…..six interviews for a nine person company

So, what’s with this? Our client is a nine person IT consulting firm. They do project consulting for a very niche market. The CEO, whom I’ve known for 15 years while he was working his way up through the ranks of project consulting at a couple of national firms, founded this company a few years ago and looked for a salesperson on their own for two months and never even interviewed one candidate.

Their technical consultants are really doing most of their selling now and they don’t really have a pure salesperson. They have a quasi-salesperson doing the job, but he has turned out to be nothing but an order taker. He emails and waits for RFP requests. It’s got everybody frustrated and that’s why they need a new salesperson.

When the CEO called to tell us what he was looking for, he made it very specific that he really wanted to find somebody from a competitor and someone who was very used to calling on and selling IT consulting services to the very narrow sector that they sell to. We recruited really hard… I mean really hard. But it turns out that everyone who sells into that particular vertical sells their projects a year or two in advance, and if they are any good at all they have a lot of money coming to them over the next few years. They have the attitude that, “I’ve already made that money and there’s no real good reason for me to leave what I’m doing. We talked to, or communicated with, 25 or 26 people like this and no one was even interested in speaking with our client.

Out of sheer luck, we came up with a candidate who had actually been selling software into the vertical that these people were selling consulting services into. He has a tremendous track record of success and knows many of the people our client was looking to sell to. He didn’t know as many as our client would have liked, but in that particular vertical, people know people who know people and getting into other organizations would not be hard, especially for this stellar candidate, who had proven he knew how to do that.

We started the interviewing process and although the candidate, being a good salesperson, “qualified” everyone he spoke to into agreeing that he had the ability to do what they wanted done, they still decided not to hire him. As a group, they came up with very nebulous reasons in the final analysis, like “He really didn’t know our solution and wasn’t able to articulate it…. We aren’t sure his approach was what we would want… and, we just didn’t get the right feeling.”

It turns out that no one in the whole interviewing process wanted to make a commitment. Whenever a company is looking to replace the present employee there is always a thought in the back of their mind that, “The devil they know might be better than the devil they don’t know.” So, most everyone was reluctant to say, “This is our person.” They decided that the buck would stop with the managing director of this particular department. It turns out that the managing director even admitted that he had never been in sales and really wasn’t quite sure what it took. It was going to be obvious to him and to others if they found someone with exactly the experience, i.e. from a competitor, they were looking for. And, since they had been already looking for so long (the sunk cost fallacy) they were going to hold off and find someone who everybody would agree on.

I don’t know whether to feel more sorry for the company or our candidate. Anyone objectively looking at the guy and what the company does based on his superb track record, would know, beyond a doubt that this guy would’ve been very successful.

The majority of the people that interviewed this fellow really had nothing to do with sales. The company simply felt they needed lots of people to agree. Nobody wanted to make a stand, including a person who admitted that they really didn’t know anything about “sales.” Even the CEO didn’t want to go against his subordinate’s ambivalence.

Here are the lessons:

  1. Whenever an employee is being “replaced,” a candidate better be aware that it’s going to be harder than it looks. People doing the interviewing and hiring may not know exactly what they need but they are always afraid of “the devil they don’t know.” So unless “Mr. or Ms. Perfect” hits them in the face, they’re going to have a tough time making a positive decision.
  2. The longer the interviewing and hiring process goes on, the harder it is for a company to hire someone. It’s easy to interview a lot of people. Interviewing does not take “making a commitment.” But hiring someone does. Dating a lot of people is easy to do, but marrying someone requires a commitment! After a long period of interviewing, people start thinking, “Well this last person we interviewed wasn’t any better than the first person we interviewed… or second, or third… and we didn’t hire them, so we probably shouldn’t hire this one.”
  3. The more people there are involved in the interviewing process, the less effective it is and the more likely no one is going to want to commit to hiring someone for fear that they’ll hear, “Well, he/she failed and you are the one that really wanted to hire them.”
  4. The more people who are involved in the interviewing process who really don’t have anything to do with the job itself, the less likely they are to know what they’re doing or know what they’re looking for. They have been interjected into the interviewing process because, “We don’t want to make a mistake” and “We think that the more people who are involved in the interviewing process, the less likely we are to make a mistake.”
  5. If people say “no” to a candidate no one will ever know whether they were right or not. If they make a commitment of, “Yes, we should hire him/her” and it doesn’t work out, they look foolish (or at least think they do). So, it’s simply easier and, more importantly, safer, to say “no.”

