…this again ?????

It’s unbelievable that I’m even going to have to go over this again. If you are looking for a job DON’T SMOKE DOPE or do any kinds of drugs.

This week we have a candidate who is going for a drug test after having accepted a job at a very conservative company. The company informs him that he is going to have to take a drug test and he tells our recruiter that he’s very worried about it because he’s been smoking marijuana. He’s concerned that the marijuana is going to show up in the drug test and he isn’t going to get the job.

So, I guess you ask, “How could someone be so stupid as to be smoking dope or doing drugs while they are looking for a job, knowing that it’s likely that the people who are going to try to hire them are going to give them a drug test?” I have absolutely no idea how to answer that question.

Simple lesson: don’t smoke dope or do drugs! Even if you arenot looking for  a job…it ain’t good for you!

……writing about your experience, frustrations and difficulties in looking for a job

 

Since 1986, Psychologist James Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin, has published a number of studies that prove that if people going through a difficult or challenging time will simply write about their experience on a daily basis, they will deal with their emotional stress much better than those who don’t. These kinds of studies have even shown that this kind of journaling even boosts a person’s immune system.

Pennnebaker found that if people only write 15 minutes a day, their attitude towards everything becomes more positive. The immediate aftermath of these experiments created sadness and emotional distress. But over a period of time, Pennebaker found that 70% of the subjects said they understood themselves better and were more comfortable with the experience they wrote about. Since his initial study, hundreds of experiments like this have been done around the world and the results are that people who write about some of their most emotional experiences become more understanding about their experience and themselves.

What’s even more important is that people who have been laid off from their jobs who practice journaling about their experience deal with having to look for a job more easily and, most important, get hired more quickly. In one study, within three months of doing this kind of writing, 27% of the unemployed subjects had found jobs compared to only 5% of the subjects who had not done the journaling. By seven months, 57% of the people who had done journaling had found a new job, which was three times that of the people who had not done the writing.

Even Pennebaker admits that he’s not sure why this kind of journaling makes such a big difference in the attitude and results of people’s efforts. Apparently the act of writing about the emotional strain of looking for a job speeds up the ability to put the incident in perspective and deal with it more effectively.

In all of the books that I’ve written about finding a job as well as in my online program The Job Search Solution I have always recommended that people write about the experience they go through while they are looking for a job. But I have to admit that my discovery of Pennebaker’s studies have reinforced my suggestions.

There are 18 million people looking for work in the United States today. That’s a lot of emotions. The people that begin journaling and actually write about their experience are going to deal with the emotional strain more easily. And if Pennebaker and those that have followed him are right, they will find a job more quickly and easily. Up until now, my advice was simply anecdotal.

Bluntly, the why of this doesn’t matter. If it works, and I believe that it does, everyone looking for a job should be journaling every day.

 

…. going for the money

John is really a really good salesperson. But he has created a real problem for himself. He spent the first seven years of his career with the firm that significantly underpaid him. So, three years ago when he decided to leave them, he made a commitment to “make up” for the fact that he had been, or felt he had been, underpaid.

In the kind of business he is in he hit the market at a great time and got three or four job offers….even rare then. He decides to go to work for the firm that offered him the most money. He was insistent on making up for his perception of his being underpaid. The company that offered him a job back then paid him $30,000 a year more than any other offer he got. Obviously, very significant! And, at the time, no one could really blame him for taking the job.

Often times, though, it never crosses a job seekers mind to ask, “what’s wrong with this picture?… Why would someone pay me $30,000 more than anyone else?” Most candidates always attribute that kind of offer to their dazzling brilliance, amazing potential and phenomenal personality. They rarely think objectively and wonder “something’s wrong here.”

The people that hired John did, indeed, need him to manage one very significant, major account for them. He did a great job…. until, nine months into the gig this “loyal, major account” decided to stop using the services of both John and his employer. John was hired to manage one, special account and the company didn’t have any other job for him, so when the company lost the account, they laid John off.

John knew that he was being a little overpaid for the job he was doing, but, after all he did do an excellent job for his company until the client change their mind. Now, John wanted to find another job making the same kind of money are more than he had been making. This approach automatically eliminated 90% of the opportunities that John might have in his line of sales because most of the people in his profession were willing to pay him the kind of base salary and commission he had been making.

