….mangled metaphors and misapplied analogies

Can’t tell you the number of very educated candidates over the years that in their speaking, become fond of metaphors…which is OK…however…they mangle the metaphor.

They say things like “pass mustard“, instead of “pass muster”…”took off like haywire”…instead of “wildfire”…”preaching to the congregation“…instead of “choir”…I have had different candidates tell me they wanted to “hit the ball running,” “give their best foot forward,” or said, ”I’m living fat on the hog” and the “cream will rise to the crop”…”you are barking up the wrong dog”…”eats at my crawl”…”brightest block in the box ”…

I could go on, but you get the message. We have all heard folks do this at times…we are amused and kind of laugh. But in the interviewing situation, they can be disastrous. This is especially true if they are repeated. They are distracting and, in most cases, don’t reflect well on the person being interviewed. Soooo, practice interviewing. If you have a tendency to mangle your metaphors or misapply your analogies, have someone help you or get yourself some and google a few. If you are going to lose a deal, don’t let it be over something so simple to correct. So, keep your nose to the ground and your ear to the grindstone…practice interviewing…watch the pictures you describe…

As long as we are at it, here are some others:

“As long as that dog hunts, we’ll ride him,”

“It’s the best thing since sliced Spam.”

“Never judge a book by its title.”

“Never put all your eggs in one omelet.”

“The guy just couldn’t cut the custard.”

“That guy is a wolf in cheap clothing.”

Oh, brother…

…hiding behind voicemails, emails. . and just plain ignoring YOU…shake the dust off your feet

One of the most, if not the most, frustrating things that a job searcher goes through is learning to live with unreturned calls, and un-responded to emails. You are overwhelmed with disbelief. You just can’t believe that after all of those wonderful interviews where you were told that you were, “perfect candidate,” and that “you’ll hear back from us soon” and then NOTHING… nada…zip…
Frustration with this experience leads to downright anger. Jobseekers can’t believe that people in organizations can be so rude. They go through a number of interviews that seem to be excellent but beyond the encouragement at the end of a group of interviews they hear absolutely nothing. Even we, as recruiters run into this…a lot. We communicate with most of our clients over the phone. But it’s becoming more and more common for some hiring authorities to only communicate with email, whenever they decide the timing is best. Emails don’t communicate emotion. There is very little “conversational” give-and-take. It is extremely antiseptic. Well, you and I just plain have to get used to it.
Cursing this experience and getting mad about it isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, the more energy you expend toward a negative event, the more you reinforce that events replication. Expending energy this way detracts from your ability to devote positive emotions toward what you might be able to influence and control.
The first step is to never, ever, ever believe what people tell you until it is followed up with their actions. If someone tells you that you are a great candidate and that they would like to pursue you, only believe it when they follow up with the actions that reinforce yout being a good candidate, by communicating with you and, most importantly, inviting you back for interviews. Actions always speak louder than words, especially in this situation.
The second step, and this is probably the hardest, is to be as understanding and accepting of being ignored as you can. Over ninety nine percent of the time you being ignored is not because people don’t like you, or hate you, or think you’re insignificant or never want to speak with you again. It’s vastly more than likely that they are distracted from you by other things that you have absolutely no control over and most likely have nothing to do with you. Having done this since 1973 and probably been involved with at least 100,000 interviewing cycles, I’ve come to the conclusion that 50% of the time the company has found, in their eyes, a better candidate. In spite of what they told you, that you were a fantastic candidate and you are perfect for the job, they found someone else they thought was better. Twenty five percent of the time, their interviewing process is still dragging on and they don’t have the guts to call you and tell you that they are so incompetent that they just can’t make up their minds about what to do, so their interviewing process is still going on (… even though they told you three weeks ago they were ready to make a decision). Twenty five percent of the time they change their mind about hiring anybody outside the company, i.e. they move somebody from within the organization into the job (…which is probably what they were going to do all along, but wanted to look like they were practicing business intelligence by interviewing externally) or they “reorganize” and don’t fill the job at all, just divide up the duties and responsibilities to other folks. (This 50%, 25% and 25% may not be “statistically” accurate by any mathematical study, but my gut on these things is usually correct).
After you have sent a number of emails… with no response, left a number of voicemails… with no return call over a period of about a week, the third step, and probably the most important one, is to know when to move on. Say prayers for these folks, recognize that they are “spiritual beings acting human,” forgive them for their rudeness, practice “holy acceptance” (Google: St. Ignatius of Loyola), drop the idea that you are going to get a job offer from them and start focusing on other opportunities. That’s it! Don’t expend any emotional or mental effort on the opportunity anymore.
Keep the door open. The fourth step is to avoid any emotional response to “tell them off.” Do not send some ridiculous email telling them they are rude, have no manners or are stupid. In their hearts they know they are being rude, but they are busy with other things. If you are a viable candidate, you never know if their first, second, or third candidate might turn them down or take another job and all of a sudden you are the “#1 choice”. If you write some stupid email or leave a voicemail that tells them they can take their job and stuff it where the sun don’t shine, you may never get the chance at the opportunity if a number of others don’t take it for one reason or another. Always leave the door open for an opportunity to get a job offer. I had a candidate a number of years ago that was offered a job after eight others had turned it down. Twenty years later he was the president and owner of the company. You may not want the job if it’s offered to you, but always leave the door open.
Here is the key: If you have a number of opportunities in the queue, when this happens you won’t be devastated. You might be disappointed, but you won’t be devastated. This kind of, seemingly, insult is emotionally and mentally offset when you are involved in lots of opportunities and interviewing cycles. It may bother you, but you have so many other opportunities that you are looking at, you can’t afford to get lost in the “poor me” or victim syndrome. Get on with focusing on the job opportunities you have in front of you where you can influence the outcome and possibly get a job offer.
In Mark 6:11 and Mark 10:11, Christ gives great job hunting advice, “If any place will not welcome you or listen to you… shake the dust off your feet…” and move on. Jim Rohn used to remind us that we have other signals these days of communicating the same feelings, but the action is the same… move on!
Remember what the doctor says when the patient dies:
“Next.”