So, if you are a job seeker and you find yourself in a situation like this, be prepared for an uphill battle.


…taking tests

hardly a week goes by that at least 10 or 15 of our candidates are asked to take some kind of test… These things can range anywhere from IQ tests, psychological tests, math aptitude tests, personality surveys and so on. We’re constantly asked if there are any “secrets” to doing well on them.

The concept of testing intelligence was first successfully devised by a French psychologist  in the early 1900s to help describe differences in how well and quickly children learn at school.  Thus began the argument that continues today between those that believe  testing is an indication of a lot of things and those that believe  that testing  really can’t measure much of anything.

Since 1973, I’ve 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 be very expensive, so it’s one of the first things that companies stop doing when the economy gets difficult.

Job candidates  should be prepared for what I call the “paradox of testing.” Every company that has ever used testing as part of its selection process is going to tell every candidate that at most the test accounts for only 25% of the final decision. Don’t believe a word of it! Whatever kind of test that is used, from grafoanalisis  to psychological or 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 are companies will admit it or not, the test becomes a binary, black and white, proceed or go home qualifier. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

So, when a hiring authority tell 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 comes to work here has to take it and it really doesn’t account for much more than 10% (or 25% or 50%) 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 her 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’s just another way of passing the buck of responsibility. The test becomes the qualifier, screening out tons of candidates should know 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 more than 47 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 it separated 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 it hire better people in the company invests thousands in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars in this testing, it’s going to use it-no matter what.

—–next week—does testing work?


…excusez mon français

The employer gave me feedback and said that my candidate was doing rather well in the interview until he made the comment, “excuse my French” and then proceeded to curse. According to him, the cursing was minor. According to her it was significant because, first of all, she is a woman; secondly, he does not know her that well (in fact, not at all) and, third, he has no idea whether she tolerates that kind of talk or not.

I played rugby for more than 20 years and certainly have been exposed to more than even rough language. Some of the guys I played with couldn’t utter one sentence without at least two profane words. (One of them I played with in college became a Jesuit priest…not the same guy.) And, I often have to remind myself to watch my own language (especially on our radio program). So, language like this doesn’t particularly bother me. But I’m not the hiring authority.

My candidate is about as good as this employer would ever find. But she dismissed him immediately because of his indiscretion. She claimed, correctly, that it was just plain bad judgment and that it wasn’t so much that she was offended as it was that he’d never spoken to her before, didn’t know her at all and had no idea whether language like that would be offensive to her. It ended her interest in the candidate right away.

Unfortunately, the candidate made the excuse that the words he used weren’t that offensive. I reminded him that his opinion really doesn’t matter. It was her opinion that did.

This market is tough enough without a candidate shooting themselves in the foot by using language that might be offensive to the hiring authority. It really doesn’t matter whether the hiring authority is a man or woman. None of us really know how another person, a stranger, is going to respond to foul language.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the candidate is a real professional who’s made more than $300,000 a year a number of times selling consulting services. He’s really, really, really good. This is an excellent company and would’ve been an excellent place for him to join.

Excusez mon français?  Non!  Ne jure pas!

…Why Counteroffers Don’t Work

If your company really recognizes your worth, they would’ve given you the added income, advancement, title, whatever…. without the necessity of you “blackmailing” them by finding another job and threatening to quit. Why did you have to go to all the trouble to go out and look for another job just to get a better salary or promotion from a prospective new employer…. who doesn’t even know you?

