Episode: 388 |
Spish Rurak:
Remote Job Search:


Spish Rurak

Remote Job Search

Show Notes


Spish Rurak is a McKinsey alum, the president of Rurak and Associates, and a noted advisor and consultant to consultants. He works with many consultants from top-tier firms based in the U.K. and has served as a career transition coach to several thousand management consultants. Today, he discusses the challenges of the remote job search and interview and how to overcome them.

Key points include:

  • 02:05: The differences of the job search during the pandemic
  • 09:41: Supply and demand channels
  • 17:26: The advantage to the job seeker
  • 22:52: Three channel recommendations for the job seeker
  • 33:29: Outreach tips
  • 44:47: Organisation tips

You can reach out to Spish on LinkedIn. 


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Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. And I’m excited to be here today with Spish Rurak, welcoming, special back to the show. Spish is a noted advisor and consultant to consultants helping them on their job search, works with many consultants from top tier firms, based in the UK, and Spish, welcome to the show.

Spish Rurak 00:34
Thank you very much. Well, pleasure to be back. Thank you for having me.

Will Bachman 00:38
So really appreciate you coming back space to talk about your experience, you know, advising consultants who are doing job searches during the pandemic. And I understand that you’ve, you’ve did a little bit of additional research reached out to some folks to help, you know, get some insight for this for this show to tell us a little bit about what you did there?

Spish Rurak 01:02
Yes, well, I didn’t want to rely just on my observations on the margin or the periphery. So I actually reached out to a number of my clients and colleagues whom I know have been pursuing job searches during that pandemic, to see what they experienced. So you’re going to hear as we talk, not only my own observations and opinions, but let’s say a distillation of the answers and observations of about, well, let’s call it almost 20 individuals who were in the job market during the past year.

Will Bachman 01:41
Fantastic, what maybe we could start with some high level observations that you have based on your own experience, as well as from the folks that reached out to probably a lot of things are similar during the job search, during the pandemic of doing a job search, what do you see as some of the differences.

Spish Rurak 02:05
The difference, there are differences will but I would say that they’re not as significant, as many of us would expect or think the pandemics, you know, manifold off and catastrophic consequences on our societies, economies and individual lives, hasn’t actually worked itself out as much in the talent markets that I think are relevant to the audience that is going to be listening to this. It’s not a crisis, like what the US experienced after 911, or what we have seen globally, the financial meltdowns of 2007 and 2008, I would characterize the consequences of the pandemic for job searching as a and I use this advice of the procedural aberration, we’re talking of changes that are, let’s say, in the five to 15%. category, not 20 to 40%, with one exception, I will mention later. Nonetheless, it’s I think, very valuable for us to talk about this because however, comparatively small these changes may be they can be significant on an individual job search basis. So if I have to summarize really top line in response to your question, the market is still there, there are no really big changes in absolute terms. The mix among sectors, in terms of demand, varies quite significantly. And the elephant in the room is really technology, no surprise, the procedures, the recruiting processes, and on the other side of that coin, the job search in order that deals with these recruiting processes that what I call the talent exchange, I would suggest that technology has however much it seems like a default and unnecessary and occasionally facilitating tool, it’s actually led to some less accurate, less productive and even less efficient consequences for both sides of the exchange. And if you allow, I can kind of describe the situation from three top line perspectives, supply and demand, the effects on channels, and also very importantly, the effect on timing, how long it takes an individual doing what he or she had to do in under COVID. And how much longer that would have been because of that as opposed to having done the same thing, let’s say two, three years ago. Is that fair? Can I start with sort of a general observation? Yeah, so Apply?

Will Bachman 05:01

Spish Rurak 05:02
Okay. As I suggested in my remarks, not much has really changed demand, I think remained stable, but not all companies have really been affected the same way. So the mix is different and there will be no surprises here. Hospitality and retail are hurt. Some industries that were hurting before the pandemic banking have also been hurt. But conversely, private equity and investment side of banking is actually very robust from what we’ve seen. Life Sciences and FinTech are growing. In other words, there are non significant increases from the sample that I just mentioned form that forms the basis of this, of this opinion. So Life Sciences and FinTech are unaffected. They grow, there’s a bias to tech heavies to tech savvy positions. So not surprisingly, if a role requires a candidate to have had experience in dealing with digital, then that’s going to be a much easier search than for a position that doesn’t require that it may not even exist, digital, not surprisingly, very important. There’s a focus on digital analytics, even more so than before. And a lot of companies are using the pandemic as a change agent. So if you’re going into the market, with significant digital analytics, big data analytic experience, your search is going to be a little easier, not surprisingly, small outfits, faster and more agile to recover. And we open the taps in terms of the talent pursuit than their larger counterparts. It’s also important to recognize that the pandemic has created a couple of new opportunities. Again, this doesn’t affect the demand function that much. But a lot of jobs are now available that did not exist before because they will accommodate working from home. And some positions that exist are with companies that actually jumped in and saw an opportunity for their business model and became aggressive in the pandemic. But all things put together on the demand side, minor 5%. But the important point is it’s there’s not a significant downturn. Now, on the supply side. This is I think, very interesting. There may be there’s some evidence we’ve got, again, limited data, that supply may actually be increasing. Why not? Because of redundancies, not because of the you know, the headlines that we see so many layoffs, closures, pubs, hospitality, hotels, that’s not the the sector that is relevant to this discussion, and to our audience. It’s not that redundancies. But it’s because more people are applying for jobs, out of insecurity. Or, in some cases, we’ve seen the flight from the city. So if you are working in New York, and going to move to New Hampshire, for personal reasons, your problem and you will look at opportunities that will allow you to work out of New Hampshire. So the pandemic is some extent stimulating a job search on the part of individuals who are currently gainfully employed.

