Author Archives: tonybeshara

…how to negotiate yourself out of a job

Joseph Is an excellent candidate. He has had 10 years at the same organization, performed very well, has accolades and paychecks to prove he is been successful in sales. His company, however has not been giving him the technical support that his customers have been used to receiving and gradually he’s losing his share of the market. So, he decides he needs to change jobs.

He is been earning in the $200,000-$300,000 range for the past five or six years, so finding him an opportunity much outside the type of business he has been in is fairly unlikely. Obviously, he has some exceptional advantages to competitors and since he has no noncompete agreement (except for a handful of present customers) he is very marketable.

There are five or six major players in the space that he has been in and we contacted all of them. Three told us that they just do not have any need at all right now and don’t see anything coming up in the next two or three quarters. Three people agreed to interview Joseph. One, made it clear that he wasn’t looking to hire anybody probably for another four or five months and that Joseph should not get his hopes up, but he was always interested in interviewing a good candidate (smart guy). The other two that agreed to interview Joseph were actively looking only if the “right person” came along.

We explained to Joseph, to begin with, that we make this process look easy, because we are supposed to. We explained to him that even though he knows he has a good background, he should not let it go to his head and that we happen to catch these people at the right time. When a candidate has been in any one place this long and experienced the kind of success Joseph has, there is often a tendency for it to go to their head. They think they are more marketable and desirable than they really are. Most of the time, this is more an issue of ignorance rather than stupidity. They don’t go out into the market looking for a job very often…hardly at all and when they do, they all of a sudden get two or three interviews, they have a tendency to think that finding a new job is easy.

Of course, we warned Joseph of this and thought It was clear. When we started the interviewing process with these three organizations, (our first clue) Joseph was always very difficult to get on the phone. We would call him…he would never directly answer…we’d leave a message and he would call may be a day or so later. When we went to arrange interviews, even after giving us the times he could do them, he would inevitably asked to change the times (he did this all three times).

The organization that really didn’t need to hire anybody who was interested in speaking with Joseph, interviewed him, but didn’t care for him at all. They thought he was arrogant and full of himself. We had warn  Joseph about this to begin with, but apparently it took a “rejection” for him to catch on. Joseph eliminated the second organization because he really didn’t like the territory that they had in mind for him. But Joseph did aggressively pursue our third client.

He began by telling them after an initial interview, that he was very interested in the opportunity and would definitely like to pursue it. He communicated that it was a better opportunity than where he was and he was “ready to go.” When it came time for Joseph to interview with the next level of management, he had to… for business reasons, according to him…postpone the interviews. This took almost 2 weeks to complete. When he got to the next level of interviews he sold himself really well and made it clear that he would “entertain” an offer. He was telling us that he really liked what he saw and he really wanted to go to work at the organization because it was a better deal than what he had.

Then Joseph got a little more flaky. The company wanted to check references. It took him a whole week to get the references to them. They were beginning to wonder about Joseph’s sincerity, but he convinced them that he traveled so much that it was hard for him to reach out to his references. They asked for a formal application, which they sent to him online and it took him three days to get it back to them.

Even though they had discussed compensation and territory when it came to us asking Joe that, since it looked like they were going to make him an offer, we assumed he was going to do it, he stated that, “well, let’s see the offer in writing.” We then began to tell the hiring authority that we were getting a little nervous about this. Joseph let us all to believe that he had every intention of taking the job but when details started coming along he got squishy.

Our hiring authority explained that her upper management really liked the guy and felt like he could do a lot for the company and they were going to go through with the offer as discussed. Even she was beginning to get negative feelings about the whole thing because when she had to call the candidate, at his request, to discuss a number of things he wanted to talk about, he became real hard to get. As before, he would never pick up the phone when he was called and more often than not called back a day later.

The hiring authority explained very clearly that these offer letters were signed by the CEO and the company did not normally change anything in them. Before Joseph even got the offer letter he started asking me about their flexibility on a number of things. I called the hiring authority about them, reinforcing again that we were getting less and less confident in the candidate.

By this time, the company sent the written offer and Joseph started dissecting it. At this point, he told me that he wanted to do the deal but he wanted a number of things changed. I explained to him that it had come to the point where he was going to have to speak to the hiring authority himself and that the company was getting a little fed up with his negotiation style. His comment was, “well, that’s negotiations.” The hiring authority tried to reach out to Joseph two more times. He didn’t return her calls.

