Category Archives: communication

…You paid good money for this?

 

A really good candidate calls me and sends in his resume. Now I appreciate the anxiety and difficulty that people have in finding a job, let alone writing a resume, etc., but this guy’s got more than 20 years of sales and sales management experience. I looked at his resume and had to ask him, “Did you pay money for this?”

The very first page and a half… a whole page and a half…was written in 10 point characters. It is tremendously busy with nowhere near enough white space. The “content” of this first page and a half began with things like “self-motivated… assertive… confident… personable/likable… fast-paced… complex (not sure what that means)… collaborative… committed to professional growth… effective… productive under pressure”, etc. These were followed by comments like, “leadership philosophy, do your best and have fun… making things happen…strong strategic account planning and execution with creative approach to problem solving… tenacious drive.” And on the first page there were nine text boxes that had things like, “new market development and growth… up selling… cross-selling… C-level sales presentations…” in them. Even Starbucks isn’t this busy on Saturday morning at 8 AM.

In the middle of the second page he begins his “professional experience.” He provides NO dates… you read right …NO dates of employment for each one of the experiences he describes. He describes what each company does but does NOT give the name of the last five companies that he’s worked for. He describes them with things like, “business intelligence and analytics software firm,”… “This billion-dollar company that provides electronic design automation software.”  NO dates and NO names of companies. No wonder he isn’t getting any interviews.

I could go on and on but I’m sure you get the picture. For what it’s worth, the observations get worse. This fellow paid $500 to have somebody write this. Unbelievable!

Any reasonable businessperson should be able to write their own resume. Some resume writers really know what they’re doing and some don’t. Here is the challenge that resume writers have – none of them really ever found anyone a job. They may write a seemingly good resume but they don’t really find anyone a job. They often write resumes that they think hiring authorities and companies want to see. They will tell most consumers that their customers “like” the resumes they write. This fellow, a very accomplished twenty-year sales veteran, should’ve been able to see that this resume wasn’t going to get him anywhere. What a candidate thinks of her resume and what a resume writer thinks of the resume they write may not have anything to do with what the hiring authority might want in a resume.

Here are a few basic points about resumes that keep it simple

People don’t care about your “professional summary,” “objective,” etc. They care about, “what can you do for me TODAY!” Remember that whoever is reading your resume doesn’t really “read” your resume. They scan your resume to see if they know the companies you worked for, what you did at those companies in terms they understand and what your performance was. It’s that simple. 99% of the people who initially look at your resume DON’T READ IT!! They scan it. If they see what they like, they set it aside and either really read it later or simply call you for an interview. It’s that simple! Just because, for instance, you know what your company, ABC, Inc. does, does not mean the resume reader will know what ABC, Inc. does. There are 1.7 million businesses in the United States and I guarantee you very few of them state what they do in their name.

There are thousands of books and articles about resumes. I’ve written one of those books and a number of articles. Some of the folks that write them know what they’re doing and some don’t. Use common sense. Ask yourself, “is this resume going to compete well with the 180 other resumes the hiring authority is going to be sent? Does it tell people who I’ve worked for, what they do and how successful I was?”

I told my candidate he ought to ask for his $500 back. Probably should’ve minded my own business.

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

… “Well, I’ve paid my dues…”

 

We hear this weekly. There are over 20 recruiters in our organization and each one of us may even hear it three or four times a week. It’s usually stated by someone who is trying to justify getting more money if they change jobs, finding a management job or basically expressing the fact that they don’t want to start all over, let alone take a step back from the level of job they had.

Unfortunately, these folks have some kind of entitlement attitude that tries to justify that someone else ought to give them a promotion or more money just because they deserve it. I had this brought to my mind again this week by a fellow who has been out of work for almost a year, who says that he’s had job offers that were lateral moves to the job he had but that he and his wife know that, since he’s paid his dues he will find a job that is at least a $10,000 “step up” in earnings and, preferably, a management position. With a straight face he was trying to convince me that a job like that existed and he was going to find it. The guy has been out of work for a year. Can you say – delusional?

There’s no such thing as, “I’ve paid my dues!” Every one of us “pays his dues” every day. Our value in the marketplace is not intrinsic. It’s whatever we can get in the marketplace. The marketplace doesn’t give a fig about what you think you’re worth or how many “dues” you’ve paid. The marketplace is going to tell you what you’re worth. Take it or leave it. None of us “deserves” anything.

The idea is for a job seeker to sell his or her skills and experience the best they can. The better their experience and performance, the more the market might bear. Nobody cares about what you’ve done in the past unless it’s an indication of what you can do for them. All a hiring authority or his or her company cares about is what you can do for them NOW. Your value is whatever you can get them to pay.

