Category Archives: Job Search Blog

….bad outweighs good… lessons for candidates and hiring authorities

Just started listening to a new book, The Power of Bad, by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister. You know how often something is presented to you and you go, “oh, my goodness that’s been there all along and that’s why the kind of things that happen (in our business) happen.” And then you start thinking about all of the things you should have been doing to counterbalance…or at least understand…in your business process.

the authors research and prove that “bad outweighs good…that bad events are four times more likely to effect us negatively than positive events effect us positively …we remember negative experiences much longer than we remember positive ones …and that we are much more prone to negative bias than we are to positive bias.” The bottom line is that we are drawn to the negative.

I’m really excited about finishing the book because it’s premise is that if we put our “bad” in perspective and learn from it we can get better and it can serve as something very positive.

It dawned on me that we experience this in the interviewing and hiring process all of the time. Just last week, we had a vice president candidate with a great documentable track record go all the way through a four-week interviewing process with (almost) hoards of people, an extensive background and reference check, a verbal discussion of what an offer would look like (in the $150,000 range with a $300,000 total first year earnings) and a start date only to be scuttled and not offered because the CEO, who lives in another part of the country and only interviewed the candidate for 45 minutes during the candidate’s corporate visit, “heard” through a back door channel some negative things about the candidate. He didn’t even share what he heard. He just said, “if what I heard is true, I just can’t live with it.” And that’s what he communicated to the EVP who is doing the hiring.

Even though this candidates references were outstanding and the candidates recent, verifiable track record was excellent and what the CEO heard about the candidate happened a number of years ago… at least that’s what we were told…the company decided not to hire the candidate. The power of bad manifested itself! There was not even interest in consulting with the candidate about whatever happened. The EVP is exasperated because he’s been trying to find someone for four months. But the CEO really didn’t give him any choice.

The candidate was not fazed that much because he had two other offers that were reasonably equal and he accepted one. Not a big deal. But we really feel badly for our client because they really needed him, probably worse than he needed them. A couple of years ago, our client had a very bad experience with a VP  they hired in another part of the country. She had only been with the company for six months and they knew they had made a mistake. It took the company almost another 6 months to get rid of the lady and (again, the power of bad) the leaders of the company felt like they had egg all over their face over it. They were so afraid of making a mistake again that the power of bad outweighed the evidence of good in this situation.

Having said all of this, it’s any hiring authority’s or client’s right to hire or not hire anybody they wish for whatever reason. The lesson is that we should all balance the good with the bad. But we need to realize that there’s a tendency for “the bad” to far outweigh, at least initially, the good.

….the four basic questions EVERY candidate needs to ask

When you’re involved in the interviewing process, you’re going to ask lots of give-and-take questions. But, in the final analysis you need to know if you are a serious contender for the position and the only way you’re going to know that is by asking some very blunt and to-            the-point questions whose answers will tell you if you are a strong contender, even if you are the candidate they are going to offer the job to.

I’ve mentioned the most obvious one, “What do I need to do to get the job?” And this is the most important one. There are three other questions, however, that are almost as important. The answers to these questions not only tell you how you stand with the hiring authority, but they can also help clarify any concerns the hiring authority might have about your experience or background that they may not be bold enough to ask.

The four questions are:

  1. Have I made my experience and background clear? Are there any questions about what I have done before or my qualifications?
  2. How does what I have to offer stack up with what you’re looking for? Are there any concerns about my ability to do the job?
  3. How do I compare with the other people that you are interviewing? How do I stack up with them?
  4. What do we need to do to get the job?

The reason you asked the first question about your background is to be sure that the interviewing authority or group of interviewing authorities really understand your background and your experience. You’d be amazed at the number of people who after a candidate has walked away, are not really sure of what a candidate’s experience or background might be. They often times get so wrapped up in asking questions that they don’t really get clear ideas of exactly what you have done before.

By asking this question, you give the interviewing or hiring authority a chance to clarify any questions about your exact experience. It will give them an opportunity to review what you told them about what you’ve done and make sure that they are clear about your background. You give them a chance to answer any questions they might be embarrassed to ask, revealing that they may not have been listening. You make it comfortable for them to get clarification.

The second question will hopefully reveal any issues or concerns the interviewing or hiring authority might have regarding your ability to do the job. The answers to this question will tell you if they perceive any weaknesses in your experience or your ability to do the job.

The answers to this question will give you the opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings or offset any concerns that they might have about your ability to do what they want done.

The third question will reveal how you stack up with the other candidates that they have interviewed. The answer to this question will tell you how many other candidates might be as strong or stronger for the position.

It is likely that you are going to be the only candidate that’s going to have the guts to ask this kind of question. So don’t be surprised if you get a relatively blank stare, with the interviewing or hiring authority wondering exactly what to say. If they say something wishy-washy like, “Well, you rank right up there near the top,” then you might retort by asking, “What will I need to do to become the number one candidate?”

