Category Archives: Job Search Blog

….hey, hiring managers…there’s a new set of rules

The amount of time that good candidates are on the
market is shorter than it has ever been.

The number of good candidates that are on the
market is fewer than it has been in ten years.

The money you paid two years ago or even one year ago
won’t get you the kind of candidate you really want.

Candidates are not as prone to “fill out your online application”as they used to be.

Candidates won’t talk to your 22 year old corporate recruiter
whose job it is to screen them.

Candidates are not going to go to your “tracking portal” to
apply for your job.

Candidates don’t want to talk to anyone but YOU . . . the
hiring authority . . . WHY? . . . Because the people who are also
trying to hire this candidate are also having their managers
talk with them directly.

The candidate you prefer is likely being considered by at
least three other organizations . . . he or she has many choices.
If you tell a candidate that you’re going to get back to them
by a certain time, you had best do it . . . a year or so ago good
candidates had to “live” with being treated poorly . . . they
don’t have to put up with that any more . . . they have too many
choices. Your competition is “courting” them heavily.

A “lowball “offer is likely to be rejected.

“Meeting the team . . . just so you can get a feel for our company.”
The REAL TRUTH is: “So they can possibly eliminate
you as competition.” This request will be ignored or outright
refused by many candidates . . . The majority of the time they
are employed and are getting so many “REAL” interviews, they
don’t need or take the time for team meetings.

Candidates are more likely to receive counteroffers than
they ever have in the past.

Candidates may not have an updated resume . . . in this
market, they may not need one . . . please don’t recite the mantra
of “Well if they’re serious about looking for a job they’ll
have a new resume” . . . their “seriousness” simply depends on
whether your opportunity allows them to better themselves.

Assume that if you’re going to make a candidate an offer, so
will two other organizations.

Candidates won’t tolerate the “nine person interviewing process
that we have to use in order to be careful and hire the right
person” . . . they don’t have to put up with this anymore . . . Your
competition is interviewing them no more than three times and
making them an offer . . . and doing it quickly!

Candidates don’t have to consider “temp-to-perm” types of
opportunities . . . there are too many companies that are willing
to hire them permanently from the get-go. While you’re
trying to be “careful” by hiring them “temp-to-perm,” your
competitor is making a perceived long term commitment, with
benefits that start immediately, etc.

SELL YOUR JOB . . . Give candidates real good reasons
why they ought to be going to work for you . . . The idea that
“anyone would be lucky to work here” just doesn’t fly anymore.

Treat every candidate as though they were being ‘recruited’
. . . happy with their job . . . with a number of suitors and
choices.

Your interviewing cycle needs to be short . . . anything
beyond ten working days is a risk . . . your competition is moving
faster than that.

Respectfully explain to your H.R. recruiting department
that you need to streamline the usual hiring process. Their
well-intentioned, protective compliance activities may be
costing you top candidates. The HR Dept. may not understand
how hard it is to find these folks, because they don’t have sales
quotas to meet. No one in their department sees you doing the
work of two people while you are trying to fill a vacancy . . .
they’re trying their best to follow procedures but it often costs
you candidates.
.

. . Also, talk to the candidate directly. If candidates have
to go through your H.R. department/recruiter/admin./office
manager/screener, etc., they don’t feel loved and will be more
likely to go to work for hiring managers who establish a personal
rapport with them.

Please stop saying to candidates that “hiring is one of the
most important things I do . . .” then act like hiring them is not
a high priority by not returning their calls, keeping in touch
with them, postponing a decision, keeping them in the dark,
going ‘silent’ etc.

Stop looking for “Mr. or Ms Perfect “. . . the purple squirrel
who doesn’t really exist or, if they do, are happily employed
and making more money than you can afford . . . it will take
you months to come to the conclusion that you’re not going
to find this perfect person and you’d best try to hire the best
athlete you can find . . . the person who has been a winner at
most everything they’ve ever done but, just not in the exact
area you are searching. In the time it takes to find Mr. or Ms
Perfect, you can hire one of these best athletes and train them.

Try to avoid writing a wish list of “requirements” that
reflect your fear of hiring the wrong person . . .We got one of
these lists recently and it had 32 items on it . . .the vice pres
ident who sent it to us laughed, saying that he’s not sure why
he wrote all this stuff down and that even he didn’t have all of
these requirements. He didn’t know of anyone who did!

