Monthly Archives: July 2012

…know what you’re selling

Three times this week, I interviewed  candidates with excellent track records and good work histories. Admittedly, they haven’t looked for a job in quite some time and weren’t use to interviewing.  But when I asked them the specific things they could do for a potential employer that nobody else could, they simply looked at me with a blank stare.

After a long pause, one  said, “I’m a  good worker!” What??? I asked her what that meanT and after another pause she said she couldn’t tell me, but she just knew she was a very good worker.

If you are looking for a job, you need to be able to explain to a hiring authority specific, exact benefits that hiring authority would get if they hired you over and above the 43 other people they are going to interview. Because of  “an intentional blindness” (… see my blog post on the ‘invisible gorilla’ below) you need to be very, very, very specific on exactly what you’ve done in the past, in terms that are extremely clear, that can carry over to what the hiring authority needs. You cannot say  the stupid stuff like, “well, I’m just a good employee… well everybody likes me… I don’t miss work… I get to work on time” or any kind of glib generality. You have to be able to communicate the specifics, “I consistently performed in the upper 2% of the company’s sales force… I consistently received excellent reviews and the maximum raises the company could offer… I was recognized by management 12 times in the last year… I was rewarded the top bonuses available in the company… I was promoted in the shortest period of time of any one of my peers…”

You have to be able to deliver features of your experience and background that can be benefits to  a hiring authority. They have to be clear and concise.

This takes practice. Don’t think you’re going to get into an interview without practicing this and all of a sudden be able to explain your features, advantages and benefits clearly and concisely. In today’s market you’re not going to get three “practice interviews.” Every interview is going to count. Know what you’re selling and deliver it well.

….all galactic … overkill interviewing

Twice this week, our firm had two excellent candidates who could do a very good job for the firms we referred them to and the jobs they were interviewing for. Unfortunately… and despite our warnings… both candidates went into the interview selling what I call, all galactic,  all world,  “I can do anything and everything” … both of these candidates have been in various jobs from frontline to vice presidents (even though they were still frontline producers) at smaller organizations… they had a number of very different kinds of jobs for short periods of time in a number of different kinds of companies and it was obvious they were very self-conscious about having too many jobs and careers, at least for the last few years, that were, kind of, all over the boards.

In spite of the fact that they were very good, solid candidates, they were so self-conscious about their various jobs with various companies, that even when we got them the interviews,  instead of going in and selling one or two specific skills and one portion of their background that would have been most important to the organizations we referred them to, they tried to sell every skill in every job they ever had.

They never really focused on the specifics of  the  position the hiring authority was looking to fill. When they were asked, “What kind of position are you looking for?”  they tried to answer the question with every possible answer that could be given. Their answer went something like this, “Wow, when I was at ABC company, I was a frontline producer doing XYZ. When I was at the previous company, I was a manager doing LMN. When I was at a previous company, I was the vice president of customer service leading a whole group of people. I can do just about anything and I have done just about everything.”

Instead of focusing on, “What is the most important experience or background you are looking for in the position you’re trying to fill?” They tried to “shotgun” their experience basically saying, “I can do anything, just give me the job.”

In trying to sell themselves, they grossly oversold, communicating that they could do everything and anything… they just need to be hired.

When our clients drill down on their experience, both of them still tried to answer just about every question with, “I can do that!”

The lesson is that in spite of the number of jobs, titles and duties you might have had in the past, a good candidate  cannot come across as,  “I can do everything, just hire me.”

Both candidates insisted that the reason they answered the questions this way is that they didn’t want to eliminate themselves for not being able to do any aspect of the job. It comes from insecurity and nervousness. The key is to analyze exactly what the hiring authority is looking for and sell your primary skills that relate to what they want. Everything else becomes secondary.

