ego…a mistake of the intellect…also of interviewing

Just read a great book, Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. It chronicles ancient as well as modern historical disasters as a result of leaders’ big egos. It reminded me of the Sanskrit quote that, “ego is a mistake of the intellect.”

It also reminded me of the interviewing situation… on both sides of the desk. All of us will admit that there are some pretty phenomenally big egos out there in business. Some people feel that in order to be successful they have to be the center of attention. For whatever inadequacy they may have in their personality makeup, they feel the best way to offset their inadequacy is to be particularly egotistical. (I worked with the hiring authority some years back who actually told candidates that his job was to hire people to make “him look good.” And it would be their job to do the same.)

Many job candidates feel as though they must assert their ego in the interviewing situation. “After all,” they say, “if I don’t toot my own horn in the interview, no one will pay attention to me.” And hiring authorities often want to communicate that they are just that, the “authority.” These kind of managers are phenomenally difficult to interview with, much less work for. And, frankly, there is very little a candidate can do about it when interviewing. If you’re a job candidate, and you are offered the opportunity to work with such a person, you’d best ask a lot of questions of the people who presently work there  to see if you can work for this kind of personality. Sometimes, managers come across much more egotistically in the interviewing environment than they really are. Often, this kind of ego can be worked “with” rather than “for.”

As a job candidate, however, there is a great deal you can do about taming your ego. There’s a really big difference between having a healthy ego and a big ego. A person with a healthy ego puts their accomplishments in the light of how they helped their previous company or their previous customers succeed. They couch their successes in terms of others rather than themselves. You hear them using the terms “we” and “fortunate,” and “blessed” as well as “the team” and “great clients.” They connect their successes of the past to the great mentors they had. They recall their “wins” with the same humility as their experience of failure. They put failure in the context of what they learned and take full, personal responsibility for outcomes. They focus on process rather than results. They take what they do seriously but not themselves too seriously. They accept failure as well as success with the same grateful attitude. They sell their strengths with humility and readily admit their weaknesses with humor and a smile.

Many candidates, because they are nervous and anxious about interviewing, go overboard in the ego department. Because they are nervous and insecure they feel compelled to push what “they” have done. “I…I…I…” becomes their mantra.

Interviewing in this manner takes practice.

… “Well, I could see it coming, but I still can’t believe it”

The, I heard this week from a candidate who got laid off… Three months ago. He lamented that for the past six months is job, he was able to “see it coming” but for some reason thought he could dodge the inevitable. Upon asking him how his interviewing was going, he said that he really only had three or four and they had gone that well. He said that he was probably spending too much time talking about his previous job and how he had seen the writing on the wall. He did spend an inordinate amount of time talking about what he “should have seen coming.”

A case could be made that one of the reasons, if not more, that he should have not been hired was that he wasn’t smart enough to see the layoff coming. I mean, he kept talking about how stupid he was not to see it coming. After all, if he’s Not that bright maybe he isn’t a very good businessperson. Well, I’m being cynical and that’s not fair. He actually is a very bright guy, with a very good track record. I advised him, however that although he may that shipments coming he only needed to do it once in an interview and then go on and sell himself, trying to get the job.

The truth is that most of us can be in a company for lots of reasons is laying off and letting people go for some reason we have this invincible attitude that, “it won’t happen to me.” It is wishful thinking so we stick our heads in the sand and then become totally shocked when our number comes up and lament, “I should’ve seen it coming.”

Looking for a job as a first-class pain in the butt, especially when you have one. No one likes to look for a job, if you have a job, it’s like having a second one. It is dreadful. It is so dreadful, folks just simply deny what they see. The psychological term is called “inattentional blindness.” (Google the video.) The medical term is ‘scotoma.” In situations like this, folks just plain don’t want to admit or “see” that they need to change jobs before the layoff catches up to them.What makes things even worse is that not only do they miss the coming exit but feel doubly stupid for getting caught with their pants down. No one likes getting laid off, but you really feel dumb when you could, “see it coming all along” and do nothing about it when you first got the inkling.

