Managing Competing Job Offers

You are employed with a highly marketable skill set. Recruiters and hiring managers reach out to you often. When you decide to engage with them about their open roles, you can anticipate an offer. But to make things more intriguing, just when you are ready to accept that offer, other companies surface with offers. This seems like a nice problem to have. But now, the challenge is in knowing how to handle competing job offers.

Lucky You!

This situation doesn’t present itself every day. It is imperative to know how to manage this process instead of the process managing you. The companies you have an offer from will know that you are talking to other companies, and they’re going to put a lot of pressure on you. If you’re working with a recruiter, they may add to that pressure. So you have to take control of the situation. Rather than waiting for offers to arrive, establish your thoughts and begin your evaluation early on in the process to minimize the pressure. The longer it takes you to make your decision, the more likely you are to lose offers.

Dating Yourself…

First, you must establish a decision date for yourself that is fair and realistic for all of the companies in the process of making you offers. Suppose you have an offer in hand from one company, and they are demanding an answer within 48 hours. However, you are expecting another offer shortly that will need to be weighed. You need to make it clear that you want to seriously consider their offer, but you are going to need a week or whatever that specific time frame is in your mind. You then need to make it clear to the companies with forthcoming offers that you are making your decision by a specific date. A date established by you.

That initial company may take a hard line and refuse to move forward with the offer under an extended deadline. If this company is at the top of your list, you will need to decide how to take action. But in general, if you are not unrealistic by asking for multiple weeks, companies will allow you the time to receive the offers that you are expecting.

It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money.

It is amazing how little people research their potential employer. Internally, you need to be clear with your expectations for each company. Know specifically what the role is, the organizational structure that you’ll be involved in, the compensation components, the timeline for starting and their goals for you early on. Don’t make it just about money.

Basing your decision solely upon the money is a dangerous path to go down, especially if you are not passionate about the job. If it is an unstable environment, but they are willing to throw money at you and that’s your driving force, that’s a slippery slope. It is also going to turn off one or more of the other companies offering you a job. If the reason you would accept an offer is based purely upon money or title, that’s not a promising decision for your future.

Wiki And Beyond:

A resume filled with short stints at startups can mean that the companies failed. But when your interview reveals that you were often disappointed with the way the companies were structured or managed, it is also a reflection on your inability to do proper due diligence on those opportunities. Save yourself the headache by researching and ranking your opportunities realistically, well in advance of the offer stage.

Look at all aspects. The location and commute. The company value proposition and the potential for success. The security of their financial backing. The career growth path, whether it be from within the company or while moving through additional roles. Examine the title within the context of the company; focus more in terms of what the scope of the role is. Most importantly, evaluate your appetite for risk.

Appetite For Risk:

People often want the upside that comes with a startup. But when it comes down to decision making time, even if the compensation is comparable, that’s when people start having the real soul searching discussion with themselves and their family about their true appetite for that level of risk. You must evaluate the level of risk. Does the management team have a track record? Is their value proposition one that is compelling? Are you passionate about it? Will you be closely aligned with the executive team? Will you have enough time to develop yourself and your brand within the company should there be any acquisition? If the company doesn’t succeed, as long as you are marketable, your ability to find another job is still strong.

Lastly, don’t overlook the cultural consideration. If you go into a company and it is not a good cultural fit on both sides, it can be painful, mind numbing and a really negative experience. All of the money in the world is not going to solve that problem.

Don’t Be Brett Favre.

If you enter into a bidding war between your existing employer and an offering company, or two other companies altogether, at a certain point it will muddy the waters and bring into question your motivation and commitment. A bidding war that you draw out runs the risk of sending up red flags. Red flags that lead to mistrust, limits pushed, and pulled offers. That is why it is crucial to make a decision.

When you turn down an offer, be very clear about that decision in your own mind. If you aren’t firm in your rejection, they may come back to you, giving you more temptation to delay your process. This needs to be a decision for you. You must be clear with all of the parties involved. And when you commit, you’ve got to be ready to commit. Don’t commit if you have doubts. Flip flopping means you weren’t clear in your decision making process up front, shedding light on your capabilities as a future employee.

