…the four basic questions

I wrote about these a few years ago…but it bears repeating….there are four basic questions that any employer is asking you during the interviewing process… No matter how long or short the interviewing process is, these four major questions need to be answered satisfactorily on the part of the potential employer… Here are the questions and the percentage of the hiring decision they represent…

can you do the job? … 20%
do we like you? … 40%
are your risk?… 30%
can we work the money out? … 10%

Most job candidates focus way too much on the last question of money… That is the easiest part of the whole process…

If all of the other questions are satisfactorily answered, the money is going to take care of itself… It is very rare for the money issue to stand in the way of a good candidate in a good opportunity act if the hiring authority is satisfied that the other three issues are positive…

So, over the next few days, I will discuss how to satisfy the potential employers concern with these four basic questions… if you get the message, you’re interviewing will be a lot easier

… your LinkedIn profile

If you are looking for a job, and even if you’re not, it’s really, really important to have a very professional LinkedIn profile. At least twice a week in my own personal practice, which is placing IT salespeople, sales managers and VPs, I have at least two candidates get eliminated because of their poor LinkedIn profile. So, here are some pointers:

  • Make sure your picture is a professional one. Pictures of you with your kids, your cat, your car, the latest fish you caught, bumming around on the beach are NOT professional. Pictures taken with your iPhone, or ones that are out of focus, blurry or with bad light will help you. Pictures taken with your Skype camera that make your head looked like an egg aren’t good either. P-R-O-F-E-S-S-I-O-N-A-L!! And by the way, if you don’t have a picture employers will think you are either very, very, very old or very lazy. They ask, “what’s wrong with this guy or gal that they don’t have a picture?”
  • Make sure that the content of the jobs you had is consistent with your resume. 40% of the time… Yeah you read it right, 40% of the time people’s LinkedIn profile do not agree with their resume. You’re sitting there thinking “that’s stupid” and you are absolutely correct. It is first class stupid. Please don’t be stupid. Fix the damn thing.
  • Quit with the 555 endorsements. Nobody cares about your endorsements. They care about what you have done and how well you have done it.
  • As with your resume, make sure it is very, very, very clear what And how well you performed at each one. I can’t tell you the number of resumes and profiles I review where the candidate doesn’t even make it clear what the companies he or she has worked for do. It’s as though they think the whole world knows their company. There are 7.1 million businesses in the United States and 98% of them are known to very few people.

Don’t discount or pooh-pooh your LinkedIn profile. More and more employers are using the profiles to preview candidates. Make sure your profile is perfect.

 

 

…inattentional blindness and your job search

Daniel J. Simons is a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois. He studies human’s attention, perception and memory. In most every study he has ever conducted, he has discovered that most all of our skills regarding attention, perception and memory are nowhere as good as we think. His most famous study was conducted in 1999. He asked subjects to view a video of six people passing two baskeballs back and fourth. The subjects were asked to count how many times three players wearing white shirts passed the basketball while ignoring the players wearing black who passed their own ball.After a few passes a person wearing a gorilla suit expectantly walks through the scene. 50% of subjects failed to notice the person in the gorilla suit. ( You can find this video on YouTube.)

Simons’ proves the theory  that there is a big mismatch between what we see and what we think we see. This condition is called “inattentional blindness.” He has even tested the effects of this in real world conditions. Subjects were asked to follow an experimenter on the backof a truck while they were jogging. While jogging, they were to monitoring how many times the experimenter touched his hat. As they were jogging along a predefined route, they ran past a simulated flight scene in which two other experimenters were “beating” a victim. They found that even in broad daylight, only 56% of the subjects noticed the fight.

So, the lesson is that people see about what they want to see and forget to look at the rest. This applies to the interviewing and hiring process more than most people will ever admit. Employers especially will get hung up on one or two issues in a candidate’s background… sometimes for better or for worse… and disregard or don’t pay attention to other aspects of it. One prime example of this is the candidate who is had three jobs in the last two years. The vast majority of employers are going to get hung up on that fact and hardly go beyond it to delve into a candidate’s experience or performance. They simply stop and move on to another candidate. Candidates often do the same thing when they consider looking at a company and get hung up on what other people might say about the company, its size, the kind of business they are in and literally hundreds of other things that distract them from really investigating the company.

