Dedicated to the progress and advancement of all paralegals.

Mentor Blog

Welcome to our mentor blog. Here you will find posts from
industry professionals on such topics as:
  • Resume & Cover Letter tips
  • Interview Tips
  • How to succeed at work
  • How to get a Mentor
  • What every Mentee should know
  • I lost my job. Now what?
  • Healthy habits
  • 05 Sep 2023 9:13 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    The Perfect Resume

    Before you get excited, there is no such thing as a perfect resume. Anyone who tells you that the resume they will prepare for you will get you a job is either (a) a liar, (b) naive, or (c) does not know either the purpose of a resume or how it is read. Let’s discuss point c:

    Purpose of the Resume

    Regular readers of my articles know what I am about to write: The purpose of the cover letter is to get the recipient to look at the resume. The purpose of the resume is to get the interview. And, just to finish the trilogy, the purpose of the interview is to get the job offer.

    How a Resume is Read (By a Human)

    If it is a human who is reading the resume, it won’t (initially) be read. Who has the time? The recipient is looking for specific people, i.e., those who meet certain qualifications. They may have scores of resumes to review. By the time they get to yours they will be tired, so, at best, they willskim scan your resume (and they’ll skim it even if they are not tired because they don’t want to waste time with applicants who apply for every job they see in their industry regardless of their qualifications). You do not want tiredness, laziness, or eye-fatigue, to cost you an interview. So provide the recipient with the information they want in such a way that they cannot help but to find it.

    First, they want to know where you live. All they need to see, at the top of the first page of your resume, is your city and state of residence, not your address. You don’t know the type of person who will be looking at the resume, so don’t tell them where you live. (And, sorry that I have to write this, include your full name, phone number and email address. Your LinkedIn profile URL is also not a bad idea to include, but continue reading.)

    Second, they want to know if you can keep a job. Clearly show the dates (see below) of your employment per employer, not just position. So, for example, if you had five jobs, each for two years, but all for the same employer, show the dates for the employer in bold and the dates for each position in regular type. That way the recipient of the resume will know you can keep a job and that you were so good that you were promoted multiple times. You don’t want them to think that you had five jobs/employers in 10 years!

    Third, initially, they dont want to know your responsibilities but your accomplishments. In other words, focusing on what you did for previous employers will tell them what you can do for them. So begin the resume with “Selected Accomplishments” – a list of bullet points (see below) which succinctly list your major achievements.

    Fourth, have a section on your education clearly showing the degrees you actually earned. If you did not earn the degree, make that clear. If they need someone with an undergraduate degree, and you listed “Studied,” they may think you earned the degree. When they find out you didn’t, you’ll be out of a job. You can also note the expected date of graduation. Of course, if the degree is a requirement for the job, and you don’t have it, you are probably wasting your time. Applying for jobs for which you are not qualified will eventually lead to increased frustration, stress and lack of sleep.

    Fifth, list any certifications/licenses you have, indicating the issuer, date you were awarded, and, if applicable, the Number and expiration date.

    That is all a recipient will initially look at. If you are not actually qualified for the position, why should they bother reading the entire resume? The only thing that might save you is the list of Selected Accomplishments. If you saved your last employer millions of dollars, but are not a CPA, maybe they will make an exception if being a CPA is a qualification. Or, maybe, and more likely, they will consider you for something else.

    You might also list any volunteer activities with which you have been involved. You never know what will appeal to an employer. Also, to show that other people think you are great, list your speaking engagements, media citations, and publications. For academics, showing your Google Scholar URL is encouraged.

    So much for humans. Large companies initially have resumes scanned into Applicant Tracking Systems. In other words, they are first “read” by a computer. Think of the ATS as the gatekeeper, the assistant, once known as a “secretary,” who only lets certain people talk to the boss. Back in the day, you had to learn how to get past her (it was almost always a woman). Now you have to learn how to get past the ATS. Here’s how:

    How a Resume is Read (By a Computer – ATS)

    You have to assume that the company is using a “bad” ATS system. A “good” ATS should be able to “read” any resume. But let’s assume the ATS is bad. Here is what to remember:

