Category Archives: psychology

….taking responsibility

I want to be kind, empathetic and understanding. I don’t want to be a right-wing screaming  fool who condescendingly talks down to people who are less fortunate or poor or underprivileged are out of work and blame them for their plight. As kindly as I can I have to say that I am so darn tired of people not taking responsibility for themselves and, not so much their situation, but how they respond to their situation.

We have become a nation of dependent whiners who want to blame everyone else for their situation and refuse to take charge of their circumstances and do something about it. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t talk to some job candidate who can’t find a job who blames the economy, the government, their age (too young… too old), their race, their gender, their weight, their lack of education, their mother, their father… everything you can imagine but themselves for their inability to find a job.

One particular candidate this week was a 61-year-old woman who had been out of work for three years. She had a reasonably good track record of jobs before that. She has just about every excuse I mention above. I asked her how many interviews she had had. She told me in the last year she had had one interview and blamed her not getting hired on age discrimination. One interview… In one year… One interview!

In the 40 years I’ve been doing this I don’t think I’ve ever seen our society so lacking in taking individual responsibility. Maybe it’s because we’ve become so entitled to think that everyone deserves a job and when it isn’t automatically given them, they blame someone else. We don’t take responsibility. We don’t adopt the attitude that, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”

Then comes Larry. He’s a 52-year-old black guy with a felony. The felony is 10 years old and it involved money. Larry made restitution, but it still shows up on his record. It’s certain he’ll never get a job as an accountant again, but he takes responsibility for that. He lost his job as a trucking company dispatcher a month ago. He has excellent references and so far, he has found himself nine interviews. He’s got three more scheduled next week and two of the nine he has been on are having him back. Okay, these are not jobs for a CFO, but their jobs. Larry admits all of his mistakes. Takes responsibility for even his felony. The company he was recently with simply had to downsize. He is’t pissed or angry, he just needs a job. He’s got a great attitude and because he keeps interviewing, he will find a job …he takes responsibility.

If folks were more like Larry and less like the lady, Ann, our country would have less unemployment and more people working. Larry takes responsibility. Ann doesn’t. Larry certainly has more reasons to blame other people, his race, his age, the fact that he got laid off etc. than Ann. He just doesn’t choose to. He takes responsibility.

My personal speculation is that most of this started in the late 60s, when the Great Society was going to “take care of everyone.” It was a sincere attempt to help people who, supposedly, couldn’t help themselves. The attitude that the government would make things more “fair” and “equal” took away individual responsibility. And this attitude wasn’t just for poor folks or minorities, it trickled up and permeated all of society. “It’s just not my fault” and “I just can’t do anything about it” is so pervasive that it keeps Ann from getting interviews.

It takes an average of 16 interviews to get a job offer. It takes about 100 calls to discover one opening where a person might get an interview. It takes discovering about 10 openings to get one interview. In other words, it takes a hell of a lot of work  to find a job. The jobs and the interviews don’t come to you. You have to look for them and go to them. You have to take the responsibility to find the job.

In most instances people don’t find work because they don’t take on the responsibility of doing so. Ann can’t find a job because she hasn’t had any interviews. Whose fault is that?

 

…being shy

I listened to a TED talk by a psychologist who claimed that more than 50% of the people in the United States consider themselves shy… A quick Google search seems to find that there are many articles that confirm this fact… So if you put 50% of the people in the United States who consider themselves shy in an emotionally stressful situation… like looking for a job… It’s no wonder that people have such a difficult time finding a job…

I have to admit that for the past few years, after writing four books on how to find a job as well as an online program that is almost foolproof at helping somebody find a job, I’ve been wondering why so many people still have a difficulty in finding one…why so many people are out of work for so long and, after a year, almost become unemployable. It just didn’t make sense, or at least I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out. Being an extrovert and being surrounded by extroverts who are in some cases downright aggressive, I just simply didn’t think about it. What’s worse  is that even after more than 40 years of dealing with people, I should have known that many people, lots of people…shy people…  have a real hard time getting interviews and selling themselves hard enough to easily get a job.

It isn’t so much that it’s insensitivity…although it is…as it is just not paying attention… After all these years and having interviewed more than 26,000 candidates face-to-face, I should know that some people are so shy their shyness overwhelms their ability to sell themselves and get a job… And, like most people, the longer they go without a job, the harder it is..

