It's all about TIMING - Recruitment Timeline Overview

The economy has been improving in the last few years, which means that the job market has been getting better.  Even though companies may be looking to hire continuously, the truth is, there are better times to make a move than others. Recruitment is very strategic and rhythmic; job seekers should also take this into consideration and be sure to follow the flow. I'll talk about what the timeline looks like from the recruiting perspective. 


Q1 (January - March)

Q1 is always a big quarter, especially in recruiting industry level candidates. This past Q1, I personally had about 7 friends interview, get job offers, and make the move (about half of them ended up moving up to the Bay Area).  

Industry candidates: Q1 is a great time to kick off your job search because companies often forecast at the beginning of the year, and designate headcount for the remainder of the year. Recruitment efforts are at full blast, so take advantage of this! 

New grads & interns: if you haven't started on your search for a summer internship, you better get on it fast! This is also a busy season for intern recruitment, since most companies will finalize their interns by the end of this quarter (latest), though the strongest interns will have something lined up already at the end of the previous year. New grads should get on it as well (see Q4 section). 

International candidates: If you are an international candidate and want to move to the US, you should be in your interviewing process in the early part of the year (because all paperwork needs to be submitted by April 1st). Some companies have long, extensive interviewing processes, so get started early (see Q4 section). If the company is nimble and can move fast, they should be able to get things done in Q1. 

Note: I've found that if you are relocating, rent does tend to spike up around this time (especially in Bay Area). Just something to keep in mind. Actually, 3 out of the 4 companies that I've worked at all started in Q1! 


Q2 (April - June)

For industry candidates,  Q2 is still a busy season for hiring. I find that the beginning of Q2 is just as busy recruitment wise, but most candidates who are looking to move usually would have accepted something by the end of the quarter. It does tend to slow down a bit during the summer, as employees start taking vacations and perhaps leaving earlier in the day. 

New graduates: New grad recruiting starts to slow down drastically around summertime. Most new grad hires should have been placed by May (latest), and the team is gearing for new hire orientations to start in the summer. In recruiting, there also seems to be a stigma that new grads who don't have jobs lined up after graduation are not as strong, so that's also something to consider! 

Intern candidates:  Internship placements should have been finalized and made by April already, and the HR/Recruiting team should be focused on the program management of these interns. 


Q3 (July - September)

Q3 is an important quarter for university recruiting and new grads. Recruiters normally need to start career fair planning this quarter (for example, which colleges to go to, arrange logistics, order swag, get prepared for the sudden uptick in candidates). For companies like Google, Q3 is the time where interns go through conversion interviews from their previous internships to see whether they will get a return offer. 

New grad candidates: If you are a senior and graduating next year, make sure to attend the career fairs in the fall! Take the time to polish up your resume and interviewing skills sometime in the summer, but definitely make sure you are ready before the career fairs. Be sure to add in your most recent internship experience into your resume (hopefully you gained some experience during the summer). This also applies to interns. 


Q4 (October - December)

The beginning of the quarter tends to be pretty busy (especially for University recruiters), but as the year comes to a close, recruitment tends to slow down during the holidays (Thanksgiving and onward). 

New grad candidates: Focus on your full time job search NOW. A lot of students may think that they have a lot of time and think "why should I interview now when I'm graduating in 9 months? Keep in mind that large companies have general recruitment windows, and the strongest new graduates would have done a majority of their interviews in September/October/November, receiving offers before the end of the year.  Some will continue interviewing in January/February, but I've seen the best candidates usually make their decision before the year end.  This is important to note because if you are a new grad and late to the game, the company may no longer have headcount. 

If you are interviewing with multiple companies, recruiters may try to press you for a decision sooner than you are ready to commit. Check to see if your school has a recruitment policy to push back for more time (for example, MIT's policy states that employers cannot impose exploding offers).

Intern candidates: Interns should also start their search in Q4 as well. Interns usually have the end of Q4 and beginning of Q1 to do their interviews for an internship. 

International candidates: Q4 is a busy time for international recruitment as well, as companies with longer interviewing processes should start their interviewing process early. 


Of course, this could vary from company to company, but this is just the general flow! These are just timeframes for the ups and downs of the recruitment season. If the economy is doing well and strong, industry recruitment should be going strong at all times of the year. Hopefully this is helpful and will give you a better understanding of how timing plays a crucial role in the recruitment process.

"The Start-up of You" - Book thoughts and summary

A few weeks ago I mentioned I was reading Reid Hoffman's "The Start-up of You."  I just finished the book, and wanted to jot down and share a few of my impressions and lessons learned. 

If you can't tell from my earlier post, I'm a huge fan of the book. It gave me the push to create this site, and to be more active in networking (I started looking more into those networking apps like Glassbreakers and Weave). I'm going to highlight a few of the important points in the book that really stuck with me.


