Presenters: Merrill Dubrow, CEO, M/A/R/C Research; Matt O’Mara, Managing Director, Cranbrook Search Consultants; Terrae Schroeder, Head of U.S. Insights, Kellogg’s; Melanie Courtright, CEO, Insights Association
Transcript Courtesy of Focus Forward & FF Transcription
Melanie Courtright: Hello, everyone. Thank you all for joining us for our Friday Virtual Town Hall. Today we are focused on the search for new employments in insights. A couple of quick housekeeping items for you. Quick disclaimer first, we're going to give you a lot of information and a lot of advice, but none of this information or advice will substitute for any actual legal or financial advice that you might need. If you need help connecting with someone for legal or financial advice and you don't already have a relationship with someone, feel free to let us know and we'll do our best to connect you with someone. But we're going to give you as much information as we can. Today's webinar town hall will be recorded, it will come out to you directly from the platform, probably tomorrow. And it will also be transcribed, thank you very much to Focus Forward. We will have the transcription ready and we'll make that available as well, both to participants and to people who registered but were not able to attend. We would love to hear from you during the session today, if you do not have the chat pod or the QA pod up, you might want to bring those up. And feel free to ask questions, direct them to anyone. Just note that you can direct it to everyone, you can direct it to a specific person, and you can both be anonymous or have your name shown. Whatever you want is fine, just use those two pods. Quick reminder of the Insights Association Coronavirus Resource page, where you can find a lot of information there, and the recording to all of our previous town halls. And, then, for this specific session, a reminder about our Career Center, and make sure that everyone knows that if you are between jobs and you've been laid off or are searching for a job, we are offering free membership to both students, full-time students, and to those between jobs. Just reach out onto the website and you can find the place to register and become a member. With that, you get access to the Career Center, you can upload your resumes, get a complimentary resume review, create customized job alert emails, and see the jobs that are posted by our members and employers. So make sure to take advantage of that. We're happy to do that and really want to help you as you go through your job search. One other just very inspiring message for you as we begin this, companies are hiring. I have my inbox filled with people who say that they are hiring. There are people on this call that are hiring. There are jobs available. So I just want you to know as you go through this that there are jobs out there, and our hope through today's session is to give you advice on how to land one of those jobs. Be encouraged that there are jobs available, you just have to use your very best skills to land them, and we're going to try to help you with that. So we have three speakers today, our first speaker is Merrill Dubrow. He's the CEO of M/A/R/C Research. He's also a very good friend of mine. All of the people on this are very good friends of mine, so you'll hear me say that a lot. So he, Merrill, is a friend to the Insights Association, has been for a very long time. Served on the MRA board for six years, currently serving on the advisory boards for Michigan State University and Hofstra University, very well-known speaker, lots of energy, and has been a mentor for me about my own personal brand and about my own LinkedIn experiences. So I'm super excited about what he's going to share. Our second speaker will be Matt O'Mara. Matt O'Mara is Managing Director of Cranbrook Search Consultants. Matt and his team have partnered with lots of companies to identify, recruit, and hire professionals. Matt was Vice President of Business Development at Lieberman and at Market Tools, extensive background in auto at J.D. Power and at General Motors. And Matt served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps who – those of you who know me, know that I love the military. Super-patriotic, so love that part of his bio. And, then, our third speaker is Terrae Schroeder. I'm pleased to say Terrae is our newest board member for the Board of Directors at the Insights Association. Terrae is head of U.S. Insights a Kellogg's. Experienced brand strategist with a passion for winning, I love that. Specializes in brand building and behavioral sciences. Wide range of responsibilities include global and regional brand and innovation insights, shopper insights, strategy, and activation. Formerly with Procter & Gamble and for more than a decade before joining the Kellogg Company in 2013. I want to take a moment to thank each of you, you're all busy, but you're all also passionate about the people in this space, so thank you. With that, I will hand it off to our first speaker, Merrill Dubrow.
Merrill Dubrow: Thanks Melanie, I really appreciate it. And I want to give a shout-out, a bit shout-out to Jen and Nicole and Art and Howard and the entire Insights Association team for everything you guys are doing during this very challenging time. And a special thanks to you for having these town halls, because I know it connects the entire industry in a time that's very challenging. So kudos and a pat on the back to you.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you.
