Category Archives: Uncategorized

…bad advice

At least once a day I get an email or call from either one of our own candidates, or one of our radio program listeners or someone who has taken our online course, They write or call saying something along the line of, “I got some advice about interviewing or finding a job from… a career counselor, a resume writer, my uncle, my cousin, my father, my brother, etc. and they say……” And the advice is so cockamamie and off-base it is terribly misleading.

The problem has to do with the fact that just about anyone can have an opinion or an idea of what is successful in both the interviewing and hiring process. It’s like anyone who’s been married can all of a sudden become an expert at giving advice about marriage. If people have been parents they can act authoritatively to others about being parents. Maybe their advice is sound, maybe it’s not.

I’m quite sure that the people who offer bad advice are sincere and don’t realize that it’s “bad.” They want to be authoritative and helpful and throw out ideas that just aren’t reasonable, viable or true. And to someone that just plain doesn’t know, there is no way to refute the advice. In the last three weeks I have been asked to comment on these pieces of “advice” given to candidates:

  • functional resumes are best
  • hiring managers love to give “informational” interviews
  • never discuss money in an initial interview… Ever! (I saw a video of this advisor giving this advice. He suggested that if the interviewer asks  the candidate about money and what he or she has being earning, the candidate should not answer the question and simply say, “what does this job pay?”)
  • if you are a top performer, people will always find you
  • good candidates never have to look for a job
  • the best candidates are always employed
  • pay us $5000 to rewrite your resume and “expose” you to the hidden job market
  • never accept the first offer that a company makes… Always negotiate
  • “qualify” a prospective employer with an initial telephone conversation before wasting your time interviewing
  • always let an employer know you are being pursued by many organizations (… even if you’re not)
  • there is always room to negotiate a job offer… Companies always start out in the middle of the salary range..there is always room to go up
  • companies try to get away with paying as little as they can and candidates try to get as much as they can…
  • interviewing is a two-way street
  • the company you want, “wants” you
  • target the 10 or 15 companies that you’re most interested in and pursue them

Well, I’m sure you get the point. And unless a person is perpetually looking for a job it’s hard to know what advice is good and what is bad. But just to address the above “bad” advice:

Functional resumes rarely work well. The person reviewing the resume is reviewing 150 of them on average and they want to know who the candidate has worked for, what they did and how successful they were. Functional resumes separate performance from the specific jobs and companies and will rarely get read. Most managers don’t have time to give “informational” interviews. Unless they are your uncle or close family friend don’t expect anybody to agree to that kind of interview.

If you are asked in an initial interview what you have been making, tell the interviewing authority exactly what you been making. if you refuse to discuss what you been earning with a prospective employer and answer with some wise ass question like, “what does this job pay?” the interviewer will either mentally or physically end the interview right then.

Top performers are just as susceptible to economic downturns, company buyouts, and downsizing as anyone else. Good candidates are just as susceptible to having to look for a job as anyone else. Since 1973, I have heard that the best employees are always employed until those saying it get let go. There is no such thing as a “hidden” job market and paying $5000 to have a mystical resume written is absurd. The succession of an offer a person gets has absolutely nothing to do with its value. If the first offer is a good offer, take it. Or, you can wait till the third or fourth one…if and when you get them.. and realize that the first one was better than all of them and it’ll be just plain too late. While you are “qualifying” a prospective employer to see if you want to interview with them, other candidates are interviewing them face-to-face. You lose!

Don’t tell anybody you are being pursued by anybody else, unless you really are. A logical employer will ask you who you are being pursued by and if you say something stupid like “let’s just say there are other companies interested in me” you look downright stupid. Don’t lie about stuff like that. There isn’t always room to negotiate. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. Always rarely applies to anything. While you are thinking you have the upper hand in negotiating, the #2 candidate is getting the job. Very few companies try to get away with paying as little as they can. There are some cheap companies out there, but even they know that they get what they pay for. If they “lowball” you, don’t take the job.