Don't be like Detroit

Towards the beginning of the book, Reid writes about Detroit and the once powerful automotive industry. He describes how Detroit used to be like the old version of  Silicon Valley in the mid 20th century with the rise of local start-ups like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The city was once known for it's entrepreneurship, innovation and technology, attracting people all over the nation to move there. But down the line, those automotive companies became stagnant, as they "clung stubbornly to their decades-old practice" (p.15) and started losing to the competition. They didn't invest in lean manufacturing, didn't create more fuel efficient vehicles, and weren't able to keep competitive with international Japanese companies. Fast forward a couple decades - we all know what happened to Detroit: the government had to bail out GM, and the city now has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. 

The moment you being to take success for granted is the moment a competitor lunges for your jugular.
— page 15

After reading this story, it really gave me that push because we are all at risk of becoming the next Detroit (or getting phased out / passed over by a more qualified, accomplished candidate).  So, in order to prevent something like that from happening to your career, Reid makes suggestions like ABZ Planning, creating a personal brand, and strengthening your network. 

Plan A, Plan B, and Plan Z

This is the idea is that wherever we are in our professional journey, we should always have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan Z (or ABZ Planning). What we are currently doing is our plan A. Where we want to be is our Plan B. Our Plan Z is our "safety net"  - something that we should always feel comfortable falling back on incase the other 2 plans fall through. In our careers, we should always be adapting, evolving and growing (permanent beta, as he calls it), so ABZ Planning is crucial. 

While you’ll always be tinkering and adjusting your Plan A, should you decide you need to make a bigger change, that’s when you pivot to Plan B. Pivoting isn’t throwing a dart on the map and then going there. It’s changing direction or changing your path to get somewhere based on what you’ve learned along the way. Once you’ve pivoted and are on a new track, that becomes your new Plan A.
— page 68

Build and maintain a professional network

We all know the importance of networking, and the book will drill this into your head of why we should (or need to) network.  This goes beyond just expanding your first-degree networks; Reid highlights that we should be leveraging our network's network (2nd and 3rd degree contacts), because that opens our exposure to exponentially more people, opportunities and varying perspectives (or what he calls network intelligence and network literacy). Basically, you can't always do it on your own - you need the help, guidance, and knowledge of others. We should continue to invest and maintain these relationships over time (he gave suggestions on how to keep in touch and gave the reader networking homework). 


I could probably keep writing (and make this an actual book report), but I'll leave it at that. My suggestion is to read the book - it's a super easy read and will really light that fire. Enjoy!

My Thoughts on a Graduate Degree

I just read an article from 20SomethingFinance and really wanted to respond back. As I was typing up my response, my comment started getting too long, so I decided to create a blog post instead. The topic is about whether graduate degrees are worth the money.

From the recruiting and hiring perspective, here is how the employer perceives graduate education. 

  • Specialized degrees (like PhDs) will narrow you down, and sometimes will work in your disadvantage. Most graduate degrees (minus law and medicine) will lead you to a very general path, where you'll find your coworkers probably don't have a grad degree. I used to hire for Google, and whenever candidates coming from elite universities like Stanford, Berkeley, or MIT couldn't find job within the company, it was discouraging. Imagine spending 7 years of intensive academics/research and not being able to find a fit at your dream company. That being said, when you specialize and want to work in industry (versus in research/academia), be prepared to work on something that's outside of your dissertation. The lucky ones may find something within their realm of research, but that's typically a minority (I'm just setting expectations here).
  • Having a graduate degree on your resume does not necessarily mean more money. A graduate degree without the right experience means almost nothing. If you have a masters, but have no internships or work experience, you are just as entry level as someone with a Bachelors. 
  • You can't bank on a graduate education to open up doors for you.  Recruiters and employers aren't necessarily going to jump to hire you simply because you have a masters. 
  • You don't need to go to business school to learn to start a business. If you want to start a business, the best way to learn is to just do it.

Alright, so it sounds like I just went on a rant of why going back to school is a bad idea. If it's such a bad idea, then why am I going back to school? Why am I willing to invest 140K (sigh, I know) in getting an MBA? 

Graduate school is a huge investment. For me personally, I know that if I'm going to spend THAT much money, then I'll need to miiiiiiiilk it as much as I can. Meaning, I better utilize all the resources that Duke will give me to the absolutely core. I'm willing to make this financial investment for a few reasons: grad school is going to give me a whole new level of intellectual capital that no one can take away from me. I might be able to self study basic business concepts on my own (which would forever), but in school, my learning curve is exponentially accelerated.  More importantly, you go to graduate school for the social capital and experience. A graduate program allows you to diversify your network and perspective, along with give you access to people of the same intellectual and socioeconomic status. Bigger networks means access to more opportunity (but of course you'll still need to put in the work). 

Overall, my advice to those deciding whether or not further their education is to really understand why they want the degree, and what they want to with it afterwards. Are you interested in getting a masters in say, history, because you just really love the subject, or because you want to make a life long career with that knowledge? Can you get your "dream job" without having that degree? Talk with people who are older and more experienced who have your dream job to get their perspective. Don't go to grad school because you want to make your parents happy, or because you think it's "the right thing to do." Do it because you absolutely know and believe that having that higher degree will lead you to the path you want. 