So here’s the lesson: Start looking for a job  before you desperately need one, before you get laid off, before you find yourself saying, “I could see it coming…but I just can’t believe it”



…top 10 mistakes managers make in interviewing and hiring

I have been through literally thousands of hiring processes. And I am often asked about the biggest and most frequent mistakes hiring authorities make in the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process. So much time and effort is spent discussing mistakes that candidates make that it is really easy to forget that hiring authorities make just as many mistakes in the process. Here they are:

1. Not having a clear idea of what they are looking for. . . that everyone understands. Hiring authorities often aren’t specific enough about the duties, skills and competencies they need. They confuse amount of experience with competency…”8 to 10 years of experience.”Does that mean someone with six years of experience can’t do the job? Or what about the candidate that has had one year of experience ten times. Putting any kind of numbers of years of experience limits them. What is important? Employers would be better off defining the functions they
want done very specifically, and then finding someone who can do it. This may mean someone who has done it well before or someone who has the potential to do it well. The specifics need to be written by the hiring authority that has the “pain,” i.e. the person who needs the help and
is going to be responsible for the new employee. Concocting “wish lists” of superhuman attributes and unrealistically low pay scales relative to expectations of the experience needed will create havoc in a talent search. Hazy, ambiguous descriptions along with generalities like “good written and oral communication skills” don’t help either. Know your target.

2. Having an unrealistic idea of what kind of candidates might be available and the money it may take to hire them. Just because everyone would like to hire Superman or Wonder Woman doesn’t mean they are available or will go to work at your company. There is no perfect candidate and waiting for one is as unrealistic as searching for one. The only way to become realistic about what the market might bear is to interview enough candidates to know what is available and the commensurate earnings expected. It may take quite a number of interviews. The number of quality candidates is drastically lower than it was a few years ago. Our clients are often shocked that the salaries they are locked into won’t allow them to
hire the quality or experience they wish for. And just because you believe that your company is
wonderful, doesn’t mean: (1) everyone wants to go to work there, (2) they will accept any amount you offer, and (3) there aren’t four or five other firms like yours trying to hire the same candidates.

3. Too many people involved in the interviewing process. . . and the wrong ones. More than a few studies have shown that hiring is just as successful when one person, the one with the “pain,” (i.e. the direct manager) is the only person involved in the hiring process as opposed
to more than one. In fact, other studies have shown that once the number of people in the interviewing and hiring process exceeds three, the probability of a bad hire is greater. The reason so many people are usually involved in the interviewing and hiring process is that people, naturally, want to spread the risk. So, if it turns out too be a poor hire, people can justify their decision with, “Well, you interviewed him too!” Few people have
the courage to interview and hire alone and take the responsibility one way or the other, even though better hiring decisions would probably be made.
. . . and the wrong ones. Relying on people to screen, interview or have a say in the hiring process who have no personal, working benefit from the potential new hire’s performance (i.e. their position is in jeopardy if a poor hire is made) is a big mistake. Most managers
will claim that hiring good people is the second or third most important function they have, right behind making a profit. If this is so, we can never figure out why
hiring authorities will delegate screening or interviewing of candidates to other people who may be wonderful people but have no direct experience, knowledge, or
“skin” in the position to be filled. “But I don’t have time to look at resumes and interview all those people,” is what we hear. Well, if hiring is one of a manager’s most
important functions, he or she should take the time and effort to do the whole job from start to finish. How can they afford not to?

4. Process takes too long. The average manager thinks that it takes about 30 days to fill a vacant position. Try the truth . . . between 90 and 120! Why? Because folks drag things out that should be simple . . . not easy, but simple. When the hiring process takes too long, good candidates are lost to more decisive companies, managers look inept at hiring and it gets harder and harder to fill the vacancy. Managers, again, often don’t give hiring the high-priority status that is needed . . . shown by action, not lip service. Time kills! The “shelf life” of quality candidates is shorter and shorter.

5. Poor interviewing techniques. If hiring authorities would simply write out a simple ( . . . or complicated) list of questions and ask every candidate the same questions, record the answers and compare each candidate’s responses in a timely manner, hiring decisions would be
easy to make. “Tell me about yourself,” is the first question down the wrong road. Most employers start with that, ask random questions to “get to know the candidate,” make notes on
the resumes and then, three weeks later try to compare the candidates. They often spend hours with candidates and don’t remember the differences between them.
A structured, disciplined interview technique that is applied to every candidate in exactly the same manner is the only real way to compare candidates. It is so simple
and yet so seldom practiced. (We have samples of structured interviews for the asking.)

