OMG…the disaster of social media and your job search

There are always unintended consequences that come with any new technology and the negative consequences of social media couldn’t be more pronounced than in the disastrous effects it is had on people’s job search. In the last six months, just in our organization we have had candidates who looked like they were getting job offers lose those job offers because of what the prospective employer found on social media. Now keep in mind these are mostly professional, degreed candidates with extensive experience, many of whom are earning well over six figures…

  • The VP of HR with 20 years of experience has a link on his signature that takes the reader to his blog. He is a “conspiracy theorist” and blatantly writes about his theories about present and past government officials, i.e. Presidents of the United States, Secretaries of State, etc. He didn’t get hired.
  • The sales manager with 15 years of a great track record whose signature, again, sent the reader to a blog claiming that unless you follow Jesus Christ you are going to burn in hell. He got eliminated.
  • The candidates who were eliminated when their names were Googled who: Had mugshots… Numerous lawsuits… Had written a review of a prostitute (of course the candidate claimed it wasn’t him)… An article implicating them in a case of fraud (even though there were no legal charges)…at least three cases of “mistaken identity” i.e. different people with the same name as the candidate who had very, very questionable Google reports
  • The candidates who were eliminated because of their LinkedIn profile who: was in sales and did not have a LinkedIn profile… Had no picture of themselves on their profile… Had an inappropriate picture of themselves… The LinkedIn profile did not agree with their resume… They only had 10 contacts… They were being considered for a position they claimed to have experience in on their resume, but not on their LinkedIn profile… Their profile highlighted them as a musician instead of a business professional… Their LinkedIn profile highlighted their numerous, nonprofit volunteer positions, causing the hiring authority to believe they wouldn’t focus on their work…
  • The candidates who were eliminated because of what they had on Facebook:.. Pictures of their recent tattoos… Celebrations taking place in bars…Profanity…Provocative pictures… Reports on heavy metal band concerts… Inappropriate jokes…Race-related comments… Political comments… Religious comments… Alcohol/drug references… A post on a candidate’s wall: “Those of you who are ****( sexually graphic)*** my husband, I know who you are” (Please don’t tell me “Well, all you have to do is set your Facebook page to ‘private’.”Even the most elementary hacker knows how to work around that.)
  • the candidate who texted: “grt interview, I prob got the job, but the guy was a jrk.” to one of his friends and it got back to the company and the interviewing authority.

Well, I could go on and on, but you get the picture. please remember that the kind of candidates we placed are degreed, highly experienced and highly successful. The average salary we deal with is $100,000 or more. These people that are getting eliminated aren’t young punks who are looking for hourly work. They are, on the surface, very professional.

We are now beginning to ask EVERY candidate, no matter how professional they appear, if they have done thorough research of their own on any and all social media that might contain their name or their likeness. There is now a cottage industry growing up around cleaning up an individual’s social media as well as researching all social media for companies considering candidates. Remember, there are more than 500 social media sites… And we stopped counting at 65.

The attitude, especially from millennials, but even older candidates, is paradoxical. On the one hand they use social media extensively… 88% of millennials get news from Facebook and they use an average of 3.7 social media networks daily. But when it comes to information about them, they claim that social media should not have anything to do with their professional life. They claim their social life and professional life should be separated and that potential employers should not judge hiring them or not based on what they find on social media. They often get downright pissed off when they get eliminated because of what social media reveals about them.

50% of employers recently surveyed said that they elected not to hire a seemingly well-qualified candidate because of what they found on social media. A quick Google search will find a CareerBuilder report of a litany of stupid things that people either post or text about their job, an interview or a company they are looking to go to work for.

This epidemic is probably going to get worse before it gets better. The lesson is simple. Social media can stand in the way of getting a good job.



…the spiritual side of your job search

Having done this since 1973, I guarantee you that there is a spiritual side of looking for a job that is tremendously overlooked. Those of us that believe in a relationship with God are profoundly aware of the spiritual encounter, but even those with more of a secular, humanistic “connection” with “the universe” will benefit from spiritual practice.

Looking for a job is a tremendously emotional endeavor. It is an emotional roller coaster. Enduring it is easier for those who practice spiritual giving. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned from candidates and employers along the way. (I discuss these in-depth in our online job search program )

Be nice… even when other people aren’t. You are going to experience a tremendous amount of rejection and frustration. Focus on being nice when they don’t feel like it.

