At least once a day I get an email or call from either one of our own candidates, or one of our radio program listeners or someone who has taken our online course, www.thejobsearchsolution.com. They write or call saying something along the line of, “I got some advice about interviewing or finding a job from… a career counselor, a resume writer, my uncle, my cousin, my father, my brother, etc. and they say……” And the advice is so cockamamie and off-base it is terribly misleading.
The problem has to do with the fact that just about anyone can have an opinion or an idea of what is successful in both the interviewing and hiring process. It’s like anyone who’s been married can all of a sudden become an expert at giving advice about marriage. If people have been parents they can act authoritatively to others about being parents. Maybe their advice is sound, maybe it’s not.
I’m quite sure that the people who offer bad advice are sincere and don’t realize that it’s “bad.” They want to be authoritative and helpful and throw out ideas that just aren’t reasonable, viable or true. And to someone that just plain doesn’t know, there is no way to refute the advice. In the last three weeks I have been asked to comment on these pieces of “advice” given to candidates:
- functional resumes are best
- hiring managers love to give “informational” interviews
- never discuss money in an initial interview… Ever! (I saw a video of this advisor giving this advice. He suggested that if the interviewer asks the candidate about money and what he or she has being earning, the candidate should not answer the question and simply say, “what does this job pay?”)
- if you are a top performer, people will always find you
- good candidates never have to look for a job
- the best candidates are always employed
- pay us $5000 to rewrite your resume and “expose” you to the hidden job market
- never accept the first offer that a company makes… Always negotiate
- “qualify” a prospective employer with an initial telephone conversation before wasting your time interviewing
- always let an employer know you are being pursued by many organizations (… even if you’re not)
- there is always room to negotiate a job offer… Companies always start out in the middle of the salary range..there is always room to go up
- companies try to get away with paying as little as they can and candidates try to get as much as they can…
- interviewing is a two-way street
- the company you want, “wants” you
- target the 10 or 15 companies that you’re most interested in and pursue them
Well, I’m sure you get the point. And unless a person is perpetually looking for a job it’s hard to know what advice is good and what is bad. But just to address the above “bad” advice:
Functional resumes rarely work well. The person reviewing the resume is reviewing 150 of them on average and they want to know who the candidate has worked for, what they did and how successful they were. Functional resumes separate performance from the specific jobs and companies and will rarely get read. Most managers don’t have time to give “informational” interviews. Unless they are your uncle or close family friend don’t expect anybody to agree to that kind of interview.
If you are asked in an initial interview what you have been making, tell the interviewing authority exactly what you been making. if you refuse to discuss what you been earning with a prospective employer and answer with some wise ass question like, “what does this job pay?” the interviewer will either mentally or physically end the interview right then.
Top performers are just as susceptible to economic downturns, company buyouts, and downsizing as anyone else. Good candidates are just as susceptible to having to look for a job as anyone else. Since 1973, I have heard that the best employees are always employed until those saying it get let go. There is no such thing as a “hidden” job market and paying $5000 to have a mystical resume written is absurd. The succession of an offer a person gets has absolutely nothing to do with its value. If the first offer is a good offer, take it. Or, you can wait till the third or fourth one…if and when you get them.. and realize that the first one was better than all of them and it’ll be just plain too late. While you are “qualifying” a prospective employer to see if you want to interview with them, other candidates are interviewing them face-to-face. You lose!
Don’t tell anybody you are being pursued by anybody else, unless you really are. A logical employer will ask you who you are being pursued by and if you say something stupid like “let’s just say there are other companies interested in me” you look downright stupid. Don’t lie about stuff like that. There isn’t always room to negotiate. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. Always rarely applies to anything. While you are thinking you have the upper hand in negotiating, the #2 candidate is getting the job. Very few companies try to get away with paying as little as they can. There are some cheap companies out there, but even they know that they get what they pay for. If they “lowball” you, don’t take the job.
Interviewing is not a two-way street. Interviewing is a one-way street until you get a job offer. A candidate has to assume that the hiring authority has at least four or five other candidates he or she is considering. Each one of them is selling themselves really hard. The idea that the interviewing process needs to be “mutual” is not realistic. The company you “want” does not intrinsically want you unless you have sold yourself so well that they want to hire you.
Target 10 to 15 companies that you’d love to go to work for? Oh, yeah! It’s you. I forgot its you. Oh yeah, they’ve been waiting for you. It’s a good thing they just had your office paneled. It doesn’t take very long for a candidate with any sense to realize that companies don’t have opportunities just cause the candidate would like to go to work there.
There’s a lot of really dumb advice out there. Try to get advice from folks that are actually in the trenches finding people jobs every day. Ask yourself, “Does the advice makes sense?” Or is it just something I want to hear.