…shark tank lessons for your job search

My wife, Chrissy, loves Shark Tank. It is probably one of the most popular shows on television although most people probably won’t admit it. Chrissy not only watches it on Friday night where most of the new episodes appear, but also three or four other nights a week where they do reruns. There are some of these we’ve seen at least three times. I’ve often thought that it would be a good idea for every job seeker in America to watch Shark Tank. Here are some of the lessons:

The first lesson is to look and be likable. When people come out on shark tank dressed nicely, smiling, looking sincere, like they’re there to help other people with their product or service, and come across as simply nice always have an advantage. The ones that come out looking like they think the world revolves around them, overdressed, trying to look sexy, communicating, “Im da’ bomb,” or a guy who communicates, “I’m a stud,” already have a strike against them. You could almost see the sharks bristle when they walk into the “tank”. First lesson: look and be likeable!(It is amazing to me how many seemingly poor ventures get funded by the Sharks when they are presented by a really likable person. If you ever watch the show, see how many times one of those sharks says, “… I really like you” and then offers to back the person in spite of the product’s flaws.)

The second lesson is to have something clear,different, even if simple, to say. So many people get on Shark Tank and really don’t know how to tell a simple story about what they do and what they’re about. Often, they get through with their presentation and the sharks have to ask them, “we don’t really understand… what are you trying to do?” The Sharks get lost in some roundabout, unclear story about what they are being asked to invest in. Second lesson: keep it simple!

The third lesson is to know exactly what benefits your product or service providing others. A product or service that, “revolutionizes the world in 10 different ways” never sells. A person only needs two or three features, advantages and benefits in order to make a sale. They have to be very important features advantages benefits i.e. ones that can’t be found any other way. Over the years both Chrissy and I have noticed that the most popular Shark Tank products have been targeted toward one simple problem. They seem to be the quickest to get funded by the sharks, and also the most successful. Third lesson: know what you’re selling!

The fourth lesson is to anticipate objections. Often it only takes the sharks a few questions to reveal that the presenters don’t appear to have been totally “truthful” with the sharks. By asking questions, the sharks discover credit issues, debt issues, partner issues, etc. they didn’t reveal in their presentation. When this happens, the sharks feel deceived, like the seekers of the investment are trying to “put one over on them.” Most of the time these folks get sent packing rather rudely. Fourth lesson: know what the objections to you being hired are and reveal them, so to speak, in your presentation.

