… taking tests

hardly a week goes by that at least 10 or 15 of our candidates are asked to take some kind of test… These things can range anywhere from IQ tests, psychological tests, math aptitude tests, personality surveys and so on. We’re constantly asked if there are any “secrets” to doing well on them.

The concept of testing intelligence was first successfully devised by a French psychologist  in the early 1900s to help describe differences in how well and quickly children learn at school.  Thus began the argument that continues today between those that believe  testing is an indication of a lot of things and those that believe  that testing  really can’t measure much of anything.

Since 1973, I’ve seen candidate testing admin flow in popularity.. Believe it or not, it seems to Evan flow depending on the economy. Testing of job candidates can be very expensive, so it’s one of the first things that companies stop doing when the economy gets difficult.

Job candidates  should be prepared for what I call the “paradox of testing.” Every company that has ever used testing as part of its selection process is going to tell every candidate that at most the test accounts for only 25% of the final decision. Don’t believe a word of it! Whatever kind of test that is used, from graphical analysis to psychological interviewing, is a qualifier that you must pass with the minimum standard arbitrarily set by someone or some group in the organization or you aren’t going to go further in the interviewing process. Whether hiring authorities are companies will admit it or not, the test becomes a binary, black and white, proceed or go home qualifier. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

So, when a hiring authority tell you something like, “oh, by the way, we have some psychological (or aptitude, or skills, or intelligence)  testing you need to do as a candidate, but don’t worry about it. Everybody comes to work here has to take it and it really doesn’t account for much more than 10% (or 25% or 50%) of the decision,” don’t believe a word of it! Testing becomes the gate that has to be passed through before you can be considered as a viable candidate.

Testing objectifies the hiring process. When supposedly objective tests decide on your viability as a candidate, no hiring her interviewing authority involved in the process of hiring has to have her butt on the line, has to take a stand  on your candidacy,  or has to run the risk of being the only person who likes you and wants to hire you. Now a hiring authority is still going to have to make a decision in choosing someone to be hired. But the convenient thing about testing is that it also functions as a cover your butt issue.. If hiring you turns out to be a mistake, but you did well on the company’s battery of tests, the hiring authority can turn to everyone else and say, “well, she did well on the testing!” It’s just another way of passing the buck of responsibility. The test becomes the qualifier, screening out tons of candidates should know one person has to and it’s convenient and easy.

Please don’t tell me that testing is stupid and it doesn’t work. Part of my graduate studies-admittedly more than 45 years ago-included extensive studies about testing. I can make the case that testing will never measure passion, commitment, focus, and, in general “heart,” the real things it separated top performer from an average one. But as you know, the people who manage companies don’t really care what you or I think. If somebody sells a company on the idea that any kind of testing will help it hire better people in the company invests thousands in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars in this testing, it’s going to use it-no matter what.

—–next week—does testing work?

 

…reading and believing your own press clippings

Dan hasn’t looked for a job for 15 years. He’s been with the same firm for that period of time and has risen rather rapidly through the ranks. Along the way, his company gave him all kinds of kudos and recognition and continually told him how great a contribution he made, how wonderful he was and how they couldn’t do without him, blah, blah, blah.

It is true that his performance was excellent and that he had been promoted a number of times. He always had all kinds of people in the company and outside the company telling him how wonderful he was. He reached the level of Regional VP and all of these accolades started going to his head. The first blow to his ego was that he didn’t get as big a raise as he thought he should. The second, and biggest blow, came from the fact that he lost a promotion to one of his peers that he was certain he was going to get. The selection committee wasn’t courteous enough to tell him why he didn’t get promoted, but he felt like his meteoric rise was now slowed, if not stymied. “After all,” he thought (and what he told us) “… I’ve given sweat and blood to this company. I got an MBA. I’ve had fantastic reviews. Everybody tells me I’m wonderful and the company could not get along without me and that other companies would feel very lucky to have me.” (My sense is he imagined this last part more than someone telling him that.)

His family didn’t help either. His father, upon hearing the story of Dan’s plight, agreed that Dan deserved the promotion and that the company wasn’t appreciating him. Dan’s wife totally agreed and kept telling him that he should quit because there were boatloads of organizations that would love to find talent like his.

So, Dan quit. That was six months ago and Dan is still looking for a job. He had absolutely no idea how difficult it would be to find a job. Dan was believing his own press clippings. He thought that since his company thought he was so wonderful and his family just knew he could not only replace his job but find a better one, all he had to do was quit and go look for one.

Dan was saying a lot of what we hear from people all the time, “Every company needs really good people…( especially like me).” They each quit their job thinking that companies are simply going to fall down in front of them to get them on board. They do no research on how many jobs like they’ve been doing exist and what their probability might be of getting a job like that even if they could find the opening. Dan even made the comment that his professors in his graduate program were certain, that with an MBA from their school, he should have no problem finding a new job. Of course, they have absolutely no idea what the job market might be like for what Dan does either. (That’s why they are in academia. Besides, that’s what they’re supposed to tell students who just paid $100,000 to get an MBA from their school.)