If you accept the counteroffer, you will, more often than not, be looked upon as a person who was disloyal and blackmailed management or the company into giving you what you wanted. You are no longer trusted.

When the next salary reviews come around, you will already have received yours and you will be bypassed.

The reason that you were made a counteroffer is because, at that moment, they needed you worse than you needed them. When this situation is rectified (and notice, I said “when,” not “if”) and you no longer have them over a barrel, your position in the company will not be very strong. “Turnabout” is fair play, and as soon as the chance comes for them to do to you what you tried to do to them, they’ll do it. They will keep you long enough to find your replacement.

In essence, you are firing your company. No one likes to be fired. So, they’re going to do what any “fired” person would do: hang on until they can rectify the situation.   This means finding your replacement so this will not happen again.

Good companies, (well-managed companies), don’t buy people back. They know that emotionally and mentally you have left….. so you might as well leave it physically. The only kind of company that will “buy you back” is the kind of company that will take advantage of you somewhere down the line. After all, they weren’t smart enough to keep you from having to look for a job; they probably won’t be smart enough to keep you satisfied.

It is cheaper for a company to try to make you a counteroffer than it is to replace you. Whatever immediate raise they may have to give you, they would also have to give someone else. But the time and the cost of someone doing your job after you leave, until a replacement can be found — the cost of finding a replacement and the time it would take to do it, and to train them once they are there — all add up. And the total is greater than whatever raise they would have to give you. It is simply cheaper to try to keep you.

Money and title are temporary. If the major complaint about your job has to do with money, when the money changes, you’ll only be temporarily content.  Most of the time — even after a counteroffer — your job, the company, the personalities, etc., are not any different than they were before.  Nothing has really changed.   A few cosmetic things regarding you have been adjusted, but they rarely make a long-term difference. After the “glow”of importance of the money or title wears off, you are right back where you were before.

The emotion of the moment of all of a sudden being made to feel special overrides the logical, common sense that forced you to go out and look for a job. Once you tell your superiors that you’re leaving, in order to get you to stay, they have to make you feel this way. After a few weeks, or a month, the euphoria of being special goes away and you’ll come to your senses recognizing that nothing has changed.

The “trust” relationship that you had with your employer is no longer there. We are not “all in this together” anymore. Any doubts about your past performance that were “overlooked” because you were, once upon a time, a “team player” will be more accentuated from now on. Every mistake you make will be magnified. Promotion? Well, think about it.  Would you promote a “blackmailer?”

The fact that you can’t be trusted anymore affects everyone you work with. You held management’s feet to the fire, you blackmailed them and, what’s worse, everyone in the company knows it. You don’t think they do, but they do. No matter how “confidential” you think your counteroffer negotiations were, they aren’t. In fact, word gets around really fast, and not only are you now distrusted by your management, but all of your peers and subordinates are irritated or downright mad that you got something they didn’t. The longer you stay, the more resentment there is by everyone: your superiors, your peers and your subordinates. You have intentionally isolated yourself and no one really appreciates you. In fact, they are downright jealous.

You caught management with their “pants down.” Most likely, they had no idea this was coming. Your immediate supervisor may wind up looking like a “dufus” for losing another employee. His or her butt might be on the line.   If it gets out why you are leaving, it might be your superiors’ “kiss of death.”  So, they’re going to do whatever they can to keep you so that they can “buy time” and find a replacement.

Your leaving is going to cause other people to have to “cover” for you. Your supervisor and his company, (i.e., your company) at least for a while, are going to put “their finger in the dike” to keep you around simply because other people are going to have to take up your slack if you leave. But when they get a chance, they’re going to replace you.

