Category Archives: Job Search Blog

…The Uber drivers… Isn’t America wonderful

 

I had a neck operation four weeks ago and for two weeks I couldn’t drive. My grown sons had introduced me to Uber and since I only live three miles from the office, it was perfect to get back and forth from home. It’s often in the course of a normal day’s events that an appreciation for certain people and situations becomes more pronounced.

On one of the mornings going from home to the office I was picked up by Adam. Being in the people business I’m aware that everyone has a story, especially Uber drivers. Adam drives a Prius (… I already think I like him, because I own one of those). The car isn’t particularly clean but it’s not offensive. Adam is wearing jeans and a sport shirt, with rather shaggy hair. I ask him how long he’s been driving Uber and how he likes it. He answers, “I’ve been driving for about two years and it’s okay. I also drive for Lyft and they are okay too. It would be better if they paid more. It’s hard to make money with these guys. Nobody takes into account the depreciation on your car and stuff like that. But it’s okay. It’s a job that I can do anytime I want; I just wish they paid more.” As I got out of the car, I looked down and saw a little “Bernie” medallion hanging on Adam’s key chain.

Going home that evening I order up another Uber. A shiny, freshly washed and waxed black Suburban pulls up. Before I can open the door, Kino jumps out of the driver’s seat. He is dressed in a black suit, a freshly pressed white shirt with a black tie. He states, “Good evening, Tony. I’m Kino and I’ll be driving you home this evening. Let’s put your briefcase in the back seat.” He takes my briefcase and carefully puts it in his backseat. He opens the front door and I get into the passenger seat that appears to been freshly conditioned with leather conditioner. The Suburban smells clean and fresh and I could have eaten off the floor.

Kino asks me if I need to make any stops on my way home. He tells me it’s going to be a great ride and he’s proud to have me as a guest. Get that…a guest! As with Adam, I ask Kino how long he has been driving for Uber and what his story was. (I wish I could communicate his accent, but it was clear he wasn’t from Dallas Texas.) He says, “I’m from Kenya. I have a Master’s degree in Health Administration but since it is from an English university it’s not recognized here in this country so I’m getting another Master’s here.” “So, do you like driving for Uber?” I ask. “I absolutely love it,” he says. “It is a most wonderful experience. I meet lots of people. I can work as much as I want. I can go to school and still earn a very good living. Just think, three years ago I was in Kenya and now I have my own business in the United States!…. Isn’t America wonderful!”

Adam got a one star review, Kino got a five star review. Adam worked for Uber…Kino worked for himself. Isn’t America wonderful! Kino reminded me how fortunate we are.

…the cost of YOUR vacancy

If you hire people, you need to read this.

If you ever look for a job, you need to read this.

I have discussed more than 23,000 job openings with employers since 1973. I have worked on search assignments from everything from an hourly maintenance person for a third shift manufacturing environment to presidents and CEOs. Most hiring authorities, from the third shift maintenance supervisor to members of the board, feel like they are very good at hiring (when they’re really not) and that it will only take 45 days to fill the lower to medium salary range positions and 90 to 120 days to fill the higher-level positions (the reality is more like 90 to 120 days on the lower to medium salaried positions and 150 to 180 days for the higher positions – totally unrealistic).

Even though every hiring authority starts out with good intentions, the hiring process drags on for way longer than everyone imagines it will. The major reason for this? People are afraid of making a mistake. In spite of what anyone says, most hiring authorities really don’t like hiring. Now very few managers will ever admit that they downright hate hiring and they’ll tell you that it’s “just part of the job,” but in their hearts they don’t like it. Why? Because when people make a poor hiring decision literally everybody knows it and sees it and that manager is being judged based on that poor decision.

Accounting managers are hired because they’re good at managing the accounting function. If they make an accounting mistake, few people may know it and, if it’s caught in time, it can be erased and rectified. An engineering manager is hired to manage the engineering function and the people that are in the department. If an engineering mistake is made even a reasonable amount of quality control can discover it and fix it. A sales manager who is hired to manage sales can even afford to lose a sale and make it up by making more sales.

But when one of these managers makes a bad hire, most everyone in the company can see it and, since it takes forever to get rid of most bad hires the manager is looked upon as a doofus because he or she hired one. And since the mistake of a bad hire can’t be quickly and easily rectified, the “mistake” walks around the company reminding everyone what a doofus the hiring authority was to hire them in the first place.