What this simply means is that, if you’re a candidate, you need to be aware of the things in your background or experience that may distract a potential employer from interviewing you or realizing all of your abilities and potential once they do interview you. There may even be some positive issues that will distract a potential employer from your negative ones.

Just be aware that inattentional blindness is a reality and it has a phenomenal impact on your job search.

 

 

…so what do you do??

So, what you do if you do your own background check and you find things in your background that most likely an employer won’t like? And you never know what an employer can tolerate and what they can’t. For instance, some non-financially oriented companies don’t really care if you filed a bankruptcy or had credit problems. But banks and financial institutions will not likely hire you if you have problems like that in your background. Where things like DWI’s show up on one background check and not on another. The thoroughness of some of the services varies.

If you are totally surprised by what you find and you are absolutely certain the information is wrong there are procedures you can follow to have the record purged or you can provide information to offset the impact of the problem. For instance, not too long ago, one of our candidates had a bankruptcy report on their record. It turns out that their ex-spouse was going through some emotional and mental problems and cleaned out all of their savings by gambling. Once the candidate explained this to people the problem did not stand in the way of being hired.

Here is the important thing. And it is very important! If you know that they’re going to be some problems in your background or credit check, you need to be able to explain it to a prospective employer before they discover it through the background check. Now there are some things you can’t do much about. You’ll probably have a very hard time talking yourself around a felony appearing in your background. Most companies simply aren’t going to hire someone with a felony. But other problems, even as serious as DWI’s will often be overlooked if the candidate is good at explaining them and explaining how the circumstance has been rectified.

It is amazing the number of hiring authorities who are downright sympathetic with the candidate’s past problems. My sense is that is because many of them have challenges like these in their own past. So, you do the best you can by saying something like, “Look, I really want to come to work here, but you need to know that when you do a background check you’re going to find a bankruptcy 10 years ago… a DWI five years ago… that I was fired in my last position…etc. Let me explain the situation…” Then give a very calm straightforward explanation of what happened. Whatever you do don’t get emotional, defensive, claim that the information is a lie or the records are a mistake or anything like that. Any kind of denial or defensiveness or justification will seal your fate. Explain the situation as reasonably well as you can and then ended by saying “If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to explain further. How do you think this information is going to impact my candidacy?”

This last question is absolutely essential. You will get a really good idea if the problem is going to stand in the way by the reaction of the hiring authority when you explain the situation and then ask this question. Some employers are going to overlook some things. Some employers are going to overlook others. We know plenty of sales organizations that love to hire candidates who have either file bankruptcy or had very bruised credit with the theory that those people who need money will work a lot harder than those who don’t. Sometimes, that works out very well.

The explanation that a candidate has to have when they are going to counter these challenges has to be exact, precise and practiced way before the interviewing situation. If the explanation is a poor one or it is communicated in a poor manner, the candidate is not likely to get hired. I can’t emphasize more the need to practice the explanation to the point where it is a smooth, low keyed and polished. The difference between being able to explain this in as reasonable fashion as possible or the way most people would, is the difference in getting the job or not.

Practice, practice, practice.

…background, credit and other checks

I was on the Jerri Willis Report tuesday

http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/willis-report/videos#p/157870/v/3974561102001

Discussing background, credit and other kinds of “checks” that employers can and will do before you are hired. Just this week one of our excellent sales candidates who is had a 15 year history of knocking it out of the park for three excellent high-tech firms, failed a drug test. Yeah you read right. He failed a drug test. The company used a hair sample to discover cocaine in his body. He had reported for his first day of work and was summarily dismissed. This was the last guy in the whole world you would ever imagine to have cocaine in his bloodstream. He is in his early 40’s, in great shape and had been not just successful but extremely successful in the sales jobs he said.