Create flow… clean out your garage, your attic, your car, your office. “Stuff” blocks flow.

Practice forgiveness… especially when other people are rude and what you perceive to be mean. Forgive those that put you on hold, forget about you, tell you they’re going to get back to you and don’t, etc. Send an email to an old nemesis forgiving them.

Start an intentions or prayer list… pray for those that are less fortunate than you. Be specific about the individuals, even people who don’t know. Write their names down. Hopefully, others are doing the same for you.

Volunteer… soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, etc. Give time to those less fortunate than you.

Be grateful… every morning when you wake up and at night before you sleep, acknowledge every blessing you have regardless of every difficulty and challenge.

Seek peace… spend 10 or 15 minutes twice a day quietly sitting alone getting in touch with your feelings and thoughts. Just let them flow.

Pray… even if you don’t believe in it. It works

Meditation… not far off from “seeking peace.” It’s the practice of clearing the mind and finding that gap between conscious and subconscious.

Let go… the anger, the disappointment, the frustration. While you are seeking peace envision those feelings and send them far out into the horizon and drop them in the ocean. Do this for five times with each difficult thought or emotion and you’ll be amazed at the relief.

Release resistance… what you resist, persists! Fighting the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” thoughts that ruminate in your head leads to frustration. Release the resistance to them.

Practice acceptance… “Dear Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Laugh a lot… even if you have to read jokes yourself out loud. Listening to children’s laughter has an amazing effect on your spirit. The joy and laughter of a three-year-old is pure and infectious.

Practice empathy… in spite of the fact that you are seeking empathy from others. To receive, we must learn to give.

Sacrifice… fast one or two days a week, give up alcohol for a week at a time or give up your favorite food once or twice a week.

Journal… once a day or at least two or three times a week, write out your thoughts on recent events. Journaling is cathartic.

Love… briefly think of all of the people who have wronged you, been rude to you, etc. and send them thoughts of kindness and appreciation. Even if it is hard to do.

Feeding your spirit in emotionally stressful times can change your world!


…. preparing for reality

Looking for a job is one of the most emotionally challenging endeavors we confront. Most of the folks who write about looking for a job overlook the emotional strain and setbacks the vast majority of people go through in the process. There are millions of people in the United States who are out of work who just plain quit looking for a job. I contend that the majority of the reason this happens is that they are so emotionally stressed, they resort to doing nothing at all or go through minimal motions in looking for a job. They are scared and often depressed. This kind of emotional strain is debilitating.

One reality that might prepare people for this emotional strain is to recognize that they’re going to experience at least TEN negative events in their job search for every ONE positive event. What this means is that for every interview, for instance, a job seeker might get, they are going to experience 10 or so rejections. They will send their resume to the company’s job posting that is “perfect” for them… and never hear a word. And it will happen 10 dozen times. (we recently discussed the probability of getting a job by sending your resume to a company’s online ad.) They will interview impeccably for a job, be told that they are perfect for it and then never hear from the company again. They will even be told that they should expect an offer after a series of interviews& and never hear from the company again.

After a series of negative setbacks, people become discouraged and quit trying. They are unprepared for all of the difficult negative events they are experiencing. They read or hear from unenlightened authors and “experts” that all they have to do is get an interview and go to work. These people never prepare them for the long, difficult and negative filled process they are going to go through.

So, the lesson is to be prepared for tons of setbacks. Prepare to be discouraged, disappointed, lied to, dumped on in about every way you can possibly imagine. ( I even run into candidates all the time who have been “scammed” by folks who claim that if you send them $5000 they will “expose you” to the hidden job market. Not quite fraud but close to it.)  I knew one candidate, not too long ago, who realized that the negatives were going to be 10 to 1 relative to the positives so he kept counting the negative events. His rationale was “every negative is one more step towards a positive.” Not bad approach.

Be prepared for reality!

I didn’t cause it, I can’t change it and I can’t cure it

This is the mantra of Al-Anon as it applies to dealing with other people’s addictions. I am reminded of it every time I hear a candidate express their frustrations with the challenges they face when they hear this from people with whom they are interviewing. “You are a perfect candidate, will get back to you soon… you are exactly what we’re looking for… you will do great in this job…when can you start?” and then they never hear from the Hiring Authority AGAIN!

I’ve been doing this since 1973 and I’ve never figured out …ever.. why people in organizations will tell candidates this. Maybe it’s because that’s the way they feel at the moment. Maybe it’s because they don’t really want to reject anybody because they don’t want to be rejected. And maybe, I just don’t know why and never will.