Whatever answer you get to this question will give you a really good idea about how you stack up with the other candidates. Now you may not be told that you are the number one candidate but most of the time you’re going to get a smile and encouragement from the person doing the interviewing or hiring. Hiring authorities absolutely love this question and they will give you all kinds of credit for having the courage to ask it. If they give you a very weak answer that doesn’t really tell you very much, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not the best candidate; it just means that they don’t really have the courage or the guts to tell you that and may be relying on other people to help them with the decision.

The last question, as I’ve mentioned in other portions of this program is, “What do I need to do to get the job?” You absolutely have to ask this no matter what. Even if you don’t think you have a prayer of getting the job offer, you still need to ask.

I ask candidates at least once a day if they asked these four questions, especially the last one. I ask even after they’ve taken this program. Even after I’ve reinforce that they absolutely have to ask these questions, they often times just plain don’t have the guts and the courage to do it. They say stupid things like “Well, I just didn’t think the timing was right,”… “Well, we were in a big hurry and I didn’t get a chance to ask,” blah, blah, blah. It’s all a bunch of garbage. What they’re telling me is they just didn’t have the guts to ask “Are you going to hire me or not?”

The candidates that have the courage to ask these four questions are the candidates who get the most job offers. I can’t make it any clearer than that. You can come up with all kinds of excuses as to why you can’t or shouldn’t or won’t, but it’s all a bunch of junk. If you really want a job offer, you will be bold and ask these four questions.

 

……the crazy hiring environment..what everyy job seeker should know …part 2

Last week, we discussed the first part of the crazy hiring environment environmentI. There is more you should know. I have been a professional recruiter since 1973. Here’s what I have found:

  • Thirty percent of “job openings” are never filled. Companies change their mind about hiring, postpone the hiring, or simply divide the job among existing employees.
  • Sixty percent of the résumés received for a particular opening are never reviewed by the hiring authority.
  • Seventy percent of the résumés received for a particular opening are reviewed by a third party person—that is, Human Resources (HR), an internal recruiter, or some administrative person—who may or may not be qualified to interview any future employee. (A few years ago, we got a call from the CEO of a $40 million manufacturing company. He stated that he needed to hire a controller and that his daughter was going to do the initial interviewing—while she was home from college over Christmas break.)
  • Sixty percent of the third-party people who review a résumé have no direct experience with the job they are recruiting for. They are going by information that is given to them by someone else.
  • Fifty percent of position searches that companies do will have to be started over at least once; 25 percent of them will have to start over two times or more.
  • Most people think companies take thirty to sixty days to fill vacancies. The average is more like 150 to 180 days.
  • Forty percent of the résumés that are “opened” to be read are deleted because the reader can’t tell immediately what the person has done, whom they have worked for, and how successful they have been in that position.
  • The people who are reading the résumés are fearful for their own jobs.

On top of all of this, there are at least 180 résumés received for every job posted to the public. Even if a hiring authority decides to read all of them him or herself, the odds of yours reaching to the top of the pile aren’t great.

Hiring Is Mostly an Emotional Decision

It is important to learn early that the most qualified candidate for a job often is not the one who gets hired. The primary reasons people are interviewed are different from the primary reasons they are hired. In short, there’s a big difference between the candidate’s qualifications and his or her ability to get hired. People are often hired, or not hired, for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do the job, the company, or their qualifications. Over the years I’ve seen people get hired for all sorts of crazy reasons:

  • They were from the same school as the hiring authority.
  • They were young and theoretically had more energy.
  • They were older and the hiring authority felt that older people are more committed.
  • They were average performers and so they wouldn’t “show up” anyone else in the department.
  • They had no experience in the business, therefore wouldn’t have acquired any “bad habits.”

I could go on and on with things that you would laugh at or, in some cases, cry about. But I guarantee you that your qualifications are just part of the decision to hire or not to hire.

No hiring authority is ever going to admit that he or she hired someone who couldn’t do the job. Just remember that the primary reasons certain people are hired usually doesn’t have anywhere as much to do with their qualifications as it does with their perceived ability to do the job—plus their ability to interview well and convince the hiring authority that they’re the best persons for the job.