Joseph did call me and implied that if they could change just a couple of things he’d probably do the deal. I told him that he would have to speak to the hiring authority, but all of us were getting very dubious of his intentions. I suggested that they meet face-to-face. Joseph said that he couldn’t meet until a particular day. I passed that along to the hiring authority. He said he could meet at any time that day. I picked the time that was good for the hiring authority and when I passed it along to him…guess what? He writes back and says that he can’t do that particular time.

At this point, the hiring authority is pissed off. Although she said it’s going to be a little embarrassing to explain to her that higher-ups that Joseph won’t be joining, she couldn’t imagine working with someone this way.

The offer was verbally rescinded through me. The candidate called the hiring authority and left a rather weak message that it probably would not have worked out anyhow.

Even if the candidate didn’t want to do this deal and it was pretty apparent that he didn’t, he shouldn’t have “managed” the process this way. He certainly closed the door for this organization for the future.

This is a great lesson of how not to negotiate.

…..Remember Michael, the manager

I wrote about him a couple weeks ago. I wrote about the fact that he was so smart to  take his Number Two candidate to lunch with his other sales guys and explain to him that it was a close race but they were going to make the offer to another candidate.

The candidate, although disappointed, couldn’t be too unhappy because Michael was so darn nice about telling him no.

Well, guess who Michael hired this week… this same candidate. Michael went to offer his Number One candidate the job, and the candidate put him off for one week, then hesitated another day or so. Meanwhile, our candidate kept emailing Michael, checking in with him, letting him know that he was still available, even though he was interviewing at other places, and still liked Michael’s opportunity. Michael got tired of his Number One candidate’s attitude, so he called up our candidate and offered him the job.

Michael made a great choice. (Interestingly enough, our candidate was in the process of getting another offer. Our candidate wanted to go to work for Michael because not only was it a better job, but Michael is an outstanding manager).

 

….”you talk too much”…joe jones, 1960

You talk about people
That you don’t know
You talk about people
Wherever you go

You just talk
Talk too much

Joe Jones sang the song in 1960… unfortunately it still happens today. Here is a conversation I had with the hiring authority this week:

Tony: John, how did it go with my candidate?

John: Well, Tony, the interview lasted 45 minutes… and she talked for 44… her divorce, her ex-husband, her kids… I can see from her résumé and track record at one time she was really good, but the only way she could have said  less would be to have talked longer… you really need to coach her to shut up!

What’s so sad about this is the candidate is still really good. Unfortunately she hadn’t practiced interviewing like I thought.  She had  been tremendously successful in the past for quite a number of years. Unfortunately, she assumed, that just because she’s been out of market for the past five or six years her ability to sell herself well would simply “kick in.”

Here’s the lesson. Interviewing takes practice. Nervously running off at the mouth is not going to get your hired. Ironically, she was one of the best candidates who could’ve been interviewed. She just talked too much… and what she had to say wasn’t relevant to the job. So, practice interviewing.

Joe Jones ends his song appropriately: “You can make me scream”

Don’t talk too much!

….your resume..

The purpose of your résumé is to get you an interview. You want people to look at your résumé and think, “I really got interviewed by this person!” Remember that your résumé does not get read, it gets scanned. People think, “Oh, my résumé gets read!” No, it doesn’t. It gets scanned and the people who scanned them are looking for a few key things: how long you have worked at the companies you’ve worked for, i.e., exact dates, what you did for them, in very clear terms, and how well you performed. It’s that simple.

You have to remember that these people are reviewing 180 to 200 résumés a day. They don’t read any of them. They scan them to look for some of the things they are looking for. So, this means that you have to, when you write the name of your company on the résumé, explain what that company does. There are 7.1 million businesses in the United States and I guarantee you the people looking at your résumé don’t know what 98% of them do. I get résumés every day from candidates who write down “ACME INC. 2015 – present” and never explain what Acme Inc. does. So, make it real clear, if it’s not obvious, in parentheses next to the name of the company what the company does.

Then make the title of what you did very clear in terms that anybody can understand. A title of Analyst I can mean hundreds of different things. Change the title on your résumé if you have to make it clear what you’ve done. Sometimes candidates say to me, “Well, that’s what my title was.” Okay, fine, put it down if you want to, but if people don’t understand what the hell an Analyst I is, you’re screwed. I’ve had numerous candidates over the years who had titles like customer advocate, customer liaison, client specialist and a few other esoteric inventive titles that really meant “customer service.” So, in writing a résumé, simply write the title “customer service.”