What I'm reading: The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman

Every once in a while, I come across a REALLY good book that changes my perspective on life, and for a lack of better words, kicks me in the butt and whips me into shape. "The Start-up of You" by Reid Hoffman is one of those books. To be honest, I'm not even finished with the book yet because Reid Hoffman was so compelling that I stopped mid-way to create this website (it was one of the things he talked about). No kidding.

For those who don't know, Reid Hoffman is most famously known as the co-founder of LinkedIn. He's a entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and overall badass in the tech industry. Naturally, his book is about career advice, branding, and social networking in the modern day era.  Though I hadn't heard about it before, I thought it sounded interesting and picked it up because I was curious about what he had to say. I was blown away at how thorough and in depth his career recommendations are. At the end of every chapter, he gives you homework to complete (so I guess you can say that creating this website is an assignment of his). 

I'll need to write more about lessons learned, but I'll save that for another post after I'm done reading. For now, I think everyone should try to grab a copy of the book, or at least visit The Start-up of You website to learn more about this movement. Trust, I've been thinking about launching this site for a while (but been lazy/procrastinated), so if this book can be that catalyst for me to take the next step, it won't disappoint. 

Incase you are curious, the other books that have also kicked me in the butt (and might also give you that push) are: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and The Defining Decade  by Meg Jay

New Year, New You!

At the beginning of every year, it's common to have new years resolutions and new goals. New Year, New You. But why are new goals and aspirations typically set only at the beginning of the year? For example, why is my gym is insanely packed this month (grr for stealing my parking) as compared to previous months?  Call me crazy, but we should be goal setting at all times of the year; we should not make excuses or procrastinate when to start. It's common for people to re-evaluate their careers at the beginning of the year (or Q1 in general). How do I know? Because as a recruiter, Q1 is often one of the busiest times of the year; annual strategy plans are introduced, headcount opens up, new requisitions are opened, and recruiters get flooded with candidate inquires now more than ever.  I personally have about 5 friends who are either in the midst of finding a new job and/or seriously considering a career change. As their friend in HR/Recruiting, I oftentimes get asked for advice on how to approach a job change.

If you are looking for a career change or new job this year, here are a few of my suggestions on where to start:

1) Deep soul search. Job searching = soul searching. Think of it this way: we spend a majority of our time in the office. Multiply that over a course of a life time. In retrospect, think of all the hours you have spent at the office -- that's a lot of sacrifice! So when you are job searching, find something you would enjoy. Ask yourself the "why" behind what you are doing, or what you want to accomplish. Do you find passion in your work? What is the big picture of how you will contribute back to society? Where do you want to be in the next 5, 10, 15 years, and how does your next role help you to get there? These are all questions you should be thinking about on the high level when considering a switch.

2) Research! If you are not sure about what career path to take, do your homework: research positions that sound interesting and connect with people who are already in those roles. Sometimes reading job descriptions and articles online may not give you an accurate or whole picture. Find people you know and trust to give you a firsthand account. Ask friends of friends. If you can't think of any in your network, refer to LinkedIn.  Don't be shy when asking a stranger about their occupation -- people are more willing to help than you might think (in most cases, people love talking about themselves).

3) Networking. This pretty much goes without saying: you need to network as much as you can. Cast a wide network of people in different industries and occupations, as diversity may come in handy. Make sure to also maintain these relationships because you never know when your paths might cross in the future. Even if you are long-term planning and don't plan on making a move anytime soon, start developing your network now.

4) Stay active and assertive in your search. Many times, candidates will submit their resume through a job board, and simply wait around to hear back. Newsflash - this isn't the most effective way to find a job. Candidates need to be assertive and keep on top of their job search - exhaust all options! Have you tried getting a referral directly in the company? What about having a second degree connection submit your resume? Have you tried emailing the recruiter directly? What about the hiring manager? Unless you have received a direct rejection, you can keep trying. If you ever feel left out in the dark in your interviewing process, you should always ping your recruiter to see what's going on (trust, it's our job to make sure candidates are crystal clear in where they stand).

5) Stand out. If you land an interview, make sure to properly prepare. You need to research the company, thoroughly understand what they do, and have good questions lined up to ask your interviewer. Whenever candidates respond with "I don't know much about your company" or have boring generic questions, it's a huge turn off to the interviewer. They could probably find other candidates that are more enthusiastic. Find ways to differentiate yourself from other candidates by asking thought provoking/engaging questions, showing that you know wsup with the company/industry, and going in prepared (meaning, you know the numbers on the top of your head, you have work samples ready, etc).  As always, be polite and show proper business etiquette.

6) Stay Positive!  Job searching is nerve wrecking and it takes a toll on your state of mind.  It's dreadful to wait around in the dark and to not be sure where you stand in the process. Constantly worrying and stressing during your job search won't do you any good, so stop it. Remember that you only have control over certain things - so instead of worrying and sitting around waiting, be active and focus on the things you actually have control over. For example, you have the control over whether you wish to attend networking events or apply for more jobs. There are a ton of alternative ways ("back routes" as I like to call them) to get where you wish to be, so stay optimistic and keep trying.