Will Bachman 08:37
I wonder if it’s also just that it’s a little bit easier to do kind of a covert job search, if you’re working from home, as opposed to you can take a you know, take a call during the day you can have your computer open during the day with with LinkedIn jobs or something that you’re searching, as opposed to if you’re at work, you need to be a little bit more covert about that.

Spish Rurak 09:01
Absolutely. There are when we get into this and in a moment, there are some some important advantages that accrued to the job seeker. I would suggest as a general comment, companies are actually a little worse off in how they recruit people. The job searcher is over the better off in a pandemic, about how he or she tries to get a job for the very reasons that you’ve explained.

Will Bachman 09:35
All right. Yeah, so let’s keep going. So you mentioned supply and demand channels.

Spish Rurak 09:41
Yeah, channels. Not surprisingly, again, we’re finding what I would call a misdirected interest in or reliance on online because networking immediately seems so difficult. You’re not going to set up, you know, a coffee chat with somebody In the other end of town, I have found people wrongly So in my opinion, are starting the job searches by using online services or channels, notably LinkedIn, which is sort of a near cousin to zoom. So, as I said earlier that the big the elephant in the room is technology. And if all interviews as are being now conducted by zoom, then the cousin on the computer is LinkedIn to get to those zoom interviews, I had one individual consultant with a big four reputable name, who applied for 35. LinkedIn opportunities, got only two discussions, both of which were significantly under that individuals expectations. And by the way, that is even worse than the standard what I find 5% yield rate on job searches that are done online. So I find, unfortunately, people are in the current climate, working out of home covertly on the side, relying on the computer, but the LinkedIn profile online is no better a channel to an interview that it was before the pandemic. There’s also what I find the proliferation of online Recruiting Solutions, providers that create a hurdle or an obstacle for some job seekers. There’s the emergence of assessment centers or purveyors of selection processes that will assist an employer in getting more structure and precision into the new video reality I’m finding, many job seekers are encountering a, an additional step that did not exist as often, and which is a third party that has been brought in to assess the candidates performance in addition to their companies, or the employers own resources. So that’s interesting, again, a new development. And we’ve also seen that there’s, it’s related to the reliance on online that artificial intelligence just isn’t working, was notably three years ago. Well, this predates the pandemic. But Amazon very notable for its, you know, attempts to setting up an ethos or a system by which are criteria by which to assess candidates everyone has to interview in a certain way for Amazon was also secretly using AI. And it junked it. So companies, the struggle with the pandemic and the intrusion, or the reliance on technology, I believe, is more of a problem for the employer than it is for the individual job seeker, the individual candidate. That’s just the, I think, a very interesting observation. Finally, in terms of timing. Now, this is where I depart from my earlier estimate, that all of these changes that we can talk about are in the five to 10% amplitude, job searches, are taking or recruiting processes. But this holds true for both sides. recruitment of candidates for buy companies is taking about 25% longer, and concomitant Li or conversely, the job seeker is experiencing a 25% increase in the length of his or her activities. In other words, what used to take four months before the pandemic will take five, what used to take for a more senior individual, let’s say six months might take eight months. And the driving determinant behind this slowdown is really two things. One is the longer lag. The great and lags in between steps. People do not automatically communicate faster or more accurately in the recruitment of a candidate just because they’re doing it all online. They’re no longer doing it in the office. So I’ll give you an example. Just very recently, candidate who had signed an offer from a fortune 500. Employer several months ago discovered, actually last week that the relocation package that she countersigned She was offered by the company was actually two years out of date, it didn’t exist. And they had to then renegotiate the relo package, which came into some, you know, significant five digit numbers in terms of dollar value. And the reason for it was that nobody had checked that the real policy was two years out of date. So there are greater lags in the, and inaccuracies in the employers on the employer side when they’re trying to coordinate, all of them working out of all in the recruitment of the candidate. But the more significant factor behind the slowdown, again, no surprise is there are very few is maybe now, multiple interview days. So before the pandemic, you could be a candidate, you know, the third round and be invited to visit the employer for a day of interviews, starting at 11, and ending at five and you would need four or five interviewers. You don’t do that anymore. When you’re doing online recruiting, or video recruiting. Generally speaking, those four or five interviews that would be distributed across two thirds of a day are now distributed over the next four to six weeks. And if you’re one of several candidates reaching that round of multiple interviews, then you can imagine how that translates you’ll take six weeks to get through around that would have taken place in one and you have to wait for your competitor candidate to take six weeks before he or she completes that round. That’s the main reason for longer job searches.