Merrill Dubrow: Where do I start? I mean, it's an emotional time, guys. This is with – a hard time for many. This is a situation where the world is facing an amazing crisis that we've never seen before. The concern is at the highest level. People are losing their jobs. People are losing money in the stock market, hundreds of thousands of dollars over and over and over. And it's just very challenging. My belief is that you need to take the time you need. OK. I've spoken to a lot of people who just got laid off, who are in transition, and my first piece of advice to them is, relax. You've got to get that uneasy feeling out of your body. You've got to get out that distaste of being upset, which you have a right to be. So my first piece of advice if you were laid off and emotionally you're not ready to look for a job, do not do it. The second picture, top right, it's time for a new job. So there you are. You've got to put the energy in. You've got to insert creativity. You've got to use strategy. Your new job, not that I'm going to be coy here, is to find a new job. That is your new job. And I think, if you do that, if you have – you put in the time, you'll have more success. And one of the things that I would suggest doing is – and I've got a good friend, Steve Henke at Harpeth Marketing, he has an accountability coach. And I think, when you're looking for a new job, you need to have an accountability coach. So whether that's somebody in the industry, whether that is your spouse, whether that is your best friend, I don't know. But you've got to have an accountability coach to just have those discussions and make sure that you're keeping them updated and you're really energized to get a new job. Bottom left, the computer screen is what I'll call 'control the noise'. There is going to be – and I'm not talking about the noise outside or the jackhammer or the construction project or any of that. I'm talking about controlling the noise, it's very easy to get distracted. It's very easy to watch the news 24/7. It's very easy to be on CBS or MSN or any website. It's very easy to look at your stock portfolio during the course of the day and watch it plummet as we talk. Don't do that. You've got to control the noise and you've got to stay focused. OK? You've got to be – it's so easy today to get distracted, and you've got to minimize that. It's easy to say, I'm going to do it tomorrow right? Because there's nobody over your shoulder looking. There's no boss. There's no colleagues. There's no peers. So it's easy to get distracted. It's easy to push things off. And the reality is you're probably hearing more and more people from – who have lost their jobs. And it's just easy to get caught up in so much stuff. And the more you focus, the more success you will have, I promise you. Melanie, can we go to the next slide, please? You've got to stay sharp, guys. And what do I mean by that? There are so many free webinars that you can attend, attend them, whether it's one a day, one every other day, you've got town halls that Melanie is having, that Insights Association is having. I know companies like Luth Research has a lot of webinars. My friends over at Zappi has a two-day conference, I believe, in about two and a half weeks. A virtual conference that has amazing content. I would suggest you pay attention, and keep your skills sharp for sure, and attend those webinars. There's a lot of them. I saw one yesterday, that Ad Age is having the CMO for one of the large restaurants. And I think that stuff is interesting. And I think, also stay sharp in terms of something I call '900 seconds'. 900 seconds, 15 minutes a day, get better at something. Whether it's become a better presenter, whether it's a better podcast, or whether it's a better sibling, whether it's a better researcher. You've got to stay sharp. You've got to stay relevant during this time, because it's very, very, very important. The next point I want to make is be flexible. And I'm not saying you've got to be flexible on day one, but we don't know how long this job search is going to take. We don't even know where we're going to be in COVID-19 in a month or two months or three months. We don't know. So the reality is, the more flexible you are, I think the better off you're going to be. What does that mean? Look, if I had to look for a new job and I'm in Dallas, and if I had to commute to Atlanta or if I had to commute to Chicago, those aren't the worst. It's not the best scenario, but if I had to do it, I could. But do I want to really commute to New York or Boston, even though that's where I'm from, probably not, because that commute is just challenging beyond. So be flexible in your geography. You may have to telecommute for a little while or work from home and go to that office once in a while. You may not have the perfect job. You may not have the perfect salary. And if we all get caught up, hey, I used to make ten rubies, I need ten rubies now, that's going to restrict you. So the more restrictions you have, the challenging that it's going to be. The next point I want to make is I want to echo what Melanie said about five minutes ago. There are companies hiring. There's a lot of companies hiring. OK. Yes, we are hiring, M/A/R/C. And I don't know, I believe Terrae is hiring as well. I know Delvinia, my friend up in Canada, Adam Froman, he's hiring. Zappi with Ryan Barry, he's hiring. So there are a lot of people that are hiring. And I think that you just have to identify them, and you've got to make sure it's the position that you really want and you're relevant for it and you can handle that position. But there are – if there's any takeaways today that any of us can say, it's there are companies hiring. Is it going to be harder to find a job? Yes. I'm not denying that. It is going to be harder. And it's probably going to be harder than '08 and it's probably going to be harder than 2001, for those of you who – of us were in it. The next one I want to talk about is be different. You've got to stand out. Now is the time to stand out. Why? Because anybody who has a job, who is hiring, if usually we were going to get 500 resumes, it's going to be 5,000. Whatever the number was, it's probably tenfold because there's so many people competing for those positions. So you've got to really, really be different. And I just want to show-can we go to the next slide, Mel, and click on that video for a second.
Hi, my name is Alexia Lynch. I am in the Masters of Marketing Research program at Michigan State University. I have grown to become extremely passionate about the insights industry and the power of using data to tell a story that ultimately drives business growth. I am motivated by the ability to make an impact using creative problem-solving, and I'm seeking full-time or internship positions beginning in June. Thank you.