…are you a risk?

since 1973, I have never met a candidate that thought they were a risk… Every candidate that I ever interviewed thought that they would be a glowing employee and that hiring them would never be any kind of risk for a hiring authority…

But the truth is, every candidate is a risk in some way … and every hiring authority, whether you like it or not is looking at what kind of a “risk” you pose to them…

The hiring authority is asking himself or herself, “if I hire this candidate what is in his or her background that is going to cause me to regret hiring them … are they going to be here a short period of time … are they going to fail on the job … am I going to have to fire them? ”

“risk factors”come with every one … a number of years ago,  I placed a candidate with a company who had a heart attack and died about a month into the job … the hiring authority, when he called me, implied that I should have known that the candidate had a bad heart… Go figure?! … now I realize that he was simply venting his frustration, but how could I know the candidate was going to die?

30% of the hiring authority’s consideration of  you as a candidate is going to be based on what kind of “risk” you are … in other words how is it not going to work out with you as a candidate when you become an employee?

Some “risk factors” are obvious … if you have had three jobs in three years, the hiring authority is going to be concerned that if he or she hires you you’ll only be there one year… If you have made significantly more money than the job pays, the hiring authority is going to be concerned that even if you take the job, you will keep looking for a higher paying job… If you’ve been the president of the company or the owner of a company, the hiring authority is going to be concerned that you’re going to come into the organization and “tell them” how they ought to run it… If you have been a bit of work for an extended period of time, the hiring authority is going to wander why you haven’t been able to find a job … never mind that unemployment is high and good jobs are difficult to find, you’re still going to get this question…

So, as you prepare to interview, think about what kind of “risk factors” you pose to a potential employer … don’t give me that business of “I’m not a risk”… because every one poses some kind of risk to a perspective employer…

Be sure, in your presentation of yourself to perspective employers that you offset the risks that you pose … and you know what those risks are … if you’ve had three jobs in three years be ready to offset that concern … if you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time be ready to offset that concern…

But offset these risks in the presentation of yourself BEFORE they come up or you have to be asked, … you can even make them a positive … something along the line of, “I realize that I’ve had three jobs in three years so, whoever I go to work for is going to get a five year to seven year commitment from me and as long as they’re around, I’ll be there… I can’t afford another short stint on my resume. ”  Do  this before you are asked, “why have you had so many jobs in the last few years? ”

Think about your risk factors … deal with them!

“Let Me Be Honest With You”

I’m continually annoyed with people who put “fillers” in their speech patterns, especially in the interviewing situation. I know they’re not conscious of their using these “lip loads,” but they are still annoying.  Here are the ones I hear most often:

“You know… you know… you know”… it makes you sound so stupid

“Honestly”… as though you haven’t been honest with me and the other things you’ve said?

“Let me be honest with you”… which means you haven’t been honest with me up until now?

“Trust me”… and you say it so many times that I have to really wonder if I can or should.

“Let me be transparent”… as though you’ve been hiding stuff from me throughout the whole conversation.

“The truth is”… as though everything else you said hasn’t been the truth.

If you are in the habit of using these kinds of “fillers,” you need to practice getting them OUT Of your vocabulary, especially when you are interviewing. Interviewing and hiring authorities are making very quick judgments about you and everything about you based on very little information. Most of that information is communicated in what you say and the manner in which you say it.

These kinds of lip loads are used because people are very nervous. And worst of all they are uncomfortable with silence so they fill the void with these kinds of sayings. None of them amount to much, but in a 35 or 40 minute interview if you say them fairly often, that’s what people will remember you by. It takes about 10 to 14 days of practice but you can be rid of these things and quit embarrassing yourself.

… so you been out of work more than a year

It sure crept up on you awfully fast, didn’t it? You have absolutely no idea that much time could pass since you were working. It just kind of crept up on you. After you lost your job, you took a little time off because you “hadn’t had a vacation in a while.” Then you started casually looking around thinking, “last time I looked for a job, it didn’t take me that long.” It took six or seven months for you to all of a sudden get serious about finding a job and then, all of a sudden, you found out how darned difficult it was to do.

