Thursday, October 03, 2013

Insights on: Finding a job

Basically these are just my actions leading up to the process of finding a new job in my own country, Singapore, after being away for 7 weeks on a Europe vacation.

I start next week and it is a bit terrifying to me to imagine life once again as an office worker. The role I'm starting in requires me to catch up fast on some new scopes and skills. Being in talent acquisition/headhunting, there's always a challenge to speak properly to others about the company, as we're suppose to represent it well. So right now, I'm reading up on all I can about the company and likewise, the roles I'm supposed to recruit for before I start.

Generally, here were my challenges in finding my next job:

If I wanted a job in another agency, again:
-Quite independent way of working, up to myself to manage my own desk
- Lots of coffee discussions, focus on face to face meetings with clients and candidates than computer work.
- I will be able to find a job very quickly!

- Had to dress very corporately as in business attire, (for men, meaning tie and suit and shiny shoes.)
- Low/No business development result could mean that you could be told to leave (I'm poor in this area)
- Unstable management - As most of your reporting managers had their own targets to reach, their own career was relatively short-lived and the only way you could be recognized for your efforts was to follow them out, or to change firms for a more senior position.

I wanted to get out of an agency as a large component of the 'recruitment consultant' job would be very target-focused, KPI-driven with a strong emphasis on Business Development. I wanted to have some skills in other areas, and work with other business leaders to drive recruitment.

-Find an inhouse role in a smaller organization
-Find a role in an agency that does not require Business Development, therefore career progression would be limited, Unless:
         -work in an RPO scheme (all on contracts, but could be long term contract of 2 years)
         -work in a brand new startup type agency that believes in crowdsourcing, Peer-to-Peer recruitment, other non-traditional strategies and be measured on fulfillment level (candidates who are super happy with the jobs you headhunted them for) instead of KPIs (number of candidates placed, amount of revenue created)

I knew that the prime hiring period for the type of role I would like to have was between end August to end Oct, therefore I arrived back in Singapore during mid August. As I was low, really low on cashflow I had also needed to find a job at least by mid Oct which left me with 1.5 months for an active search.

I wanted to change the industry type to an in-house role, which may be a challenge - taking a longer time. If I could not find a good in-house role in this time frame, I would not be in a position to refuse an agency role.

My actions:

I suffered from quite severe jetlag during my first week back, feeling hungry at insane hours and waking up naturally in the middle of the night, so apart from unpacking, catching up with friends, more unpacking, I did not really actively search for a role until the next week. I thought up a list of actions to do:

1. Search for jobs on job portals* and apply for them
*My type of roles could be found mainly on monster and jobstreet.

2. Post up CV on a job portal*
*On monster only

3. Contact people who could get me a job I want.
I contacted two people, an ex-Google recruiter now working for a really great startup, and my ex-colleague now in a rec-to-rec firm. (a company that places recruiters). Another ex-colleague reached out and arranged an interview with a local executive search firm (no Business Development required). Also asked around in the IT industry and even boldly approached CEOs. =)

4. Changed Linkedin status to: Currently open for opportunities, Hire me!
I already had many leaders in IT who were my ex-candidates, and GMs/MDs of recruitment firms in my Linkedin network. I also had many endorsements and references from colleagues and candidates I've placed.

5. Apply for jobs on Linkedin jobs
As we can see who is the 'job poster', we can take a second step by adding them and asking for direct feedback on the role.

Result, Expectations and Insights:

1. Search for jobs on job portals* and apply for them
There were many in-house roles and I applied for them: in government IT, in pharmaceutical, in IT firms, etc. End of the day, I had applied for perhaps 15 suitable roles. There were only 2 recruiters who called me back but nothing else happened thereafter. I was pretty disappointed with the response as I had applied for roles within my salary range and suitable years of experience. 
Result: Dismal, and the most time consuming thing I did.

Tip: What I did to gain job interviews was to search for the owner/decision maker in the company I was applying for and add them on Linkedin and ask them about my profile. I had one phone call and one interview from there. 

