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Customer Service in the Job Search October 1, 2015

Posted by robewanow in Job Search, Rants and Raves.
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Customer Service in the Job Search

My wife and I recently booked a hotel stay through Expedia.   Upon arrival at the hotel the room type we requested was not available and we were told it was due to Expedia over booking the hotel   I found that hard to believe as one would think the hotel would only list rooms they have available. At any rate Nanette called Expedia a few days after we returned. To make a long story short their customer service is abysmal. After being on hold for close to 30 minutes she finally spoke to a live person who took all her information and provided her with a case number. She was then told Expedia would need to contact the hotel manager (why?) and get this, she would have to call back in 24 hours to find out the results of that conversation. The customer had to call the provider back.

24 hours later she did call them back and after being put on hold 2-3 times for the agent to “check” with someone we were finally granted a $25 coupon for our trouble. Hardly seemed worth the effort and left us with a poor impression of Expedia. They did not seem like they wanted to take any responsibility and obviously their agents are not empowered to make decision.

What does this tale of woe have to do with the job search? Simple customer service, make it easy for your customer to do business with you.

In this case the “customer” is the person you will be meeting for a networking session, with the networking session being the “business” you will conduct.

How easy do you make it for your customer to do business with you? Do you make them wait, guess, call you back?

Consider some of the following suggestions to make sure you are easy to do business with.

  1. Make sure they know this meeting is not about finding you a job, you are looking for advice and feedback.
  2. Bring a copy of your updated marketing plan which should list your top 12-15 target companies.
  3. Show up on time, better yet be early.
  4. Stick to the agenda, respect the time they have given you. If you said you only need 30 minutes then take only 30 minutes.
  5. Make sure you provide some value in return; it’s easier than you think and it builds good will.

Until next time….

The Importance of Closing the Loop Part 1 June 18, 2015

Posted by robewanow in Job Search, Rants and Raves.
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It’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve not been able to get a blog post together but this week I am back at it.

One of the things that is critical to the job search is follow up and “closing the loop.”  This is true on both sides of the equation both the job seeker and the employer.  For this post I will comment on the employer side from what I (and perhaps others) see, experience or have experienced.

We all know the typical process that is followed in order to get an interview whether it is face-to-face or a phone interview.  Just getting the chance to speak with someone is a challenge so making it this far is something to be proud of; many candidates did not make it to this point.  You prepare, rehearse and then complete the interview.  You send a thank you note and then……wait.   Maybe you wait some more.  And still more waiting.

You send a follow up note (maybe 2), you make a follow up call.  Perhaps you are able to speak with the person you interviewed with where you restate your interest in the opportunity and the potential to continue the conversation.  There s a chance you may even find out at that time if you are still “in it.”

Many times though, it seems this information is hard to obtain.  Vague answers are given which do nothing towards closing the loop and in many cases nothing at all is ever communicated, leaving one to wonder.

I get it, everyone is busy, this includes the job seeker.  He/she is working many angles, arranging meetings, researching and networking all requiring time management and the need to focus on obtaining results. Yet this is hard to do when they do not receive feedback regarding their status from recent interviews or meetings.  If straight forward information is delivered in timely manner after an interview then Sally Job Seeker knows where she should invest additional time following up and where she should not.  This helps her “close the loop.”

Someone help Sally out, is she missing something?  Any employers, recruiters, hiring managers out there who could help her better understand the reason for this lack of communication?

Until next time….

Hero February 27, 2014

Posted by robewanow in General, Job Search, Rants and Raves.
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I am reading Hero by Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret and The Power. Most people fall in one of two categories when you mention these books.  They call it hogwash or they truly believe in it and use it.

I found The Secret very inspiring but so far Hero has it beat.  Relying on real life success stories (not just money related) from people such as Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks Coach) Liz Murray, a young lady born to drug addicted parents who willed herself to attend and graduate from Harvard and John Paul DeJoria from John Paul Mitchell fame who, incidentally was a member of a street gang in East Los Angeles as a young boy.