In all my years of recruiting I don’t think I’ve ever had a company looking to hire a manager and have, as part of its criteria for hiring, “documentable success in hiring excellent and productive subordinates.” And even if they did, it certainly is difficult to get an objective evaluation of a person’s ability to hire. A manager’s ability to recruit, hire and retain good employees should be one of the main considerations in hiring any manager. But it’s not. It is assumed that any manager with subordinates is good at hiring. But they’re not… most of the time.

So, hiring cycles drag on and on and on. What everyone thinks will take 30 to 45 days takes four to six months because people don’t like doing it and, in their hearts, they know they’re not very good at it. Ninety-nine percent of the hiring authorities in the United States have absolutely no idea the cost to their company that a vacancy has over even a short period of time. Numerous studies, especially one at Harvard University, find that the average value of a productive employee is roughly two and a half times their salary rate. For revenue producing employees, the cost of that vacancy is phenomenal.

On top of the fact that when a vacancy occurs, “It couldn’t have come at a worse time… I’m going to have to get people in the department to cover for this person until I find a replacement, and they are going to be pissed… I’m going to have to do the work this person was doing until I find a replacement.” There are a ton of other emotionally charged feelings… and they’re all bad. They perseverate, “We don’t want to make a mistake… We don’t want to make a mistake… We don’t want to make a mistake… We don’t want to make a mistake… I can’t hire now, I have to do my job… I can’t hire now, I have to do my job… I can’t hire now I have to do my job” when the truth is that it is simply easier to postpone hiring and (much easier) to do the day-to-day job. So, hiring drags on.

I have provided a table that we give to our clients to help them realize, on top of everything else, what a vacant position actually cost them. It sobers them up real quickly. Highlight this address and go to:

                                                      http://bit.ly/1TtLK06

Put in the salary range of any vacancy you might have and see what it’s really costing you and your company. If you’re looking for a revenue producing candidate, like sales, the formula is even more dramatic.

So, if you’ve been looking for an assistant controller at a $90,000 salary for eight weeks, you have cost your company $34,615.00. If you’ve been looking for an accountant or production manager who left your company four weeks ago at a $50,000 salary, it has cost your company $14,423.00. And, as you know four weeks can go by in a heartbeat.

If you are a candidate, you can use this table to help you get a job. Last week, one of our sales candidates was in the final interview process with one of our clients. He was interviewing with a VP of sales, his boss and the vice president of finance. Each interview was a “one on one.” As he wrapped up each individual interview, he said, “I want to leave you one last thing,” and he handed each one of the interviewing authorities a small piece of paper with the figure of $93,307.00 written on it. As they looked at it, wondering what it was, he calmly stated, “The quota for this territory is $1.2 million and this is the amount you are losing every month by not having me in this job.” He then paused and asked, “When can I go to work?” Guess who got hired?

Well, I’m sure you get the idea. Most hiring managers are so close to the forest they miss the trees. The cost of a vacancy is real and can motivate managers to take action.

Prayer and your job search

I happen to be a real big fan of prayer. Fortunately, I grew up learning to do it, maybe not even realizing what a phenomenal impact it had on my life. In spite of my belief in it, I have tried to objectively investigate over the years the effectiveness of prayer on the part of job seekers. Now, I don’t ask every candidate that I’ve ever interviewed if they pray. I’ve got enough of a challenge in trying to listen to them and help them find a job. But when you consider that I’ve interviewed more than 26,000 candidates since 1973 and been successful at placing more than 10,000 of them, you can imagine that I often get into some pretty serious conversations with candidates about some of the things they do to cope with the emotional anxiety of finding a job.

I’ve written before about the fact that looking for a job, next to death of a spouse, death of a child, death of a parent, coupled with divorce is one of the most emotionally challenging things we do. I’ve observed thousands of different ways that people cope with the emotional strain that is caused by the job search.

Maybe it’s because I look for it and am very sensitive to it, but I’ve come to the conclusion, after listening to so many people, that prayer has a significantly positive and uplifting impact on the emotional challenge of finding a job. I am absolutely convinced that it does.

