This article was originally written for Good News Magazine.
Things always move much faster in my head than they do in real life, especially when working out the details of my startup company. I find myself often praying or in meditation to slow down my mind and remind myself that this is truly a journey not a race. Despite the hiccups, external circumstances, and eccentric working hours, I feel the battle starts and ends in my mind.
Take last week for example; I was second-guessing the concept for my marketing video. The inspiration for my company began over a year ago, and I have spent months mulling over every feature of my website. The video is the first tangible representation of the concept in my head; therefore it had to be just perfect. Entrepreneurs have a strong affinity for the things we create, but sometimes once our creation is passed into the hands of others or is finally released to the public we have a brief moment of doubt. We are haunted by questions such as “will this work?” or “will people like it?” As these thoughts flooded my mind when I saw the video for the first time I almost got to the point of scrapping the idea all together! After my miniature panic attack I realized my reason for doubt was because I had placed such high expectations on the video.
I recalled an article that talked about the psychological stresses most entrepreneurs face in the early stages of building their company. It takes a strong mental ability and courage to KEEP GOING past the obstacles created by the mind. It requires daily renewing to continue to press forward. Once I had a moment of reflection on that article I immediately begin to meditate to silence my worry and doubts.
The most effective way to remove roadblocks is to begin to become aware of when you’re approaching them. When you feel them on your radar, step back from whatever it is you’re doing and pause. Breathe. Ask yourself, what exactly is causing me to feel this way? By taking immediate action you’ll be better able to avoid the hazards of self-doubt and negativity. Giving yourself a little pep talk helps too!
Once I felt mentally focused again I revisited the task of editing the video and did exactly the opposite of what my mind was trying to tell me not to do. I let other people see and emailed out the unedited version and welcomed the critics. Then I walked away from my computer, went to lunch, and allowed my mind to relax while everyone replied back. Later that evening I read the reviews and was extremely excited about all the positive feedback and constructive criticism. I gathered everyone’s opinions and sent it off to the producers for the final production.
The biggest obstacles are not things that exist in the world or our circumstances; they’re not a lack of resources, or even errors we make. The biggest obstacles are most often our own thoughts, self-doubt, and negativity. We allow ourselves to stand in our own way. The roadblocks to success truly begin and end in the mind.
I’m reminded of a quote by Marianne Williamson, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.”
Tamar Lucien is the CEO and Founder of CanUStart2Day, a revolutionary staffing movement that combines the concept of traditional job boards and recruiting techniques into one online cloud-based technology. Connect with Tamar on LinkedIn or follow her journey on Facebook and Twitter @CanUStart2Day.
I recently spoke at Keiser University-Fort Lauderdale campus on “Understanding Soft Skills” and “How to Sell Your Soft Skills.” The university provided PowerPoint slides that they recommended I teach from, which I did. However, I also incorporated real world scenarios and feedback that I hear from hiring managers as to why candidates are not getting the job.
The students at Keiser were a bit apprehensive at first. No one wanted to answer questions or volunteer to role play. As the lecture went on there many things on the PowerPoint slide I didn’t agree with. One slide highlighted the old theory of “do not discuss salary.” I openly expressed to the students why I disagreed with this antiquated taboo, and why I always discuss salary up front with any candidate that I am interviewing.
Discussing salary becomes a matter of respecting the candidate’s time. At the root of it people work to get PAID, bottom line. I could see every eye and ear perk up once I made my statement. I then disagreed with another slide point about patiently waiting for more than 30 minutes for hiring managers to conduct interview. Again, it becomes a matter of respecting the candidates time. I explained to the class that their time is just as valuable and that the interviewing process is a two way street. Candidates should also be interviewing potential employer!
As the lecture went on the students were far more willing to ask questions and participate in role plays. One great question a student asked was “how do I gain medical industry experience if employers won’t give me a chance?” I recommended volunteering at medical centers or a hospital.
She then made a face as though she’s heard that before. Her rebuttal was “why should I just volunteer if I paid for an education and have all required certifications?” I was proud of her for pushing back. All I could tell her was good point.
Later on that night I thought about all the obstacles candidates are faced with in today’s market. I contemplated more on why that young lady couldn’t find employment after doing all the necessary steps. New grads are energetic and the most un-obligated, but yet they have the most obstacles to entering the workforce. I can’t help but wonder, as a society are we killing their potential?
These days there is an abundance of technical information on the internet about how to find a job, conduct yourself during an interview, write a resume, network, dress etiquette, etc. However, there is not much information about mental preparation or attitude.
In 2003 the average length of time for a job seeker to find employment was 0 to 3 months. Today that has increased to 12 months or more! I hear extreme frustration and desperation as I interview candidates and listen to friends who are seeking employment. Many candidates are feeling more and more defeated in today’s job market, especially with the current unemployment rates are averaging a little over 7% nationwide.
Maintaining a positive attitude has become harder and far more critical to a job seekers success. Everything starts with a positive attitude, even before dressing professionally, writing a resume, preparing for an interview, or even accepting a job.