6. Interviewing or not interviewing a candidate based on the resume! 40% of hiring a person is based on personality and chemistry! Then why do people rely on resumes instead of interviews? Because they don’t know how to use a resume. I can’t tell you how many phenomenal candidates get eliminated because of a resume and how many poor performers get interviewed because of a well written resume. “But I can’t interview every resume I get!” OK,
right. But if a candidate even looks like a possibility of being a good one, at least pick up the phone and spend 15 or 20 minutes with him or her. Or, better yet, spend 30 minutes face to face with them. Get a quick take on who they are and what they can do. Do this with a number of candidates. You can then thoroughly interview the ones that are the best for your situation. This method is quick and efficient, but it takes discipline . . . no more than 30minutes on the first one! Hiring authorities and screeners put way too much emphasis on what is on a resume. They try to judge the total quality of a candidate by a resume. A resume is a “go by.” It should simply define a candidate as a “possibility” . . . and a broad possibility at that. The interviews have to be the qualifiers. People who “qualify” a candidate and decide how he or she is going to perform should read Tony Romo’s resume . . . a nobody . . . or Kurt Warner . . . a bagger at a grocery store . . . or Abe Lincoln . . . many failures. Don’t rely on resumes!

7. Not interviewing enough candidates . . . or interviewing way too many. Most hiring managers err on the “too few” end of the spectrum. “I want to talk to the three best candidates!” . . . ”I don’t have time to talk to everybody!” No one person other than a hiring authority can
tell who is “best.” Three or four is usually too few. The “bell curve” for most professional hires is about nine or ten candidates. This, of course, depends on the level of job and the availability of certain types of candidates. The key is to know what kind of availability there is in the marketplace for the kind of person being sought. Our banking division, for instance, may be lucky to find three or four qualified V.P.’s at any one time. A mid-level sales position may require ten or twelve candidates. Even recruiting a number of quality candidates for administrative
positions that traditionally would yield many quality candidates isn’t as easy to do in this market. The key is to interview a range of quality candidates and know what is available. If you want to wait for superman or superwoman, we guess that’s OK. It just depends on how badly you need to hire someone. Just be sure you know, first hand, the quality of candidates who are on the market, and the only way to do that is by personally interviewing the necessary number of available candidates. The other end of the spectrum is the hiring authority who wants to interview forever, thinking unrealistically that the quality of candidates will get better as more are interviewed and more time passes. All too often, we hear from hiring authorities, “We have interviewed 20, 25 or 30 candidates.” There is something wrong here. They exhaust themselves in a “process,” forgetting the result. . . and then complain about it. It doesn’t yield a good employee. They confuse activity with productivity. Interview the number of candidates necessary. Don’t make the mistake on either end of the spectrum.

8. Not communicating with candidates after interviews and not giving honest feedback. For some reason, certain hiring authorities don’t mind being rude . . . even to candidates they are interested in hiring. Everyone is busy. The truth is, to a candidate looking for a job, whether
presently employed or not, finding a job is the very highest priority. To a currently-employed interviewer, in spite of the lip service paid to the importance of hiring, it is simply one of their functions. Hiring is a risk. Most employers don’t really like doing it. So the process often
gets postponed, sloppy and rather unprofessional. As the market tightens, quality candidates will have many suitors. A good candidate will simply lose interest in a possibly good opportunity if they are treated rudely. We have had many candidates elect to pursue specific opportunities simply because they were treated with respect and courtesy. Also, if the candidate isn’t going to be considered, he or she should be told as soon as possible. We are amazed at
how frequently a candidate can’t get their call (or calls) returned . . . just to find out if the company has found a more suitable candidate. We never know when a lack of courtesy will come back to haunt us. Years ago, I had a candidate who was rudely ignored by a hiring authority. A few years later, the roles were reversed. The ignored  candidate was now the hiring authority and when I tried to get him to see my candidate (the hiring authority who
had once ignored him), my client laughed and said “no” with a vengeful glee. He remembered how he had been treated. What goes around often comes around.

9. Not selling the job and the company. Although this isn’t the biggest mistake hiring authorities make, it is certainly the most prevalent one. We can never figure out why, in trying to find the best talent available, some hiring authorities act as though they are doing someone a favor by granting them the privilege of an interview. They act as if they have the only job on the planet and candidates are begging to work there. Wrong! Good candidates will have
many choices. The days of the early 2000’s, when there were endless numbers of candidates, are gone. The company and the hiring authorities that sell their job the most effectively will hire the best talent. It is a candidate driven market. We can also forget lowball offers, poor benefits or a “take it or leave it” attitude when making an offer.

