… if you are the smartest guy in the room, you are in the wrong room

this is kind of a sad story that centers around how a person’s ego can get bigger than their game and it winds up doing them in…

Mark was an VP… and I say “was” because, up until the beginning of this week he was…for a $200 million company. When he inherited the region, it had never made its goal. He fixed that real fast… he fired the right people, hired new ones and managed a team of 12 executives for the last few years. He did do a really fantastic job in turning the thing around.

Even though he was the top producer in the company, the company had been going through some pretty rough times. He let it be known more than once that he disagreed with management and that things should be done differently. He was always the smartest guy in the room. (His reminding folks, from time to time, of his 4.0 gpa from a prestigious MBA program didn’t help either. And the name dropping was pretty obnoxious.) He didn’t mind sharing his opinions with a number of his peers and other people who would listen. After all, he was the top VP in the company and was pretty convinced that they would never mess with him.

From time to time, he didn’t mind entertaining other job opportunities. Over the last few years he, apparently, went down the road with a number of these firms for leadership positions, but for various reasons, didn’t get the jobs, or couldn’t relocate or turned the jobs down. To make things worse, he didn’t mind letting it be known to some of his peers and other people in the company that there were “lots of other organizations who would be interested in him.” He didn’t seem to mind letting his peers and others know how “valuable” he might be to others. There was also an implied, “these guys don’t know how good they got it with me…they should listen to me more” attitude. After all, he was the top VP in the country and, I guess, was feeling untouchable.

When a promotion opportunity became available, he was passed over. It really pissed him off. He let that be known too. He asked the powers to be why he wasn’t being considered and, even he, realized he got some pretty weak, ingenuous excuses. He moaned about that to just about anybody that would listen. But keep in mind, he was still producing the best results in the company.

Well, last week, he got canned. His boss called up and just told him they were gonna let him go. It didn’t seem to matter that he was a top producer. What mattered was they just didn’t trust him. He tried to defend himself by saying that even when he looked for a job, he didn’t do it on their time. “Everybody looks for new opportunities all the time,” he said. “We are all kind of free agents, aren’t we? Just look at people’s LinkedIn profile, everybody’s always open to new opportunities.”

What is sad is that Mark is a good guy. He did perform well. But having to be the smartest guy in the room got old. He didn’t keep his ego in check. He thought he was a little bigger than the company and he let folks know it. None of us are ‘untouchable.’

If you gotta be the smartest guy in the room, someone will decide you are in the wrong room.

 

 

… kudos to Michael

A large part of the reason that so many people stay out of work for so long is that they don’t have the courage to push a prospective employer to interview them. They say things to me like, ” well, I called them once, and they never called me back.” (“Poor, poor pitiful me!”)

So here’s what happened. I tell Michael about a company that I have presented him to. I tell him about the SVP who is probably going to do theinterviewing and give him every bit of ammunition about the job, the company, how we should sell himself etc. My client, the SVP, who has also been a candidate of mine and I’ve known for 15 years, is one of those kind of guys who hardly ever returns a call, emails me in the middle of the night telling me that will have to catch up in the next couple of days, but doesn’t seem to get around to it. Having done this for so long, it only bothers me because when I get an exceptional candidates it’s hard to get a hold of the SVP, and both he and the candidate lose out on a great opportunity. I called the client at least 25 times about Michael… even tried him on Sunday mornings because he told me I could do that,… evenings… anytime I thought it was a good moment.

Now there lots of recruiters and other people who would say that it’s just not worth it to do that kind of thing. If the guy isn’t interested in calling you back or emailing you back he’s not much of a “client.” But, I have to tell you that his company is wonderful and he has three or four excellent opportunities. He’s going to hire somebody. It’s not much effort to make the calls. My ego is in check and I just don’t have any expectations to expect a call back. And, of course, I’m getting Michael other interviews.

So, after calling me two or three times about the appointment that I just can’t seem to get Michael, I  keep telling him I’m trying. (Damn weak excuse for a recruiter who is suppose to know what he is doing.) So, guess what? Michael calls me today and says he has an interview with the company on Monday with five of the managers he needs to be talking with. Michael didn’t sit around and moan and groan about the fact that he wasn’t getting this interview (or blaming his lousy recruiter). He picked up the phone and he left four or five messages for my client, the SVP, explaining that based on what he had learned from me, he was absolutely perfect for the job and the SVP really needed to interview with him. Success! The SVP’s internal recruiter called Michael today and arranged for a full day of interviews.

Now, this kind of thing won’t work all the time. Michael still hasn’t talked to the SVP. But that’s okay! He’s got five interviews on Monday. Kudos to Michael for making it happen. if more people were this aggressive about getting interviews like this, more people would go to work.

Good job, Michael!

Next week…why more folks don’t do this.

…the $90,000 ego mistake

‘Never let your ego get bigger than your game,’   …excellent candidate, Mark…needs to find a new gig..we present him an excellent opportunity …he interviews on two management levels..does real well…going to the next level… hiring authority says he’s the best he has seen…

In debriefing Mark about the two interviews he had with the firm, he says: “You know, you don’t remember it, but you all got me a job offer from this outfit three years ago.” “Really,” we say, “what happened?” “Well,” he says, “on top of a good job offer they even offered me 1000 shares of pre-IPO stock. They are now public and the stock is at $90  a share. I ought to have my ass kicked.”

