….When the shoe is on the other foot

About 40% of the employers that I’ve worked with over the years become candidates of mine somewhere along the line. Over the last month this happened with the guy that I’ve been working with for almost 15 years as an employer. His company was sold and he lost his job.

He’s been looking for a job now for about two months and he is very surprised by many things. First of all, he is surprised that he had not had as many interviews as he thought he was going to get. He’s only had two. Like many of his peers, he has always thought that he was so good at what he did, if he ever needed to find a job, people would come banging on his door. I tell everyone that management jobs are really hard to find. Seventy percent of the time people are promoted from within for management jobs (which is the way he got his), whether they are qualified or not. Companies do this for all kinds of reasons that aren’t really worth going into here.

But the point is, he had been promoted into his management job and told by his previous company how wonderful, spectacular, invaluable, unbelievable, phenomenal and indispensable he was…until they just didn’t need them anymore. All of those accolades, promotions, etc. haven’t helped him find a new position.

What’s most astounding to him is that people have been so rude to him about saying they would interview him and then not, saying they would get back to him and they don’t, telling him that he is a wonderful candidate and then never hearing from them again. This last point has been most astounding to me. He told me today that, “I just can’t believe that these people are so rude as to not call me back, tell me they’ll get back to me and then never do… It’s just plain rude.”

What’s amazing about this is that he was exactly this way when he was a hiring authority. He would tell candidates that he was interested in them and then never call them back…. never call me back and just plain go silent. It’s easy to say that what goes around comes around and that he’s getting what he deserves. He was perceived as mean and rude and now he’s being treated that way. But that is terribly unfair and doesn’t make it right.

Since 1973 I’ve never been able to figure out why hiring authorities have to be this way. We all learn and hear that hiring people is one of the most important things that a manager can do and yet when they go to do it, it continually gets put on the “back burner” and candidates are absolutely left in the lurch.

Now, I will admit that when a candidate is looking for a job, especially if they are unemployed, that is their highest priority. When you’re managing an organization and running a business, hiring people is simply one of the things you have to deal with and, frankly it’s one of the hardest and most difficult things to do, so people postpone it and let other things that are easier to do take priority. And soon, the job search goes from days, to weeks, to even months, almost unintentionally. But it is so darn rude and almost mean.

Here is the message. If you’re a hiring authority, put yourself in the shoes of the candidate. Treat the candidate the way you would want to be treated because this week, this month or next year you may be in their shoes.

How much of a problem is it to just simply pick up the phone and call a candidate and tell them where they stand and what’s going on?

 

…..Robert Mueller’s “interview”

If Robert Mueller had been a candidate in a job interview he would’ve failed miserably. It was one of the poorest displays of answering questions that I’ve probably ever experienced in the 46 years that I’ve been doing this. It was awful!

“Who hired you?”…. “I don’t really remember… I’m not sure… Clinton?”…

The guy answered questions with, “That wasn’t in my purview.” He was nervous, unfocused, wasn’t sure of some things and couldn’t remember others.

Age discrimination!… You say? Well, he is 74, but he supposed to be one of the most trained minds in the country. I felt sorry for him. But if he had been one of my candidates, I would’ve trained him a whole lot better, and if he’d performed like that I’d been really pissed.

I know Robert Mueller doesn’t need a job, but if he performed like he did the other day in an interview, he’d still be looking for one.

The lesson? Go into an interview prepared. Practice the answers to the questions you know you’re going to get. Like many “candidates” this guy is brilliant and he is good at what he does, but when you don’t prepare for an interview and you don’t do well the interview becomes a disaster. People feel sorry for you, but they don’t hire you.

…. Unbelievable

So, you’re gonna say, “Tony, you wrote about this stuff not too long ago… What the hell is with this?”

Well, let me tell you what the hell is with this. A VP in his late 40’s making a $250,000 base salary and another $250,000 on quota with an absolutely stellar track record, wonderful presentation skills and nothing in his background that would not make him an excellent VP anywhere he wanted to be screws up an interview.

How, you ask?

He goes to the corporate office. He goes to lunch with the CEO, the president of the company the  executive vice president of sales, who is a woman as well as another woman in the executive management of the company and somewhere in the conversation says something like, “Well, they just had a ‘hard**’ to buy”. END of consideration!