Remember these points:

  • Hiring authorities and their companies are just as fearful of making a mistake in hiring as they are concerned about hiring the right person.
  • The only thing the hiring authority really cares about is finding someone to do the job. They won’t give a darn about you as a candidate—your feelings, your preference, or how you prefer to be treated.
  • Expect lies and confusion. Companies are going to tell you that they are going to call you back, that they are very interested in you as a candidate, that you would be excellent for the job—blah, blah, blah. Then you will never hear from them again.
  • Many interviewing authorities, such as third-party screeners, people in the Human Resources department, or anyone involved in the hiring who is responsible for the evaluation of candidates but who doesn’t actually have authority, will complicate the process.
  • Expect politics to be involved. From the board of directors down to the cleaning crew, when people are involved it’s political. As hiring is a personal reflection of many people in the organization, the process itself is political. Candidates will often become pawns in the politics of the company.
  • The hiring authorities have inflated opinions of themselves and their companies. They tend to think that, if they have a job opening, it’s the only one in town and “everyone would love to work here.”
  • Ignorance about hiring abounds. The hiring authorities know that someone must be hired, but they often don’t know how to go about doing it.
  • The organizations that will be interviewing you are going to change their minds daily, weekly, or monthly. They will tell you that they need to hire someone today, and four weeks later they will tell you the same thing.
  • Finding a job is one of your highest priorities. In spite of what they tell you, don’t believe a word any hiring authority says until the individual acts as though it is a high priority also.
  • Ten to 15 percent of the time companies are going to hire (promote) from within. You might ask, “Why would an organization interview external candidates if they are probably going to hire from within?” Well, the answer is pretty simple: nobody wants to look bad. They want to appear as though they have surveyed the market, done their research, and hired the most qualified candidate.
  • The interviewing and hiring process sometimes becomes so convoluted that the organization stops interviewing, reorganizes, and hires no one. I estimate this happens at least 30 percent of the time.

 

It is easy to get discouraged in your job search when you see this vision of this reality. But it is better to be aware of what really goes on than to be living a delusion and be disappointed.

I’m sure that if you have been looking for a job for a while now and have sent your résumé to many companies, you have asked yourself, “Why don’t those people call me? I am an absolute perfect match for their job! What’s wrong with them?” Well, now you know.

There’s really not much you can do about the chaos that exists in companies, especially as it relates to your résumé—to getting it read and being called for an  interview. But recognizing the relative mess that most businesses are in is the first step.  Copy this paragraph onto an index card and put it on your desk or refrigerator as a daily reminder:

The shock and awe of the way I will be treated is the first contribution.

To my disappointment and frustration looking for a job. I cannot control what other people do. I can only control how I react to what they do. I do not take it personally. They are simply “acting human,” doing what they think is best for both of them and their companies.

 

……the crazy hiring environment…what every job seeker should know…part 1

Having interviewed more than 100,000 candidates, face-to-face, since 1973, I’m always amazed that people looking for a job think that those people who run companies in the United States really know what they’re doing when it comes to business matters and especially hiring. Most people recognize that this is not the case with the companies they are now working for or have worked for in the past. But all of a sudden, when they become candidates for employment and begin looking for a new job, they think that all those other companies in America are being managed by astute leaders who have great business sense.

Some Statistics on the Nature of Employers

There are 7.5 million businesses in the United States with employees and 27.5 million businesses without employees. Almost all of the businesses (99.9 percent) with employees have fewer than 500 employees and 98 percent of them employ fewer than a hundred people. In fact, the average number of employees in those 7.5 million businesses with employees is sixteen. Back in the year 2000, that figure was the same—sixteen.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the monthly turnover rate for U.S. companies was 3.3 percent. The monthly hire-and-separation rate of employees and American companies, according to the BLS, was 3.2 and 3.1 percent, respectively. The point is that we are a nation of small companies, with 3 percent of our employees coming and going on a monthly basis. As I mentioned above, most people, for some reason, think that the majority of businesses in the United States are run with great business acumen and have a solid system of doing business. For the job seeker, that translates into the misguided perception that their résumé is going to fall into the hands of intelligent people who are going to read it, who have the authority to hire, and who will bring them in for an interview.

Ironically, most of us know in our hearts and minds, how messy, sloppy, and unorganized most businesses are. But for some reason, we imagine that when these people have the opportunity to interview us, things are going to change.

The average job in United States lasts two and a half to three years.  The average 40-year-old in the United States changes jobs 10 times, and the average worker will change jobs 15 to 20 times in their career Even at the C-suite level, there is little stability. Every year since 2007, the average CFO’s tenure at the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies has been three years.

In 1975, the average company in the United States was fifty-eight years old. In 2011, the average company was fifteen years old, in 2014 the average company was 12 years old, and I recently read where the average company in the United States was now 10 years old. That is a drastic difference over the years. Companies come and go more often than all of us think and so do their jobs. Businesses are more erratic than ever.

Even very large companies make poor business decisions and teeter on insolvency. All we need to do is look at the automotive firms and the major banks that, at one time, were model businesses; then they had to be bailed out by the public. Business success, even survival, is much more of an imprecise science than most of us would want to admit.