He continues, “What happened was that they first offered the job to another guy. He turned it down. They then offered it to me. I got pissed that I was the #2 choice so turned it down. My ego got the best of me. I really should have taken the job. The company is doing great and now that they are public, I’ll be able to buy stock if they hire me, but i could be $90,000 richer today had I taken the job then, and I probably wouldn’t be looking for a job.”

never let your ego get in your way…could cost you $90,000

… “I was just too busy to spend that much time”

We have for candidates interview for an excellent opportunity. Tim and Cindy go into the interview with business plans after doing research… Cindy has a printout of every project currently underway or in the planning stages that she is doing that applies to our client’s business… Tim has a 30-60-90 day business plan that he would implement if he got the job. Each of them followed our instructions to the ‘T’, i.e. called some of our client’s customers, some of the people that worked there..Tim went to LinkedIn and found two people he knew who had worked for our client in the past, called them and got a report. They were both very prepared. They followed our interviewing tutorial, and then some.

Sam, the third candidate, did some research on the company and the hiring authorities. He called a potential customer with whom he had done business with before who might use our client’s products. He asks them to look at the product and report their thoughts on the product, But by the time he gets to the interview he had not heard back from them.

Michael, the fourth candidate does some research on the company and the two interviewing authorities he was to speak with. He comes up with some ideas on how to sell the product that are quite different  from the way the client is presently selling their product. (Where he came up with this idea, we have no idea.) He bombs the interview when he brings his idea up. (They wanted to hear what he could do for them not how he could change their selling process.)

When told that they aren’t going to be moved forward in the interviewing process because they were simply outsold by their competition, Sam and Michael were downright pissed. Sam’s response was “if I knew that’s what they were looking for, I could’ve put something together, too.” Michael’s statement was, “I was just too busy to spend that much time.”

It appears that our client is trying to figure out how to hire both Tim and Cindy. It hasn’t happened yet, but they are trying.

We run  a very large recruiting firm and we hear, on a daily basis, “I can’t believe I didn’t get the job… I’m perfect for it!” Both Sam and Michael were surprised… Sam, even shocked … that they weren’t moved forward in the interviewing process. The reasons are obvious. Even after our coaching and their reviewing the interview tutorial module of www.thejobsearchsolution.com, they still screwed up. They just didn’t care enough to do the work that it took to interview well.

So, the next time you hear someone complain about not getting the job, question them about how much effort they put into the interviewing preparation. Funny, Sam and Michael, on paper, were infinitely more qualified than Tim and Cindy.

… things can come back to haunt you

We had a candidate who was an employer of ours who hired people from us…four years ago, he was interviewing candidates and, as many employers do, he didn’t really communicate with all of the candidates he interviewed.. in fact…he was rude to them…telling them he’d call them, then never do it…telling them they were good candidates but never following up with them..totally rude

Now everyone is busy, but it is courteous to do what you say you will do…many, many hiring authorities don’t do this..in fact, it is one of the biggest complaints we hear, that the hiring authority says they will call them and follow up with them, or have them back and then don’t ..

Well, one of the guys he treated this way is now a hiring authority…we  presented our candidate ..who was the original hiring authority, the one that was rude to the now hiring authority…

Our client laughed laughed and said there was no way he’d ever interview him even if he was the last candidate on earth..because he’ been so rude four years ago…

what goes around…comes around

talking about money on the first interview

The rule of thumb is to never talk about money on the first interview. I’ve had more candidates over the years get eliminated probably by making this mistake than most any other in the initial interview. The biggest mistakes that people make are asking stupid stuff during the initial interview like, “What does this job pay? I making $XXXX now and I want to be sure that what you all are paying is in line with what I need.”

Anything, frankly, in an initial interview that even smacks of, “what can you do for me?” Is going to send the interview in the wrong direction. if you give companies good enough reasons of why they ought to hire you, they will give you good enough reasons as to why you should go to work there and you don’t have to worry about the money or anything else. Now you may not accept the job…for lots of reasons…but you want to be in the drivers seat and get the offer.

The only comment you should make about money in an initial interview should center around a statement of what you are making now and then postponing a discussion of what you might be looking for. So, when you are asked “what kind of $$$ are you looking for?” The answer: “well, I am presently making $XXXX  (…or was making $XXX) and I’m not as concerned about the money as I am the company, the people, and the opportunity. I have found that if all of those things come together, the money usually takes care of itself. I’m sure we will get a chance to discuss that down the line.” And leave it at that…don’t say any more.

If you are pressed by the interviewing authority to talk more about money, insist again that money is just one aspect of an opportunity and, just like the company will do, and you will take that into account with all of the other factors about the job.

Remember, again companies are often more flexible about the money they’ll pay the more they like you as a candidate. We had a CFO candidate sell himself so well that, even though they told us the job would pay $150,000 they wound up offering our candidate $250,000. Now that’s a pretty drastic difference and not one we see daily, but nonetheless it happened primarily because the candidate didn’t discuss money during most any of the interviews.

 

…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.