10. Not having “back up” candidates. This means continuing to interview even though a great candidate may have been found. In fact, we recommend having three great candidates in the queue.  As happens too often, a hiring authority zeroes in onone candidate, and as the interviewing process drags on (see #4) the hiring authority quits interviewing because it is a pain. They get to the end of the process, make an offer and it isn’t accepted. The frustration of having to start all over again is astounding. So, the solution is to keep interviewing until someone is hired . . . and has started the job. We simply expect that a good candidate
is going to get multiple offers.

10 (a) Not firing a new hire when the hiring is obviously a mistake. This is a tough mistake to make. Everyone wants to see a new employee to make it. But too often, cutting the new hire too much slack because they are new is a mistake. The numbers of failed new hires we have seen that were let go or quit six or seven months after their hiring, with the hiring authority complaining, “I saw it in the first week!” would make us all cry. It becomes disruptive to the business, it destroys the chemistry of the employees working with the new hire, and worst of all, everyone can detect it, but the hiring authority chooses to overlook it. Respect for the hiring authority diminishes and eventually the new employee leaves or is fired. The solution adopted by the best hiring authorities is to keep new employees in line in the very beginning, even “over manage” a bit. If disregard for company policies or poor work habits (like showing up late, missing work, or having numerous “personal” problems) emerge in the first fewweeks of employment, it isn’t going to get any better. Besides, the “honeymoon” isn’t even over. There is a big difference between “rookie” mistakes and poor work habits, low integrity, bad manners
or serious personal problems that impinge on work. Even the most rigorous interviewing
process and extensive reference, background and credit checking can’t prevent this from happening. One of the most successful hiring authorities we worked with years ago had a great philosophy.He was the most successful general manager of a nationwide insurance company. And he achieved that for 15 years in a row. He managed 110 people, directly and indirectly. He told me one time that he wasn’t successful because he hired better people than the other GM’s around the country. The difference was that he fired people “when he first got the inkling.” He simply didn’t waste his time on people he knew weren’t going to make it. The sense of when to fire a new employee is personal. Good mangers know when to do it. Hire carefully but fire quickly! If a bad hire is made, eliminate them quickly. The hiring authority will
look like a true manager and everyone is better off.

….”I lost the job because of”…. Comey… lessons from the election

A few weeks ago we pondered Donald Trump’s bombastic style of “interviewing” in the debates. Obviously, it didn’t matter that his style in the debates wasn’t the best to “land the job.” Obviously, a person can have even a number of bad interviews and still get hired.

Now comes one of the most common interviewing excuses of all time. What’s so amazing about this excuse is that I hear it at least three or four times a week, maybe even more. It is the excuse that, “I didn’t get the job because of someone else.” In Sec. Clinton’s case, she was blaming James Comey for her losing the election. Last week, I had three candidates that didn’t get a job because, in their words, “my last boss was an idiot”… “I couldn’t find my references fast enough”… “I know I didn’t sell myself very well, but they should know that I’ve got a job and they should come after me if they want me.”

There are literally thousands of excuses every day of why people don’t get hired. Unfortunately, 99% of them involved blaming other people. A month or two ago I had a candidate tell me that he didn’t interview very well because he had to take their dog to the vet before the interview and he was distracted by the dog’s illness (….the dog’s fault). Don’t laugh, over the years I’ve heard things like, “I couldn’t find a parking spot (… so I was 20 minutes late)”… “My spouse and I had a fight night before,”… “I stayed up too late watching the ballgame and didn’t get enough sleep”… “I fell asleep in the lobby, waiting for the interviewer because their music was so relaxing.” I could go on with reasons you wouldn’t believe, but rarely does anybody say, “you know I didn’t get the job because I just totally messed up… and next time I’ll do better!”

I guess it’s human nature to want to blame someone else when you don’t get hired or when the outcomes of an event don’t go in your favor. But it’s always best to look within yourself and ask, “what did I do to go wrong here?” There are boatloads of people, this week, who are speculating where Hillary went wrong and lost the election. In spite of all of the phenomenal number of excuses that there are… like, just not paying attention to the real folks in this country… the only thing we’ve heard from Hillary herself, yesterday, is that she’s blaming James Comey. Instead of turning to her party and saying, “here’s where I messed up…” she’s blaming someone else.

Here’s the lesson: we may not be able to control what happens to us. But we can control how we respond to it. If we respond to what happens to us by blaming other people instead of asking ourselves what we could have done to be better, we will perpetuate our “losing.” If we admit our mistakes and take responsibility for what we could have done better we grow to not only become better at the task but also as better people.