Losing any employee never comes at a “good time.” Your immediate supervisor is likely to say, “How could you do this now? It couldn’t come at a worse time?” Your ego will be stroked and fed simply to buy time for your manager to “recover” by replacing you.

The world is motivated by self-interest. Your immediate supervisor is interested in his or her “self.” Nobody wants to “look bad.”  If you’re leaving makes your supervisor look bad, he or she is going to do anything, at least for a while, to look good by keeping you.  Since he or she doesn’t want to look bad by your trying to leave again, they’re going to look good by finding a replacement and then firing you.   Their sudden interest in your concerns about the company, and reasons for leaving, are simply self-motivated.

The higher level of a position that you have, the more likely you are to be “counter-offered” by more than one person in the organization. I’ve had candidates that, once they give their resignation notice, are literally “escorted” from manager to manager throughout the company to convince the candidate to stay. I’ve even had a few candidates, in situations like this, be called by the CEO and told what an asset they were to the company.   Often times, this is the first or second time that the candidate has ever heard from the CEO.   Does that tell you anything?

Be prepared, when you go in to resign, to receive a counteroffer.   Be graceful, be kind, and be smart.   Put your ego aside and follow good common sense.   Tell the people that make you a counteroffer that you really appreciate their offer, but that you have made up your mind and you are going to leave.   No matter how tempting it is, never accept a counteroffer. 


…..”we’re cool…”

We got an email from one of our hiring authorities, “Hey, what are you doing? We’re hiring you to help us find people, not to take people out of here! We don’t appreciate it when you recruit our employees!”

So, we call the hiring manager and ask him what he’s talking about. He proceeds to explain to us that one of his newly-promoted employees told him that he had gotten a call from one of our recruiters and that he didn’t appreciate us trying to recruit his employees especially since he was using us to find some. Thankfully, before we said anything we told him that we needed to research the situation to try to get an understanding of what he was speaking about. We added that we don’t recruit from clients that do business with us.

Three or four hours of research revealed that one of the subordinates to the hiring authority had contacted us last September about leaving the company. He sent us a resume and made an application with us. He is a really good candidate and we got him a couple of interviews over a two or three week period of time, but, after that, he told us that he was going to stay where he was. So we let it go.

Well, it turns out that this (not very bright) employee/candidate told our hiring authority in the past week or two that we had “contacted him.” He never bothered to explain to his boss that he contacted us last fall about leaving the company because he was unhappy with his job. He managed to get a small promotion, so he decided to stay where he was. Fair enough!

We called our client and explained to him that his employee called us back in September because he was looking for a new job and, since the candidate approached us, we got him some interviews. We explained to the hiring authority that the candidate decided to stay where he was. We made it clear to the hiring authority that the candidate contacted us; we did not contact him.

The hiring authority wasn’t real happy, but because he needed someone asked us not to speak to “his people” and to continue the search. We told him we would do our best.

Late in the afternoon, after the normal hours of business, we called the (ex) candidate and asked him why he even discussed our speaking with him or his looking for a job with his boss. He told us that when his boss said he needed a new employee, he told his boss, “Call the people at Babich They can help you; they’ve been talking to me!”

“Why in the hell would you tell your boss that you had been speaking to us? First of all it was way last fall and, secondly, you called us looking to leave. Why would you even dream of sharing that with your boss?” “Well,” he replied, “I didn’t think it would hurt anything and besides I got a promotion. I wanted to let them know that if he didn’t keep promoting me I knew who to talk to about finding a better job. But….we’re cool!”

The candidate proceeded to explain that he had spoken to his boss about either getting a promotion or needing to leave and that bringing our name was simply an indication that he was dealing with a very reputable recruiting firm that could probably find him a job. Unfortunately, it didn’t even dawn on him that telling his boss that he was either now or at any time looking for a job could very easily get him fired. He kept saying,..”…We’re cool…My boss and I, we’re cool.”

Well, he may think “they’re cool,” but I wouldn’t believe it for one minute.