 

 

Networking Tips for Introverts

Ever since I can remember, my mom always told me that "it's about who you know rather than what you know."  At school and professionally, I was constantly reminded of the need to network. As an introvert, networking always made me feel a little uncomfortable; plus, I consider myself a more reserved person.  I would attend events and feel awkward about introducing myself. I disliked small talk. It felt unnatural to force a connection with someone I barely knew. I question how adding another acquaintance to my social network would benefit me. And most importantly, I felt young and inexperienced in the field, rambling or nodding my head to conversations I can barely follow. Leave me alone; I just want to be a wallflower.

But why is it important?  Because 70-80% of jobs are found through networking.

Until recently, I realized the power (and magic) of networking, and why we should all do it. I had to force myself to get over my introversion fears; nowadays, people (like my mom) don't believe me when I say I'm an introvert.

If you sound anything like me, here are a few tips on how to make networking less scary and how to be more successful at it.

Quality over quantity If you are at a networking event and you see your colleague picking up 5x more business cards than you, don't get discouraged. As an introvert, we tend to value small intimate group settings, rather than large parties -- and that's perfectly okay. In fact, interacting closely and having just 5 quality conversations during an event will give you not only more alone time with the person, but also give you the opportunity to know them better. If you met 50 people at an event, that's great, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the depth of your conversation will get you somewhere. Plus, it's more difficult to keep in touch with all 50 contacts, or to have them all remember who you are. Find your 5 quality people, nourish that relationship, keep in touch with them, and expand your network on-going.

It's a two way street When I was younger, I thought networking was so superficial. I felt like a phony because as a sales representative, my train of thought was that everyone was a lead; my ulterior motive was to sell and weasel my way into getting that sale.  Since a lot of the people I met were senior and older executives, I didn't feel like I could do anything in return for them. What do I have to offer them anyway? Now that I look back, I was approaching this all wrong. I can add value.  If not now, then maybe in the future when I am more established. Plus, senior executives could use a young, fresh, millennial perspective on things.

Here's an example: in 2010, I was an intern in the Department of Commerce in Washington D.C., and briefly met the head of department I was interning at. I just graduated undergrad, and it was intimidating to meet such a "bigwig." After all, he was appointed by Obama and everyone in this org essentially reported to him. I shyly added him as a contact on LinkedIn (because one of the other fearless interns encouraged me to), and he accepted my request. We never talked until earlier this year (aka 4 years later) when he messaged me, asking for advice on how to build a team. Since then, we have a cordial relationship, and I consult for his start-up every once in a while.

Moral of the story:  It's a two way street. Even if you aren't as established in your career (now), don't be intimidated because there's always a possibility to work together down the line. Stop approaching networking as a bunch of leads; humanize people, connect with them on a personal level, and find ways you could both help one another out. 

The more you give, the more you get To reiterate my point above, networking is all about helping one another out. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. You should always be willing to offer your help first. I find that those who are defensive or unwilling to help out their contacts will get less in return; people seem to remember that down the line. For example, if you ask a business acquaintance for an introduction to one of their contacts, and they help you out, you should be prepared to do the same if the tables turn. If someone has done favors for you in the past, it's bad etiquette to refuse if they ask you for a favor back. These are some tips that I've learned from Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

Make new friends, but keep the old.. Remember that nursery rhyme we used to sing when we were kids? Yeah, it still applies in business. Stay in touch with your business acquaintances, new and old! Maybe you haven't seen them in a while, and you're not bold enough to invite them for lunch. Technology is great because it makes for keeping in touch really easy. Try commenting on LinkedIn/Facebook updates, forwarding an email that reminds you of them/their job, or sending a text message to keep in touch.  Being truly genuine allows relationships to grow naturally and organically.

See? Networking as an introvert isn't so bad! It just takes practice and viewing it from a different perspective.  Also, for those who haven't already seen Susan Cain's TED Talk about The Power of Introverts, I highly recommend watching it! Her book, "Quiet" is phenomenal and sheds a completely different light on how to perceive introversion.

 

The Cover Letter - Yay or Nay?

I read this article the other day on LinkedIn Pulse about a hiring manager's claim that cover letters weigh more than resumes (hint: they do not). Reading the comments, there seemed to be a lot of mixed feedback on this topic. From a recruiters standpoint, cover letters are not helpful. So, the question is: should we, or should we not, provide a cover letter? Before you start stressing about writing one, here are my thoughts. 1) High technology industry approaches the job search a bit differently.  Especially you are applying for an engineering related job, recruiters/hiring managers seldom read cover letters, and thus it is not helpful (so use your time doing something else).  Instead, hiring managers and recruiters will resort more heavily on other things like a strong resume or strong LinkedIn profile (I sometimes don't even collect a candidate's formal resume because I can resort to their LinkedIn).