…make your bed

When you’re looking for a job, especially when you’re looking full time, there is a tendency to gradually lose the discipline of a steady, systematic, process oriented job search. Looking for a job is in emotionally stressful thing to do. We mentioned it often but, next to death of a spouse, death of a parent and death of a child, coupled with divorce, the most emotionally stressful thing we do is look for a job. This becomes even more difficult when a person has been fired or let go unexpectedly. Instead of immediately taking massive action and developing a systematic, process oriented job search, often people “take a break.”

People, in this situation, because they are emotionally thrown off, just aren’t ready, they say, to start looking for a job. It’s just simply easier to take time off, go visit family, play little golf, fix up the house… anything, except look for a job. And unfortunately, the longer one goes postponing a disciplined job-search, the harder it is to do. It’s not uncommon for this kind of thing to happen in the job-search to get postponed for weeks, even months.

I will admit that it’s really hard the day after you get canned, to wake up and enthusiastically say, “this is a great day to start a new job search. I’m so glad it arrived!” And then sit down and develop a systematic plan to find a job, develop a call list of people who might hire you, start making appointments, develop an interview script, practice it and have a real positive attitude towards looking for a job.

One of the first things to go, especially in an unexpected job-search, is personal discipline. So, I recommend to people that they begin, as fast as they can, to structure their day with his much discipline as possible. If people begin discipline with the little things, then it is easy to discipline themselves to do the big things, like making appointments, practice interviewing, etc. This means to begin every day with discipline. Wake up at the same time every day, make your bed, dress as though you were going to a job, get to your desk and go to work. The more disciplined person is, especially in the very beginning of their job search, the better they do at the job search and, usually, it’s a much shorter duration of unemployment.

It is really easy to dismiss this kind of thing, and say, “Tony, come on, this doesn’t make that big a difference.” Well, yes it does! When it comes to an emotionally challenging activity, like finding a job, everything makes a difference. The more disciplined a person is in the little things the easier it is for them to be disciplined in the big things.

So, make your bed!

… “there is no loyalty!”

unfortunately, I hear this comment… from both candidates and clients quite often. Candidates use the statement to explain why they left certain companies and moved to another one, even after a short period of time. Employers use it to condemn candidates for changing jobs too many times. Ironically enough, they’re both right.

In 1973, when I got into this profession, the average company in the United States was 59 years old. In 2014 average age of a company was 12 years old. More companies come and go faster than they ever in the history of our economy. More companies are shut down and more people lose their jobs with either short notice or no notice at all than has ever happened. In the past 20 years the idea of “employment for life” with a company has gone the way of the $100,000 fax machine.

Back in those days, companies hired people implying that even through difficult times, the company would do their best to keep employees. They even offered employees opportunities to take pay cuts during tough times…even the leaders…with the promise that when the economy and business came back around, the levels of pay would be restored. There was a “we’re all in this together” attitude. Management shared with employees the ‘state’ of the company. Even when companies laid people off, they often promised to hire them back when times got better…and did. There seemed to be empathy and understanding for everyone. Even folks who were laid off, understood. (if you’re old enough to remember,  IBM hired people “for life.”)

It seems to me, and i have done no research on this, that after the last two recessions things have changed. Companies come and go faster, as mentioned above, and there is more of a callousness toward their employees. The avreage company life span is just below two business cycles. with the vast majority of companies in the United States (98%) having less than 100 people, profit margins got slimmer, business cycles got narrower, things like the dot-com bust, 9/11 and the financial collapse seemed to impact all businesses faster than ever. Regulations and taxes have further burdened even small businesses. Not only do business managers need to be persevering forward but they also are looking over their shoulder wondering “what’s going to happen next.” (Even IBM had to lay people off.) The average 40-year-old in the United States has changed jobs 10 times, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and they  also tell us average professional in the United States Is going to change careers 5 to 7 times in their work life.

It appears to me that the faster technology grows, the more volatility there is with both employers and employees. In generations past, people went to work in the mines, on the farms and in the railroads and the factories for life. As technology advanced the necessity for these people diminished, replaced by fewer, more cognitive workers. Diodes and resistor gave way to the manufacturing of the chip. Technology got faster and job tenure got shorter. Look at what big data is doing to our businesses now. It’s made everybody even more nervous.

this hypersensitivity and skittishness on the part of business owners and managers transfers to the people that work at their company. Since business owners and managers don’t feel secure, employees don’t feel secure. Even the managers of these companies, close to the owners are constantly wondering what’s going to happen. It’s not that people don’t want to trust each other, it’s that everyone is afraid  to trust each other. So, employers are not trusted by their employees to be looking out for them and employers don’t trust their employees that they are looking out for them. Everyone feels like that the other guy is only looking out for himself.

