Job Seeking Tips and Tricks – Hannah Morgan [Interview]
About Hannah Morgan
Hannah Morgan is a job search strategist at Career Sherpa.net. She is also a regular contributor to US News and World report. A greatly sought after speaker and trainer, transforming thoughts is her passion. She has been recognized as one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search and Career in 2019. She is also the co-founder of Career Navigator LLC. We are extremely happy to have someone of her stature on our interview series today.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Hannah Morgan today to our interview series. I’m Aishwarya Jain from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick intro of PeopleHum – peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Welcome, Hannah. We’re thrilled to have you.
Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Absolutely. It’s a pleasure for us as well.
So Hannah if you could just start with a little bit about your interesting work as a job search strategist. I don’t think I’ve heard that many times, and it’s very interesting to me. So could you explain that concept a bit?
Yeah. So a lot of people are probably more familiar with the term job search coach and coaching is a very different process. I’m a little bit more impatient. And so what I found as I was working with job seekers over the course of my career, is that a lot of people just didn’t understand the process of what they would need to do. And so what I like to do is help them understand, what is that process that you’ll need to go through. And how do we customize it for your unique situation so that you can implement it?
So I helped them sort of develop the strategy upfront and set them on their way. I don’t do a lot of individual hand-holding as they’re going through, the people that I work with do check back in with me and ask for follow up advice and information. But the whole idea is developing a strategy to better navigate your job search So that you can be more in control and feel like you’re empowered to make whatever changes you want to make.
Wow, that is amazing. And I think, you know, they really have a lot of candidates out there who are really struggling to get the organization that they wanna work for. So like the whole matchmaking process is trying to have them. And that’s great. That’s great.
And there are so many sources where you can kind of look at jobs right? Like you have got the job boards, you’ve got LinkedIn and I don’t know maybe blogs or whatever. So how do you think candidates must approach these different sources and which is the best if there is a best?
Well, so I think one of the things that are hard, hard to hear, and hard to say is that you need to do a little bit of everything. Using one strategy only isn’t going to be the answer. So I advise the clients that I work with, my whole philosophy is to start the job search. My first understanding is Identify who you are and what you’re good at doing and then identify where you want to do that.
“Identify who you are and what you’re good at doing and then identify where you want to do that.”
So who are the companies that you would love to work for? And usually, this is what stumps people because they don’t know what companies and organizations are out there that they could even work for.
So that’s a really important part of the process, because what we know and the reason I start with this target list and asking clients and job seekers to start with this list of companies that they wanna work for is because a lot of companies don’t advertise broadly and widely when they have a job opening, and especially when we’re in circumstances where there are a lot of job seekers on the job market.
So you might learn about the job from a job board. But if they have that company on their target list, then they should already also have contacts inside of that company or they can build targets. So using that power of a referral is such an important spot. So if you’ve got your target list, that sort of drives the activity.
Employers don’t want to have to manage that huge onslaught of candidates. It’s time consuming and it’s difficult. So oftentimes, when what we’ve known for years and years and years is that companies prefer to hire referred candidates, right?
So you’re going to research the company and then you’re gonna monitor those companies on social media and in the news to see what they’re doing and what they have going on. And then you’re gonna look for people using LinkedIn because it’s the greatest tool to find people who work for that company. So that you could strategically reach out and have conversations with people who can give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to work there.
So that’s the whole process of being proactive and identifying targets. Obviously, the job boards are great and Indeed and LinkedIn are obviously prime targets and they make it pretty easy to go by. But I would not overlook the opportunity that happened at Mitch Job boards, job boards that are specialized in recruiting people for specific industries or for specific rules and likewise, even some recruiters.
Depending on the industry and the level of roll, some companies do reach out to third-party recruiters to help them fill those jobs. So that means for a job seeker, there are a lot of different moving parts to managing all that and how you structure your time around that.
Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense.