So, John found a company that needed him really badly to establish a brand-new division in their company. They were willing to pay him a higher salary and commission than most anybody else because they needed help in establishing the new division. So, the question of “why would a company page on that kind of money?” was answered, “because they needed him to establish this new division and they were willing to pay more than the job was really worth to get him.”

One year into the new division, John’s new company decided they didn’t want to be in the business that John was doing. So, they laid him off. Now, John has had two jobs in two years.

Last year, John was on the market again, got three decent job offers. He decides to go to work for an organization in the business that he was in who was building a brand-new office in Dallas. They not only paid him an extremely high salary, but they also gave him a very high nonrecoverable draw. John did an excellent job for them. He was making a lot of money.

Unfortunately, the company hired a branch manager and a couple of others salespeople in the same manner they hired John. They wanted to establish an office quickly, so they overpaid every body to build the office. This is not an uncommon thing for companies to do. However, Covid came along. The company John worked for lost one of its largest national accounts that, incidentally, didn’t have anything to do with the Dallas office, but the Dallas office wasn’t making a lot of money… they were overpaying every body to get jumpstarted and since the office had only been open for a year, it couldn’t be expected to make a lot of money, so they closed the Dallas office, laying everyone in the office off.

So, now John needs a job and he is asking for the same amount of money and draw that he got one year ago to help open an office. He’s had three jobs in three years and asking for the same amount of money he was getting pre-Covid. Even though all of these three companies “left” him, it still doesn’t look good. He can’t really share that the reason he went to these places was because they were the “highest bidder.” People really like the guy but the whole thing is hard to sell.

The best of the firms he is speaking with aren’t going to pay as high as he was making. They don’t have to in this market. Now they are concerned if they hire him at what the market value is, like 20% less than what he was making, he’ll stay with them for a short while and then if a higher bidder comes along, he’ll leave. The truth is he couldn’t afford to do that. John has to be at this next gig at least four or five years. So, unless somebody “leaves him” he isn’t going anywhere. But it is really hard to convince prospective employer of that.

So, it’s really obvious why it isn’t always a good idea to go to work for the highest bidder. Two of these people paid John more than what the market dictated because there was a risk in the job. No company ever tells anybody that, “we’d like to try this for a year but if it doesn’t work were going to close the office.” I will admit that these are very difficult and precarious times and the probability of this kind of thing happening again isn’t very great. It’s all real unfortunate.

Whenever the job seeker gets an offer that’s substantially more than the rest of the market, most of the time it goes to their head and they think it’s because they are so damn good. But every job seeker in a situation like this, even though they need the money and want the money needs to take a deep breath and ask themselves, “what’s the risk this situation? These guys are paying me more money than the market really would bear…why?”

This kind of situation might be worth the risk. But taking a job because of it has the highest economic payoff doesn’t necessarily make it a good job. Beware of the highest bidder!

…The new normal, the shape shifting of today’s job seeker

Last week I discussed how hiring authorities are being “shape shifted” by today’s economy and now it’s important for us to discussThe shape shifting of today’s job seeker’s world. Here is what we’re hearing from candidates:

  • “I never thought I’d ever get laid off… I’ve been here for 15 years. We were told last week that we really didn’t have anything to worry about. And then they lay me off. They tell me it’s because of Covid. But that was two months ago!”
  • “It’s almost impossible to get an interview. I’ve never had this much trouble.”
  • “Now look, I’ve been making $100,000 base salary and I can’t go below that.” (The candidate’s office was closed because of Covid and the profession that he is in is shrinking and on top of that he negotiated that $100,000 salary six months ago when he took the new job. The salary on his previous job was $80,000. Back then [short time ago] the market was hot. Now, he’ll be lucky to get an interview let alone a $100,000 base salary.)
  • “We have no idea what the smart thing to do is. We don’t know if the kids are going to be back in school, what day care is going to look like, whether one of us is going to have to stay home if the kids are home. So I know I need a job but I’m going to have to put off interviewing for another few weeks until we can sort this out.”
  • “They told me they let me know about the offer three weeks ago and I still haven’t heard from them.” (Organizations are just plain scared.)
  • “They checked eight of my references and still can’t decide?”
  • “They said they have interviewed 32 candidates and still aren’t sure of what they’re looking for.”
  • “Well, since my unemployment has run out I guess it’s time for me to look for a job…how hard do you think it’s going to be?” (We wanted to ask, “what planet are you living on? Haven’t you been reading the papers or listening to the news?”)
  • “I knew it was a start up, but they said they had plenty of money. Their definition of plenty of money and my definition of plenty of money was a lot different.”
  • “I like the job, but we have to work from home. We’ve got three little kids and I can’t imagine how I can get anything done working from home.”
  • “Ever since we all started working from home there just plain hasn’t been the camaraderie and culture there was when we were all together. Cliques have started to form and everybody is beginning to mistrust everybody. Frankly, it’s just more lonely working this way and I don’t like it. They told us they were going to continue this way of working till the first of the year, so I want out.”
  •  “If I can’t make at least $70,000, it’s not worth me going to work. I’ll stay home on unemployment.” (Try saying that to a prospective employer!)
  • “I’m sick of zoom meetings.”
  • One of our employers interviewed a candidate via Skype and said, “I’m not going to hire him. What kind of fool would have comic books on his bookshelf. I saw them when I was interviewing him.”
  • “The company you connected me with told me they had a six week interviewing process. Is that true? I like them, but I need to go to work, my company is going broke and I need to go to work faster than six weeks.”
  • “After they offered me the job and I accepted, they called and said that they canceled the job. Can they do that? I’m going to call my attorney and see if I have any legal grounds.” (You don’t. Except under very rare circumstances the resend and of a job offer has no legal consequences.)
  • “After three months of interviewing, they told me they were not going to fill the job.”

We’ve been hearing multiple versions of these kinds of things for two months now. I imagine it’s gonna go on for some time. Every recession we’ve lived through has experienced different aspects of most every statement you’ve heard here. Let’s just face it, life is a mess. It’s a phenomenal series of ups and downs that can come in just about any time in one’s life.

It’s how we deal with these things that is going to make a difference. I’ve always estimated that there are at least 14 negative things that happen in a job search for every positive thing. And people simply have to get used to that. It might be more in this market.

… the “new” normal…the shape shifting of hiring authorities

There is really no such thing as a new normal. There really never has been. Even when the economy was really strong and things were rocking along famously from an economic point of view there really wasn’t a normal. But when the economy is good and companies are making money and jobs are easier to find we like to think it’s “normal.” And, it’s certainly a lot easier to deal with when everybody’s making money.

I get asked at least three or four times a day what the market is like. This week, I will attempt to describe what’s going on with employers and next week I will discuss what we see going on with job seekers. Here’s what’s happening with companies trying to hire and the hiring authorities:

  • Everyone is operating with doubt, uncertainty and fear. Companies are not doing as well as they did. The lockdown, which was a terrible mistake… Just terrible, put everyone in a fearful and psychologically lonely mood. Companies and the people in them were not around each other and had no positive, psychological reinforcement.
  • Some companies are still totally working from home. More about that in a moment, but the isolation fuels the “I’m not sure what were doing or how were doing it and even if we need to hire somebody I don’t know how to go about doing it. I can’t seem to get any direction.”
  • If companies have taken new initiatives that look like they are going to take a long time to develop to be profitable, they are very often pulling the plug and laying the people off that they hired to initiate them.
  • Many employers are laying off and furloughing people (in my 47 years of doing this I’ve never heard the term “furloughed” applied to employees). If they can get away with it, they are spreading the work load those people had around to other people. For instance, many of our clients have laid off or furloughed $60,000, $70,000 and $80,000 executive assistants.They will try to spread that workload around to the other people doing a like job but who are only making $45,000 or $50,000 a year.
  • The above situation will apply to sales departments, accounting departments, engineering departments… Just about any department where a company thinks they can save some money. They will often postpone increasing the staff until other people in the department become so disgruntled with having to do the extra work, they threatened to leave or, if they have a phenomenal amount of courage, they do leave
  • .Hiring authorities have a tendency in this kind of market to only hire when they absolutely have to. Forget “expansion” positions. They are going the hire only when their desperate and they’re going to do it as economically as they can. For instance, if they had a salesperson at $125,000 base salary, who left or got let go, they’ll try to hire the replacement at a $90,000 base salary and they will only  do that when the territory gets so neglected no one has time to cover it.
  • When companies and the people in them do interview, their mantra is “We don’t want to make a mistake, we don’t want to make a mistake, we don’t want to make a mistake, we don’t want to make a mistake, we don’t want to make a mistake etc.” They drag the interviewing process out for ridiculous amount of time, having an innumerable number of people involved in the interviewing process who shouldn’t be and postpone making a decision until a just absolutely have to.
  • When they do hire, candidates should expect an elongation process and often, just plain odd endeavors. One of our clients asked six candidates for eight business references each after an initial interview. One candidate was absolutely furious because he lined up the eight references, prepared them for the employer to call them and the employer never did.
  • Companies will start interviewing then stop interviewing then start interviewing then stop interviewing and maybe never hire anybody at all. When the economy is like this, it’s not uncommon for companies and the people in them to suffer from “paralysis by analysis.”
  • Companies will often let “A players” go out of knee-jerk reaction to the rest of the economy.
  • Leaders in these companies will forget that they ought to be interviewing “A players” all of the time… whether they have an opening or not. Again, it’s a knee-jerk reaction of “were not hiring!”
  • The doubt about this pandemic causes paralysis.
  • Companies are beginning to realize that remote work is a bit of an oxymoron. Many companies are beginning to realize that working remotely is really not sustainable.
  • When a company and people in it operate out of “fear of loss” rather than “vision of gain” fear driven productivity is not good. This is especially true when people are working alone.
  • Zoom meetings just aren’t the same as being with a group of people. Collaboration in one space is simply deficient. Remote collaboration of a group can take days. Problems that might be easy to solve with a group physically together, can become a logistical challenge remotely.
  • Body language and casual personal interaction can’t happen remotely.
  • We’ve had a number of candidates get hired remotely and now they’re being trained remotely and they really aren’t feeling an emotional bond to the company and the job. As one candidate said, it’s very antiseptic..
  • When leaders are asked in the remote interviewing process about career development and the path to upward mobility, they simply don’t really have any idea how it’s going to work.
  • The socialization process that goes along with getting to know people by working with them in proximity and as a group is negligible.
  • Most leaders in most companies don’t know how to address promotion criteria.

As I’ve mentioned before, every recession has created its own challenges. I’m certain there will be many other unforeseen ones as our economy evolves.

Next week will discuss some of the issues facing candidates.

…..checking the present employer’s reference

Hey, you employers out there… HR people, consultants, administrative folks and even the employers that are doing the hiring (who should be doing the reference checking) don’t ever, ever, ever, ever check a present candidate’s employer as a reference. Even if the candidate tells you that it is okay to check their present employer as a reference…don’t do it.

Unfortunately, one of our clients was interviewing one of our candidates as a finalist. He was a great candidate and our client knew it. They asked our candidate for a number of references, including the name of his present employer. On their form, they asked if the names of the people could be contacted. The candidate clearly filled in a little box that designated that the present employer should NOT be contacted.

Unfortunately, the human resources/recruiter, who, by the way, is very nice and well meaning, did not detect the box. I have to admit that the box was extremely small and it was very easy to overlook. The candidate gave the name of one of the people he worked with as someone who could be contacted regarding a reference. (I still would not agree with this. I will explain later.)

Well, the human resources department called candidate’s direct supervisor, explained that the candidate was applying for a job with the company and asked for an employment reference. OMG! Amazingly enough, the candidate’s present employer gave him an extremely good reference. The guy is an absolutely excellent worker, but he is really under employed in the job that he has now and his present boss knows that. The job is relatively challenging but nowhere near the potential that the candidate has. The new position that we found the candidate is tremendously challenging and, as much as anything else, would double the guy’s income.

Of course the candidate called, really upset. He actually found out about the phone call from one of the people that overheard it, but never heard from his present boss. (They are mostly working remotely and so the candidate’s present boss is not within proximity of the candidate.) In fact, fortunately, the candidate never heard from his present boss about the incident.

The candidate did call our client as upset and as mad as he could be. At first, our client asked, “What’s the big deal? You put that person’s name and phone number on your application.” The candidate explained that he also marked the little box that stated, “do not contact!” Upon seeing this, the person who checked the reference became phenomenally apologetic. The candidate, still upset, couldn’t do much of anything but wait and see if he was going to get fired.

