… “but I never heard of that firm!”

I know it sounds a bit odd, but we hear this a lot from candidates when we get them in interview… they communicate the idea that they’re not interested in the client we have gotten then an interview with because they never heard of the firm. What’s even worse is that they don’t make an effort to interview well because they somehow think that because they have never heard of the company, the company can’t be any good…This is especially the case when a candidate has been in a particular line of business for a number years and think they “know everybody,” so this new company they never heard of can’t be any good…

This idea simply doesn’t make any sense… but lots of things people believe doesn’t make sense . There are 7.5 million business establishments in the United States… no one knows all … or even most of them. There are boatloads of guys and gals who made a lot of  money with firms hardly anyone ever heard about…

I’ll never forget trying to get a candidate an interview a number of years ago with a small company, no one had ever heard of… Netscape. The candidate refused to go because he had never heard of the company. The second candidate I approached actually got hired and became a multimillionaire because of the stock he earned going to work for this start-up…

So don’t let your knowledge or lack of knowledge of an organization stand in the way of an interview…

…the F bomb

…it is hard to imagine that this happens as much as it does… but it does… our candidate was a late 30’s woman with a tremendous track record and a great opportunity to go to work for a wonderful company… the job would have turned her career definitely upward…

She didn’t get hired because, during one of the informal interviews with some of her would-be peers she dropped the “F bomb” quite a number of times…

Our client simply said that they didn’t think they could afford to hire someone who talked like that during the interview…in spite of  her stellar track record… and frankly, we understand…

What’s interesting is that when we spoke to the candidate about her inappropriate language, she got mad and frustrated to the point of tears explaining that the man she was interviewing with, one of her “‘would-be peers”, in his late 40’s started using the “F bomb” quite a number of times in his conversation with our candidate… our candidate, admittedly, thought that this was an “off the record” conversation and saw no problem in matching the profanity of the guy she was talking with… she couldn’t believe she was being eliminated for what appeared to be an off the record, casual conversation… what’s more, she felt like she had been tricked into talking that way… and admittedly she probably was…

It’s really a shame… but she kept saying, “it wasn’t a real interview… it just wasn’t a real interview…” but it was a real interview… then she said, “she just felt like the guy she was talking with didn’t want the competition from a woman”… maybe so, but that’s no excuse…

The first lesson is  that there is no such thing as a “casual, off the record conversation” with any people in a company that you are interviewing with… everything you do and say it’s part of the interview… number two, never, never, ever swear, use cuss words especially the “F bomb” in an interview setting…

Now I know there are folks out there that will say, “well, I’d never do that… I can’t believe anybody would do that… etc.” but it does happen… people get relaxed in the interviewing environment and often say all kinds of stupid things… I have had candidates get so relaxed they talked about their recent acrimonious divorce, their drug rehab, they’re overcoming depression even they are DWI’s (… that, of course, were justified)

Please, please, please think about everything you say in an interview… anything and everything you say will be taken to heart and you will be judged by it..

…optimism bias

This is the psychological term and condition that causes a person to believe that they are at less of a risk of experiencing a bad outcome than most, and more likely to believe that they are luckier than most to have a positive outcome… This bias shows up in all kinds of issues, for instance, most smokers believe they are a lot less likely to get cancer from smoking than other smokers… the vast majority of drivers think that they are in the top 20% of quality drivers…most people think they’re less likely to be crime victims than they really are…

This is relevant to job seekers because 90%  of the job seekers I have interviewed since 1973…over 26,000 of them…and 60% of them were employed…all thought it was gonna be a lot easier to find a job than it was and is… all began their job search  thinking and saying, “this is gonna be easy…never had a problem before…everyone needs a great employee like me…look at all of the promotions I have had…how great my track record has been…my neighbor (…cousin, brother..etc.) got a job real easily, and he is a jerk, so this will be easy…” then they often follow it up with, “…so I took a few weeks…months…off ’cause I hadn’t had a real  vacation in a while…”

Then they start looking for a job…or doing some minor efforts toward that and find out that the market is very difficult… more difficult than they even imagined… reality sets in and they realized that they should have started a full-court press in looking for a job two or three months earlier…