    • Don’t worry about keywords. If your resume is honest and accurate, all the keywords will be there. If, for example, the job description says something about Yardi (software for property management), and you include “Yardi” in your resume, but have never used it, you’ll look foolish when being interviewed, won’t get the job offer, and will simply have wasted everyone’s time, including your own.
    • No hyperlinks (for your email address, LinkedIn profile, or anything else for that matter).
    • Don’t use a font smaller than 11 and use Calibri.
    • Don’t have any graphics, logos, pictures, boxes, or shadings (black background, white font), or use italics. Bold is alright. In any case, infographics are just silly. The recipient may look at it in a way not intended by the applicant. The best is to use words; that’s why Dr. Samuel Johnson invented them! Ecplain what your would have wanated to recipient to learn had you included infographics. Of course, if you are applying for a graphic designer position, including graphics may be to your advantage (as long as the company does not use an ATS.)
    • Don’t have any headers or footers. They won’t be “read.” Manually insert pages numbers, which brings me to my next point…
    • Keep the resume to no more than three pages. Apparently, some ATS systems don’t like to read alot!
    • Bullets should be a simple round black dot, as used here.
    • Submit your resume as a Word document as some ATSs don’t like PDFs or Google Docs, even if the online application accepts them (which makes no sense to me but I’m following the advice of the so-called “experts”).
    • For the record, ATSs apparently like to search for accomplishments, so my initial advice, which I have been giving since before there were ATSs, should be followed.
    • Dates of employment should be formatted as two-digit month slash four-digit year. If you are still employed, “- Present” is perfectly acceptable in lieu of a final date.

    Keep in mind that a resume is a summary. Under each job, don’t list all of your responsibilities. That’s a sign you can’t prioritize. Think of the resume as a teaser for the main event, the interview. It’s the commercial for the movie the producers want you to see. By all means have a “Skills” section. That can enable you to include keywords associated with some of your (previous) less important respsonsibilities.

    Good luck with your job search, and Have a happy Labor Day!

    The Perfect Resume | Employment Edification (wordpress.com)


  • 27 Mar 2023 2:58 PM | William Strachan


    ⚖️

    Good afternoon:

    First, I wish to express my gratitude to the NYCPA board for approving my attendance, as your Primary Representative, to the annual NFPA Joint Conference this coming weekend, Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1. I take my responsibilities in that position seriously to afford you the best possible advocacy.

    I am attaching below, for your benefit, the agenda of the workshops for the conference. I am asking you to review them and forward to me any questions, concerns, or other elements you should wish me to raise during the sessions or privately with the presenters particularly as they apply to NYCPA.

    You can forward those to me any time before or after the sessions. I will be taking notes, transcribing them next week and making them available.

    Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you.

    https://www.paralegals.org/files/conf/NFPA_2023_Joint_Conference_Agenda.pdf

    Sincerely,

    William Strachan
    NFPA Primary Representative

    NFPAPrimary@NYC-PA.org

    ESAPA Secondary Representative
    Email: nycpasecondary@nyc-pa.org; esapa@nyc-pa.org 
    Phone: 347-586-9272
    website: www.nyc-pa.org

  • 22 Mar 2023 1:50 PM | William Strachan

    Bill Strachan

    NYCPA NFPA Primary Representative 

    ⚖️

    Good afternoon fellow paralegals!

    Timely reminder! Spring    has sprung and it is almost time for the annual NFPA Joint Conference!

    Every year the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offers a series of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) workshops called the Joint Conference (JC).

    In the interest of making it easier to incorporate them into your schedule, NFPA has consolidated the workshops into two (2) days instead of the traditional three (3).  This year they are being held Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. We are not fooling when we say this is an excellent oportunity to catch up on the latest developments in our profession and advance your career.

    These are also extremely affordable. Each of the three (3) conference elements are only $40.00. There is also a free Friday night social to enable you to meet and interact with other paralegals from around the country.

    I encourage you to review the conference agenda below for all the details and how to register.

    I look forward to meeting and sharing with you at JC later this month.

    Be well and watch your six.

    PARALEGALS.ORG

    https://www.paralegals.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3283

  • 09 Mar 2023 9:20 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How to Ruin Your Career in 5 Easy Steps

    by Chere B. Estrin

    As CEO of a prominent (yes, let’s acknowledge it here!), staffing organization, I talk to lots of unhappy or frustrated people, not exactly my favorite thing. As someone who loves coming to work, my Pollyanna attitude is that everyone should have the same experience. Sadly, that’s not the case. What I have found dealing with thousands of legal professionals throughout my career is that quite often, legal professionals blame the job they are in as the sole reason for unhappiness. As hard as it is to believe, many people do not recognize that their career has stalled. They blame frustration on the job they are in. It’s not necessarily the job, rather, how you are making choices about your career.