Books like Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, and The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle reveal that, while hard work is certainly necessary, a great deal of good fortune also is behind both individual and business success. We have a tendency to look at successful businesses and successful people and think that they have magic potions and dazzling talent. Our own egos deceive us into believing that, when we are successful also, it is mostly due to our “dazzling brilliance,” not that we take advantage of good circumstances when we encounter them.

Bill Gates summed it all up well: “Success is a lousy teacher; it seduces intelligent people into thinking they can’t lose.”

A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that more than 70,000 businesses were established every month in the United States, and that more than 60,000 closed down every month. The same study attributed the creation of more than 300,000 new jobs per month to the birth of these firms, as well as more than 250,000 job losses from the deaths of those other firms. And that was recently, when the economy was considered strong.

I’m not trying to overwhelm you or scare you with all these numbers. I’m just trying to give you a realistic view of the overall employment picture. It’s crazy!

 To make matters even more complicated, the challenges of enlarged egos and greed are often overlooked, or not even recognized, in most U.S. businesses. We certainly realize the destructive activities of major names in business who destroy themselves, their companies and the people in them. There are, however, countless other people managing and running businesses in the United States with the same enlarged egos and greed as these people had. The number of people whom these lesser known individuals impact isn’t as great as the high-profile characters, but their actions can be just as devastating to the few who need to work for them or are their customers or clients.

When you come down to it, the people who manage most businesses in the United States are downright goofy. It is amazing that as many of them last as long as they do— and even make money in spite of themselves.

I have personally dealt with more than 80,000 different hiring authorities since 1973. I am convinced that most businesses in the United States model themselves after the people who run them. That is, people run their businesses not much differently from how they run their personal lives. Self-centeredness, greed, ego, lack of common sense, and general overall inflation of one’s business acumen are more the norm than most of us would admit.

Most businesses are started and run by “technicians.” These are people who are good at a particular skill, such as engineering, accounting, or sales. They think that because they are good at what they do, they can start or run a business or even run somebody else’s business (that is, manage). Odds are, you’ve worked for these kinds of people before. They are good at what they do, but they are not really good “people people” and sometimes awful at managing a successful business.

Most businesspeople who manage companies are unrealistic. For example, they often overestimate their capability in dealing with a varying economy. I read a report that at the beginning of the last recession an estimated 42 percent of small business owners expected to increase wages over the next few years. Now, we all know that, except in small pockets of business, wages did not increase during that whole recession. In fact, the National Association for Business Economics released a survey at the beginning of the last recession reporting  that 37 percent of queried firms planned to hire people in the next six months. Yet we know that hiring did not happen. The businesspeople were doing some wishfully thinking.

Indeed, many of us see our own narrow slice of the economic pie in overly optimistic terms. We kid ourselves about the future and about our increased hiring. We hope the future will be better. Even authorities promote this delusion. One popular job-hunting author recently wrote that companies assess their needs twelve months in advance. Oh, brother! The truth is that 99 percent of the businesses in the United States don’t have that kind of vision. They never had, and they never will.

Let’s get real. Recovery from each recession in the United States has taken longer than the ones that went before. There were eight recessions between 1947 and 1982, and for each one it took an average of twenty months for the labor market to bottom out and then recover fully. However, in the early 1990s recession, the same process took thirty-two months. Even in the relatively mild “tech wreck” recession of 2001, recovery still took twenty-four months. The recovery from the last recession is still taking place.

On top of this optimism on the part of business managers and owners, companies have “unhappy” employees.  Recently, the Conference Board reported  that 61 percent of workers under the age of twenty-five were not happy with their jobs, and less than 45 percent of workers between the ages of forty-five and fifty-four were satisfied with their jobs. So, the hiring authority who is potentially going to interview you—unless he or she is the owner of the company—doesn’t like his or her job any more than you like yours and is simply operating out of fear of loss rather than vision of gain.

On top of all of this, it is very rare for any individual, especially a manager, to be hired for their ability to hire and manage other people successfully. Have you ever seen as part of a job description, “the ability to hire, train and keep good employees.” If you’ve been looking for a job for any length of time you are well aware that the people doing the hiring in the interviewing process don’t really seem to be good managers even though they are in that position. If you asked them to tell you how they got those jobs, none of them would ever tell you, “because I have a proven track record of being a skilled hiring authority. I train people extremely well and I retain them as employees because I’m really a good manager.” I’d be willing to bet that 65% of them got their job by just hanging around long enough to be the “last man (or woman) standing.” And they had lived through so many other managers that their superiors thought that if they didn’t promote them into a management slot they might leave and after all, “they’ve been here so long maybe we owe them something.” No one ever bothers to ask, “Is this person a really good manager and do we have documentable proof that they are?” or “We certainly know that they can do the job and even understand the whole department, but can they hire and manage people?”

So, it’s not surprising that the people doing the hiring are not really “people – people.” They don’t interview you very well and they appear, many times, to be extremely incompetent…and they are!

