Category Archives: job search

…no expectations

Dan Ariely, the behavior economist who teaches at Duke and has written a number of books, was asked in his write-in article in the Wall Street Journal White a few week ago about what the most important quality that would help a marriage survive. His answer was to have “no expectations.” Those of us who had been married for a long period of time really understand this sage advice.

The same could be said for a job search. However, based on my experience I would amend this concept just a bit…even maybe marriage. The The biggest problem most job seekers is that they have an expectations Just about everything regarding their job search. They expect that when they see a job posting they know they can do, they will get interviewed and likely get hired. When they apply to hundreds of job opportunities they expect to get interviews. They expect to get interviews when they call their friends. They expect  to find a job easily, in a short period of time. They expect to do amazingly well on interviews. They expect to get hired when they interview and often get better money and title. They have way too many expectations.

Rarely do any of these expectations ever pan out. This is one of the greatest shocks of most job searches. And the whole problem is that people have expectations.

There is a place for expectations. And it has to do with what a candidate should expect of themselves in the job search process. A job seeker has to expect the search is going to be hard. They have to expect that they had better take massive, massive action to get interviews …with great intensity. They have to expect to make more contacts about their job search than they ever imagined. They had best expect to perform well on interviews…and get lost of them. They have to expect that they have absolutely nothing until they have a job offer….that they like.

Notice that all these expectations are about themselves and no one else. Where job seekers always run into problems is when they have expectations about other people. Interesting, isn’t it…that is probably true about marriage also.

… Advice

Not a week goes by that at least three candidates turn down excellent job opportunities because of advice from other people. Instead of using common sense, they convolute the decision making process by becoming phenomenally confused because they ask the opinions about what they should do from people who really have no idea what they’re talking about. They get so many opinions from so many people they get confused. Confusion leads to fear and fear leads to them doing nothing.

Advice about changing jobs or what kind of job you ought to take is like advice about marriage. Everyone who has ever been married thinks they know something about it. Many people don’t know their own marriage very well, let alone, someone else’s. Most people know very little about what kind of job might be available for someone else, but because they have looked for a job or found a job before they will give their advice as though it was absolute and global.

So, the first thing a job seeker ought to do is to limit the number of people they get job search advice from. The second thing is to be sure that the people they ask are credible. Do they know you? Do they know your industry or profession you are in well enough to give valuable advice. Your loved ones, spouses, family and your close friends may know you really well, but they may not know the perspective of the kind of business you are in. They may act like it, but most of the time they don’t. Heavily consider the qualifications of the people you seek advice from. Your mother may think that your the best oceanographer in the world, and you may be, but she has absolutely no idea of the prospects of you finding a job in Dallas, Texas… (Very poor… we don’t have any oceans here).

Feature this, your pastor or spiritual adviser may know a great deal about spiritual life and even your spiritual practices. But he or she may not know squat about the accounting profession, or sales or engineering. Your spouse loves you but doubtfully knows the landscape of your profession. They probably think… In fact I hope they do.. that you ought to be the president of the Western world. Let’s face it, they love you and want what’s best for you but they really don’t know how you might get that job.

I have found that even 60% of the advice about finding a job on the Internet isn’t incredible and some of it is flat out awful. I’ve written in other posts about some of the junk posted on the Internet written by people who have either found a job or two or hired a few people and then write about ideas that are absolutely foolish. Quick example: there are literally hundreds of articles on the net about how to apply for job by sending your resume to a company’s job posting. These authors teach people how to “customize” their resume to the posting, etc. Out of close to 100 articles I reviewed, not one of them…NOT one..explains that 30% of the job opportunities that are “posted” are not really open or that the odds of finding a job in this way are 1 in 375. 99% of the people writing these articles are authors, researchers, professors, HR professionals, ex-HR professionals etc., most of whom have, at best, a very narrow perspective…theirs..of what’s going on with the job market.

So, get advice from whomever you wish. But realize the perspective from where the advice comes from. Take it with a big chunk of salt and compare it to what you are experiencing. Unless the people you are getting advice from are in the trenches, helping people find jobs every day be careful.