    A survey by VitalSmarts found that 83% of those surveyed had witnessed someone make a blunder that had catastrophic results for their career, reputation, or business, and 69% admitted that they themselves had done something that had damaged their careers:

    · 31% said it cost them a promotion, a raise, or even a job

    · 27% said it damaged a working relationship

    · 11% said it destroyed their reputation

    It’s time to wake up and recognize that you may be experiencing these symptoms:

    · Unhappiness with the firm, usually management

    · Routine and repetitious work translating to boredom

    · Lack of growth

    · Below market salary

    · Overwhelming amount of work

    · Consistently laid off

    · No upward movement (doing what you did 10 years ago)

    · Happy but like a puppy on a linoleum floor: lots of motion, going nowhere.

    Let’s put it on the table: Here are steps you may have taken that are ruining your career:

    1. Taking a job that you know you won't be good at. Sometimes people get so caught up in the quest to get a job offer that they forget to think critically about whether the job is one they'll be good at. That shortsightedness can lead to doing things like trying to hide key weaknesses, bluffing about your knowledge, or trying to sell yourself for a role despite reservations from the hiring manager. The danger here is that if it works, you'll have vastly increased the chances that you'll end up in a job where you struggle or even get fired. Muddling through is not a good option because that can have long-term effects on your reputation. Colleagues and managers who knew you in that job will think of you as mediocre (which is not what you want for future jobs). Plus, there's an cost of opportunity spending time in a job that you're not great at when you could have been spending that time building an excellent reputation somewhere else. Results? Inability to get a new job when the cat is out of the bag.

    2. You lack a sense of purpose. Purpose is a belief that your life matters and that you make a difference. It is a sense of being guided by meaningful values and goals. You will be most engaged in your work when the mission and goals of the organization also matter to you—and when you feel you can contribute to the bigger picture. We all want to build castles, not just lay bricks. When you have purpose, you experience:

    · Increased optimism, resiliency, and hope

    · Joy, happiness, and satisfaction experiences more often

    · Better physical health with a lower risk of death

    · Being a more engaged employee

    · Feeling a greater sense of belonging at the firm

    · Increased career satisfaction

    · Being a leader in the workplace

    · Higher income

    Are you aware of your sense of purpose? For example: you may be in a position assisting in corporate transactions. However, deep down inside, you would rather do something that is more community oriented, despite the probable lower pay. You may be in a large firm where you are a small cog in the wheel and cannot discern exactly what purpose you play other than putting more money in the shareholders’ pockets. That is not purpose and does not necessarily give you a sense of pride in your work. According to Forbes, you should strive to pursue a job or career that offers opportunity. Pursue work that is meaningful, intellectually challenging and spiritually rewarding. Find a job that enables you to help others, promotes positive change and serves a higher purpose. You want to ensure that your work is aligned with your core values and principles and could possibly make the world a better place. I understand that these are lofty, aspirational goals. It is rare to find work that offers a sense of purpose. In fact, it's more likely that your job won't offer intrinsic, meaningful rewards. You may enjoy the fact that your job is associated with a social status that people find impressive or that it helps you earn a nice living, but somehow, you still feel that something is missing. Can you sum up your purpose in one sentence? I, for example, say, “My purpose is to find people their dream jobs and when I do, I feel incredible career satisfaction that I have help make someone happy.” If you feel that there is a lack of purpose in your career, you can choose to make a change.

    3. You have stayed much too long at one job. There’s a bias these days against employees who stay much too long at one job. In past years, when your parents or grandparents were in the job force, they were rewarded with a gold watch and an office party as they retired from one job after being there umpteen years. Today, employers want to see that you have changed jobs. Why? If you haven’t, they think you show no ambition. If you stay in a job simply because it offers long-term security and you can do your work with your eyes closed, the best years of your career might slip by. This lack of ambition could come back to haunt you later when you're getting passed over for promotion and struggling to improve your earnings and workplace status. This always amused me because if there is anything that employers hate most of all, it’s someone who hops around.

    Staying too long doesn’t only hurt you with your current employer; it makes new employers shy away.

    While some staying power is attractive to an employer, they don’t want to invest in a new employee only to have them leave in a year or two. That’s considered job hopping. Many employers see the risk and cost of prying away a long-term employee as too great. They wonder if the person can adapt and how much drive and motivation they have.

    Here are the cons of staying in one place too long:

    · You end up knowing only the systems your firm has in place. When you go to another firm, you may not have the expertise you need. For example, there are legal professionals, particularly litigation paralegals, who have little eDiscovery experience. They don’t know the most popular software programs. They set out to get a new job and discover their options are extremely limited. Few employers today will hire without those skills. Can you say, “not very marketable”?