Dan had a few interviews, but they were more courtesy interviews from friends, colleagues, etc. He is shocked, depressed and demoralized that he hasn’t easily found a job. The problem Dan has run into is very common. He had absolutely no idea what the market might bear for his experience or background. Just because he had all of these people, his company, his family, his professors etc. telling him how wonderful he was didn’t mean that he was going to find a job. The majority of jobs like Dan is looking for are promoted into from within. It’s rare for companies to hire someone like Dan off the street. It has nothing to do with his ability or his performance. It has to do with the availability or should we say, lack of availability of the kind of job he has done.

The lesson is, don’t believe your own press clippings. Just because all of the people you work with tell you how wonderful you are doesn’t mean that people are going to immediately hire you. Do some “market testing” and find out how easy it’s going to be to find a job. Don’t think that just because you’re so damn good and everybody just knows it, that somebody’s going to instantly hire you.

Dan is now considering going back to work for his old company. He’s going to have to take a position that is one or two levels below where he was before. He’s not sure what he will do. Our recommendation is that he swallow his pride and go back to his old company.  Now, if he wants to look for a job while he’s got one, that’s probably the better idea. Right now, he needs to get back to work.

Don’t believe your own press clippings.

 

 

….some kinda writer i am

well you’d think after all these years of writing I would pay attention… A few weeks ago I wrote about the challenge that boomer women have in the workplace and I ended it by stating that in the next blog I would give advice about what women can do to deal with the challenges… Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to my own writing and went off on two or three different topics… Some kind of teacher, huh? Fortunately one of our readers, Mitzi Barnes, wrote and asked in a really nice way where the hell the answer was…well, Mitzi, I have to admit, I couldn’t find it either and I obviously didn’t write it… So here you go…

Be aware of a few things… First of all women live longer than men and take better care of themselves and are healthier as they get older… They are more loyal, stable and dependable than men… It is easier for them to change their appearance and look more professional as they grow older than men… They have a tendency to be more open to all kinds of different opportunities because they don’t have the egos that men have which prevent them from taking some positions because they think they are “lesser” than what they have had before

Because women don’t have their egos wrapped up in looking for a job as much his men, they have a tendency to be more persistent and more open to all kinds of different opportunities, even if they are a step back from what they had done before… So women realize that looking for a job is a real numbers game and have a tendency to be more persistent about the numbers it takes to find a job…

Women should emphasize their health and how dependable they are at showing up and working… Since women have a tendency to take jobs  that are more flexible when they were raising children or caring for older parents, they usually have more variety of experiences in their background that they can sell…

I say this often, and I know some people get pissed off… Especially men… But the truth is women work harder than men … Don’t shoot the messenger, but it’s true… Women, like most minorities, have to work harder to compete in mostly a white guy’s world… It’s just that simple… Most employers know that women work harder than men… Don’t argue with me… Well I guess you can, but it’s stupid to argue about it… It’s just true…We all know that the hardest job in the whole world is being a mother… If you can do that well, working in business is a joke.

So if you’re a boomer woman looking for a job, be really persistent about getting interviews and remind prospective employers how hard you work, how committed you are and how flexible you are…It isn’t magic, but women boomers need to realize they have more of an advantage than they think

 

…malapropisms

malapropism (noun): the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect,

Well, it’s not a very amusing effect if you’re a candidate using these kinds of things in an interview… In fact, it’s not amusing at all, it’s downright disastrous… Like in can cause you to lose a perfectly good job… I’ve written about this before, but admittedly it’s been a while just this week I had candidates tell me that they wanted to “hit the ground moving… Hit the floor running… Hit it off the bat… Hit it off the ball

In the recent past I have had candidates say things like: “pass mustard“…instead of “pass muster”…”took off like haywire”…instead of “wildfire”…”preaching to the congregation“…instead of “choir”… “give their best foot forward,” …”I’m living fat on the hog” and “the cream will rise to the crop”…ok, we are amused and kind of laugh…

But in the interviewing situation, they can be disastrous…especially if they are repeated…repeatedly…at best, they are distracting and, in most cases, don’t reflect well on the person being interviewed…at worst, they can cost the candidate a job. They are so distracting in an interviewing situation that a hiring authority will often remember your malapropism and not remember anything else about you or the interview.

Now, you say “well, people shouldn’t be so harsh. It really doesn’t reflect on the candidates intelligence or ability to do the job. So what! It’s no big deal.” It is a big deal… It is a big deal. Employers are looking for just as many reasons to eliminate you as they are looking for reasons to hire you. And don’t think for one moment they’re not going to think “this candidate just isn’t very bright.”

