Aggressive?…. Sales?…Pushy?

I have been rewriting our first book and reviewing some of the critiques of the first edition. There are some critics and reviewers of the first edition of The Job Search Solution who claim what I advised was just too aggressive for them… I was just a salesman advising sales techniques and scripts. They are absolutely right! Getting a job in today’s market… or in any market.. requires selling yourself better than any other candidate. What I teach is aggressive. It is sales. It is only pushy, however, if you don’t use the scripts in the right way. If you don’t practice what I teach and communicate humility and sincerity in your presentations and during the process, it will come across as pushy and it won’t get you to first base. It takes practice. If you sell yourself with the attitude you are more interested in what you get than what you can do for someone else, it will come across as pushy. If you use what I teach in an obnoxious, egotistical manner, none of it will work. If you present yourself in an “I’m interested in helping you get what you want and in the process, get what I want,” you’ll be in great shape. It’s all a matter of attitude.

We shouldn’t confuse pride with arrogance. Presenting yourself with confidence is different than being obnoxious. Some critics claim the techniques I teach are too aggressive for them, that they know a better way. That is wonderful! If what I teach is too aggressive for you… don’t use it, or modify it to your personal style. If you’ve been successful in finding a job different way, God bless you. The system I teach is not the only way to find a job. I’m simply presenting a system and process that has helped thousands of people find a job. The techniques are proven and, if done the right way, really work. They get positive results.

No one is going to hang up on you or be insulted by your using these techniques, as some critics claim, if you communicate sincerity, humility, honesty and a genuine interest in helping them get what they want. If you can, as the critic who wrote that he didn’t like what I suggested, “write a brief and informational letter to potential employers, followed up with ONE polite phone call, and landed 2 jobs with in 6 weeks,” then you don’t need this book. Give it to someone who may not be as fortunate. I am ecstatic for you.

One critic wrote, “…his tactics are sometimes pretty hard sell. I can’t bring myself to do things like this. But then again, I’ve been out of work for more than a year so you should probably ignore everything I’ve said and follow his instructions.” “Hard sell” is not what you say or do as much as it is how you say or do it. If these tactics were done in a hard-sell way, I would’ve been run out of my profession years ago.

You don’t have to agree with my approach. It won’t work well for you if you don’t believe in it. It has worked for thousands of people. Some have actually had to overcome being reluctant to be as forceful as they needed to be to find a job in this market. It comes down to how badly they needed a job. The question is, “are you more uncomfortable with being out of work or needing to change jobs or more uncomfortable with doing the things I recommend?” I’m reminded of what Frederick Nietzsche wrote, “he who has a reason why, can bear with almost any how.” If that isn’t motivating enough, the how won’t matter.

Guarantee: If you buy this book and it doesn’t help you, send it to me, with your name and address and I’ll either send you your money back or give the price of the book to charity in your name. Just choose one of the options.

new age reference checks…self inflicted wounds

I have been rewriting our first book…so i have been away for a while from writing the blog…here is a section of the new book that will help reference checking. Today’s reference checking has to do with the permanent Internet and the intermingling of personal, social interaction and business. One of the first things a hiring organization is going to do is try to find out everything they can about the candidate on the Internet. They will Google your name, try to find your MySpace, Facebook, Twitter or any other kind of social/business networking account and review your Linkedin profile. Anything they find will be used to help or hinder your candidacy.

For better or for worse everything we might do, write or say could show up on the Internet. At least two times a month one of our candidates, who looks like they are going to get hired, gets eliminated because of what hiring organizations find out about them by just searching around on the Internet. Sometimes what they find has nothing to do with our candidate, except the same name. Recently one of our hiring authorities Googled the e-mail address of one of our candidates and found that someone with a very, very close e-mail address had written a review… of a prostitute. Unbelievable! It wasn’t our candidate, but the hiring authority was so taken back, he simply didn’t even want to discuss it. It wasn’t exactly the same email address, but close enough to be disturbing.