    · Your skills may become too niche and you are pigeonholed.

    · You can be viewed as “part of the furniture”. The reality of becoming “too comfortable” at a firm is that powers that be don’t really see your skills and importance. They assume that you will always be there. Like the desk or the wall, you’re part of the landscape. This can cause your compensation and potential career path to fall behind the market as your employer pays more attention to newer employees. Frequently, you are passed over for promotions.

    · New and current employers alike wonder if you can adapt and how much drive and motivation you have.

    · You make less money as over the years, you typically receive a cost-of-living increase but never a huge jump as you might if you change jobs.

    When you stay in the same job, or at the same level, for too long, you will get typecast. This damages your career success because it gets harder for people to envision you in a different position or at a senior level. If your goal is to be in management, don’t overstay your role as an individual contributor. If your goal is to be a supervisor, apply for jobs that provide that responsibility earlier rather than later in your career. If you are the assistant but want to be the team leader, get your game plan together and work it. Do what it is that you need to do. Trust me, your firm is not going to do it for you.

    There are some pros to staying in one place: consistency, larger bonuses, internal advancement, and gaining expertise. It’s a good rule of thumb to consider the 7-10-year mark as a critical point in decision making as to whether you’re a “lifer” at your current firm. For some folks, being a “lifer” is just fine, however, it is important to consider the career limiting aspects of this decision. Just remember, if you are not an attorney, the chances of becoming a partner are not going to happen. (I hope this is not the first you are hearing this……) On the other hand, if you are an attorney and shooting for partnership track, most tracks today are 6-7 years and staying put may be the right thing to do.

    4. Assuming good work will be recognized. This is huge. Most employees think, “If I do a good job, the firm will notice, and I will get great raises or promoted.” Guess what? The firm hires you to do a good job. That’s what you are expected to do. If you’re a hard worker, it’s easy to just assume all your efforts are getting noticed by management, without bragging about your successes. However, in many instances, your manager won’t even notice what you’ve done or that you’ve gone the extra mile in your work. All the while your less-than-competent colleagues have risen through the ranks because they were able to point out their contributions to the firm’s overall success. I know it’s hard to brag. However, there are ways to do this without seeming pretentious. It’s absolutely imperative you get the word out about your successes. (That’s a whole other article.)

    In a similar vein, don't assume there is an established 'pecking order' within your firm and an orderly queue for promotion. Firms want to keep their best people onboard and motivated and this means allowing talented professionals to rise through the ranks. If you're seen as someone who has leadership potential, you may be able to secure a promotion before your natural turn. Ways to achieve this include volunteering for extra responsibilities, exceeding billable hours, leading a team, finding a way to increase efficiencies and boosting revenue. However, if you are a paralegal in a firm without avenues to move up the ladder, it may be time to go.

    5. No career goals. Frequently, when I give seminars or interview candidates, I will ask, “What are your career goals?” Most of the time, they will tell me what they don’t want. (I don’t want to work overtime; I don’t want to work for a large firm; etc.) But they cannot articulate what they do want. That’s because they haven’t set any career goals. In fact, the majority of legal professionals do not have career goals. They are of the opinion that the firm will notice them and do something about their career. Not happening for you? I am not surprised. The old trite and meaningless, “What will you be doing in five years?” can rarely be answered. Is this you? Are you letting your career drive you rather than driving your career? Hmmmm……probably. This would be akin to taking a bow and arrow and aiming for that round target with the red circle in the middle. Just as you go to pull the bow and arrow, someone removes the target. Then what?

    Additionally, if you want to move forward, you are going to have to map out a route to get to your destination. What goals are you going to achieve and by when? Do you want to be a team leader but are now just part of the team? What do you have to do to meet that goal? Believe me, no one is just going to pick you out of the crowd. Do you need to take a course? Get cross-trained in a different specialty? Give up your remote position and go onsite? Plan, plan, plan. And, if you are a person of “a certain age”, start asking yourself, “How do I want to go out?” Reality, folks. Reality.

    At the end of the day, no one is going to look out for your success better than you, and if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. Don’t ever presume that you will eventually be rewarded. There are far too many people calling me because they are unhappy and they think it’s the job, not the choices they have made. Frequent searching for “the next thing” is not the best strategy. Once every two years is probably a good cadence for checking what your next challenge should be, inside or outside your current firm. Most people think that all it takes to destroy one’s career is a huge mistake. But sometimes even the small mistakes can pile up and before you know it, you’re the miserable and calling me……(not that I don’t want to hear from you!)

    Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top nationwide staffing organization with a five-star Google Business Review rating. She has been a well-known name in the field for over 20 years. She was recently interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine (www.estrinreport.com) and was named “One of the Top Women Leaders in Los Angeles” She has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. She received the prestigious Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and was a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. Chere is a founder of the well-known nationwide Paralegal SuperConferences and a co-founding member of IPMA (International Practice Management Association).. She gives numerous webinars including those for Lawline and LawPractice. She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 200 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com or visit her website at www.EstrinLegalStaffing.com.


  • 14 Feb 2023 7:01 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Access the article here: https://nyl.co/3JWlsDz

  • 13 Jan 2023 12:51 PM | William Strachan

    All sharing option

    A person at a job interview.It should not take endless interviews to get a job.

    Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

    In late 2022, Jessica found herself in a predicament that will sound familiar to many job seekers: slogging through an extended interview process with seemingly no end in sight. 

    She was up for a job as a fundraiser at a major social services organization in New York. Across the span of two months, she took part in six separate interviews with nine people total, multiple of whom she met more than once. She’d pulled one of her first all-nighters in years putting together a dummy presentation on a hypothetical corporate partnership for interview No. 4, which entailed what she describes as a 15-minute “monologue” from her on the matter followed by a 45-minute Q&A with a panel. It wasn’t until the final interview that she got a real one-on-one sit-down with the person who would be her boss.

    “Every time I thought, ‘Okay, this is the final hump,’ there was another thing,” said Jessica, which is a pseudonym. Vox granted her anonymity in order to protect her privacy and keep her out of hot water with her current employer. “It just gets really mentally exhausting, and it’s hard to manage your work schedule because obviously you don’t want your employer to know you’re interviewing.” 



    Job-seeking can be a real exercise in immersive futility. It often feels like you’re tossing your resume into the abyss and praying to the recruitment gods for a response. If and when you get that response, the landscape doesn’t always get easier. Companies are seemingly coming up with new, higher, and harder hoops to jump through at every turn. That translates to endless rounds of interviews, various arbitrary tests, and complex exercises and presentations that entail hours of work and prep. There can be good reasons for firms to do this — they really want to make sure they get the right person, and they’re trying to reduce biases — but it’s hard not to feel like it can just be too much.

    “There’s no reason why 10 years ago we were able to hire people on two interviews and now it’s taking 20 rounds of interviews,” said Maddie Machado, a career strategist who has previously worked as a recruiter at companies such as LinkedIn, Meta, and Microsoft. “It’s kind of like dating. When you go on a first date, you need a second date. You don’t need 20 dates to know if you like somebody.”

    COMPANIES ARE SEEMINGLY COMING UP WITH NEW, HIGHER, AND HARDER HOOPS TO JUMP THROUGH AT EVERY TURN

    Jessica describes her recent marathon interview process as basically having a “second job.” As for the actual job in question, she didn’t end up getting it. A week after her last interview, Jessica followed up with the recruiter and learned the organization was moving forward with another candidate. “They probably wanted to go with the other person all along but wanted me as a backup,” she said. 

    If you do not have a terrible interview story, sincerely, congrats

    If you’ve ever looked for a job, chances are you’ve had some sort of a “what in the world is going on” moment. For Brad, a consultant in Pennsylvania who asked to withhold his last name, that moment came when he went through a series of interviews for a project management position in 2016. All of them went well — until he reached the CEO, who spent a significant portion of their nearly hour-long conversation dwelling on Brad’s somewhat low high school GPA, which the company had requested along with his college GPA and SAT scores. “I had to justify why my high school grade point average wasn’t top of the class,” he said. “I was offended.”

    He’d graduated from high school some 30 years prior and had 25 years of work experience. When the company’s recruiter later called him to suggest he spend more time talking to the CEO, he said he wasn’t interested. “I had the luxury of not needing the job,” he said. “You’ve got to like who you work for.”

    Reporting for this story, I heard anecdotes about hiring processes that ranged from irksome to hellish. 

    One recent graduate described having to take a series of intelligence tests, go through two interviews, and provide five references — all of whom were asked to complete a 15-minute questionnaire — for an entry-level position at a nonprofit he was told he didn’t get two months later. One woman’s job offer was contingent on her getting a reference from her current manager, who wasn’t aware she was on the hunt for a job.

