…..more on body language

Last time, we discussed candidate body language and why it is important in the interviewing process. We discussed posture, focus and the hand shake. Today we will finish our discussion of this important subject.

Demonstrate confidence, openness and enthusiasm with correct hand gestures and arm positioning. The way your arms are positioned says a lot about your state of mind and attitude. The right hand gestures convey much of what you are trying to convey to the interviewer. Let your hands help you express feelings, needs and convictions, without going over-the-top.

There are three categories of hand gestures. “Emblematic” gestures are a signal of unspoken, mutually understood meaning, such as raising the fingers to the lips to imply “quiet”. “Pacifier” gestures, such as burying the head in the hands, are used to relieve stress.

The gestures you want to use in an interview are the “Illustrative” gestures. These gestures develop simultaneous speech and help the speaker find the right words to make the messages and thoughts more emphatic and precise.

There are several types of hand and arm gestures that often say more than words ever can. Supine palms, facing up, imply a lack of something that the speaker needs or is requesting. Supine at a 45° tilt imply candor and openness. Prone palms, facing down, signal power and certainty. The Steeple, fingers intertwined with the index fingers outstretched and touching, express confidence and expertise. The “fig leaf”, with hands grasped together in front of the groin, communicates a state of being closed-off and distrusting.

Rigid hands can emphasize certain, important words. Hiding the hands can come across as you being untrustworthy. Hands touching the face, head, or hair impart nervousness, vulnerability or tentativeness.

Arm gestures above your shoulders broadcast a person being erratic and overly emotional. Arms held at waist height, however, express centeredness and composure. Keep your arms open as a sign of inclusion. Arms crossed over your chest say you’re closed-off, unapproachable and defensive.

Place your hands on the table, if you are sitting at one, or on your lap in front of you. Don’t keep your hands in your lap or sitting on the table through the entire interview. You will come across unenthusiastic. Use your Illustrative hand gestures.

Keep your hands at chest-level or below and use moderate arm movements to help you express yourself.
If you flail your arms about while speaking, you will look uncontrollable, unbelievable and powerless. Rubbing head or neck will make you look disinterested and rubbing or touching your nose displays dishonesty.

Convey a solid self-confidence with the way you position your legs and feet. Your stance and positioning of your feet say a lot about your self-confidence. Sit with legs at a right angle and feet firmly planted on the floor. Stand with legs slightly parted and knees relaxed. That says “I’m solid and sure of myself.”

Crossing the legs during the interview has you appear too relaxed. Locking your ankles tightly together or around the legs of the chair demonstrates non-communication and disengagement. So does pointing your feet toward the door. Shuffling the feet indicates nervousness and discomfort. Bouncing the heels up and down is a sign of nervousness or over-excitement. Standing with your feet too close together says you are hesitant and insecure.

Men and women differ in their body language, speech and perception.

Women are more comfortable with being approached from the front and will stand in a more squared position. They nod when they agree, are listening, empathizing with the speaker or encouraging them to continue. Women recognize good listening skills as using a lot of eye contact and reacting visually. They also maintain a closer physical distance to everyone, including someone they just met, and use touch to signal agreement, sympathy, compassion, connection and celebration. Women often condense their physical space by keeping their elbows by their sides and sometimes stand with their legs close together as they cross one knee over the other. More emotional than men, women raise their voices when under stress and use five different vocal tones when speaking. Because they tend to be more expressive, women use more facial expressions and translate the lack of facial expressions in others as negative feedback, which promotes anxiety. Women tend to smile more than men and are judged as pretty, feminine, shallow and unintelligent when they have breathy, tense voices.

Men, on the other hand, prefer approaches from the side. Two men speaking will angle their bodies slightly. Men typically nod only when they are in agreement and recognize good listening skills as minimal eye contact and almost no nonverbal feedback. They tend to keep a great distance between those they don’t know and see touching as being motivated by power. Men expand in their own physical space by sprawling, sitting with their legs spread wide open, or widely crossed, and stretching their arms on the back of a chair next to them. They also expand their work space by spreading their materials around their office or all over a conference table. Men’s voices have deeper vocal ranges and they use only three vocal tones when speaking. They minimize facial expressions, which often causes uneasiness in others and they also express their anger nonverbally. They tend to quickly expel anger with physical bursts of energy, such as hitting a table. Men often keep their legs apart at 10° to 15° angles, in a more open and relaxed stance and emphasize stature, composure and confidence with body language. They are also judged as mature, masculine and intelligent if they have throaty, tense voices.

The thing men and women have in common is they smile when they are genuinely happy, amused, or when it is socially acceptable to do so.

The important points are to make and keep eye contact, smile, hone a great handshake, show confidence, and express and sell yourself.

More importantly, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. And when you’re done with that, PRACTICE some more.

Over the years, the biggest difference between candidates who did well in the interviewing process and those that didn’t came down to practicing.

At least once a week, I have candidates tell me things like, “I know how to interview… it’s no big deal… I’m really good at it, etc.” and then they get into the interview and they blow it.

To be successful interviewing, you’ve got to practice!

Good luck to you!

….candidate body language

Ok, so you think you got this down. YOU DON”T…Most candidates never deal with this thought and they should. So, pay attention!