We’ve had candidates eliminated because of comments they made on Facebook, comments made about them on Facebook, pictures on their social networking sites, like MySpace, off-color public Twitter posts, blogs they have written about their views, insulting blogs written about them by ex-spouces, ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends, eight-year-old articles mentioning their name and questionable circumstances, as well as pejorative things that have been written about them by others that show up on the Internet. We’ve had candidates eliminated because their Linkedin profile did not agree with their resume, or didn’t have a very robust profile on Linkedin. We can’t count the number of times candidate’s identities have been confused with other people of the same name, causing a hiring authority to stop and think.(And don’t think “positive” recommendations on Linkedin make a big deal of difference. They don’t seem to.)

The New York Times reported a study by Microsoft claiming that 75% of executive recruiters and human resources professionals surveyed said they research promising candidates online, using search engines, social networking sites, personal websites, blogs, twitter feeds, online gaming sites, as well as photo and video sharing sites. 70% of those recruiters revealed that information found online lead them to reject a candidate.

The Times also reported a 25-year-old Pennsylvania high school “teacher in training” posted a photo of herself on her MySpace page with a pirate hat, holding a plastic cup at a party, along with the caption, “drunken pirate.” Less than a week before she was scheduled to graduate, the university refused to issue her a teaching degree because the students could find her photo online and get the impression she was encouraging drunkenness. When she sued, citing her First Amendment rights, the court ruled against her.

The constantly evolving, permanent digital record of our lives means we’ve lost, to a large degree, control of our reputations. The possibility of second chances may be lost as well. Most hiring authorities, when they discover anything of questionable nature regarding a candidate, will simply drop them. Unlike traditional reference checking that is usually centered around business people, this kind of reference checking has only the limits the Internet poses.

Over the next few years, people may come to their senses and realize anything they do, personal or public that might show up anywhere on the Internet, is not going to help them. There are two major issues candidates need to be aware of regarding this kind of reference checking.

First of all, clean up anything that might be questionable regarding your Internet “presence.” And don’t complain that personal stuff like this should be used to make business decisions about hiring you. Companies want to try to assess your character as much as anything else. They’re going to check your credit, arrest record, and anything else… including what might be about you on the Internet.

Secondly, do your own research on yourself. Be as extensive as you possibly can. If you find anything that you can’t do anything about, like articles about people with your same name, be prepared to let a hiring authority know of this issue before they do this type of reference checking.

There are now services available that offer to protect individuals reputations online. These services help their clients deal with negative personal information and enable them to monitor the web and influence what people see when they search for them online. Some of these services will not only monitoring your online presence, but also check your formal business references for you.

With these kind of challenges became reality a few years ago, many candidates were surprised that companies paid attention to this “social” type stuff. Some candidates use to simply blow it off and dismiss it. Others get downright mad about it. The bottom line is that it is very serious stuff and it can cost people, not just a job, but their career.

…a side thought about references

… as long as we are talking about references, I wanted to mention something that happened a month or so ago and happens a number of times a year… and it’s a great lesson of what not to do

DO NOT put your references on your resume… We had a candidate that had his references on his resume…he sent the resume into a perspective employer…(not our client)… the employer liked the resume and the places the person had worked…

Instead of calling a candidate for an interview, however, the hiring authority called two of the candidate’s references and invited them in for an interview…The candidate had not only put the names of his references on his resume but also their titles and phone numbers…one of the references called the candidate and actually told him how he had gotten the interview…the candidate was not very happy…He mentioned to us he thought it was very unethical for a hiring authority to do this kind of thing…

It is nothing of the sort… the hiring authority is trying to find the best candidate he can, anyway he can…

The lesson is, don’t put your references on your resume

…Don’t take references for granted

Most employers will ask you to give them three or four people as references and specify the relationship you had with those people. Some employers are going to ask you for specific people, like previous supervisors, customers, or maybe peers… be sure you’re prepared to provide these different kinds of references when asked.