Another form of this optimism bias has to do with people’s attitude towards interviewing… I hear this a number of times every week, “Tony, just get me in front of them, I’ll nail the interview… I’m really good it.” Anytime a candidate tells me that, I’m worried… interviewing is a difficult thing to do… very few people do it well naturally without a lot of practice… after a few big time rejection, humility and reality normally set in…

Optimism bias in the job search can manifest itself in many other ways and all of them are treacherous to the job seeker… the best way to avoid optimism bias is to approach looking for a job with absolutely no expectations, a slight bit of paranoia and the realization that it is going to be hard and the job seeker has to start working at their job search immediately… I’ve seen six recessions come and go and I assure you the job market is never quite the same every time…A job seeker can’t confuse the last time he or she changed jobs with today’s market

Rather than being “optimistic,”  I suggest a job seekers should be “hopeful” and then work like hell by working a systematic process like I teach.

… feedback

It was Ken Blanchard who stated that feedback is the breakfast of champions, and this couldn’t be more true for a candidate in the job search process… I can’t tell you the number of times a week  I ask a candidate who has been on an interview with one of my clients if they asked, “how do I stack up with the other candidates you interviewed?… what do I need to do to get the job?”… Even though my coaching and our online interviewing course,  www.thejobsearchsolution.com, preaches and teaches these essential questions, even experienced candidates don’t seem to do it…

The excuses I hear for not asking either or both of these questions, is basically this lack of courage.  This is ridiculous…. People say things to me like, “well it just didn’t seem appropriate”… or “we ran out of time and or, I didn’t get a chance to ask him”…  I hear any kind of cockamamie excuse you can imagine for simply not having the guts to ask for FEEDBACK!!!

You gotta ask an interviewing authority, “how am I doing?…how do I stack up with the others that you’ve spoken to?…”  Feedback, feedback, feedback… you gotta get it…

I know it takes courage and I know you run the risk of being rejected right there on the spot…for example  “well, you really don’t have what we’re looking for”… or… “I just don’t like you and I like other candidates better”…but you gotta ask…remember “no” is the second best answer you can get

Getting feedback is especially important if, after the whole interviewing cycle, you don’t get hired… you’ve got to do your best to call or write the hiring authority and simply ask why you didn’t get hired… you can ask it in a really nice way, something like, “I really appreciate the opportunity to have interviewed with you and your firm… I know that I would’ve made a great employee and I would still love to work at your company. I understand that you’ve chosen someone that you think might be a better and I respect that. Please, do me a favor and explain to me what I might have done better or differently in order to get the job. Please give me honest feedback on my interviewing. Any help you might give me will help me in other interviews.” Don’t hesitate to ask for this kind of feedback two or three times if you don’t get a response after the first request.

Most interviewing and hiring authorities are nice people and they’re willing to give you that kind of feed if you simply ask. But you’ve got to ask!

Feedback is one of the most important ways that you can get better in your job search.

… mark and sally

Mark and Sally work at the same company… their company is known for a rather strange, mercurial CEO  who changes his mind fairly often, has a rather adversarial environment for people, and yet it is a fairly successful company… most employees don’t stay very long, maybe two or three years even though the company pays very well… on paper the company is very successful but it is known for being a very difficult place to work…

One of the company’s competitors was expanding and wanted to meet both Mark and Sally and try to hire one or both  if they could… so we recruited both of them and set up interviews…neither Sally nor Mark knew the other was interviewing

Sally was the top performer of the company and our client was very anxious to speak with her… she, too,was very excited about the interview… however, when she got there she started “explaining” about the lousy place she in which she was working …the CEO changes his mind every month… we never know where we are … I make a lot of money, but it’s a crazy place to work… the only people who stay are just as wacky as the CEO and I can’t wait to leave…it is just a crazy place to work“… she went on and on about the company, the job, and the people…. near the end of the interview she started speaking about her track record, which was excellent and how successful she has been and is.  Admittedly, our client was impressed…but her attitude about her present company overrode her presentation of herself.

