… Spiritual virtues in your job search

No matter what anybody ever tells you there is a spiritual side to our job search. There’s a spiritual side to every human endeavor but the job search is often so traumatic that it’s important for us to “feed” our spirit while we are searching for a job. Along with the emotional ups and downs of a job search, a person’s spirit is affected by the difficulties the body and mind go through. In speaking about feeding our spirit it’s really important to be reminded of  the four cardinal virtues.

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and choose the right means of achieving it. No matter how difficult the job search can become with phenomenal instances of rejection and refusal, we have to be convinced that good will come of it. That’s really easy for someone else to say about our personal circumstances. When a person’s been out of work for six months or so and just can’t seem to get a break in finding a job, trying to find the “good” in their experience is hard to justify. But it is there. Even if for no other reason than to keep us humble there can be good in the experience.

Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of good. This is one of the most important virtues the job seeker has to pray for and practice. The firmness in difficulties… the difficulties of either being out of work or having to find a job when you already have one… the difficulties of being rejected so many times that you can’t count them… the difficulties of doubt, uncertainty and fear… and still have the firmness to continue on looking for the good.

Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. In the job search it is temperance that keeps us from going to play golf when the weather is nice when we know we should be on the phone trying to get an interview. It is temperance that keeps us on track with our routines daily to ensure we do all of the things we should be doing to get a job. Its temperance that keeps our ego and anger in check when things don’t go our way.

Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will give due to God. This is a really hard virtue to come to grips with, especially when you’re looking for a job and it’s been a long hard road. For some reason, we all expect justice and fairness on this earth. Life isn’t fair nor is it Just. Justice is in God’s hands. Searching for fairness and justice in this life, especially regarding a job search is futile. Understanding that releases us emotionally from the emotional drain of the rhetorical question of “why isn’t life fair?”

Seeking to practice these virtues in our hearts and minds makes our job search… and life.. a little easier.

 

 

Have No Expectations About Outcomes

One of the most discouraging aspects of a job search is for job seekers to continually get disappointed about the unsuccessful outcomes of their activities. When they don’t get an interview they get frustrated. When they do get an interview and don’t do well on it and get rejected, they get frustrated. When they are told that they are a great candidate or when they come in “second” and are chosen, they can get downright mad. In fact this may be one of the biggest reasons people stopped looking for work. They are so frustrated at the outcomes that didn’t live up to their expectations, they quit.

We should look to the example of elite athletes to find that they have no expectations for outcomes. They do, and I repeat, do have expectations for their own performance, but they do not have expectations for the outcomes. A batter doesn’t go to the plate thinking about winning the game. An elite basketball player doesn’t shoot the ball worried about winning the game. They focus on their own expectation of themselves doing their best and letting the score, the result, take care of itself.

Job seekers would have a lot less emotional strain if they had no expectations about outcomes. They should have expectations of their own ability to get a lot of interviews. They should have expectations about their ability to perform really well in initial interviews, but no expectations about moving beyond the initial interview. They should have high expectations of themselves to perform well on secondary interviews, but no expectations about why they did or didn’t go beyond the secondary interviews. They should have high expectations of themselves being able to negotiate a job offer, but no expectations about getting the job offer. If jobseekers have expectations about outcomes, they will spend most of their time being emotionally flattened.

Maximizing expectations of ourselves and minimizing the expectations of the results allows us to channel our emotions toward what we can control and not lose energy over what we can’t control.

 

 

 

Spiritual Beings Acting Human

Let me share with you a practical way of “giving”…and the wonderful return.

It was Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit philosopher who wrote: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” In the everyday world, our human experience and being human seems to grossly overshadow our desire to reach the higher level of spirituality. In fact, people are a pain in the butt… and so are you!

Unfortunately, most people in a job search are going to painfully “experience” the human side of lots of people…the pain in the butt side. And that human side ranges anywhere from insensitive to downright rude. These are the people, hiring authorities, interviewing authorities, even friends of yours…anyone you encounter in the job search, who don’t return your calls, leave you hanging with the statement, “We’ll get back to you” and never do, or tell you what they think at the moment that turns out to not be the truth…(lie!), like, “You’re perfect for this job…” and then after the interview, perpetual silence.

You know that you are vulnerable; looking for a job is very emotional and difficult…you are sensitive to what people tell you and how they treat you…and often, it just isn’t nice. It’s very hard to deal with and almost impossible to understand from your point of view. You are sensitive, often times, downright afraid. You take it all personally.

By recognizing that these people are spiritual beings acting human, it will be easier for you to be kind, patient, understanding and even forgiving. Your anger and frustration is understandable. Realize that these people are often bumbling through their lives the way many others, including you, are.

By recognizing that they are “acting human” you will feel better. It might make you more sensitive to the times that you are more human and spiritual.