So, now you’re beginning to get interviews because the economy is getting a little better and you have to try to explain why it’s taken so long for you to find a job or why you have been out of work so long. After the first couple of interviews like this, you really understand that an employer is very cautious, even dubious about the fact that you’ve been out of work so long and will normally discount all of your excuses. You will have caught on that a hiring authority is much more likely to want to hire someone who is either presently employed or, if unemployed, for only a short period of time. Every time you go to explain you become more and more self-conscious and you can literally see the doubt on the hiring authority’s face. Since most of them have not been out of work that long or even experienced that kind of thing, they have absolutely no idea the challenge you have had. In fact, their attitude is, “What’s wrong with this person?” They think, “There’s got to be something wrong with somebody who can’t find a job in a whole year.” And then they move on to the next candidate.

There isn’t much you can do about this attitude, except when you get the chance to get in front of them for an interview you cannot try to make excuses for being out of work for a year, blame the economy, etc. You must take full responsibility for it by saying something along the line of, “I really had no idea it would be this difficult to find a job. In years past when I’ve looked for positions, I’ve always been able to find one relatively rapidly. I have been actively getting as many interviews as I possibly can. (It is not a bad idea to have on hand the names of the companies that you have interviewed with or the kinds of positions you have interviewed for.) I have come close on a couple of opportunities and decided to pass on a couple of others because I didn’t think it was a good opportunity for the company I was interviewing with or for myself. I want to be very careful to be sure that the next opportunity is a long-term one.” Then, shut up about why you’ve been looking for a job for so long and ask questions of the employer about the present position you are interviewing for. It’s that simple.

If you do anything other than this, it is going to dig a deeper hole of doubt, uncertainty and fear on the part of the hiring authority regarding you as a candidate. If you make excuses, you’ll sound like a whiner. If you go on and on about why you started so late to look for a job and express the bad luck in getting interviews, you simply won’t look like a wise business person. Most every way you try to explain this problem will be very treacherous. The “mea culpa”, simple quick statement above is the best way to do it.

If anyone has come up with some great “lip loads” to deal with this issue, please share them with us.

…new grads

1.7 million undergraduate college grads..700,000 advanced degreed graduate this year. Eighty five percent won’t have a job by the time they graduate. Their average debt will be $37,000 and they will take eight months to find a job. They paid an average of $9,000 a year in tuition for public universities and $21,000 a year for private schools. And that’s just the tuition.

They’re going to be hundreds of articles written by hundreds of “authorities” about what graduates can do to find a job. I’m going to pass on the ideas that I have learned from being in the trenches helping people find jobs…many of them fresh grads…since 1973. Some people may not like the reality that I will discuss, but sometimes reality is a bit painful.

To begin with, if you are an out of work grad you should buy the book, The Unemployed Grad and What Parents Can Do About It, by a friend of mine, who was on a radio program every Monday morning, Don Philabaum. It’s one of the best sources of how to find a job there is.

If you are graduating from college this year, I know this is a hell of a time to hear this, but you should START LOOKING FOR A JOB YOUR SOPHMORE YEAR OF COLLEGE. Okay, so he didn’t do that, but you should pass it along to your younger brothers or sisters or relatives or friends. And, of course my book, The Job Search Solution, will also help.

Ever since you were a sophomore you should’ve been VISITING THE CAREER CENTER at your college or university. You need to find out what kind of business organizations hire through the career center and take as much information as they are willing to provide you about what’s going to happen once you are into the job market. Sixty percent of college students never even visit the college career Center at their school. Big mistake! Some universities and colleges are getting smart enough to insist as part of a student’s curriculum a visit to, as well as clear understanding, of what the career Center can do for a student.

If you haven’t already, even if you’re a senior, take advantage of APTITUDE TESTING. I’m not talking about a $25 online aptitude test. I’m talking about real, in-depth aptitude testing offered by people like Johnson O’Connor. They are a nonprofit organization that provides a day of aptitude assessment, as well as a clear report about what a person’s aptitudes might be. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve interviewed since 1973 who were pursuing a career because of some kind of crazy reason like, “we’ve always had a doctor in the family” or “my uncle owns a CPA firm and I always thought it would be a great business” or “my dad’s a great sales guy and I’m sure it rubbed off on me” or any other kind of cockamamie reason without ever knowing if they had an aptitude for science/medicine, accounting, or sales.