And when you talk about researching a particular company and you must spend some time to understand what is their social media presence or Internet presence? Now, a lot of these companies also have, you know, reviews on their sites. Like Glassdoor, when you go on Glassdoor, you can look at the pros and cons of it. What should a candidate really believe in, when that person is researching?
Right. That’s such a good question, because a lot of times people say, one person gave this company a bad review. I don’t want to work there, but that’s not really accurate. We know they’re anonymous reviews. In other words, the people are not putting their name to it, so it’s not really transparent and so anybody can say anything they want. A lot of times what happens is that a disgruntled employee will leave a negative review, but they’re just as many good reviews.
So I think that, if you’re researching a company on Glassdoor, there is a lot of good information there. You know there’s some insight, but I think that you sort of have to weigh it carefully. If they’re bad reviews, how many are there? And if there are more good reviews then leave with that and I’ll say that Glass Door is a very good source of information, but it’s not the only source, right?
So if you find reviews that are not so favorable for a company, that just means you have to have to ask questions around that situation, when you reach out to somebody inside of the company and begin having a conversation with them. So you’ve sort of validated any questionable information you uncover by real-life conversations.
Absolutely. I think candidates must really understand that news on Glassdoor is generally very sensationalized and exaggerated that might not even be true at all and that calls for being a little proactive and finding out more information about the organization, as you said.
So candidates have multiple things in the portfolio, right? I mean, they’ll have the resume. They’ll have an online presence. So how much of it, how much of what makes a real difference and how should they present themselves to organizations?
Well, as I talked about the strategy being that having that proactive approach and network with people I would never recommend leading with your resume because the resume just screams hire me. I’m looking for a job. And when you’re networking, you really can’t tailor the resume because you don’t know exactly what jobs are available and that kind of thing. So I really advise people not to network with a resume. That’s something that you use solely when you’re applying for jobs.
“So I really advise people not to network with a resume. That’s something that you use solely when you’re applying for jobs.”
I guess if somebody asked you for one after you’ve met with them, you can certainly forward along.
But you’d want to get more information about what kind of role you think I should tailor this for? Because we all can have different emphasis, and focus based on the job, the company, the opportunity. So that has to be fine-tuned.
The LinkedIn presence is really critical, right, because we know that there are so many people on Linkedin, and we know that recruiters go there. We know that even hiring managers and employees go there to look for people, so it is probably one of the most important places. It’s on 24/7 right? And so your LinkedIn presence has to be really solid. Your profile has to speak to all of the skills that you have, show examples of your work.
It’s almost like an online portfolio. You also want to make sure that you’ve got good recommendations written by people that you used to work with or work for. So there’s a lot that can be done with LinkedIn. I think a lot of people just don’t really appreciate how powerful LinkedIn is and how much employers and recruiters rely on that tool as the first sort of vetting candidate. So it’s super important.
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Absolutely right, and when you talk about those other social media channels like Facebook, there’s Instagram now, candidates usually would not keep it that professional. It’s a little personal.
So do you think there is a judgment of bias that arises here if the recruiters just don’t like Instagram and Facebook accounts?
Yeah, I think that.
“But isn’t bias a part of the whole interviewing process anyway?”
I mean, if they don’t use their personal bias on the LinkedIn profile, they’re gonna use it somewhere else in the interview process. And so, while it’s unfortunate, yeah, you have to sort of think okay, if somebody does go to look at my Facebook page. What will they find?
I control that, the job seeker controls that. So I would just say, you know what? If somebody does go sleuthing for you using Google search is looking for profile information. You control what they find, So if you don’t want them to find things that could be used against you on Facebook, then don’t put them there. Hide them.
And there are ways to be more private on Facebook. They’re more ways to be more private on Instagram. I mean, so any platform that you’re on you, you can control what people see. And if you’re monitoring what other people are tagging you and things like that, you have a lot more control than I think people give themselves credit for. And I agree it’s not necessarily the best way for a company to learn about you. But if they’re gonna do it, then be wise and make sure that you’re aware of what they’re going to see.
