Monday, August 15, 2016

How to Close a Job Interview


Planned and effective follow-up after an interview is a must.  Failing to do so might cause you to lose out to another candidate.
Although it is important to provide a great impression during an interview, closing the interview strong is just as important. In addition it sets the stage for the next phase of the process, the follow-up.
Prove to your interviewer that you want this position and you are in this for the right reasons. Here are some questions you can ask before you leave the interview....
  • How do you view my qualifications for this position?
  • Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?
  • Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
  • What's your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
Now that you have an idea how you may stack up, an idea as to the process and steps and an idea as to their timeline, this helps determine your follow-up steps. The line between being persistent and being a pest can be a tightrope walk. So this process must be managed well.
To a degree, your planned follow-up depends on the type of role you are interviewing for. If you are in a more relaxed profession (e.g., accounting), I would wait seven days after your last contact to call or e-mail again. Why? Accounting is not as aggressive as sales, and therefore to apply sales pressure might frighten off your boss-to-be. Balance the aggressiveness of your follow-up with the field you are in; the more aggressive the job is, the more aggressive you should be in following up.

THE THANK YOU NOTE
A thank you note is a MUST. Send one via email within 24 hours of the interview. However, a handwritten card still can’t be beat.
Include supporting documentation that illustrates your ability to do the job. You don’t want to overwhelm the interviewer, but adding one or two carefully crafted examples of your work (non-confidential work samples, etc.) can be a good way to show off your expertise.
Provide a follow-up response to one of the key interview questions. We all leave conversations thinking we would have responded with this or that. Use your note to modify, correct or amplify one of your responses.
Always be professional. Always be courteous but with the enthusiasm.

Keep in mind — many companies don’t tell you their hiring decision. If no one returns your e-mails or voice mails after several weeks, let it go and presume that there will be no offer. If the hiring company were interested, your contacts would be picking up the phone. No worries, the right job will come.


Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Technology Creates Yet Another Challenge For Parents



Okay, so this writing comes from the parental side of my brain.  It most definitely has impact on the insurance community. 

The new smartphone app Pokémon Go begins with a warning screen. It is not a parental warning about violence. It is not a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids should limit their gaming to about two hours daily. Pokémon Go wants players to avoid physical trauma.

While mobile games can be dangerously absorbing to begin with, playing them while walking down the street poses significant risks.

If that were not bad enough, criminals have already found a way to exploit the game. Reports of players being attacked, robbed and hospitalized are emerging. Players can send a “beacon” to other users via the game, signifying that a Pokémon might by nearby. It is feared this feature could be hijacked by criminals.

Security experts are warning that hundreds of thousands of people desperate to play the game are downloading unofficial versions which contain malware which reveals to criminals the entire contents of their phone, including their location. 

Risks of Playing the Game:

Robberies or abduction
A group of 11 youngsters were robbed in Missouri after criminals sent a beacon to a secluded area by using the game’s location technology to create a signal at a “Pokéstop” - a location that players can visit to replenish in-game supplies. Fears are now building that the game could be used by pedophiles to lure children into remote areas.

Personal injury
A number of players have reported injuring themselves while using the game. The main concerns here involve children not looking as they cross the road and wandering away from their parents into hazardous locations where they may hurt themselves.

Nasty findings
In the US, trying to catch Pokémon led a teenager to a dead body in a river.

Data theft
Experts are warning that fake versions of the game are designed by criminals who want to steal people’s data. Consumers who download versions containing malware risk the entire contents of their phone being stolen.

Additional reading can be found on this subject on propertycasualty360.com





Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How To Determine an Appropriate Salary Range?




Question:

Scot,

Can you possibly advise a salary range? I worked with another recruiter who advised that I was currently on the low end for salary.



Answer:

Hi Candidate,

Recruiters need to be careful what they say.  Everything has a context to it and everything is relative.  Companies vary in their base salary structures just as they vary in the non-guaranteed part of the comp.  One cannot simply make a statement as that recruiter made.  What is the reference point?  Salaries vary by the type of the organization.  However even within carriers, salaries are going to vary. A national carrier for example may have a different salary structure than a small carrier writing in three states.  The comparisons go on and on.  So again, to simply make a blanket statement as was made to you is reckless.