The premise of the story is that we all have an inner hero, we all have powerful abilities inside us which enable us to achieve our dreams and overcome any obstacle in our way. However in order to fully realize these abilities, which frequently get pushed aside or buried deep within us and forgotten we need to take the Hero’s journey much like the people mentioned above did.

So far I am up for taking the journey I figure it can only lead to continued/more good things.  Are you?

I will keep you posted.

Until next time….

Preparing The Next Generation of Networkers March 28, 2013

Posted by robewanow in Job Search, Rants and Raves.
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Over the years I have met with a number of recent college grads and while I am impressed with their knowledge and their drive to succeed many lack the solid job search skills needed for today’s job market.

They spend 4-5 years in school, taking 15 or more credit hours per semester pursing the elusive degree in whatever field they are interested in but none of the courses (at least that I am aware of) truly help them understand the effort it takes to get that job after graduation. I’m not talking about resume’s, cover letters, references, etc career services offices can help with that and other job search tactics.

What I am talking about is networking plain and simple. What is it?  What isn’t it? How to do it.  How not to do it.  When should you start?  How to get started? This skill is at the very core of the job search yet it appears precious little time is dedicated to helping  students understand and practice this skill which will serve them for the rest of their life while they are still in school.

My son, a second semester freshman at Oswego is taking a one credit hour course, Freshman Colloquium, a required class for all Freshman.  Here is the description according to the course catalog:

Introduces students to the disciplines and degrees that are part of a visual arts education including the ways in which the visual arts connect with other disciplines. Students are asked to expand their understanding of Visual Art and define their role in the production and study of visual art.

What?  How do you expect a Freshman to define their role in the production and study of visual art when they haven’t had more than 2 courses on the subject and are still finding their way?

Instead of this course I suggest a one credit hour course required for all first semester JuniorsNetworking 101″  essentially a “how to” guide but with the added bonus of role playing and homework assignments which not only reinforce the skills but actually get them started on building their network while in school.

If I can provide some insight on the process and a few contact names over coffee in 30 minutes why don’t more of our colleges create a structured course as a way to help our students quickly find success after graduation?

Until next week….

Orientation July 12, 2012

Posted by robewanow in Job Search, Rants and Raves.
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Last week I spent 2 days with my son Matthew at SUNY Oswego for their student and parent orientation days.  Each day was divided into 30-45 minute information sessions.  Some of the sessions included both parent and student while most had us going our separate ways, the first step I’m told, towards letting them go so they can grow. (and a difficult one at that)

One of the sessions I attended was about their “Compass” program.  This program covers all 4 years of the college experience from orientation and first year programs to majors and careers to experiential learning.  I was impressed by this comprehensive offering. Students who take advantage of these services will be well positioned to transition to the working world smoothly and quickly.

So why am I telling you this?  Why do I care?  Well over the years I have met with a number of recent grads and while I am impressed with their knowledge and their drive to succeed many lack the solid job search skills needed in today’s economic climate.

They spend 4-5 years in school, taking 15 or more credit hours per semester pursing the elusive degree in whatever field they are interested in but none of the courses (at least that I am aware of from my interaction with some local grads and career development offices) truly help them understand what it takes to get that job after graduation.  I suspect few students create a LinkedIn profile before senior year and even less begin to build their network early believing it will be easy to do after they graduate.  Those involved in work-study or internships get a slight jump but my feeling is they are not leveraging these opportunities to their fullest benefit.

These are basic job search tactics, yet many colleges seem to spend precious little time telling their students how important they are and how they should go about doing them which is why whenever I meet a recent grad I stress the importance of networking and explaining the give-to-get mantra, etc.  If I hit the highlights over coffee in 30 minutes why don’t more of our colleges create a structured 3 credit hour course required of all first year juniors as a way to help our students quickly find success after graduation. Oswego seems to have taken a step in the right direction and I am sure there are more who are doing this but from my view it’s not enough.

Until next week….

Connect with YOU? Why?! March 8, 2012

Posted by robewanow in Job Search, Rants and Raves.
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That’s the first question I ask myself when I receive the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network” request from a fellow LinkedIn user.