Last, and probably most important, right down how you performed in as many concrete terms as possible. Remember, stories sell and numbers tell. If there’s any way, put in your résumé statistics or some kind of figures – that you bold – so they jump out at people. Increased profits 23%. Decreased department costs 10%. Was 120% of Sales quota. Decreased turnover 12%…The more you can express your performance in measurable terms, the better off you are.

The statement you are making with your résumé is this:

  • Here is who I’ve worked for…What they do in very clear terms that anyone can understand.
  • Here is how long I worked for them.
  • Here is exactly what I’ve done. And here has been my performance.
  • I am an excellent employee and what I’ve done for them is what I can do for you!

And, by the way, your résumé needs to be in chronological order. Ninety-five percent of functional résumés (the kind that have paragraphs about all of the things you’ve done and then the list of who you worked for at the very bottom) get pitched before they get scanned.

I forgot to mention, 60% of the people that are going to initially scan your resume don’t really know what they are looking for, professionally. They are usually some underlying, albeit they are nice, sincere and well-meaning, they really don’t know anything about the profession that you are in. They were instructed by one of their superiors to, “look through those resumes and find me a few that I ought to interview.” They may be qualified to know what they’re looking for, but most of the time they’re not.

So, look at your resume and ask yourself, “is someone who really doesn’t know what they’re looking for looks at my resume are they going to see the quality of person that I am?”

If a résumé “scanner” likes what they see, they simply pick up the phone and call you about an appointment. That is exactly what you want

….blooper of the week

Hardly a week goes by where we don’t have experienced candidates say something just downright stupid that cost him or her the job. This week a guy I’ve known for almost 20 years who is really a very good salesperson got into an interview with a hiring authority and in the process of talking about himself said, “Well, I do know that I have a few good years left in me.”

When I followed up with the hiring manager he said, “Tony, is this guy ready to retire? We aren’t looking for someone who has just a ‘few good years’ left in them. We are looking for a long-term commitment.” It didn’t even have to be sad that this candidate already had his age going against him. He’s in his 50s. But lots of guys and gals in their mid-50s and beyond get hired. But drawing attention to it as though you were on your last leg or just “a few more good years,” does not help your case of being hired.

Unfortunately, most folks don’t seem to think about, “How does this sound to a prospective employer?” They don’t seem to think about the fact that hiring authorities are looking for just as many reasons not to hire a candidate as they are reasons to hire a candidate. When a candidate gives even a minor reason not to be hired, it can be totally blown out of proportion. So, a smart candidate thinks about absolutely everything he or she says in light of how it appears to the potential employer.

Over the years, I’ve had some real doozies articulated by really good candidates:

One said, “I have just overcome a great battle with cancer, but I’ve sure learned a lot.” When asked what the biggest obstacle he has overcome, one of my candidates said that he had recently recovered from a nervous breakdown. I have had candidates, both male and female, explain that they were in the middle of an awful divorce, an awful child custody suit, and awful business or personal lawsuit and other kinds of terribly traumatic or distracting events. Some of these people even justified what they did by claiming, “They just want to be honest.” Well, you can be honest by saying, “Your baby’s ugly,” or you can be tactful and claim, “What a cute looking baby…looks just like you!”

The moral to all of this is really simple. Think about what you are saying and how it is going to come across to a prospective employer and if there is the slightest chance that it might hurt you or put you in a negative light, shut up!

 

 

….Being a consultant “between” jobs

Not a day goes by that I don’t get a resume from a candidate who has somewhere on his or her resume, in between jobs, a job function called “consultant.”

But most hiring authorities see the word “consultant” and make the assumption that the candidate has just plain been out of work and is trying to cover up by appearing to be a “consultant.”

So here is the message. If you have been a consultant, you’d better well have actually been a consultant and be able to document the kinds of people and organizations you have actually consulted to or for. List every company that you consulted with, exactly what kind of project you consulted for and exactly the amount of time you spent on each one. Offer even a specific name of someone who can attest to your consulting ability. In other words, a good reference. Even if they were brief consulting gigs, put them down.

This is short simple advice. But if you simply put the word “consultant”, it is going to be automatically assumed that you have been out of work.

……one of the best moves I’ve seen a manager make

Michael was a really good manager for our client. He had one of the best regions in the country and all of his people loved working for him. He was smart, aggressive and relaxed in his own skin. Just a really good guy.

After two interviews with our candidate Michael invited the candidate to lunch with two of his salespeople. Candidate thought things must be really going well and was kind of expecting this to be the final interview before he got an offer. He was elated.