So here is what shy people have to do…they simply have to push themselves to get interviews, by cold calling and running the risk of being rejected…they then have to practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice and practice interviewing and asking for a job so that when they get into an interview and they are phenomenally, terribly nervous, they do what they need to do. Keep in mind they don’t have to give a stellar performance of A+ interviewing. All they have to do is be able to sell themselves well enough to get a job. I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about the practice it takes, but it does.

If you are shy, you have to practice to the point where interviewing well becomes what psychologists call “unconscious competency.” (… Look it up) it is practicing so well that no matter how nervous or even distracted a person is, they interview well. I realize that this is not easy… but it is necessary…

And, think about it, 50% of the people that you’re interviewing with are also shy and they will have a tremendous amount of empathy for you…

… perseveration

In psychology and psychiatry, perseveration is the repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder…

Perseveration takes place in the job search when a candidate plays over and over and over in their head what they should have or could have done differently in an interviewing or job search situation. It is a maddening exercise for candidates especially when they have screwed up an interview… They play it over and over and over and over in their heads… Like a hamster on a wheel…They get emotionally distracted by it and because they don’t have enough other opportunities going on, they replay this one over and over…

Objectively, they know that it does them absolutely no good to keep reliving or reciting what they could have said or should have said in the interview. The more they do it, the more frustrated they become and then the more they do it..They often even call me and want to review over and over what they should have said… It does absolutely no good!

Everyone, objectively, knows what the doctor says when the patient dies… “Next.” The outcome may not be what he or she wants, or even likes, but they can’t do anything about it and they can’t afford  to have it affect the future practice of even the immediate moment… They have to let it go…

If a job seeker has enough interviewing cycles going on they really don’t have much time to ruminate and practice perseveration… They simply replay the interview the correct way and then move on to the next one… If they do it right they don’t have time to do anything but figure out what they would have changed and move on…

… boomer women have left the workforce

Up until recently, more baby boomer women than men had been in the workforce… the current employment participation rate for adult men is 77.8% and for women it’s only 58.5%… Why?… How does it affect the economy? There are 1 million fewer women between the ages of 45 and 60 in the workplace today  than there were in 2009. The impact on the economy is obvious because there are 1 million fewer people earning money to move around in the economy. Here are the major reasons our society is experiencing this phenomenon. More women these days are having children when they are older. Many of them began their career, married later than previous generations and started having families later. At the “prime” age for earning… 45 to 55, many of these women still have children in a home that need to be cared for.  Even if they had children at a young age there “young adult” children,, being the lowest percentage of working Americans in the workforce …are moving home and often, these mothers  feel compelled to be at home with their adult children. A woman with children  who plans on going back to work when the children are still young  are faced with a very high cost of childcare.  Often the cost of the childcare outweighs a salary. In fact the cost of childcare is the single largest expense for families in almost half of the US and is growing, outweighing the cost of food and housing. So, faced with the cost of childcare, it might be more economical for a woman to stay home rather than work outside the home and pay for child care. The elderly are living longer these days and when their health fails it is logical for their female daughters to stay home and care for them. The average age of unpaid, adult family caregivers, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance is 48 years old…In the sweet spot of a person’s prime professional earnings age range. And making matters worse,  when these women do come back into the workforce after a three or four year period of time, their skills are perceived to be more outdated than with men. This must be because of the perceived jobs and skills that are associated with women. The truth is that there are no more deterioration of skills with out of work women then there are with out of work men. Next week: … How these women can get back into the workplace.

… Some of the reasons why people get discouraged about working

We’ve created an interesting approach to finding a job in this country… in the guise of “safety nets” we have created a society where individuals feel that they should be able to find a job exactly like you want easily and on their terms… there seems to be a level of “I want job, but, I’m not gonna…”

People don’t want to take a pay cut. 40% of Americans who have seen long-term unemployment benefits have previously earned between $30,000 and $75,000 a year. They are considered “poor.” The vast majority of these people will not consider interviewing for a job at less money than what they were earning before even though they’ve been out of work for a long period of time… they will claim “I really don’t want us to”… once they pass up one or two opportunities, they feel compelled to pass up other ones that aren’t as good as the first one or two they were presented with…