…exhausting and stupid

I get so tired of having to remind, even the most professional candidates, about the little things in their dress and mannerisms that will kill an interview before you get started… here are most of them:

Perfume, cologne, any kind of smell… including body odor, bad breath (…you may not know you have it), if you smoke, dip or chew…you stink (so get one suit for interviews and don’t smoke while wearing it…also give up smoking in your car while you are finding a job…the stench gets on your clothes) {yes! we have had dozens of candidates over the past few years who were not hired because they smoked…btw, that is perfectly legal}, dandruff, dirty hair, hair in the face, facial hair, especially beards (i don’t care if your wife or girl friend thinks it looks good on you, or that you have had it for umpteen years…grow it back after you get hired), five o’clock shadow facial stubble (that you think makes you look like Brad Pitt..btw, it makes you look stupid), toupees, beehive hairdo, butt cracks, baggy pants, cleavage, gold chains (for men){especially with that little gold nugget on it}, overwhelming jewelry (for women..long, dangling or big ringed earrings, gaudy, over done necklaces ), ridiculous hairstyles, dark glasses, gold or silver or diamond studs in ridiculous places, i.e. noses, lips, eyebrows, tongues etc., sunglasses, dark glasses that supposedly lighten up inside (but don’t), open collar shirts (for men) unbuttoned more than one time, loud colored shirts or blouses, sports coats, suits or dresses that are way too small, i.e. they were purchased 20 pounds ago, big watches, more than one conservative ring on the fingers, ($25,000 diamond rings on your finger communicate “I don’t have to work,”) black, dark red, or ridiculously colored finger nail polish… for both men and women… gun, golf, bird, dog, fish, animal or bright colored ties,  untied tie, decals on the fingernails, thumb rings, tattoos, stomach protruding over the belt, no bra or revealing bra, sundresses, strapless dresses, ridiculously big belt buckles, tight pants or slacks, shorts, short skirts above the knee, tight skirts, no hose (for women), no socks for men, any kind or informal footwear, sandals, platform heels, boots..both men and women …even if it is cold or snowing…any color of business footwear other than black or dark brown, scuffed shoes, obviously old shoes, stockings with ridiculous patterns, socks with ridiculous patterns, short pants, anything other than a suit, casual cloths ..(some of us remember jumpsuits), lapel pins that might offend, political buttons.

Please don’t argue with me about this stuff…argue with yourself..if you don’t want to shave your beard for interviews, don’t..if you argue that “It is a part of me..and people shouldn’t care about that stuff”…fine…i’m trying to get you a damn job.

…so what’s wrong with the economy… why aren’t they hiring

I probably get asked this at least five or six times a week, if not daily. Why is there $47 billion in cash sitting on the “side line” that businesses don’t wish to spend…WAKE UP AMERICA! …the solution to the problem is pretty simple…

There are 7.5 million business establishments in the United States and they average 16 employees… we’re a nation of small businesses. In 2009,  the average business owner in the United States made $259,000… that’s the average business… 3.75 million of them made more than 3.75 million; most of them made less…

For the most part, these business establishments offered healthcare to their employees. So now the government comes along and, if Obamacare survives, guarantees that my insurance rates will go up for my employees… don’t give me that garbage that my rates won’t change…they will…the day before yesterday, we were informed that the health insurance for our company… and we have a PEO so we are lumped in with 75,000 other people..  was going to go up 15% next year…  after raising 20% last year.

If our present political administration stays in office, we have been told that the top half of those business owners… the ones earning above $259,000 are going to have their taxes increased… I’m not sure how much but I know they’re going to go up pretty drastically…

So here’s the deal…I’m scared… healthcare costs are going to go up for the 30 people in our company and my taxes are going to go up… and I don’t know by how much on either account… our controller is trying to get a better insurance program but it’s going to be hard because the average age of a person in our company is 54 years old… we are boomers…

Am I going to hire people?… maybe, but I’m going to be really, really, really careful about it… I’m not willing to take risks because the economics of my company are very uncertain…

If we change administrations in November, I’ll feel a lot better… until then, I’m going to be really careful… I won’t expand very much and I think just like the vast majority of those 7.5 million business owners…

As the threat of skyrocketing healthcare costs, regulation costs and taxes are in front of me, I’m reluctant to hire and expand… pretty simple…

The reason this is important for you to know is that, if you are a candidate and you are interviewing with the average business manager or owner in the United States this is exactly the way he or she is thinking… if you are going to be a valuable employee for them you  need to convince them that you are a sure bet… that you are a perfect candidate… then you’re going to make them money and save them money and you’re going to do it very quickly… so the next time you go to an interview you know what that hiring authority is thinking and feeling… it’s pretty simple… and it’s pretty ugly…

Got it?