He didn’t! So far, no one said anything to him at all about it. Our client went through with the offer and, fortunately, the candidate has received it.

The apology by the HR person was very “coolly” received. The candidate was obviously upset, but what was he going to do? At the time, he was simply going to have to wait and see if he was going to get canned. After the offer was made, the CEO of our client called the candidate and apologized to him. The CEO was extremely gracious and the candidate had calmed down by then. At the time, he had still not spoken to his direct boss.

So, here are the lessons. If you’re a candidate, you might want to give the name of your present company as your employer, but don’t give the direct supervisor’s name or phone number. Our candidate did the right thing by marking the box, “do not contact,” but, I wouldn’t recommend running that risk. Make it really, really, really clear that your present employer is not to be contacted. And, the best way to do that might be to give your present company’s name but not the name of your supervisor.

This may be obvious to most people, but just in case people aren’t aware, companies can be held legally responsible for causing someone to lose their job. It doesn’t really matter how fair or unfair any of us think it might be, none of us can cause someone to lose their job. We can be held legally responsible. And only God knows the number of lawsuits that have come about because of mistakes like this.

Secondly, a hiring organization should NEVER check the reference of the candidate’s present employer, NO MATTER WHAT. Even if the candidate gives the hiring authority permission to do it, the hiring organization should not initiate that kind of call. Relationships change rapidly between employees and employers. Even if a candidate says that he is on his way out and it’s okay to check with his present employer about a reference, that is going to be a very vague line of defense if the candidate loses their job because of a reference check.

Now, if the candidate thinks that his present employer will be willing to give him or her a good reference, then tell the candidate to have their present boss give you a call and offer a reference. Make a candidate have his present employer initiate the call if that’s appropriate. It’s really simple.

I wouldn’t even recommend checking with the peers of an employed candidate. Relationships can change and no matter how wonderful candidates think their relationships are with their peers, their peers can turn on them in a heartbeat.

I had two sales candidates come to interview with me together a number of years ago. They both worked at the same company and were both upset with what was going on and both decided to leave. Since they were good friends, they decided to come see me together. After interviewing each one of them, I told them both, separately, that it would be a really good idea if they didn’t communicate about each other’s job search with each other just to keep things from getting complicated.

Of course, both these guys thought they knew better and since they were close enough friends, what I told them wouldn’t matter. Well, one of them got promoted to a managerial position and all of a sudden his best buddy, best pal, best friend was his subordinate. The first thing he did was to fire his best buddy, best pal and best friend. He explained it real simply. Now that he had a group sales quota to meet, he couldn’t afford to have anybody on his team that was actively looking for a job. He had his own job to protect as a manager, so he fired his friend.

We all have enough problems with running our businesses. We don’t need to create problems for ourselves. Checking someone’s present employment reference isn’t a good idea.

 

 

 

 

…..$600 a week

I just read two reports that claimed the major reason most people aren’t looking for a job was the scarcity of jobs rather than the extra $600 a week that they were getting on unemployment. I’m absolutely certain it’s a case of “confirmation bias.” They were looking for proof that that $600 weekly wasn’t making a difference in people going back to work or trying to go back to work and they found it.

An article in the Economist two weeks ago stated that three quarters of the people in the United States receiving an extra $600 a week were making more money than they were when they were working. I try to stay pretty apolitical in this blog because my experience relates to people finding jobs and people getting hired.

I’ve seen seven recessions since 1973 and I distinctly remember that during the recession of 1973 when I got in the business and during the one in 1986, people tell us that they didn’t want to go on an interview because, “they could make more money on unemployment.”

Well, we’ve been hearing that lately. Our organization works with mostly professional positions. There are 20 of us and each of us interviews 2 to 3 people a day. I heard it twice last week in my practice of placing IT sales people. My associates have also been hearing it an inordinate number of times. This is crazy!

I will admit, jobs are harder to find than they were in the first quarter of this year. We’re in a pandemic and a recession. But this is nowhere near as difficult as it was in 2008 and lots of our candidates are going to work, with or without us. There are jobs out there.