Merrill Dubrow: Look, that may not be for everybody, but I mentor a lot of kids. I'm on the Michigan State board. I'll be chairing that board in about six months. The reality is I like this. It's different. Is everybody going to like it? No. Not everybody will. I actually do. If somebody had sent me that and said why they wanted to work for M/A/R/C Research, I actually would pay attention and I would – it would lead to an interview. I'm not going to guarantee I'm going to hire them, but it would out of a list of 50 or 100 resumes elevate themselves to the top. So think about that. As you're being strategic or listening to a webinar, OK? Sorry, Terrae, but you should send her follow-up emails, and definitely Matt too. Send them follow-up emails. Get to know them. Don't send me any follow-up emails. The reality is, you should send follow-up emails to presenters, to speakers because it's something different. It's something that everybody is not going to do. And LinkedIn to them, connect to them as well. The next slide, Mel. These are table stakes. Look, daily you should be getting emails from Quirks. You should be getting emails from MRWeb. You should be getting emails from the Insights Association. There are a lot of resources here, they all have job centers. And the Insights Association's Career Center is fantastic. And for anybody looking for a job, I just want to restate – and Melanie did a great job with this, and we should give kudos for her for doing this – anybody who's in transition can be a member for free. OK. That's fantastic. It's only fantastic if you use the resources, and they are at your disposal. So go on, use those sites. There's a few other ones, job.com and Indeed and CareerBuilder, they're all great, and Search Consultants as well. Figure out which search consultants that you want to talk to, whether that's Matt from Cran – Matt and Laura from Cranbrook, or Phil Reeve from Reeve Associates, or whatever your favorite one is, those are table stakes. The one I really want to concentrate is LinkedIn Advanced Search. OK. The LinkedIn – go to the next slide, please, Mel. The LinkedIn Advanced Search is really, really critical. You should be utilizing that tenfold during the course of the day. And there are a number of jobs on there. Just to give you some stats, I went on yesterday, on – and the stats are that there's 25,000 jobs in the U.S. on LinkedIn Search. There's 14,700 that have been posted in the last month. And in the last 24 hours, there's been almost 500 jobs with the search of market research. If you narrow that down to consumer insights, there's still hundreds of jobs that have been posted, but you're going to narrow your search. And you should be utilizing that 24/7. Obviously, you need a new best friend. You can go to the next slide, please click again, Mel. LinkedIn. Look, full disclosure, I am a huge proponent of LinkedIn. I'm a connector. I have almost 27,000 connections. There's a free version of LinkedIn, you should be utilizing this. You should be making sure your resume matches your LinkedIn profile because people go there first. If it doesn't, there's a gap. You're going to get thrown out. Endorsements on LinkedIn, don't care. Recommendations on Link, I care a lot about. And I look at those. And I'm sure I'm not alone. So LinkedIn's got to be your new best friend. You've got to be on it every single day. And the reality is, the more connections you have, the more opportunities you have to meet people, the more opportunities you have to hear about jobs. And I think you'll have success by doing that. Networking, A, I can't think this enough and I can't echo this enough. Everybody went to – whether it's high school or college, you were in a fraternity, a sorority, you played sports, connect to all of those people. You were in the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts with people, you haven't talked to Sally or Freddie. Connect to them. Why? Because you never know where somebody can and how somebody can help. I played tennis in Mahwah, New Jersey, with a guy named Steve. It took me three weeks to figure out he was in charge of all research for AIG. Shame on me. So you would be shocked that some of your contacts probably can help you. Reconnect with your old boss. Reconnect with everybody that you can connect with. And, trust me, it'll be very, very helpful. Melanie, go to the next slide, please. We use a tool called the AcuMax. The AcuMax is a tool that's an assessment tool. It basically tells you how you like to be integrated within a company. It tells you how you like to be communicated, how do you like to communicate. It tells you how you're wired. It tells you your strengths, it tells you your areas of improvement. It gives you a really good understanding of self-awareness, OK? The reason I tell you that boring story is anybody who emails me at email@example.com, I will send you a link to take this assessment. This assessment will take less than five minutes. You will get a 28-page report that I promise you will peg you, will tell you some areas that you need to work on. It has three pages of questions for interviewing process. It has coaching tips. This is a valuable tool that I will make available to anybody who just sends me an email and says, "Hey, send the AcuMax." So, with that, I'm going to send it back to Melanie. Thank you for listening, guys.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. And, of course, we will have plenty of time for Q&A. We'll do the Q&A at the end. But next up, we have Matt O'Mara. Matt is equity partner at Cranbrook Search Consultants. Matt, off to you.
Matt O'Mara: Well, thank you very much. A lot of what I'm going to say is going to echo exact – some of the things that Merrill just talked about, but I think it's important to make sure that we are communicating this effectively. The first advice that I would give is keep calm and carry on. That's sound advice. But prior to that, and even before that, you really have to give yourself a chance to feel this loss. You really have to recognize and accept that this is a loss before you can start your search. There's a lot of emotions that you're going to feel, that you have been feeling, and if you try to skip this step in the process, it will come back to haunt your search. So make sure you take time to set yourself, like Merrill was saying, just kind of do a self-assessment. Surround yourself with people, with the right people for support, and manage those emotions, and then move forward. There's no substitute for that, you have to do it. If you haven't already done that, you've got to make sure that you do that. The second bullet point is reevaluating and focusing your options. This is the job search equivalent of setting the objectives for a research program. So in the same way that you would have to set the objectives to make sure that you're thinking through all of the things that you're going to do on a research event, otherwise your results won't come out the way you want them to. Your search isn't going to come out the way you want it to unless you put the time in to evaluate and focus your options. This is a vital step in the process, and it's really important that you take the time to do this. First and foremost, I always tell people, build a networking plan that focuses on your areas of strength and the targeted roles or firms that you want to look at. And this is a real self-assessment, right? This takes time to do this. There's a lot of thought that has to go in to building this networking plan, and it can't be skipped. So this is an important thing, to take some time, as Merrill was saying, block out a lot of that noise that's