It is really nice to be loved. When multiple companies are sending you offers, there is that moment where you feel like Sally Field: “You like me, you really like me!” And that can be a bit overwhelming. It is a major decision to change jobs. Do the proper research, planning and consideration in order to make your decision. And once you make your decision, you have to stick with it. That’s why it’s called a decision. You’ve decided something. If you haven’t really decided, then it’s just a possibility. And that is not fair to you, the companies or your recruiter. If you can be so easily convinced within days of accepting one offer to take another one, then you really didn’t make a decision. And that’s going to sully your reputation for building relationships.

This Is Your Life.

You’ve got to manage your future and be clear with what is important to you. It is okay to establish timelines for decisions. Playing the back and forth with all of the companies, but particularly the one that you are most interested in, is rarely the best way to handle your decision making process. You don’t want to be in a place of exhaustion and stress at the end of your choice. Have an immediate framework in your mind. Determine your levers. Rank your priorities. And be clear with others about them. When you are more direct with your recruiter and the companies about your expectations, the stronger the likelihood their offer will be in line with your desires. And the easier your decision will be.job

Hiring Startup Product Managers: What Top Talent Looks Like

Hiring Startup Product Managers: What Top Talent Looks Like

Hiring Startup Product Managers

Hiring Startup Product Managers

A great product manager can make a huge impact at a startup. Essentially the executive of the product, this person puts the dedication and focus towards the product that is needed to fight through the early stages of the company. Naturally, filling such a high-impact position means finding the right person for the job, which can be daunting. Effective and successful product managers have a wide breadth of skills and traits. Knowing what these are, why they are important, and what they look like can help your startup identify the right person for the job.

So what does top product management talent look like?

Refined Communicators

Above everything, product managers must have superior communication skills. Communication is at the core of everything that this role involves, making it essential at all times. Product managers have high-level discussions with the founders regarding the company’s vision and direction. They must then take this information, assimilate it correctly, and break it down into the detailed needs of the product, delivering the correct details and instruction to the technical, marketing, sales and customer service teams. They must then take the results and summarize, simplify and report. Product managers are in constant communication with partners, early adopters, customers and users as well, taking critical feedback and translating it into business and product needs. And after all of that, they must report this back to the founders, have conversations around moving forward and about course corrections, before starting the process all over again.

Effective Managers

As the name implies, management skills are also essential. When we say product management, we mean everything product. That most often includes its ideation, planning, design, development, launch, marketing, sales and customer service. If anything touches or affects the product, then it is the product manager’s business, making it their job to manage. This job includes the planning, creation, execution and delegation of the product roadmap. Product managers are often brought on to take the management of these things away from the founders to clear up time for bigger fish like fundraising and hiring.

Tech Savvy

I recall seeing an article listing product management as a startup position that requires no tech skills. This statement is far from the truth, especially at a startup. The reality is that product managers, while not bracket deep in code all day, must have an understanding of what technologies and tools the product is being built with, how it will function, how it can expand and how the technology and language is limited. After all, their role is to plan, execute and delegate the product roadmap, and this includes interfacing with the technical staff. Utilizing customer feedback to prioritize projects would be very difficult to do without a clear understanding of how the tech works. On top of that, understanding technical issues that arise is critical to figuring out their solutions, something a product manager is sure to encounter.

User Focused

The initial ideas and direction come from the founders, but every successful startup has quickly turned to its users and customers for direction. Feedback, especially from early adopters and users, is critical for shaping the direction of the product and pivoting to suit the needs of the product’s market. Today’s product manager must put a sharp focus on users, collecting feedback as well as user data around the product to locate shortcomings, identify opportunities and increase the product’s user base. Their roadmap should revolve around the user and its demands.