The fifth lesson is to have a simple solution to a difficult problem, demonstrate how it works, then ask for the order. No matter how complicated the product might be, the most successful Shark Tank solicitors present their solution in a simple manner, demonstrate it, the ask for the investment. Candidates interviewing need to do the same thing. “The companies that I’ve worked for in the past had a problem with…..(accounting, IT, sales, customer support, marketing,Production, manufacturing, etc.). And here is how I helped solve the problem….I can do the same for you. Now, when can I go to work?” Here is where the specific features of your ability become advantages to the company you have worked for and how those companies benefited from them. This communicates to a prospective employer that since you’ve done that for past employers, you will do it for them. You then, simply ask for the job.Fifth lesson: sell features, advantages and benefits, then ask for the order.

Shark Tank lessons for the job seeker!

…still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest

… Simon and Garfunkel, “The Boxer,” 1969. You know how a song will sometimes come to you from seemingly nowhere and it keeps persevering in your head? This song as a single came out In 1969, the year Chrissy and I were married. It appeared on the album “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” In 1970. Someone gave us this album as a belated, casual wedding present. I think we wore the grooves out of that album ( if you don’t know what “grooves” are on an album, ask your elders).

These words come to me probably more often than most old songs do, simply because they apply so much to my profession. Every day… and I mean,every day These words apply to the candidates and the hiring authorities that we do business with. Especially in the interviewing process, people hear what they want to hear and seem to block out lots of stuff they don’t want to hear or should hear.

At least once a day, I have a candidate report to me about how an interview went, Telling me that they absolutely “nailed it,” that it went great and that, based on what they heard, they are a shoo-in for the job. Upon following up with the hiring authority, I find out that, not only did they miss the mark of the hiring authority was looking for, but they performed terribly in the interview. Likewise, I’ve had hiring authorities Who were absolutely thrilled with the candidate and talked about what it would take to hire them, only to find out that the hiring authority gave a terrible impression of the job, the company and, worst of all, himself.They both had “happy ears,” seeing what they wanted to see.

On the other side of the same coin, hiring authorities will often get hung up on one negative aspect of a candidate’s background. Things like one too many jobs in a short period of time or one poor decision in leaving a company can cause a hiring authority to miss some very important aspects about a candidate’s background. Candidates can misunderstand one or two statements made by an employer and all of a sudden become disinterested in an opportunity in the middle of an interview and never listen to some of the quality things about the job that they would really interest them. Both parties forming negative opinions before they had a fair shot.

Psychologists tell us that we only remember 20% of what we hear, in passive listening, 30% of what we see and hear even in active listening. And this is during normal conversations which doesn’t even take into account the emotional strain that goes on both sides of the desk in an interviewing situation. When people are emotionally ill at ease, their memory skills are even worse. So, it’s totally understandable that candidates think they did real well when they didn’t and employers think they sold their job when they didn’t. They both hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.

The implication of this fact requires specific awarenesses and ways of offsetting the downside. First thing, of course, is to be aware of the problem. Simply the awareness of the fact that I may not be listening attentively takes all the difference in the world. Secondly, and this is so simple.. Take notes. Writing down keywords… You don’t have to record every word, just the keywords.. Forces both the candidate and the interviewing authority to pay better attention to what’s being said.

For a candidate, using a structured presentation every time one interviews ensures the fact that the candidate will consciously sell their features and advantages and benefits. So often, candidates go down the rabbit hole when they go into interviews without a structure in mind. They get asked some dumb ass question like, “tell me about yourself” and follow it to disaster.

For employers or interviewing authorities using a structured interview (we’ve recommended this before and have copies of them if someone would like to receive one. Just write me and ask me for one, Tony@Babich.com). The structured interview forces the interviewing authority to ask every candidate exactly the same questions and forces them to take notes so that they can reasonably compare candidates even weeks apart from being interviewed.

What both candidates and interviewing authorities can do that’s also very important, is to summarize what went on in the interview immediately after it taking place. This is especially important for a candidate so that the candidate can write an effective thank you note as well as have great information for second, third and subsequent interviews. These interviews can get spread out over a long period of time… even weeks. No one is smart enough to remember what might be important to one hiring authority or one company two or three weeks after an initial interview.