Aptitude testing should be done no later than your sophomore year of college to find out what you might be good at. You might think you’d make a great teacher, for instance, but find out from aptitude testing that you have absolutely no patience. You might think you’d make a great salesperson, but aptitude testing reveals that you have very little dominance and are totally risk adverse. So, please get your aptitudes tested.

Connect with your COLLEGE’S or UNIVERSITY’S ALUMNI in your city or the city you wish to live in. You can do this very easily through LinkedIn. You can contact every one of them about a job. Not only do very few people do this, but alumni, especially at some schools, are maniacal about helping students from their alma mater. Call or write these people and ask them for an audience even if it’s not a formal “interview.” Alumni love this kind of thing because it’s one of the easiest ways for them to feel like they are “giving back” to their school and they hardly have to go out of their way to do it. You are going to go to them. Be prepared to tell them that you are actively looking for a job once you get the face-to-face meeting and ask them for their help. Most of them will give it to you because you simply asked them to.

If you’re a college senior it’s too late for this, but you should’ve…when you were a sophomore… found at least one or two internships either while in school or during the summers. Students who graduate with internships on their record have a much greater probability of finding a good job faster than those who don’t. It doesn’t really matter whether these internships are paid or not and it may not even matter how long they were. Internships tell prospective employers that you really care about your future.

Also, this probably goes without saying, if you work your way through college to earn money, prospective employers are absolutely gonna love that. Being involved in a number of leadership positions and extracurricular activities is also positive…as long as your grades are decent.

The population for college students is shrinking. Colleges and universities are petrified with the fact that they are going to be fewer and fewer students. It might be a very good idea to simply ask the admissions people at your prospective college or university, “what is the starting salary of the graduates from your school?” In other words, “if I’m going to invest more than $100,000 in your institution, what am I going to get for it?” Don’t be surprised if the admissions person you’re speaking to gives you a blank stare and says they don’t know. Tell them to find out and get back to you. After just one year of being asked this by prospective students at colleges and universities, they will come up with an exact response to the question. So, what is going to be your ROI? Most colleges and universities have never had to answer that question, because they really didn’t care. But now, if the consumer is asking that kind of question they’re going to have to answer it.

 

…counteracting perseveration

Perseveration. It occurs when candidates who are having a particularly difficult time finding a job play their issues and failures over and over in their mind.

“Why can’t I find an interview?…What’s wrong with me? … Why didn’t I do better on that interview?…They told me they were going to call me back and they didn’t.… I thought I was perfect for the job.… They told me they were going to hire me and then they didn’t.…I’ve never had a problem in getting a job before, what’s wrong with me?… I must be doing something drastically wrong.… Don’t these people understand how hard it is?… This just isn’t fair.… I was making that kind of money 10 years ago.… The gal I interviewed with, I should be her boss.… Those people couldn’t even tell a good candidate if they saw one.… I know I didn’t do very well in the interview but that shouldn’t make any difference.… Those people that interviewed me don’t know what they’re doing.”

Pick any one of these statements and read it over and over and over and over again. That’s perseveration. It’s depressing and it is not the way to look for a job.

Everyone who reads this is going to agree that they shouldn’t do it. But they do. And it further depresses them. So, when this kind of conversation in the head begins, a well-grounded candidate will stop themselves and begin this kind of self-talk:

“I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I have to work harder at getting interviews. I have to do the right things in order to get interviews.”

“I can’t do anything about the past and I can’t do much about the future. All I can do is control what I do right now. Right now, I’m going to take massive action.”

“Let’s see, what did I do wrong in that interview? I need to figure it out so I can correct it.”

“I did the best I could, but I do have to get better. That was a learning opportunity and I’ve grown from it. Now I know things are difficult, but I’ll get better.”

Well, I think you get the point. Negative perseveration leads to nothing but disaster.

…hiring authority’s top 20 lip loads that kill an interview

Most hiring and interviewing authorities don’t know that 60% of the interviewing mistakes are made by them as opposed to the candidates they interview.  Most interviewing and hiring authorities claim that “good hires” aren’t made because of poor candidates or poor interviewing techniques on the part of the candidates.  But the truth is that good candidates are often turned off or discouraged from pursuing an opportunity because of what hiring or interviewing authorities say.