Data Driven

Product managers should focus on users, but must rely on data to make decisions. Quality data is a product manager’s most valuable asset at a startup, giving them the ability to quantitatively prove their hypotheses and move forward quickly. It can also help them disprove these same hypotheses, learn from these failures and do so quickly. Gone are the days when these professionals could rely on intuition, gut feeling and experience alone. Today’s product manager must have data structuring, collection, and analysis skills, and must understand what the data means and how it can be used.

Business Acclimated

Ultimately, everything that the product manager does must result in growth, revenue and  business success. This means that they need to understand the company as a business and the model that it employs. They are ultimately responsible for creating a product that will attract and retain users and customers, and must understand how they can affect the company financially.

Product managers for startups must have all of the above skills and traits to be effective. Ultimately, needs from product management will vary among startups based on the business model, product and existing skill sets within the organization. Before beginning your search for a product manager at your startup, figure out exactly what it is that you need, what the profile for an ideal candidate looks like, and what experience, skill sets and expertise they must bring to the table. Role definition is not easy, and not always straightforward, so get help defining this role for your company. Get feedback from your existing team to better understand your needs, ask your investors and advisors for help and get the assistance of an executive search firm with experience in hiring startup product managers. However you go about defining the role and hiring your product manager, make sure you find the right person for the job the first time.

Use Social Media To Fill Your Positions

Use Social Media To Fill Your Positions

Social Media To Fill Your Positions

If you are a recruiter in 2012 then you know the impact social media has had on the industry. It is now easier to find and qualify candidates without picking up the phone. Social media has revolutionized the way recruiters find passive candidates.

According to an infographic on TheDegree360.com, companies are going to fill 80 percent of jobs through social media in 2012. Using social media to find candidates not only saves money, but it allows you to get specific and extremely targeted.

Here are some simple tips on how to fill your open positions using the top three social media networks:

LinkedIn

  • The advance search in LinkedIn is great. Narrow your search using specific keywords, locations and job titles, allowing you to find both active and passive candidates.
  • Members have their resumes and references on their profile. Use this to your advantage to help pre-qualify candidates.
  • If a LinkedIn member has a premium account, they are able to note they are looking for a job, making them easier for you to find (a briefcase will appear by a person’s name).

Facebook

  • Actionable content leads to discussions. Post this and get people interacting on your page, bringing the candidates to you.
  • Take advantage of sourcing from the largest pool within all social networks. Using job boards such as Indeed.com will connect with Facebook and post your job openings.
  • Search BranchOut. BranchOut is a new addition to Facebook that acts as a resume for users. Each user gets a score based on education, network and job history.

Twitter

  • Keep your tweets short, simple and to the point. With 140 characters you don’t have time to add fluff.
  • People that are looking for jobs follow hashtags (#). Strategically use these with the job you are looking for, i.e. #javadeveloper.
  • Use applications such as tweetadder or followerwonk to build and expand your follower list by finding members with job specific wording in their bios.
  • Create strategic lists to stay updated on potential candidates, competitors and industry news.
  • Use services like Jobvite or TweetMyJobs. These will automatically post your jobs to specific targeted Twitter audiences.

Use these tips to find, qualify and place talent through your social media networks and watch your searches turn into placements.

Use Your Online Brand To Get A Job

You have been reading a ton of articles lately, including ones from us, that traditional resumes are dead or dying. If this is true, how do companies know what you can and can’t do? Resumes are still an important part to get a job, but they are by no means the “be all, end all” to making a great impression. By creating a prominent online brand, companies will find you.

There are several things to keep in mind when creating your brand; each of them equally important.

Focus Around Your Goal
What kind of job are you looking for? The answer to this question will be the foundation of your personal brand. Once you you figure this out, target companies and influential people in the industry.

  • Make a connection with specific companies you wish to work for.
  • Like their page on Facebook
  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Add them on LinkedIn

Engage with these companies, and find out what roles they have open

Know The Industry
Use tools such as Google Alerts and Social Mention to keep up with the latest news about your industry. Read blogs written by industry experts. Commenting on those blogs is a good way to attract your own followers and get them to visit your blog.

