Monday, April 28, 2008

Silicon Valley Wages are Top in California and 2nd in Country

Area incomes top 2000 level for first time
AVERAGE '06 WAGE WAS $76,562
By Pete CareyMercury News

It's time to shake off those dot-com doldrums once and for all. Santa Clara County is back in a big way, scoring at the top in wages and personal income, according to federal data released Thursday.

The county's performance in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available, was strong in several key categories: personal income, or the sum of income from all sources for the year; per capita income, which is personal income divided by the population; and the average wage, which excludes self-earned income.

For the first time, the county's 2006 personal income of $95.9 billion topped a previous peak of $91.3 billion reached in 2000. The county's personal income grew by 8.7 percent over the previous year.

That impressive performance almost certainly continued in 2007, said Stephen Levy of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. "So we are back to our traditional role in terms of having a high-wage economy, but also one that is producing substantial income gains," Levy said.

The county's per capita personal income of $55,735 ranked 30th among the nation's counties and fourth in the state. The Bay Area had the state's top five counties in per capita personal income in 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report. California's average was $39,626, a gain of 5.7 percent over 2005. In average wage, Santa Clara County's $76,562 in 2006 put it ahead of every other county in California and second in the nation, according to the bureau's data. The only one of the country's 3,111 counties with a higher wage per job is New York County at $90,555. The figure covers jobs and salaries but excludes self-employment income, for example from partnerships and professionals such as lawyers and doctors and people who work for themselves.

But there's a hitch. It costs more to live here.
"One explanation for the rankings is the cost of living," said Bureau of Economic Analysis economist David G. Lenze. "That will be built into the price of housing in particular, and the other services that you buy."
The data also shows that less of the county's income is being generated by people living outside the area, Levy said. "We're not as dependent on commuting as we used to be," he said.
The Bay Area had the state's top counties in average wage per job. Santa Clara was first with $76,562, followed by San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Marin.
The state's average wage was $48,027.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Client Communication

We have a recruiter in our Northwest region that just closed a large deal with one of our clients. He placed a Treasurer with a mid sized company. In a business like ours that is filled with extreme highs and lows ( we are contingency recruiters that can work for months on a deal and not get paid), closing this deal should have led to one of the extreme highs. In particular, this search fee was a large one and normally would warrant a few high fives and some celebrating by the recruiter and the rest of the team. In this case, it was only met with a solemn half smile and the words, " I'm just glad it's over." What a strange reaction, I thought, to see this recruiter with their head down, shoulders slumped and energy sapped. It really bothered me. In digging into the background of this situation, I have come to learn the reason for the reaction.

1. The process dragged on and on and on.
2. Our recruiter only had 2 brief conversations with the hiring manager during the entire search. All other conversions were fairly terse email exchanges, as they opted to not return calls but to exchange email ( and I do need to say that I appreciate people are busy and emails are more efficient). Getting information, apparently, was like pulling teeth.

This scenario and reaction made me take pause and realize that part of the enjoyment of what we do is not only the end result and the financial reward that we reap but it is also about the relationships we form and the comraderie we develop with our hiring managers as we work together to find the perfect fit for their opening. Hiring someone is a very personal process, outside of making sure the skill sets are a fit for the job.

The end result of all of this, was that we made a great placement and our candidate is thrilled and the company has a great new employee for a key position. I truly feel like we have given this search our all and our client is better off because of the work of our recruiter. At this point, the million dollar question is whether the client is happy and I guess we won't find out unless we get an email........

Monday, April 14, 2008

Talking Too Much On A Job Interview May Kill Your Chances

You can blow a promising opportunity by talking too much during a job interview.

That's how one facilities administrator ruined her employment chances at Clark Nuber, a small accounting firm in Bellevue, Wash. Asked to describe her strengths, the applicant delivered a long-winded reply focused on her cleaning of every cabinet in her home. "She probably went on for three to four minutes," recalls Tracy White, the firm's human-resources director. "I doubted she could get the job done in an eight-hour day."