 

 

Holy Indifference….a great approach to the job search

 

…Holy indifference….St. Ignatious of Loyola describes it as

…A complete indifference with regard to all created things, not preferring health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to humiliation, a long life to a short one…

The concept is that one accepts things just the way they are…being respectful, accepting, reverent…yet holy.

It is the spiritual equivalent of being peaceful with what you get rather than seeking happiness in getting what you want…

How does this apply to your  job search…well, it teaches you to accept the rejection, refusal, neglect and disrespect you perceive you are getting from companies and individuals you are trying to go to work for…folks you have interviewed with …who have lied to you about getting back to you…about hiring you…with holy indifference.

You do your best at getting interviews, performing well on them, selling yourself as hard as you can…then accepting the results with grace, and, yes…holy indifference..

It makes looking for a job a lot easier…soon you focus on the process and not the result…you even accept a new job with holy indifference.

…how to find out how you stack up

this is so simple it’s almost stupid and very few candidates do it. This idea applies not just on finding out where you are in the order of interviews, but also applies in finding out how you stand in the whole interviewing process. A few examples will give you the idea and a good candidate just needs to remember to practice them, then execute.

these questions are not as effective when you are dealing with an interviewing authority. They are most effective with actual hiring authorities. Now, you can ask somebody in the HR department whether you’re the first or last candidate to be interviewed, but it probably wouldn’t matter that much. But asking the real hiring authority where you are in the interviewing process does make a big difference. Most candidates are not going to have the courage to ask and if you do, the hiring authority will have a lot more respect for you.

so, when you go to make the initial interview with the hiring authority you simply ask, “Mr. or Ms. hiring authority, how many people are you interviewing and in what order of the process am I?” As we discussed in the last post, if there are number of people in the process and they are being interviewed over a long period of time it certainly would be appropriate to ask the hiring authority, “if I may, Mr. or Ms. hiring authority, I’d like to go last in the interviewing process. Would that be possible?” Most hiring authorities will accommodate you, especially since you will probably be the only one to make this request.

if the hiring authority asks you why you would make such a request, it certainly doesn’t hurt to say, “well, once you have seen a number of the people on the market for this position you will better be able to make an evaluation of my abilities and experience. you will also be able to give me feedback as to how I stack up with the other candidates.”

At the end of the interview, especially the initial interview it is very appropriate to ask at least these three questions:

“do you need any clarifications about my experience or my background as to how it fits this particular job?”

“How does my experience and ability stack up with the other candidates that you have interviewed?”

“What, in your opinion, do I need to do to get the job?”

These are very bold questions and most people don’t have the courage to ask them. Mainly because they don’t want to be rejected. For some crazy reason people want to postpone being rejected. Remember, if you’re in a job search “no” is the second best answer you can get. And if the answer is going to be no, the sooner you get it the better soon you can move on to other opportunities.

the parting thought on these questions has to be that they take practice. No matter who you are, unless you are interviewing on a weekly basis, you aren’t used to asking these questions and will be reluctant to do it unless you practice them in mock interview situations with your spouse or a friend. A savvy hiring authority will admire your courage and you will find out really quickly where you stand in the interviewing process.

… is it best to be first or last in the interviewing process

We had caller on our radio program this week who asked, “Is it best to be the first or last in the interviewing process?” He was referring to the initial interviewing process and went on to add that he wanted to know whether it is best to be first or last in the follow-up interview process, as well. This is a really good question. It’s been my experience in the last 43 years of seeing people get hired:

If you know the initial interviewing process is going to be short, like all in one day and there are going to be no more than four candidates interviewing, it probably doesn’t matter whether you are the first or the last. Some people say that it is best, in this situation to be first because you “set the bar.” Others will say it is best to be last, because of the law of recency that will be discussed in a few minutes. But, my experience has been that even being in the middle is fine because if you interview well enough (and that is a big if for lots of people) and you show yourself to be an excellent candidate, your succession in the intervening chain  won’t matter. The thing to do is, as you set the interview, ask the hiring authority how many people he or she is going to interview and over what period of time. We will discuss this next week, but asking these questions is as important as jockeying for position in a group of interviewees. Most hiring authorities will be more than happy to tell candidates about the  people they have interviewed or plan to interview and a candidate can make his or her decision about asking to be a particular position at that time.

The biggest challenge of being first or last in the initial interviewing process comes when the interviews take place over a longer period of time. I’ve been involved in initial interview processes that take from one day to seven or eight months. If the candidate knows that the initial interview process is going to be greater than any one or two day period of time, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to request being the last one interviewed. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is the law of recency. It simply states that people remember best the most recent candidate they have interviewed. If a candidate interviews reasonably well, he or she is looked upon more favorably than the other candidates. (Candidates who interview poorly will certainly be remembered but that memory won’t be positive.)