Candidate Body Language in the interview is extremely important. People form an opinion of you in the first seven seconds of the meeting and your body language says a lot. One study from McGill University in the 1960s found that people decide to hire you, or not, in the first FOUR minutes of an interview. There is little evidence to challenge that study even today.

According to Careerbuilder.com, some hiring Managers claim they can spot a possible candidate for a job in 30 seconds or less. Your body language sets the stage.

Why is it important? Looking for a job is emotionally stressful. Most people are very nervous when it comes to interviewing and when people are nervous their body language usually reflects their nervousness. Lack of eye contact, not smiling, a weak handshake and poor posture, along with other issues we will address here, can kill an interview. It will eliminate you as a candidate no matter how good your talent, experience or professional abilities might be.

Here is a perfect example. We recently had an excellent candidate who had 20 years of business project consulting experience, both selling and leading the consulting projects after they were sold. One of the country’s most elite business consulting organizations was interested in hiring him. They were anxious to hire, but they were very, very picky. They already interviewed and eliminated 28 candidates. Their procedure was to have a candidate do telephone interviews with five or six of the partners from around the country before traveling to their corporate office for face-to-face and final interviews.

All of the 28 other candidates were eliminated after two or three of the telephone interviews. Our candidate was not only successful in passing the five very difficult phone interviews with the partners, but one of the VPs told us that he was the best candidate they had spoken to in a year and he couldn’t wait to get the guy to corporate to “get him hired”. The candidate was likewise thrilled and talking about all of the success that he would have with the firm.

He flew to the corporate office late one afternoon and prepared for his first meeting with the CEO early the next morning. The meeting with the CEO lasted a whole 15 minutes. The CEO told the candidate after about 12 minutes into the interview that he was not what the company was looking for. The CEO thanked him for his time and the candidate then flew back to Dallas. The candidate was devastated. He was perfect for the job and every one of the partners as well as the VP with whom he had spoken over the phone thought so too.

Here is what happened. The candidate arrived at the CEOs office 15 minutes early, just as he should. He didn’t smile and was not warm to the CEOs administrator… he didn’t even say anything much beyond, “I’m here to see the CEO.” He was not dressed appropriately. Although he did wear a suit, his striped shirt and polka dot tie were totally mismatched (… according to the CEO). When he walked into the CEOs office, he walked slowly with no authority or energy. He did not initiate a handshake and when the CEO did, he gave the CEO a limp handshake… and his sweaty palms didn’t help. Again, he didn’t smile and he did not look the CEO in the eye. According to the CEO, he slumped down in his chair, crossed his legs and gazing down, almost looking at his own shoes, asked the CEO, “What would you like to know?”

The conversation, according to the CEO, was stilted and lethargic. The candidate continued to slump in his chair, with his eyes darting around the office. His speech came across very slow and tentative. There were long, pensive pauses before he answered the CEOs questions and no animation or enthusiasm in his gestures or his speech. The decisive CEO decided they were not going to hire our candidate and saw no reason to prolong the “pain.” What should have been a day of interviewing resulting in a formal offer of $180,000, which had already been discussed, ended with the candidate leaving empty-handed.

The candidate admitted that he had not interviewed in a very long time. He hadn’t practiced interviewing and, in spite of the fact he had 20 solid years of experience, he really wasn’t prepared for the interview. He said that the CEO’s office and CEO were rather intimidating and, that early in the morning, he wasn’t prepared. He had lots of excuses…he hadn’t gone to the cleaners and gotten the appropriate shirts…his plane arrived at 1 am in the morning because of weather delays and he was tired…and he just didn’t think it was fair to start out speaking with the CEO that early in the morning. His body language cost him the job. The CEO said that he couldn’t imagine the candidate making a good impression with the CEOs, CIOs and COOs of the Fortune 500 firms they sell to.

So here is a primer on candidate body language:

Prepare yourself before you walk in the door for an interview. Stand up straight, with your shoulders back, head held high, with a smile on your face. Blow your nose, adjust your apparel, touch up your makeup or hair, silence your cell phone and put it away. Raise your eyebrows to widen your eyes, make you look more awake and give you a friendlier expression. This expression and body-posture tells your audience you are confident and comfortable with what you’re selling – YOU.

Look people in the eye and smile with your eyes. This means from the Receptionist or Assistant who greets you, to the hiring authority and anyone else you may be introduced to. A helpful way to make eye contact is to take note of the other person’s eye color. It will help you stay focused and engaged.

Keep your eyes focused on theirs in a friendly manner, “smiling” with your eyes. Staring at them blankly will make you appear “distant” and not present in the moment. If you look down you’ll seem submissive or dishonest. Looking around the room or away from them will make you come across as nervous and uninterested.

You must initiate a great handshake. The handshake is the most familiar and traditional of business gestures and makes a lasting impression. You develop an immediate and positive connection with someone from touching their hands.