    “MY INTERVIEWING EXPERIENCES HAVE BEEN WORSE THAN DATING, WITH THE GHOSTING AND NON-RESPONSES”

    Another man was told to start looking for apartments across the country after being flown out for a final interview, only to follow up a couple of weeks later and learn that the recruiter simply forget to tell him he hadn’t gotten the job. “My interviewing experiences have been worse than dating, with the ghosting and non-responses,” he said. 

    Among friends and colleagues, swapping interview horror stories can turn into a sort of sport. One of my former coworkers was asked to build out an entire content strategy for a popular financial newsletter and work with the team in the office. She was unemployed and scared, so she felt like she had no choice but to sign a waiver agreeing for her work to be used for free — work that was apparently good enough to be sent out to their readers but not to land her a position with the company. Looking at the company’s Glassdoor reviews, it’s obvious she’s not the only one who’s been subject to this sort of treatment.

    “So many employers get away with this,” Machado said. “They get away with making people go through all these hoops because … candidates have absolutely no protection.”

    The difference between okay and over-the-top isn’t always so obvious

    What counts as a fair ask from a potential employer isn’t always clear-cut. It can depend on the industry, the job level, and the purpose.

    “There’s a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate,” said Sondra Levitt, a leadership and career coach with Korn Ferry, an organizational consulting firm. For example, it might make perfect sense for a company to ask a candidate, especially at the executive level, to do some sort of presentation about their vision and what they want to accomplish. Where it gets hairy is when the company asks a candidate to create, produce, and submit a full-blown marketing campaign, which happened to one of Levitt’s clients recently. “The candidate felt like they were just trying to get free information and free work through the interview process,” Levitt said. 

    There’s no denying that over the years, in many instances, the hiring process has gotten harder and more convoluted. A 2022 survey from hiring software company Greenhouse found that 60 percent of job seekers were “unimpressed by time-consuming recruitment processes.” There’s no concrete explanation as to why many employers have been so insistent on making the hiring process so hard — it’s likely an amalgamation of factors.

    Companies are afraid to make the wrong decision. Hiring is expensive and onboarding is time-consuming, so they really want to get it right. The pandemic and current economic conditions may be exacerbating employers’ anxiety even more. Levitt said she thinks many firms feel like they “jumped too fast” to make hires amid the great resignation or great reshuffle, as for much of 2021 and 2022 workers hopped jobs in droves. The pendulum is swinging the other way now, with managers being extra careful to do their due diligence, especially as the economy looks rocky

    Becca Carnahan, the founder of Next Chapter Careers, said that companies may see multiple interviews and tests as a way to make the hiring process fairer. “It can reduce bias in the hiring process when you’re actually looking at a candidate’s abilities rather than their past accomplishments,” she said. She added that technology has likely also played a role in making the hiring process more complex. “These Zoom interviews are a lot easier than bringing candidates into the office,” she said. 

    Jessica, the nonprofit fundraiser, speculated that in her case, tech and remote work made it possible for her potential employer to drag things out longer. Before the pandemic, she would have probably had to go to the office one day for a string of interviews, the firm recognizing she couldn’t just disappear at random from her current job for weeks on end. But with her simply clicking a Zoom link, the company was able to sprinkle interviews across multiple weeks. 

    Machado believes that the increasingly long maze of recruitment and interviewing is driven, in part, by pride and by companies competing against each other to be considered the most elite places to work, especially in the tech world. “You want to be the most challenging interview. If you can get past the Facebook interview, you can get past anything,” she said. The caveat is that the best interviewers are not always the best people for the job, and a difficult interview process does not guarantee the candidate won’t quit. “There’s too much emphasis on screening people out and not on screening people in.”

    Perhaps the simplest answer to why companies make it so hard is that they can.

    In 2005, it took two interviews for Stacey Aldstadt, an environmental lawyer, to get her job as general manager of the city of San Bernardino’s municipal water department, from which she retired in 2017. While there, she oversaw 300 employees and a $120 million budget. In late 2020, she decided to apply for a job at a cannabis company looking to expand to California. She was subjected to a seven-interview, eight-week hiring process that culminated in an impersonal rejection email without explanation. Aldstadt has hired people in the past, and this seemed incredibly excessive. “I would never do that to someone,” she said. “Not in a million years.”

    Candidates can push back, but leverage is limited

    If and when candidates feel like the employer is overdoing it in an interview process, the options are a little limited. To a certain extent, you kind of just have to go with it or walk away. But there are ways to navigate.