And do you think that a lot of the graduates, what they do is that they just come out of college and then they’re kind of just looking for jobs, just kind of at the last moment? Do you think is job searching a continuous process? Do you really have to keep doing that all the time?
Yeah, we do have to keep doing it all the time, And I really wish that colleges and universities did a better job preparing students for their senior year because it is an ongoing process. There are a lot of things that a job seeker who’s in college needs to know about the world of work and what the culture might be like inside the company or within an industry. And you can’t cram that into eight weeks of jump search, right in May when you’re graduating or whenever that is.
So I really wish that the process did start earlier. I mean, it technically should start freshman year, so that it’s all aligned with okay, what is the person really going to do with their life? What classes should they take? Who should they speak to in the world of work? What kind of networking? Who are the alumnus can we introduce them to? What internships can they have?
And so, by the time you would get to your senior year, you’d have amassed all of that experience and knowledge that would make it so much easier than to be strategic about your job search. And it goes back to having that target list of companies rather than just saying who’s hiring new graduates right now. Because at the end of the day the company is going to ask those graduates at one of the interview questions, why do you wanna work here?
“And it goes back to having that target list of companies rather than just saying who’s hiring new graduates right now. Because at the end of the day the company is going to ask those graduates at one of the interview questions, why do you wanna work here?”
And if the job seeker, the college graduate can’t answer that question, well, then that’s one of the reasons why I don’t think that they are really passionate about coming to work and as an employer and I might disregard them as a candidate.
So I think the job seeker has to take more control and be aware of where they want to work and what they want to do. And sometimes it’s hard until they’ve had some experiences. But start somewhere with a company that you really would love to work for.
Absolutely. I agree with you. You have gotta start somewhere. If you do not take the first step, you’re just never gonna know and you just kind of missed the bus on your dream job as such.
And these job seekers when they have a target list of companies, who are they supposed to go and target first? Is there like an HR head or something on the employee level? Who should they go to, and reach out to first?
That’s a great question. My recommendation is, see if you know anybody who works inside that company first, right? And LinkedIn again makes that super simple to find out. You just look at the employees and see who you know. But if there isn’t anybody you know, look for second-level connections. Perhaps you know somebody who knows somebody inside that company and it really at this point, this early stage of networking, it wouldn’t matter so much what level or what role the person had.
The fact is that they work inside that company, they’d be a good resource to give you information about what it’s like to work there. And they then might be willing to introduce you to the person that you really need to speak to, who works inside the department that you wanna work for or the group that you wanna work for.
I think that’s where job seekers get impatient. They want to go directly to okay, who is the person who would hire me for this job and they don’t have any connection to that person, and that makes it really hard. They need that warm introduction that’s gonna make it much easier for them to get a yes, sure, I’d be happy to talk to you. So if they really want to try and find somebody who can introduce them, that they can meet, that will introduce them to get in there.
I think you know, worst-case scenario where there’s a company that you want to work for, you don’t know anybody. I think you could very strategically pick somebody who is in a role that would potentially hire you for the kind of job that you’re looking for. Research them thoroughly on LinkedIn, see where they went to school, see what cause they worked for, see what other people have written about them in the recommendations, and then invite them to connect.
So you could say in your invitation to connect, ‘I’ve really looked at your background. I saw that you went to the same school as I did. Coincidentally, I’d love to talk with you about your experience working at XYZ company’, or ‘I looked at your background and I’m really intrigued by the path and how you have come about, how you’ve achieved, what you’ve done in your career. I’d love to talk with you about your work at XYZ Company.’
So that would be the cold in the cold and outreach. And sometimes those get ignored. But if you’ve done some research and you can draw that connection to how you know the person or say something you know about the person, that gives them one more reason to say yes.
Yeah, it’s almost like finding the right customer for let’s say your product right? You’re just kind of If you’re really passionate about it, you will do a lot of research. And I think a lot of job seekers don’t do that, they’re just lazy. And they don’t want to do a lot of research and that’s why they’re unhappy, right?