What to do? Ask the people around you… Your spouse, friends, coworkers… If there’s anything in your speech patterns that seem odd or are incorrect that they’ve noticed. Analyze your own speech and see if you use these kinds of things at all and be sure they are correct. If you’re not sure, don’t use them.

We’ve emphasized before that interviewing takes practice. But you have to practice  in the right way. Eliminating these kind of things from your speech patterns will make sure that you don’t “kick yourself in the foot.”

…being shy

I listened to a TED talk by a psychologist who claimed that more than 50% of the people in the United States consider themselves shy… A quick Google search seems to find that there are many articles that confirm this fact… So if you put 50% of the people in the United States who consider themselves shy in an emotionally stressful situation… like looking for a job… It’s no wonder that people have such a difficult time finding a job…

I have to admit that for the past few years, after writing four books on how to find a job as well as an online program that is almost foolproof at helping somebody find a job, I’ve been wondering why so many people still have a difficulty in finding one…why so many people are out of work for so long and, after a year, almost become unemployable. It just didn’t make sense, or at least I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out. Being an extrovert and being surrounded by extroverts who are in some cases downright aggressive, I just simply didn’t think about it. What’s worse  is that even after more than 40 years of dealing with people, I should have known that many people, lots of people…shy people…  have a real hard time getting interviews and selling themselves hard enough to easily get a job.

It isn’t so much that it’s insensitivity…although it is…as it is just not paying attention… After all these years and having interviewed more than 26,000 candidates face-to-face, I should know that some people are so shy their shyness overwhelms their ability to sell themselves and get a job… And, like most people, the longer they go without a job, the harder it is..

So here is what shy people have to do…they simply have to push themselves to get interviews, by cold calling and running the risk of being rejected…they then have to practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice and practice interviewing and asking for a job so that when they get into an interview and they are phenomenally, terribly nervous, they do what they need to do. Keep in mind they don’t have to give a stellar performance of A+ interviewing. All they have to do is be able to sell themselves well enough to get a job. I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about the practice it takes, but it does.

If you are shy, you have to practice to the point where interviewing well becomes what psychologists call “unconscious competency.” (… Look it up) it is practicing so well that no matter how nervous or even distracted a person is, they interview well. I realize that this is not easy… but it is necessary…

And, think about it, 50% of the people that you’re interviewing with are also shy and they will have a tremendous amount of empathy for you…

… perseveration

In psychology and psychiatry, perseveration is the repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder…

Perseveration takes place in the job search when a candidate plays over and over and over in their head what they should have or could have done differently in an interviewing or job search situation. It is a maddening exercise for candidates especially when they have screwed up an interview… They play it over and over and over and over in their heads… Like a hamster on a wheel…They get emotionally distracted by it and because they don’t have enough other opportunities going on, they replay this one over and over…

Objectively, they know that it does them absolutely no good to keep reliving or reciting what they could have said or should have said in the interview. The more they do it, the more frustrated they become and then the more they do it..They often even call me and want to review over and over what they should have said… It does absolutely no good!

Everyone, objectively, knows what the doctor says when the patient dies… “Next.” The outcome may not be what he or she wants, or even likes, but they can’t do anything about it and they can’t afford  to have it affect the future practice of even the immediate moment… They have to let it go…

If a job seeker has enough interviewing cycles going on they really don’t have much time to ruminate and practice perseveration… They simply replay the interview the correct way and then move on to the next one… If they do it right they don’t have time to do anything but figure out what they would have changed and move on…

… fake it till you make it

Okay, I know you’re not supposed to fake it much in the interviewing and job search process… You can’t try to be what you’re not… agreed. but there comes a time… or two or three …in each interviewing process that you are thrown off and at a loss as to what to do or say… here is where you have to fake it till you make it…

You have to communicate courage when you don’t feel courageous… you have to communicate confidence when you don’t feel confident… I have discussed often in previous posts about your body language in the interviewing situation… If you want a real treat Go to:                                 http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are And listen to this Ted talk…

This is a very inspiring ted talk… It offers some great ideas of how to prepare right before an interview and gives great insight esspecially regarding body language and some of the things you can do to make yourself more exciting and focused… It also gives advice into those few moments in the interviewing process are you just have to fake it till you make it

 

 

…more misguided (… Stupid) advice

So this week some job search guru goes on LinkedIn and writes an article about how interviewing and hiring authorities have an obligation to give you feedback about your interview with them… The guy goes on and on about how hiring authorities should and ought to give you feedback on the interview you had with them and how if you keep calling them, the good ones realize their obligation and will give you feedback…

Hokum… Garbage… BS… Laughable… Like what planet are you living on?… It’s obviously clear that this guy has never spent much time finding people jobs… It’s totally misleading to tell people that they’re going to get feedback from an interviewing or hiring authority more than, maybe once out of 15 times…

This guy goes on and on about how good managers, interviewers and hiring authorities should and will give you honest feedback  about your interview…DON’T BUY ONE WORD OF IT… I don’t know what this guy is smoking or where he dreamed this idea up… But the truth is 99.99% of all of the people you will interview with, unless they are really interested in hiring you and are incredibly nice,  are NOT going to give you any feedback about you or your interviewing…

Should they be willing to give you feedback? … Yes!… Will they tell you that they will?… Yes! Do they know it’s courteous to do that?… Yes!… Will they do it?… NO!!! is it rude?… Yes!…  Is it discourteous?! …Yes!… But, are they going to do it?…NO!