I’m not saying I don’t want to connect with you but it sure would be nice if you would provide me with a little context as to how you know me or how you were referred to me.  This provides me with a frame of reference for how we can benefit each other if we connect.

You see I protect my network.  I value the people I am connected with and I am thankful they have placed their trust in me by connecting with me. Therefore, I am careful with whom I connect because by doing this it brings my whole network one step closer to this person as well.  If I don’t have a decent understanding of who you are or how you got to me I am most likely inclined to ignore your message.  Remember it’s not about the size of your network but its depth.

So the next time you want to connect with me, or any other person for that matter take a little bit of time and let the person know how you got their name and why you would like to connect with them.  In doing this, I am sure over time you will expand your network with quality contacts.

What do you think?

Until next week….

A Rant March 11, 2009

Posted by robewanow in Job Search, Rants and Raves.
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I am officially at week 9 of my job search.  Activity levels have picked up, I am meeting with an average of 8 people a week, a number I find is manageable as it allows me to maximize my face-to-face networking while avoiding burn out and also allowing time for “administrative” tasks and of course my family.  I had a couple of weeks where the number of meetings was closer to 10 and found it too stressful and allowed little time for much else.

That is the good news, and for those of you who read this blog you know I am what I consider a positive person, especially during this trying time.  However, I must use this opportunity to vent and get something off my chest.

Ready….here it goes….

If you are currently unemployed you are most likely familiar with COBRA benefits you may or may not be taking advantage of them depending on your situation.  I am currently utilizing them because in my situation they are more affordable than some other options. Because my former employer is subsidizing part of my benefits I have to go through ADP instead of directly through the health care provider as a result this has become nothing short of a complete nightmare.

To sum it up my benefits have been correct for approximately 3 of the last 9 weeks. This has taken so much of my time , completely wasted it.  I have had to call these folks each time I send a payment to

  1. Make sure they received the payment
  2. Make sure they processed the payment
  3. Make sure they applied the payment
  4. Make sure they notify my dental insurance provider
  5. Make sure they notify my health insurance provider

Yes this is true, I’ve done this at least 5 or 6 times already, most times its required a follow up call to go over parts of the list again. They are that inept.

When I called the other day they told me my subsidy was canceled.  WHAT?!?!  When I called  my former employers benefits department they were at a loss, for some reason the subsidy was deleted from the ADP system. We had it right, they had it wrong.  Par for the course with this group of amateurs.

Just when I thought this was fixed I called them yesterday and after spending 20 minutes on hold I found out that somehow in the middle of the night my premium amount due has changed and the subsidy is still in question.  WHAT?!?  For the past two months I had been paying a certain amount now all of a sudden its changed.  I pulled out the original paperwork while still on the phone with the CSR read it to her added the numbers and told her that is what I have been paying  – it is what THEY told me I should be paying. She did not believe me until she added the numbers herself to which she said “that’s strange”

Strange? I guess. How about completely incompetent. I do not know who ultimately is responsible for this string monumental screw ups but I can assure you if they worked for me they would be gone, flat out fired.  I fail to understand how things can consistently be so messed up even after multiple calls from me and my former company, calls they log in a case management system!

Finally I asked to speak to a supervisor,  I could not.  Instead the service rep relayed the information back and forth between us.  I was irate at this point.  To her defense this CSR was the most helpful one I have spoken to, the others were clueless or unwilling to do more than absolutely necessary.  One even told me these screw ups happen all the time to which I said “who ever is in charge should be shown the door, I have other things to worry about like finding a job to support my family.  You guys have wasted so much of my time it is unforgivable.”

If any of you utilize ADP or if any of you will be due to the new stimulus program benefits for COBRA I urge you to keep a close eye on ADP and make sure they handle your information correctly.

Needless to say when my subsidy expires *for real* I plan to get as far away from this amateurish company as possible.  Even if my wife’s benefits are slightly more expensive the extra money, though scarce at the moment will be well spent in knowing I do not need to babysit ADP.

Now I feel better.

Until next week….