Will Bachman 16:52
That’s very interesting. And that’s almost different than I might have guessed, because you’d think, Oh, we don’t have to coordinate travel schedules, we can just pop people Boom, boom, boom, knock them out by zoom, and get it done. And it’s actually different than I’m seeing in the consulting world, in the independent consulting world where I’m seeing decisions in some cases are happening much faster, or faster, where someone you know, will want to get started consulting project, and they’ll talk to a candidate and the starting on Monday, just boom.

Spish Rurak 17:26
And that’s a very, very important point, because what we have is, is a cruel inversion of timing. So the employer is slowing down. But as I pointed out earlier, a lot of benefits of technology, injection and video interviewing and the process of conducting a job search out of home is actually in terms of the block and tackle the execution of steps, providing the individual job seeker, a tremendous advantage. You’re right, it’s more efficient, there’s no travel. So I’m not I don’t have to go to that first meeting face to face, I don’t have to go to that second meeting, I don’t have to go to that four person interview. There’s no dead time associated with the meetings. It’s easier to match the availability between an interviewer and an interviewee in many cases, because you’re not you’re not dealing with a an intermediary, the Assistant, the PA, people. And on the interviewer side, people are stuck at home also the interviewers and they’re more available, they’re not distracted by, you know, the 40% or 50% of their time they spend in staff meetings, they’re still having staff meetings with zoom, but it’s no longer as much of an impediment on the scheduling. So the individual job seeker is greatly more efficient. And on the other side, the employer is less so it’s also easier. For the individual job seeker to conduct a job search out of home you can make calls, you can set up a power, you know, you may gain you may be gainfully employed, but you can have the entire machine and apparatus set up to conduct a job search. Easier to make calls. Easier to focus on a preparation of interviews because you’ve got, you know, 30 minutes in front of the interview, you’re not standing in front of the building in order to get in and then waiting in the lobby. You’re you can prepare until the end, the last minute before the actual screen connects on zoom. And then what I’m finding out of the survey, it was a little surprising for me. It’ll be interesting how you react to it. Individuals who fight who are in a job market conducting a job search are finding that because of it Everything that I’ve just said, and you’ve remarked, first calls are easier to make, it is easier to organize visual or virtual coffee chats, because the time investment for both parties to set it up is lower. It when, when you had to set up a coffee chat outside of the employers office, it required more time investment, it could be weeks, people are saying everybody’s out at home. And it’s very easy to have a meeting scheduled at home, you don’t have to go to some, you know, third party location, separate venue independently. So there’s, there are many advantages accruing from the what I call the procedural aberrations that fall on the side of the job seeker. But in contrast to the first call, second, calls are more difficult. In other words, how do you convert that initial zoom video into a referral? Do you really need a second call? The onus it seems is to get that second call on video. Is the Dr. Rose value proposition that you express in that first call? Much more clearly. And earlier? So.

Will Bachman 21:23
So if you’re, if you Yeah, so you mentioned that you kind of don’t think that people should be just jumping right into looking at LinkedIn jobs and so forth, and, and other online sources? Like that’s not your recommended approach for you can have the caliber of candidates that you work with, and we’re talking alumni of top tier consulting firms, or maybe you’re working with sort of transition career coach or job search coach for people that are leaving a top tier consulting firm, someone comes to you and says, hey, I’ve never done a search before. It’s been years since I did a search. I’m leaving, you know, top tier consulting firm as an engaging manager, case, team leader or project leader. What what’s your recommendations on how someone should approach this?

Spish Rurak 22:15
With respect to the pandemic, or in general, well,

Will Bachman 22:19
maybe a little bit of both. So let’s say if someone comes out today, and they’re somewhat new to the, you know, they haven’t really done a job search for a while, maybe they got, you know, they got right out of business school, they got hired into a top tier consulting firm. They’ve been there for four or five years, and they didn’t haven’t really done a search, you know, maybe even since college. And there they were Canvas recruiting. So what are some tips that you have on how to approach this, if there’s any differences for the pandemic? But what advice Are you giving candidates that are coming to you now?

Spish Rurak 22:52
Yeah, the advice actually traverses both the pandemic and the pre pandemic period. So some of the listeners who might have heard the first podcast they did with you, two years ago, I see there’s only three channels that any individual can use to go from job a to job B. Or if the person is unemployed to go into job a, and that’s starting with in order of precedence or priority headhunters or recruiters. Every statistic I’ve seen in the three decades I’ve been doing this are involved in it in some manner or form suggests that no more than 5% of luck connections made between an individual executive a candidate and the employer comes from headhunters. It’s a much misunderstood overvalued channel. That’s one and it’s about 5%. For for your audience. I would argue very strenuously with great conviction that it’s not going to be more than 5% either in a pandemic, or before or outside of it. The second channel is online. Online can range anywhere from five to 15%. The smaller number 5% yield on online recruiting In other words, online is applying for a job that’s advertised somehow. Online consists of 10s of 1000s of portals, or URLs where resumes meet employers, employers advertised positions. It’s a highly automated easily seductively simple because you can conduct a job search online at midnight or you know from from a beach where you’re taking up a break. But the but the more senior you are. And I would say, if you’re going to be positioning, if you’re going after a job that pays, let’s say over $300,000 in US terms annually, then the 5% of your throughput is going to come from online. If you are under that level positions, you may get 15% of your yield coming from online postings, I recommend to everyone not to ignore that, just the manage the expectations on online channels. In other words, you can find many great opportunities that exist met, which you may assess is not being correct for you. And that and through that identify an employer that you may be interested in, but not necessarily to apply for that job. So online is a as an example I made at the very beginning. A senior manager the person in question was someone earning probably about $400,000, a year at a big four. Yeah. And it was live for 35 jobs.