They talked about the company, the job, sports and a number of other things. They had a really great time. At the very end of the lunch, Michael said to the candidate, “I’m really glad you could come today. We really appreciate your time. We think you could do well in our company but fortunately for us, we have another candidate that has some experience that is a little better than yours. We are blessed to have two excellent candidates. We feel like the other fellow has a number of relationships that we really need to cultivate and we’re going to try to hire him. But you need to know that you are an excellent candidate. Should something go wrong with offering him the job, you will be the first we will call. Also should we have another opening in even the near or distant future, I would love to call you. You are a great fit for our company.”

Well, of course, our candidate was very disappointed. He said that it was very hard to be bad because they were such nice people. He said that he had never been turned down so gracefully and so nicely by such a nice group of guys. He seemed to understand that they were going to do what was best for them and he would sure love to work there.

I’m sure it’s happened before, but I don’t remember when in the 45 years that I’ve been doing this that the hiring authority went out of his way in such a nice manner to tell a candidate that he wasn’t going to get hired. Obviously it was hard for the candidate to be mad. But what Michael did was so smart. He kept his company in the good graces of the candidate and, should he need the candidate either now or in the near future, the guy would love to go to work there.

Ninety nine percent of the managers that I work with don’t have the courtesy to even talk to any candidate that they aren’t going to hire, even after they’ve interviewed them. It’s probably the crudest thing that hiring authorities do in the process of hiring. For some reason, they think that they’re never going to run into that person again and act like being rude is inconsequential.

I can’t tell you the number of times over the years that I’ve presented the candidate to an employer only to have the hiring authority tell me that they wouldn’t hire the candidate on a bet because a number of years ago that person was terribly rude to them. What goes around comes around.

I complimented Michael for the wisdom he had in treating my candidate to lunch, just to tell him that he wasn’t going to get hired at least this time. What a smart move. Michael could have openings throughout the next two or three years and my candidate is indeed a very good fit. But even if they never cross paths again, my candidate will always think highly of Michael. And I have to say that it motivates me to help Michael whenever I can.

.Good move, Michael!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….why George (And hundreds of other like him) are shocked that they can’t find a job

There are hundreds of people out there like George. He came to us last week and can’t understand why he can’t find a job. Some of it is plain circumstance, but some of it is self-inflicted.

George is 52 years old and been with the same company for the past 20 years. He had a great ride with them and got promoted a number of times. He was always told that he was doing a great job and getting reasonable raises along the way. In the last three years of his employment at the company, it was bought by a private equity firm and George started to receive all of his stock that he had earned while he was at the company. PE firms are notorious about making things a lot less “family oriented,” and a lot more “what you do for me today, dammit!”

In spite of the antiseptic approach that the PE firm took, George still had a job and was making close to $300,000 a year. He could’ve stayed on, but the culture of the organization had totally changed to be much more mercenary and, since he had been told he had been doing so well he thought, “Y ou know, I’ve got such a great track record and I know so many people in the industry, I’ll find another job.” (Now this is the story that George tells. I’m never sure when I hear the stories, and it took me a few years to catch on to this, if George was the one that decided to leave on his own accord, or the PE firm pushed George out.)

Since the buyout, George didn’t have an enforceable non-compete and he had many contacts in the industry and after all, his track record was excellent. He thought he would have absolutely no problem getting a job. He made a lot of money on the stock and doesn’t need to work, but wants to. He thought that since he had a lot of money and didn’t have to work, companies would love to have him because he wouldn’t be “in it for the money.” He even took six months off to get his IRA accounts and lots of other things “in order.”

George figured that since he had such a wonderful track record, was so well known in his industry, had money and didn’t have to work for money, he’d get scooped up any time he wanted. After six months of doing whatever he wanted to do, he decided it was time to find a job. It is now three months later and he is so surprised, and eventually shocked, that this was going to be a whole lot harder than he thought.

He has only had two interviews and those were more courtesy than anything else. He quickly found out that very few people hire VPs off the street and so a month or two ago he “announced” that he would accept a sales job. George has learned that his ideas are real hard to sell to anybody.

The first thing that comes to a hiring authorities mind is, “Well, if George has so much money and he doesn’t have to work, the first time he doesn’t like the way we do things here he can just walk out.” To the vast majority of hiring authorities, “not needing to work” means that the person they hire might not do just that. Most of them can’t afford to run the risk of, if it doesn’t work out, their boss saying to them, “Why in the hell did you hire somebody that really didn’t need to work.” So, George is going to have to change that approach big time.