Understanding this environment has its unintended consequences. No longer can management go to the employees and say, “look where having a really difficult time. We’re going to have to cut back on salaries for a while and of course expenses. We would like everybody to understand and pitch in any way they can. But we’ll get through this and we will all be better and stronger for it. Obviously, we will make this up to the folks that help us when we come out of this situation.” Understanding the business environment today, every member of that company would start looking for a job the very next day. This business environment creates the feeling on the part of employees that they are “expendable” and they can be let go and any time, so they don’t mind leaving where they are at the drop of a hat, before (they perceive) they will get let go at the drop of a hat.

So, companies don’t feel any loyalty on the part of their employees, because the employees don’t feel any loyalty on the part of their employer. It’s a vicious cycle. Companies, then, don’t hesitate to let people go with no notice any employees don’t hesitate to leave with practically no notice. Employees will often leave their employment, even after a short time for a job that offers even a little more money because, their attitude is, “well, I never know when I’m going to get laid off so I need to make the most money that I can as fast as I can and get while the getting is good.”

There’s no telling which came first, the chicken or the egg. It’s one thing certain, there just simply isn’t any loyalty. Some people might say, “well it’s just better that way!… everybody knows where the other guy stands.!”

We can do it this way. We can all operate under distrust. It’s really not a good way to do it, but we can. There just isn’t much loyalty.


… No, no, don’t do that, Joseph!!!

Joseph has been with this company for about two years. He’d been on his last job for five years in the job before that, ten. He was first line manager at a pretty aggressive company and had followed a friend of his to the company that he had worked for a number of years earlier. Trusting his friend, when he took the job he may be didn’t get as detailed of an idea of how the compensation plan worked. He trusted his friend I was anxious to go to work for him, and the new company seemed reasonable enough with some positive nuances that his old company didn’t have.

First-line managers jobs are often the most difficult. Those blessed souls have all kinds of responsibility, not a lot of authority and, especially in sales don’t make anywhere near the money that salespeople can make. The influence that these people may have over their earnings isn’t anywhere near as great as it was when they were on first-line. This is especially true in sales but also in other professions.

After about the first eight months of his employment Joseph started realizing that the compensation program wasn’t quite “as advertised.” There were a lot of “if, ands and buts” in the fine lines of his earnings agreement and unless the planets aligned perfectly he was never going to make within $50,000 of what he had made in last job that he left. That’s when he started getting a little irritated.

He loved the job and loved the people, though. He had more responsibility than he had before. He knew when he joined the company that there were some ‘challenges,’ but he just knew he could overcome them and do well. Then his duties expanded and, in his case, his quota went up but his compensation program didn’t. He found out that it was really hard to fire people at this company and almost a lot harder to hire people. Then a “hand tieing”  policy for absolutely everything and it seemed like the corporate counsel just about ran the company.

Joseph’s region quickly became the number one region in the country and although he was getting all kinds of accolades, i.e. name recognition in the corporate newspaper, a really nice engraved watch and recognition (applause) at the corporate meeting… It wasn’t affecting his pocket book one bit. At first, he voiced his concern to his erstwhile friend, boss. But as time went on his concern became frustration and then he became downright pissed off. His boss is a really good guy but he couldn’t do much about anything and he certainly couldn’t help Joseph make more money. The longer he worked there more frustrated he became.

So, the other day, Joseph told his boss, in a moment of anger that he just wasn’t going to take it any longer and he quit. Joseph was a client of ours, so he decided to come by and talk about it.

He admits that it was a moment of great emotion when they were having a discussion (argument) about his quote and how he was going to attain it. Joseph has a tremendous amount of emotion and passion and sometimes, gets in trouble.

He quit without a job. He weakly, rationalized the fact that he quit without a jobBy stating that, “I’ve never had trouble finding another job.” But the truth is the guy his only had three jobs in almost 20 years and every time he changed he went to work for somebody that was a “friend” of his. Joseph has absolutely no idea how difficult it is going to be for him to find a job. Hiring managers off the street only happens one out of eight times. The other seven times people are promoted from within, whether they deserve it or not. And in this economy there are fewer managers and there’s ever been. The shock of Joseph’s dilemma was beginning to set in.