out there, and just focus in this time for your – this is your planning. This is the important planning part. Also, at the same time, you can be investing in your personal development. This is – you could be taking lessons on coding. You could talk about, maybe, learning a new skill within the research or insights, or even as Merrill was saying, just do some self-improvement in terms of being a better presenter, being a better report writer, whatever that happens to be, wherever you feel you might be deficient, take some time to work on your personal development while you've got some time to do that. Once you've done the networking plan and you've got a lot of those thoughts in place, prepare a narrative that you're going to use in communicating who you are and what you do. Develop an honest and professional narrative and practice. You should have a readily available 30-second, or 30-, 60-, or 90-second elevator pitch that you can bring – that you can use at any time. Next, I'd recommend updating your resume and, as Merrill was saying, your LinkedIn profile, and start to prepare cover letter materials. You can update and customize your resume with real focus on adding keywords within the industry. I think this is critical. Updating your LinkedIn profile to match that, I think that's vital, to match your resume, really expand your job information as much as possible, change your status to open for new opportunities, add information, and make new contacts. There's no substitute for expanding your network. And you have to be specifically strategic in expanding your network into areas that you want to go into. So that's targeting companies and targeting specialties. Update your other social media footprint. Employers will evaluate your social media footprint, so be sure that you're scrubbing what's out there. As a friend of mine, Erik Qualman wrote in his book, What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube, you have to be cognizant of the fact that you've got a social media footprint out there. And, then, like I said, develop materials that you would use in cover letters and customize those for targeted roles and for industries. This takes a lot of time, but go ahead and put that time in to start creating those materials. OK. Next. Networking and job search. This is, at this point, now you can start to expand your network. You can start looking for a job. The first and foremost, as Merrill was saying – I'm probably going to say that phrase a lot, so I apologize. Tell everybody that you know and everyone that you meet that you're actively looking. There's no substitute for networking. The college alumni networks, your current or your previous work colleagues, but also include vendors and clients, those are great people to get, and your personal network. Be open and honest about your status. Your network can't help you unless they know that you're actively looking. Just a word of caution, proper networking is difficult. It's a difficult challenge, but it is part of this job to find a new job. And I know from experience, and the folks here on this call will – are attested to – a testimony to this, there's good and decent people in this industry. Reach out to your network. I can assure you, you're going to find receptivity within this industry. Focus your networking discussions on growth opportunities. I learned as a college kid when I was selling tennis rackets, never ask yes/no questions to customers. You should never ask yes or no questions during networking. If you ask the question, are you hiring? You're going to hear, no. And, then, the conversation is truncated. Instead, focus your conversations on where this person's company is growing, what suppliers that they're using that are in growth mode, and what clients are they working with who are also growing. It's really important to focus your conversations on growth and not just the tactical hiring, are they hiring or not? As part of that, get referrals in the organizations that might be in growth mode, and also ask for recommendations for LinkedIn. Those are vital. So, as part of the networking call that you might do, you never walk away empty-handed because you'll have recommendations or, at least, endorsements. Look forward rather than in the past. Think about the things – the quote here is, "What I miss most about my past job was working with customers." Explain that you're looking forward to a customer-facing opportunity. Don't look in the past, look to the future. I recommend you focus your job search. That's so important, to really focus what you're going to do and where you're going to use. Using the advanced search options in things like LinkedIn and other job listings, you can focus on those skills and interest that match what you can provide. And that's the big thing, you've got to provide a match to the hiring company. There's never been more important than now. I recommend you don't waste your time applying to jobs that aren't a fit, that you really do need to stay focused, and you need to be able to prove that value to the potential employer. I also recommend you keep a detail – wait, one second before we go to that. I also recommend you keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the jobs that you're applying to, specifically with information about the company, the job title, the salary information, and I'll talk more about that in a second, and then the networking status that you might have with that company. OK. Now. So, in terms of salary, this can be a tricky item, right? So some states limit what you – what the employer can ask in terms of salary history, but they can ask questions about salary expectation. And where I was referring to the spreadsheet about salary, is keep detailed notes about what you're telling people in terms of salary, because you may be willing to accept a lower salary for a company that is just perfect, a perfect match for you. And it might have a shorter commute. But you may want to ask for something more, for a company that might have some deficiencies, or maybe they don't have all of the benefits that you're looking for. So just keep detailed notes about that, so that you're – when you're communicating, you're communicating effectively throughout the process what your salary expectations are. Have a strategy regarding salary and the range. There are resources available from the Insights Association and GreenBook and others. OK. So, unless you've got game, like someone like Merrill Dubrow or you're a Hall-of-Famer like Allen Iverson, you're going to have to practice interviewing. Practice, practice, practice. And so it's important to know and review common interviewing techniques, like the CAR technique or the STAR technique, which are focusing on the actions and results that you've directly been able to influence. So customize your responses for those techniques. It's really important that you put in the homework to have some vignettes, if you will, about what – the things that you can talk about, about some of those common questions. So it's important to ask about what the techniques are in advance, and then prepare for the unexpected. I know a hiring manager who will actually get up during the middle of the interview and will say, excuse me for a second, I've got to go do something. Will leave the candidate with a Sudoku or a crossword puzzle, and then say, hey, could you fill this out for me while I'm gone? Now, the purpose of that exercise is not to see how good the candidate is at doing Sudoku, the purpose is to see how well they handle the unexpected, right? So I always tell candidates, expect the unexpected. Think about the – it's likely the hiring