When the people running a business are fearful about what is going to happen, it makes things difficult for the hiring authority, but even more difficult for the candidate. Hiring authorities can’t afford to make a mistake. They perceive that there are hordes of candidates to choose from—and there are. They tell themselves and each other that they can’t afford to hire anyone but the “perfect” candidate, so they are going to keep looking until they find that person. They may not even know if one of those candidates exists, but, by goodness, they need to find him or her.

On top of all of this, you have to have a perspective of what happens when a poor hire is made. When an accountant makes a mistake in accounting, he or she can always go back and rectify the mistake. Maybe other people know it but it’s very few of them. When an IT person makes a mistake there are all kinds of quality control systems that help them rectify their mistakes. When engineers make a mistake a design, it is usually detected early on and fixed. But when managers make a bad hire, first of all it is not detected for quite some time. Secondly, it’s very hard to rectify and thirdly, probably most important, everybody in the company can see the mistake and they all talk about it.

Everyone in the company or a department knows when a manager makes a bad hire. The hiring authority knew it before everyone else did but, as most do, “wanted to give the benefit of the doubt” to the new employee. The reality is that the hiring authority is being judged by everyone in the company who is aware of the mistake as the, “doofus who hired another doofus.”  Since they don’t want to look like a doofus too soon, they will give the new employee even a longer time to prove themselves. As a job seeker you have to realize that one of the reasons that it is so hard for a hiring authority, or group of them, to hire someone is that, if they have the least bit of doubt about the candidate, the fear of them looking like a “doofus who hired a doofus,” runs through their mind.

To make matters worse, it’s a lot harder to fire people these days than it used to be. Putting people on performance plans with the eventual goal of getting rid of them takes a tremendous amount of energy and time as well as being terribly distracting.

Why is all of this important for you to know? Because if you are like most candidates, you think that you are going to be considered and evaluated by intelligent businesspeople who have a genuine sense of appreciation for what you can do for their company. You think a great hiring authority is personally anxious to interview and hire you.

If you assume that the “right people” are reviewing your résumé and thinking about interviewing you, you need to think again.

Next week: more on the Crazy Hiring Environment

 

 

 

…..when your ego is bigger than your game…you lose

My candidate made it past two telephone interviews. One was with the regional manager and one was with the VP of sales. They fell in love with the guy. He had absolutely everything they needed and then some. They could see that he could grow with them and be with them for a long time through their growth that they plan to double the next couple of years.

Then, unfortunately, he went in for the face-to-face interview. It was a disaster. He began the interview by telling them how many other interviews he had, who else he was speaking with and the kind of offers he was expecting and then literally asked them, “What can you do for me?”

The first line manager told us (and she had been one of our candidates) that it was the worst interview that she had ever experienced. She suspected that the reason he was so, literally, obnoxious as she put it, was that he had only been in this present job for seven months and had made a really big mistake in taking the job. She suspected that he was so defensive that he literally went on the offensive and tried to establish himself as this fantastic candidate who people couldn’t live without. He absolutely totally blew it.

What’s worse, he thought he did a fantastic job on the interview. He was so busy telling them what fantastic interviews he had (which wasn’t true) that he overlooked selling himself and, most importantly asking them questions about the job and themselves.

Our client said that our candidate was probably the most qualified one she had interviewed, but he was the worst presenter that she had probably ever interviewed. She said she would never hire him even if he was the last candidate on earth. His ego was just plain too big.

I haven’t spoken to the candidate yet but it will be very interesting to see what he says about how he presented himself. The message is clear! Don’t be defensive! Don’t oversell yourself! Keep it simple. Don’t let your ego out run your game.

 

…..so, you need to take a test as part of the interviewing process

Let’s spend a few moments on the subject of testing. This would include all kinds of psychological, aptitude, and intelligence tests. Since 1973, I have seen candidate testing ebb and flow in popularity. Believe it or not, it seems to ebb and flow depending on the economy. Testing of job candidates can become very expensive, so it is one of the first things that companies stop doing when the economy gets difficult.

Be prepared for what I call the paradox of testing. Every company that has ever used testing as a part of its selection process is going to tell every candidate that, at most, the testing only accounts for 25 percent of the final decision. Don’t believe a word of it! Whatever kind of test is used, from grapho-analysis to psychiatric interviewing, is a qualifier that you must pass with the minimum standard arbitrarily set by someone or some group in the organization, or you aren’t going to go further in the interviewing process. Whether hiring authorities or companies will admit it or not, the test becomes a binary, black-and-white, proceed-or-go-home qualifier.