This kind of selective hearing… hearing what we want to hear Can kill a great opportunity for everyone.

…f ’em

This is an email that I got back from where my candidates when I wrote them and told them that the organization that we had been to three interviews with was going to pass. They stated they were going to hire someone else and that my candidate wouldn’t be considered. The hiring manager gave me some really weak reasons as to why my candidate didn’t do well in the interviews. I related these to my candidate and not only did he deny them but explained to me that the hiring manager totally missed one of the points that my candidate had made.

I understand my candidate’s feelings and the graphic expression of his frustration. I am somewhat biased, but my candidate has been tremendously successful in just about everything that he has ever done and the reasons our client was passing pretty weak. Based on what I could see, the candidate was a better performer than the guy doing the interviewing and the hiring authority was likely afraid Of the candidate.

Regardless of the reasons, however, the attitude of my candidate is not good. Getting mad and telling them to f’off isn’t going to create a situation where the candidate is going to learn from the interview. We all realize that it is an emotional reaction to being rejected. And being rejected is never fun. But whenever this happens, we have to take as much of a positive attitude towards it as we can and be open to learning from it. It is very hard to learn from this kind of situation when you’re all pissed off, mad and angry.

So before you “f’em,” calm down and think, “I don’t like the results of this a bit, but what could I have done differently to get a different outcome? What have I learned? How can I do better?”

 

 

ego…a mistake of the intellect…also of interviewing

Just read a great book, Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. It chronicles ancient as well as modern historical disasters as a result of leaders’ big egos. It reminded me of the Sanskrit quote that, “ego is a mistake of the intellect.”

It also reminded me of the interviewing situation… on both sides of the desk. All of us will admit that there are some pretty phenomenally big egos out there in business. Some people feel that in order to be successful they have to be the center of attention. For whatever inadequacy they may have in their personality makeup, they feel the best way to offset their inadequacy is to be particularly egotistical. (I worked with the hiring authority some years back who actually told candidates that his job was to hire people to make “him look good.” And it would be their job to do the same.)

Many job candidates feel as though they must assert their ego in the interviewing situation. “After all,” they say, “if I don’t toot my own horn in the interview, no one will pay attention to me.” And hiring authorities often want to communicate that they are just that, the “authority.” These kind of managers are phenomenally difficult to interview with, much less work for. And, frankly, there is very little a candidate can do about it when interviewing. If you’re a job candidate, and you are offered the opportunity to work with such a person, you’d best ask a lot of questions of the people who presently work there  to see if you can work for this kind of personality. Sometimes, managers come across much more egotistically in the interviewing environment than they really are. Often, this kind of ego can be worked “with” rather than “for.”

As a job candidate, however, there is a great deal you can do about taming your ego. There’s a really big difference between having a healthy ego and a big ego. A person with a healthy ego puts their accomplishments in the light of how they helped their previous company or their previous customers succeed. They couch their successes in terms of others rather than themselves. You hear them using the terms “we” and “fortunate,” and “blessed” as well as “the team” and “great clients.” They connect their successes of the past to the great mentors they had. They recall their “wins” with the same humility as their experience of failure. They put failure in the context of what they learned and take full, personal responsibility for outcomes. They focus on process rather than results. They take what they do seriously but not themselves too seriously. They accept failure as well as success with the same grateful attitude. They sell their strengths with humility and readily admit their weaknesses with humor and a smile.

Many candidates, because they are nervous and anxious about interviewing, go overboard in the ego department. Because they are nervous and insecure they feel compelled to push what “they” have done. “I…I…I…” becomes their mantra.

Interviewing in this manner takes practice.

… “Well, I could see it coming, but I still can’t believe it”

The, I heard this week from a candidate who got laid off… Three months ago. He lamented that for the past six months is job, he was able to “see it coming” but for some reason thought he could dodge the inevitable. Upon asking him how his interviewing was going, he said that he really only had three or four and they had gone that well. He said that he was probably spending too much time talking about his previous job and how he had seen the writing on the wall. He did spend an inordinate amount of time talking about what he “should have seen coming.”