What about non-tech related jobs within the high-technology industry? If you are applying for something that requires strong writing/communications skills (like marketing, business development, or public relations), a strong cover letter could help further demonstrate your strengths.  However, remember that a cover letter will not exactly "make" a decision on whether the company is interested in talking further; if written incorrectly, it could even break your chances.  It also depends on the context of your industry.

2) No one has time to read a long cover letter. If you are sending in a cover letter that is more than 3 paragraphs in length, then you are doing it wrong.  Hiring managers and recruiters simply don't have the time to read through an entire essay, so don't send it in, as it might even hurt your chancesStrong cover letters are brief and to the point; candidates must be explicit about who they are and what they are looking for, and give strong examples of why they are a fit. Strong cover letters (and good candidates) present information that is well organized and easy to find. I'll write a post on this later.

3) Don't ever send a cookie-cutter cover letter. Ever. The obvious reason is that cut and paste cover letters may overlook small details that the applicant might not see. You might be blasting off 10 cover letters a day, and though it seems efficient, you forget to change the name of the company. Oops. The maybe not-so-obvious reason of why a cookie-cutter cover letter is never a good idea is that every role is a bit different and needs to be tailored. The candidates that are able to able to identify the employer's wants/needs/pain points, and succinctly portray why they are a fit, will peak more interest. A candidate that can highlight why he/she is a good fit for this particular role and company is in a better position to be called back. Generic cookie cutter resumes usually do not capture that effect.

4) If you are spending too much time writing a cover letter, then it's not an efficient use of time. If you've been working on one cover letter for more than a couple hours (even days and/or weeks), then you are approaching it wrong. Your time is better spent on other methods, like networking, reaching out directly on LinkedIn, or connecting with people for informational interviews. The format for a cover letter is pretty standard, but what applicants usually struggle with is being able to tie the "why" into a short concise summary. If this is something holding you back in your job search, I suggest taking time off to reflect on your whole career image/trajectory/accomplishments/goals first. The better you are able to connect the dots, the better you can convey this value to others.

So, where do I stand? In short: if you are an engineer looking for an engineering role, then don't bother (but if you are an engineer looking to switch to something business-y, then write one). If you are in high-tech (i.e. Silicon Valley) but not in engineering, then it's up to your discretion, but it might not get read. If you are in a conservative industry where strong writing and communication skills are valued or a crucial part of the job, then sure, but make sure it's NOT longer than three paragraphs, a cookie cutter or that it took you more than 2 hours to write, because you could be being more efficient in other ways. If you don't want to write a formal cover letter, send out a similar format introduction email to the hiring manager or recruiter. Because what else are you going to write in your first introduction email?

As for this article, author Laura Nelson makes a few good points, but her argument is completely exaggerated.  Let's be honest: if Laura had only one hour to get through 200 resumes, she's better off picking through resumes, looking for relevant skills, then reading the cover letter as a final clinger - not the other way around. No matter how much "personality" you inject, after reading 200 of them, they will all start to blur, sorry. Personality is important, but if a candidate lacks the wrong fundamental skills, then it simply isn't a good fit (unless you are looking for a purely entry level role).

 

 

6 Creative Approaches to Tackling the Start-Up Job Search

For those looking to leave their corporate grind and wanting to join a start-up, here a few tips on where to start.  Prospecting for start-up jobs is a completely different ball game.  Many of these opportunities are harder to find and will require a more creative approach.  If you've already tapped out LinkedIn careers or The Daily Muse jobs with no luck, try looking into these alternatives. 1) Venture Capital Firms - Check out the top leading venture capital firms, and look through their job portfolio section. Some have portals where you can submit your resume and the in-house VC recruiter will match you with roles from one of their portfolio companies. Others will have a general careers email where you can send over your resume, and someone will respond back if there is a fit.

2) Subscribe to start-up funding news - Sites like CrunchBase Daily give their subscribers daily updates to funding news and acquisitions. It's a great way to get exposure to what's happening in the industry.  Chances are, a company that recently raised an impressive amount of funding will be looking to hire more people. Keep those companies on your radar and keep an eye out for interesting opportunities.

3) AngelList - This website is like the LinkedIn of the start-up world, and it's quickly gaining a lot of traction. You can find tons of information on up and coming start-ups on AngelList, and they also have a jobs board section. Be sure to fill out your profile!

4) Niche job boards - Smaller companies may not have a huge budget to throw money on expensive job boards like Monster or LinkedIn.  Even if they did have the money, it might not be the right type of demographic they are looking to target.  Instead, try niche start-up job sites like Startuphire.com and Ventureloop.  

5) Start-up Incubators - Look into start-up incubators like Y-Combinator and 500 Start-ups to see if any of their companies might be hiring. Some of them have an open forum where community members will post roles of what they are looking for.

6) Networking - Start meeting more people in the start-up community to learn about where they found their opportunity. Let them know that you are looking so if anything opens up, they can help connect you. If you currently don't have a network in the start-up community, you can start building that up by attending relevant meet ups and events in the area.