Don’t get me wrong. Joseph is an excellent manager. The jobs like that are very, very, very rare. One can’t just raise their hand and say, “I’m ready,” and have the job appear. In between the lines, Joseph expressed, fallaciously, but most people think, that “there’s always a good place for a good manager.” Well this just isn’t so. If Joseph (and me) are fortunate enough to find the opening in his fairly narrow discipline of business, he will have a good chance. That’s a big “if.”

When I explained to him that this could go on for months, (I’m talking, 6 to 8 months) his eyes glazed over a bit. Joseph’s a really good guy and he might get lucky. But it would’ve been a lot more prudent to find a job before he left this one.

Here’s the lesson. No matter how pissed off and irritated you get, don’t leave your (lousy) job for you secured another one. You never know how long it’s going to take to find another one.

We will keep you posted as to how Joseph’s search is coming along.

…Trump’s Interviewing lessons…OMG


It was certainly painful to watch the presidential debate a week ago Monday. We can always learn from debates. If you’re old enough to remember the Kennedy/Nixon debates where candidate Kennedy looked so “presidential”, tanned and charismatic… and poor Mr. Nixon looked like he was hung over, or remembering Ronald Reagan’s comment about Walter Mondale’s youth and inexperience when asked if his age was going to be a problem, you realize that these debates have lots of lessons.

If Donald Trump had been in an interview for a job he wouldn’t get hired. (Please, please, don’t think I’m taking sides here. I’m of the opinion that it’s sad that we have such poor choices for this election.) It was clear that Mr. Trump did very little preparing for the debate. That’s his first big mistake.

I can’t tell you the number of times over the years that I have had candidates tell me that they really didn’t need to practice interviewing, that all I needed to do was get them the interview and they could wing it with no problem at all. In spite of my coaching and teaching these folks simply think they know better than that and they will have no problem and then they go into the interview and bumble it just like Mr. Trump did. When my candidates do this it’s easy for me to think, “Well, they don’t deserve the damn job” because they just didn’t go to the trouble to prepare”. They do what Mr. Trump did and rely on three or four “lip loads” and then keep repeating them over and over. They come up with a few facts that don’t appear to really know what they’re talking about. In short, they know exactly what questions are going to be asked but don’t practice the answers.

Now this guy is getting in another two chances, And for the country’s sake, we all hope he does better. But here are the major interviewing “mistakes” we can learn from:

  • Don’t scowl or look grumpy when being asked a question. Look at the person asking the question with empathy and interest… even if you’re pissed off. This is especially true when a male is interviewing with (or debating) a female. If you are a man, you can look mean and downright ugly to another man. But not to a woman. (Trump really had a problem here because he was being “interviewed” by a guy but debating a woman. I will admit that’s really hard to do.)
  • Don’t roll your eyes in contempt when another person is speaking. You look like a jerk.
  • Don’t interrupt the person asking the question. It’s rude.
  • Don’t interrupt the other person when they are speaking. It’s rude.
  • Be prepared with a number of topics you can bring up if you don’t like a particular question.
  • Learn how to “deflect” just a bit when you get a question that is meant to trap you.
  • There are going to be essentially 10 or 12 real solid questions that are going to be asked. You know what they are and even though they will be asked in a number of different ways, for goodness sakes, practice the damn answers. Again, you know what the questions are going to be. Prepare!!
  • Know when to be humble, for God’s sake. When someone tries to nail you about a mistake you made, admit it…don’t defend it. Everyone makes mistakes and they really don’t mind if you do, as long as you acknowledge it was a mistake and asked for  forgiveness. “Looking back on it, that was a mistake that I wish I hadn’t made.” That’s it! End of discussion. Let’s move on. If pressed about the mistake, again, simply acknowledge the mistake and maybe mention what you would’ve done differently. “Again that was an error of judgment. It was a mistake. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve…..”
  • Have a slight bit of a sense of humor. Smile once in a while. Act comfortable in your own skin, even if you’re not. Take what you say seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Or at least don’t come across that way.
  • When someone catches you off guard with a topic you are not even remotely ready for (when you should be), like Alicia Michado, shuuuuut up. Don’t say a word. Especially, don’t act surprised. Even if you didn’t expect the topic to come up or don’t even know what the other person’s talking about, don’t act like it. “I don’t remember the situation. I will have to look into it.” When you say something like, “whatch-you talkin’ about” when you know it must be some kind of big deal that you have forgotten, you really look dumb.