 

… You want how much?

 

There was an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal about how high salaries haunt some job hunters and eliminate them before they barely get started interviewing. The article claimed that:

  • Human resources executives say that asking about pay right off the bat helps contain compensation costs, insures that candidates have reasonable expectations and spares recruiters chasing prospects they can’t afford.
  • Focusing on compensation history “holds down wages because now the jobs are being filled by people with lower salary expectations”… “We have a whole generation of people who are permanently adversely affected.”
  • Finance chiefs are probably looking ahead and saying they want to keep the escalation of labor costs from going up in a way that will put pressure on earnings.
  • Employers may feel they can lowball applicants because they believe there is still a surplus of qualified candidates.
  • Workers over 45 years old take a bigger hit than workers under 35 years old
  • Some employers hesitate to hire at far below a past salary, concerned that the employee would resent earning so much less. (…and therefore leave or look for another job with a higher salary.)

The conclusion of the article is that when job candidates are asked what they want to earn and then tell a perspective employer what their desire is, they get eliminated.

Unfortunately, what the article doesn’t tell the prospective job seeker is how to deal with this issue. Here are ways a job seeker can deal with this question and keep themselves in contention for the job.

  • When asked, “What kind of money are you looking for?”, don’t try to guess what’s on the mind of the interviewer. Answer the question by stating something like, “In my last position I was earning $XXXXX. I’m not as concerned about what the starting salary is as I’m concerned about the opportunity in my ability to perform. My experiences have been that if I give good service, the money is going to take care of itself.”
  • Don’t pay any attention to what a “published” salary might be. Just because an organization publishes a certain salary doesn’t mean they’re going to pay that.
  • Quit thinking that people are trying to “lowball” you are anybody else. When you deal from a defensive attitude like that you won’t negotiate very well.
  • Remember to communicate that money is the fourth or fifth reason that people work. The company, what they do, the people… all are a lot more important than just money.
  • Quit thinking that just because you’ve made a certain amount of money that you “owe it to yourself and your family to get an increase.” An increase may not be what the market will bear. A lateral move or even a step backwards in salary is common in today’s market.
  • Communicate as much as you can that you are “open” regarding money. You might even give an example like, “In the last two jobs that I’ve had I started out at a lower salary than what I had made before and I wound up getting salary advances because of my performance. Again, I’m not as concerned about the entry salary as I am about the company, the people and the opportunity. If all of those things work well, the money usually works itself out.”

It doesn’t take a mental giant to know that older employees, because they usually make higher salaries, are more likely to take less money in finding a new job than younger workers. But that’s not because they’re older, it’s because they have been making more money. A “younger” candidate making more money than a hiring organization might want to pay will have the same problem.

For a while, companies will try to “contain” salaries and earnings. But as candidates become harder to find and the job market gets better, these companies will have to pay more and increase starting salaries to compete for good candidates. It happens every time we come out of a recession.

A job seeker’s pay history may very well be a challenge to deal with. But if it’s handled the right way, it can become no more than a minor issue.

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.

 

 

 

…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.

 

 

 

… Reaction to the 99 million out of work

It’s really interesting reaction that we got for the post two weeks ago about why the 99 million people that are permanently out of work are there. Most of the reactions claimed that the article was spot on. And there were quite a few others that voiced the fact that, “I’ve been among the 99 million for years… clueless hiring managers, HR fools and time wasting recruiters treat people such as myself like absolute s—t!” or comments like, “let’s see, bogus job advertisements, cronyism, much cheaper labor overseas, globalization, zillions of H1B visas…”

The numbers of these comments were surprising. This small sampling though, reinforce the idea that for some reason our society is accepting and tolerating this low rate of employment participation on everyone’s part. The major reason, and I do mean major, is that looking for a job is a phenomenally emotionally stressful thing to do. When the job market is tight and job seekers don’t get fairly immediate positive response to their efforts they lose momentum and because they really don’t know what to do in order to get a job they decide that, “there are no jobs out there” and they quit looking. On top of all of this, and this is important, the distance between the hiring authority and the job seeker is greater than it’s ever been. There are going to be 15 negative events for every positive one. Job seekers are lied to, storied, left on hold and simply ignored.The inability for a job seeker to communicate directly with hiring authority is greater than it’s ever been. It’s harder and harder, because of the Internet, because of applicant tracking systems and, yes, people who “review” resumes who know absolutely nothing about what they’re looking for for candidates to actually get an interview. And, on top of that most candidates don’t know how to perform well when they get the interview.