Step forward slightly and reach out YOUR hand to the other person, with your palm facing sideways. Make sure you make full contact with the web of your hand to the other person’s hand. Press firmly in the handshake to “affirm” the gesture as being genuine. Shake with your right hand and, if your left hand is empty, touch the other’s right arm with it to re-affirm the sincerity of the gesture. Keep that smile on your face while maintaining the eye and hand contact. Introduce yourself by name if this is your first meeting. Follow that by saying, “It’s great to meet you” or “I’m so glad to be here, thanks so much for seeing me.” It’s not recommended you hug them, no matter how well you know them.

Hold the other person’s hand a second longer than you normally would. This conveys additional sincerity and quite literally “hones” the other person’s attention when you exchange greetings. Honor their personal space by keeping a distance of a minimum of 20” between the two of you.
Don’t lose hand contact during the introduction. If your palms are sweaty, wipe them off right before you meet the other person. If you shake with a “limp grip” you’ll be perceived as indecisiveness or weak. Shake with firmness and confidence.

Briefly mirror the other person’s body postures, gestures and expressions. Mirroring builds the ability to influence other people to think like you. It also leads them to experience the same emotions you are experiencing or expressing. Mirroring the interviewer’s posture, just briefly, will have them connect with you and follow your posture. You only want to mirror someone long enough to get them to begin to mirror you.

Mirror the other person for about one or two minutes before gradually changing your body’s language to proper interviewing posture. Do this in a subtle manner so you don’t look like you’re mocking or mimicking the other person. The idea is to mirror them so they will then follow you and mirror you. As you move into your own, professional posture, start being more animated, energetic, passionate and enthusiastic – this will lead the other person into energy and enthusiasm.

Don’t mirror the other person beyond a minute or two or go overboard when you move into your own posture and become more animated and enthusiastic. Maintain decorum and control. Don’t worry if they don’t adopt your amount of enthusiasm and mirror you completely – they will still see it in you, and identify with you.

Proper upper body posture is essential to making a good impression. Position your shoulders and torso toward the interviewer. Good posture has you appear interested, engaged, and ready to interact and will most likely compel the interviewer to mirror you.

Orienting your body away from someone conveys detachment or disengagement, regardless of the words spoken. Facing your body towards the door assumes you can’t wait to get out of there.

Sit up straight, with shoulders back, and torso squarely faced toward the other person. Lean slightly forward in the chair to show eagerness and attention.

Don’t slouch down as it will have you appear disinterested or unprepared. If you recline with your shoulders back against the chair and your legs outstretched or crossed in front of you, you’ll appear too relaxed and lazy. Whatever you do, don’t lean back with your hands behind your head. It’s a sign of arrogance.

More next time!

…Dallas, the biggest small town you’ll ever live in

This is a quote from a very good friend of mine and business partner, Rich Lubinski. Rich’s been around almost as long as I have and experienced just about as many things when it comes to people, jobs, and their career. This idea is something that everyone ought to keep on their minds regarding just about every personal and business activity they are involved in.

The reason this phrase came to mind was that one of my candidates was eliminated from getting a job offer…. because of something he did almost 3 years ago. He got fired from the company he was working for back then because at one of the company’s social event he had too much to drink and said some things… lots of things… he wished he hadn’t. The story is that he even made a racial slur. In spite of the fact that none of the people that were supposedly at the event can remember exactly what went on, the story of this fellow’s indiscretion has traveled throughout the profession he is in, and obviously still being told today

The guy is a tremendous performer and everyone that knows him or of him knows that he is. But our client was so afraid of making a mistake in hiring him, when they heard of this three-year-old indiscretion, decided not to hire him. Our client was close to offering him a job and heard about the incident through a backdoor reference. They didn’t even bother to go to any lengths to confirm the incident. They just plain decided not to hire him because they “couldn’t afford to run the risk.”

According to the candidate, this situation had never come up before in his career. Even though he was stunned, he never denied that the incident had happened. He was simply furious that the “grapevine” was still talking about it. There is no doubt that it cost him the job.

It is really unfortunate that this happened. I’m convinced that this incident has absolutely nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to perform. His track record is awesome. But the truth is, like Rich Lubinski says, “Dallas is the biggest small-town You will ever live in.” You can do all of the good in the world but the one or two times that you make a simple human mistake, you’d best be prepared that people are going to remember it, talk about it and don’t be surprised if it could cost you a job.

This kind of thing is even more pronounced with the advent of social media. I’m an ex-rugby player and played for more than 20 years. I have to admit that some of the things I did when I was a kid could have been tweeted and youtubed causing tremendous embarrassment and maybe even some business opportunities. Like my candidate, I’m really embarrassed. But fortunately there are no records that I know of… Thank God.

Here’s the point. Just about any indiscreet activity you participate in is going to be remembered or documented by somebody. And you never know when it’s going to come up or be “remembered.” It could cost you a lot of things, including a job.

People remember and pass on the negative stuff way beyond what they do with the positive stuff. It has always been that way and it always will. Watch what you do. Watch what you say. No matter where you live… it could be the biggest small-town you’ve ever been in.

… First and second line managers… the toughest job in show business

I happen to recruit and place people primarily in sales and more specifically, in technology sales. But having been in this business since 1973 I’ve recruited and placed just about everything you can imagine in just about every discipline (well, maybe not oceanographers). What I’m going to write about applies to just about every business discipline I know, but especially regarding sales.