person is going to ask you some crazy questions, be prepared. We have another client who likes to ask the question, tell me something about you, that if I don't see you for five years, I'll remember when we meet in the airport five years from now. And that's a good question. It's sort of unexpected, right? It has nothing to do with what you do, but has everything about it tells me who you are. Interviewing formats are changing, and I think they'll be changing forever. There's going to be more emphasis on telephone and video, of course, and less in-person. Get comfortable making those connections over the phone and through video. However, the fundamentals haven't changed, so you've got to know the fundamentals and preparation. You've got to be prepared. So to paraphrase, "The demise of thank-you notes is greatly exaggerated." Thank-you notes never went out of style. I firmly believe that a lack of genuine follow-up and interest in the company will cost you. It can cost you a follow-up interview, it could potentially even cost you a job. So it's important to focus on the fundamentals. No question about that. I think it's important to maintain communication with your former employer, that goes without saying, talking about healthcare and other benefits. Know what, if any, restrictive covenants may apply to you, and if this is a good time to negotiate for relief from any of those restrictive covenants. So I firmly believe you should get a copy of your employment agreement with your previous company, if you haven't already done so, this is a good time to do that. I have a couple of rants that I do about non-compete agreements, but I know Melanie's been actively soliciting companies to provide relief for those throughout this process or throughout this time, so I'll leave that for another day. Just a word of advice in terms of applicant tracking systems, everybody uses them, so you've got to be thinking about that going into this process. They're all keyword-weighted, or most of them are, and scored by software. So it's really important to read the job description, customize your resume, and add keywords specific to that job description so that your resume will pass through the applicant tracking system, and then will finally be able to – will be read by an actual human. If you don't make it through the screening, your resume is just going to stay literally in a digital pile somewhere. It's a good – and during – or going into the interviewing process, it's good to know what, if any, assessments you're going to be asked to do, the number of interviews, any required presentations that you might have to do. The assessment part is important. There are many of them out there and you should be familiar with what those are before you get into the process. And if you didn't get the job – if you did get the job, great, congratulations. But if you didn't, your efforts haven't been wasted. Your time is still valuable. You may get another or future opportunity within that company, or at a minimum, you've made contact with somebody and, hopefully, been able to impress that person. That may come into play down the road. I firmly believe you shouldn't panic by taking a job that isn't right for you. I know some circumstances are different, but I tell people this all the time, don't panic. Don't take a job that isn't right for you. It actually might be better, even though it may not feel that way, that you didn't get hired for a role that isn't a fit. And I think part of that all goes back to that first step in the process in understanding where you are right now, and then planning for the future, planning your networking for the future, so that you are focusing on roles that are a fit for you and a fit for the organization. So I'll pass it back to you, Melanie. That's it from here. And we'll do the follow-up with the questions.
Melanie Courtright: Yep. Lots of good questions. And, again, we will get to those towards the end. But next up, I'd like to pass it off to Terrae. Terrae, Head of U.S. Insights at Kellogg's.
Terrae Schroeder: Thank you, Melanie. And I can try to be brief too, because I think Merrill and Matt have done such a great job and hit so many key points that I don't want to take all the time. And I want to definitely leave time for questions. But some things that I always kind of just talk to people about, whether it's if they were cut from their job or furloughed or if they're just thinking about taking a career change is to really take some time to think about where your passion areas are. And I tell people even on my team or that I mentor, if they think they want to go in a certain direction, maybe it's they really have a passion for media or for analytics or for digital, to go out and research jobs in that area. So I myself a LinkedIn stalker, as I say, I'll go out and I'll pull either jobs that are posted in that area or people who have those roles. And I'll really kind of look in to see what kind of experiences do they have or what kind of experiences are they looking for, and be able to kind of craft my own learning plan or experiences, so that it builds me towards that area. So that's just one thing that I always recommend to everyone, even just very junior people in the organization, as they think about where do you want to be in ten years? Go find that role at LinkedIn and start to think about how you build your path to get there. And we talked a lot about networking, I have a friend that recently left her job. And she really has a passion for travel. And, so, she started just reaching out to folks in that industry to really kind of understand what is that industry about? What are the needs of those type of employers? To kind of just connect into a new space where she hasn't been before. And the other thing I'd add on here that I hadn't thought about before I heard Matt and Merrill talk is that I know a lot of people in '08 and '09 that had lost their jobs for the recession or were laid off. A lot of those people actually ended up, in a couple of years, going back to their old employer. Make sure you can – if you enjoyed your job there, make sure you keep those connections, keep those networks open, because that could also be an opportunity as things start to come back to normal. And we talked about leveraging your network – sorry, I just want to hit one point on that. We have, actually, at Kellogg, a lot of contractors who used to be employees. So, again, keeping that network in place, reach out to companies you've worked with, even past companies you've worked with to see if there's any potential contract opportunities that may fill some gaps in the short-term and that may also lead to a long-term opportunity. Trust me, that we are often always trying to get our contractors to come work with – work for us full-time, but they are enjoying their independent gig. So that's just another thing to think of. And, especially if you want to pursue a couple of different options. Maybe you think, I've never worked in beauty or I've never worked in healthcare. This could be a way to get some experience in those areas. OK. When we talked about the CAR format, I like to write it all out. So what I tell people is literally go through your resume and write out kind of your experiences from each role. And, so, CAR or STAR is either context, action, result, or situation, task, action, result. I use CAR because it's shorter, gets to the same point. It's hard when you're – and it may be ten years since you were in that role. And it takes a little while to kind of dust the fog off and think that through. So I always recommend just kind of handwriting that out or typing it up, whatever you're