Will Bachman 26:18
Yeah, I’ll say 2000. had two things to say on that Spish. One is, if anybody is applying to jobs on online portals, probably come some of the best one or $200 that you could spend would be to post a job on that portal to get a perspective from the employer perspective. So if you’re applying to jobs on LinkedIn jobs, go ahead and post a job on LinkedIn jobs to understand what the platform looks like from the employer perspective, and how many, and how many responses you get and what they look like. If you’re applying to jobs on indeed, which you know, this, this audience probably is not so much. Go ahead and post a job on indeed, it, you can put a daily rate for the job. So you can put a daily spend limit on the job. So you can spend, you know $50 and see what that gets you after one day and then turn the job off, you’ve only spent 50 bucks on LinkedIn, it’s a daily rate, you can post you know, job for with a budget of $10 $20 $30. And just to see what see what it likes, see the functionality. So you have some empathy and sympathy for what the employer is going through. Because you can often get just, you know, if you posted on LinkedIn jobs, you might get 3040 5200 300 candidates, you know, and the only thing that you get is just the person’s profile, you’re not getting like any kind of cover letter or anything like that. So if you are applying to those jobs, you kind of see that and then you know, think about reaching out directly to the person who posted it with it with an inmail and then following up three or four times because if you’re not getting called it might not just it might be not because they don’t like you. It’s just because there’s so many that you know, they didn’t even look at your profile. And then there’s I think there are probably some specialty forums. Maybe you ever action Spish, but like certainly for McKinsey, llamas and McKinsey job portal is very, very good and has like very serious high end jobs posted there. I don’t know about Bain and BCG and other top firms. But, you know, some of those might be you know, very highly vetted jobs as well. There’s one that I’ve seen that’s pretty good called the exact thread where Yeah, I kind of high end jobs are posted. So so do some research to find out where are the jobs in your field that are at your level, if you’re going to be spending time responding to online jobs.

Spish Rurak 28:45
You’re making some very good points. First of all, my advice to anyone applying say, in responding to a job to an advertised position is not only to write the appropriate cover letter, and to send the requested resume the CV but equally, but even as important, if not more. So, launch a parallel outreach to anyone they can find inside that company and develop a parallel conversation because the problem with online job postings is that the screening filter at the receiving Terminus is woefully inadequate. It’s either you know I put it semi comically half informed contract, resume reader who is executing or assessing incoming resumes on by word count or an optical scanner or even an artificial intelligence algorithm. rhythm that will not find the right interview. Sorry, will not find the right resume. So if the job is there, and you’re convinced you’re a good candidate, do not rely on the automated channel communication launch a an outreach to anyone you can find out of your own networking contacts. And let them know for example that I’ve applied for job Alpha Dog one version three, that I talked to you about that either to get information or to understand more about the recruiting process. And and the selection process to rely merely on an instant response to a job is taking huge risk. You are right that there are in the huge universe of, of online of job boards. There are what I call the high value high filter ones. And the McKinsey one, and in equally to some extent, not as much the alumni, career websites and portals of business schools. And many of the other consultancies are now beginning to develop outreach programs for their alumni, and in some cases, even employers. So there’s a growing recognition that comes as a good policy for business, not just for relations with former employees, it’s useful to reach out to former employees and talk and let them know about opportunities. So that trend is growing. But for a senior executive, the chances that even in the McKinsey example, your use that he or she will find four to five positions on that job board to which he or she can apply very low, there may be one or two. Yeah, and that’s not enough.

Will Bachman 31:39
So what’s the what’s the what’s the third channel?

Spish Rurak 31:43
The third channel is the one was statistically. And every every study I’ve seen ranges from 66, zero to 95% of the property come from networking. In other words, networking is reaching out to people with whom you can have a conversation about your job search. And there’s a segmentation to that networking, it’s either reach out to somebody to target to get information, or reach out to somebody to get an introduction, or referral, or reach out to someone who’s actually going to be a decision maker about your candidate about your potential candidacy. And you can reach out to individuals, either in what I call a real category. In other words, I know her, she knows me, we once sat in the same training course together 10 years ago, or five years ago, and it can be a nominal connection. And this is where the power of alumni from some of the top tier consultancies comes to play. I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me. But we have two things in common. She used to work in my company, I am in that company, or I also used to work in that company. And she is active in a particular segment of the FinTech industry, and I am active or interested in that. So those two commonalities, those shared items, will in most cases, create a 60 to 80% response rate. Yeah, even if you don’t know that person,

Will Bachman 33:12
what are your tips on a, a plus? Really good outreach? How do you do that outreach to get the person to say yes.