As you begin your job search, it is a good idea to think about who you might give as a reference in just about any interviewing process… I would recommend calling those people to let them know you’re actively looking for a position, and ask their permission to use them as a reference… it is very rare, but I’ve seen situations where the people who candidates thought would be a reference for them refused to do it… after they give you permission, inform them you will let them know who might be checking your reference, what kind of position it is, and exactly what in your background he should emphasize when the reference is checked…

…references

I’m going to try to be more consistent in writing… I’ve been editing the new book Unbeatable Resumes… And started writing the second version of The Job Search Solution…

I’ve received a number of e-mails asking me why I haven’t written in so long…

I want to spend a few blogs talking about employment references… people take these for granted and at least once a week I personally run into a challenge with them… either the candidate doesn’t prepare his or her references, provides the wrong kind of references or gets people as references who end up costing him or her the job… so, if you’re looking for a job you need to know about your references… pay attention.

Hiring authorities rely more on previous employment references than they ever have… an even mediocre reference can kill a potential job opportunity… If you’re the kind of candidate who has excellent references from everyone you have ever worked for, you probably don’t need to pay attention to what I’m writing… it may not hurt to read it because some of the logistical ideas are of value, but you may not need much help.

One of the most shocking surprises anyone can ever have is the experience of assuming all your references are excellent, only to find out that one or more of them cost you a job opportunity… I estimate at least 20 to 25% of the jobseeking candidates out there had at least one reference challenge in their background… and they have absolutely no idea it is there…

This may come as a surprize, but except in instances of disclosing acts of violence or acts of financial mismanagement, companies are not legally required to provide any kind of reference about previous employees… companies may be subject to a charge of defamation by giving a reference that can be construed as bad and they have absolutely nothing to gain by giving any kind of a reference good or bad… so any kind of reference an organization will provide goes beyond what they have to do…

Companies will usually verify dates of employment, earnings and confirm if a person is eligible for rehire in the eyes of the company… but there is nothing that says they have to do any of this… many companies will not even respond to references solicited over the phone… they require a written request for most references and only respond to those requests in writing…

Most perspective employers are going to ask you for specific references from the most recent jobs you had… even in situations where you know the previous quarter is not going to provide an adequate reference.  It is going to be difficult to find someone within the company who can speak of your performance if it’s against the policies of the company and this poses a tremendous difficulty for many candidates…

…Don’t try to sell a “package deal”

Every once in a while something so innocent and yet so disasterous comes up and this is one of them… it’s the idea of selling a “package deal”…

A “package deal” is the idea that a candidate goes in for an interview and finds out the hiring authority may need another person either like him or her or a complementary person to them… like any software salesperson finding out the company they’re interviewing with also needs a sales engineer… and then the candidate proceeds to try to sell both himself and another person he or she knows… he or she communicates the idea they can bring with them…

The candidate thinks they are enhancing themselves in the eyes of a hiring authority… but most of the time it either muddies the water or backfires…

Three weeks ago, I had a candidate who thought he would help himself out in the interviewing process by getting one of his previous associates involved in the interviewing process with the company I had sent him to… He was a salesperson, interviewing for a sales job and his previous associate was a systems engineer… he sold the idea that they had made a perfect team and had been very successful before working together…

I won’t get into the details, but in the final analysis they hired his friend and didn’t hire him… he’s pissed, the relationship is strained…i.e. he felt that after he got his friend the interview, his friend didn’t talk as wonderfully about him as he had spoken about his friend…

The moral:… sell yourself, get the job, show up for work and then if you feel compelled to bring a friend into the company to interview, do it then.

…has the market gotten better?

I get asked this at least three times a day… don’t hold your breath… this is going to be a long dig out of the hole we’re in… the boom that brought us here was long and so the bust is going to be as long..duh!

I experienced six recessions since I got into this profession in 1973… they averaged 12 months as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research…

This most recent recession has lasted, according to them, 18 months…However, the employment recession takes nine months longer than the economy to recover… we have just started seeing that recovery.