After a while, jobseekers become depressed and cynical about the whole situation. They quit. No one has prepared them for how really hard and difficult looking for a job is. Nobody has prepared them to realize the phenomenal amount of rejection and refusal that goes on in getting a job. No one has said to them, “look, you’re going to have to make 100 phone calls before you get one person to call you back. You’re going to have to get 10 of those calls before you have one of those people interested in speaking with you. Forget sending your resume. You’re going to have to send 180 album before you get anybody to respond. Pick up the phone and call a hiring manager and ask for an interview. You’re going to have to have 14 interviews… to maybe 18 interviews to get a job offer. And that might not even be one you want. It’s going to take 4 to 5 months just to get this far and then you’re likely is not to have to start all over. Are you ready for that?”

Some people get so depressed just upon hearing this, they quit looking and give up. But look, that is the way it is. That is  reality. You can believe me now or bleed me later and you can either face it or not. But that’s the truth.

A job seeker just has to keep going, and going, and going and going. They have to develop a systematic approach to finding a job. And they have to approach looking for a job like any other sales process. Making a ton of prospecting calls or ton of prospecting events. Getting in front of as many people as possible to interview and then interviewing extremely well.

If job seekers began knowing that finding a job in today’s market is really, really, really hard and prepared for it, one half of those 99 million people would find jobs. Maybe not the perfect job… but they would find a job.

 

 

 

…the $90,000 ego mistake

‘Never let your ego get bigger than your game,’   …excellent candidate, Mark…needs to find a new gig..we present him an excellent opportunity …he interviews on two management levels..does real well…going to the next level… hiring authority says he’s the best he has seen…

In debriefing Mark about the two interviews he had with the firm, he says: “You know, you don’t remember it, but you all got me a job offer from this outfit three years ago.” “Really,” we say, “what happened?” “Well,” he says, “on top of a good job offer they even offered me 1000 shares of pre-IPO stock. They are now public and the stock is at $90  a share. I ought to have my ass kicked.”

He continues, “What happened was that they first offered the job to another guy. He turned it down. They then offered it to me. I got pissed that I was the #2 choice so turned it down. My ego got the best of me. I really should have taken the job. The company is doing great and now that they are public, I’ll be able to buy stock if they hire me, but i could be $90,000 richer today had I taken the job then, and I probably wouldn’t be looking for a job.”

never let your ego get in your way…could cost you $90,000

…the ‘stop gap’ job

i’m  asked every day about the wisdom of taking a ‘stop gap’…’put food on the table’ type job..it is a very tough question..

on the one hand, folks need to eat…you can’t blame someone for doing what they have to do by taking a ‘get by’ job and continuing to look for a more professional job commensurate with what they had before…

here are some challenges with a ‘stop gap’ job…even if you can find one…

they get in the way of interviewing for a better job…can’t tell you how many times a candidate has said to me, “well can you change the time of that interview, tony…i  have to be at my ‘get by’ job then”…

interviews…good interviews are hard to come by…OK…but the last thing a candidate wants is to miss one because of a job they aren’t going to keep, but have to in order to put bread on the table..it is frustrating and…if it happens too often, most recruiters won’t run the risk of getting this candidate an interview, only to be told that the candidate “can’t make it” because of their ‘stop gap’ job… there are too many qualified candidates that are looking for a job on a full time basis..