When Mark interviewed, he took different approach… he said things along the lines of, “…our place is a rather interesting place to work, to say the least, but it is a very gratifying experience… even though it’s  a challenge, I have performed well and I have learned a ton… the CEO is one of the smartest guys that I’ve ever run into and even though he’s a bit erratic, he has given me a tremendous opportunity and I have really appreciated it… the only reason for leaving is to find a better opportunity for me and provide well for my family…”

Well, guess who got hired…it wasn’t Sally… even though Sally had a much better track record than Mark.  Our client just didn’t like how much she’d badmouthed her present company… everybody in their market knows how goofy the CEO is and how difficult a place it is to work, but Mark simply handled it better than Sally.

The truth is that Sally is a much better performer than Mark … but our client just didn’t like the comments Sally made… so they hired Mark..

Lesson:  Don’t ever, ever, ever badmouth your present or past employer.  Whatever you say about the company you are working with now or have worked with in the past, the people who you are currently interviewing , will assume you are going to eventually say the same things about them…it can cost you a job and a career…

…humility

So you say, “Well Tony, you have been telling me to sell myself really hard. So, how can I be humble doing that?”

There is a big difference between selling yourself in a “bodacious, chip on your shoulder attitude” or an attitude of “confidence and humility…”

It’s the difference between “I’m a stud…or studette .. and you should hire me because I know what I’m doing.”  “Give me a good reason why I should go to work here…and, you’re gonna be lucky to have me!”…or  “I’ve been blessed with many attributes  and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had good mentors.  Fortunate also to get the chance to apply those attributes and to be in the kinds of places that have given me a chance to perform well and grow.”

The idea is to sell your skills… one way to do it is to take on a prideful, egotistical attitude and the other is to take on, well, a humble attitude… there’s a big difference.

People appreciate and respect humility… many times when a job candidate is in an emotionally distrustful state, they can be overaggressive and egotistical in their presentation…this is usually a defense mechanism…

Real confidence communicates real humility.

…”we need you to meet the team”

This quote by hiring authority is usually followed by a statement like “… It really doesn’t matter what they think or what they say about you, we just like to get their opinion since you’d be working with them”..DON’T BELIEVE THIS LIE!…

The team is usually a group of five or six people who are peers to the person being hired… the  manager read some management book somewhere and came up with the idea of  “wouldn’t it be nice if all of the people in the group talked to the candidate to see if they might all get along”… there is no proof that this kind of step in the interviewing process helps hire a better candidate…in fact,  it usually has more of a negative impact than a positive one… the idea is that everybody will get a chance to meet the candidate…kumbya!

What really happens is, if the “team” or some member of the team doesn’t like the candidate or, more importantly, is threatened by the candidate, they won’t outright say they wouldn’t hire the candidate or they don’t like him or her, they’ll say things like  “well, I’m not sure they’ll fit in”… or… “I don’t really know…” or something pejorative like that… the truth is that these people do have something to say about who gets hired… no matter what any hiring authority says, they are going to listen to the input of the “team’…

The truth is, that this whole exercise is a waste of time at best and detrimental at worst.  A month or so ago, I had a candidate with a stellar background and 15 years of experience… he went to the “team” meeting/interview and some 22-year-old kid who had only been with the company six months… the same amount of time he had been out of college. He asked my candidate, in front of five other people “what motivates you?”… my candidate simply looked at the kid and after a long pause, clearly expressing his being relatively insulted, said something like, “my family”… needless to say the candidate was not impressed with the interviewing process and refused to go back to the company even though they thought he was a great candidate…Interestingly, the hiring authority was so upset with the result, he decided to quit organizing the “team” meeting step in the interviewing process…amen!

If you, as a candidate, are faced with this insanity, you can’t call it that… you’d best realize that these people do have something to say about you getting hired and you better play it cool… do not take the meeting for granted… realize that it is a real interview…

Most of the time these “interviews” become more conversational with the candidate and in that conversation the most important thing you can do is to ask the ‘team,’  both as a group and individually, about themselves…about what they like about the company, why they work there, etc… Engage with them as much as possible and get them to talk about their favorite subject… themselves…

What you’re really trying to do here is to at least “neutralize” their opinions and maybe get them to wildly support you… obviously I don’t think highly of these encounters but what I think doesn’t mean a fig  to hiring authorities… there are lots of things that I think are absurd in the interview and hiring process.  But, what I think, doesn’t matter…