Absolutely. And that’s such a good point because that’s when you have companies that you think you would love to work for. You’d love to work for it makes it that much easier to do the research and to spend the time doing some of this stuff that seems sort of time-consuming. So, yeah.
Currently looking at the crisis and the Coronavirus situation, what do you have to say to the graduates of this year. You know, it’s very unfortunate for them because they would be taking the first steps in their career. How are they supposed to brace for the situation and any tips that will help them?
My heart bleeds, and we saw this happen back in 2009 when we had the financial crisis, a lot of the graduates just couldn’t find employment. I think the situation was a little bit different back then. What I know is that there are buckets of industries and companies that are still hiring around the world today, and they tend to fall into certain industries.
So even though you may not have wanted to be in one of those top-performing industries or the industries that are currently hiring, this might be a time just to say I need something. Let me do more research on companies in these industries and find some that might be might be of interest to me.
So those industries are typically in tech, anything IT. And you don’t have to be a coder, programmer to get a job in technology. They have these technology companies that have the full gamut of everyone from finance to customer service and everything in between.
So by tech, healthcare, and warehousing those three industries right now, we know are growing, and companies within those industries can be found in almost every city across the country, across the world. Find companies that are hiring in those areas in your region, start looking for people you know, inside those companies, I would say don’t be too picky right off the bat.
I think, as you said earlier, Having some experience, doing something after you graduate is better than not having any experience.
“Having some experience, doing something after you graduate is better than not having any experience.”
You’re gonna learn a lot. It may not be the dream job, but just know you’re not gonna be there forever. It’s just an opportunity to gain some work experience, learn a little bit about the industry, and then you’ll take that experience with you wherever you go. Next, you’ll use that cumulative knowledge and work processes and things that you’ve learned and you’ll be a more valuable employee down the road.
So I’m just going to kind of lead you on that conversation, right?
So you were talking about graduates kind of, really trying to just not be too picky at this point in time just to pick up whatever they can and try and get some experience. And what about those people who are being laid off? How should they go about looking for another job now?
Yeah. So the same advice would apply to them. We know that those industries that are hiring right now, and I actually, there’s another one I should include. So it’s technology, healthcare, warehousing, and finance banking. All of those industries are hiring right now.
So if I were an unemployed job seeker, even though I had no experience in any of those industries. I would learn enough about those industries and be able to talk convincingly about my qualifications for roles that I might be qualified for in those industries. I think there’s going to be an industry shift that’s gonna need to happen for job seekers that need to work.
“I think there’s going to be an industry shift that’s gonna need to happen for job seekers that need to work.”
I think the other thing is there’s a short term plan and a long term plan. So in the short term, if the job seeker really just needs income more than what they might make on unemployment or whatever they’re getting, then there are lots of jobs available that are probably not the kinds of jobs that they would want for the long term. There are jobs that can generate immediate income.
So we know what those are, there are delivery people working and in some of the foodservice industries that are still open like grocery stores and things like that. And Amazon is doing a huge every day. They’re hiring more people across the world, So those aren’t the kind of jobs, You’d want to have long term per se, but they could be an opportunity to make immediate income. And again it gives you something to do and to talk about while you’ve been unemployed.
You could say I took this job just to keep myself out there and to do something other than nothing. So that would be like the main advice. I think that now is a great time for job seekers to reconnect and build relations or reconnect with and nurture relationships with people they used to work with along the way, or people that they’ve known but haven’t really been in contact with for a while.
Everyone sort of stuck in the same holding pattern, not knowing what’s going on. And so people do find they have a little bit more time on their hands, the ones that are not crazy busy, and that makes it a great time to reach out and send a quick note or an email, even a phone call or text, and say, hey, I’m just wondering how you’re doing.
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That’s really great, as you said it’s time to build relationships and even kind of improve their skills or just get better learning and gain more knowledge.