comfortable with. And, then, the other thing I always say is part of this behavioral interview is really understanding how you do your work. So a lot of what you've accomplished can come through from your paper resume, but how you did it is what we're really looking for in this behavioral type interview. And as long as I've been doing interviews, there's always things where we're going to ask about challenges you've faced or ways that you've had to help either individuals or teams through a challenge. I personally put a lot of weight on lessons learned from the experiences that you've had, and then how you applied them to future behaviors or future outcomes. So just as you think through your CAR, keep in mind that that's kind of what, probably, that interviewer is looking to really tease out, is how you get your results. And, then, of course, research the company and prepare questions for the interviewer. There's some questions, if you're not really sure what to ask, but you could ask things about what are the day-to-day responsibilities. You can ask about the characteristics that they're looking for, that someone would be successful in that role. I think it's always good to ask kind of generally how the organization is set up, as far as who is your – who are your teams that you'll be working with or collaborating with, and how things like that work, just to get a feel for it. And, then, lastly, some other folks have talked about the virtual interview. It's definitely different. We've been doing it the last couple of weeks. We actually – so we used to have panel interviews, which would be kind of three folks to one. And in this new virtual, we've now shifted one-to-one, because it's just kind of weird to do the online panel. So, as I think about that, making sure that your – again, if you want to, just to prerecord yourself just to capture things like your clarity and speed of speech. I'm actually a natural very fast talker, so whenever I do things like this or interviews, I always have to say, slow down your talk, slow down your speed. Things like body movements, as you see. Trying to keep eye contact can be tough in this environment. So just kind of things to practice from an online. I think the unexpected piece that has happened here in this online world is glitches. We can't hear you. We can't see you. Your computer conks out. So be prepared for those things that might pop up as well. And we talked a little bit about how do you bring your personality to life. It's potentially even harder to do when you're not in-person, so stories that either connect you to the brand or the company or their products are things where they can kind of connect you as a person to the industry are always good ways. And, of course, try to find a place where you can eliminate distractions. I'm home today, as I think probably most of you are. I've got three kids running around, so one might bop in here, but trying to find a time and a space and a place where you can hopefully eliminate distractions so you can give your full attention to the interview. So those were my tips.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you, Terrae. Before we move into formal Q&A with everyone, there's one point on here about being focused and concise. Can you talk for just a second about that?
Terrae Schroeder: Yes. So I've definitely had interviews where the person's resume was amazing, and then they come in to the interview and we could not get an answer out of them. They just go on and on and on in this direction and that direction. And especially in insights, where I think we're looking for people who can make a clear recommendation and support that. That, to me, I think is a very important part of the interview process as well. I think the CAR, writing it out ahead of time, will help folks with that. But it is definitely important. We're wanting to see that you can pull together the results, the actions, put it together in a concise way that you're able to then communicate that. So part of it is how good of a communicator you are, how good of a storyteller you are. And, as you know, all of those things are very important for an insights person.
Melanie Courtright: Great. Thank you. So, Matt, a question for you from the group. There's a few questions about the thank-you notes, specifically saying, do they need to be handwritten, can they be email? Is there a best practice around the thank-you notes?
Matt O'Mara: I think emailing is fine. If – you could go all the way, old-fashioned to hand write it, but email is fine. The important thing is identifying the person, thanking them specifically for their time, and kind of following up from what was discussed during the interview. But, yeah, email is fine.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Hey, Merrill, some questions here from people around – on LinkedIn and the recommendations.
Merrill Dubrow: Sure.
Melanie Courtright: There's a few questions here around if you're not permitted to go back to people who were your former manager. Do you just have some encouragement for people around the seeking of recommendations?
Merrill Dubrow: Yeah. I think, unfortunately, what we're all going through is – has forced us to be in this together. And I think – a quick story that I tell, when I was in Boca Raton visiting my mom about six months ago, I did a little test, and I held the door open for ten people. And I was curious on how many would say thank you to me and only three did. If I did that same test today, it's probably nine. And I think that people who may have been resonate and resilient to giving recommendations in the past, I think people are going to do that now a little bit more frequently because we're in this together. And I think, just ask. It's so easy to go on LinkedIn and under the – I think it's the – I don't have my site up, but I think it's under the "More" with the three dots on the right hand side. And you can, when you're on their profile, just hit Ask for Recommendation. It literally can do it in less than 30 seconds. And I would think that you're going to probably have a success rate of more than 50 percent, but you have – I just want to follow-up on something Terrae said and Matt because I think it's important. We have about 20 percent of the people on our staff that came back. But I implore everybody to go out the right way. If you go out the right way, people remember what you accomplished. If you go out the wrong way and you were there for 20 years, people remember how you go out, and everything you accomplished has gone away. So if you've gone out the right way and you ask for recommendations, I think most people today are actually going to do it, Melanie. I really do. I know I do.
Melanie Courtright: Yep. And I would just add, don't be afraid to ask. I probably won't think about it, but a couple of you have already asked me to write you a recommendation, and I'm going to do that this weekend. If they don't do it that day, don't be discouraged. I tend to do some of those things on the weekend with a glass of wine in my hand, because it requires me to use more words than I'm typically using. And, so, don't be afraid to ask because I might not think of it, and then don't be afraid to wait a few days for the weekend to appear because that's when some people do those kinds of activities.
Merrill Dubrow: Yeah.
Melanie Courtright: So for all of you, several questions here about if you have been out of the space for a little while, if you've been out of a job for a little while, we've gotten quite a few questions, what advice do you have for people with a gap in their employment history? Terrae, Matt? Matt, you want to take that first?