    It’s helpful to ask questions to ascertain expectations around interview assignments — figure out why they’re relevant and how they’ll be evaluated, and get assurances that the work remains proprietary. You can also try to decipher if there are alternatives, such as providing samples of previous work, or asking for compensation, though the answer might be no. At the outset of the hiring process, it’s also a good idea to ask exactly what it’s going to entail — how many interviews, with whom, on what timeline — and hold the company or recruiters to it. 

    “If a company is not communicating effectively with a candidate, if they are super opaque about the process and the timing, that’s where it gets really, really icky, and it can leave a candidate just feeling so confused,” Carnahan said. 

    “YOU’RE DEFINITELY INTERVIEWING THE COMPANY AS MUCH AS YOU’RE BEING INTERVIEWED”

    Candidates should also set some boundaries, which are different for everyone. Machado generally recommends the job seekers she works with do no more than four rounds of interviews. And if they’re asked to do a presentation or take-home assignment, it’s time to evaluate whether it’s a place they really want to work. Sometimes, candidates worry the potential employer will use their work. It might be more often the case that they don’t look at all. “They’re making people do these assignments, and then no one checks it,” Machado said. 

    It’s important to remember that if a company’s hiring process feels off, working there might feel off, too. An employer having to reschedule multiple interviews because the interviewers are swamped at work might be a sign that things aren’t great, internally. “You’re definitely interviewing the company as much as you’re being interviewed, so stay attuned to what you are hearing and seeing,” Levitt said. “What’s your gut telling you about this company? About this job? About the organization?”

    Companies should take note that being a complete pain to deal with in recruiting is not great for their reputations, either. They can stall so much or put candidates through such a rigamarole by the time they put out an offer, the candidate’s just over it. More broadly, while job seekers may not have a lot of options to fight back, they can talk to others about their experiences, and they definitely do.

    Jessica says knowing what she knows now, she still probably would have applied for the fundraising job. Still, she wishes the organization hadn’t checked her references as a last and apparently unnecessary step. “It was a little weird for someone to be like, ‘Oh what happened to this? Did you get that offer letter?’ and you’re like, ‘Oh, actually, I didn’t get the job.’”


  • 21 Nov 2022 10:47 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How to Interview (Both Sides of the Table)

    By: Bruce Hurwitz, Ph.D.

    A few times I have been in a "beauty pageant." No, not that kind; one where a business owner considers a number of companies for a project.

    If, for example, a company is unhappy with their outside counsel, to whom they pay millions every year to keep them on the straight and narrow, but who nickel and dime them charging for literally everything they do, they might very well invite other firms in to see if they can get a better deal somewhere else. The lawyers, or it could be accountants, parade into the Board Room one after the other. Thus the "beauty pageant" analogy.

    But that's not the type of interview with which you are concerned, whether you are looking to hire or be hired. So let's focus on the good ole fashioned job interview. Here's what I recommend should happen.

    Window screens are not enough

    First, someone should screen the applicant, going through the job description, to make certain the person is, in fact qualified. It seems obvious, but far too often employers are heard saying, "But it says on your resume..." You might want to sit down for this: People lie, exaggerate and misrepresent on their resumes! I know, it's shocking. But it is true. And this is everything from where they live to periods of employment to their academic credentials and professional certifications. So you need to have everything verified by a recruiter, internal or external, before the hiring manager, supervisor, boss, owner, whomever, gets involved. But, let's say that everything checks out and the candidate is honest, as the vast majority are, what's next? Interview them. Here's how:

    Questions the employer should ask:

    What do you know about our company? This will tell you how well the candidate prepares for meetings and how serious they are about working for you.

    Why did you apply for the job? This will, again, tell you how serious the candidate is, but this time it will also show how well they understand the job. And, yes, I have received some very stupid responses. ("The job seems pretty easy," immediately comes to mind!)

    Give me an example of a time you took on a responsibility that was not in your job description. This will tell you if the candidate gives 100% or 110%.

    Give me an example of your biggest failure and what you learned from it. Believe it or not, I have had people say, "I prepare very well, so I don't fail." End of interview. The person is either totally unaware, a fool or a liar. And then there are those who tell you what their failure was, but don't say what they learned from it. If you have to remind them of the second part of the request, it's either a sign that they do not listen well or that they don't learn from their mistakes. (To be fair, it could also be a sign they are nervous and simply forgot, so be nice!)

    Give me an example of your greatest success and what you learned from it. This time they'll have an answer but, again, as before, if they forget the second part of the request, it could be a red flag.