Own Your Name
Buy your name as a URL using a registrar like GoDaddy. Not only will this keep someone else from having your name’s website, but it will make it easier for companies to find you. From there you will be able to host your personal blog, post your resume and portfolio and link to your social networks.

Try creating a short video resume. People are more likely to watch a video than read an entire resume. Keep it to around five minutes, and hit the highlights of your career and experience.

Get Social
We talk a lot about getting social, which is increasingly necessary in today’s job market.

Set up accounts using your name (if your exact name is not available, add an initial or a number) on:

Facebook

Most people like to keep their Facebook profiles private, for family and friends only. However, with the creation of the BranchOut app, Facebook has become a hotspot for companies looking to fill positions.

Stay active, keep your profile professional and make it public.

LinkedIn

This is the number one place companies and executive recruiters go to fill roles. Having a LinkedIn account is as important as having a resume—if not more so. Fill in as much information as possible from your job history to education, and join industry-related groups to keep tabs on industry news and make professional connections.

Again, get active and keep your account professional and continually updated.

Twitter

Twitter is the most used network to engage directly with companies. Tweet relevant industry related articles. Create lists of targeted companies to make it easier to engage with them.

Quora

This is a very popular Q&A site with a large professional base. Share your knowledge by answering industry related topics, building your credibility with potential employers. You will be surprised how much feedback you can receive and who is interacting on topics. You could easily find yourself engaged with industry leading executives and experts – people who may just be looking to hire someone like you.

Using these tips will help you create your online reputation. Remember, it is not just about your resume anymore, it is about what you are doing online.

Why Nine to Five Workers are Things of the Past

Nine to Five Workers

As the song goes, “ nine to five workers ” in an office used to be the norm, but now it is a thing of the past. Around the world, one in five workers telecommute frequently and 10 percent work from home every day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the United States, 24 percent of employed people worked from home during work days in 2010.

The world is evolving as technology grows, and soon the standard will no longer be physically going into the office. The future of work is exporting business internationally, but 34% of firms say the biggest obstacle in expanding is setting up a physical office in a foreign country. Welcome to a new age of the business world, where people are conducting business virtually.

The virtual business world is linked by technology. Teams of workers from various locations across the world can now collaborate in real-time to work on the same projects. Advancements in social media and other Internet applications, such as Skype, allow for deals and transactions to take place between businesses in various parts of world.

Virtual business has many advantages:

  • Unlimited Talent
    • Companies are not limited to hiring local employees in their area; instead, they can hire the best talent from around the world to create a unique team.
    • For example, the base of IBM’s business strategy is to unite cultures, languages, professions and perspectives. As a result, they have designed a program specifically for the hiring of international students, giving them ideal opportunities to make career advancements with IBM.
  • Cost and Time Effective
    • Businesses save time and money because they do not need to invest money in office space and commutes. Video conferencing and other collaboration tools significantly reduce travel times and costs.
    • Alternatively, companies can use flexible workspaces such as Regus. Regus has offices you can use all over the world whenever your company requires that presence, a secretary who will forward your calls to your cell phone and conference rooms you can use as needed.
    • A study conducted by Corporate Executive Board discovered Volvo reduced travel costs by 50 percent for their engineering team and by 45 percent for their product support team meetings through strong utilization of virtual tools.
  • Easing the Language Barrier
    • According to a Regus study, today only 48% of firms demand local language fluency. Translation services ease language barriers. While these do not match being able to communicate in a client’s or co-worker’s native tongue, they permit communication at a high level.
    • Language translation companies offer many services such as document translation, website translation, multilingual publishing and software localization. Large companies such as Marriott, Compaq, The Home Depot and HP use language translating services.

While face-to-face communication is still important, people need to learn to adapt to global competition and a more dynamic marketplace. To avoid falling behind, businesses and their workers should step up their efforts to expand their virtual horizons.

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