Unfortunately, if Mr. Trump had been interviewing for a job…which he really is, he wouldn’t have gotten hired. He just wasn’t prepared. Because he wasn’t prepared he was on his heels all night. Let’s hope he learns by his mistakes.

Whether you like the guy or not, all of us really want to see the difference in ideas and policies that he and his opponent have. All of the above issues are more mannerisms than they are content. We all want to know about the issues and not get stuck on the mannerisms. As with any interviewing situation we can all get distracted by the mannerisms and can’t “hear” what is being said. Mr. Trump has got one strike against him. Two more and he is out.

This should be a lesson to anyone who is interviewing… prepare!

P.S. Don’t TWEET nutin!


…no expectations

Dan Ariely, the behavior economist who teaches at Duke and has written a number of books, was asked in his write-in article in the Wall Street Journal White a few week ago about what the most important quality that would help a marriage survive. His answer was to have “no expectations.” Those of us who had been married for a long period of time really understand this sage advice.

The same could be said for a job search. However, based on my experience I would amend this concept just a bit…even maybe marriage. The The biggest problem most job seekers is that they have an expectations Just about everything regarding their job search. They expect that when they see a job posting they know they can do, they will get interviewed and likely get hired. When they apply to hundreds of job opportunities they expect to get interviews. They expect to get interviews when they call their friends. They expect  to find a job easily, in a short period of time. They expect to do amazingly well on interviews. They expect to get hired when they interview and often get better money and title. They have way too many expectations.

Rarely do any of these expectations ever pan out. This is one of the greatest shocks of most job searches. And the whole problem is that people have expectations.

There is a place for expectations. And it has to do with what a candidate should expect of themselves in the job search process. A job seeker has to expect the search is going to be hard. They have to expect that they had better take massive, massive action to get interviews …with great intensity. They have to expect to make more contacts about their job search than they ever imagined. They had best expect to perform well on interviews…and get lost of them. They have to expect that they have absolutely nothing until they have a job offer….that they like.

Notice that all these expectations are about themselves and no one else. Where job seekers always run into problems is when they have expectations about other people. Interesting, isn’t it…that is probably true about marriage also.

…. A $35,000 simple application of the first law of economics

It’s so very simple! So very, very simple! The first law of economics: “All money value is created through and backed by the production of commodities, trades, goods and services.” I will never quite understand why people who are looking for a job, even if they have one, don’t understand this simple law. Applied to the practice of finding a job, it simply states, “Your value is created through and backed by the (perceived) services you will provide.” It is that simple. If you show a prospective employer that you can provide better service than any of the other candidates, the more money you will receive.

A week or so ago we were working with a client who was looking for a controller and told us they would pay between $100,000 and $150,000 base salary along with some bonus. They made it very clear that the very top, top, top of their scale was $150,000 and they weren’t likely to pay anywhere close to that. They must have repeated it as a mantra at least a dozen times.

They hired our candidate. They paid her $185,000 and were so glad to do it they couldn’t see straight. In fact they were almost apologetic. The reason? She gave them so many good value propositions that she could do for them they were compelled to hire her. Now, she knew before she went to the interview that these people wanted to pay $100,000. She went anyhow. She barely even talked about money, except to say that the money was important but not the most important thing about the job. She just simply gave them so many really good reasons as to why they should hire her and what she could do for them, they raised her salary $35,000 more than the top of their scale.

If people looking for a job simply paid attention to the track record that they might offer a prospective employer and then present that value proposition to as many people as possible could they would have no trouble finding a job. She went into absolute detail, addressing just about every aspect of the financial picture of the company That she had researched from just about every source, the company’s bank, the company’s manufacturing companies, their customers, their competitors. She knew more about the company than the hiring authority did. She communicated what she suspected to be the biggest financial problems of the company and the three or four things she would do to address them. She did absolutely thorough research.

After two interviews our client was absolutely sold on her. Because they didn’t want to mess around and lose her, they simply told her, “the highest base we thought we were going to pay was $150,000, but with your skills and experience we are willing to offer you $185,000.” And she was thrilled.

What’s even more interesting about this is that she’s making $200,000 in her present job. She took a cut from her present salary because the opportunity and the company were so good. He makes both sides of the desk look good,