Right. There’s a lot of free and low-cost online training that’s available right now, so definitely take advantage of that because we all have skill gaps. So this is a great time to build up some of those skills. Great point.
Absolutely. And then I think the competition is going to be high. There’s going to be a lot of friction and a lot of jobs, there will be a search for candidates. So you need to kind of be prepped up for being the best. And that’s gonna take time. So absolutely, that makes a lot of sense.
And especially, you spoke about the gig economy as well, because it’s gaining momentum now. Do you think that’s going to change in the future? Do you think that after we’re done with the pandemic with this whole scenario of jobs and workplaces? Is it gonna kind of be different?
So I wish I had the crystal ball and I could tell you for sure. We don’t know for sure but what we do know is that companies now have been forced to experiment with remote workers, and I think they’re gonna find that it’s not so bad having remote workers it actually can, can work.
So I love the fact that companies are being forced to experiment with this because I think that that can open up doors for a lot of people, not just locally, but it opens up. The company actually benefits a lot. The Employee benefits because they don’t have to spend the money commuting.
It gives them more flexibility in their work and the employer benefits because they can choose from a broader work pool. They can look anywhere in the world for people who have those skills. And I think that the challenge for us as individual workers is to say, ‘Okay, I’m not just competing against people in my geographic region. I’m competing globally
“And I think that the challenge for us as individual workers is to say, ‘Okay, I’m not just competing against people in my geographic region. I’m competing globally”
…so my skills and what I do to market and promote myself has to be really top-notch because I need to stand out. The competition is out across the world now, so that does make it a little bit more challenging.
As far as the gig economy, which is sort of different from remote because sometimes you know people could be freelancing or working remotely, two different things. I just love the idea of having multiple pools in common, It’s been called portfolio careers where you don’t put all of your financial eggs in one basket because when you do that, you lose that job. Then you’re where you are today without a job and panicking.
But if you have a portfolio career or a series of gigs, then you can turn them up and amp them up and amp them down based on the work that you have going on, and that again puts me, the employees in the driver seat. And that’s always where I want them to want us to be in a position of power rather than waiting for a company to hire me.
I could go out there and it takes some hustle. I’m not gonna lie, but you could go out there and find and create opportunities to do the kind of work that you want to do. So I think gig work has been growing, and I think it will continue to grow.
I’m not sure you know a company would ever take full advantage of gig workers. But in certain companies, in certain industries, certain roles, it makes more sense to bring somebody in for a project or a gig rather than have them come in for a full-time job.
And so again, the employees, the job seeker, the new college graduates really needs to do some research around, ‘Okay, what are the kinds of jobs that are well suited to give work? Or could my job become good work in the future?’ And with some research and talking to people, I think they’ll have a better understanding of what the viability is moving forward.
Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. The gig economy is on the rise. Being really well, we have to be inclusive with them. So that we begin moving on in the future.
And to kind of wrap this up, I’m going to ask you for any other important sound bites that you’d like to leave our viewers with?
I’m just gonna piggyback, to sort of what I was saying before because I believe that we, as the employees, are in control of our destiny and in control of our career. And if we take the mindset of okay, my career is my business and we use all the same philosophies and principles that a business owner would use to promote their business and to take care of their business. And we apply those to ourselves. I think that’s the right level of focus to have.
In other words, if I’m a business, I need to make sure that I am up on the latest technology, and I’m using that. I need to make sure that I’m prepared for whatever changes come down the road next and that I can pivot and change and adapt and adjust to keep building and growing my business.
And I need to continue to get the word out about the great work that my company is doing. So if somebody is an individual that keeps that mindset that they are a business of one. They are going to probably be long term, more successful, and managing the career and feeling more fulfilled because they have control over.
Absolutely, that makes a lot of sense and I’m sure a lot of job seekers will benefit from your advice and from the tips that you gave. It’s been a learning experience for me. And thank you so much for staying with us.
Thank you so much and be well. Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk with you.
Of course. Thank you for your time. Stay safe and have a healthy time ahead of you and have a great day.
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