A case could be made that one of the reasons, if not more, that he should have not been hired was that he wasn’t smart enough to see the layoff coming. I mean, he kept talking about how stupid he was not to see it coming. After all, if he’s Not that bright maybe he isn’t a very good businessperson. Well, I’m being cynical and that’s not fair. He actually is a very bright guy, with a very good track record. I advised him, however that although he may that shipments coming he only needed to do it once in an interview and then go on and sell himself, trying to get the job.

The truth is that most of us can be in a company for lots of reasons is laying off and letting people go for some reason we have this invincible attitude that, “it won’t happen to me.” It is wishful thinking so we stick our heads in the sand and then become totally shocked when our number comes up and lament, “I should’ve seen it coming.”

Looking for a job as a first-class pain in the butt, especially when you have one. No one likes to look for a job, if you have a job, it’s like having a second one. It is dreadful. It is so dreadful, folks just simply deny what they see. The psychological term is called “inattentional blindness.” (Google the video.) The medical term is ‘scotoma.” In situations like this, folks just plain don’t want to admit or “see” that they need to change jobs before the layoff catches up to them.What makes things even worse is that not only do they miss the coming exit but feel doubly stupid for getting caught with their pants down. No one likes getting laid off, but you really feel dumb when you could, “see it coming all along” and do nothing about it when you first got the inkling.

So here’s the lesson: Start looking for a job  before you desperately need one, before you get laid off, before you find yourself saying, “I could see it coming…but I just can’t believe it”

 

 

…top 10 mistakes managers make in interviewing and hiring

I have been through literally thousands of hiring processes. And I am often asked about the biggest and most frequent mistakes hiring authorities make in the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process. So much time and effort is spent discussing mistakes that candidates make that it is really easy to forget that hiring authorities make just as many mistakes in the process. Here they are:

1. Not having a clear idea of what they are looking for. . . that everyone understands. Hiring authorities often aren’t specific enough about the duties, skills and competencies they need. They confuse amount of experience with competency…”8 to 10 years of experience.”Does that mean someone with six years of experience can’t do the job? Or what about the candidate that has had one year of experience ten times. Putting any kind of numbers of years of experience limits them. What is important? Employers would be better off defining the functions they
want done very specifically, and then finding someone who can do it. This may mean someone who has done it well before or someone who has the potential to do it well. The specifics need to be written by the hiring authority that has the “pain,” i.e. the person who needs the help and
is going to be responsible for the new employee. Concocting “wish lists” of superhuman attributes and unrealistically low pay scales relative to expectations of the experience needed will create havoc in a talent search. Hazy, ambiguous descriptions along with generalities like “good written and oral communication skills” don’t help either. Know your target.

2. Having an unrealistic idea of what kind of candidates might be available and the money it may take to hire them. Just because everyone would like to hire Superman or Wonder Woman doesn’t mean they are available or will go to work at your company. There is no perfect candidate and waiting for one is as unrealistic as searching for one. The only way to become realistic about what the market might bear is to interview enough candidates to know what is available and the commensurate earnings expected. It may take quite a number of interviews. The number of quality candidates is drastically lower than it was a few years ago. Our clients are often shocked that the salaries they are locked into won’t allow them to
hire the quality or experience they wish for. And just because you believe that your company is
wonderful, doesn’t mean: (1) everyone wants to go to work there, (2) they will accept any amount you offer, and (3) there aren’t four or five other firms like yours trying to hire the same candidates.

3. Too many people involved in the interviewing process. . . and the wrong ones. More than a few studies have shown that hiring is just as successful when one person, the one with the “pain,” (i.e. the direct manager) is the only person involved in the hiring process as opposed
to more than one. In fact, other studies have shown that once the number of people in the interviewing and hiring process exceeds three, the probability of a bad hire is greater. The reason so many people are usually involved in the interviewing and hiring process is that people, naturally, want to spread the risk. So, if it turns out too be a poor hire, people can justify their decision with, “Well, you interviewed him too!” Few people have
the courage to interview and hire alone and take the responsibility one way or the other, even though better hiring decisions would probably be made.
. . . and the wrong ones. Relying on people to screen, interview or have a say in the hiring process who have no personal, working benefit from the potential new hire’s performance (i.e. their position is in jeopardy if a poor hire is made) is a big mistake. Most managers
will claim that hiring good people is the second or third most important function they have, right behind making a profit. If this is so, we can never figure out why
hiring authorities will delegate screening or interviewing of candidates to other people who may be wonderful people but have no direct experience, knowledge, or
“skin” in the position to be filled. “But I don’t have time to look at resumes and interview all those people,” is what we hear. Well, if hiring is one of a manager’s most
important functions, he or she should take the time and effort to do the whole job from start to finish. How can they afford not to?