At least twice a week one of my sales candidates informs me that he or she really wants to get into sales management and “move up the ranks” in an organization. When I asked them why, there’s a blank stare and a pregnant pause and they mumble something like, “well isn’t that something I’m supposed to aspire to. You know, move up in an organization and continuously get promoted? Now the larger the firm the more they had seen this kind of thing done. But when I asked them to reflect on how often they really see it happen and have it not really work out for the individual they are thinking of, they then say something along the line of, “well it’s different with me, I’m a much better performer.”

After World War II and on into the early 70’s it wasn’t uncommon for people to go to work for one company and stay with that company for their career. Many of these people moved up into management positions and, presumably bettered themselves along the way. But things are a lot different today than they used to be. When I got into this profession in 1973, the average age of a company in the United States, including big ones and little ones, was 59 years old. The average age of an S&P 500 firm was 50 years old at that time too. In 2014 the average age of a company in the United States was only 12 years old. Even the companies on the S&P 500 didn’t live much longer. They were only 15 years old.

Companies expand and contract in the United States more than they ever have. A Forbes article in February 2018 claimed that employee turnover is the greatest that it’s been in 10 years. Not only are companies coming and going faster than they ever have, but so are the people.

First and second line managers bear the brunt of most of this turnover. They are the ones that have to bring most of the first line people into the company. These managers have a tremendous amount of responsibility but nowhere near as much authority as they once had. There is so much more turnover in the front line these people are held accountable for it and yet their leeway in being able to help retain good first line employees is limited.

In fact, when times get really tough in an organization, it is more likely a first line or even second line manager will be let go before a first line employee would be dismissed. The first line employee is carrying the biggest part of the load for a company’s progress. Upper management figures that they could “limp” along without a first line or even second line manager when times get tough before they had to cut back on first line employees.

So, and this is important, these laid-off managers need to find a job. Their company has been telling themHow wonderful they were and, gosh, even promoted them a time or two so they must be a really good leader! They go out to the marketplace reading their own press clippings, knowing that some company out there is just going to simply beg to get them. What they don’t come to the realization of, until they looked for a job for a while, is that the companies they think they would be perfect for did exactly the same thing with their first and or second line managers and decided to limp along until they needed to replace them.

Here is the reality: 60% of first and second line managers are promoted from within. Much the same way most of the laid-off first and second line managers got their job. Very few managers are hired “off the street.” 35% or 40% of the time that a company runs an advertisement for a first or second line manager, they already know who they’re going to hire. They are running the ads simply because they want to be able to tell everybody that they, “looked around” and couldn’t find anybody that was better than the person they already had in mind. How do I know this? Clients use us all the time to compare the talent for management they already have within their company or someone they know, by asking us to send them candidates. Of course, we always try to find out if the company has been interviewing for the position already or if they have a candidate in mind and simply want to get a comparison. This may not come as a shock, but people don’t always tell us the truth! Surprise!

The bottom line is that a career, even if it’s a stepping stone, of a first or second line manager is very treacherous and likely short-lived. Being a top performer makes all the difference in the world, so does being really lucky.

So, before you jump up and say you want to get into management, think about it. In some disciplines, especially in sales, it’s a real great way to make less money, have more responsibility, have less authority and have a greater risk of being let go when business becomes tough. It’s the toughest job in show business.

….Hiring the “overqualified candidate”

If I don’t hear this daily, I hear it at least three times a week, “We don’t want to hire anybody overqualified, because they leave us when they first get the chance.” Being overqualified, admittedly, is a relative term. It probably isn’t wise to hire an experienced controller who has been making $150,000 for an entry-level accounting job at $55,000. Nor, is it probably a good idea to hire a sales person in a job where they are capped at earning $100,000 when they have earned $250,000 pretty consistently.

But a very strong case needs to be made for considering candidates who have been one, or maybe even two levels above the position an employer might be searching for. There are a number of good reasons for this.

First of all, the job does not “make” the person. The person actually makes the job. It is amazing what quality people can do to make an average job phenomenally creative and bring more value to the company than anyone might have imagined. Because of just the kind of person they are, they make the job better than it was before. Their value becomes greater because the job could become greater. So, secret here is to look at the possibilities of what the job could be rather than what it always has been. My guess is that at least 60% of the jobs out there could be expanded on and enhanced by hiring a person with the right attitude and ability.

Secondly, and I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, if people are relatively happy with what they’re doing and who they are doing it for and who they are doing it with, they don’t simply look for another job on a whim. If people are 70% pleased with what they’re doing and feel they are fairly compensated for what they do (… I didn’t say “overly” compensated, but “fairly” compensated) they don’t go looking for a job even if a recruiter, like myself, calls them.

This attitude of being “pleased” probably has more to do with the environment, the people they are working with and for and most importantly, the feeling that they are growing as a person. This is a difficult aspect of a job to quantify. But again, if people really like what they are doing they aren’t going to “go look for a job” that easily. How do I know this? It’s like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m a recruiter. I call people all of the time and my tagline is, “Are you having fun and making money?” Now, they may ask, “What did you have in mind?” But, no matter how phenomenal an opportunity that I am representing is, unless they are pretty displeased with what’s going on with their job, they tell me they’re not interested. Why? Because looking for a job is a pain in the ass. Nobody really likes looking for a job. It is an emotionally stressful, time-consuming, risky endeavor. And unless a person is pretty damn unhappy with what they’re doing they don’t just “go looking for a job.”