another challenge is that candidates start comparing a good job opportunity with their ‘stop gap’ job…they’ll say things like..”well, i’m making almost that much now in this ‘stop gap’ job…so if i can’t get more than what i was making in my last real job, i’ll keep this one until i find exactly what i’m looking for…” or they get picky about the location of the better real job interview, or the kind or size of company or all kinds of other things that keep them from interviewing…

a ‘stop gap’ job often creates a “fear of success” mentality… it happens when the candidate sets their sights so high about the real job they want, they never can seem to find it, because they get unrealistic about what kind of jobs are really available and they become so comfortable with their ‘stop gap’ job they use it as a crutch…they are always going to try to find a “better” job that only exists in their imagination… they never really have to leave their ‘stop gap’ job because they can’t find what they really want in a new job…

‘stop gap’ jobs e-l-o-n-g-a-t-e into months …even years…it is hard to convince a hiring authority that you are serious about your career when you explain that you have had your ‘stop gap’ job for eighteen months r two years…

this happens a lot…it isn’t intentional…candidates take these kind of jobs with the intention of leaving for a real job…but time passes and all of a sudden they see that they have been on the job eighteen months or two years…now they really have a ‘gap’ in their professional resume…it is really hard to explain…and most hiring managers, forgetting how difficult this market is, won’t believe that the candidate was really trying to leave the ‘stop gap’ job… 

 one tip is to take a ‘stop gap’ job that allows a lot of daily time to interview….an early morning shift at Starbucks…an evening gig as a waitstaff person at a local restaurant…even a night shift janitorial job…anything that leaves you free during the day to search for a full time, professional job…

take a ‘stop gap’ job if you must…but be aware of the challenges

…why don’t people follow the instructions

it is sooooooooo simple…

my candidate asked, when interviewing with two of the sales people

that were part of the interviewing process: “are you going to recommend to the president that he hire me?”

they said: “..well, it is really not my decision..”

he said (and this is great): “i’m not buying that…you are part of the decision making process or you wouldn’t be interviewing me….they obviously think highly of your opinion…

what attracts me to this company is that you all are a close knit group… you rely on one another…you seem to watch each other’s back…i really like that and want to be a part of it…

..now, are you going to tell the president to hre me?”

he had to ask one of sales people this question twice…but he got the answer he wanted…”yes…i will recommend you..”

when he was interviewing with the v.p…he asked the v.p. five times if he would recommend him…the v.p. finally said, “you really want this job, don’t you?”…”you have my vote!”

what is funny/sad…whatever, i try to teach every candidate i get past first base to do this and they don’t..

the highest compliment a teacher can get is a student who executes the plays the way they are drawn up…go figure …

..why don’t people follow the instructions?????

 

…dealing with “bruised credit”

we hear it weekly…candidate gets into the finals of the interviewing  process…is told they are a finalist…will have their references and credit checked…

then, oh my, the candidate reveals that they have “bruised” credit…this can be everything from very, very bad credit to poor credit…

in these difficult economic times, it is not suprising that many people’s credit is “bruised”…slightly to very badly..

these days, employers are more prone to check credit on most candidates, even if the position is not a financial oriented job….it use to be that a candidate’s credit was checked only when the job had to do with financial positions…i.e. where money was involved..

these days, though, hiring authorities have a hard time checking references with previous employers, who, more often than not, adopt a “we don’t give references of any type” policy…so, they resort to other objective reports like criminal records and credit reports…

the assumption is that, if your credit is poor, you are a poor employee…

it does no good to argue this issue…if you have bruised credit, best assume you will be eliminated from most any financially oriented job…we even had a candidate lately who was eliminated from an insurance adjusters position because of his poor credit…

we recomend not sharing a poor credit issue unitl you find out that your credit will be checked…(by the way, you can’t refuse this being done without immediately being eliminated from contention)..

once you are informed, tell the hiring authority that your credit has been bruised and ask him or her if that will be an issue…you might share with them the reasons for the situation…we had a candidat a few years ago whose identity was stolen and she was still “recovering” from a poor credit issue through no fault of her own…

some hiring authorities may be able to work with you if they really like you…sometimes they may not have any choice depending on company policies..

you want to be sure that, if you find that a credit report will be reviewed and you have had challenges, the employer does not find out from the credit report itself…especially if you are told that the report will be part of the screening process…

if an employers thinks you are withholding information from him or her, you won’t get hired…