My candidate had done a splendid job in the interviewing process. When I told him why they were not going to hire him, because of his crude and rude language, especially in mixed company, he couldn’t believe it. He said, “I am so sorry, I guess it’s that Jersey boy coming out of me.” He was as disappointed as they were. Remorseful is a mild word to say how he felt. But the damage had been done. Over! Fini! Kaput!

Lesson: you got to watch your language all the time. I’m an ex-rugby player and I’ve heard it all. Ironically enough (wait till you hear this) the executive vice president of sales, a woman herself, was also an ex-rugby player. She admitted that she had heard just about everything all of us who played rugby heard too. But not in an interview. She was sad about it also. But the whole management team couldn’t believe the guy said that and couldn’t imagine hiring him either.

Watch your language!

….job search information on the market

Basically, most of it sucks! Over the last two weeks I’ve read the top seven newest, most popular books on finding a job. The reason is I’m rewriting the online training program of the Job Search Solution. It is all going to video format and, of course, I’m updating just about everything. So, I bought these books to find out what information there was on the market about finding a job.

I want to be kind, empathetic, and respectful of anyone who goes to the trouble of writing a book. I read all seven of these and, although there is some decent information in all of them, like “you really need to have a good resume,” most of them aren’t much help. The major reason is, all but one of these people never found anyone a job…ONLY ONE. But other than that, everyone else who wrote one of these “bestsellers,” doesn’t seem to know their ass from first base.

One of the books talks about comedy and finding a job. The whole damn book is fiction and it is supposed to be funny. It isn’t funny. If you’ve been out of work for a year or even a week, there is nothing funny or amusing about needing to find a job. Fiction does not help you. Reality helps you. If you’re looking for a job you have better things to do than to read a fictional, humorous book that is supposed to be amusing.

A number of these books have the word “love” in the title. “Love your job… The job you love… Love the job search… Love, love, love!” Bull shit!!! A job you just “love!” Only 13% of the people in the world have a job they actually love. I happen to be one of them, but I guarantee you that most people, when they need a job, try to get what they reasonably can. The authors of these books are good writers but they’re so out of touch with reality, it’s a joke. Look, I’ve helped more than 11,000 people on a one-on-one basis find a job between 1973 and today. I personally interviewed face-to-face more than 100,000 candidates. I guarantee you if you walk into an interview and tell a prospective employer that you are looking for a job that you “just love” you will be eliminated immediately. These people that write these books about how to find a job you “love” act like there is one on every corner and all you have to do is go put your money in the slot machine and get one. Crazy! Do yourself a favor and stay away from any book about finding a job that has the word “love, joy, ecstasy, fun, excitement…” in the title. These people are smoking dope! They have no idea what you’re talking about. (That goes along with the word “secret.” There are no secrets to finding a job. Also avoid the words “adventure, brave, break the rules” and anything else that might seem a little unrealistic.)

A couple of these books are just plain odd. One of them is written by a fellow who subtitles it as, “What I wish every job candidate knew.” He explains in the book that basically people don’t do well in interviews because they don’t present themselves the way he wishes they would. So, I guess if the reader is going to interview with this guy they should buy his book and learn the way he wants to be sold. Big secret: not everybody interviews the same way or wants to see the same thing in interviewing. And as a job candidate you need to be ready for just about what anybody can throw at you even as insane as it might appear (like the question, “Why do they make manholes round?”)

Another rather odd one is titled Fired. It chronicles dozens of people who got fired and their relatively sad stories. While I admire the research that the author did to write this book, she really only interviewed 65 people and reported on many of their stories. There is a “poor, poor pitiful me!” tone to the whole book. I will admit that getting fired isn’t fun, but in today’s fast moving world of business it is part of reality. Hearing about the sad stories of a whole bunch of folks who got fired isn’t really going to help anybody find a new job. This book really doesn’t help anybody get over being canned which is the very first thing they should do as they start looking for a job. Quit dwelling on being fired, figure out how you’re going to explain it to a prospective employer and get on with finding a job.

One, supposedly a “career expert” implies that you can get hired in 60 seconds. Right! … Actually, most people probably really know better than this. Most of the book is pretty good and gives some pretty sound advice, It just really isn’t very deep or revolutionary.

The best of the group was written by the CEO of a large executive recruiting firm. The unfortunate thing about books, as I’ve mentioned before, is that they really are short and can only address the surface aspects of most job search issues. So, no one can expect a really deep analysis of many things simply because there’s not enough room. For instance, there are seven or eight different kinds of recruiters. One could write a whole book on just the differences with them and between them. But this guy does a really decent job of hitting the most important points of a job search.