What’s even more interesting is that I have been able to find that there is one certain manner of prayer that seems to be most effective. This will blow your mind, but based on what I’ve listened to from my candidates, it is a fact. There are some people that pray for outcomes. Actually pray that they find a job. But what seems to be most effective is to pray for acceptance of whatever happens in the job search process.

People who pray for outcomes that may not come about don’t get the interview or the job they prayed for, and can have a tendency to become disappointed that “God did not give them what they wanted.” This makes prayer a very difficult, quid pro quo with God. Then, when the outcome isn’t experienced, there’s bound to be disappointment, and maybe disappointment in God.

The people that seem to get the most out of prayer are those people who pray for acceptance of whatever happens. They pray something along the line of, “Dear Lord, grant me thy peace and thy mercy, thy will be done.” They pray to do their best in every job search endeavor. They pray for guidance and help in writing the best resume they can, they pray to get as many interviews as they possibly can and they pray, especially, to perform well on those interviews and pray to perform well for each interview to the next step. They don’t pray so much for a positive outcome of each event as much as they pray that they do the best they can in the process of finding a job and accepting the result for just what it is, whether they get the job or not. If they don’t get the job, they pray for more enlightenment or to learn from their mistakes or to do better the next chance they get.

St. Ignatious of Loyola prayed for what he called “holy indifference”. It is detachment… remaining indifferent to the results…accepting rejection…refusal…and being ignored…accepting being lied to…being forgotten…and all of the other things that wind up happening in a job search.

My wife, Chrissy, calls it ”holy acceptance”.  It is accepting what you may not like and can’t control …not getting what you want, but wanting what you get. It is the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” Or the prayer of St. Theresa: “May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be!”

One of my teachers, Jim Rhone, used to say, “Don’t pray that life will get easier, pray that you will get better.” This is a perfect prayer for a job search.

Well, I’m sure you get the point. Now, I’m not trying to go from teaching to preaching. I’m not trying to sell you that prayer in a job search or anything else like it is going to revolutionize your endeavor. But I am here to testify that I’ve seen prayer make a phenomenal difference in people’s job search.

“Take this job and shove it… I ain’t working here no more…”

(Johnny paycheck, circa 1977)Candidate comes to my office this week says, “it felt so good. It felt so very good when I told these guys that they could take their job and stuff it where the sun don’t shine. I explained to them that I’d had enough. I just couldn’t take it any longer. There browbeating and taking advantage of me and all the other employees in the company just had to stop.

“Hell, nobody else in the company had the guts to do it… those weaklings. And while I was telling them to stuff it, I enlighten them as to what they could do to change things so they wouldn’t lose people like me. That they ran a disgraceful company and they should be ashamed of themselves. They just sat there and looked so surprised. Those fat som-bitches acted like they didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. What a joke! It felt so good to tell them I was leaving.”

Well that was eight months ago and our candidate is still looking for a job. He didn’t think he would have any trouble finding a job. He didn’t think about what was that happen when he left like that…the kind of reference he might get. In fact, our candidate didn’t really think at all.

He thought he had a job lined up with a friend at church that had given him a “we’re always hiring at our place just give me a call” comment. In eight months he’s only had three interviews and he didn’t even come close to getting the job. On top of having a difficult time in finding a job, he’s really embarrassed about the way he quit. He says that he knows that the people he told what they could do with their job know that he’s out of work and are really laughing.

Here’s the lesson, the matter how mad or frustrated you get don’t tell people what they can do with their job until you found a new one. Bite your tongue. Calm down and endure. Find a job before you leave this one. You never know how long it’s going to take to find a job. The people that this guy told off don’t really care about why he left. They aren’t going to change the way they do things because of any employee leaving.

Our poor candidate is in a world of hurt and most of it he created for himself.

 

The Stockholm Syndrome and your job…

The Stockholm syndrome, according to Wikipedia “is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

Few people want to admit that this syndrome applies to them and their job. At least three or four times a month, I personally, get calls from potential candidates who, upon listening to their story, convince me that they suffer from this syndrome. There are a lot of really goofy companies out there that are run by a lot of goofy people who border on abusing the people that work for them and with them. The abuse ranges from things like taking advantage of people and their willingness to help to verbal and even psychological abuse. Over the years I’ve even known some candidates to tolerate having things thrown at them by their immediate supervisors. (… Don’t laugh, there are still some idiots out there that do things like this and some people are too afraid to look for a job and put up with it.)

