sponsorship to work in the US?" This is a standard question in the Seattle tech industry, but what followed was a bit bizarre.

"I will need your company to file for an H1-B application for me as soon as I start". (It is the first week of March; applications need to be filed by April 1st for the year.)

I replied, "What sort of visa are you currently on and what is the expiration date?"
BR />

"I need to know you will file an H1-B application for me as soon as I start."

Again, I told the candidate "I cannot make you any sort of promises or guarantees until I know exactly what sort of visa you are currently on, and when it expires."

He came back and admitted to me that he was on an OPT (student training visa) with over a year and half left on it.

So I had a conversation with the manager and explained to him that I had some major concerns regarding the candidate, not from a skills perspective, but based on the fact that he was cagey and demanding. It turns out, the manager had a similar experience but it didn’t trip any red flags until we talked. The candidate had told the hiring manager that he had an offer on the table, so we recommended that he go ahead and accept their offer since we would not be able to meet his need for sponsorship.

After I effectively closed the door, he came back and told me he could obtain sponsorship under his spouse’s employer, which makes the entire situation even worse.

It is important for candidates to understand that your initial conversation with a potential employer sets the tone for your future relationship. If you act demanding, shifty or evasive, you are giving a potential employer initial impressions that can damage your chances with them permanently.

Preparing Yourself To Be A Stay At Home Mom or Dad (Intending To Return To Work Someday)

A few weeks ago the <a href="">Harvard Business Review</a> published a study showing that Stay At Home Moms are half as likely to find employment than women that were laid off. There is absolutely no doubt that being a stay at home parent is a demanding and fulfilling avocation…but it is *not* a "job". You will certainly use all of your soft skills and refine many of them, but the bias against SAHM/SAHF is the deterioration of *functional* (or "hard") skills. Virtually every industry changes these days, whether it is new software programs, discoveries/innovations within the discipline, or new business processes. All of these take effort to learn. If you are lucky enough to have the luxury of staying home when you start a family with the intention of going back at some point, it is absolutely vital to understand some of the ramifications of your choice, and ways you can help yourself and prepare for your change in occupation and eventual transition. Please remember, this is *your* choice and part of that choice is a level of professional sacrifice.

Bringing a new baby or adopted child home is a 24×7 commitment. That being said, there are periods of time, after your little one has an established sleep pattern and once you and your partner establish a routine, where you can turn youself to other things. And while I know that laundry, cleaning, errands, and cooking are generally part and parcel of your new role, it is important that you carve time for yourself to keep up some of your professional skills/credentials. You don’t have to commit to 40 hours a week to do so. Remember, "professional" is defined in terms of quality, not quantity. So if you devote a few hours a month to keeping up your professional credentials, your transition back into the workforce when you are ready should be much more lucrative.

Here are some ways you can keep your professional persona alive and relevant for the longer haul.

1) Education: take or teach classes. With the plethora of online college options, getting either college degree or a Master’s is something you can do a class or two at a time. There are many online programs now geared for working adults that give you "credit" for your professional career, allowing you to "test out" of traditional pre-requisites. And, as a friend of mine that stayed home while raising her two sons and took classes, a little known fact that as long as your taking *at least one class* and receiving financial aid, even if you finish your degree, your financial aid will remain deferred.

The other side to the education track is teaching in your field. A continuing ed class or certificate program at a local community college; small groups of professionals as an independent consultant; speaking at conferences/seminars. Keeping up your professional network during this time is absolutely vital.

2) Writing: start (or continue) a blog; write a book; branch out into freelance journalism and write articles. Don’t discount the value of participating in LinkedIn discussions. Comment on postings that relevant to your field. Answer questions on Quora. Basically create your professional persona as a Subject Matter Expert in your field. Save all your content into a portfolio, and create a website for yourself that you can use when you are ready to go back to work. If you are in a field that has online communities (ie Github for technology, or the AMA for marketing professionals; LinkedIn and Meetup both offer ways, and FB is chock full of communities for *everything*).
*I would also like to say that if you in any way create CONTENT-digital, written, visual – build your portfolio BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR JOB. Obviously I am not advocating taking intellectual property or proprietary information, but screen shots, presentations, press releases, marketing collateral etc. are all valuable pieces of your history that can help bridge past and the future.

3) Volunteer *in your field* a few hours a month or quarter. The key to volunteering is that it must be generally in your field.

4) Attend evening networking events such as professionally-focused Meetups. If there isn’t anything, *start* a channel of interest.

5) Consult. Remember, it isn’t about quantity, it is about demonstrable results. One client a quarter is just as valid as 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year.

Finally, make the effort to keep up with your professional contacts and continue to build new ones. When you ARE ready to return to the workforce, it will be via people who know you, know your work, and feel comfortable recommending you to THEIR networks. Luckily we live in an era with LinkedIn, email, instant messaging, video chat, Facebook and other social media channels where we can keep our networks up electronically. Although the occasional lunch downtown after Jr. starts school might be a nice break.