I have learned, though, to warn candidates to never trust hearing that and accepting it as truth. I tell them the story about a Hiring Authority I had a number of years ago who interviewed nine candidates and told every one of them that he or she was “perfect” and that he would hire them within the next day or two. Not only did he not hire anyone, but he got fired three days later.

Spending time and emotional cycles ruminating over “How do they do this to me?” is a waste of time and a tremendous depletion of energy. I advise candidates to forget what they hear and judge the situation based on the actions of the prospective employer. If they do get back to you, and they do move you forward in the hiring process, then you have something to evaluate. Judge people by their actions, not their words.

So, quit getting frustrated when you hear these things and, subsequently, actions don’t follow. Getting wrapped around the axle as to why people do this kind of thing is a waste. You didn’t cause it, you can’t change it and you can’t cure it.


…a few other “don’ts”

as long as were talking about things to do or don’t do, let me mention a few things that have happened:

One of our candidates got fired because he posted on his LinkedIn profile that he was always open to new opportunities. He couldn’t believe that it happened. We explained to him that it’s perfectly legitimate for a company to fire anybody who’s actively looking for a job. His claim was that everybody does it. That may be a good excuse when you’re 10 years old, but not as a grown-up. My sense is that they were trying to get rid of him anyhow. Point is, don’t broadcast or advertise that you are looking for a job or you’d entertain the idea.

… Along the same line, one of our candidates got fired when his company found out he was looking for a job because, are you ready for this, he sent his resume through his office email….over a dozen times. Duh! What’s even more amazing, he was pissed about it. He called us and asked if they had a right to do that. And this was a mid-level manager with 15 years of experience and an MBA. Go figure!

A number of years ago two guys came to our organization to look for a job. They were both looking to leave their company and wanted to do it at relatively the same time. We warned them that it was not a good idea to look for a job “in tandem” by comparing notes, talking about the interviews they were having, etc. Even though they thought they were helping each other, we explained to them that that kind of thing could eventually put them in conflict with each other. They rocked along in their job search for five or six months, still doing the same thing, informing each other about each other’s interviews, comparing notes and so on. Then all of a sudden one of them was promoted to be the manager over the other. And the very first thing he did was fire his previous peer. Friendship aside, the new manager had to protect his new department from turnover. He knew his friend was looking for a job and was intending to leave. He couldn’t afford to keep him around. End of job…end of friendship.

Two months ago one of our candidates was bragging to an out of work friend of his about the interview he had with one of the firms we had lined him up with. His “friend” went to LinkedIn, found someone he knew at the company, called and eventually reached the manager that our candidate had interviewed with. His “friend” interviewed and got the job. He was even so bold as to tell the hiring authority that he was a friend of the first candidate he interviewed and then he was really a better candidate than his buddy. He obviously convinced the hiring authority  and got the job.

A few months ago, one of our clients was checking the reference of one of our candidates in order to hire him. He got into a very deep conversation with one of our candidate’s references, found out that the reference was more qualified than our candidate and eventually hired him instead of our candidate. (Now there’s really nothing anybody can do about this kind of thing. But it simply demonstrates that there really isn’t much loyalty in human nature when it comes to hiring the best people.)

The lesson is that it isn’t so important to distrust people when you’re in a job search as it is to avoid putting people in a position to where you have to worry about trusting them. Human nature will always prevail. As Teilhard de Chardin stated we are all, “spiritual beings acting human.”

…little things that will make a very big difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

just a few simple thoughts

…your risk factors

In all the years that I’ve been doing this, I never met a candidate who thought they were any kind of a risk to a perspective employer . Every candidate I ever met thought that they demonstrated being an absolutely perfect employee in every regard. What’s so paradoxical about this idea is that when hiring authorities are interviewing and hiring, they look at every candidate in the most critical fashion. But when these hiring authorities become candidates, they don’t seem to see the risks that they pose to a potential employer. They don’t apply the same critical eye to themselves as they do to others.

Every candidate, no matter how perfect, poses some kind of risk to a potential employer. The candidate that has had three jobs in three years communicates the risk of being a short-term employee. The candidate who has been in their last job or company 10 years presents the risk of, “why would anybody be in the same job, or with the same company 10 years?” The candidate with a phenomenal, stellar track record is often considered “overqualified.” The candidate with a poor track record is considered a risk in spite of circumstances that may be beyond his or her control.