I recall the audio book on Yes! Attitude by Jeffrey Gitomer where he explains that attitude is not taught. Unfortunately there are no programs or classes that teach positive attitude. To learn about attitude one must research through books, tapes, and seminars. Positive thoughts and actions have to be part of one’s daily practice. You may be thinking, “my attitude is fine” or “it is not that important” but according to Jeffrey Gitomer, “Attitude is EVERYTHING and the foundation for success.”
Still don’t believe that your attitude can make or break you? As a professional recruiter and hiring manger I can tell you I am 95% more likely to hire the person who is 75% a good fit for a job and has a positive attitude versus the person who is 100% a good fit for the job but has a negative attitude. Attitude makes that much of a difference!
As an employment specialist I regularly give interviewing tips to candidates on how to nail an interview. But from time to time I also coach employers on how to conduct an interview, how to catch red flags, and what NOT to say.
1. Be respectful of the candidate’s time. Put yourself in the candidates shoes, would you enjoy waiting 20 or 30 minutes after your scheduled time? Keep in mind this is also a reflection on your company.
2. Do NOT ask questions related to Age, Sexual Orientation, Religion, or Race. Don’t even try to ask the cleverly disguised questions, “When did you graduate from high school” or “Will you need time off the day before Christmas?” It’s not worth the legal liability should I candidate feel offended so be sure to follow EEOC guidelines.
3. Be aware of body language. Pay attention to a candidate’s body language more so than what they say. Signs like slouching in their chair or diverted eye contact usually indicate a candidate’s lack of interest.
4. Ask for examples relating to “Soft Skills.” Candidates often describe themselves with typical answers such as “hard worker,” “willing to work late,” and “people person.” To avoid this ask for very specific examples. Ex. “Describe a time when you had to work past your shift?” “Why did you have to work past your shift?” “How did it make you feel?” Asking open-ended questions to keep the candidate talking.
5. Be conversational. Make the candidate feel comfortable. You will get more genuine answers.
6. Try to interview candidates without a table or barrier between the two of you. This is a very effective tool I learned early in my recruiting career. Removing barriers helps you to better view candidate’s body language and makes candidates feel more relaxed. Again, this will also allow you to get a more genuine personality assessment from candidate.
7. What does your gut tell you? I call this feeling my staffing sixth sense. Others may call it “an eye for talent.” Whatever you call it just remember to trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel, right don’t hire. However, if the person doesn’t quite fit the job but would fit into your company culture than make the hire. You know your business, customers, and needs so trust yourself!
Employer: I need a temp
Recruiter: I’ll be happy to get this off of your plate. What type of temp are you looking for?
Employer: I just need an Admin
Recruiter: Okay, what are the key job functions you would like the Admin to perform?
Employer: Answer the phones mainly but advanced knowledge of QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel, and if the person knows photoshop that’s a huge plus. Oh and the person needs to be fluent in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Recruiter: What is the pay rate you are willing to offer
Employer: $12.00 per hour
Not surprisingly, this scenario is very common. Many small business owners and even large corporations try to find that “All in One” employee. What the employer is really saying in the scenario above is that he is looking for an Administrative Assistant, Receptionist, Marketing support, Bookkeeper, and Bilingual Customer Service person.
Perhaps your budget can only support one additional staff member right now, that’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with being efficient and combining roles. However, you have to understand pay scales, job titles, and your local job market.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Which position or role is more critical to growth of company?
- Which position or role allows my key revenue generators to focus on their job?
- What is the average pay scale that administrative assistant are earning in my local market?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decided what role to hire for first so that you’re not searching for a purple unicorn. i.e. someone who doesn’t exist.
As an employer, you’ve paid anywhere from $500 to $800 for that job posting. Now it’s up to you to be your own recruiter!
Being a recruiter takes years of experience, people skills, and what I like to call a “staffing sixth sense.” After several years of listening to candidates lie, oh I mean tell you about themselves, you kinda just know who’s got what it takes. However, here’s a crash course in recruiting/sourcing:
1. Number of years at each job: anything less than one year at ALL jobs he/she has ever worked… MOVE ON!
2. Grammar & Spelling: pay attention to vocabulary.
3. Does it appear to be TOO well written? The person may have hired a professional resume writer- nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t provide a true writing sample from the candidate.
4. Highly educated but consistently underemployed. Example: has a law degree but only works as a paralegal. This person may have more brain than brawn. Meaning they are not a Do-er, just book smart.
5. Someone whose career appears to be spiraling downward. Meaning they were Controller or Accounting managers at one point but applying for an accounting assistant/staff accountant job.
6. Job title doesn’t match description. Example: Job title: Bookkeeper, Job Description: Answered phones, Faxing, Filing, Mail out checks, Accepting payments. That’s not a Bookkeeper.
7. Several gaps in employment. This isn’t a total deal breaker but candidate must provide compelling reason as to why.
Keep in mind: If you are on the fence about a particular candidate then just take the chance and call the person! Recruiting is not an exact science. People are often better over the phone or in person.