4. Process takes too long. The average manager thinks that it takes about 30 days to fill a vacant position. Try the truth . . . between 90 and 120! Why? Because folks drag things out that should be simple . . . not easy, but simple. When the hiring process takes too long, good candidates are lost to more decisive companies, managers look inept at hiring and it gets harder and harder to fill the vacancy. Managers, again, often don’t give hiring the high-priority status that is needed . . . shown by action, not lip service. Time kills! The “shelf life” of quality candidates is shorter and shorter.

5. Poor interviewing techniques. If hiring authorities would simply write out a simple ( . . . or complicated) list of questions and ask every candidate the same questions, record the answers and compare each candidate’s responses in a timely manner, hiring decisions would be
easy to make. “Tell me about yourself,” is the first question down the wrong road. Most employers start with that, ask random questions to “get to know the candidate,” make notes on
the resumes and then, three weeks later try to compare the candidates. They often spend hours with candidates and don’t remember the differences between them.
A structured, disciplined interview technique that is applied to every candidate in exactly the same manner is the only real way to compare candidates. It is so simple
and yet so seldom practiced. (We have samples of structured interviews for the asking.)

6. Interviewing or not interviewing a candidate based on the resume! 40% of hiring a person is based on personality and chemistry! Then why do people rely on resumes instead of interviews? Because they don’t know how to use a resume. I can’t tell you how many phenomenal candidates get eliminated because of a resume and how many poor performers get interviewed because of a well written resume. “But I can’t interview every resume I get!” OK,
right. But if a candidate even looks like a possibility of being a good one, at least pick up the phone and spend 15 or 20 minutes with him or her. Or, better yet, spend 30 minutes face to face with them. Get a quick take on who they are and what they can do. Do this with a number of candidates. You can then thoroughly interview the ones that are the best for your situation. This method is quick and efficient, but it takes discipline . . . no more than 30minutes on the first one! Hiring authorities and screeners put way too much emphasis on what is on a resume. They try to judge the total quality of a candidate by a resume. A resume is a “go by.” It should simply define a candidate as a “possibility” . . . and a broad possibility at that. The interviews have to be the qualifiers. People who “qualify” a candidate and decide how he or she is going to perform should read Tony Romo’s resume . . . a nobody . . . or Kurt Warner . . . a bagger at a grocery store . . . or Abe Lincoln . . . many failures. Don’t rely on resumes!

7. Not interviewing enough candidates . . . or interviewing way too many. Most hiring managers err on the “too few” end of the spectrum. “I want to talk to the three best candidates!” . . . ”I don’t have time to talk to everybody!” No one person other than a hiring authority can
tell who is “best.” Three or four is usually too few. The “bell curve” for most professional hires is about nine or ten candidates. This, of course, depends on the level of job and the availability of certain types of candidates. The key is to know what kind of availability there is in the marketplace for the kind of person being sought. Our banking division, for instance, may be lucky to find three or four qualified V.P.’s at any one time. A mid-level sales position may require ten or twelve candidates. Even recruiting a number of quality candidates for administrative
positions that traditionally would yield many quality candidates isn’t as easy to do in this market. The key is to interview a range of quality candidates and know what is available. If you want to wait for superman or superwoman, we guess that’s OK. It just depends on how badly you need to hire someone. Just be sure you know, first hand, the quality of candidates who are on the market, and the only way to do that is by personally interviewing the necessary number of available candidates. The other end of the spectrum is the hiring authority who wants to interview forever, thinking unrealistically that the quality of candidates will get better as more are interviewed and more time passes. All too often, we hear from hiring authorities, “We have interviewed 20, 25 or 30 candidates.” There is something wrong here. They exhaust themselves in a “process,” forgetting the result. . . and then complain about it. It doesn’t yield a good employee. They confuse activity with productivity. Interview the number of candidates necessary. Don’t make the mistake on either end of the spectrum.