Lesson: don’t tell anyone in your company you’re looking for a job or were looking for a job…especially your boss. If you do, you should expect to get fired. Shut up! If you’re gonna leave… leave! If you’re going to stay…stay! When you let people know you are looking for a job, they do not trust you.


…”Do you think that opportunity is still open?…. “I think I made a mistake…”

Three times in the last two weeks, our firm got calls from candidates stating almost exactly the same words. All three of these candidates had gotten offers through us from our clients and accepted counteroffers to stay where they were. One of the candidates received the offer and the counter offer in October of last year, one in November and the other in December.

The first candidate, the one in November, had accepted a $200,000 a year vice presidency position with one of our banking clients. He had accepted the position in mid-October, and after taking his vacation, went in to resign a few days before he was to start his new job. When his, then, present employer heard that he was going to resign, they revealed to him all kinds of plans they had for him in the future including a promotion, more responsibility and more money. He abruptly, however politely, called our client and turned the offer down after he’d accepted it two weeks before. Not surprisingly, our client wasn’t very happy at all, but was as graceful as they could be, realizing that it’s a very small world and it is always best to be gracious.

We found out last week from the candidate that none of his promised promotions, increases in salary and increasing responsibility ever came about. At first, his employer said that they were going to get “around” to fixing his situation. They then told him, according to the candidate, that they ought to have a, “plan in place by the first of the year.” Well, when the first of the year came along and nothing had been done, according to the candidate, he asked about the changes to be made, and was told that because of Covid, the bank wasn’t going to make any changes in their current situation.

The candidate is embarrassed and downright pissed off! He called and wanted to know if our client who had offered him a job in October would still be open to speaking with him. To our knowledge, our client has not hired anybody. We are in the process of connecting with them to see if they would still consider the candidate.

The second situation happened in November. Right before our candidate got an offer from one of our clients, he told the company he was working for that he was actively looking for a job and was likely to leave. His company acted shocked and surprised and claimed that they couldn’t even imagine, “losing talent like him” and were intent on doing anything they could to keep him. His boss and his boss’s boss came in from out of town, took him to dinner and asked him what they needed to do to keep him. He told us that he explained to them what they needed to do in order to keep him and that they promised to do it. They even arranged for the CEO (whom the candidate had never even heard from or spoken with) to call the candidate and let them know how “valuable” he was to the company and that they had great plans for him. His ego was stroked so greatly, he called us and told us to tell our client that he was no longer interested in their situation and that he was going to stay where he was. They fired him on December 31! The only reason they gave him was that they were going to reorganize and he wasn’t in the plans.

To make the situation even more warm and fuzzy, they let them go by email. As of this weekend, he still hasn’t been able to speak with his boss. It was all done by the people in HR. Interestingly enough, our client is still interested in speaking with him. Miracles happen!

The last incident of a buyback occurred in December. Our candidate got an offer through us from one of our clients and accepted the job. She was supposed to start January 1. Same song, second verse! She goes in to resign, her boss asks her what they have to do to keep her. She tells us that she never expected in 1 million years that they would do what they would have to do to keep her so she told her boss all of the things they would need to do. Her boss asked her to hold off for a couple of days so he could see what he might be able to do to rectify all of her grievances. She tells our client that she wants to hold off on a start date and tells them the reason why. (Unfortunately, we were not aware this.)

Two days or so after she asks our client to “hold off,” our client calls and tells us what’s going on. After thinking about it a day or so, they are mad. Unfortunately, they are surprised that we didn’t know anything about it, thinking we were encouraging her and advising her all along. We explained that we weren’t and that we had no idea what she was doing. Of course, they were questioning her integrity. Our candidate tells us that she feels like she owes it to her company to “see what they can do.” We explained to her that what she’s doing is revealing, at best, poor business judgment and, at worst, lack of integrity. We explained that we fully expect our client to move on with the second candidate that we had (fortunately) provided them, which is exactly who they hired.