Spish Rurak 33:24
To call to call you back to say, Yes, I will talk to you.

Will Bachman 33:29
Yes. And there’s, I guess, two categories. So the one category is someone that you know, you know, they’re a weak tie, someone that you have worked with in the past? How do you reach out to that person to ask them if they can help you, you know, give you some help on your job search? And then how do you? And then sir, a second question is, how do you reach out to people that you don’t know? Hey, I see that we’re fellow, you know, jets fans, or I see that were fellow alumni of McKinsey or fellow Penn State Nittany Lions or whatever? Yeah. Would you you know, I see that you’re in the industry that I’m interested in? Like, how do you recommend that you reach out to on LinkedIn or via email or whatever, to get the person to be willing to spend time with you on the phone?

Spish Rurak 34:16
Yeah, it’s very, there’s a couple of hallmarks that dictate the success or the efficacy of such an outreach. So one is brevity. My advice to every job seeker is do not write that letter to have or that email, Dad more than five sentences in the first should comprise three modules, scatter strategy scattered across those traversing those, those five sentences. So the first one probably not more than if you are if you know that person, not more than a sentence, establishing the relationship so referring to the previous perience or shared the commonality, no more than one, one sentence if you know that person no more than two, if you don’t, where you establish those the shared experience, the second one is the agenda, why do you want to talk to that person explicitly, I would like to talk to you because I am interested in or I am leaving Company A and, and I am interested in this company in your sector or your industry, be very explicit, very concrete. And the third one is, especially if you’re writing to somebody for a referral would be to codify no more than two sentences, in what is what I call your value proposition, apart from showing and flattering the reader, the recipient of your email, why you’re interested in them, is why they should get something out of talking to you. In other words, I have some experience. This is the author of the outreach letter, I have some experience, which I believe bears directly on issues that you are facing the company and I’m contemplating making a change bill, you know, from my company to to a company like yours, where I could contribute on that basis. So it’s, who am I? Why am I interested in having this conversation. And if you want to read if you’re really addressing a senior executive, is explained to him or her in very briefly in one or two sentences, what you can bring to the party, and then you and you attach the resume, do not repeat any aspects of the resume. In the actual body of the outreach letter.

Will Bachman 36:44
Let’s say the person says Yes. What are your suggestions on the best way to conduct that, that discussion? Should you try to push to have it as a resume? Should you try to do it as a phone call? When you when the person picks up the phone? Like how do you manage that discussion? And I’ll, and I’ll maybe just throw my editorial comment and see if I take, you know, I’m recipient of a fair number of these. And I try to take as many as I can. And often I find that people start these conversations by just giving me like a five minute bio on the phone. Like, let me tell you about, like what my life is. And you know, I left college and I started consulting, and I did this and I did this, and I did this, and I focused on this industry. And they’re going on like for five minutes. And it’s usually not very interesting, you know, to listen to. So. And you know that I guess they’re hoping to get something out of me like elves in the mud. But so I don’t think that that’s the best approach. But I wanted to get your thoughts on what is a really good approach of how to use those calls or that well?

Spish Rurak 37:55
Yes, a few questions. So the first one is, after you’ve written this email, no more than five sentences containing three different common themes or messages. You asked for Christ? Could I speak with you? Could I put myself on your calendar for 15 minutes? That and the response could be either, okay, fine, we’ll have a telephone call. Or it could be that the individual replies, and says, Let’s do zoom, because that, because that contact is already in a world of zooming. But I’m finding where we can get into this in the moment that there is a lot of what we know generally is zone fatigue. So although people are using zoom a lot more in a job searches. The as I pointed out earlier, especially for employers, the effect of zoom is not is not as as great as they hope. But back to your question. You’re exactly right. You take the when you actually have that conversation on the phone. So once you have agreed because you responded to a nice succinct letter explaining why you should give the individual some time on the phone or in the zone. You want that person to get into the specifics of the agenda. If if the person has sent you their resume already. And usefully in the originating letter, as explained what the agenda is, then that job seekers should dive right in and not not repeat that what is already known to you on the resume because you’re going to become very disinterested. I got into this will you might find it interesting when I was almost 30 years ago when I was in the United States, in the search business, and I would get calls as an alumnus of McKinsey, I would get calls from a lot of people are leaving McKinsey. And they knew about me because I was one of the I think I was the only headhunter in Washington. And if they were interested in a job in, in Washington, they would call me and I would take the call. And within three minutes, I would ask them politely to dispense with what you just described, I wouldn’t let it go five minutes, and say, okay, fine, I know you’re a good person, I know what you’re interested in, tell me how I can help you. And and, and I would try and drive down to such issues, as are you interested in Company A or B, I’ll tell you a is good, B is not. In other words, the greatest efficacy of a call like that is to delve quickly in is to dive quickly into the concrete specificities, senior executives who are responding like you are responding to an inquiry like that, or being essentially charitable, unless, of course, you see something in that individual that makes it worth your while, because you want to hire that person, or you want to collaborate, or it’s a potential client. But other than that, it’s institutionalized. You know, generally, it’s a professional one, and you have a limited amount of time in which you can just listen to somebody without knowing what the purpose is. So diving right into the specificity, the agenda, the goal, the purpose of the call, once you do that, if if you’re doing it well, and there’s a little bit of luck, then there always has to be, then a very nice dialogue within so