Here are the top 20 “lip loads” that hiring or interviewing authorities use to kill perfectly good interviews and the messages they send to good candidates:

“I’m not sure what we’re looking for, we can’t agree, but I’m glad you’re here, now tell me about yourself.”Message: We have no idea what we’re looking for, wouldn’t know it if we found it, can’t agree…. this is a shot in the dark.  We’re surely an indecisive group of folks.

“I will know the right candidate when I meet them.”Message: I hire and fire by feeling.  I don’t want to be bothered by details like qualifications and the ability to do the job.

“We are in a big hurry… we’ve been without someone in this position for some time….. Our process takes four weeks, if we’re lucky. ” Message: This makes us look like we’re working.  On top of that, it gives us plenty to complain about…that we can’t find good people.

“Let me tell you about our company, the job… me … my boss … why we’re looking to hire … what hasn’t worked in the past … what we think will work in the future … why I  like the Cowboys… the Mavericks’ … the Stars.”Message: I’m going to do all the talking. Then I will decide on your qualifications and ability to do the job.

“I’m sorry, I’m 15 minutes (…20 minutes, 30 minutes) late but I had to take a phone call…talk to a customer…. had an emergency… talk to my boss.”Message: Interviewing you or anybody else just isn’t that important.

“Excuse me for a moment, but I have to… take a call… talk to a customer… have an emergency… talk to my boss… in front of you.”Message: Interviewing you or anybody else just isn’t that important. I’m just a busy person as well as inconsiderate.

“The last person we had in this position was a real jerk and the one before that was awful.  Our luck in finding good people seems to be really poor.”Message: I will talk about you and I will talk about the other people who left.

“We want someone who is a cultural fit.”Message: You are too old.

“My boss, who you will speak with, is a real piece of work.  We never know which personality is going to show up on a daily basis.”Message: The boss is a real piece of work.  No one ever knows which of his personality is going to show up. He is very difficult.

“How much money are you making? We know we’re not really competitive in the marketplace, but it is a great place to work.”Message: We underpay and expect a lot.

“We really need a water-walker… someone with at least 10 years of experience, an M.B.A. from an Ivy League school, a tremendous track record and we will pay at least $60,000.”Message: Our expectations are totally unrealistic and they keep getting higher with every candidate we interview…we just can’t afford to make a mistake.

“Thank you for coming to the interview.  You know what happened to me.  I just went through an awful divorce… my 16 year-old ran away…. I was in an awful car accident two weeks ago…. we just found out my mother has cancer… “Message: My personal life is more important than interviewing you.

“I’m the decision maker, but I like to get the input of five (… four, six, etc.) other people.”Message: I’m not really the decision maker, I just wanna’ look good.

“This company is one of the hardest places to work in the whole world. But if you have lots the courage and can weather the constant storm it is really interesting.”  Message: This Company has a lot of turnover.  They are unreasonably demanding.

“I’m the first person in the interviewing process.  Although I am in H.R. (…the ‘screener’…the admin to Mr. /Ms. Big), my job is to make sure that the hiring authority interviews the right kind of candidates.”Message: I need to look good. You might be able to do the job, but I am not going to send you or anybody else past me unless I think you’re a perfect candidate.  I’m really not certain of what we need because; I am not really in that department.  I have this list of qualifications that every candidate has to meet. I check boxes. I don’t want to look bad.

“You are one of 20 candidates that we have interviewed over the last six weeks.”Message: We have no idea what we are looking for. Our hiring process is an endurance race. We can’t understand why we can’t find good people!

“We are really careful about who we hire. We make sure every candidate knows what they are getting into.”Message: We are so picky. We want everyone in the company to like the person we hire.Your ability to do the job isn’t as important as what everyone thinks of you.

“Everyone we talk to wants to come to work here. The lucky ones get to.”Message: You are darn lucky to be interviewing here. We don’t have to tell you why you ought to work here. We are the only company in the world worth working for.

“Along with our interviewing, we have a battery of tests you will need to take. But don’t worry, we all took them and they only account for 25% of the hiring decision.”Message: The tests decide who gets hired. They are the “first” 25% of the decision.We don’t have to make a decision because the testing does it for us.

“You are exactly what we are looking for. We will get back to you when I get the other people that need to speak to find out when they can interview you.”Message: I tell this to everyone. We are unorganized and our process will take a very long time.