Four or five days after our candidate had gotten the assurance from her boss that the company would make things better, her boss resigned, with no notice. He simply walked out. She came to find out that he never even shared with his management her situation or his promise to make things better. He simply got her to stick around until he left. At least she admitted how mad she was and how she felt. She still has her old job, but is actively looking more so than ever.

Counteroffers rarely work. We’ll go into the reasons why next week. We have no idea if the first candidate in these three scenarios has a chance at the job. We are amazed that the second candidate still has a shot and we aren’t surprised at all about the third situation.

The major reason that counteroffers don’t really work is that the person who receives one can no longer be trusted to be part of the “family.” There are lots of other reasons that we will discuss next week. The lesson is: don’t accept the counteroffer!

…..”but i made that kind of money five years ago!!!”

Tony: “I understand. Many of my candidates even, if they’re finding a decent job are going to work for a lot less money than they’d earned before…”

Mary: “but I’m different. Before Covid my base was $130,000.  I can’t believe that they would insult me by offering me $100,000.

Tony: “Wait a minute Mary, they didn’t offer anything. When they asked you what kind of money you are looking for, you said your last base was $130,000. I thought I made it really clear that they didn’t want to go above the base of $100,000 and that to ask anything more than that would probably eliminate us.”

Mary: “Well, I didn’t tell him I wanted $130,000, I told him that I had been making $130,000 and he didn’t even bat an eye.”

Tony: “Mary, I specifically explained that the company was not going to pay more than $100,000 as a base salary. I understand exactly how you feel.  But you have been out of work for more than six months, don’t have any prospects, in fact, you only had three interviews in that whole period of time and these people were really interested in hiring you. But when you even mentioned $130,000, we blew it.”

Mary: “But what was I supposed to say? The interview was going so well and everything seemed to click. I haven’t made that kind of money as a base salary in five years!”

Tony: “Mary, I do not know how to put it in any other way. You have been out of work for more than six months and what are you making now? Nothing, zero, nada, zip… We have to get our ego out of this and be realistic about what we’re being faced with.”

Mary: “Well, call him and tell him I would take $100,000. But also tell him that I haven’t made that kind of money in five years.”

Tony: “Mary I want to say this kindly, but he doesn’t even want to consider trying to hire you. His attitude is that if he hires you at a $100,000 base salary, sometime in the near future someone will try to hire you at $130,000 and he will lose you. The truth is that it is not very likely to happen, we’re in a recession and besides, people just don’t leave a job for $30,000 salary if they’re happy. But a potential hiring manager doesn’t think that way. He thinks of just as many reasons of why he shouldn’t hire you as he does of reasons as to why he should and we gave him too big of a reason.”

“What we might say when you were asked about what kind of money you were looking for is, ‘Tony told me that the base was $100,000 with the total on quota earnings of $200,000 and that sounds great’ and just plain left it at that.”

“We aren’t going to get another chance to speak with him. He’s got too many other really good candidates that will go to work for the $100,000 base salary. He simply doesn’t need to run the risk of worrying about hiring you.”

Mary: “But I’m much better than any of those people!”

Tony: “Oh, Mary pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. There are so many really good candidates on the market a hiring authority can find people with easily as good a track record as we have. You are very good at what you do but you have no idea how many good candidates there are out there.”

Mary: “I do know there are a lot of good candidates out there, but I just really need to make a base of $130,000. I don’t want to go backwards.”

Tony: “Mary, nobody wants to go backwards, but there is absolutely nothing in business that says you’re always going to get what you want if the market won’t bear it and the market isn’t going to bear a $130,000 base salary in my opinion. It’s just not.”

Mary: “Well I’ll just have to think about it.”