2. Post up CV on a job portal
I was hesitant to post up my CV, fearing random calls for jobs that were totally not in my area of expertise.
To my surprise, I received 3 good calls: One from a great Recruitment manager who profiled me to an awesome internet start-up and also called me about the result, One founder of a firm who had sold his firm to a listed firm, it was an honor to meet him, and another with a doctorate in HR (I declined the interview in the end as the job was in a remote location.) I had also received two random calls but that was not as many as I had feared.
Result: Good!

 3. Contact people who could get me a job I want.
Usually we are shy to tell people that we are 'quite urgently' job-hunting, but I decided to give it a try.

I didn't really expect anything to come out of it, and assumed it to be quite time-wasting, ie, they would only have a first round interview with me just to be cordial. To my surprise, I got into final or second round interviews very quickly. When I contacted those with open roles, they immediately scheduled to meet me the very next day, amazing people!
Result: Good! 
I was really happy to meet with such experienced recruiters, startup co-founders and business people and learned how to perform in different interview settings as well.

4. Changed Linkedin status to: Currently open for opportunities, Hire me!
I had seen people doing this and in all honestly did not think it would make any much of a difference.
In addition I did my usual 'sharing' of useful articles I read online, mainly in the area of big data, IT, recruitment, start-ups and travel.
This was probably the one best thing I did in my entire job search process.
Within two weeks I had nearly 10 people contacting me until I was quite tired going to interviews! Wow!
Other nice people within my network also forwarded me roles they saw. I'm really thankful and touched.

Here are all the people who contacted me (great initiative!)

  1. An agency GM contacting me with an open offer, and later he profiled me to a telco firm! He was a nice guy and I could work with him in future. We both were candid with each other about what we could offer.
  2. An agency IT Manager wanting to meet me, and later he profiled me to regional colleagues, great guy!
  3. Another agency IT Manager contacting me about their open role - the job was too junior in the end, so I did not continue.
  4. A startup agency founder contacting me - I would have accepted this fantastic role that was in my expectations and what I was looking for! He was also a strong and strategic leader with invaluable years of experience. I had met him for drinks.
  5. A startup agency founder - this one required high Business Development so I immediately declined.
  6. An MD of a digital agency contacting me - I declined as this was not in my area of expertise, his colleague also contacted me.
  7. A consultant whom I met before - I declined as it was not in my area of expertise
  8. A Talent Acquisiton lady who called me before - I met her and went on second round interview with an RPO scheme. Both of her open roles were great roles for me and the firm was great for a career branding.
  9. A startup founder contacted me with an in-house role (Wow!) And after 4 rounds of interviews, I accepted the offer =))))

Result: Unbelievably good!!! Incredible...
Of course, it's unlikely that you could change your status to 'hire me' while you are still employed elsewhere. =) It was the best thing I did that did not take up much of my time, apart from posting articles which I did on a regular basis*. 

*I use a free tool called Buffer where you can schedule Linkedin posts, tweets according to the time you want. I usually do my reading on a Sunday evening and then post them throughout the week. I post about 4 -5 articles and interesting events throughout the day.

5. Apply for jobs on Linkedin jobs
In a nutshell, I applied for 4 roles, tried to contact the job poster about my profile, and wait for the results. I was pretty satisfied, I had fast rejections (also a good response) and was offered one interview I declined due to a remote location/contract position.
Results: Okay

The role I had accepted would require me to work out of my comfort zone, in roles that I had not done before, and also learning on the job, to implement processes and procedures. I love the location (great food options, coffee places, many friends are located there, direct train line, etc), to work in such a stage of the company's development, and to do something new. I have some fears in not being able to learn fast but I hope this choice I've made will be a good one. Sometimes taking a step 'up' (risk) and a step out from the industry may be good, or bad, in any case, it will be an interesting choice for me. I read somewhere that I'm of the unfortunate personality that needs to do something different each day. I think there aren't that many typical jobs out there that allows one to do that in real life. Maybe I should harness this creativity for something else. Like, writing a bestseller book? Hmmm...........

Finally, I really like this Steve Jobs quote I found while in the tedious and depressing job search mode. I think it really helped me to have a good focus.

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