So, when a hiring authority tells you something like, “Oh, by the way, we have some psychological (or aptitude, or skills, or intelligence) testing you need to do as a candidate, but don’t worry about it. Everybody who comes to work here has to take it and it doesn’t really account for much more than 10 percent (or 25 percent, or 50 percent) of the decision,” don’t believe a word of it! Testing becomes the gate that has to be passed through before you can be considered as a viable candidate.

Testing objectifies the hiring process. When, supposedly objective tests decide on your viability as a candidate, no hiring or interviewing authority involved in the process of hiring has to have their butt on the line, has to take a stand on your candidacy, or has to run the risk of being the only person who likes you and wants to hire you. Now, a hiring authority is still going to have to make a decision in choosing someone to be hired. But the convenient thing about testing is that it also functions as a cover-your-butt issue. If hiring you turns out to be a mistake, but you did well on the company’s battery of tests, the hiring authority can turn to everyone else and say, “Well, she did well on the testing!” It is just another way of passing the buck of responsibility. The tests become a qualifier, screening out tons of candidates so no one person has to, and it’s convenient and easy.

Please don’t tell me that testing is stupid and it doesn’t work. Part of my graduate studies—admittedly almost 50 years ago— included extensive studies about testing. I can make the case that testing will never measure passion, commitment, focus and, in general, “heart,” the real things that separate a top performer from an average one. But, as you know, the people who manage companies don’t really care what you or I think. If somebody sells a company on the idea that any kind of testing will help them hire better people and they invest thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in their testing, they’re going to use it—no matter what.

Does the testing work? Well, it certainly creates an environment of homogeneous people. Being included or eliminated in the interviewing process by a testing procedure is just as valid or invalid as any of the other crazy reasons by which you may be included or eliminated. And it’s like the old joke of the guy that snaps his fingers to keep the pink elephants away. Since he keeps snapping his fingers and no one sees any pink elephants, this system works. If companies never hire anybody that doesn’t do well on whatever kind of testing they have, they never really know how valid it may be.

My gut— and it is only my gut—tells me that the companies that use any kind of testing don’t have any more or less success or turnover than companies that don’t. But, hey, what do I know? They ain’t asking me my opinion, and they don’t care. If they invest in testing, claim that it gets them better employees, and so on, then I guess it does. (I worked with a company five or six years ago that hired a CEO. They had a succession of three CEOs in three years—all miserable failures. They hired a candidate of mine, and after a couple of weeks on the job, they discovered that she hadn’t taken the company’s testing. They gave her the tests, and the tests indicated that she would not be successful. Well, they certainly couldn’t let her go over that, so, as with a lot of stuff that goes on in businesses, nobody said a word and just let it be. She was not only one of the most successful CEOs the company ever had, but grew the company 115 percent in four years. When the company was sold, she, as well as the major stockholders, made millions of dollars. The company is now a division of a major corporation and, guess what—they still use the testing to qualified candidates before they hire them. Go figure!

How to Take Tests

First, whatever you do, don’t bitch and moan to the prospective employer that testing is a lot of nonsense. In some cases, it very well is, but if a prospective employer does it as a routine part of the selection process, your opinion isn’t going to matter. If you voice your negative opinion too much, you’ll be eliminated for that reason alone. So, just decide to take the test in stride and resolve to do the very best you can. And, don’t say something stupid like, “Oh, my God, I’m absolutely awful when it comes to tests.” This may be true, but for goodness sake, don’t tell that to a prospective employer.

Second, before you go to take the test, get lots of rest, eat a good meal, and relax. Do the very best you can. Look at it as a challenge. Take it in stride. Trying to prepare for it is hard. Do not be over analytical and agonize over each answer, nor be flippant about the answers that you give.

While not as prevalent as they used to be, there are still some companies out there that test candidates with a face-to-face interview with a psychologist or psychiatrist. If this kind of thing is involved in your interviewing process, approach it the same way as you would approach a paper-and-pencil or computerized test. Be thoughtful of your answers. Be consistent in your answers and, for goodness sake, don’t try to read into every question what the interviewer is trying to get at. That’s a losing proposition. Don’t become belligerent, challenging, or argumentative with the interviewer.

No matter what you do, no matter what kind of test you’re given, whether it be multiple interviews with the psychologist or psychiatrist, written essays, multiple-choice intelligence, character, or personality, do not try to outguess the test! Don’t sit there and ask yourself what they are trying to find out when they ask that question? Because if they’re trying to find out “that,” then I will answer “this” so that they will think “that” of me, you will be finished! You can’t outguess them.

If you are going to be given a computerized test, psychological test, and the like, you might want to go online and practice with tests that you can buy for yourself. Tons of intelligence and psychological types of tests are available on the Internet for very reasonable prices. Some even give feedback and corrective advice. Studies have shown that practicing these kinds of tests make you better. You’re not likely to be able to do this with psychological or personality tests, but you certainly can with math or intelligence tests. So, practice when possible.