“I’ve paid my dues…” Cut it out!

 

“So how’d they find out I was looking for a job?”

Andy, a 20 year veteran of sales, with a stellar track record asks me that on Thursday. He just couldn’t believe that his boss was asking if he was looking for a job. He kept mumbling, “… How’d they know?….How’d they know?”

I explained to him that experience in this profession since 1973 tells me that 98% of the time when a candidate gets “discovered” they got discovered because they told somebody in the company that they were looking for a job. Years ago I used to get all worried for a candidate and counsel with them on all kinds of conspiracy theories as to how the company found out they were looking for a job. But, after a number of years of hearing the real story as to how a candidate’s company finds out there looking to leave, I’m absolutely certain that 98% of the time, it comes from the candidate himself.

In this situation, I had the wisdom of telling Andy that somewhere along the line he mentioned this to someone in the company and it got back to his boss. He was quiet on the other end of the line and then I heard him softly mumble, “… That son of a bitch” and then continued silence. I told him that I bet there was somebody he had discussed leaving with and I bet everything I own that person discussed it with somebody else, who began the conversation with the proverbial, “you can’t tell anybody else but Andy might be looking for a job…” And then that person tell someone else in the same manner and so on and so forth.

In this case, the two people that Andy told where his best friends and he couldn’t imagine them saying anything. But in his heart he knew that one of them did. Now, he was still mad about it, but at least he was man enough to admit that he’s the one that shared the idea with someone else in the company.

He was fortunate that he wasn’t fired on the spot. But he did tell me that his boss, who up until now had been a good friend of his, seemed distant and removed. Both Andy and his boss are very uncomfortable and it’s making it difficult for everyone.

Here’s the lesson: KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT about looking for a job. Tell me, your spouse and then stop! Even if you don’t get fired, and most likely you will be, the relationship you have with all of your superiors is going to deteriorate. It’s just not worth the risk. If you’ve got a job and you’re looking for another one, it’s like having two jobs.

No matter how close your friends are and how much they like you, you can’t afford to get fired. SHUT UP!

… know when to say “I don’t know…”

Our candidate was as perfect a fit as we were ever going to find. Our client needed a great candidate but also insisted upon a very technical background. It had taken us 67 days to find the guy and he made it through the first interview with flying colors. Eight people had preceded him and all failed.

Candidate calls and says, “I nailed this… I’ll get this offer.” We warned him that he could never let his ego get bigger than his game and he just needed to keep on interviewing well and then gracefully, humbly get the job. He was feeling pretty strong about being the only one of many candidates who got through the initial interview and went into the second interview with a panel feeling really confident. Well, as we’ve discussed before, a panel interview is totally different than a one-on-one interview. But that didn’t turn out to be the problem.

The problem came when one of the members of the panel asked him a relatively technical question that, in reality, had no real answer. The guy that asked the question was trying to show off among his peers. Our candidate took the bait and just started talking and talking and talking and talking. He knew in his heart that he really didn’t have the answer and was simply trying to baffle them with bull shit. Everyone in the room, including our candidate, knew exactly what he was doing. This all happened yesterday.

We’re not sure what’s going to happen. We haven’t been able to get feedback from our client. The people in the company know how hard these kinds of candidates are to find and, if they have any sense, they will still try to hire the candidate.

But the lesson loud and clear is: don’t act like you know something when you don’t. When you don’t know the answer simply say, “I really don’t know.” Trying to BS your way through an interview will only lead to disaster.

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.

 

…little things that will make a very big difference

Pay attention… Here are some little tips that are going to make a real big difference in your job search (and maybe in some other areas too):

The voicemail message on your cell phone… Make sure you recorded a voicemail that announces who you are and your phone number. Many people simply let the automatic voicemail announcement phone number tell them who they have called. The person calling is never really sure of who they are leaving a message for. I can’t tell you the number of times over the years that I’ve gone back to a candidate resume, two or three years later to see if they are available (with a really phenomenal opportunity that I found for them) only to hear a phone number. I’m never sure if when I leave a message that I’m leaving the message for the person who I’m really looking for. if the resume or my contact information is three, four or five years old I sometimes wonder if who I’ve called is the same person I want to reach. Sometimes, I simply hang up. So, the lesson is to record your name on your voicemail so that people know it’s really you. Also, be sure to record your number slowly so that people know they are getting it right, “this is Tony Beshara, 214-762-8788. Please leave a message slowly with your phone number twice so that I get it right.” Be sure to ask them to leave their phone numbers slowly and preferably repeated so that you get it right. There’s nothing more frustrating than to be listening to a voicemail and hear someone say, “please call me back at 214-3_4 -231_”  and not know what the numbers in the middle are.