8. Not communicating with candidates after interviews and not giving honest feedback. For some reason, certain hiring authorities don’t mind being rude . . . even to candidates they are interested in hiring. Everyone is busy. The truth is, to a candidate looking for a job, whether
presently employed or not, finding a job is the very highest priority. To a currently-employed interviewer, in spite of the lip service paid to the importance of hiring, it is simply one of their functions. Hiring is a risk. Most employers don’t really like doing it. So the process often
gets postponed, sloppy and rather unprofessional. As the market tightens, quality candidates will have many suitors. A good candidate will simply lose interest in a possibly good opportunity if they are treated rudely. We have had many candidates elect to pursue specific opportunities simply because they were treated with respect and courtesy. Also, if the candidate isn’t going to be considered, he or she should be told as soon as possible. We are amazed at
how frequently a candidate can’t get their call (or calls) returned . . . just to find out if the company has found a more suitable candidate. We never know when a lack of courtesy will come back to haunt us. Years ago, I had a candidate who was rudely ignored by a hiring authority. A few years later, the roles were reversed. The ignored  candidate was now the hiring authority and when I tried to get him to see my candidate (the hiring authority who
had once ignored him), my client laughed and said “no” with a vengeful glee. He remembered how he had been treated. What goes around often comes around.

9. Not selling the job and the company. Although this isn’t the biggest mistake hiring authorities make, it is certainly the most prevalent one. We can never figure out why, in trying to find the best talent available, some hiring authorities act as though they are doing someone a favor by granting them the privilege of an interview. They act as if they have the only job on the planet and candidates are begging to work there. Wrong! Good candidates will have
many choices. The days of the early 2000’s, when there were endless numbers of candidates, are gone. The company and the hiring authorities that sell their job the most effectively will hire the best talent. It is a candidate driven market. We can also forget lowball offers, poor benefits or a “take it or leave it” attitude when making an offer.

10. Not having “back up” candidates. This means continuing to interview even though a great candidate may have been found. In fact, we recommend having three great candidates in the queue.  As happens too often, a hiring authority zeroes in onone candidate, and as the interviewing process drags on (see #4) the hiring authority quits interviewing because it is a pain. They get to the end of the process, make an offer and it isn’t accepted. The frustration of having to start all over again is astounding. So, the solution is to keep interviewing until someone is hired . . . and has started the job. We simply expect that a good candidate
is going to get multiple offers.

10 (a) Not firing a new hire when the hiring is obviously a mistake. This is a tough mistake to make. Everyone wants to see a new employee to make it. But too often, cutting the new hire too much slack because they are new is a mistake. The numbers of failed new hires we have seen that were let go or quit six or seven months after their hiring, with the hiring authority complaining, “I saw it in the first week!” would make us all cry. It becomes disruptive to the business, it destroys the chemistry of the employees working with the new hire, and worst of all, everyone can detect it, but the hiring authority chooses to overlook it. Respect for the hiring authority diminishes and eventually the new employee leaves or is fired. The solution adopted by the best hiring authorities is to keep new employees in line in the very beginning, even “over manage” a bit. If disregard for company policies or poor work habits (like showing up late, missing work, or having numerous “personal” problems) emerge in the first fewweeks of employment, it isn’t going to get any better. Besides, the “honeymoon” isn’t even over. There is a big difference between “rookie” mistakes and poor work habits, low integrity, bad manners
or serious personal problems that impinge on work. Even the most rigorous interviewing
process and extensive reference, background and credit checking can’t prevent this from happening. One of the most successful hiring authorities we worked with years ago had a great philosophy.He was the most successful general manager of a nationwide insurance company. And he achieved that for 15 years in a row. He managed 110 people, directly and indirectly. He told me one time that he wasn’t successful because he hired better people than the other GM’s around the country. The difference was that he fired people “when he first got the inkling.” He simply didn’t waste his time on people he knew weren’t going to make it. The sense of when to fire a new employee is personal. Good mangers know when to do it. Hire carefully but fire quickly! If a bad hire is made, eliminate them quickly. The hiring authority will
look like a true manager and everyone is better off.