Risk factors account for 40% of a hiring decision. No hiring authority wants to run the risk of hiring an employee who doesn’t work out. Most hiring authorities are extremely sensitive to the risk factors that a candidate might pose. Many hiring authorities get grossly oversensitive to some of the “risk factors” they even imagine they see in a candidate. “Well, he really didn’t come after the job very hard…”  “why did she answer a question that way?… I would’ve said…” “I don’t know, I just didn’t get a good feeling about him…” “he wore a custom-made suit to the interview, when we are casual here”… “he didn’t finish his degree so therefore he must not be a person who finishes things…” “I never heard of the firms she worked for…”  Just the other day a client told me that, “the candidate is just too perfect… there’s got to be something wrong with somebody who is too perfect…”

Every job candidate poses some kind of risk factor to a potential hiring authority, even if they are a “perfect” candidate. It’s absolutely essential that every candidate know what their risk factors are when they go into the interviewing situation. They need to be able to offset those risks during the interviewing process with, preferably. good business concepts. Even if one or two of those risks are offset by the reason that, “I made one great big business mistake. And if I had to do over again, I’d do it differently.” (and a statement of, “this is what I learned from the mistake…” goes a long way to making lemonade out of the lemon.)

Every job candidate needs to ask themselves, “in the eyes of an employer, what kind of risk do I pose?”


…bad advice

At least once a day I get an email or call from either one of our own candidates, or one of our radio program listeners or someone who has taken our online course, They write or call saying something along the line of, “I got some advice about interviewing or finding a job from… a career counselor, a resume writer, my uncle, my cousin, my father, my brother, etc. and they say……” And the advice is so cockamamie and off-base it is terribly misleading.

The problem has to do with the fact that just about anyone can have an opinion or an idea of what is successful in both the interviewing and hiring process. It’s like anyone who’s been married can all of a sudden become an expert at giving advice about marriage. If people have been parents they can act authoritatively to others about being parents. Maybe their advice is sound, maybe it’s not.

I’m quite sure that the people who offer bad advice are sincere and don’t realize that it’s “bad.” They want to be authoritative and helpful and throw out ideas that just aren’t reasonable, viable or true. And to someone that just plain doesn’t know, there is no way to refute the advice. In the last three weeks I have been asked to comment on these pieces of “advice” given to candidates:

  • functional resumes are best
  • hiring managers love to give “informational” interviews
  • never discuss money in an initial interview… Ever! (I saw a video of this advisor giving this advice. He suggested that if the interviewer asks  the candidate about money and what he or she has being earning, the candidate should not answer the question and simply say, “what does this job pay?”)
  • if you are a top performer, people will always find you
  • good candidates never have to look for a job
  • the best candidates are always employed
  • pay us $5000 to rewrite your resume and “expose” you to the hidden job market
  • never accept the first offer that a company makes… Always negotiate
  • “qualify” a prospective employer with an initial telephone conversation before wasting your time interviewing
  • always let an employer know you are being pursued by many organizations (… even if you’re not)
  • there is always room to negotiate a job offer… Companies always start out in the middle of the salary range..there is always room to go up
  • companies try to get away with paying as little as they can and candidates try to get as much as they can…
  • interviewing is a two-way street
  • the company you want, “wants” you
  • target the 10 or 15 companies that you’re most interested in and pursue them

Well, I’m sure you get the point. And unless a person is perpetually looking for a job it’s hard to know what advice is good and what is bad. But just to address the above “bad” advice:

Functional resumes rarely work well. The person reviewing the resume is reviewing 150 of them on average and they want to know who the candidate has worked for, what they did and how successful they were. Functional resumes separate performance from the specific jobs and companies and will rarely get read. Most managers don’t have time to give “informational” interviews. Unless they are your uncle or close family friend don’t expect anybody to agree to that kind of interview.

If you are asked in an initial interview what you have been making, tell the interviewing authority exactly what you been making. if you refuse to discuss what you been earning with a prospective employer and answer with some wise ass question like, “what does this job pay?” the interviewer will either mentally or physically end the interview right then.