At least 50% of the time as these potential candidates tell me why they need to leave where they’re at, they mumbled something along the line of “… I can’t believe that I stayed here and put up with this for as long as I have.” They then proceed to justify their staying in an abusive situation by expressing their “empathy and sympathy and positive feelings toward their captors” even defending why the company and the people that run it do what they do. They just don’t want to admit that they work for idiots and they shall left a long time ago.

Often, these potential candidates have felt that they needed to stay where they were out of loyalty. Often their company is in terrible financial shape and they begin to look for a job way too late. We have to caution them to watch out saying in an interview, “I should’ve seen this coming year or so ago. I mean, the signs were there… I just didn’t want to see them.” A candidate’s business acumen is seriously questioned in a situation like this.

I realize that looking for a job isn’t fun. In fact it’s a job in itself and if you already have a job it’s like having two jobs. No one likes looking for a job. But staying in a work relationship like this is idiotic too. On top of that, it’s very hard to explain to a prospective employer if you stick around that kind of a relationship for very long.

So at the first sign of anything you think you have to rationalize about your employer start thinking about how you’re going to exit. Don’t get caught in the Stockholm syndrome.

 

TOO MANY JOBS !!! If you are an EMPLOYER, read this…If you are a CANDIDATE looking for a job, READ THIS !!

there is one constant conundrum in the profession of a recruiter as well as for our clients and our candidates. It is the problem of having too many jobs in a short period of time. We’ve known some organizations that consider more than two jobs in five years to be excessive. Most people would agree that three jobs in three years is problematic. A hiring authority and his or her company are looking to minimize risk. A candidate with three jobs in three years is considered a risk. Most hiring authorities assume that, no matter what the reasons, a candidate with that kind of record is only going to be with their company for three years.

candidates with short tenure and companies will always have “reasons” for why they left or were forced to leave. Some are more valid than others. Some of our clients simply won’t, under any circumstances interview a candidate who has had three jobs in three years. I understand.

but the truth is that the complexion of business has rapidly changed over the years. Companies are more fluid than they have ever been… Ever! Feature the facts:

  • in 1973 (the year that I got in this profession) the average company in the United States was 59 years old.
  • in 2012 the average company in the United States was 15 years old.
  • In 2014 the average company in the United States was 12 years old.
  • the average turnover rate of a survey of 40,000 businesses in the United States was 15% 
  • average turnover rate for small businesses was close to 20%
  • the average job in United States lasts 2.5 years

think about it. Businesses come and  go faster than they ever have in turnover rate is as great as it’s ever been.

I spoke to one of our hiring authorities, Danny, just yesterday who claimed that he just didn’t want to see any candidates that had more than two jobs in the last three years. He said that they would be with him for about that amount of time and he just wouldn’t interview anybody like that. Danny stated that he was 55 years old and it only had two jobs in the last 25 years. He couldn’t understand why people these days would have so many different jobs in short periods of time. In other words, why weren’t more people like Danny? Well, Danny was a performer but he was also lucky!

I explained to him the above statistics. Companies come and go faster than they ever have. The candidate whose company got bought, shutdown or merged may be a really good employee. His or her reasons for leaving the job may not have anything to do with them, but the company  that they were working for. Danny reflected for a moment and admitted that his company, a few years earlier, had bought another company and laid off 60% of the people in that company because there was a duplication of jobs.

Danny and all of the other hiring authorities out there with the same mentality might want to reconsider a candidate’s “too many jobs.” To eliminate a candidate carte blanche without investigating as to exactly the reasons for the job instability is not only unfair to the candidate but shortsighted on the part of the hiring authority.

Having said all of that, however, a candidate with three jobs in three years had better have some really good reasons for leaving the companies they have left. “It just didn’t work out,” or “they just didn’t know what they were doing” or “we just couldn’t agree” or “they just didn’t pay enough, so I left” or “I got fired”… (You get the drift)… ARE NOT good reasons for leaving a job. When a prospective employer hears things like this they automatically dismiss the candidate. their attitude is that the candidate will leave them for the same stupid reasons they left the last people they were working for.