What I especially liked about this particular book is that the author addresses the fact that people should have a good idea about what their aptitudes are. If you listen to my Ted talk, the first thing I recommend is that people take some kind of in-depth aptitude testing,  preferably before they begin their career. This is one of the only authors that talks about that. Most workers, even professionals, aren’t very good at what they do simply because they don’t have an aptitude for it. Every professional should know what their aptitudes are…their strengths and their weaknesses, especially before they go look for a job. As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve interviewed over the years that got into sales, for instance, because they “loved people.” They turned out to be really mediocre or lousy salespeople. They really had no aptitude for sales. They thought because they “loved people” they would make good salespeople. We all know that’s not true.

Look, if you’re gonna buy information about how to find a job, get it from someone who has actually been in the trenches, finding people jobs on a daily basis. Don’t buy the title. Read about who the author is and what they do for a living.

Caveat emptor!

…… proving my point… unfortunately

I’ve been in a polemic for the past few weeks with a number of people on LinkedIn going back and forth about people feeling discriminated against because they are “too old.” There have been a number of writers and commentators bemoaning the fact that they are being discriminated against because of their age.

My contention is that you’re getting hired or not may not have anything to do with your “age” so much as it has to do with the things that come with your age. So, when people don’t get hired, they claim they were discriminated against because they’re too old. Let me give you an example of what happened today.

The candidate comes to our office. He was 22 years with the same organization. He left that firm making $160,000 base salary and a total of $250,000. He was a salesperson for this organization and had been laid off…. a year ago! He told us that he couldn’t find a job because he was 58 years old and nobody wanted to hire a 58-year-old in the business that he was in (he worked for a data storage manufacturer.) He was convinced that it was his age.

Upon asking him how many interviews he had in the year he had been looking, he said that he really had only had one or two. He told us that he was looking for a position with one of his competitors…he did not under any circumstances want to go to work for a value-added reseller or a manufacturer’s rep and he wanted a base of at least the $160,000 that he had been making and if he couldn’t make $250,000, it wasn’t worth his doing.

He claimed that he was worth the $160,000 and that it took him 15 or 16 years to get to that level and he wasn’t about to take a step back and that he didn’t want to lower himself to work for a VAR or the channel, because those people “just don’t make enough money.” He claimed that he had a chance to interview with a couple of VAR’s and a channel and he just wouldn’t take the interview, because he was better than that.

You see what I mean? This guy has been out of work for a year. He claims that it’s his age. The fact is that it took him a number of years to get to the base of $160,000 and a total earnings of $250,000. For some crazy reason he expects that he has an intrinsic value of $160,000 and a $250,000 package simply because he’s been with the same firm for so long and performed so well. Nobody has any intrinsic value.

The fact that this guy can’t find a job doesn’t have anything to do with is age except for the fact that it took him a number of years to get to the base salary that he was making and the total earnings. If he were 35 years old and insisted upon the same kind of salary and wouldn’t consider any kind of opportunity except exactly the kind he had before, he’d also be looking for a job.

What we tried to convince our candidate was that he needed to consider a lower salary, maybe going to work for a value-added reseller or someone in the channel. He may have to take less money and basically do what he really didn’t want to do which is “start all over.” But, my goodness, he’s been out of work for a year. This is crazy. If he has to start all over, he has to start all over.

So, quit complaining about your age. Take a look at the silly stuff you might be trying to demand that the market won’t bear.

 

……”affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope and hope does not disappoint” Romans, Chapter 5

This is a reading from our Mass last Sunday. Every time I hear this quote about faith, hope and love by St. Paul, in Romans, I think about all of the challenges most job seekers are faced with in looking for a job today. Even in this economy, there are tons of people that are either unemployed or underemployed and have a phenomenal difficulty in finding a job.

Especially in my profession, which only places maybe 1% or 2% of the people we interview, we hear from people all the time about the difficulties and challenges the ones we cannot help are facing. This is especially true when you’ve been out of work for six months or more and have never had to face this kind of challenge. When people lose their job, through no fault of their own or have never had such a difficult time in finding a job, going months without even an interview, even on a professional level, I’m reminded of their afflictions.

Unfortunately, we are not in a position where we can console, much less listen to everybody’s story of their afflictions when it comes to looking for a job. Often times losing a job leads to all kinds of unintended consequences like divorce, depression… I’ve even had a few such candidates since 1973 commit suicide. I try to remind people of what St. Paul wrote here in Romans.