I heard it three times this week from candidates who called me and said that, “Well, now that my $600 a week extra is going to end, I guess I really need to start looking for a job.” This is pathetic. I didn’t say how pathetic it was because my clients might need the skills that these people possess. But the attitude that, “I can make more money by not working than I can working” is absurd.

It isn’t the fact that is so absurd as it is the attitude. All three of these people appear to be “professionals” who have made their money selling with base salaries and commissions. Their claim was that with their unemployment plus the extra $600 a week they could make more money than the base salaries that they had. So, they decided to stay home and now that the money is running out they have decided that they need to find a job.

I guess Congress is going to do something about it. But this attitude sucks. It’s really sad. Imagine what an employer is going to think when a candidate goes into an interview and says, “Well, my $600 a week extra ran out so I decided it’s time to get a job?” Now, obviously some people are gonna be smart enough not to say this. But it might wind up being obvious by analyzing how long they’ve been out of work.

As a society, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by thinking this way. When we allow our government to lull us into thinking that we are better off relying on them and we are on ourselves, it’s going to take longer to dig out of this problem we’re in.

How much of this is political and how much of it is really the economy? No way to know.

There ain’t no free lunch!

 

….numbers tell

People love stories. Stories sell! So, if you’re a candidate trying to sell yourself or an employer trying to sell your company and your job you really need to have stories about your successes. People always remember stories.

But if stories sell, numbers tell! This seems to be one of the hardest but most simple ideas to communicate to people, especially jobseekers. People love to see and hear numbers. Job seekers who know how to use numbers to their advantage in their cover letters, on their résumés and especially in their interviews, always have a phenomenal advantage.

People always sound more authoritative and sure of themselves when they use numbers to demonstrate their successes. This is especially true when it comes to any individual impact on increase in revenue and/or profits or decrease in overhead.

Getting in the habit of “proving” your success with the stories you tell in the interviewing process with numbers really sets you apart from others. It’s one thing to say in the interview that “I am/was a really good performer.” It’s another thing to state, “I am/was a really great performer because:

• “I decreased bad debt 35%.
• “I was 130% of sales quota this year, 125% last year, and 150% the year before that.
• “I decreased shrinkage 28%.
• “I was able to decrease payroll costs by 10% while increasing production 7%.
• “I saved the company $123,000 in inventory costs.”

I’m sure you get the idea by now. You can even combine stories and numbers by explaining in the story how the numbers were reached. People will remember your story better when it’s reinforced by numbers. When you have the numbers on your résumé they often lead to great stories.

I get between 75 and 100 resumes a day. The gobbledygook and fluff that I see in 98% of these resumes is astounding. Every time I read, “good written and oral communication skills,” I just want to throw up. It doesn’t get any dumber than that. The numbers also need to be significant. “Increasing sales by 2%” is useless. I would also recommend bolding your numbers so that they stand out. 

Remember that your resume doesn’t really get read. It gets scanned. The people scanning the resume are simply looking for three or four things: Who did you work for? (Do I know what they do?) What did you do? (Do I understand exactly the job this person did?) How long were they there? (Simply the dates.) And, How well did they do… What was their performance? (And there is no better way to communicate your performance than by stating numbers.

 

…..listen..

Say what? Yeah…say LISTEN! I know this is going to sound so mundane and simple that many readers are going to think, “Why would he remind me about this?” Well, it’s because this is probably one of the biggest mistakes both candidates and interviewing authorities make in the hiring process….THE BIGGEST!

This mistake is mostly made by candidates. At least twice this week, two of my candidates failed in their interview almost in the very beginning of it because they didn’t really listen to the question they were being asked. They were so anxious to answer the question, they weren’t really clear what the question was. Unfortunately, in both of these cases this question came in the beginning of the interview when the hiring authority caught on that the candidates didn’t really understand the question. And this was such a shame.

One of these interviews was a zoom interview and the other one was a telephone interview. This kind of thing is especially disastrous with a telephone interview, because the hiring authority can’t see body language, there is a tendency to really misunderstand. What happened was really simple. The employer asked the candidate a question. The candidate really didn’t understand the question but started answering it anyhow. Instead of asking for a clarification or saying something like, “I’m not sure I quite understand what you mean, could you ask me again?” the candidate was afraid of appearing ignorant, so he just started answering the wrong question with (who even knows) the wrong answer.