….”I lost the job because of”…. Comey… lessons from the election

A few weeks ago we pondered Donald Trump’s bombastic style of “interviewing” in the debates. Obviously, it didn’t matter that his style in the debates wasn’t the best to “land the job.” Obviously, a person can have even a number of bad interviews and still get hired.

Now comes one of the most common interviewing excuses of all time. What’s so amazing about this excuse is that I hear it at least three or four times a week, maybe even more. It is the excuse that, “I didn’t get the job because of someone else.” In Sec. Clinton’s case, she was blaming James Comey for her losing the election. Last week, I had three candidates that didn’t get a job because, in their words, “my last boss was an idiot”… “I couldn’t find my references fast enough”… “I know I didn’t sell myself very well, but they should know that I’ve got a job and they should come after me if they want me.”

There are literally thousands of excuses every day of why people don’t get hired. Unfortunately, 99% of them involved blaming other people. A month or two ago I had a candidate tell me that he didn’t interview very well because he had to take their dog to the vet before the interview and he was distracted by the dog’s illness (….the dog’s fault). Don’t laugh, over the years I’ve heard things like, “I couldn’t find a parking spot (… so I was 20 minutes late)”… “My spouse and I had a fight night before,”… “I stayed up too late watching the ballgame and didn’t get enough sleep”… “I fell asleep in the lobby, waiting for the interviewer because their music was so relaxing.” I could go on with reasons you wouldn’t believe, but rarely does anybody say, “you know I didn’t get the job because I just totally messed up… and next time I’ll do better!”

I guess it’s human nature to want to blame someone else when you don’t get hired or when the outcomes of an event don’t go in your favor. But it’s always best to look within yourself and ask, “what did I do to go wrong here?” There are boatloads of people, this week, who are speculating where Hillary went wrong and lost the election. In spite of all of the phenomenal number of excuses that there are… like, just not paying attention to the real folks in this country… the only thing we’ve heard from Hillary herself, yesterday, is that she’s blaming James Comey. Instead of turning to her party and saying, “here’s where I messed up…” she’s blaming someone else.

Here’s the lesson: we may not be able to control what happens to us. But we can control how we respond to it. If we respond to what happens to us by blaming other people instead of asking ourselves what we could have done to be better, we will perpetuate our “losing.” If we admit our mistakes and take responsibility for what we could have done better we grow to not only become better at the task but also as better people.

 

…make your bed

When you’re looking for a job, especially when you’re looking full time, there is a tendency to gradually lose the discipline of a steady, systematic, process oriented job search. Looking for a job is in emotionally stressful thing to do. We mentioned it often but, next to death of a spouse, death of a parent and death of a child, coupled with divorce, the most emotionally stressful thing we do is look for a job. This becomes even more difficult when a person has been fired or let go unexpectedly. Instead of immediately taking massive action and developing a systematic, process oriented job search, often people “take a break.”

People, in this situation, because they are emotionally thrown off, just aren’t ready, they say, to start looking for a job. It’s just simply easier to take time off, go visit family, play little golf, fix up the house… anything, except look for a job. And unfortunately, the longer one goes postponing a disciplined job-search, the harder it is to do. It’s not uncommon for this kind of thing to happen in the job-search to get postponed for weeks, even months.

I will admit that it’s really hard the day after you get canned, to wake up and enthusiastically say, “this is a great day to start a new job search. I’m so glad it arrived!” And then sit down and develop a systematic plan to find a job, develop a call list of people who might hire you, start making appointments, develop an interview script, practice it and have a real positive attitude towards looking for a job.

One of the first things to go, especially in an unexpected job-search, is personal discipline. So, I recommend to people that they begin, as fast as they can, to structure their day with his much discipline as possible. If people begin discipline with the little things, then it is easy to discipline themselves to do the big things, like making appointments, practice interviewing, etc. This means to begin every day with discipline. Wake up at the same time every day, make your bed, dress as though you were going to a job, get to your desk and go to work. The more disciplined person is, especially in the very beginning of their job search, the better they do at the job search and, usually, it’s a much shorter duration of unemployment.

It is really easy to dismiss this kind of thing, and say, “Tony, come on, this doesn’t make that big a difference.” Well, yes it does! When it comes to an emotionally challenging activity, like finding a job, everything makes a difference. The more disciplined a person is in the little things the easier it is for them to be disciplined in the big things.

So, make your bed!