Companies are still fearful… lots of medium and small sized businesses can not get loans… the extension of the Bush tax cuts is a relief, but it is only for two years… nice, but not long enough…

Companies are doing more replacement hires than they are expansion positions… but nonetheless their attitude is a little better…

What this means is that, if you were looking for a job, you still need to sell yourself better than any other candidate and work harder at getting more interviews than you ever imagined… the other day I heard economists say that within three years, employment will be back at 6%… that’s still a long time… don’t expect miracles… don’t expect it to get easier

…two unfortunate mistakes

Being a successful interview can boil down to two or three very small things… You gotta THINK…”How is this going to sound on the part of the employer I am speaking with?”… Has to be your constant question…

One of my candidates was doing very well in the interview… an interview that was lasting almost 2 hours… he  knew he was doing well… the hiring authority asked him if he had any questions.

The candidate stated, “I’d like to know what the career path is with this job?” He apparently said it in a rather demanding way… and there was no need for him to say anything like this, but he did… the employer took it to mean the candidate was concerned about where he was going to go beyond the present job he was interviewing for… there had been quite a bit of turnover in this particular position, unbeknownst to the candidate, and the last thing the employer wanted to hear was how a candidate was going to “springboard” into a different job from this particular position…

At the very end of the interview the hiring authority asked the candidate if he had any other opportunities he was interviewing for… the candidate said he was “close” to a couple of situations and was expecting an offer the next day…

The hiring authority simply asked who was he expecting an offer from… the candidate wouldn’t tell him… the candidate said it was really none of the hiring authority’s concerned who he was getting an offer from… very, very bad answer!

These two faux pas made the difference in the candidate being eliminated…

Think!… Think!… little things and making a real big difference in an interview.

… Way to go, Steve

Steve makes it through two interviews with a $30 million company and he has a final one with the CEO… he doesn’t do poorly, but he knows he didn’t hit it out of the park either…

The CEO calls and tells me he’s going to pass on Steve … he loves his energy and aggressiveness but he doesn’t think Steve’s experience relates to what they do very well… when I tell this to Steve, he communicates that the CEO wasn’t paying attention during the interview…

Steve decides he is not going to take “no” for an answer so he tells me he is going to go over to the CEO’s office and wait for him…

The next morning at 9 AM the CEO calls me and says, “this guy Steve I interviewed the other day is in my office… why?”… I tell him I have no idea…

An hour and a half later, Steve calls and says he got the job… he explained to the CEO that he didn’t communicate very well why his experience was perfect for their company… way to go, Steve!

…more about stories

Learning stories… These are stories about what you might have learned … either from successes or from failures … they could be about your successes or your failures as well as other people successes and other peoples failures…

People love to hear stories about how you turned failure into success and what you learned from it..we all have those stories…make sure you have one ready, too…

Value stories…These are close to learning stories … but they’re more like examples of values such as honesty, integrity, character, “do the right thing,” … etc.

“I learned the value of hard work by having four jobs while in college… I always had plenty of spending money and even saved money”… Again, not hard to come up with or find … just have a couple of them…

“I know which are thinking” stories… These are stories that center around issues the hiring authority might have about your background or your experience that you address before they are brought up by the hiring authority…

These are a great way to deal with concerns in your experience or your background that an employer might have … for instance, if you’ve had three jobs in three years, you know a hiring authority is gonna be concerned about that … so you say, “it’s obvious I’ve had three jobs in three years and that is a big concern, I’m sure for you and it is for me to … here is what happened…”

“I never completed my degree because my father died and since I was the oldest of my family, I had to go to work to support the family…”

These are stories that bring up issues obvious to a perspective employer and you need to answer the concerns with a story before the issue is even mentioned … these kind of stories take a little practice and for every risk you might have in your experience or background you need to have a story to explain it…

Please remember that to interview effectively you do not have to have all six types of stories … in fact two or three personal stories about you and two or three business stories about how and what you learned in the process will suffice … they need to be short… no more than 45 seconds ..and need to highlight a particular point of your career…

STORIES SELL!