Other “killers”:

 “I’ll call you tomorrow (…in a day…two days…)” Then never doing it.

“I’m so busy… we need to reschedule this interview.”

Never giving the candidate honest feedback.

Not selling the job and the opportunity to candidates.

…rituals and routines

The importance of rituals and routines in your job search cannot be overemphasized. Whether you’re looking for a job full-time or looking for a job while you have one (which is like having two jobs) it’s very important to develop specific patterns of  living (rituals and routines) that allow you to focus your mental and emotional efforts on doing everything you can to find a job.Good routines are designed to prepare a job seeker for their best performance, mentally, physically and emotionally.

Routines and rituals mean that you set a schedule that you follow every single day of your job search. If you’re looking for a job full-time, it’s writing out a specific schedule that you don’t deviate from so that you don’t have to “think” and spend mental energy on inconsequential decisions. Inconsequential decisions like, “What time should I get up tomorrow?”… “Which shirt should I wear today?”… “What suit should I wear?”… “What should I have for breakfast?”… “What time should I eat lunch?”… “Who should I call about an interview?”… “What plan should I have for today?”    “Should I simply blow today off and go play golf?”… added together take a tremendous amount of mental and emotional energy.

The result of too many of these inconsequential decisions is called decision fatigue. There have been a tremendous number of psychological studies showing that even after making a number of inconsequential decisions that are just that, inconsequential, people get emotionally and psychologically tired and they don’t do as well on cognitive tests.

Decision fatigue is further exacerbated when someone is looking for a job because of the emotional strain of looking for a job and, if it’s the case, trying to keep a job they don’t like which they are leaving as well as trying to find a new one. Decision fatigue can happen really quickly and put the individual in a debilitating mood. I’ve often wondered how much this factor plays in those 94.7 million people who are out of work with 50% of them reporting that they just plain quit looking.

Routines and rituals help minimize decision fatigue. Minimal decision fatigue frees an individual’s mental and emotional efforts to focus on the process of looking for a job, i.e. getting interviews, performing those interviews, etc. It’s hard enough to function well in the job search process without decision fatigue. Bluntly, there’s always going to be some of it, but the idea is to minimize it as much as possible.

Are your rituals and routines helping you?

…for mom’s with a career

One of my candidates was speaking to me this week about her disappointment in not being further in her “career.” She was lamenting the fact that her career had seemed to stall when she had made the decision to take a few years off to stay at home with her children. She was fortunate enough, economically to be able to do that. She is now in her mid-40s and, although in a good job, she would like to move faster. She expressed the idea that maybe if she hadn’t taken the 3 1/2 years off to stay home with the kids she might have been able to go further.

Now my expertise is helping companies find really good talent and helping great candidates find new jobs. I’m not a psychologist and the philosopher in me (as well as the “psychologist” in me) is simply  a result of the experience I’ve had in helping people since 1973 and paying attention to what I’ve seen and experienced.

As I’ve mentioned before,raising kids is the hardest job in the whole world. From a father’s (male) perspective being a mom is the most difficult challenge a woman could probably have. I expressed to this lady my sincere belief that raising kids is a whole lot more important than any career. At the end of our lives and especially in the twilight of our lives the way our children have turned out will far surpass our position on the corporate ladder. Her career will be, at best, a footnote to the impact she had on the world by raising children. A successful career is third or fourth place compared to being a successful parent. One of the reasons our society is so messed up is that we have put a career on some pedestal confusing it with “success.”

Some women absolutely have to work to make economic ends meet in the family. I understand. And my heart goes out to them. Nobody said that life was easy…for any of us. We all have our burdens and our challenges. But it is how we meet those burdens and challenges that make the difference.

I advised my candidate that when she looks back on her career, it won’t be anywhere near as important as the raising of her children. We only get ONE shot at raising children. Careers, jobs etc. can come and go and, at least in America, we can start all over as many times as we wish. We can’t “start over” at raising our children.

I suggested to my candidate that the “career” aspect of things and how far along she might get or have gotten is maybe the wrong focus. Maybe the focus should be the quality of her work And how well she accomplished what she was doing. Did she do her work the very best she could? Was it just a j-o-b, or did she throw herself into her work and do the very best she could? Did she personally grow in the process of doing what she did? Was she, in the metaphor of Martin Luther King, the best street sweeper she could be? Did she do everything she could to perfect the gifts that God has given her?