80% of employers are going to do some kind of background checks on you as a candidate. 35% to 40% are going to do a credit check. My estimate is that 25% of the candidates that are close to getting hired get eliminated because of something a company finds either in their background check, credit check or social media review.

There are third party companies that provide these kinds of services to employers. The depth and the thoroughness of the checks really varies. Some of the services simply go to public records about arrest records, DWI’s, bankruptcies, tax liens, Judgments and verification of a degree or college attendance. More sophisticated, and expensive services dig deeper into public as well as private information like exact dates of employment, salary history, and character assessment ( like interviewing your neighbors).

If a company you are applying to uses a third-party service, they have to get your written permission to conduct a background check. Technically, if they don’t hire you because of what they find, they have to tell you the reason. Well, they are suppose to tell you the reason. Nine out of 10 organizations, if they find something they don’t like, are not going to tell you what they found or why they are not hiring you. They are simply going to say that they have moved on to another candidate.

Companies are relying more and more on these kind of checks because other information, like reference checking your past employers, are harder and harder to do. Most companies have very strict policies about giving previous employment references and some simply won’t do it. Prospective employers, then resort to extensive third-party background and credit checks.

As a job candidate, you might as well assume that accompany your interviewing with is going to do an extensive background check, credit check, educational check and anything short of a proctology exam. Complaining about this is useless. Hoping you can avoid them is wishful thinking. You best assume that anyone you interview with is going to do extensive checks.

90% of the people that have any kind of issues in your background, know it. Once in the rare while, a candidate is surprised by what might show up with these kind of checks. So, in order to be prepared, a perspective job candidate should run background checks on themselves before it’s done by a prospective employer. It is essential that a job candidate know exactly what a prospective employer is going to find when they do these checks.

Next week: What to do with the information you get.

 

 

 

 

 

…the new graduate

Every Monday on my radio program, Don Philabaum, America’s foremost author and mentor about new college grads entering the workforce, speaks to the challenge that new grads have in getting a job. It appears that the colleges and universities, especially their administrators and the “job market” aren’t reading from the same page at all. This article makes it really clear:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/college-presidents-boards-trustees-you-listening-your-don-philabaum

If you or your son and daughter have either recently graduated or will graduate from college and be looking for a job in the next few years this is a MUST READ!!!

…your picture on your LinkedIn page

At least three or four times a week in my own, personal practice of placing IT sales professionals and managers, I run into the problem of the hiring authority reviewing my candidate’s linkedin profile and eliminating my candidate, before they even interview them, because the candidate does not have a picture on the profile or the picture is unfocused, very unprofessional or just downright lousy.

When are job candidates going to catch on that no picture on their LinkedIn profile tells the perspective employer that they are either so embarrassed at their looks or they just don’t want to go to the trouble of having an appropriate picture taken and posting it to the profile. Either way, it’s not good for the candidate. Pictures of you with your dog, your cat, your pet snake, your parakeet, the last big fish you caught, your buddies in the bar ( where they can’t tell which one is you), on the golf course, at a restaurant, at a Cowboys game, at your wedding, at your funeral are not only in poor taste, but downright stupid. Anything other than a professional business picture is going to hurt your chances of getting an interview.

Remember, hiring authorities are looking for just as many reasons not to interview candidates as they are looking for reasons to interview candidates. When a person posts their picture on there profile they have to ask themselves, “How might I be judged by this picture?”Anything the least bit less-than-perfect will get a person eliminated.

…and now the right way to answer the questions

The answers that most people give to the question of, “why have you been out of work so long” Are usually pretty poor. The reason they are for answers is because candidates don’t think about, “how does a prospective employer in vision me and my work ethic with this answer?” They answer the question from their Point of view instead of the hiring authority’s point of view. The biggest fear hiring authority has is that, if a candidate can afford, even though they say they can’t, to be out of work for six months or so, if they get hired and they wake up one morning and don’t like the job, they will take another six months off and the employer will have to start all over in looking for someone.