As always, you can Google any of those websites listed above and type in "competitors" to see what else might be relevant and related.

Good luck!

A Few Reasons to be Careful with Social Media: Life in the Digital Age

Call me paranoid, anti-social or hypocritical, but I am not a huge fan of social media (unless it's used properly to help boost businesses and customer engagement). I deactivated my Facebook, refuse to get a Twitter, keep my Instagram really private, and stopped making public reviews on Yelp. Not only do I find social media a time sink, but I also find it an invasion of privacy.  I didn't realize how creepy the internet can be until I started recruiting, and was able to find so much information on my candidates (I call it professional stalking).  All joking aside, here are few reasons why we should be careful of our digital profiles in this day and age. 1) Digital is forever

How much information do we have about ourselves floating around cyber world? Millennials remember: digital is forever, no matter if it's on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, Yelp, emails, etc. Whether it be for personal or business purposes, be careful about what is posted and shared because it will be floating around in cyberspace - FOREVER.  This means years later, that email or Facebook wall post that you originally thought would be private, could be exposed. Just look at these articles of Evan Spiegel.  That poor frat boy can't even party in private.

2) Our children will have an online presence even before they are born?!

I was 18 when I first created my Facebook (I've deactivated it for the last 5 months now), which means I would have had my account for about 7 years this year.

This leads me to think about our next generation. How long will we continue to have our lives publicized on the web? When we have children, will they have an online image even before they are able to talk?  Yes, at this rate, the whole world will know who your baby is, what the ultrasound looked like, embarrassing birthday photos exposed -- even before your baby is able to consciously understand what's going around. This completely blows my mind. MIND=BLOWN.

3) Never mix personal and professional

It's always dangerous to mix your personal and social networks, especially on Facebook.  I've seen and heard of so many instances where social media clashes two circles groups, resulting in a nasty ending.  For example, co-workers ratting one another out for saying they are sick but posting a picture on Instagram. Or, your friends and coworkers battling one another in a heated Facebook feed, even though they've never met. Someone liking and posting feeds on Facebook in the middle of the day, and a coworker calls them out for slacking. These are all real instances that I've heard of in the last couple years.

4) Recruiters can find out information about anything

Most importantly, recruiters/headhunters or anyone else who is good at stalking can actually stalk you. It's not that hard. This goes back to my older post about keeping your address private in your resume. It would also be wise to keep your FB wall, IG, Twitter and whatever else private, especially when prospecting for a new job. Your new employer really should not see or know about those 10 tequila shots you took last Friday.

 

Be safe friends, and know the internet is a dangerous playground.

When I was 22...

I'm turning 26 in about a month (!) and it's recently hit me that I've been out of college for over 4 years now.

The last 4 years has been quite tumultuous, with lots of ups and downs, uncertainties, career changes and moving around.  Though things are still quite uncertain right now, I wanted to write some thoughts that had inspired me after reading this article.

First off all, when I look at the course of my career (and observations from my friends careers), the common theme of post-college graduation life was that we all wanted to accomplish big things.  We all had big dreams and ideas that popped up in the back of our minds of what we "wanted to do when we grow up." I've had many friends who wanted to go to law school, dental school, pharmacy school, business school, art school -- "the world was our oyster" as some would say.

While some end up taking actions towards pursuing their dreams, others  kept their dreams on pause and it eventually fizzled up, as daily life duties, school rejections or money problems kept them preoccupied and content. Others keep delaying because of timing (but really, when IS the right timing?). It was clear who was a "say-er" versus "do-er".  For those that are currently in pursuit of their 22year old dream (or any life goal in general), I'm so proud of them for going to seek it out.  For those who gave up on chasing dreams altogether, it frightens me to see a generation with so much potential lose their drive and ability to do so much more. 

All in all, I completely understand that it's easy to choose a life of stability and contentment.  I've been told to "take it easy" and tune down my Type A personality (lol, psh yeah right. can't help it- It's the INFJ in me). But, I'm a firm believer that NOW really is the best time to set your foundation for your future career and to stop making excuses.  It's so much more difficult to try and juggle your education goals when trying to juggle raising a family, mortgage, etc.  It's also much harder to work to that ideal dream job/dream company if contentment just keeps weighing you down.

When I was 23, I read The Defining Decade and the statistics around how our 20's really matter completely it kicked me in the butt.  Especially the part about how the first 10 years of a career have an exponential impact on ultimate earnings. Reality check: I'm halfway through my first 10 years of my career, and I really don't want to stagnate.

 

Things to Consider and Ask Before Joining a Start-Up

Joining a start-up these days has become increasingly more and more "trendy."  Millennials seem to be awed and drawn in by the awesome perks, huge potential upside of success, and the ability to wear multiple hats to grow quickly in your career. While it sounds glamorous and fun (which it is), there are many things to consider before making the leap from a big, stable company to a small start-up. As a start-up recruiter, I've had to answer a lot of questions from candidates that I'm sure you are all dying to know.