Our perspective is usually defined by our own experience. The personal growth that I’ve experienced in my career would not have been possible had it not been for a wonderful spouse, Chris, who was a “career mom” doing the yeoman’s work of raising five wonderful children. And now she is having the joy of being a wonderful grandmother. We were blessed and I, particularly fortunate, to be so lucky.

But even the business that I nurtured, pales in comparison to the impact that raising children has. Again, for those women that have to do both our prayers are with you. However, our society’s emphasis on our being a “business career success” at the expense of being a fine parent, especially a mother, has our laddr on the wrong wall.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be concerned about their career… both men and women. I am saying  that we need to stop and think about how what we do, professionally, meshes with our being a parent. I repeat, you only get a shot at that ONE time.

At the end of your life, it won’t be your customers, your CEO, your business associates who will be easing your death.

‘Cultural Fit’

I hear it once a day…a euphemism for age, gender, race, faith, ethnicity…anything you can think of. Few folks will be absolutely open about it. They kind of mumble the words in an uncomfortable, low toned, embarrassing manner, with their revealing guilt. Sometimes, rarely, a good business reason underlies the discrimination. Thirty or so years ago, I remember the owner of a trucking company telling me he wanted to hire an overweight, older lady to do the front office scheduling and bookkeeping. He insisted that he didn’t want the drivers hanging around the front office ogling and flirting with the woman he hired. It wasn’t illegal to discriminate this way back then. Although it still might have been wrong, I totally understand his point.

I really understand the rationale behind this issue, though I disagree. A tribal mentality will always exist. Let’s face it, an employee with growing children probably wants to be home for dinner with the family in the evening rather than endless happy hours with younger peers and ‘clients’ with nothing better to do. And if that is a part of their business, it just may not fit some folks. It often, though, may never cross the mind of managers that happy hours may not be the only way of being effective.

Young, inexperienced managers often shy away from hiring  very experienced, older employees for fear of being treated like a ‘kid’ instead of a boss. Older managers claim they don’t want to mess with ‘raising’ kids by putting up with the strains and distractions of youth…romances, social life, that is more important than work, etc. They say, “I’ve already raised my own children, don’t want to raise any again.” Both ends of the spectrum aren’t universal.

This ‘cultural fit’ issue is just one variable some employers refuse to deal with. I get it. Business is rough enough without having to worry about an issue that might become a problem. And if companies only hire the ‘same’ kind of folks, they’ll never know what else might work.

As a job seeker, it is useless to rail against this bias. It may not be right, but it ain’t gonna change. Quit expending energy on it. There are lots of wrong things in the world. As the need for good employees increases, these biases will decrease because of demand.

I’ve experienced European firms as well as East Indian firms who hire Americans simply because they need them in order to do business in America but I can tell in speaking with them that they have a disdain as well as a condescending attitude towards Americans and American businesses. They often look down their noses at us, implying that we really don’t know what we’re doing. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism. I don’t know.

And then there are some cultures like my heritage, Middle Eastern, where it is simply accepted and assumed that everybody lies. Well, a milder way to put it is that they don’t always tell the truth or all the truth. That doesn’t mean that all Middle Eastern folks lie. Most of us don’t. It just means that bending the truth is a lot more accepted in the Middle East than in America. I know one president of a company who is East Indian who won’t do business with most East Indian companies because he says the way they are taught to do business in India isn’t the way he chooses to operate. Bending the truth, he says, or telling people that they will do something they don’t really intend to do is accepted in that culture.

The truth is that lots of people at any age act crazy. Lots of folks of different races, genders and ethnic backgrounds see the world differently than you. Some outright lie and some outright don’t like the rest of us.

Some of these issues are perceptions and some are total misperceptions. I placed a 64-year-old sales guy with a woman-owned sales organization where the 14 women who comprise the organization averaged 32 years old. He’s doing great and they all laugh about the perspective that he brings. (I doubt, though, it would be easy to get used to “cultural” lying.)

We’d all probably be a little better off if we’d simply forget employees fitting into the “culture” of our company. Just be aware, though, that as a job candidate you may very well run into cultural bias. Complaining about it probably won’t do you one bit of good. You are still not likely to be hired. Be aware, however, that you probably have some of those cultural biases yourself.