So, here are some of the do’s and don’ts regarding the answers that most candidates give:

Well, I hadn’t taken a vacation in a number of years, so I decided to take some time off. (DON’T EVER, EVER SAY SOMETHING THIS STUPID…EVER! An employer imagines that if you can take six months off for a “vacation” you don’t need to work very much and you could turn around and take another “vacation” six months into their job.

Well, I had the money to do it so I figured I may never get a chance to do it again, so I took the time off. This is just a stupid as the previous answer for the same reason.

I got laid off and had a great severance package so I took some time off to see the world. (ditto)

I decided to start my own business. It didn’t work out so now I have to find a job. (The answer here has to be more Specific and positive as well as a benefit to a prospective employer. Something like: “I decided to start my own business. It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and I simply ran out of money. But boy did I learn a lot. And here is what I would learned and how it would apply to your job here………………………….” 

I’ve been looking for a job for six months… No one will even interview me. I’m being discriminated against because of my age. (Quit whining! Quit being a victim! Employers absolutely hate to hear statements like this!)

I spent the last two years: Taking care of children, taking care of my elderly parents, recovering from an illness, dealing with personal issues..(With every one of these statements you need to make sure that you communicate the employer that the issues have been RESOLVED. You need to say something like: “I’ve been raising children up until now, but they are grown and out of the house… Or on their own… Or they can now take care of themselves after school, etc. and I am now free to work as early or late as I need to.” Or, “my parents have passed away”… Or, “we’ve hired full-time help for my parent… And it will allow me to work as early as late as I need to without interfering.” 

When it comes to recovering from an illness you absolutely have to tell the hiring authority what the illness was and it has been RESOLVED. Some authors will tell you that you legally don’t have to tell a hiring authority what your illness was. That may be true but it’s first-class stupid if you don’t. The reason is, if you don’t tell them exactly what it is and that you have fully recovered, they are going to assume it’s something that is going to recur six months after you are hired and you will become ill again and will have to leave your job. So don’t pay any attention to the people that claim you don’t need to tell them what you are recovering from. If you want to go to work you need to present your illness and COMPLETE RECOVERY just this way.

The bottom line lesson is that if you’ve been out of work for any length of time close to six months or more you need to give a hiring authority a very good reason you’re still a very good employee and that hiring you is not a risk.

 

…the reasons you’ve been out of work for six months

I went on the Willis Report Today on Fox business network the topic was, “what do you say in an interview when you’ve been out of work for six months or more?”I have to admit that the reasons I’ve heard over the years are pretty phenomenal. In this post I’m going to share with you some of the most popular reasons that I’ve heard and then in the next post I will address the best answer you could give in each one of the situations. Here’s a hint: put yourself in the shoes of the hiring authority and think about what the statement communicates.

Well, I hadn’t taken a vacation in a number of years, so I decided to take some time off.

Well, I had the money to do it so I figured I may never get a chance to do it again, so I took the time off.

I got laid off and had a great severance package so I took some time off to see the world.

I decided to start my own business. It didn’t work out so now I have to find a job.

I’ve been looking for a job for six months… No one will even interview me. I’m being discriminated against because of my age.

I spent the last two years: Taking care of children, taking care of my elderly parents, recovering from an illness, dealing with personal issues

next week, the right answers!

 

 

spelink and gramner on your resume

…i’m often criticized for my fat finger typing and apparent abhorrent spelling…it is OK when you own the company,..

IT ISN’T OK ON YOUR RESUME..make sure you have your resume proofed and read by a few folks…it isn’t fair, but employers will often eliminate a candidate because of poor grammar and spelling mistakes..

Just this week we had a candidate for an administrative manager position eliminated by one of our clients because her resume was written so poorly… poor grammar, sentences that weren’t, and some glaring spelling errors.

Amazingly enough, she got mad at our client. She said she’d been using the resume for a month and nobody had complained about it. I can’t imagine why she was complaining, but she was. She still didn’t get hired.

And you can’t say, “Well tony beshara doesn’t spell very well either”… tony beshara has a good job that he loves…not a good excuse..

p.s. don’t write your resume late at night when you are tired and get it proofed by many people