Interviewing is not a two-way street. Interviewing is a one-way street until you get a job offer. A candidate has to assume that the hiring authority has at least four or five other candidates he or she is considering. Each one of them is selling themselves really hard. The idea that the interviewing process needs to be “mutual” is not realistic. The company you “want” does not intrinsically want you unless you have sold yourself so well that they want to hire you.

Target 10 to 15 companies that you’d love to go to work for? Oh, yeah! It’s you. I forgot its you. Oh yeah, they’ve been waiting for you. It’s a good thing they just had your office paneled. It doesn’t take very long for a candidate with any sense to realize that companies don’t have opportunities just cause the candidate would like to go to work there.

There’s a lot of really dumb advice out there. Try to get advice from folks that are actually in the trenches finding people jobs every day. Ask yourself, “Does the advice makes sense?” Or is it just something I want to hear.

…your linkedin picture

Like most recruiters, I use LinkedIn a lot. I’m continually blown away by the ridiculous pictures that people put on their LinkedIn profile. People seem to forget, or totally ignore that employers looking at your LinkedIn profile are trying to make a business decision about whether or not they ought to interview and hire you. Here are descriptions of some of the pictures that I have seen over the last two days and an interpretation of what a potential employer thinks when he or she sees them:

an artistically drawn caricature of the candidate… What the hiring authority thinks? “Is this guy or gal a cartoon?”

A candidate bouncing her one-year-old on her knee… What the hiring authority thinks? “This gal is gonna want to stay home with her baby rather than be at work.”

A candidate standing with his golf club on the #1 tee, smiling… What the employer thinks? He sure loves golf. Probably be more interested in being on the golf course than at work.

A group of six women “quasi” partying… What the employer thinks? “Well which one is the person I’m trying to review? Looks like they’re having fun. Not very professional. I’ll keep searching.”

A picture of the candidate coaching his kid (or group of kids) in baseball… What the employer thinks? “This guy’s more interested in coaching his kids that he is in working. He’ll probably spend a lot of time doing that instead of working.”

A blonde 30 something year old who’s head looks like an egg with a candy cane like band around her forehead…the caption says: “professional salesperson.” What the employer thinks? “Professional? Are you kidding me!!?”

No picture at all… What the employer thinks? “A) This person doesn’t want to go to the trouble to put a picture on their profile. B) They are ashamed of the way they look, or C) They don’t want to reveal that they’re old. Any or all of the above!”

Well, I’m sure you get the point. At least 10% of the pictures on LinkedIn profiles are going to actually keep the candidate from getting an interview. Think!!!!


it happened again today…oh, my goodness..this is soooooo sad..

a candidate I placed started his job last week..the company finally got around to checking his background and found that he lied about having a degree..they fired him on the spot..

in the last month, we have had three candidates who were either fired or had their offer rescinded because the client company dug into their background and found something that was either a cover up (i.e. a job they didn’t have on their resume… usually a short one)or an outright lie (i.e. degrees, dates of employment, etc.)

since 1973, i have never understood why people lie …especially about something so easy to check as a either have one or you don’t and it’s so easy to discover one way or the other. There are also so many services that can dig into a person’s background and find literally all of the places they have worked even if they aren’t on their resume.

(I had a candidate tell me one time that he really had graduated from the University of Oklahoma, but that the reason they didn’t have a record of his degree is that the registrar’s office had burned down. I’m not sure which is dumber, the lie or the story.)

DON’T is dumb…dumb…dumb

…the four basic questions

I wrote about these a few years ago…but it bears repeating….there are four basic questions that any employer is asking you during the interviewing process… No matter how long or short the interviewing process is, these four major questions need to be answered satisfactorily on the part of the potential employer… Here are the questions and the percentage of the hiring decision they represent…

can you do the job? … 20%
do we like you? … 40%
are your risk?… 30%
can we work the money out? … 10%

Most job candidates focus way too much on the last question of money… That is the easiest part of the whole process…

