… 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..

…coming in second, third, fourth, etc.

Often my candidates are so disappointed when they come in second, third, fourth etc.  in the interview cycle … which means they don’t get hired … fair enough, I understand, you always want to try to win the job…

However,  most people aren’t aware of this, often times the difference between the candidate who gets the offer and the ones that come in second and third and fourth are so small that most hiring authorities couldn’t even tell you exactly the difference  … they’ll say things like, “well we just thought she’d fit in a little better” … or… “there was just something about him that we feel like he is the best choice”…  most of the time there is very little, if any, difference between the candidates…

I can’t tell you the number of times over the years that I’ve had a candidate who came in second, third or fourth, who eventually got hired for the job … this happens when the first or second candidate either gets other offers or decides not to take the job, leaving the door wide open to other candidates.  Years ago I placed a candidate, and he was not “THE” person that the company had offered the job. … the first eight turned it down…  the guy that got hired eventually became the owner of the company … how gratifying

The lesson in this is to be sure that no matter which position you come in, always be graceful and understanding that the organization is doing what they think is best for them at the time…  always keep the door open with a gracious and grateful attitude … thank the organization for their time, communicate that you would still love the opportunity to work for them and if that opportunity ever becomes available  again, to please let you know…

Whatever you do, DO NOT get pissed off, angry or mad … even if you feel like you have been treated wrongly, do not burn any bridges … even though losing out to another candidate is not easy to take, always be gracious … and always leave the door open for the future…

It’s not uncommon for companies to hire someone and have that person not work out in a relatively short period of time … all kinds of things can happen and there’s no sense in burning a bridge for an opportunity that again may come up with them… I think I’ve mentioned it before but I had a candidate that went to work for a company who interviewed him, didn’t hire him, but liked him so well they kept in touch with him and eventually hired him … seven years later…

so, do your best to come in #1, but don’t let coming in second, third, or fourth keep you from losing sight of the goal

… how to love your job search

Love is patient… patient with the people who tell you they’re going to call you back and then never do… patient with the people who tell you you’re a perfect candidate and you never hear from him again… patient with yourself for all your human frailties…Love is kind… Even when you don’t want to be… even when you’re frustrated, mad and angry…And it is not jealous… Of those who get a lot of interviews… of those who tell you they just got hired or those who may not be as good as you, but get hired…Love does not brag…About the fantastic interview you got or a really great job offer…And is not arrogant… We are as graceful when we get a great interview or get a great job as we are when we “strikeout” every job search technique we try…Love does not act unbecomingly… We are nice to people even when they are not nice to us… we pray for those who won’t interview us or won’t hire us…It does not seek its own… It’s knowing that if we put the hiring authority’s  needs first we will get what we want…It is not provoked… No matter how poorly you are treated or frustrated you become you never lose your cool, remembering that you can only control your own feelings and thoughts…Love does not take into account a wrong suffered… When you were lied to… when you are strung out to then be rejected… treated rudely…Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness… Life is unfair… and it affects everybody… get over it…But rejoices in truth… The truth that you are a good employee and that if you keep working hard enough you will be successful at finding a job…Love bears all things … the phenomenal ups and downs of a difficult job search…Believes all things… You know you will be successful…Hopes all things… Grateful for every opportunity you have to find a new job…Love never fails…It never, ever fails…

With apologies to St. Paul…

… the difference between being able to do the job and getting it

we hear that least three or four times a day…” I can do that job … just get me in front of them ” or  ” I can’t believe you don’t get me that interview, you and I both know  I can do the job… ” or ” you know I’ve been an excellent performer and I am an excellent employee, if you just get me in front of them, I’ll get the job… ”

Most job seekers simply don’t have realized that hiring authorities are looking to hire people with experience in exactly what they do … with a documentable, provable track record … and there are so many qualified candidates available to  hiring authorities, that  they don’t have to hire even the ” best athlete “…they have available to them at a phenomenal number, a wealth of well qualified candidates who can prove they have experience in what the employer is looking to do

There’s a big difference between being able to do the job and being able to get the job… they’re almost two different issues… most job  seekers need to be aware that in today’s job market, with employers still operating under doubt, uncertainty and fear,  they’re going to hire a candidate with as much experience and background as they can find… they aren’t willing to take any risks

Job seekers have  no idea how stiff their competition is … they look at a job posting and think, “well certainly I can do the job… ” and maybe they can … but it’s not likely they’ll get the chance simply because there are other  candidates available with documentable  and verifiable experience in what the hiring authority is looking to do…

So, the next time you see a job posting and you think, ” I know I can do that job” realized that a hring authority is looking for somebody with as much exact experience in what they do as they can get and in this market, they can find it … and, yes, even when your experience fits exactly what the hiring authority is looking for, you’re competing with at least five others that have the same kind of background and track record