Top performers are just as susceptible to economic downturns, company buyouts, and downsizing as anyone else. Good candidates are just as susceptible to having to look for a job as anyone else. Since 1973, I have heard that the best employees are always employed until those saying it get let go. There is no such thing as a “hidden” job market and paying $5000 to have a mystical resume written is absurd. The succession of an offer a person gets has absolutely nothing to do with its value. If the first offer is a good offer, take it. Or, you can wait till the third or fourth one…if and when you get them.. and realize that the first one was better than all of them and it’ll be just plain too late. While you are “qualifying” a prospective employer to see if you want to interview with them, other candidates are interviewing them face-to-face. You lose!

Don’t tell anybody you are being pursued by anybody else, unless you really are. A logical employer will ask you who you are being pursued by and if you say something stupid like “let’s just say there are other companies interested in me” you look downright stupid. Don’t lie about stuff like that. There isn’t always room to negotiate. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. Always rarely applies to anything. While you are thinking you have the upper hand in negotiating, the #2 candidate is getting the job. Very few companies try to get away with paying as little as they can. There are some cheap companies out there, but even they know that they get what they pay for. If they “lowball” you, don’t take the job.

Interviewing is not a two-way street. Interviewing is a one-way street until you get a job offer. A candidate has to assume that the hiring authority has at least four or five other candidates he or she is considering. Each one of them is selling themselves really hard. The idea that the interviewing process needs to be “mutual” is not realistic. The company you “want” does not intrinsically want you unless you have sold yourself so well that they want to hire you.

Target 10 to 15 companies that you’d love to go to work for? Oh, yeah! It’s you. I forgot its you. Oh yeah, they’ve been waiting for you. It’s a good thing they just had your office paneled. It doesn’t take very long for a candidate with any sense to realize that companies don’t have opportunities just cause the candidate would like to go to work there.

There’s a lot of really dumb advice out there. Try to get advice from folks that are actually in the trenches finding people jobs every day. Ask yourself, “Does the advice makes sense?” Or is it just something I want to hear.

…your linkedin picture

Like most recruiters, I use LinkedIn a lot. I’m continually blown away by the ridiculous pictures that people put on their LinkedIn profile. People seem to forget, or totally ignore that employers looking at your LinkedIn profile are trying to make a business decision about whether or not they ought to interview and hire you. Here are descriptions of some of the pictures that I have seen over the last two days and an interpretation of what a potential employer thinks when he or she sees them:

an artistically drawn caricature of the candidate… What the hiring authority thinks? “Is this guy or gal a cartoon?”

A candidate bouncing her one-year-old on her knee… What the hiring authority thinks? “This gal is gonna want to stay home with her baby rather than be at work.”

A candidate standing with his golf club on the #1 tee, smiling… What the employer thinks? He sure loves golf. Probably be more interested in being on the golf course than at work.

A group of six women “quasi” partying… What the employer thinks? “Well which one is the person I’m trying to review? Looks like they’re having fun. Not very professional. I’ll keep searching.”

A picture of the candidate coaching his kid (or group of kids) in baseball… What the employer thinks? “This guy’s more interested in coaching his kids that he is in working. He’ll probably spend a lot of time doing that instead of working.”

A blonde 30 something year old who’s head looks like an egg with a candy cane like band around her forehead…the caption says: “professional salesperson.” What the employer thinks? “Professional? Are you kidding me!!?”

No picture at all… What the employer thinks? “A) This person doesn’t want to go to the trouble to put a picture on their profile. B) They are ashamed of the way they look, or C) They don’t want to reveal that they’re old. Any or all of the above!”

Well, I’m sure you get the point. At least 10% of the pictures on LinkedIn profiles are going to actually keep the candidate from getting an interview. Think!!!!


it happened again today…oh, my goodness..this is soooooo sad..

a candidate I placed started his job last week..the company finally got around to checking his background and found that he lied about having a degree..they fired him on the spot..

in the last month, we have had three candidates who were either fired or had their offer rescinded because the client company dug into their background and found something that was either a cover up (i.e. a job they didn’t have on their resume… usually a short one)or an outright lie (i.e. degrees, dates of employment, etc.)

since 1973, i have never understood why people lie …especially about something so easy to check as a either have one or you don’t and it’s so easy to discover one way or the other. There are also so many services that can dig into a person’s background and find literally all of the places they have worked even if they aren’t on their resume.

(I had a candidate tell me one time that he really had graduated from the University of Oklahoma, but that the reason they didn’t have a record of his degree is that the registrar’s office had burned down. I’m not sure which is dumber, the lie or the story.)

DON’T is dumb…dumb…dumb