Matt O'Mara: I think the important thing is, as we were talking about before this, and that is just have a quick synopsis ready to explain exactly what happened. That's going to be an objection that you're going to have to get over. And it's no different than if you were selling to a client and you knew there was an objection. Address it early on. Be very concise about it, and then move on from there. But it's really important to address it and be specific and move on.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah.
Merrill Dubrow: Mel, I would just like to add a – build on what Matt said, which is get involved quickly. Take webinars. There's a lot of training sessions that you can take with – whether it's the University of Georgia or some of the other programs, they're not terribly expensive. And I think you can sharpen your skills very, very quickly. The other thing is volunteer for a few organizations. I'm just spit balling here, Mel, but I would imagine if you had a couple of people who volunteer to help, they might – you might say yes. And whether that's to help when writing a newsletter, whether that's help with maybe sponsorship or analyzing segmentation, the membership, I don't know. But volunteer. I think that people don't usually think about that. I mean, when was the last time, Mel, you got somebody who said, hey, can I volunteer for the Association? Doesn't happen too often, right?
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. It was actually yesterday, honestly though.
Merrill Dubrow: Well, but that's not in the last five minutes.
Melanie Courtright: No. But my point was it was actually someone that I was talking to about their job search. And they said, "During this time, I need to stay active. I need to stay involved. I need to show that I filled my time with meaningful things, and so how can I help you?" And it was refreshing. It was wonderful. Yeah.
Merrill Dubrow: Right.
Melanie Courtright: Terrae, anything you want to add to that or you want me to ask you a new question?
Terrae Schroeder: Yeah. No. I actually was just going to say the same thing Merrill did, as far keeping your – doing the free webinars, staying in tuned with the organization, and volunteering for sure, as much volunteering as you want to do. Because, again, then you're showing how you were productive in that time.
Melanie Courtright: So I've had both, when people registered and here again in the Q&A, in the chat pods, I've had several questions about what's coming that's new. What are the new things that people are looking for. And in a world with more DIY tools and more technology and automation, what are some recommendations that you have for people in how to compete today versus ten years ago? What's different post-COVID and post-technology as you're thinking about hiring?
Terrae Schroeder: So I'm not sure post-COVID, but I think technology is a big one. And I always – one, I feel like technology is the big enabler for the organization and we should figure out how to leverage it to do more and be more impactful. The other piece, at least at Kellogg, as we've reorganized into an end-to-end commercial model, is we're generally looking for people that have that kind of end-to-end experience. So, as far as all the way from innovation, all the way through sales – or at least who have had those different experiences through their career. So I think it's important to make sure that you're building your portfolio of those experiences in an insights role, breadth. I would say, generally, in the industry, at least on the client side, there's probably a lot more breadth roles than there are depth roles, as we kind of need to be a little Jack- or Jane-of-all-trades and understand the full spectrum of the commercial model. I think the DIY tools and things like AI and smart platforms can really enable the organization, one, in communications, so we can push out a lot more information in better ways that can be customized to our end-user. Email, I mean, it's – I feel like it's just well past time to only – to move past email and have better ways to send information, especially from an insights perspective. So we've invested in some systems and softwares, where we've got kind of a home page, a landing page, insights are fed there daily and updated and then built by that person's preferences. So you can go in and say what categories are you interested or retailers or trends and every day [AUDIO SKIPS]. And there are some external things that source there, and there's also some internal things. We just ran a study on gluten-free trends and it pops up on that person's home page. So I think there is a lot of 'democratize the data', being able to communicate more effectively to more people at the right time that we can really utilize technology for.
Melanie Courtright: Matt or Merrill, anything you want to add to that?
Merrill Dubrow: It's all about speed, Melanie. It's all about speed now. So all of our clients want to know, whatever research projects they were going to do, if it was two weeks, now it's going to be 12 days. If it was 12 days, now it's going to be 6 days. There's going to be a lot of companies out there that are going to build do-it-yourself tools and go after AI and some of these other things. I think you've got to be really careful. Everybody wants to build products and tools, but you've got to make sure you have the right team. You've got to make sure you have the right clients. And you've got to make sure you can make money doing that because, if not, you're going to waste a lot of cash and you're going to be in a world of hurt. So I think you've got to be really careful. But it's – the name of the game is all about speed. The pandemic has helped all of us from a business standpoint look at every line – every cost that we have in our enterprise has been looked at. We're constantly thinking about, how do we do this a little bit quicker? So I think that's the name of the game. I think it's just speed.
Melanie Courtright: Yep. All right. Matt, a couple of questions here about looking overqualified and, maybe for you and for Merrill, about salary negotiation. So, first, how about best way to overcome, if you're willing to take a lower job at a lower salary, looking overqualified.
Matt O'Mara: That's always a challenge because the hiring company is going to look at somebody who's overqualified as potentially too expensive or when things do settle down, that that person might be a flight risk in 6 to 12 months. That's going to be in the back of the mind of the hiring company. And it's, again, you have to overcome that objective and convince the company the reason I'm interested in this role is because you're in a growth mode. You're in the place that I want to go to and I want to be a part of that growth. If it's just, I'm taking this job because it's the only one I can get, then they're going to be – there's going to be those concerns. Switching into gears, to salary, I think the important thing is just to have done your homework and understand where you are, where you need to be, but then having some flexibility and making sure that you're understanding, what are the other benefits? What are the values at that company? What's the value that company can bring to you and what value can you bring to them? And making sure that your salary matches to what that value proposition is.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah. There's a specific question here that says, if they ask you your salary expectation, some people have suggested being brave and saying, I'd like to save that conversation until I know more about the fit and the value I can bring, maybe because I'm flexible or agile. Is that good advice?