    I also like to ask some questions right out of left field: What is the most important thing you have learned in life? This tells me about their values. What are you curious about? This tells me if they are continuously learning. Some of my clients ask questions such as, "What was the last movie you saw?" or "What book are you currently reading?" They want to see how interesting the person is, how good they are at small talk. Some ask a simple mathematical problem to see how well the candidate thinks on their feet. With one exception that I will get to momentarily, there is no guarantee of what an interviewer will ask a candidate.

    In any event, the most important question to ask the candidate, and the final question, should be, "What questions do you have for me/us?" If the candidate has none, they are not interested in the job. In any case, even if you did not like their answers to your questions, give more weight to the quality of their questions. Good questions trump bad answers every time. And if the employer does not ask the question, it is a very large red flag: If they don't think enough about you as a prospect to ask if you have any questions, it is safe to assume that they won't want your opinion as an employee!

    Questions the candidate should ask:

    "Why did you decide to interview me for this position?" This way your part of the interview starts with the interviewers thinking positive things about you, and you will know what they liked about you so you'll know which other qualities you have that you should emphasize.

    Show that you prepare well for meetings. Ask, "Why do you follow so-and-so on Twitter? They're a European company. Are you planning on expanding into the EU and, if so, how are you going to deal with the GDPR?" Now you have proven that you research well and know your stuff.

    Ask specific questions about the job: "How do you measure success?" "What benchmarks have you established for the position?

    Don't ask, "Why did the last person who held the job leave?" That's gossipy. Ask, "What did the last person who held the job do that you would like to see continued and what would you like to see done differently?" That's being a professional.

    Ask specific questions about the company: "What is your employee turnover rate?" If they don't know, or won't tell you, that's a big red flag!

    No way to predict

    It is impossible to know what questions a candidate will be asked, over and above those related directly to the job description (the one thing that I alluded to earlier that you can be certain of being asked). That said, you can prepare for the unknown by having mock interviews, and doing a deep dive into the company so that your questions will be superior to anything your competition will ask. This will also help to make you confident that you can succeed. Nothing is more appealing to an employer than justifiable confidence. (Overconfidence is just obnoxious!)

    The key to landing a job offer is differentiation. All things being equal, if your questions are better than everyone else's, you should get the offer and the employer should get a top-notch employee.

    After-interview Steps

    The interview does not end when the the candidate leaves. If on the same day as the interview each interviewer does not receive a personalized email from the candidate, that directly relates to that person and is not generic, don't hire them. (There's an easy way to do this, but that's a subject for a future article.)

    And if the company's decision making process is such that they don't fulfill their promises, "We'll let you know our decision next week," that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about them. If the company disappears on you, doesn't follow through and doesn't keep their promises, why work for them? That said, things happen, so a week later, on a Friday (so you can wish them a happy weekend), send an email and request an update. If you still don't get an answer, well, that's your answer!

    (76) How to Interview (Both Sides of the Table) | LinkedIn

  • 29 Jun 2022 10:50 PM | Deleted user

    Congratulations!! You received an offer and decided to accept. Now what?? Well, simply put, it’s show time! It is time to showcase your skills, you know, all the things you said you could do in your interview, yeah those. Remember that the first three to six months of your employment are crucial because it is your probationary period and you better believe that you are being watched and your performance is being monitored. But don’t sweat it, use this as an opportunity to show them why you were selected in the first place and why you are still the right person for the role.

    Be involved:

    Whether you are working from home or reporting to the office, it is important for you to be actively involved in your company. Partake in team meetings, attend a lunch and learn, join an employee resource group or attend a summer social event your company may be having. These are all great opporunities for you to learn more about your new company while also networking with other employees in different departments of your organization.

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions:

    Everyone has been the new person before. Don’t pretend to know anything you don’t and also don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is a win for you and a win for your company. Asking questions shows your interest and curiosity and it benefits you because you get to learn more about your new role and your responsibilties.

    See a need, fill the need:

    If you see a particular area in your department where you can offer your help and expertise, do so. Don’t wait for someone to ask. If your manager is in need of something that you know you are capable of doing, volunteer to help. In doing this, you are showing your manager that you are a team player, have a willingness to help and can be counted on when needed.

    Showcase unique skills:

    I always see those fancy excel spreadsheets or those fancy powerpoint presentations during team meetings and I always think to myself, wow I wish I could do that! While I am highly skilled in other things, I am often in a love hate relationship with excel and powerpoint. If something comes easy to you or you have a unique skill that would be beneficial to your team, speak up and let it be known. Who knows, you may even become the go-to person in your organization for that specific thing!

    Nikky Brown

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