It’s not a matter that they are intentionally mean, or insincere, or rude… They are simply unintentionally mean, insincere, and rude… So you ask “how can people be that way?”… Really easy… They just are! You notice me writing about ‘spiritual beings acting human?’… Well, this is a manifestation of spiritual beings acting human…

So, you may ask for feedback from folks you’ve interviewed… Just plain don’t expect it… If you get it, you are blessed… but just don’t expect it. Don’t waste your time wondering why, hoping, wishing, begging, wondering, speculating… Just accept the fact that you’re not going to get it, quit cursing the darkness and move on to the next opportunity…

Having done this for more than 40 years the only reason I can imagine that people will be, at best, inconsiderate is because they are so busy and so wrapped up in their own lives that giving you feedback on your performance in an interview is just  not a high priority to them… Ironically,  when they become a candidate and go to look for a job they can’t believe that interviewing and hiring authorities are so rude…

So, quit losing any emotion over this and move on…

… boomer women have left the workforce

Up until recently, more baby boomer women than men had been in the workforce… the current employment participation rate for adult men is 77.8% and for women it’s only 58.5%… Why?… How does it affect the economy? There are 1 million fewer women between the ages of 45 and 60 in the workplace today  than there were in 2009. The impact on the economy is obvious because there are 1 million fewer people earning money to move around in the economy. Here are the major reasons our society is experiencing this phenomenon. More women these days are having children when they are older. Many of them began their career, married later than previous generations and started having families later. At the “prime” age for earning… 45 to 55, many of these women still have children in a home that need to be cared for.  Even if they had children at a young age there “young adult” children,, being the lowest percentage of working Americans in the workforce …are moving home and often, these mothers  feel compelled to be at home with their adult children. A woman with children  who plans on going back to work when the children are still young  are faced with a very high cost of childcare.  Often the cost of the childcare outweighs a salary. In fact the cost of childcare is the single largest expense for families in almost half of the US and is growing, outweighing the cost of food and housing. So, faced with the cost of childcare, it might be more economical for a woman to stay home rather than work outside the home and pay for child care. The elderly are living longer these days and when their health fails it is logical for their female daughters to stay home and care for them. The average age of unpaid, adult family caregivers, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance is 48 years old…In the sweet spot of a person’s prime professional earnings age range. And making matters worse,  when these women do come back into the workforce after a three or four year period of time, their skills are perceived to be more outdated than with men. This must be because of the perceived jobs and skills that are associated with women. The truth is that there are no more deterioration of skills with out of work women then there are with out of work men. Next week: … How these women can get back into the workplace.

…Teaching folks how to get a job

I’m firmly convinced that the majority of people that are out of work and claim they are looking for a job really aren’t… When you look on the Internet about “how to find a job,” 90% of the stuff you see talks about how to craft a resume and how to send a resume to a company…Sending a resume is NOT Looking for a job… It just isn’t… On top of the entitlement attitude of “where’s my job?…can you email it to me?” People really don’t do all of the things they need to do to get a job… To get a job, you gotta get interviews… Face-to-face interviews… those are absolutely the only things that matter… and then you have to do a lot of it… It’s gonna take, on average, 16 interviews to get a job offer… even if you don’t like that job offer… In the last blog post I wrote, I explained how many calls and how many presentations of yourself it’s going to take to get one person that might listen to you and how many of those it’s going to take in order to get somebody interested in you and how many of those it’s going to take to get somebody to interview you… I can’t change the stats… your effort to get interviews is going to take one hell of a lot of work… And then you have to sell yourself, really, really hard… most people just plain don’t interview very well… they don’t sell themselves… they say stupid stuff… they don’t ask for feedback… they don’t ask for the job… so they don’t get hired… 60% of the people who were hired are hired through personal contacts… relatives, friends, acquaintances, present and previous peers… Everyone knows at least 200 people… Remember there are 7.4 million business establishments in the United States with an average of 15.4 people working in them… and every one of them needs help… every one of them!… If one person made an offer to one business that they could show that business how to make them more money or save them more money and really did it,  7.4 million people could go to work tomorrow… Pretty simple!