If all of the other questions are satisfactorily answered, the money is going to take care of itself… It is very rare for the money issue to stand in the way of a good candidate in a good opportunity act if the hiring authority is satisfied that the other three issues are positive…

So, over the next few days, I will discuss how to satisfy the potential employers concern with these four basic questions… if you get the message, you’re interviewing will be a lot easier

…background, credit and other checks

I was on the Jerri Willis Report tuesday

Discussing background, credit and other kinds of “checks” that employers can and will do before you are hired. Just this week one of our excellent sales candidates who is had a 15 year history of knocking it out of the park for three excellent high-tech firms, failed a drug test. Yeah you read right. He failed a drug test. The company used a hair sample to discover cocaine in his body. He had reported for his first day of work and was summarily dismissed. This was the last guy in the whole world you would ever imagine to have cocaine in his bloodstream. He is in his early 40’s, in great shape and had been not just successful but extremely successful in the sales jobs he said.

80% of employers are going to do some kind of background checks on you as a candidate. 35% to 40% are going to do a credit check. My estimate is that 25% of the candidates that are close to getting hired get eliminated because of something a company finds either in their background check, credit check or social media review.

There are third party companies that provide these kinds of services to employers. The depth and the thoroughness of the checks really varies. Some of the services simply go to public records about arrest records, DWI’s, bankruptcies, tax liens, Judgments and verification of a degree or college attendance. More sophisticated, and expensive services dig deeper into public as well as private information like exact dates of employment, salary history, and character assessment ( like interviewing your neighbors).

If a company you are applying to uses a third-party service, they have to get your written permission to conduct a background check. Technically, if they don’t hire you because of what they find, they have to tell you the reason. Well, they are suppose to tell you the reason. Nine out of 10 organizations, if they find something they don’t like, are not going to tell you what they found or why they are not hiring you. They are simply going to say that they have moved on to another candidate.

Companies are relying more and more on these kind of checks because other information, like reference checking your past employers, are harder and harder to do. Most companies have very strict policies about giving previous employment references and some simply won’t do it. Prospective employers, then resort to extensive third-party background and credit checks.

As a job candidate, you might as well assume that accompany your interviewing with is going to do an extensive background check, credit check, educational check and anything short of a proctology exam. Complaining about this is useless. Hoping you can avoid them is wishful thinking. You best assume that anyone you interview with is going to do extensive checks.

90% of the people that have any kind of issues in your background, know it. Once in the rare while, a candidate is surprised by what might show up with these kind of checks. So, in order to be prepared, a perspective job candidate should run background checks on themselves before it’s done by a prospective employer. It is essential that a job candidate know exactly what a prospective employer is going to find when they do these checks.

Next week: What to do with the information you get.






…reading and believing your own press clippings

Dan hasn’t looked for a job for 15 years. He’s been with the same firm for that period of time and has risen rather rapidly through the ranks. Along the way, his company gave him all kinds of kudos and recognition and continually told him how great a contribution he made, how wonderful he was and how they couldn’t do without him, blah, blah, blah.

It is true that his performance was excellent and that he had been promoted a number of times. He always had all kinds of people in the company and outside the company telling him how wonderful he was. He reached the level of Regional VP and all of these accolades started going to his head. The first blow to his ego was that he didn’t get as big a raise as he thought he should. The second, and biggest blow, came from the fact that he lost a promotion to one of his peers that he was certain he was going to get. The selection committee wasn’t courteous enough to tell him why he didn’t get promoted, but he felt like his meteoric rise was now slowed, if not stymied. “After all,” he thought (and what he told us) “… I’ve given sweat and blood to this company. I got an MBA. I’ve had fantastic reviews. Everybody tells me I’m wonderful and the company could not get along without me and that other companies would feel very lucky to have me.” (My sense is he imagined this last part more than someone telling him that.)

His family didn’t help either. His father, upon hearing the story of Dan’s plight, agreed that Dan deserved the promotion and that the company wasn’t appreciating him. Dan’s wife totally agreed and kept telling him that he should quit because there were boatloads of organizations that would love to find talent like his.