 

…yea for Kyle

Want to know why some people really get ahead in life and many people don’t? Well here’s an example.

Kyle has been a very successful aeronautical engineer who made it in sales a number of years ago and has made a whole lot of money. He has had to change jobs for some very good reasons and it’s clear that he has been successful in just about every place that he’s ever been.

I call one of my clients Thursday morning and she says, “Well, the best I could do would be to be able to see him this afternoon right after lunch, because I’m absolutely covered up for later today and all of tomorrow.” I called Kyle and he says, “I’ll make it happen.”

Now the vast majority of candidates that I work with would have given me all kinds of excuses as to why they couldn’t make a 1 PM interview when I called them at 9:30 AM. “You just can’t expect somebody to be able to make an interview that fast… Besides I’m really busy… Tell me all about it first and then I’ll decide if I want to go… Blah, blah, blah.” Kyle didn’t even ask much about the job or the opportunity. He just said that he would figure out a way to get there.

One PM passes and at about 1:30 PM my client calls and says, “Kyle isn’t here… What’s up?” I called Kyle and it goes to voicemail. It doesn’t seem to be like him, but I call my client and explain to her that I’m at a loss. About 2:45 PM, the client calls and says, “Well, he made it for only about a half-hour, but get this. He was in a car wreck and had his son come pick him up and get him here for the interview. He was a half-hour late, but he made it. He left his cell phone in his car and that’s why you couldn’t reach him. He’s now going back to his car to get a tow truck and get the car off to get it fixed. I want to hire this guy. In all the years that I’ve interviewed, I’ve never had anyone that committed to showing up to an interview. He made no dramatic excuses. He didn’t whine and moan, he just stated that he had unfortunately been in the car wreck but he made it! His track record is stellar, and I can see why”

I don’t know if I ever remember a candidate going the extra mile like that. Most of the time I would’ve gotten a call from the candidate (sometimes in a whiny voice) saying, “I can’t make it to the interview because I was just in a car wreck (woe is me!)”

Kyle makes a whole lot of money and has for most of his career. I mean, lots of money. He’s extremely successful and will continue to be.

It’s pretty clear why. I’ve gotten him to other interviews and everybody else has felt exactly the same way.

….”What Am I doing wrong?”

I go through this conversation at least once a day with everyone from a two-year experienced candidate to a 30 year experienced candidate and the conversation goes something like this:

“I just can’t believe it… I’ve been looking now for four weeks (… five weeks… three months… six months… one year) and I can’t seem to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’ve rewritten my resume at least five times. I finally paid somebody $1500 to rewrite it and to give me some ‘coaching’ because they said they knew where the so-called, hidden market was… I just can’t believe it. I’ve only had two or three interviews and one or two of them blew me off pretty much immediately. I’ve called just about every friend I have at least once… ex-bosses… people who told me that I wouldn’t have any problem finding a job, but of course, they didn’t have any openings or didn’t know of any openings. I just must be doing something wrong. My spouse (… girlfriend, boyfriend, ex-spouse, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, mother, father, cousin, rabbi, priest, pastor… all tell me that I’m a wonderful person. But I’m beginning to doubt how wonderful I am. And all those years of working my tail off and being told what a wonderful asset I was… What’s wrong with me… What am I doing wrong?”

Well, the fact is you are probably not doing anything terribly wrong (I’ll get to that in a minute). Just because you’re reading and hearing that unemployment is low, the market is still very tight. For every one of you, every employer is able to interview five or six people… if you can get the interview at all. It is still very hard to get interviews, no matter how good you are.

All those people who tell you how wonderful you were for all those years needed to do that so you could keep working for them and, you probably were doing a wonderful job. But getting a job and doing a job are two different things. And just because you had a wonderful, fantastic career full of accolades and praises doesn’t mean that lots of people are going to want to interview you and hire you.

Getting to the interview is the biggest problem that most people have. If you follow everything that I’ve written in my books and this blog and my online Job Search Solution program you know that the biggest challenge is even getting an interview. It’s not as easy as everybody always thinks it is. They think that all they have to do is stand up and say “Hey world… Here I am… When do you want to interview me?” And when that doesn’t happen over an even relatively short period of time, whether you’re still employed or out of work, you become convinced that they just don’t know a good athlete when they see one. You become convinced that it’s them that are just plain foolish for not responding to your resume (… just one of the 160 others that they’ve received).

Most people aren’t aware of how much work a person has to do to simply get an interview. They’ve been comparing themselves to their peers and these people know they are a fantastic worker. But that has nothing to do with getting interviews and performing well on those interviews. They get shocked that the process is so difficult and challenging. Then when the reality hits them, they have no idea what they’re doing “wrong.”

They just simply weren’t prepared for how hard it is.