Will Bachman 41:39
you know, one tip that I got from a career coach named Ellis Chase, about almost 15 years ago, was to have a list of companies of interest, and to say, what do you think of this list? And because it kind of shows you’ve done your homework, and it’s particularly even if you have a list of companies that you’re not interested in, so it makes it very specific. And then the person can say, Well, you know, I don’t think you should really do company number six, because the CEO is a jerk. And you should add company number 11, to your list that, you know, I think is really awesome. And it’s similar to the other ones. Or I could introduce you to the CEO of company number eight. Want to hear your reaction to that idea of actually bringing a list of companies of interest? Or are there other tips like that, that you would suggest as a way to make use that time effectively?

Spish Rurak 42:33
Yeah, that’s probably the most powerful technique. And that’s what I said, When, when I would get when I got started in this when people would call me and I’d ask them, what are the companies they’re interested in? And I would give them an opinion, who’s good, who’s bad, have they thought of something else or another company. So that, again, it exemplifies the maximum that you need to trigger a train of association, on a concrete bases in which the person you’re reaching out to is now going to be grooving into in your groove? On your job search? Ask a general question. And you’re going to get a general answer. What? Ask a question about culture, you’re going to get an answer on culture. The job seeker is misusing the contact that he or she has with that individual. I simply say any technique, whether it’s a list or a request to discuss what they what the party that you’re calling is thinking about a particular company, or do they know anything about its performance? The best conversations of this kind are those that are driven by specificity concreteness, and an agenda that is laid out very early. All right, senior executives. But if you really think about it for for the consulting audience here, it’s exactly the technique you use when you provide a report to a senior executive, they want the summary, what am I, what do you want out of my conversation? What are we going to be talking about in this 15 minute session that we have consultants excel in, actually in this because more than their corporate counterparts? They’re used to providing executive summaries for their clients. So all they have to do is provide an executive summary for about themselves and the agenda and the purpose of the discussion.

Will Bachman 44:33
How do you recommend to your clients that they keep track of all these conversations that they’re having? Do you recommend people, you know, do something in a spreadsheet like Excel or use a CRM system or some type spreadsheet?

Spish Rurak 44:47
Yeah, it’s what I call a tracker. And so a tracker consists of listing the names and you manage the job search like you manage J, a consulting project, think of yourself as a conducting a new product rollout You are the product you’re being rolled out into the market. The only difference here is that you are both the head of r&d, you are the product definition, you are the chair, you are the bag carrying salesman. But most importantly, you segment the customer base and find out who are the decision makers, the information givers, the introducers, the conduits, and so on. So you need a tracker a spreadsheet is eminently suitable for this the name, the date on which you called the date the individual replied, and notes on what was first discussed another column that shows actual what is expected so that you can track and do it. If you’re doing a job search, which by the way, most job searches in range include a networking outreach, anywhere from 60 to 100. Individuals, you need to keep track of that. And remember, what is it that you last talked about? That with the individual you now know, you should call or remind that you’d like to talk to him or her three weeks later? So recording, keeping good records, especially what is it that you last said, because you want a tone of an of intimacy, familiarity of shared interest, you want to show that in that conversation that you’re having today? Following up on one you had a month ago, is is warm, hot is current, and is important. And as detailed as if it were yesterday?

Will Bachman 46:51
I think, you know, to your point about spreadsheets, if if I were doing a search today, you know, probably just because I’m comfortable with the tool, I would use a CRM system, the one I would use is pipe drive, which I which is the one I use for my business. Because you can track all that stuff with a bit more functionality than even a spreadsheet. It’s there may be out there.

Spish Rurak 47:15
there’s there are there’s no doubt. Will there are many programs like this. Yeah. I I don’t get into that. But I think clearly superior versions of Excel is what you want. The important point is you need to collect data, you need to keep it current and you need to use it. What are that will actually be a very critical very variable in a successful job search. Because the successful job search includes a huge number of contacts, it’s also important to keep track of that to estimate, you know, by just looking at what the response rate is, and what you’re getting back is on an empirical basis to see whether some of the targets that you’re pursuing are really behaving in the manner that you should who’s which companies and coming back sooner, where are you getting more traction. And why? It’s very important because you can lose perspective on this. It’s it’s a very solitary enterprise of job search. So the tracker is your companion.

Will Bachman 48:24
I’m curious if you have any tips on job search etiquette that are somewhat pandemics specific, like here’s one that I have, here’s one that I have. If you’re in a job interview on zoom, should you wear a suit?