If we try to remember that no matter how difficult being out of work or needing a new job can be, we have to pray for faith, hope and love. I know that’s really easy to tell someone else, especially when they are going through a phenomenally difficult time and we are not. But we all have to believe, even know, that no matter how difficult the affliction, it can lead to endurance that helps our character and gives us hope.

Even for one brief moment every day, if people who are going through this kind of seemingly unending affliction could realize that the affliction could lead to hope and hope, through the Holy Spirit cannot fail to lead to good, their life can be better. Seeing the blessings of hope in just about everything we experience is really hard to do. We can always see it for the other guy or gal, but it’s really hard to see it for ourselves.

Have faith. Endure!

 

… “But why is it these guys have to take my time with so many interviews… Aren’t they better business people than that?”

Our candidate already had a couple of offers. He says that both of those firms only interviewed him a couple times and then plain old decided. Our client has now interviewed him four times and has asked him to come back for a fifth interview. This has taken almost 2 weeks. And, they still can’t tell us when they will make a decision. He’s getting frustrated and made the statement above. He does have a point, and even after 45 years of doing this I still wonder why so many organizations have to have so many interviews. (I do know the reason. It’s because no one wants to take responsibility for making a decision and by having this many people involved in the process, they can spread the responsibility/blame.)

He was getting so frustrated and plain old  pissed off about it, that at one point, he told me to tell them to just forget it, that he was going to take one of the other offers. I had to calm him down at least twice this week. And I had to remind him that this kind of activity and relative inability to decide does not mean that the job is any better or worse than another one. In fact, in spite of what anybody might tell you, my experience has been that the number of interviews that a company may require of a candidate as well as the length of time it takes for them to make a decision has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the job.

So, the job seeker cannot judge the quality of the opportunity based on the number of interviews she/he has to go through. Some companies think that they hire better candidates by requiring more interviews and extending the time of the interviewing process longer. Take it from me, they don’t hire any better or lesser candidates because of it. Nor is the job any better or worse based on the number of interviews.

Make a judgment about the job based on business reasons. Try to take the emotions out of it as best you can.

 

…victim of this …victim of that

It’s amazing that last week I wrote about “get over it.” So, today, I get an email from the candidate of mine who sees an ad advertisement about a job that I publish on Linkedin. The company is looking for a VP of sales who has had experience selling and managing a sales force in mobility products sold to the department of defense. They want exactly than experience and I made it very clear that these are their parameters.

The candidate had called me and explained that she had worked at a mobile phone manufacturer and at another job worked with the DOD because she had served in Desert Storm. I explained that I was sure that her experience was good but that it didn’t fit what my client wanted, which was a vice president of sales for a company that developed mobile devices or software to the department of defense. She writes me and tells me that “you are discriminating against me for being a woman, a woman of color and a veteran. Because men I have talked to that have engaged with you have had different experiences.” What???

This is as much a victim mentality as I have seen in a long time. She just plain doesn’t fit what the client is looking for. I’m convinced she could probably do the job, but as I explained to her, doing the job and getting the job are two different things. She does not have the qualifications for the job. Compared to the candidates that I recruited today, she doesn’t even come close.

It’s to my best interest to please my clients. If I send them people who are obviously, unquestionably not qualified, not only will they not get hired, but I’ll lose the client. And on top of that the thought that I was discriminating against her for being a woman, a woman of color and a veteran is totally absurd. And to say that I talked to men than it had different experiences is nuts. I only talk to four people about this position …all of them today. I’m going to present three of these people and one of them is a woman. But she’s qualified.On top of that I’m quite confident that the candidate that emailed me doesn’t know any of the candidates that I’m presenting. I have no idea what “men” she might be talking about.

This kind of thing is so frustrating. Some people just want to be victims.

 

 

……get over it

“I turn on the tube and what do I see                                                                                                           A whole lot of people cryin’ ‘Do’t blame me’                                                                                             the point their crooked little fingers at everybody else                                                                           spend all their time feelin sorry for themselves                                                                                       Victim of this, victim of that                                                                                                                          your mom is too thin and your daddy’s too fat                                                                                           Get over it!”

— Eagles, 1994

you lost your job, you got fired, your company Went broke, you screwed up the interview, he came in second for the offer and you knew you were going to get….. And it just ain’t fair!