Third, we, as hiring managers, have this fear inside of us that our new hire, especially if he or she appears to be “overqualified” is going to come into our office in six or seven weeks and say something like, “I’m resigning because an opportunity came along that is more commensurate with my experience and my ability and I owe it to my family and myself to accept the job.” And you, as a hiring authority, as well as your superiors are going to say something like, “Well, you dumb ass, you knew that he or she was overqualified for the job to begin with and that  they would keep looking and eventually find a better job, commensurate with their previous skills and money.” You then spend the next few days kicking yourself, and you keep telling yourself, “I’ll never over hire again!”

The vast majority of times, however, the candidate isn’t leaving because they really found a job “more commensurate with their skills and ability.” They are leaving because they either don’t like you, don’t like the people they’re working with, don’t like what they are doing, or all of the above. They just don’t want to tell you that. They want to get out of where they are as fast as possible, as well as, as gracefully as possible. So, they tell you how wonderful you are, how wonderful the company is, how much they appreciate the opportunity, etc. but, “Gee whiz, this is such a great opportunity that I’m leaving for, I can’t pass it up.” They don’t have the guts to say, “You suck, the people here suck, this job sucks and his company sucks…so, I’m outta here.” They just want out as fast and as easily as possible.

For most professionals, the intrinsic value of their job overrides most everything else. Provided the compensation is reasonable, people want to feel like they are growing personally in what they do. If they genuinely like what they do and they feel like they are becoming a better person in the process of doing it, i.e. challenged and satisfied with the challenge, as well as liking the people they work with and for, they don’t look for a job just because some recruiter like me calls them.

The bottom line to all of this is that if you have the kind of job where a person can grow, if the working environment is good and if the people are great, hiring a candidate who is “overqualified” may be one of the best things you can do.

…don’t lie !!!


It happened again last week…oh, my goodness..this is soooooo sad..

A candidate I placed started his job last week. The company finally got around to checking his background and found that he lied about having a degree. They fired him on the spot.

Since 1973, I have never understood why people lie …especially about something so easy to check..

DON’T LIE! It is dumb…dumb…dumb


…. being “overqualified”

John is been out of work for nine months. He just plain can’t understand why the whole world has not beaten down his door to hire him. For 12 years his company was telling him how wonderful he was, they were promoting him and giving him all kinds of plaques, raises and honors because he was such a great employee. His company was sold. His job was redundant and so they laid him off. Nice severance, they still laid him off.

As with many people who have even reasonable, if not, stellar careers, John thought all he would have to do is let the world know that he was available to be hired and it would stop spinning until he found a new job. Well, it doesn’t work that way.

John has found that there are very few jobs for an executive vice president. Companies rarely hire those kind of people “off the street.” 99% of the time a job like this is obtained just the way John attained it, by performing and getting promoted.

John went through all of his contacts and competitors only to hear that he was “overqualified”for the opportunities that they had available. They just didn’t need an executive vice president. He did have three interviews in that nine months…even for positions close to the level that he was. He was competing with nine other candidates in one instance, seven others in another instance and didn’t even ask how many others in the third opportunity. Unfortunately, he never got beyond the first interview with any of the companies. In two instances the people who interviewed him were kind enough to explain to him that the reason he didn’t get hired had nothing to do with anything he did or didn’t do, it was simply that there were other candidates they felt were better suited for the job.

John was at wits end and didn’t know what to do. One answer is pretty simple. Dumb down your resume and seek opportunities that are one or two steps below where you’ve been. Set your ego aside and forget the idea that “I’m so good, there has got to be at least one opportunity out there that I can get,” and go after just about any job you can find within reason.

We recommended that to John as well as explaining to him that when he interviews he has to sell himself differently than normal candidates. He has to be able to say to individuals he is interviewing with something along the line of:

“I realize that I have attained positions that are higher than this one I am interviewing for.             But I have found that if I like the job I’m doing and I like the people that I’m doing it with               and I’m being fairly compensated the future will take care of itself because I am a                           performer. (Whatever position he is applying for he needs to explain). I’ve been in the                    shoes of this position before and I have performed very well. I know if I perform well, I                   don’t have to worry about where it’s going to take me. Level of job that I’ve had before is             one that people mostly grow into. If the opportunity is there, I may very well be able to do           that, but now, I do need a job and even though I might appear to be overqualified                           I can do an excellent job for you and you are the kind of company that I would like to go to           work for.”

John can elaborate on this type of conversation. That is the essence of what he needs to say as well as saying it with believable humilityIf John, however, says this with any kind of false pride or insincerity he won’t get hired. Anything along the line of, “well, I guess I’d take this job if I was offered it since I can’t find anything else, but geewhiz I worked so hard to become an executive VP it is hard to imagine that there’s not a job out there like that for me…” he will shoot himself in the foot and he might as well not have even showed up for the interview.

Now, the biggest issue that’s running through an employer’s head is this, “if I hire this guy and he gets a call two months from now from someone who is looking for an executive VP, he’s going to leave.”