The second reason is that as most hiring authorities move through the intervening process they get a better idea of what they are looking for relative to the talent that might be available. They, therefore, are a little more realistic about evaluating candidates and are more likely to be positively impressed with the fourth or fifth candidate over two or three weeks than they would be if the candidate was the first one.

Being the last to be interviewed doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the job. You still have to interview really well and impress on the hiring authority that they ought to hire you. The candidate can certainly try to position themselves to come across in the best light. Only about 30% of the initial interviewing processes that even us, as professional recruiters, participate in, are accomplished in one or two days.

So, if the initial interviewing process you are involved in is no longer than a day or two, try to be first, then maybe last. If you find the initial interviewing process is going to be over a week or two, try to be last.

Next week will discuss the questions a candidate should ask to find out if he should jockey for position or even if he or she can.

(The caller on the radio program revealed that he found out the interviewing process that he was going to be involved in had already been going on for almost three months and  they had already interviewed 18 candidates. It’s obvious that these folks have no idea what they’re looking for. Being first or last won’t matter in this situation. They are still going to be confused.)

 

 

… If we all worked like an immigrant

If all of us worked with the same tenacity and diligence that I see most immigrants to the United States do, our economy would be out of the crapper. This is my own observation from having worked in the trenches, finding people jobs since 1973. I have interviewed more than 26,000 job candidates, everything from hourly workers to CEO’s. I have seen a genuine cross-section of workers in the US.

For the most part, and there are exceptions, immigrants work harder, longer and more diligently that most of the working folks in this country. They have an attitude that “I have to work harder, longer and more enduring, because I have overcome prejudice, language issues and cultural issues.” Diligent and hard work is one way to get ahead in America. And we are all blessed with the same opportunity.

You will rarely hear an immigrant, needing a job, say that they are going to pass up an interview because they can make more money on unemployment (which we hear often). I remember my grandfather talking about what it was like as an immigrant in 1900. I’m sure the stories got better over the years, but it was clear that he and his peers worked harder than most everybody else and his work ethic has been passed down.

I realized that there’s a big difference between the immigrants of today and the ones of my grandfather’s generation. His generation and their families went out of their way to become more “American.” They changed their names to be more “American,” encouraged their children to speak only English instead of their mother tongue (oh, I wish my father had taught us to speak Arabic, but he grew up encouraged to only speak English). They wanted to be American.

It is probably true that many immigrants today do not want to blend into the American culture as much as previous generations did. And there are some, even though they live here, who have contempt for the American ways. Some, especially the ones that are here illegally, are taking advantage of our schools, healthcare and government systems. I’m not saying that’s right.

But if Manuel wants to mow my yard and do a better job at a better price than Billie…let him. If Hector wants to takes care of my building as though he owned it…let him. Eric (Chinese) is the hardest working network systems guy I have ever met. He has been doing our systems work for 25 years, at a very reasonable rate…and he is available 24/7. If Patel is willing to go to school, graduate with an IT degree ( stuff most Americans just don’t want to do) and wants to write code In the wee hours of the morning…let him. Ali, the Pakistani cab driver in New York didn’t smell good and neither did his cab. I won’t use him again. But Nasser, the Egyptian Uber driver in San Francisco, had an impeccably clean smelling, wonderful Prius. He was great company as well as a good driver. I’ve got his card and number if I need it. He shared that he loved his job because he could work as much as he needed or wanted to. He had a very high rating.

Just look at all of the companies that have been started by immigrants. The people who complain about Immigrants should give thanks that they are here. I will grant you that our immigration policies are a mess. So, okay, fix ’em. We should let as many immigrants in this country who want to come.  The free market will determine how well they do. Don’t let them or anyone else freeload with entitlements or take advantage of the system. But if they want to try to outwork me or anybody else….let them. Bring it on! I’ll just have to work a little harder. It’s good for me.

If even half of us worked as hard as Hector does to keep our building running and looking as good as it does, our country would be better off. He has the mentality of an immigrant. God bless him! …wish more folks did.

Salad Dressing on Your Tie

I know, you are asking yourself, “Why is he writing about that?” Well, it is because at least twice a month one of our candidates loses an opportunity for a job offer because of their manners…mostly table manners.

Just this week…the reason I’m writing this..one of our v.p. candidates lost an opportunity because he went to lunch with the CEO and two other vice presidents and, to quote the CEO, “he acted like it was the first meal he had all week.” On top of that, he ate his salad so fast, “he sent dressing flying onto his tie.” End of consideration. The group doing the hiring was appalled.

We had a candidate sometime back who lost the opportunity because, at a meeting over coffee at the local Starbucks, he slurped his coffee instead of drinking it. The hiring authority was so annoyed he decided not to hire the candidate.

it seems to me that many of the generations in the workplace just aren’t as concerned about manners as they used to be. My casual observation of the generations behind me (… I’m a boomer) is that people’s table manners just aren’t as good as Mama taught us. This isn’t  a criticism so much as it’s an observation.