On top of that, some candidates are simply attracted to risky organizations. They become serial risk takers with their jobs and wind up with more jobs in a short period of time than most employers like. I’ve placed some candidates with risk oriented attitudes who wound up becoming millionaires because they caught our clients at the right time in their evolution. I have to admit, though, that I have placed many more who took a risk and wound up calling me again in 12 or 18 months explaining that the company was no longer around. Free enterprise is a wonderful but treacherous experience.

Here’s the lesson. “Too many jobs” is relative. Just because a candidate has had three jobs in three years doesn’t mean that he or she be on his next job for only one year. The important thing to do is investigate thoroughly the reasons the candidate left the jobs he has had. Dig deep, check references thoroughly. You may end up eliminating the candidate with too many jobs but at least you’ve given yourself, and him or her, the benefit of the doubt. And every once in a while you may uncover a real gem.

A year or so ago, I was reminded by one of my associates that she had way too many jobs before she came to work here. She was a top producer and retired from here  after 14 solid years.

P.S. just got an email from a potential candidate, “my former employer just shut down US operations in November and while they offered me a role in Mumbai, India, I live here in Dallas with my family and we cannot relocate.” It’s his second job in three years.

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Clients

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….Charles Dickens

Our candidate was unquestionably an “A player.” He had been a winner at every place he had ever been and was looking to leave his organization for very good reasons. He was ideal for one of our clients who had, in the past been able to attract “A players.” When we called our client, the hiring authority reminded us that it now took at least three weeks to hire anyone, no matter how good the candidate was. We knew this, because the client had already lost two candidates. One of them got halfway through their process and got another offer and the second one simply said that he was not interested in going through five different interviews as well as making a presentation to a group of people (which was part of the process). His rationale was, “I’ve been successful at what I’ve been doing for 20 years, and it makes no sense for me to make a presentation to a group of people.”

We had informed our new candidate about the process of the company in the beginning. The first two interviews with the candidate took place within three days. The third person who he was supposed to interview with, however, was out of the country on business and wasn’t going to be back for another week. So, now we were set back a week. After getting back into the country, the third person involved in the interviewing process couldn’t get around to speaking to the candidate until after he had been back for four days. We are now three weeks into the process. Unfortunately, this interviewing authority even made the comment to the candidate that he didn’t feel like he was that important to the interview process and that they could have moved on to the next phase of the process without him. Of course, that made the candidate feel really warm and fuzzy.

The next step was for the candidate to go to the corporate office in California to meet “the leadership team.” He was also instructed that at that time, he would make a presentation to a group of managers and this was part of the process for everyone who got hired. Of course, and unfortunately, it was going to be another week before all of the “leadership team” in corporate was going to be around at the same time. So, by the time the candidate gets to the corporate office we are into our fifth week. Of course, he does well at the corporate visit and everybody tells him they’re going give him a “thumbs up.”

He comes back from the corporate visit on Friday of the fifth week of this process and the immediate hiring authority tells him that they’ll reach out to him on Monday and that they would really like to hire him and they’d like to put together an offer. Wednesday of the sixth week rolls along and the candidate still hasn’t heard from the hiring authority. The hiring authority was traveling and very busy. Meanwhile, our candidate is obviously getting frustrated and irritated with the whole process.

That Wednesday, a new client who had been referred to us, called in and asked us to search for an “A player” in Dallas for them. When we informed them of the candidate’s availability, they suggested a phone conversation the next day. The regional vice president talked to the candidate that Thursday and the executive vice president flew in to interview the candidate that Friday. By Monday our client had lined up a third interview with another regional vice president. The candidate requested to be able to speak with two or three of the employees which took place at Tuesday. The next day, we checked the candidate’s references and by Thursday… one week after they initially interviewed the candidate, the hiring company made a job offer.

The hiring authority of our first client finally reached out to our candidate by Friday of that sixth week, explains that he’s just been really busy traveling, etc. and that they are still intending to make an offer. Monday of the seventh week rolls around and our first client’s HR Department insists on checking the references. We explained that we had just checked his references and we’d be more than happy to pass them along, but they insisted that they had to do it. Unfortunately the person that checks references wasn’t going to be in until Wednesday.

We explained to the hiring authority of the first client that the candidate was fast tracking with another organization. He informs us that “their process is their process.” So, the HR department checks the references on Wednesday and the next day, Thursday of the seventh week, they offer our candidate a job.