Before jumping in, be sure to ask yourself and your company these things:

Are you willing to put in the time? There's no going around the fact that start-ups will require more dedication and time. For example, when I was interviewing for my current role, the company straight up told me that the hours were 10-8 (hours are better now though). Some start-ups might not let you "shut off work at 5pm," especially when fires happen and you need to handle them right away. When talking to a company, make sure you have a clear understanding of their working hours and expectations (ex: do they allow remote work? what time do people generally start/leave the office?).

Do you believe in the product and mission?  I joke with my friends that you should be willing to drip sweat, blood, and tears for your start-up.  Before you seriously consider joining a company, you should ask yourself whether you believe in the mission and product. What is the company out to achieve? Are they on track to do so? Is it realistic? What has their track record and growth been so far? Afterall, you will be spending the next several years at that company, so you sure as hell must believe in the idea. Overall, because of the high level of demand of working at a start-up, it will be very difficult to keep yourself motivated if you are dispassionate and disinterested in what the company is doing.  I read a recent article saying that if you really believe in the company, you should be willing to go as far as investing your own money.

What does the current financial situation for the company look like? Crucial question to ask. The worst case scenario is that you leave your financially steady job to join a start-up that you think is financially secure, but ends up closing shop after a few months (true story). Do as much research as you can on the funding situation of the company by researching companies like Crunchbase and AngelList; also be sure to ask your hiring manager/recruiter if the company is profitable, what the burn rate is, and how much money so far they've raised.  The numbers may be hard to calculate for start-ups if they are on a hiring-spree and burning money faster than they make, so it's just something to be aware of.  Also, it's important to find out who is backing the company; are they bootstrapping? Leading VC firms? Private equity? Incubators? This will give you insight to the dilution of company shares as well.

Do you believe in the leaders of the company?  One of the biggest reasons why I chose my current company is because of our co-founder, who was one of the first 10 Google employees, an Angel investor, and sits on the board of a leading VC firm. It was a huge draw for me to work under someone of such high caliber, who I trust will make sound decisions for the company.  I recommend everyone take a deep look into the leaders of the company, understand their background, and evaluate whether they are a team you trust. Good leaders will have a plan and vision for the company with undying passion for their work.

Aside from those main points, in general, it really does take the right personality and attitude to join a start-up.  Hard and relevant skills are always great to have in the position, but because things can change so rapidly, employees should both be intelligent and willing to jump in when needed. Even though I'm in the recruiting team here, I've done so many different things in my organization, including HR/payroll & processing visas to being a janitor & grilling burgers at a company event. It keeps me on my toes and I feel useful.

In the near future, I will be writing an article on where to find start-up opportunities. The start-up job search is a little different from your traditional big corporation, and I'm excited to share my tips.

5 (Crappy) Work Experiences That We Should All Learn How To Handle

In the ideal world, "going to work" would never really feel like working. There would be no conflicts, as you love everyone you work with. Tasks would be easy to handle and you'd nail every performance review effortlessly, getting paid all the money in the world.

Unfortunately, for the majority of us, that's probably not the case.  To me, one of the hardest parts in adjusting to working life wasn't learning about how to perform my daily duties, but learning how to handle difficult situations with professionalism (at all times).  Most of the time, when I felt someone was wrong or had wronged me, the best thing for me to do wasn't arguing back to get my point across. Rather, it was more important for me to learn to re-adjust my perspective and angle on the scenario, and to view it as an opportunity of professional and personal growth.

I compiled a list of crappy work situations that we wish would never happen, but unfortunately does sometimes. Disclaimer: this post was drawn not only from my personal experiences, but also from the experiences of my friends and observations from my coworkers.

1) Working for a bad boss or a micromanager: Nothing sucks more than having someone always hover over you while you're trying to work.  Constant checking in from your manager can be irritating and put a strain on the employee-manager relationship.  When this happens, try to figure out the root of the "why."  For instance, maybe your boss is quantitatively driven, and hasn't received any numbers from your work lately.  The solution would be pro-actively providing stats and numbers to back up your work.  Or, maybe your boss had a difficult employee in the past, and wary of his/her team slacking off.  Whatever it is, earning the trust with your employer and showing your boss that you are reliable and self sufficient should alleviate the situation.

2) Being yelled at by a client/customer: While you might be more forgiving when your boss yells at you, it might be hard to swallow when a client or customer does the same. When I was doing telemarketing sales for LivingSocial, I had a few instances where customers/client would yell at me for calling. It sucked and made me feel bad, but at the end of the day, it's important to remember I didn't do anything wrong, and not to take it personally.  On the other hand, if you missed a deadline and you were at fault, that's another story.  Bottom line, when trying to win someone's business, it's important to remember that the "customer is always right." Okay, even if they are wrong, there's no point in fighting with them, trying to prove them wrong and aggravating the situation (unless you are okay with losing the business, possibly burning bridges, and hurting your reputation which I'd advocate against).