Spish Rurak 48:44
Yeah. So I’ve got I’ve been preparing for this, I’ve got about 10 tips, perfect for what I would call either the outreach, or the interview on all of which are now occurring on on zoom. So let me let me address the interview etiquette. And there’s a couple of ideas and let’s start with what you brought up, which is an obvious point, you need to think it’s a tire. But they are this point is you really need to think of how you can stand out from other candidates in so the employer is going to be looking at a lot of individuals but looking good in person is different than looking good in video. Appearance matters. So the much ignored fact is that when you would go for an interview inside the employers office, the environment surrounding you was set by the employer or the head on this office or the conference room in which the interview is taking place. You now have if you’re being interviewed on his own, a chance to influence your surroundings. However, I find that being at home is creating what I call a slippery slope of casual sloppiness. I have seen in my own dealings with individuals where a certain degree of let’s call it professional decorum is expected that the backdrop is inconsistent with the call it the gravity of the conversation, because everybody’s casual, we’re all working out of home. But think about your backdrop, should it have clutter? Or should it be a clinic? Whatever the backdrop is, it is an additional statement about who you are. Are you going to use something as contrived? In other words, San Francisco Bay Bridge? Or will you have a just the sheer wall, I have corrected, I’ve advised some of my candidates, and sorry, my clients that they should close the door, for example, we were talking and there was a white wall, but there was a vertical it was to me a little distracting, because it was an open door, shutting that door eliminated that vertical line. Now, these are small points will. But they eventually add to an impression that these zoom interviewer is forming you have have you in the same way as it has in the pre pandemic world. You know, the typical statement is, many interviewers form impressions of the candidates, they’re going to interview for 45 minutes within the first two minutes, so they take a look at, in men’s cases, the shoes that you’re wearing, okay, now you don’t see the shoes that you’re wearing on the zoom. However, you are forming an impression about whether the individual is in what I call a naked white shirt, or whether he is with a white shirt with a blue blazer, very informal. Okay, you can take off the blue blazer, you can avoid the white shirt by maybe putting on a sweater. Think about it’s all in color. So think about the color of your eyes. And find some piece of attire that matches the color of your eyes. light hair fair skinned against the completely white wall is probably not good. Solid, probably better than a pattern. You use a different interview, use different attire for different interviews, because you don’t want to be seen with the same, you know, shirt five times. One of my clients goes for a run. Before a video interview, he eats a salad and watches an inspirational TED talk before the zoom interview, female client of mine actually puts on high heels, because she feels professional in them, even though the zoom is not going to show whether she’s worked wearing high heels and that. In other words, it all goes back to my point about you have some control over not only how you appear, but the state, the surrounding environment. And in front of and just as in face to face interviews or in person interviews before the pandemic. I always advise my job seeking clients to say, ask the HR coordinator, what’s the dress code? There’s no reason why, before a scheduled as roll call, you can ask what’s the dress code? Now the answer may be well, we’re all casual working out of home. Yeah, but what does that mean? There’s nothing wrong with asking that. Others tips on zoom interviews. Avoid bright lights. Be careful about how you stare at the other person for 45 minutes. In camera angle frame it center Don’t slouch. Sheet notes that individuals use because they can split the screen and be looking at notes for the interview. I’ve had feedback showing that many individuals actually see that and they consider it to be a distracting angle on the in the eyes of the candidate the being that’s being interviewed. So I think there’s a lot of work that can be done its impact is not that significant. But it does form an impression about you on a zoom interview and is not being I believe adequately addressed by candidates. That’s a long answer to your question about zoom interview preparation, but I think there’s a couple of other things. Try to figure out you know the difference between a face to face interview or an in person interview and zoom. Is that before you went in and you could walk through the corridor You would sit down and be maybe asked, Would you like some water or a cup of coffee or tea? There were these preamble. bonding, discussions, zoom drops you from anonymity into a face to face confrontation. So think through in this particular context of the zoom interview, whether you say something about the tech the connection, you know, just or if it’s not in the same time zone. What’s the weather like I mentioned how easy the zoom connection was, before getting into this awkward descent into brutal, confrontational interview behavior. There is an absence of warming up is one of my clients said, in face to face interviews, it was a lot easier to build some kind of relationship around the coffee, coffee cup, but there is no coffee cup that allows you and the interviewer to build any kind of relationship, whether that’s for 30 seconds or three minutes. So think through how you break that ice. Also think through that. If indeed, my earlier remarks were that the first calls are easy, but second, cause a heart? How are you going to put forward your skills that that constitute the value proposition to that interviewer in that first interview, can you maneuver so that you can highlight or at least refer to skills that will be seen by them as worthy of going back to a second round? Other parts of interview preparation another tip, people tend to ignore this, but not all videos really work? Okay, not all video connections, prepare a plan B, get listed with zoom teams. Lots of other programs because not all employers use the same technical platform and not all of them are as effective.