Many nervous job seekers blabber endlessly about irrelevant information. They create a poor impression and cut short the hiring manager's time for further questions. "That official won't pay any attention to you unless you prove you're sharp during the first five minutes," cautions Robin Ryan, a career counselor, author and speaker in Newcastle, Wash.

"Oversharing in an interview is the most dangerous thing you can do," concurs Annie Stevens, a managing partner at ClearRock, a Boston executive-coaching and outplacement concern.

Don't despair. Here are four ways to steer clear of verbosity during a job hunt:

• Prepare short statements on how your background matches the job. Rehearse.

When a hiring manager says, "Tell me about yourself," you can offer a few war stories that recount a work problem, your corrective action and the measurable result. "The stories have to be powerful as well as engaging," lasting no longer than two minutes apiece, says Rich Gee, an executive coach in Stamford, Conn.

He helped Ward Smith, a talkative golf pro and instructor, to win a marketing spot with Black & Decker. During practice sessions with the coach, Mr. Smith supplied elaborate detail about the golf irons that he recommended to students. A hiring manager "doesn't need to know this," Mr. Gee interjected.

Mr. Smith soon realized he should translate "what I was doing into what Black & Decker was looking for," and keep it succinct. During his job interview, he used marketing lingo to describe briefly his teaching methods, explaining how he identified students' objectives, forged a rapport and enabled them to reach solutions. He now is an Atlanta field-marketing coordinator for a Black & Decker unit.

Embracing a similar approach, a jobless organizational-development consultant recently landed follow-up interviews with three possible employers. Callbacks rarely occurred when I "was running off at the mouth," he remembers. Defining yourself concisely also "builds an enormous amount of confidence for the next interview," he notes.

• Make sure you understand a question. Stop every couple of sentences to check.

If the interviewer requests your career history, you might inquire, "Do you want me to start with my present situation or at the beginning?" This type of response demonstrates a candidate "is preparing mentally for what's he's going to give me," says Peter D. Crist, head of recruiters Crist Associates in Hinsdale, Ill.

Pausing after you speak lets you collect your thoughts -- and seek permission to continue. Before you resume, Ms. White suggests asking, "Did I answer your question enough? Do you want more examples?"

• Watch the interviewer's body language for hints that your answers are getting boring.

He may stop taking notes, check his watch or glance at his computer. A loquacious middle manager ignored such warning signals after spending 15 minutes telling a West Coast recruiter about several extraneous issues, including her husband's problems with his boss.

"I was rolling my eyes and tapping my pen on her résumé to indicate we should get back to work here,'' the exasperated recruiter says. He finally cut her off because he had many more questions to pose.

• Solicit feedback following an interview.

The West Coast recruiter decided against referring the middle manager to a client. "You had a number of stories to tell but they weren't relevant," he told her. "Use each minute to its best advantage to sell your background."

With practice, you'll be able to polish your pitch, adjusting the length of your responses until someone says, "You're hired!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How to Answer Any Interview Question

This was an article that we included in our client newsletter that was well received and I thought it would be worth posting.

How to Answer Any Interview Question

Don't be rattled by your next job interview. It's possible to answer any question that comes your way. How? By preparing and knowing how to direct the conversation to the topics you want to cover.

To start, take a tip from consultants who coach executives and politicians on how to handle media interviews. These trainers say you can deliver the message you want to an employer, regardless of the question you're asked.

"Most people don't realize that their purpose isn't to sit there and hope the right questions will be asked," says Aileen Pincus, president of the Pincus Group, a media interview-training firm in Silver Spring, Md. "They need to develop two or three key messages and make sure their point is delivered."

Unlike some politicians who ignore press questions and immediately introduce a different topic in response, job candidates must respect and directly answer employer's queries, says Jeff Braun, vice president and general manager of the Ammerman Experience, a Stafford, Texas, media interview-training firm. However, you can quickly make the transition from your answer to the important points you want to convey about your qualifications, he says.