Tony: “Mary, there’s really nothing to think about. We don’t have an offer from anybody and were not gonna get a chance to go back and talk to this guy. Please, next time I share that the base is $100,000 don’t tell them that you’ve made $130,000 and even hint that that’s what you’re looking for. Please, for your own sake. I’ve got three other candidates that he’s talking to and I’m sure he will find one of those. There is no doubt that you are probably the most qualified of all of them, but when he heard that $130,000, it scared him off.”

Mary: “Well, this is so very frustrating! They have no idea what they’re missing. I’m really, really good at what I do and I know that there are not very many people that are as good as I am. It is their loss.”

Tony: “Again, I understand exactly how you feel, but this market is so flush with people and hiring authorities are so afraid of making a mistake…it happens this way in every recession. The longer we go out of work, the harder it’s going to be. If we find an opportunity as good as this, with good people and a good opportunity for future we should really strongly consider it. I would love to get you a $130,000 base salary…, heck, I’d like to get you a $150,000 base salary. The more money you make, the more money I make, but the reality is, that is not likely to happen in this market.

Mary: “Well, I’m just going to have to think about it. You’re probably right. But it’s just not fair!”





….”but I can do that job…get me the interview!”

I probably hear this at least five or six times a week. The truth is that 60% of candidates I have can probably do 60% of the job opportunities that I’m representing. And from a candidate point of view, I totally understand. But there is a really big difference between being able to do the job and being able to get the job.

This is one of the hardest things that I have to communicate to candidates. I understand. Individuals have a tendency to see their ability to do a job through their own eyes. And, since they know they can do the job, they can’t imagine that a hiring authority would not also see that. But the truth is that a hiring authority is comparing every candidate’s skills, ability and experience. They are comparing every candidate with the other ones. And, in this market, there are at least 14 or 15 well-qualified candidates to do most jobs. When hiring authorities have that many candidates to compare with, the ability to do the job is only part of the decision-making.

As I have written about before, there are four basic questions that add up to a candidate’s getting hired. Twenty percent of the hiring decision is based on “can the candidate do the job?” Forty percent of the hiring decision is based on “do we like the candidate?… Does the candidate fit in?” Thirty percent of the hiring decision is based on, “what kind of a risk is this candidate?” And ten percent of the hiring decision is based on, “can we work the money out?”

The first question is what I call the “threshold question,” meaning that it is the first question that an employer might ask in order to even interview the candidate. This is where most candidates get eliminated. If the experience isn’t current to exactly what the employer is looking for or perceived as relevant to exactly what they want done, the candidate may not even get to first base and get interviewed. This decision can depend on so many things like what is on a resume, where a person has worked before, what the resume might look like, even the mood of the interviewing or hiring authority when they look at the resume or even the LinkedIn profile of the candidate. I’ve had candidates eliminated from being considered for an interview simply because they don’t have their picture on their LinkedIn profile, not enough contacts on their profile and all kinds of other crazy reasons that have nothing to do with the ability to do the job.

And then, after all of this, even if the candidate gets the interview, they have to interview well. And that feat is a totally separate subject. After getting the interview, this is the most crucial aspect of getting the job. The interview is where most candidates lose their chance of getting hired. (I have written a whole book on this and much of www.thejobsearchsolution.com is devoted to teaching people how to do this effectively and well.)

So, the next time you think, “I can do that job,” think about all the things that have to be overcome before you get a chance to do the job.

…asking for advice

One of the strongest ways you can get yourself noticed by potential employers or enhance your position in the interviewing process with a potential employer is to ask for advice. Now, this has to be done in the right way and it can’t be done so often with the same person that one becomes a menace at worst and annoying at best.

When you are initially looking for a job and just getting started in the process, it’s a good idea to try to talk to as many people as possible it might be able to interview you or hire you. You simply call them up or reach out to them through LinkedIn and simply ask if they know of anyone that might need someone of your skills. 97% of the people you ask this of in the initial part of your search are going to tell you that they “don’t know of anyone that might be looking for your skills.”