A better way to put it would be, there are carriers that may pay more than you are currently making.  There are carriers that may be paying the same as you are making.

You have shy of two years of commercial lines underwriting experience.  So the question is, what would someone expect as a typical base salary in your geographic area with a similar carrier and given two years of commercial lines underwriting experience?  You are presently at $50k on base.  Could you make more elsewhere?  Yes you could. Salaries could be anywhere from $55k to $60k. But they could be less. 

You stated that your salary expectations are $70k. For two years of experience, that is typically going to exceed the majority of carriers’ ranges for that experience.

But the real question regarding our specific situation comes down to internal equity.  The client carrier cannot justify bringing in someone with two years of experience at $70k when they have underwriters on staff with the same or more experience that are not making $70k.

Again, all things are relative and must be considered in the context of the specific scenario being considered.



Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Three things the candidate should expect from the employer before, during and after an interview.




What 3 things should the candidate expect from the employer before, during and after an interview?

1.    1.  “Yes, we’d like to continue the conversation” or “No” within five business days after each interview.
2.    2.   An understanding of the pay range for the position before their first in-person interview.
3.   Time allowed in the interview for the job-seeker to ask questions.

I have not included post-interview feedback explaining why they didn’t get the job.  The exception to that however is when the candidate is presented by a recruiter.  It is part of the recruiter’s job to serve as a resource and advocate to the candidate.  Part of that service is being able to provide feedback to candidates regarding their interviews.  What I’m referring to is things such as:

1.      The candidate came in unprepared.
2.      The candidate was not properly dressed for the interview.
3.      The candidate gave us the sense that they were not truly interested in the position.
4.      The candidate had no questions for us.
5.      The candidate used profanity.
6.      The candidate was argumentative.

The potential possibilities could go on and on.  But these are types of things that the recruiter can discuss with the candidate to help coach them on their preparation or presentation skills.  Or can tell the recruiter that this is not a candidate they should even be representing depending on the actual feedback.

Not providing specific interview feedback directly to the candidate is not because job applicants can’t handle the truth or would rush to find a lawyer and try to sue every employer who didn’t hire them once they find out the reason.  But instead, truthfully, hiring decisions aren’t typically clear-cut.

You might not appreciate the feedback. You might feel that it was too subjective, but hiring is subjective. It has to be, because knowledge jobs aren’t cut and dried.

It can be very tough to choose between two competent job applicants. Sometimes one person gets the nod because they sent in a thank-you note or because they have glowing references from two vendors the company does business with.

That information is private. The Human Resources Manager can’t tell you, “Two of our vendors spoke highly of the person we hired, and none of our vendors recommended you.” The information that came from those vendors is relevant to a hiring decision.

A job search can be full of disappointments. There’s a lot that employers can do to make the experience more pleasant for job-seekers.

You deserve to know promptly when you’re not getting a job that you’ve interviewed for, but not necessarily the specific details of the hiring decision. Most likely, you didn’t do anything wrong in your interview — it’s just that someone else gave the hiring manager and his or her colleagues a stronger feeling that they understand the role and can step into it and make a difference.

Go over the interview and think about what you said and what they said and what you’d do differently the next time. That doesn’t mean you messed anything up.



Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Does Every One of Us Have Room For Improvement?



I hated every minute of the training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” 
Muhammad Ali

Self-development starts from your mind, your thoughts, your ideas. Your opinions are what shape you and make you into what you are. This is your battleground. This is where you must focus if you want to change your life. There’s always room for improvement. Some of us may have been given this advice by well-meaning friends or family. Do you need to make changes in your career, your life, your health? Whatever your need, there really is room for improvement for most of us. Take the below quotes for example.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
Benjamin Franklin
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Martin Luther King

“If you want more, you have to require more from yourself.”
Dr Phil

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”  
Madonna

It’s true; every one of us has room for improvement….




Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Friday, June 24, 2016

10 Areas Where Passion Can Meet Purpose in an Insurance Industry Job

:  10 Areas Where Passion Can Meet Purpose in an Insurance Industry Job

As fulfilling as it is on multiple levels, a career in insurance is not one that most young people intentionally pursue. Ask anyone who has spent more than a few years in the industry and he or she will tell you that they fell into it, but that they truly enjoy it. Why is this the case??  Largely because college students are not exposed to the wide variety of potential career options within the insurance industry.  When I was a senior in college and was conducting on-campus interviews with potential employers, I avoided the insurance companies coming on campus. The reason was….I thought they were looking for sales people.  I had no interest in selling insurance.  What I didn’t know, however, was the vast opportunities the industry actually holds for those coming out of college.