He suggests when answering job-interview queries applying the formula Q = A + 1: Q is the question; A is the answer; + is the bridge to the message you want to deliver; and 1 is the point you want to make.

"If you take the '+ 1' off the formula, then the interviewer is controlling the session," says Mr. Braun.

Diligent preparation also is necessary to effectively answer any interview question, say senior executives. Theirs and media trainers' tips follow:

Study hard. Learn as much as you can about the job, the employer and its executives beforehand. Use this information to answer direct questions and to then segue into a discussion about your qualifications and fit.

Eric Herzog, a vice president of product line management and channel marketing at Maxtor Corp., a hard-disk drive company in Milpitas, Calif., says he always talks to current and former company employees and analysts whenever possible prior to job interviews to gain as much insight as he can into the employer's challenges and culture. If the company is publicly owned, he studies its financial condition by reading U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission documents, such as annual 10-K shareholder reports on the company's performance. He then tailors his interview answers to the company's issues.

"If the company is having a rough time financially, you can say that not only did you make good products or services, but that you produced things on time and under budget," says Mr. Herzog. "That's a little plus if the company is in trouble."

If you're working with a recruiter, ask him or her about what the company is seeking and its key challenges, says Derek Messulam, vice president of rental market development for GE-Capital Solutions, a financial-services unit of General Electric Co. in Norwalk, Conn. Mr. Messulam says he grills recruiters regarding a job's responsibilities and the attributes the company wants before job interviews. He then makes sure that his answers demonstrate his potential value to an employer.

"When questions come up, you can steer the conversation to how you can demonstrate value," says Mr. Messulam. "You answer the question, but maybe not 100% the way they were expecting it."

Have anecdotes ready. Many interviewers ask questions that require candidates to provide examples of how they handled a difficult challenge or other work situation. Such questions often start with a phrase such as, "Tell me about a time when you faced…."

These questions require a story in response, but it's unlikely you have a story that fits every conceivable query. But the task of preparing becomes easier when you realize that interviewers typically are interested in only five or six general categories, says Mr. Braun. Instead of trying to be ready for every potential question, come up with stories to fit these general issues, such as how you handled conflict or a difficult challenge.

It may help to think of each issue as a bucket and mentally place a story or two in each one, says Mr. Braun. "Be more generic in your approach," he suggests. "When asked a question along one of those lines, you can move to the story you have in one of those buckets."

From his research, Mr. Messulam says he can usually tell what types of things a company might want to know about him and thinks of corresponding anecdotes. "I have seven or eight top stories that tell someone what I am good at," he says.

This strategy also works when interviewers say, "Tell me about yourself," says Lucinda Baier, former president and chief operating officer of Whitehall Jewelers Inc., a national specialty retailer and a former senior vice president of Sears Roebuck & Co.

Ms. Baier left Chicago-based Whitehall in December after it accepted an agreement with an investor to become private. She left Sears in April 2004 when the credit and financial products division she headed was sold to Citibank.

When asked to tell interviewers about herself, she determines how much time she should use and then tries to describe her specific qualifications that fit the company's key issues.

"If you know what challenges the company is facing, you can tailor your response to what the company is dealing with and how you can help," she says.

Be positive about the negative. Count on being asked about a past mistake or blemish on your career record, and don't try to dodge the issue. Ms. Pincus advises. "If you have a vulnerability, you need to be prepared to answer the question," she says. "There should be no lying or dodging. Just answer it and move on."

When discussing a mistake, be ready to say how you learned or benefited from it. "You learn as much by dropping the ball as you do by catching it," says Mr. Herzog. When interviewing for his current job, which he started in August, Mr. Herzog says he mentioned he had been involved in successful turnarounds and one that failed. "And I said what I learned from it," he says