Get over it! The sooner and more quickly you get over it the better you’ll be able to find a new job. Just today I had an excellent candidate with an excellent track record go to an interview with a client I’ve known for a number of years. The kid was perfect for the job.

My client really wanted to like him…said that he tried every way in the world to like the kid. But the kid kept talking about how his company was screwing him over. The hiring authorities said that the kid use that term no less than four times in the first 10 minutes of the interview. What is interesting is that the kid is working for a competitor of my client and everything the kid says is true….but you just don’t keep saying it in an interview.

When I told my candidate that he turned my client off by being so adamant about how he got screwed over, instead of saying, “you know, I shouldn’t put it that way. I need to be more careful,” he says, “well it’s true! And I just can’t get over it.”

I explained to him that if he talking this way about his previous employer and if he doesn’t quickly “get over it” and continues to make such statements, he’s going to be looking for a job for a really long time. He’s a kid. He’s very good at what he does but, he’s still a kid. He then spends two or three minutes defending himself to me and telling me the same things he had told me in my face-to-face interview with him last week and what he told my client.

I told him he needed to get over it and I really don’t have time to try to explain it any more than that. I explained to him that, if he can’t get it, it’s senseless for me to get him any more interviews.

He calls the back 45 minutes later and tells me that I’m right and that he’s going to do everything he can to “get over it,” because he needs to find a new job. Of course, I didn’t rub it in. There’s no reason to do that. He does have a good track record. He just needs to get over his hurt feelings and move forward.

The sooner you get over all of the negative things that are going to happen to you that either caused your job search to begin or happened in your job search, the better off you are.

And as the Eagles sang: “the big, bad world doesn’t owe you a thing. Get over it!’

 

…life is ‘temp to perm’

We had an engineering candidate this last week who was in serious contention for a position with one of our clients. The client is a small engineering firm and the owner is always afraid of making a mistake in hiring. He’s a typical engineer who has a tendency to see the glass is always “half-empty.”

The kind of candidate that he was looking for is very hard to find. In the past four or five months we have only been able to discover two or three of them. Of the ones that we presented him, no one was really that interested in working for him…except this last one.

Everything went along really well during the initial interview and the subsequent interviews. Admittedly, he had about 80% of what the hiring authority was looking for, but for the money, the candidate was just about perfect. The employer, however, got scared about the candidate’s ability to do the job and when he went to offer him the position, he decided that he wanted to make it a “temp to perm” job offer. This means that he was going to hire the candidate on a “temporary” basis…90 days… and then, if everything worked out, hire him on a “permanent” basis.

We tried to explain to the owner of the company that, especially on this level, hiring a candidate in this manner does not give the candidate a lot of confidence in the company or the owner’s ability to make a good decision. The owner of the company said that he “didn’t want to make a mistake,” so he wanted the flexibility of the temp to perm relationship.

The owner of the company and the candidate had already come to a conclusion about salary, etc., but when the candidate got this news, he turned the job down. He said that he was looking for a permanent position and nothing that would hint of “temporary.”

We tried to explain to the owner that no engineer on this level is going to take a job like that, especially in this market. They simply don’t have to. There are too many other opportunities around where the idea of temp to perm doesn’t even come up.

We tried to explain to the candidate that this kind of thing is really not a big deal. If he performs well, he’s not going to have to worry about the future. Just do your job and you get to keep it. Pretty simple.

Unfortunately, both parties didn’t seem to be aware of the reality that every job is temporary…life is temporary… only death is permanent. The owner of the company lost a great candidate. We tried to make him aware that even when you hire a candidate “permanently,” you can let that employee go at any time. We tried to explain to the candidate that whether he is hired “temp to perm” or permanently, he could be let go at any time, and he could leave at any time.

Not only did the whole thing crater, but the employer was mad at us because the candidate wouldn’t take the job. He claimed that we wasted his time and that he would have to find an engineer on his own. No problem, but it is just kind of sad that he made this more complicated than it needed to be. We understand the candidate getting scared. He had a job and was leaving it to take this one. Although this was a better opportunity, at more money and a better future, the candidate got real nervous when the owner came up with the idea that he would like to “try before you buy.”

We do understand both sides of this situation. The owner of the company should have just hired the candidate on a permanent basis, realizing that he could let him go just about any time. Most candidates know that, except for illegal reasons, they can be let go at just about any time and, likewise they can leave the job at just about any time.

Everything in life is temp to perm!