George, thinking theoretically, that someone might appreciate someone who just works for the love of working is totally miscalculating 99% of the people that are hiring. George has to forget this comment totally.

What George has to say is something along this line, “I was 20 years at an organization and consistently moved up. I loved the job, the company and everyone there. I did a great job and I was appreciated as much as I appreciated the opportunity. When a PE firm bought us, the complexion of the whole organization changed and it was to their benefit to ease out all of the people who had been there for a very long time. Admittedly, it was a different place than it was when I joined 20 years ago or even three years ago when we sold.”

“I know they’re not very many VP opportunities that I would slip right into, but the one I had, I had to work for from the beginning position. I realize that it is likely that I may have to start out at a sales position and work my way up, if indeed that kind of thing presents itself. But I’m just as comfortable at taking a sales position where I can earn depending on my own production. I realize that I may not earn that $300,000 that I was making the first year or maybe even two, but the opportunity to be paid based on my own performance is all I need.”

“I am 52, but as you can see I’m in great shape and I have a tremendous amount of energy. I was a top salesperson before I moved into management and still love selling. Even while I was in management I spent a lot of my time in front of customers and selling. I don’t expect you or anyone else to pay me for the experience I’ve had in the past. All I’m looking for is an opportunity to prove myself, again. Let’s face it, you’re going to get a very mature, experienced salesperson with a lot of energy and a proven track record and everything else will take care of itself.”

“I know you may be concerned that if you hired me for a lesser position than what I was in, someone might give me a call with the VP type of job and your fear is that I would leave for the higher position. Let me share with you that the position isn’t as important as the company, the people and the success I’m having. I know from hiring people over many years that if an employee is happy with what they’re doing and really enjoys the company, the product and the people they work with, they don’t just leave when someone calls them about another opportunity. Look at my track record… I was 20 years with the last company!”

“If we have a good match with what I’m doing and the people in his company, I’m committed for the long haul. I always have been. Once I get into a situation and am experiencing success, I’m not likely to go anywhere. I haven’t before and it is not likely I would ever do it.”

“Now, let’s talk about the opportunity you have here and the way I might be able to benefit you….”

This is the only way George is going to get hired. It’s still going to be very challenging for him to get an interview and get hired, but it is the way he has to approach it. The way he’s approaching it now is going to get him another nine months or more of unemployment.

All those who think that, “You know I’m so good and I’m so wonderful these people can take this

job and stuff it. I can go to work just about anywhere,” need to take a lesson from George.

 

….so, what did we do?

If you read last week’s blog you will understand the conundrum we were in with our candidate.

We decided that we needed to tell the client that the candidate had a felony charge and even though he would probably leave that question blank on his application, we thought it only right to let the company no the situation.

The employer just plain couldn’t bring himself to hire the candidate. Even though the felony was nine or 10 years ago and it didn’t even show up on his state or national criminal record, the employer felt like he needed to be consistent with all of the other people that he had not hired because of felonies, He couldn’t, in good conscience, hire the candidate. Obviously, we wish he would’ve hired the candidate, but it’s the employer’s choice and he did what he thought was best.

We felt compelled, however, tell the employer what we knew.

 

….what is the right thing to do

 

Okay, so what do you think we should do? We have a client who has interviewed our candidate and really likes him. After two or three interviews, the client asks us to check the candidate’s references and to do a background check. Of course we agree and start the process. The employer also asks the candidate to fill out an employment application and of course, one of the questions is, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

Of course we tell the candidate what we’re going to do and he tells us that a long time ago he had a DWI felony (more than three in a period of time). But he tells us that it doesn’t show up on any of the background checks that are done. Of course, we don’t really believe him. We have never known a felony not to show up in a background check. And now of course, we know he has one.

The candidate tells us that he got the last job with his company having done a background check and they didn’t find anything. He also informs us that he applied for and had his professional engineering license renewed and, from what we understand, a criminal background check is done when an engineering license is renewed.

We do both a state and national background search and nothing shows up. The felony he says he has is not reported by either the state or national criminal check. The candidate says, “I’m good to go. I’ll take the job!”

But he still has to fill out the engineering firm’s application which asks him if he has ever been convicted of a crime? He intimates that there is no reason to answer that question because the crime doesn’t show up on his record.  What should we do?

Keep in mind, now, that the client did not ask us about a felony. The client asked us to do a criminal background check and of course we obliged, both with a state as well as national check. We sent those to the employer. Again, what should we do?

Think about it…. Let you know next week!