Will Bachman 57:17
I got I got one on that. My my daughter she aware of my daughter’s school, right uses teams. And I every day it’s my job to print out my my daughter’s homework, right? And classwork. So I’m always logged into Microsoft Teams as as as Veronica Bachmann. I had a cup of tea. I had one client send me a team’s invite, I didn’t realize it till the last minute. So I’m like logging on to this thing as as Veronica Bachman and, and the school has, like, prevented the students from turning on their video using teams, like I’m logged on as ronica Bachman, I can’t turn my video on. And all the other clients that I was talking to that day, like they all had their video on. So I just felt like such an idiot. Right? So I’ve, I’ve since addressed that. But it’s definitely a good lesson learn to you know, get your team set up even if you’re not using you’re normally using teams and and make sure that you’re able to do a WebEx and the other major

Spish Rurak 58:22
exactly because you may be in it said the fault may be on the employer side who haven’t set it up on or if it’s no one’s fault, but your interview is not going to go as well as it could for some third party failure. There’s also another tip, the last one I got on interview technique, at least on zoom is be aware of fatigue. I know I had a two hour zoom interview with a client, at which point the client after about a little more than an hour said why don’t we just shift to audio because both of us were tired of staring at each other’s faces. The reality is people are complaining about Zoo fatigue work at home fatigue. And one has to recognize that it could lead to less focus less attention. So be very clear on your elevator pitch and value proposition to make sure that it gets communicated as early as possible and is clearly because you don’t know at what point the individual on the other side, even though they’re staring at you. Looking at you is actually droning off into some degree of insensate indifference. Now more than ever, you need to be succinct and articulate. And if your competence and confidence doesn’t come across, because you can’t communicate the force of your personality through physical cues that were available in more easily, more visibly, in in person interviews That’s why I said earlier, the problem is largely for employers in forming really accurate evaluations of their candidates. I’ll give you one extreme example. But it’s true is, remember I said earlier this discussion that searches are taking longer because the, the interview of the round of four on one day in the employers office is no longer possible. And it’s, it’s distributed over the next several weeks. In one case, I had a client who actually had the employer badge for interviewers into one screen for one interview, okay, so the candidate is conversing is having a video interview with four people in one screen,

Will Bachman 1:00:50
that’s rough.

Spish Rurak 1:00:52
Now, so, just think through the arithmetic simplistically, you have four interviewer hours. gathering, what I would argue is less than one interview hour of information. On the other on the candidate side, the candidate can really form an opinion as he or she watches, three of the executives staring blankly either at their notes or skewing their eyes to see the other person on the zoom video. In may have been driven by the compression of what I would call buy in which used to be, which is a motivator for having panel interviews. But it comes at a huge cost of time, as well as accuracy for the employer. This is just another example of a of a distortion through technology or to zoom dependence on zope. For the employer,

Will Bachman 1:01:59
I want to switch gears a little bit Spish and jump all the way to someone getting a job. I’ve talked to a few executives who have started new roles since the pandemic started and they’ve never been in their company’s office they’ve never met their their colleagues face to face. Do you have any tips for your clients who are starting new roles on how to you know, get into the company culture and be effective early on, given the pandemic and when everybody’s working from home?

Spish Rurak 1:02:39
Yeah, you bring up a very good point that’s Despite the success of conducting a job search the starting is almost as problematic as as getting the job. I’ve had many of my clients who’ve literally, you know, waited weeks to receive the new employers laptop and to be integrated into their intranet and internet. So some tips. First, be very honest about the the issue and tell all the parties with whom you are in a relationship in a new employer that this is very important so as to get some what I would call sideline videos or telephone conversations. In other words, apart from you know, being connected and being introduced through video, and telephone conference calls, make an effort and have the employer respond, to have conversations about history culture, do the interview on the phone or in zoom about topics that you normally would, by simply sauntering through the halls and corridors of a new employer. It may be awkward, it may be. It may appear initially a little uncommon, but I think eventually people recognize the importance of the issue and respect your request. The second tip is go back going back to the network if you secure the job, because you were able to talk to three to four individuals who were in the company or former employees there, go back to your network, go back to the you know, the consultants who will know that employer is a client, anyone who can be who can provide you information about the operations of that company, either. It’s probably not as, as possible in the pandemic, but insights into the pre pandemic culture of the company. You have to do your own culture audit. And you do it either, as I said earlier, in talking with the new employer directly about this to get the history, the stories, the successes, the failures, Or get it by talking to people who know the company or have worked at it before I got one of my clients who has secured an offer does not join for another. Well, the the lag between acceptance of an offer and was driven largely by pandemic issues. And actually starting was about four months, had bi weekly onboarding sessions with the future boss, and, and purposely asked to talk to other individuals, just to understand the company. So rather than going through an interface, you know, in person, one or two day program of onboarding, where you’re escorted around and you visit the factory and so on, you do that and you and you ask for it, the initiative and it has to be yours. Employers are not necessarily going to be inspired to do that.

Will Bachman 1:06:04
Great. Well, Spish for anyone who wanted to follow up with you. on any of the stuff you talked about, or to get your help on a search, where should they reach out?

Spish Rurak 1:06:21
Well, my, my email, shall I give it to you? Or do you? Or is there some other way of doing that?

Will Bachman 1:06:27
Oh, well, we could we could put your LinkedIn profile in the show notes. If people want to reach out to you via LinkedIn.

Spish Rurak 1:06:34
There’ll be Yeah, the LinkedIn profile. I don’t know whether I have my Yeah, they can reach out certainly through LinkedIn or through my email address.

Will Bachman 1:06:44
Okay. And if you want, we’ll include that in the show notes. Especially it’s been great having you on the show again, thanks so much for for rejoining and sharing your perspective on what searches have been like during during the pandemic.

Spish Rurak 1:06:58
Thanks a lot. I appreciate it. I hope this was helpful.

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