So, here are some thoughts about interview “meals”:

  • Practice your table manners with someone who loves you or likes you enough to be willing to criticize/help you with any glaring problems you may have… Slouching over your food, talking with food in your mouth, or eating sloppily
  • Try to avoid these kind of interviews if you can
  • Never, never, ever drink alcohol in this interviewing setting
  • Order your food after you see what your host is ordering. Don’t appear to be taking advantage of a “free lunch” by ordering something on the high side of the menu
  • Order something easy to eat… A small piece of meat, a chicken breast, etc.… that can be cut into small pieces
  • Take bites small enough that you can talk with them in your mouth… This means very, very small bites
  • Stay away from soups, chili, spaghetti, etc. or anything eaten with a spoon or that can be easily spilled
  • Eat a little something before you go to the interview so you don’t appear ravenous or even hungry
  • Remember, it’s an interview, not a meal

Don’t let that interview “meal” be your downfall.

Keep e-mails Short and to the Point

This may come as a relatively mundane thing to discuss, but, especially in job search, I’m amazed at the number of e-mails I get and our clients get that are ridiculously long and don’t get read. Most things that are sent and received online are scanned not read. Psychologists have found that when people read things online, they jump around a lot. They usually start in the middle of the page move to the left then move upward to the top of the page. They do not, for some reason start at the top left corner of the page and read across the page like we do when we hold something printed in our hand.

The average businessperson receives 140 e-mails a day. E-mails are opened on average for 15 to 20 seconds. Job seekers think that Hiring Authorities carefully read the resumes and the e-mails that accompany them when they send them. They don’t. I’ve always contended that the average resume get scanned in 10 seconds. E-mails of job seekers probably get less.

If you are looking for a job, your resume needs to be very clear and specific about what you’ve done and where you worked. The e-mails that you send when you send your resume need to be short and powerful. I suggest no more than two or three sentences with maybe a bullet point or two. The subject line could be something that grabs the attention of the receiver and causes them to want to read the rest of the e-mail.

I’ve had candidates who introduce themselves with a subject line like: “Hire a top performer,” or “remember Michael Jordan…” And then in the body of the email they quote Michael Jordan about all of the shots he missed. It’s a compelling quote. The writer then went on to compare himself to Michael Jordan. It was all done in about five sentences that could be read in about 20 seconds.

Follow-up e-mails from candidates often don’t get read because they are way too long. Something short and to the point like this example works:

“Mr. or Ms. Smith, thank you for the opportunity to interview with you yesterday. The conversation was stimulating and enlightening. You made it clear that you wanted to find someone who was:

  • Experienced in your business
  • a top performer
  • someone who has passion and commitment to their profession

Let me remind you that:

  • I have 20 years of experience in the business
  • I’ve always been a top performer and my past reviews reflect that
  • I have passion and commitment and my references will confirm that

When might we get together again to discuss the opportunity further?

Thank you again,

Tony Beshara

it’s not hard to be more creative with this, but the point is to keep the e-mails short and to the point. A three or four paragraph e-mail is not going to get read.

 

… “that was a mistake… poor business judgment… If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it”

It’s really easy these days and for the past few years to make a mistake in taking a job. Companies are a lot more erratic than ever. In 1973, when I got in this business, the average company was 59 years old. In 2012, the average company United States was 15 years old and in 2014, the average age was 12 years old. Companies come and go more than ever.

It is easier to make a mistake in taking a job today than it ever has been. Business is more treacherous. Unfortunately when candidates have one, two or even three of these unfortunate incidences on their resume, they have a tendency to justify the mistake. When the hiring authority questions the moves, most candidates want to defend them and claim it just wasn’t their fault. And, most of the time, it wasn’t.

But I have to tell you that taking a defensive stance of “it wasn’t my fault,” will only lead to disaster. The more a candidate defends themselves this way, the worse off they are. They will never win that argument.

The thing to say, and this can apply to any apparent mistake in your career, is to admit that it was a mistake. Now, the fewer you have of these better, but most every hiring authority with any experience will appreciate other people making a mistake. Having said that, however, the candidate better have a good number of reasons, and good business reasons, as to why they were mistakes.

This kind of humility, along with brevity in the discussion, will go a long way in neutralizing the majority of pejorative feelings that the interviewing or hiring authority may have towards the issue. Now, saying something like, “That was a real mistake… those people are really stupid. I can’t believe they were so dumb!” won’t work! Something along the lines, “If I knew before I went to work there that they were grossly underfunded and the company was in the middle of a hostile takeover, I wouldn’t have made the move,” would be a lot better.

So if you have some glitches in your background, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that one or two of them were just plain mistakes, human error! Every business person has made tons of mistakes and, if it is presented in the right way, mistakes will not be held against you.