So, Dan quit. That was six months ago and Dan is still looking for a job. He had absolutely no idea how difficult it would be to find a job. Dan was believing his own press clippings. He thought that since his company thought he was so wonderful and his family just knew he could not only replace his job but find a better one, all he had to do was quit and go look for one.

Dan was saying a lot of what we hear from people all the time, “Every company needs really good people…( especially like me).” They each quit their job thinking that companies are simply going to fall down in front of them to get them on board. They do no research on how many jobs like they’ve been doing exist and what their probability might be of getting a job like that even if they could find the opening. Dan even made the comment that his professors in his graduate program were certain, that with an MBA from their school, he should have no problem finding a new job. Of course, they have absolutely no idea what the job market might be like for what Dan does either. (That’s why they are in academia. Besides, that’s what they’re supposed to tell students who just paid $100,000 to get an MBA from their school.)

Dan had a few interviews, but they were more courtesy interviews from friends, colleagues, etc. He is shocked, depressed and demoralized that he hasn’t easily found a job. The problem Dan has run into is very common. He had absolutely no idea what the market might bear for his experience or background. Just because he had all of these people, his company, his family, his professors etc. telling him how wonderful he was didn’t mean that he was going to find a job. The majority of jobs like Dan is looking for are promoted into from within. It’s rare for companies to hire someone like Dan off the street. It has nothing to do with his ability or his performance. It has to do with the availability or should we say, lack of availability of the kind of job he has done.

The lesson is, don’t believe your own press clippings. Just because all of the people you work with tell you how wonderful you are doesn’t mean that people are going to immediately hire you. Do some “market testing” and find out how easy it’s going to be to find a job. Don’t think that just because you’re so damn good and everybody just knows it, that somebody’s going to instantly hire you.

Dan is now considering going back to work for his old company. He’s going to have to take a position that is one or two levels below where he was before. He’s not sure what he will do. Our recommendation is that he swallow his pride and go back to his old company.  Now, if he wants to look for a job while he’s got one, that’s probably the better idea. Right now, he needs to get back to work.

Don’t believe your own press clippings.



….some kinda writer i am

well you’d think after all these years of writing I would pay attention… A few weeks ago I wrote about the challenge that boomer women have in the workplace and I ended it by stating that in the next blog I would give advice about what women can do to deal with the challenges… Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to my own writing and went off on two or three different topics… Some kind of teacher, huh? Fortunately one of our readers, Mitzi Barnes, wrote and asked in a really nice way where the hell the answer was…well, Mitzi, I have to admit, I couldn’t find it either and I obviously didn’t write it… So here you go…

Be aware of a few things… First of all women live longer than men and take better care of themselves and are healthier as they get older… They are more loyal, stable and dependable than men… It is easier for them to change their appearance and look more professional as they grow older than men… They have a tendency to be more open to all kinds of different opportunities because they don’t have the egos that men have which prevent them from taking some positions because they think they are “lesser” than what they have had before

Because women don’t have their egos wrapped up in looking for a job as much his men, they have a tendency to be more persistent and more open to all kinds of different opportunities, even if they are a step back from what they had done before… So women realize that looking for a job is a real numbers game and have a tendency to be more persistent about the numbers it takes to find a job…

Women should emphasize their health and how dependable they are at showing up and working… Since women have a tendency to take jobs  that are more flexible when they were raising children or caring for older parents, they usually have more variety of experiences in their background that they can sell…

I say this often, and I know some people get pissed off… Especially men… But the truth is women work harder than men … Don’t shoot the messenger, but it’s true… Women, like most minorities, have to work harder to compete in mostly a white guy’s world… It’s just that simple… Most employers know that women work harder than men… Don’t argue with me… Well I guess you can, but it’s stupid to argue about it… It’s just true…We all know that the hardest job in the whole world is being a mother… If you can do that well, working in business is a joke.