Before the prospective employer voices this concern…and he or she will, John has to say something along this line:

“I’m sure you might be wondering about the possibility of someone that I have                                 apply to in the past calling me sometime in the future and offering the chance to                           speak with them about an executive VP level job. The truth is that people…and                               especially myself… If they are happy at what they’re doing, like the people and the                        company they work for And are being compensated fairly, don’t just go off                                      and interview for another position. Interviewing and looking for a job is a very painful                   and emotionally difficult thing to do. Look at my track record, I’ve stayed at  every                           company I have worked with for XXXXX number of years. I just don’t interview                                 or leave companies on a whim. If I am fortunate enough to go to work here, I                                   will be a great employee for a long period of time.”

John needs to say this convincingly, with emotion and without hesitation. He can elaborate on this idea. The truth is that if people do like what they’re doing and like that people are doing it with and like the company they’re doing it with and are fairly compensated they don’t just truck off and interview at the drop of a hat. How do I know? I’m a recruiter! I call people all the time to see if they’d be interested in changing jobs. If they are within 70% happy with what they’re doing and who they are doing it with, they basically tell me to, go pound salt. One of the last things that people like doing is looking for a job. If they’re happy doing what they’re doing they just don’t go off an interview because a guy like me calls them.

Now it may take a little more convincing than these few sentences, but you get the idea. Every good leader knows how to be a good follower.

This presentation doesn’t work all the time, but it does work more often than not. Overqualified people can find a job!




…getting “Yogi’ed”

For those of you that are not local or Dallas Mavericks basketball fans, the recent development is that Yogi Ferrell, who signed a 10 day contract with the Mavs in January 2017, not only got to stick around but was named NBA all rookie second team after that season. He averaged 10.2 points, three rebounds and 2.5 assists a game and was the only Maverick to play all 82 games last season. The reason he made the news this last week was that after signing a two-year, $5.3 million contract with the Mavs, he suddenly changed his mind and agreed to a two-year deal with Sacramento for $6.2 million. In other words, Yogi, after accepting a job and agreeing to a start date, etc. reneged and took another job. The Mavs got “Yogi’ed.”

How often does this happen? A lot! Very few people really want to talk about it. Job candidates who do this kind of thing justify it for all kinds of reasons… Yogi’s was $900,000 more money. I’m sure that just about everyone would agree that this is a real significant reason, especially considering the “shelf life” of a professional athlete. When most people do this kind of thing, however, the reasons are nowhere near as great. However, they do justify them to as great an extent.

If you’re an employer that this kind of thing has happened to either last week or 10 years ago, you remember it. It is an indelible memory. You hired a candidate, made a big announcement about it, told everyone in the world, proudly bragged about your excellent business decision and then had egg all over your face when your new hire (… the second coming of Willie Mays who is going to revolutionize your company) “Yogi’ed” you by taking another job. You and your company are embarrassed and downright pissed off.

The same kind of thing can happen even after your new employee shows up, works for three or four weeks or even a month or two and then comes in to your office and announces that he or she got an offer from a company they had been interviewing with before they came to work for you and they are going to leave. They will give you all kinds of rational reasons as to why they did this…even things like, “I got a $50,000 raise in salary,” (which is always a lie). No matter how devastated you are, they don’t care and are leaving anyhow.

It does absolutely no good to curse the fact that this kind of thing happens or is going to happen. If it hasn’t happened to you, you either haven’t hired very many people or it’s going to. So, here are some of the things you can do to minimize the damage.

First, whenever you hire someone, give yourself a percentage probability that your new “hero” will renege at the last moment. In other words, not only should you be prepared for it, but you should try to figure what probability there is of it happening. You certainly would be more confident at a 10% probability then you would be a 50% probability. What is the “Yogi probability?”

Secondly, make sure you ask a candidate when you hire them what other kinds of opportunities they are considering and how those opportunities stack up with yours and, especially, why they chose your opportunity over the others. If the candidate says something like, “Well I haven’t heard from one of the opportunities that I was really hoping for,” or “The other guys I was talking with were just plain too slow,” or anything of this nature give a higher percentage of being “Yogi’ed” than if you hear, “This is the only offer that I’m seriously considering and you are the best opportunity available,” or “I love the opportunity with you better than anyone else I have spoken with and I see a great future there.”

Third, be prepared for this kind of thing and don’t stop interviewing for the job until you have two, or ideally, three solid candidates that you could consider if you get “Yogi’ed.” There’s no harm in telling a candidate that they came in second and that if something should happen to the first candidate that you’d like to hire, you will call them. About 30% of the job offers made are turned down anyhow. ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP!!!

Fourth, set a start date for as soon as possible. Even though a candidate will mentally, emotionally and physically “stop” looking for a job, the longer he or she goes without starting your new job, the more possibility there is of someone who they’ve been interviewing with, that they might have dismissed as an opportunity, will call them  and offer them a job. Most candidates…at least 85% of the time will turn down any job offers once they have started a new job. (Unless of course there is something like a $900,000 difference in salary!) Starting a new job is an emotionally difficult thing to do and most people don’t like doing it. Once they have begun to settle into a new job one of the last things they really want to do is to start another. They have already mentally and emotionally as well as physically made a commitment and really don’t want to go through it again.