Amazingly enough, 69% of Americans surveyed in 2013 by the Allegis Group stated that they would not take a job with the company would have any “bad reputation, even if they were unemployed”… and here is a phenomenally ironic twist, 33% of this group said that the only thing that would change their mind about a company’s “reputation” would be if they received a 50% increase in their previous page. It appears that a bad reputation is “relative” to the money people are paying … go figure! It’s hard to decide what a “bad reputation” means

Many people, often unemployed for long periods of time, try to find the “perfect” fit in finding a job… many have lost so much confidence in themselves they are afraid to accept any kind of job… because of low self-esteem ,they even quit job hunting altogether… a great many job seekers fall prey to the confusion of activity with productivity and spend their time sending resumes over the Internet… this is a really quick way to become discouraged… they hear nothing from the people they send their resumes to and become very discouraged very fast… unfortunately if you Google the search phrase “how do people find jobs?” The vast majority of articles and answers center around online job search of some sort… in other words people are encouraged to seek a job “online”…

next week, more discouraging facts and attitudes

…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

…”I never expected it would be this hard”

We hear this daily…candidates that are finding out that it is sooooo much harder to find a job than it was in the past…

A recent survey I read stated that the average professional thinks it takes 60 days to find a job when they are out of one…try an average of 180 to 220…They found jobs in the mid 2000’s or mid ’90’s…it was easier then…

We placed a sales candidate today who accepted a base salary of $85,000…she told us four months ago that  she wouldn’t take less than $100,000 base…since her last base was $135,000 in spite of the fact that she was on maternity leave for one year and had taken the last year off to be with her baby…

Times have changed…it was no where as easy as she thought it was going to be…and she was lucky that we could find her a job…It is a very rough job market…take nothing for granted…

….shock and awe

i spoke to a candidate of mine today who i have placed twice over the last 15 years…he lost his job, his company went broke seven months ago…he has never been out of work this long…he has always had an easy time finding a job…in fact, in the mid 90’s i got him three offers within one week..

things have changed…he was actually mad and frustrated at me because, “after all the money i have made you, you have only gotten me three interviews…”

i had to remind him that this isn’t whataburger, you can’t always “have it your way”…this market is very, very tight and just because it was easier to find a job a few years ago..it isn’t now…and frankly we were fortunate to have had the three interviews ..(which he didn’t do well on)

and it had nothing to do with his dazzling brilliance…there aren’t as many opportunities for his skills as there was and he can’t do much about that…

i didn’t rub it in, because his life is rough enough…but he didn’t listen well in the begining of his search when i tried to explain that the market was very difficult…

he dismissed the instructions i gave him about interviewing…tried to get him to review www.thejobsearchsolution.com …especially about interviewing…he tought that since he had made $250,000 to $300,000 selling software, he didn’t have to worry about how to interview…

he was condecending during two of those interviews because he thought he was better than the jobs….now he wishes he had the oppotunities back…he blew the other by going in explaining what “he wanted”…instead of what he could do for the potential employer..

the  lessons: this market is very tight…you will be shocked by it sooner or later…take nothing for granted…get lots of interviews…sell yourself really hard…be prepared for a long job search…

…stories

one of the most powerful strategies you can develope in the interviewing process is to be able to tell stories about yourself that prove you are a good employee  and that you will be an assett to any organization..

stories tell…they are more than enertainment, they train us in the art of being human…stories remove the listener’s immediate prejudices to you as a person and get them to focus on what you are talking about…

so, as you develope the presentation portion of your interview, make sure you tell stories that demonstrate your advaqntages and benefits..

keep the stories short and to the point…they will make a difference in how you are received

goatees and beards

i know that many will say that i ain’t “with it” or an old fuddy-duddy…BUT…men (..women too, i guess) who grow or keep goatees and beards while job searching, should rethink the decision..

employers are prone to ..even subconsciously..question a candidate’s viability if the candidate is wearing a goatee or beard more than those that are clean shaven..

don’t ask me why…and you can claim all you want that it isn’t fair …but there is a tendency to think that people are covering up “something” when they grow at goatee or beard

and the truth is, they are…they are covering up…. their face..

studies have shown that there is a slightly subconscious, distrustful, negative feeling toward candidates with goatees or beards…it is very subtle, but nonetheless, there…and, as a candidate, you simply don’t need even a subtle negative feeling toward you

it doesn’t matter if your wife, girl friend, mother, etc. think you look great with a beard…unless they want to hire you, get rid of any facial hair during your interviewing process..

you can always grow it back after you find a job…