The insurance industry actually allows you to discover where your passion meets purpose.

What are you passionate about? The insurance industry can provide you with the foundation for a successful and rewarding professional career that helps you find purpose each and every day. Take a look at the below 10 example of where you might find your passion.


Actuarial
Love numbers? Hone your skills and gain the experience you need to start a career in one of the top ranked jobs in America.

Claims
Like helping people? Experience a broad range of opportunities across all personal and commercial lines of business.

Enterprise Risk
Are you logical, analytical, cautious? Develop a broad range of risk management skills as you progress in your career.

Finance
So is it all about the dollars and cents for you? Gain skills and knowledge to empower business partners and stakeholders with valuable insights.

Human Resources
Are you a people person? Learn what human resource professionals do and see where a career in this field could take you.

Investment Management
Enjoy complexity? Develop analytical skills and expertise in securities, markets, economics, and portfolio risk analysis.

Marketing
Interested in engaging in assignments that focus on developing your marketing and advertising capabilities, broadening your knowledge of the company, brand, and business lines and products?

Operations & Technology
Are you an organizer? Gain operational management skills that support organizational strategy. Are you into technology? Grow your technical skills and stay at the leading edge of your field.

Product Management
Do you love solving complex problems? Does a competitive environment energize you? Start a rewarding career in product management.

Underwriting
Are you analytical? Jump-start your future in underwriting by building a solid foundation that could lead to a long-term career path within the industry.




Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Monday, June 20, 2016

: The universal truths of networking



Networking in everyday life is not necessarily an obvious concept. Networking as a term is most prominently found in popular business literature.

Traditional networking contains these elements: 
  • One connects to other people.
  • Making a good impression.
  • It takes place at events.
  • It is goal-oriented.


Consider this universal truth of networking: Before you can get what you want, you have to know what you want, and make a game plan to get it. Networking in everyday life shares a number of features with the tradition networking you typically see in business: it involves connections with a set of individuals, there are contexts for action, and there are undoubtedly benefits from the interactions.

Humans are pro-social, interested in making contact with each other and sharing information and support. Obviously, not every person wants to support, share or exchange with all other people, but virtually all humans want to share with someone.

Personal situation...When we are looking for a painter to do some work around our house we often turn to networking for recommendations from others. Same holds true when we need work done on our auto.  Seeking a contractor for other home related projects.  Or perhaps we are looking for a good Italian restaurant.  Networking is embedded into our daily lives as social beings...

Recently I was networking with insurance professionals I know seeking out ideas and recommendations for an opportunity I am working on for a client company.  I engaged with a professional I had previously assisted when they were looking for a new job.  I was quite surprised when this individual responded to me that they thought me reaching out to network with them was unprofessional. Yet I ask the question, "Wasn’t this very person networking with me for opportunities when they contacted me about their own job search previously?"

Everyone wants to meet someone. Networking is a way to access otherwise inaccessible people.

Networking is the number one way to get a job. 60-80% of jobs are found through some element of networking. A personal connection to a hiring manager is the best way to get your resume on the top of the pile. Think about 10 of your employed friends, how many of them got their job through a form of networking??

Networking keeps you sharp, current, and in touch with your industry. Your career should never be stagnant. Even if you plan on staying in a given job indefinitely – why not make your business the best and the busiest? Before making a leap into another career, what better way than to talk to people who know?

When you’re talking to a friend of a friend, it’s unlikely that the friend’s friend is going to lead you on or tell you half-truths. You can more or less expect to get the full story. If you’re talking about a job opportunity – you’ll hear about the hours, the boss, coworkers, etc.

It’s all very simple…
  • A good network is a two-way street of helpful relationships.
  • In every social situation you’re in, make sure people leave knowing who you are, what service/skills you provide, and how to get a hold of you.
  • Karmic payoff.  You help others, others will help you. Everyone likes people who are helpful – so good things will likely come to those people. Reciprocity is the golden rule and focuses on how to translate relationships into personal success.







Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group