The offers really weren’t much different. And the quality of the organizations may not have been much different. However, our second client just looked so much better to our candidate. It appeared that hiring was a high priority. They made our candidate feel like he was joining a first-class, decisive organization. We wholeheartedly agreed. He went to work for our second client. The first client is still searching.

It was the best of times for our second client because they got an “A player.” It was the worst of times for our first client. They even got mad at the candidate because they felt like he had strung them along.

Oh, brother…certainly the age of foolishness.

 

… Gratitude, empathy and understanding can get a great employee

I had a gratifying experience this week. Sixteen people e-mailed me to my personal/business e-mail address that they had been the beneficiary of their employers hiring them in spite of their DWI’s, bankruptcies, misdemeanors and, yes, three felonies. They felt compelled to write about how their employers understood about their indiscretions and hired them anyway. They are phenomenally grateful and realize that their being hired was very rare.

Every one of them told me that they had been rejected a phenomenal number of times because of their mistakes. Everyone expressed the idea that they totally understood why they were not being hired. They might have been frustrated by this, but they weren’t mad. Every one of these people took full responsibility for their mistakes. They ended up going to work for people who had empathy, understanding and the willingness to give them a shot. Most of them went to work at jobs that were well below the level they had before. They realize that, in essence, they were starting all over. Both they and the employers that hired them acknowledged that everyone was getting a good “business deal.”

I personally believe that most employers close their minds to the opportunity of hiring folks with things like this in their background. I’ve tried to argue the wisdom of it to people who simply wouldn’t hear it. They claimed it was their company policy or that they would lose their job if other people in the company found out they hired a felon. When we, as a company, represent a candidate with these kinds of challenges in their background, we first evaluate the quality of the candidate and their experience. We will often represent them and simply ask hiring authorities, before they grant the interview about their ability to hire someone with the respective mistake in their background. If we get the statement “I can’t and won’t do that”, we simply stop.

I did hear from three managers of companies. One of them wrote that he appreciated the post and he personally wouldn’t have a problem with hiring somebody with these kinds of blemishes on their background, but his company would never let him do it. He felt stuck, but he had too many other things to worry about. The two other employers said that they were open to hiring people with these kinds of problems. I have no idea what percentage of our post was read by candidates seeking a job or by hiring authorities, or maybe both. But it was gratifying to get these three folks to respond.

Even our firm will draw the line at representing pedophiles or sex offenders. We will pray for them, but we can’t bring ourselves to place them. But there are lots of folks who can be very good employees, despite their past mistakes.

I didn’t expect to get any responses to that post. To get the 16 supportive emails was gratifying. Especially around Christmas time.

 

…DWI’s, bankruptcy, credit problems, misdemeanors and felonies

 Not a week goes by that a candidate represented by our firm reveals one of the above just about the time they are going to get a job offer from one of our clients. My sense is that probably 25% to maybe even 30% of professional job candidates have one of these issues in their background. Certainly, nobody really wants to talk about it and most candidates won’t even bring it up until the issue is either discovered by the hiring organization or they offer it up in the final stages of the interviewing process.

Most of the time, these issues stop the offer. Sometimes they can be worked around by the hiring authority and the company, but they are always problems. There are some graceful ways of dealing with them to minimize their impact but every candidate who has a ding like this knows it’s going to be a problem and they are usually scared to death of its impact.

Unfortunately, felonies are almost always insurmountable, especially in professional positions. Only 10 or 12 times in my 43 years of doing this, have I had a company hire a candidate with a felony in their recent past. The empathetic part of me realizes how sad this might be, but the business side of me realizes why companies can’t run that risk. The situations where candidates with felonies have been hired have usually been in sales environments where they potential employee does not handle cash or money. If you’re an accountant with a felony of embezzlement, you need to change professions.

DWI’s and misdemeanors can often be explained and overlooked by some firms, but it is hard. I suggest people get an attorney to find out how, if enough time has elapsed, these records might be removed from a person’s public background. Everybody has an opinion about how long these things stay on a person’s record. Don’t rely on a friend that thinks they know. Find an attorney that deals with these things all the time and find out exactly what to do.