deliver your resume in a traditional PDF or Word format. Keep in mind that the person you’re delivering it to is comparing it with 180 others that they’ve received via email. When you tell them to go to some off-the-wall website or even sending people to your LinkedIn profile you force them to take one or two steps that they really don’t want to take because they’re in the middle of opening up resumes that have been emailed to them. Most folks will simply skip your instruction and move on to the next resume they are going to review. So, trying to be fancy or cute by sending them to anything other than an attached copy of your resume won’t help you.

Your video resume… 99% of them suck. Unless you are very well practiced at doing videos and pay a lot of money to have it professionally done, your video resume is going to HURT you. The purpose of your resume is to get you an interview. There are too many judgmental things that go on with a visual observation of you in a video. Now, you can say, “well that’s true with a written resume” and you are right. But there are fewer of them with a written resume than a video resume. On top of that people are more conditioned to a written resume rather than a video one. Video resumes “look” too long and if a viewer doesn’t like the color of your hair, the fact you have no hair, the fact that you have more hair than they do… anything visual, you are likely to get eliminated. Video resumes introduce too many risk factors to your getting interviewed. You just don’t need the aggravation. (In the past few years I have seen ONE…just ONE spectacular video resume done by a friend of mine, Stanton Williams. I don’t know if it’s still out there in cyberspace, but it is absolutely excellent. If you can’t do one like that, don’t do a video resume.)

men…that gray peach fuzz of facial growth around your lips, chin and, sometimes the rest of your face on your LinkedIn picture… Get rid of it. You’re already complaining to me that people are discriminating against you because of your age. A picture like that makes you look even older. Wake up!

keep your name, email address and phone number on the very top of your resume. Don’t get fancy and put it at the bottom, or on the side or anyplace other than is really obvious for whoever reviews it to call you. If they have to go hunting for it, they might just stop and move on to the next resume. Likely as not they’re going to decide to call you before they read the whole resume any. If they have to go hunting for your contact information they may just stop.

just a few simple thoughts

…lies

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 degree..you 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 LIE..it is dumb…dumb…dumb

… kudos to Michael

A large part of the reason that so many people stay out of work for so long is that they don’t have the courage to push a prospective employer to interview them. They say things to me like, ” well, I called them once, and they never called me back.” (“Poor, poor pitiful me!”)

So here’s what happened. I tell Michael about a company that I have presented him to. I tell him about the SVP who is probably going to do theinterviewing and give him every bit of ammunition about the job, the company, how we should sell himself etc. My client, the SVP, who has also been a candidate of mine and I’ve known for 15 years, is one of those kind of guys who hardly ever returns a call, emails me in the middle of the night telling me that will have to catch up in the next couple of days, but doesn’t seem to get around to it. Having done this for so long, it only bothers me because when I get an exceptional candidates it’s hard to get a hold of the SVP, and both he and the candidate lose out on a great opportunity. I called the client at least 25 times about Michael… even tried him on Sunday mornings because he told me I could do that,… evenings… anytime I thought it was a good moment.

Now there lots of recruiters and other people who would say that it’s just not worth it to do that kind of thing. If the guy isn’t interested in calling you back or emailing you back he’s not much of a “client.” But, I have to tell you that his company is wonderful and he has three or four excellent opportunities. He’s going to hire somebody. It’s not much effort to make the calls. My ego is in check and I just don’t have any expectations to expect a call back. And, of course, I’m getting Michael other interviews.

So, after calling me two or three times about the appointment that I just can’t seem to get Michael, I  keep telling him I’m trying. (Damn weak excuse for a recruiter who is suppose to know what he is doing.) So, guess what? Michael calls me today and says he has an interview with the company on Monday with five of the managers he needs to be talking with. Michael didn’t sit around and moan and groan about the fact that he wasn’t getting this interview (or blaming his lousy recruiter). He picked up the phone and he left four or five messages for my client, the SVP, explaining that based on what he had learned from me, he was absolutely perfect for the job and the SVP really needed to interview with him. Success! The SVP’s internal recruiter called Michael today and arranged for a full day of interviews.

Now, this kind of thing won’t work all the time. Michael still hasn’t talked to the SVP. But that’s okay! He’s got five interviews on Monday. Kudos to Michael for making it happen. if more people were this aggressive about getting interviews like this, more people would go to work.

Good job, Michael!

Next week…why more folks don’t do this.