3) Getting fired: This has never happened to me personally, but from what I can imagine, it's probably an emotional roller coaster.  Instead of being angry at your boss, the company, your coworkers or even yourself,  take a step back to reflect on what happened and what went wrong. Perhaps you did or said something that you knew you shouldn't have - take that as a (hard) lesson learned, and make sure to improve for the future. Or, maybe you were cut for performance issues, but it stemmed from a disinterest in your job and lack of motivation; if that were the case, figure out what type of future/company role would get you more excited and passionate. Overall, there's no point in berating yourself and being bitter at others for what happened; move on from the situation, reflect on how you can grow, and learn to forgive.  (For those looking wanting to read more, I found this list to be pretty interesting).

4) Gossip crew:  If you know me, you'll know that I dislike gossip and drama in my personal life.  It's even worse when this is mixed into a professional setting and when it affects my performance on a job.  Unfortunately, sometimes gossip is inevitable. If there's a "gossip circle," do your best to avoid getting sucked in and avoid encouraging or spreading the drama.  It might be tempting to vent to coworkers about a situation; it might even feel therapeutic, as if you are bonding through venting together, but remember that people talk. Also, I'm a fan of keeping personal and professional social media accounts separate, as that could also spread unnecessary drama and gossip.

5) Getting a bad performance review - This one doesn't apply to me either, but from what I I've observed, after receiving a poor performance review, employees will either feel lower morale or quit altogether.  Do not get defensive or unruly towards your boss; instead, take it as constructive feedback, and figure out how to grow.  While I'm not advocating quitting, if poor performance is drawn from a continual lack of interest in the company and role, then (just a thought) you might want to explore and figure out options that will motivate you and spark your interest.  I found this article very insightful in how to handle poor performance reviews.

Wasting time during your 20's?

I woke up this morning to a trending article on LinkedIn Pulse called "Don't Waste Time in your 20's at Google or McKinsey" and it immediately caught my attention.  I highly encourage everyone to check out that article, and start using LinkedIn Pulse as a means to read about current trends happening in your industry. The question is, what SHOULD we be doing in the 20's? Raj De Datta made a lot of really great points that I agree with. Invest time in yourself to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. Join a smaller and faster paced company and accelerate your learning curve.  Throw yourself out there; try and experience challenging opportunities.

This article strikes home base for me, as I can completely relate to what Raj is referring to. While it might sound glorious and glamorous to work at a Google-type company (great food! perks! big name! everything accommodated for!), your skills and knowledge are stinted.  Initially Google was my "dream company" that I wished to work for, and at one point I was also disillusioned and very forgiving because I was drinking the kool-aid.  But after a year, I felt my potential waning and I just didn't feel intellectually challenged.  Also, as a Millennial, your growth in a large company is limited because you are perceived as "young",  and chances are, management won't take you as seriously as some of the older employees who've earned their seniority. It's easy to become another "cog in the wheel," lost in a bureaucratic and political corporate struggle as a Gen Y. The bottom line is: when you are one in a 10,000 something company,  chances of you making a difference in that org are slim to none. In addition, it's common to lose your ability to think on your feet and be creative, because the organization provides all resources for you readily at hand.

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely skills that you can acquire from working at a large company, such as understanding the internal infrastructure and networking with a bunch of people. The financial stability is great, and the pedigree on your resume will make you stand out and possibly attractive to future employers. I personally think that everyone should work at a big name reputable company, at least once in their life. But, the detriment comes when staying at a big company for too long, especially while you are in your 20's, hinders your growth and exposure of other aspects in an organization.  How do you know this is the type of role you want to stay at forever, when you don't take the chance of  see what else is out there? Maybe I'll eventually end up back at a large company once I have my career figured out and  want to "settle down," but not now.

My personal philosophy of leaving Google and joining a start-up, versus Facebook or Amazon, was to learn as much as I can. Sure, there's a stigma of "being poor," and worries of being financially insecure.  This is and isn't true; it really depends on the level of risk you are willing to take. From what I know, unless you are working at a start-up with little to no funding with no profitability, or unless you are bootstrapping your own start-up, then maybe you'll be tight on money.  However, if you thoroughly do your homework on the financial standing and team/leadership of a start-up or growth company, you should be fine. The only instance I've heard where an employee joins a start-up and hasn't got paid was on the fault of the employee, since she didn't do enough research (even Glassdoor reviews said the company wasn't paying it's employees! In that case, it's hard to feel sorry for her). Plus, people in their 20's are more resilient and can afford just crashing at a friend's couch if needed. As for the networking opportunities of working in a smaller environment,  lo and behold, I've actually met more interesting and diverse people now than during my time working at Google.  Internally there may be fewer people to interact with, but depending on the type of role you are in, externally you may get exposure and introductions to people you never in a million years could have interacted with at a large company.  One of my  personal life goals is "not having any regrets," and I knew that I would regret not trying to work at a start-up.  So far, the experience has been amazing.

 

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