Whatever the hiring authority does, they should not, in my opinion ask the potential employee or the new employee, “What can we do to get you to change your mind?” If a candidate is going to do this kind of thing before they even start a new job or after they’ve started a new job, they are going to feel like they have the upper hand in the relationship. That’s not good. This same psychological issue applies to having counteroffers accepted. When a candidate or recent employee has mentally and emotionally decided to do something else, whatever an employer can do to get them to either recommit our stick around, is temporary. The good feeling that earning more money provides wears off after a while and for whatever reasons the candidate or new employee got distracted from your job are still going to be there.

Being “Yogi’ed” is a fact of business life. Being prepared for it is high business acumen.

Although I’m sure the Mavs ain’t happy…most of us can understand a $900,000 ‘raise.’


….the HR Department

Most people don’t even know where the HR department came from. It was invented in the early 60’s to protect companies from racial discrimination. There were, before that, quasi-administrative people who managed the company’s insurance programs when those programs began right after World War II. But once the government started requiring companies to keep track of the kinds of candidates the company was interviewing and hiring, it was logical to have those administrative people who were taking care of insurance to keep those records. People managing the departments of companies hated keeping those kinds of records anyhow, if they did it at all. Then laws were passed regarding other types of discrimination requiring record keeping, i.e. gender bias, age, etc. so the HR department got bigger. As companies had to protect themselves from all kinds of discriminatory problems once people got hired by developing policies and procedures, the HR department was tapped for that task also. The HR department was now becoming “proactive” in its protectionist activities. Its mission, and the people in it, was to protect the company from the mistakes of its own employees.

Well, as long as the HR department was doing all of these things with employees, it only seemed logical that they should be involved in the initial recruiting and screening of job candidates. After all, records of candidates applying for jobs had to be kept. Besides, most hiring managers hated that part of their job anyhow. It was a terrible distraction from what they really knew how to do. They didn’t do it very well to begin with, so it was a good deal for them if they offloaded it to someone else, even if those folks weren’t competent enough to know what they were doing (An added benefit for the head of the engineering department, accounting department, etc. was that since they weren’t any good at the initial acquiring and interviewing of candidates, this offloading gave the chance to “blame” someone else when the hiring process wasn’t working out.)

So, the nature of the HR department is to proactively protect the company. They really don’t know the amount of experience or qualifications that the accounting department or engineering or sales departments might be able to live with regarding a candidate. They really don’t know much about how an engineering candidate needs to be a competent engineer in the company. When they go to hire, or at least perform the initial functions of interviewing and hiring process, they see it through protective eyes. They rarely know the “gray area” of give-and-take that a direct, hiring authority would know. But since they are supposed to know all of this they act like they do.

So, when you are directed to apply to the HR department when you go to apply for a job, realize that the probabilities of you getting an interview have decreased by at least 75%. The HR department is taught to look for reasons of why things won’t work, not reasons as to why they will work. They see the glass as half empty rather than half full. After all, their job is to “protect” the company from lousy employees (like you).

Now, to even give you even greater comfort, sometimes these HR folks get so busy even they have to offload the “recruiting” of new employees. The truth is, they aren’t very good at it and don’t like it any more than the hiring authorities do so they hire internal recruiters. Sometimes these internal recruiters are experienced professionals and sometimes they are “contract” recruiters who have little to no experience. Many of us have talked to them over the phone. You know, that 22-year-old kid who was tasked with evaluating your 15+ years of experience in your profession. Right! Sure! They were given a list of 15 questions to ask and if you answer ‘yes’ to ten of them, in their wisdom, they might consider you as a candidate. You probably talked to one of those this week. And you can’t understand why you were eliminated. Well, they don’t know either. But since you didn’t hear back from them, you know you were.

I know many candidates who won’t even apply to a job if they have to go through the HR department. We, very often, even as recruiters have to work through a company’s HR department. Having done this since 1973 I know hundreds of very competent HR folks. But whenever we have to work through the HR department, the search becomes a back burner priority. It’s not that these folks aren’t nice people…I’m sure most of them are. But it is just one layer of “screening” that stands between a candidate and a good job. Getting through this “screening out” process, even for the most competent candidate, is sheer luck. Remember, these people are hired to “protect” the company. They may not even like your “summary of qualifications,” let alone understand what it says, but you’re out! After all, they have 180 other resumes that might look better.

So, the best way for a candidate to avoid being screened out by an HR department is to call and speak directly to the hiring authority. Don’t give me that silly stuff that you don’t know who the hiring authority is. LinkedIn will tell you. Email that hiring authority your resume along with a short… I said short…note as to why you are a good candidate and should be considered. Call and leave him or her a voicemail before or after you send the resume. Make sure that your voicemail has a very short but informative “value proposition” as to why you should be considered for a job. You may have to leave two or three voicemails like this before the hiring authority calls you back. So, you ask, “Wow, should I be this aggressive? What if I make them mad?” Well, having left messages like this since 1973, I guarantee you, nobody is going to ever get mad at you. In fact, you’ll be surprised at the number of them that admire your tenacity and persistence. Let’s face it, your needing a job is a lot more painful than the possible embarrassment of calling somebody… even if it’s the wrong person. Don’t even worry about what you look like; you need a job.