This was about three or four minutes into the interview. The interview only lasted about 30 minutes. The hiring authority was so hung up on the candidate’s misunderstanding about the question and his poor answer that the employer wrote the guy off in the first three or four minutes.

The second situation of not listening well took place on the part of a hiring authority in a face-to-face interview. The hiring authority got hung up on the candidate’s last two years of experience. The candidate’s previous job had lasted seven years and was the candidate’s major experience that applied to the hiring authority’s interest. The hiring authority, according to the candidate, really didn’t understand what the candidate had been doing for the last two years and started explaining to the candidate that what he’d been doing most recently didn’t have anything to do with what they did.

The candidate tried to bring the subject back around to what he had done for the previous seven years but it really didn’t seem to matter. He claimed that the employer quit listening when he couldn’t get a grasp of what the candidate had been doing for the last two years.

Interviewing and hiring are emotionally stressful events. Even outside of the interviewing and hiring process, we’ve all experienced people who had started to answer a question before the question is finished being asked. How many times on game shows do we hear the host tell the participants to not ring the bell to answer the question before the question is finished. Well, people do that in the interviewing process too.

The key is to relax. If a person doesn’t understand either a question or an answer, they should simply take a deep breath and ask the other person to please repeat their question or answer. Even after that, if the question or answer is not understood, ask for clarification. Except in rare instances, no one is ever going to criticize a person for not understanding…at least the first time.

Everyone would perform better and have a better understanding of each other if they just LISTEN !

….where are the ex-felons???

 We have a client who called us. Some of their top sales producers are ex-felons. Now, they are not violent ex-felons. They are usually professional people who made a mistake along the way in their life….white collar type crimes and maybe even paid their dues in prison. Some of the best salespeople this company has hired have come from having made a mistake.

It’s so interesting that this company called us because they are looking for salespeople and mentioned in the process that some of the best salespeople they have had been felons. And now, they can’t find any of them. They basically stumbled into the ones that they have hired who have been phenomenally successful. So, they intentionally went out to try to seek the admittedly, rare felon who is capable of doing their job… and they can’t seem to find any of them.

They went online to look for organizations that might help these kinds of people. One place, they said, was in New York but only worked in New York City. The other two or three, they said, either couldn’t be reached or never returned a voicemail or ever called back. The company offers a decent base salary and a hefty commission. They are very disciplined and really don’t put up with much nonsense. It’s inside sales, over the phone, but it is a very sophisticated sell, takes a lot of intelligence and making $100,000 to $200,000 is very reasonable to do. They told us that they have run ads on line and gotten absolutely nothing.

So, they called us. Now they’ll hire other kind of folks with sales experience, obviously. It’s not a requirement that a person be an ex-felon to work at the company. But what struck us as so odd is that this organization is willing to give lots of people a second chance. Now, the parameters of what they look for are very narrow, they give in-depth psychological surveys to see if an individual has the kind of personality that is successful at what they do. They do an extensive background check and, as I say, violent people won’t be considered.

What’s amazing about this and struck us as so odd is that they’re having almost an impossible time even finding these kinds of candidates. Now, we have provided them a number of very good sales candidates for them to choose from. But they are very picky. They are even willing to pay us a fee to find any kind of candidate, even an ex-felon, to fill their sales job.

Why is it so hard to find these kinds of people to hire? Our society is supposed to be a very forgiving and understanding one. We’re supposed to give people second chances and yet this company can’t seem to find hardly anybody to give a second chance to.

The vast majority of people who are employed by this company, according to the manager we spoke with, aren’t ex-felons. But the mere fact that this organization is willing to give a person like that a second chance was phenomenally enlightening. And yet, this firm can’t seem to locate those kinds of people. Now, they will admit that their interviewing and hiring process is going to eliminate most candidates, ex-felons or not. But just the mere fact that they are willing to consider folks who have made mistakes deserves credit. I don’t know if it works out well for them all of the time. I didn’t really get that far with them. But just to find a business organization that was willing to consider people who have made mistakes under the right circumstances this tremendously gratifying.

Where are the ex-felons? If you know of any who can sell and are disciplined enough to work a very strict system, have them call me 214-515-7613.