Matt O'Mara: I think it's absolutely good advice. The only problem is a lot of applicant tracking systems don't allow you to do that, you have to put in a number. And that's where I was getting to, it's so much of this is automated, if you're applying online, which is one of the drawbacks of applying online. But that's a whole different webinar. You have no choice but to put down a number. But, ultimately, yes, you want to be able to say, look, I'm willing to have this discussion because I want to know what value I can bring to your company and where there may be a fit salary-wise.
Melanie Courtright: Great. Merrill, anything you want to add there?
Merrill Dubrow: Yeah. I think we're going to have to all be a little careful here because it's advantage company. I mean, there's a lot of people unfortunately in transition right now. And I think that companies have the upper hand right now. And if they really want to take advantage, instead of offering ten rubies for the job, offer eight. That comes down to an integrity issue for me. I don't plan on doing that. And if anybody that's close to me is asking about that, we talk it through. And I just think you've got to be really, really careful. What I want is loyalty. What I want to know is that, look, if I'm going to hire you here, that it's going to be for a period of time. I don't want you to jump ship after six months when the market opens up a little bit. And I'm going to, hopefully, with social distancing, look 6, 10, 15 feet away from them and ask them that question, and look to see if I really believe them. But I don't plan on lowering salaries because it's – because, frankly, it's a buyer’s market right now. And I think you’ve got to be careful with that. I really do.
Melanie Courtright: I want to ask you guys one more sort of follow-up question, and I'm going to give you a second to think about it, so I'm going to make an announcement. But I would like you to give your best piece of advice as a closing comment, be 'fill in the blank'. What's something that they should be as they go through this process? So I'm going to ask you that, you're very best piece of advice, your wrap-up piece of advice. So, first, though, I just want to make a really quick note for people while they think about that, that the next conference is now free to members. And if you are unemployed and you are taking advantage of the free membership, you are free to attend this, you should attend. So if you have not signed up for the next conference, June 1st through 3rd, it is now free to all IA members. And it is very affordable for non-members as well. We will be continuing these town halls. And, so, we'll be sending out information, again, based on your membership, that's how we are allowed to communicate with you. So I hope that you – if you haven't joined yet, you will. All right. So let's do this follow-up, this very last piece of feedback for everyone. We'll just, this time, maybe we'll do ladies first. Terrae, be 'blank'. Your best piece of advice for everyone.
Terrae Schroeder: I'm going to have to say passionate because I know Merrill and Matt talked a little bit about don't take a job that's not the right fit for you just because it's there or your credentials fit. So I think, to me and from an interview process, that's one of the things that will set one candidate up above two others if they all have very equal backgrounds or experiences, is if we can see they really have a passion for that business or that industry or what they can bring to the table there. Because, then, I just – I feel like they have a lot of long-term impact or long-term potential, right? They're really excited about that industry, they have a passion for it. And that's kind of the plus-up factor for me when we're looking at candidates.
Melanie Courtright: And if they're not passionate about it, don't waste your time, right?
Terrae Schroeder: Yeah. I mean, I think if they're not going to love it, if it's not going to be a good fit, I just – I think someone mentioned, I don't know if it was Merrill or Matt, it might be a short-term solution, but it likely won't be a very good long-term solution for either you or them.
Melanie Courtright: Great. Thank you. Matt, be 'blank'.
Matt O'Mara: Good question. Be resilient. This process is not easy. Not trying to make light of it, but the only easy day was yesterday. And with that mindset, just keep moving forward. Focus on the task in front of you, obviously keep the goal in mind, but focus on the task in front of you and just keep moving forward and be resilient. It's not personal, it's just business, to paraphrase The Godfather. Don't take it personal, it's not. It's just business. But keep moving forward. Keep – and I'll add another one, be enthusiastic, be optimistic because there is no substitute for resiliency and optimism.
Melanie Courtright: Awesome. Thank you. So, Merrill, some of yours are probably gone now, but maybe not. Your turn, Merrill. Be 'blank'.
Merrill Dubrow: Be focused and let the industry help you. I think if you ask for help, you're going to – and give people a chance to say no, I think you're going to be really surprised at how many people say yes. The other thing is, don't be like, you know, we all have New Year’s resolutions. And if anybody's in a gym in January, the gym is jammed. And in February, it's empty. Why? Because everybody doesn't have the discipline to keep it going. So be focused and let the industry help you, and I think the industry will not let you down.
Melanie Courtright: I love that. So I've said it to the businesses on our previous town halls, when we were talking about business issues, but to this group of job searchers and seekers and hirers, I will say it again, do not suffer alone. Let us help you. Let us get you through this. And my advice is to be brave. I really believe in being brave and asking for the recommendation, asking for the job, asking for the interview. Be brave. If you've ever said you're not a salesperson, that no longer exists. You are a salesperson. You are selling yourself, so practice sales. Build a pipeline and be brave. Thank you all very much. Thank you to all the attendees and to the speakers. I am truly grateful for your time today. We will follow-up with everyone with the town hall recording and with the transcript. And good luck in your job search, and let us know if you need anything. Thank you, all.