It is important in this situation to, first of all, ask permission to call them back in 30 days or 45 days to see if anyone has come to mind. Ask them if you can send them your resume and then to follow up. After a while you will have an ongoing group of people on a daily basis that you were calling back. Each time you ask them again if you can call them back in 45 days or 60 days. It’s amazing the number of people that you’ll call back the second or third or even fourth time and they’ll say something like, “oh yeah, that department has been looking for is someone for a few months, here is who to call…….”

The reason this happens is that the fact that their company might need someone like you is not uppermost in their mind. What they’re doing at the moment is important to them and the last thing they are thinking about is an opening in someone else’s department, let alone your need for a job. They are reading emails, getting ready for meetings, preparing reports etc. and just don’t have the company’s job opening foremost of their mind. Okay, fine! But when you then engage them with the question of “might I ask you your advice?” You have now involved them personally and you’ve asked about their personal expertise. Now you’ve got them engaged, and they’ve got some personal “skin” in your game.

This question is especially an excellent one at the end of an interview, especially when you get the feeling that the interview did not really go all that well. (I teach the four basic questions that a person needs to ask after every interview in www.thejobsearchsolution.com., But the answer to these questions tell you how you stand in the interviewing process.) If you pretty much get the idea that you’re probably not going to be one of the finalists, a great way to engage the interviewing or hiring authority is to simply ask, “May I get your advice on my interview? How would you evaluate it and how might I have done better?”

In rare instances, I have had hiring authorities actually “help” the candidate reestablish their value and help them by almost “moving on their side of the desk” and helping the candidate to sell themselves. All of a sudden the hiring authority is helping the candidate make a clearer and better presentation of themselves. If there were any misunderstandings in the formal part of the interview, they are likely to be clarified here.

Now, candidates should not hold their breath. Turning the interview around at this point is not very likely. But if nothing else, the candidate might get a better idea of how they might have sold themselves in the interview and, obviously, how they can do better in the future.

It is not uncommon for candidates to not be as clear as they should about their experience, background or accomplishments. Often, hiring authorities feel like that they are, just that, “authorities” and have to act like they understand exactly what a candidate is communicating. Many times they won’t admit that they don’t understand when they don’t. Asking for advice might open up the door for any clarification that might be needed.


In All Transparency

This seems to be a really popular mantra these days. In the past two weeks I’ve heard it at least five or 10 times and here is what followed:

  • “I’ll go on the interview but you know I want at least $20,000 more. I know that I’ve been out of work now for three months, but if I go backwards in my salary I’ll never be able to make it up.”
  • “It’s just too far to drive. I know it’s a better job than I’ve ever had and the company is really good, but it’s 15 miles more and I’m driving 10 miles now.”
  • “Well, it’s simply the first offer that I’ve gotten and I read where I ought to get three to be able to choose from.”… (even in a Covid economy?)
  • “Well, we know your candidate is the best one we’ve seen, but why would a candidate this good want to come to work for a company like ours?”
  • “That just doesn’t sound like the kind of company or job that I’d really be interested in. I’ll keep doing my part time job until a better interview comes along.”
  • “I’ve thought about the interview that you got me, but my husband thinks I can find a better situation.”
  • “We can’t pay your candidate $65,000 because the guy that we are promoting out of the job is only making $60,000. I know it’s taken us a month to find him, but I guess we’ll just have to keep looking”.
  • “I’ve never really had any luck hiring someone I didn’t know. But my boss told me to call you since we’ve been looking for three months and can’t seem to find anybody. Just want you to know how I feel….just never hired anyone I didn’t know.”
  • “I know you set up a face-to-face interview for me, but I’d like to talk to them over the phone first to qualify them to see if it’s what I want.”
  • “Smart, personable and humble” on the very top of the resume

Being “transparent” may at best to be ignorant and at worst, stupid. We always give the benefit of the doubt to ignorance, even though it’s very frustrating.