 

…..more practical spirituality

 

Start a prayer /intentions list

As you can probably tell I’m a real big fan of praying.  I don’t just believe that it works. I absolutely know it works. But on this particular issue of having a prayer or intentions list you don’t have to believe in prayer to make it work. The purpose of this is for you to pray for or pass along positive intentions to specific people. It is a form of giving. After all, you are a person who wants to receive; so in order to receive, you are going to have to give and this is one of the ways of doing it.  It is great to begin this list with people whom you care for, maybe close members of your family or friends. However, it is also a great value to pray for or pass along good intentions to people you don’t know. You might even want to put people on this list that you perceive as your “enemies.” Even praying for people who society deems as “evil” reaps a positive benefit for you.  So, start a list today.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to have this prayer list posted at home so the whole family can see.  Encouraging them to add people’s names to the list merely increases the positive return.  It is a great habit for everyone to get into, and it is easy.

Prayer

I don’t claim to be an authority on prayer, although I do it a lot. Regarding changing jobs, there are two things about prayer I might enlighten you about; and then you can take it from there. First of all, I’m reminded about the story of the fellow that prayed every night to win the lottery. He got down on his knees and every night he asked God to help him win the lottery. This went on for a number of months and every night he got on his knees and said, “Dear God, please, please, please, let me win the lottery!  I deserve to win the lottery… please, please, let me win the lottery!”  After a number of months, his plea became even more passionate. Finally, one night when he is reciting his prayer, a roll of thunder came out of the sky and a booming voice said “You first have to buy a ticket!” The point of the story is that simple praying without doing all the necessary things that it takes to get a job isn’t going to help your prayers be successful. Without massive amounts of activity, the kind that I am recommending in this course – all the prayer in the world isn’t going to help you.

Prayer: Without action is useless – (with apologies) St. Paul

The second thing about prayer that I find essential and successful is to pray for guidance in the process, not necessarily for a specific outcome. Praying specifically for a good job or a certain job doesn’t seem to be as effective as praying for spiritual guidance and help in the process of finding a job. There is a slight difference in praying for the process as opposed to praying for a result. If praying for a result, say a particular job, and the job does not come about for one reason or another it’s too easy to believe that prayer failed. Contrarily, if you pray for help and guidance in the process of finding a job, the effects seem to be more real.

God grant me the serenity to except the things I cannot change, the courage to change things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

…Thy will be done

Meditation

 If you are not a practice meditator… start. Along with prayer, but different, it’s one of the most mystical things you can do. Unfortunately, it takes a very short time to learn meditation, but a very long time to really experience its effects. Having said that, most people will get a lot out of meditation in the very beginning.

I’ve been meditating since the early 70’s… every day. It calms the emotions, focuses the mind, and alleviates tension and simply balances just about everything mental, emotional and spiritual. Its greatest value in a job search is that it helps center all of the challenges one experiences.

The long-term value of meditation is that it quiets the ego. And when you come down to it, one of the most foundational aspects of looking for a job is dealing with the highs and lows that the ego experiences.

Volunteer

This is a tremendous way to get “out of yourself” and really help other people. Now, I’m not recommending that you volunteer while you should be interviewing. However, there are plenty of opportunities in the evening or on weekends to volunteer. There are hundreds of volunteer organizations that help people who really need assistance. You need to be doing this. Help people who cannot help themselves. Find any kind a volunteer organization that might take advantage of your skills and volunteer. This is a form of giving and asking nothing in return: serve food at the soup kitchens, build homes for Habitat for Humanity, visit old people in hospitals, children in hospitals, etc. If you’re not a joiner or can’t fit volunteering into your schedule, you (just yourself) can organize to do things like pick up trash on the street, clean up your alley, or mow and trim the lawn of an old person in your neighborhood.

Seek peace

Your life is going to be stressful enough just looking for a job. As I mentioned in one of the previous chapters, I would recommend staying away from newspapers (other than to look at the classified ads), negative people, violent movies, television for the most part, etc. I recommended in a previous session to seek solitude and quiet especially in the morning; but throughout the day doesn’t hurt, either. Seeking peace and solitude also allows you to really focus intensely on all the activities it takes to find a job.

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light,

and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.”

-Mohandas Gandhi

Let go

You know all that stuff that you cleaned out – Your trash, attic, closet, office, car, etc? Well, give it all away! In fact, anything you can give away to someone who probably needs it more than you is a way to build spiritual credit. Streamline your life and give away what you don’t need.  Learning to give anonymously is truly a great experience. The “feel-good” you get in giving even a modest gift, without anyone knowing who you are, is tremendously gratifying. I personally have $5 gift certificates to one of the fast food chains in the console of my car.  When a street person at an intersection asks me for a hand out when I have stopped, I will give them a $5 gift certificate. It is a really good feeling and it only cost $5. It’s also very instructive to my children.

….more next week