If you aren’t sure of what is on your record, and it’s amazing the number of people who don’t really know of their misdeeds, run a background check on yourself for around $40 (that is the cheapest service) and you can see what most employers will find. Every once in a while we run into a situation of identity theft as well as the wrong identity being checked.

If there are some of these issues in your background, I’d recommend discussing them with the hiring authority if you think you are going to be a finalist for the job opportunity. And be sure that you discuss them before a background check is made on you by the employer.

Now it is very important and I need to emphasize, very important, that when you go to explain these incidences, don’t be angry or try to justify how you were “wronged” or how you had just a little too much to drink, and you got sassy with the policeman so he decided to claim that you were DWI. The best way to deal with these kind of things in your background is to be remorseful, apologetic and have a “how can we work this out?” attitude. Anything less than a remorseful, apologetic attitude simply won’t fly. I’ve seen felons get hired simply because they presented themselves as remorseful and apologetic. One guy I knew even made it a “positive” benefit.

If a company simply can’t work around the issue, be graceful and understanding. There is absolutely no sense in burning the bridge with the company or the people in it.

Bankruptcies are a bit different. Some companies don’t care; others might. We had a banking client that refused to hire one of our candidates because of a previous bankruptcy. They really wanted to hire the candidate but they had just fired an officer for embezzlement. They couldn’t take the chance. We recently placed a banker that did have a bankruptcy in his background, but the bank hired him anyway because they really liked him. Other than financial institutions, most organizations will consider someone with a bankruptcy. But they better be a really good candidate and sell themselves really well.

“Bruised” credit falls in the same category as bankruptcies. Financial organizations will usually have a rough time with it. But especially since the last recession where lots of people had bruised credit, most firms will overlook it provided the candidate is really good.

Whatever the issue, a candidate is going to have to explain it really well. Again, it’s important for the candidate to bring these issues up before the employer discovers it on his own.

 

 

 

… Your first impression

 

The recent cover article in Psychology Today summarizes the latest research regarding first impressions. This is one of those topics that people are aware of but they hardly ever apply them to the interviewing situation. The article summarized as follows:

  • We look at a person and immediately a certain impression of his or her character forms itself in us. A glance, a few spoken words are sufficient to tell us a story about a highly complex matter.
  • People depend on first impressions to assess a person’s extroversion, openness, agreeability and conscientiousness. Studies have shown that the judgments of these characteristics made after knowing someone for a minute are usually as accurate as those made after knowing the same person for years.
  • First impressions are almost perfectly accurate 30% of the time.
  • The presence or absence of physical warmth similarly sways first impressions. Psychologists found that subjects holding a cup of hot coffee as opposed to iced coffee rated the person they met as especially warm and generous.
  • People who sit at a wobbly table or sit on a wobbly chair judge the people they meet as unreliable.
  • A person’s face at first glance can form a strong impression. For instance thin lips and wrinkles at the  corners elicit judgments of distinguished, intelligent and determined. Persons who were baby faced were perceived as physically weak, naïve and submissive, although also honest, kind and warm.
  • The more a face resembles the viewers face, the more the viewer is predisposed to like it.
  • A single piece of highly negative information undoes a positive first impression, but it takes a lot more… like doing something heroic… to overcome a negative first impression.
  • First impressions are most unreliable when there’s a narcissist in the room. Narcissists are just plain hard to read. They make incredibly good first impressions.
  • Getting to know people over an extended period of time alters first impressions. But for the most part it takes a long “getting to know you” period to alter those impressions.

A study at McGill University as far back as 1965 found that people decide to hire other people based on the impressions they get of the candidate in the first four minutes.

These facts about first impressions have a lot to do with the interviewing situation. For a candidate, they need to know that it is really important to make a good first impression. Dressing appropriately, looking people in the eye, having a firm handshake and all of the things I’ve discussed in previous blogs about first impressions and the first interview apply. Most candidates totally underestimate the impact of that very first impression. They will give it lip service and say things like, “Tony, I know that… but everybody dresses casually for interviews.”

If you’re a hiring or interviewing authority you want to be aware of the pitfalls of first impressions. Get to know candidates over a period of time, preferably in different environments to confirm, deny or alter first impressions.

Realizing the psychologist’s findings you might want to reconsider going on a job interview on wobbly, stiletto heels or interviewing at a noisy Starbucks after buying the interviewer an iced coffee.