Be prepared to “meet the team”… remember, it is an interview… treat it seriously

…jim

I knew Jim for about 15 years… he had been a candidate on and off over the years.. he had an absolutely stellar career with a major software vendor. …in the upper 1% or 2% of the sales organization and even reached the first level of  management …there were years where he earned as much is $500,000  and was recognized as one of the BEST

About two years ago he lost his job and was out of work for a year… It just seemed that he could never get it together… He really wasn’t trying to find a job very hard because he would drop out of sight for a few months at a time… After a long period of unemployment, he called and said that he’d gotten his life back together and was ready to go to work… He did tell me that he had lost his wife and his family to divorce; but  he was back on his feet again and ready to do whatever he had to do..

I checked with a couple of people to validated that he was back on his feet , then I began the search to find him a job… In fact, I did find him employment: however he was on the job for little better than a week and my clients found out that he did not have a valid drivers license so they let him go… he had too many DWI’s and his life was a mess…that was about 10 months ago and I kind of lost track of him…

Then just the other day, one of our mutual friends called to tell me that Jim had overdosed on crack cocaine and was dead… he died in some flophouse…

Jim was in his late 50’s… had a good career… I’m always amazed and befuddled as to how these kinds of things happen… I have dealt with lots of people since 1973 and I never quite understand what happens when people go off in this direction…. Is it a wrong turn that they made in their life… Is it some kind of chemical imbalance that all of a sudden takes control… Is it mental, emotional or physical…

This kind of thing isn’t only sad… it makes you stop and just wonder… we get so wrapped up in the day-to-day issues of making a living, finding a job or raising our children or going about our lives and this kind of thing is shocking…

So, if  you read this because you need a job or know someone who does, put things in perspective…pray for Jim’s soul…pray for the thousands who must be tortured this way…PRAY… But by the grace of God go all of us…

…nursing a rock

this is my metaphor for what people do… or should I say, don’t do… in their job search…

Instead of keeping constantly active in making calls, making presentations of themselves, getting interviews, going on as many interviews as they possibly can and doing follow-up interviews, etc., they “nurse a rock”.

Examples of  “nursing a rock”  are things like getting an interview for a few days in the future and then doing nothing at all until the interview…or having a number of interviews with one firm and waiting, hoping and wishing for an offer…instead of taking more massive action by getting other interviews…

Job seekers spend an enormous amount of emotional energy as well as time “nursing rocks“… waiting, hoping, and wishing about things and events that they can do nothing about it… don’t fall prey to this… I know it’s easier to wish and hope and pray than it is to take massive action, to pick up the phone and try to get a new interview or follow up on the resume you sent or call back on an opportunity that you interviewed  for…

You really can’t “nurse a rock”… it leads to frustration and disappointment… if you spend your time taking actions you can control, and stop wasting time and emotion on things out of your control you actually create so many opportunities for a job offer you are not dependent on any one or two opportunities

…forgiveness

I heard a great sermon on forgiveness…how important it is spiritually, psychologically, even physically…every major faith teaches forgiveness because it doesn’t come naturally or easily…

Once you get the hang of it..and it may not be easy to practice, it is amazing how much better you feel about yourself..not just the other person ..but yourself…

How does this effect your job search??..Well, if you are like most job seekers, you have been lied to…and told you were going to be hired…interviewed…and gotten back to…encouraged, etc. only to be left with no answers…silence…no communication..

You sent your resume to a job posting you are ‘PERFECT’ for…one of your friends said he or she would get you an “Interview” with their company and they don’t… one of your old bosses interviewed you and says he’d like to hire you, but doesn’t… you get the idea…

The human tendency is to get mad and angry at the folks who communicated this..you were hurt, already psychologically down and then you are lied to…

I know it is hard…but you’ve got to FORGIVE…the sooner you forgive all of this stuff, the faster you can move forward effectively with a clear focus on the future …focusing on the things you need to do to get hired without the emotional drain of resentment and anger…

So, practice…right now, write down all the people who have hurt you recently…now, forgive them…then let it go…forgive and let it go…forgive and let it go..

You will feel better and be more focused on what needs to be done..