Having said all of this about the HR department, I have to tell you that there are a phenomenal number of very professional, polished and efficient HR departments. We do work with some tremendous people in HR who really know exactly what their hiring authorities want and actually make the hiring process more smooth. They have a great way of simplifying the process. But these folks are the EXCEPTION rather than the rule. Unfortunately, the majority of HR departments aren’t run that way. In fact, most of us consider them to be the Hiring Roadblock Department.

(While editing this post this Monday morning, I got a call from an HR ‘screener’ at a client company who was supposed to screen one of our candidates today at 1 PM CST. The screener told me that he would like to move the time to earlier in the day. He explained that today was the opening day of baseball in his city and he wanted to go to the game and since the 2 PM EST would be the time of the beginning of the ballgame, he wanted to move his phone screen up to this morning. Get the idea?)

This may come as a surprise, but often times hiring authorities are just as frustrated with their HR recruiting efforts as you are. Most of them aren’t seeing the quality candidates as the HR department would lead you to believe they are. How do I know this? I am told at least once a week by a hiring authority that their HR department hasn’t gotten them any qualified candidates. And, if they have plenty of good candidates to choose from, they will simply tell you that they have plenty of candidates, but that you are welcome to apply.

So, the next time you’re told to work with the HR department, be prepared.


….if we all worked like immigrants

I first wrote these thoughts three or four years ago when immigration, especially illegal immigration wasn’t on the minds of Americans like it is today. There is no doubt, that we need to fix our immigration system. We need to make it easier for good folks to be able to make it into this country more quickly and easily and we do now. However, if all of us worked with the same tenacity and diligence that I see most immigrants to the United States do, our economy would even be stronger. This is my own observation from having worked in the trenches, finding people jobs since 1973.

For the most part, and there are exceptions, immigrants work harder, longer and more diligently that most of the working folks in this country. They have an attitude that “I have to work harder, longer and more enduring, because I have overcome prejudice, language issues and cultural issues.” Diligent and hard work is one way to get ahead in America. And we are all blessed with the same opportunity.

You will rarely hear an immigrant, needing a job, say that they are going to pass up an interview because they can make more money on unemployment (which we hear often from lots of born here Americans). I remember my grandfather talking about what it was like as an immigrant in 1900. I’m sure the stories got better over the years, but it was clear that he and his peers worked harder than most everybody else and his work ethic has been passed down.

I realized that there’s a big difference between the immigrants of today and the ones of my grandfather’s generation. His generation and their families went out of their way to become more “American.” They changed their names to be more “American,” encouraged their children to speak only English instead of their mother tongue (oh, I wish my father had taught us to speak Arabic, but he grew up encouraged to only speak English). They wanted to be American. They all came here legally and did whatever they had to do to be “legal.”

It is probably true that many immigrants today do not want to blend into the American culture as much as previous generations did. And there are some, even though they live here, who have contempt for the American ways. Some, especially the ones that are here illegally, are taking advantage of our schools, healthcare and government systems. I’m not saying that’s right. But these problems are not caused by the vast majority of immigrants. Even the ones that are here illegally want to respect the laws and provide for their family. They do what they have to do. I understand.

But if Raul wants to mow my yard and do a better job at a better price than Billie…let him. If Hector wants to takes care of my building as though he owned it…let him. Eric (Chinese) is the hardest working network systems guy I have ever met. He has been doing our systems work for 28 years, at a very reasonable rate…and he is available 24/7. If Patel is willing to go to school, graduate with an IT degree ( stuff most Americans just don’t want to do) and wants to write code In the wee hours of the morning…let him. Ali, the Pakistani cab driver in New York didn’t smell good and neither did his cab. I won’t use him again. But Nasser, the Egyptian Uber driver in San Francisco, had an impeccably clean smelling, wonderful Prius. He was great company as well as a good driver. We had just been to a Muslim wedding and he was helpful explaining it. I’ve got his card and number if I need it. He shared that he loved his job because he could work as much as he needed or wanted to. He had a very high rating.

Just look at all of the companies that have been started by immigrants. The people who complain about Immigrants should give thanks that they are here. I will grant you that our immigration policies are a mess. So, okay, fix ’em. We should let as many immigrants in this country who want to come.  The free market will determine how well they do. Don’t let them or anyone else freeload with entitlements or take advantage of the system. But if they want to try to outwork me or anybody else….let them. Bring it on! I’ll just have to work a little harder. It’s good for me.

To show you how screwed up things are, the love of Hector’s life was in Mexico. It took the better part of a year to get Savina here legally so that Hector could marry her. Chrissy and I went to the wedding and it was wonderful. I don’t appreciate people coming to this country illegally and taking advantage of all of our rights. But, then again, it took Hector almost a year to get Savina here the legal way. That’s crazy. You can’t blame people for simply crossing the border. We may not like the idea, but you can certainly understand why people do it. It’s almost too hard to do legally.

If even half of us worked as hard as Hector does to keep our building running and looking as good as it does, our country would be better off. He has the mentality of an immigrant. God bless him! …wish more folks did.