So if you’re a boomer woman looking for a job, be really persistent about getting interviews and remind prospective employers how hard you work, how committed you are and how flexible you are…It isn’t magic, but women boomers need to realize they have more of an advantage than they think


… fake it till you make it

Okay, I know you’re not supposed to fake it much in the interviewing and job search process… You can’t try to be what you’re not… agreed. but there comes a time… or two or three …in each interviewing process that you are thrown off and at a loss as to what to do or say… here is where you have to fake it till you make it…

You have to communicate courage when you don’t feel courageous… you have to communicate confidence when you don’t feel confident… I have discussed often in previous posts about your body language in the interviewing situation… If you want a real treat Go to:                        And listen to this Ted talk…

This is a very inspiring ted talk… It offers some great ideas of how to prepare right before an interview and gives great insight esspecially regarding body language and some of the things you can do to make yourself more exciting and focused… It also gives advice into those few moments in the interviewing process are you just have to fake it till you make it



… change the attitudes towards work in getting a job

Unfortunately, our country has developed a societal attitude that work is a right not a privilege… We all need to develop more of an immigrant attitude… I really don’t need to describe that in detail, because we all know what an immigrant attitude is… Secondly we need to communicate that it’s going to be very, very, very, very hard to find a job… It isn’t something you simply sign up for like you do with all the other entitlements… Along the same line ,people have to realize that they may have to take a pay cut and start out in a lower position than they had before in order to get their foot back in the door… We then need to prepare people for the emotional strain that looking for a job is… I’m always amazed that people don’t expect how psychologically difficult it’s going be to find a job… Engage in talking to someone who’s been out of work for more than a year and you can hear the tension in their voice and almost feel the depleted spirit… People need to be aware that the competition for a job is phenomenal… There are at least 8 to 10 very well-qualified candidates for every job and just because people think they are qualified doesn’t mean they are going to get hired or that the hiring authority thinks they are qualified …Looking for a job successfully is a sheer numbers thing… Most people don’t try hard enough to get enough interviews, which is the first mistake… Then, when they don’t get a job right away, they give up way too easily, quit way too soon and then claim they can’t find a job… They claim that there are just “no jobs out there” it takes an average of 16 interviews to get a job… it takes talking to 10 hiring authorities to get one interview… and it takes 100 calls to speak with one hiring authority… In short, it is very diligent, hard work with tons of rejection and refusal… And lastly in this list is to quit cursing the darkness… Complaining bitching and moaning about the way things are does absolutely no good…

… other issues that discourage people from looking for and taking a job

Some of these are practical and some are social issues… some of them drive me nuts because they ring with “entitlements”… others are simply facts of life…

The cost of child care is too high… the cost of childcare is the single largest expense for families in almost half of the states in the nation and has been growing steadily, outweighing cost of food and housing… the cost of child care can surpass that of in-state tuition at four-year public colleges in 31 states… unfortunately the largest demographic hit is single mothers… the National Institutes of Health says that low income single mothers with young childcare challenges can be a significant barrier to even finding a job… it’s not a uncommon for child care to absorb one quarter of what the mothers earn

People don’t want to or can’t commute ….in a recent poll by MRINetwork 75% of almost 600 people said “they would turn down a job offer because of the long commute”…

Maintaining your place in the benefits system is a full-time, arduous job… government programs have become very strict about who receive benefits… even though the numbers of people receiving government benefits is staggering, people have to spend a lot of time actually working with the programs to stay in the parameters… government offices are packed every day in this country… they require appointments, paperwork, filing, re-filing and re-qualifying, literally standing in line all day for unemployment, Social Security insurance, disability and food assistance programs are daunting… trying to keep up with this challenge and then go out to job hunt takes a super effort, zapping a person’s energy and attitude.

Feeling stigmatized by potential employers… study after study has shown that resumes of people who are out of work for 27 weeks or more are automatically eliminated… in a recent study, 5000 identical resumes except for the fact that half reflected being unemployed for more than 27 weeks were sent to prospective employers…not one  of the candidates out of work for more than 27 weeks were invited to interview… So the concern for being stigmatized is real.

next week: solutions