…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!

 

…how to negotiate yourself out of a job

Joseph Is an excellent candidate. He has had 10 years at the same organization, performed very well, has accolades and paychecks to prove he is been successful in sales. His company, however has not been giving him the technical support that his customers have been used to receiving and gradually he’s losing his share of the market. So, he decides he needs to change jobs.

He is been earning in the $200,000-$300,000 range for the past five or six years, so finding him an opportunity much outside the type of business he has been in is fairly unlikely. Obviously, he has some exceptional advantages to competitors and since he has no noncompete agreement (except for a handful of present customers) he is very marketable.

There are five or six major players in the space that he has been in and we contacted all of them. Three told us that they just do not have any need at all right now and don’t see anything coming up in the next two or three quarters. Three people agreed to interview Joseph. One, made it clear that he wasn’t looking to hire anybody probably for another four or five months and that Joseph should not get his hopes up, but he was always interested in interviewing a good candidate (smart guy). The other two that agreed to interview Joseph were actively looking only if the “right person” came along.

We explained to Joseph, to begin with, that we make this process look easy, because we are supposed to. We explained to him that even though he knows he has a good background, he should not let it go to his head and that we happen to catch these people at the right time. When a candidate has been in any one place this long and experienced the kind of success Joseph has, there is often a tendency for it to go to their head. They think they are more marketable and desirable than they really are. Most of the time, this is more an issue of ignorance rather than stupidity. They don’t go out into the market looking for a job very often…hardly at all and when they do, they all of a sudden get two or three interviews, they have a tendency to think that finding a new job is easy.

Of course, we warned Joseph of this and thought It was clear. When we started the interviewing process with these three organizations, (our first clue) Joseph was always very difficult to get on the phone. We would call him…he would never directly answer…we’d leave a message and he would call may be a day or so later. When we went to arrange interviews, even after giving us the times he could do them, he would inevitably asked to change the times (he did this all three times).

The organization that really didn’t need to hire anybody who was interested in speaking with Joseph, interviewed him, but didn’t care for him at all. They thought he was arrogant and full of himself. We had warn  Joseph about this to begin with, but apparently it took a “rejection” for him to catch on. Joseph eliminated the second organization because he really didn’t like the territory that they had in mind for him. But Joseph did aggressively pursue our third client.

He began by telling them after an initial interview, that he was very interested in the opportunity and would definitely like to pursue it. He communicated that it was a better opportunity than where he was and he was “ready to go.” When it came time for Joseph to interview with the next level of management, he had to… for business reasons, according to him…postpone the interviews. This took almost 2 weeks to complete. When he got to the next level of interviews he sold himself really well and made it clear that he would “entertain” an offer. He was telling us that he really liked what he saw and he really wanted to go to work at the organization because it was a better deal than what he had.

Then Joseph got a little more flaky. The company wanted to check references. It took him a whole week to get the references to them. They were beginning to wonder about Joseph’s sincerity, but he convinced them that he traveled so much that it was hard for him to reach out to his references. They asked for a formal application, which they sent to him online and it took him three days to get it back to them.

Even though they had discussed compensation and territory when it came to us asking Joe that, since it looked like they were going to make him an offer, we assumed he was going to do it, he stated that, “well, let’s see the offer in writing.” We then began to tell the hiring authority that we were getting a little nervous about this. Joseph let us all to believe that he had every intention of taking the job but when details started coming along he got squishy.

Our hiring authority explained that her upper management really liked the guy and felt like he could do a lot for the company and they were going to go through with the offer as discussed. Even she was beginning to get negative feelings about the whole thing because when she had to call the candidate, at his request, to discuss a number of things he wanted to talk about, he became real hard to get. As before, he would never pick up the phone when he was called and more often than not called back a day later.

The hiring authority explained very clearly that these offer letters were signed by the CEO and the company did not normally change anything in them. Before Joseph even got the offer letter he started asking me about their flexibility on a number of things. I called the hiring authority about them, reinforcing again that we were getting less and less confident in the candidate.

By this time, the company sent the written offer and Joseph started dissecting it. At this point, he told me that he wanted to do the deal but he wanted a number of things changed. I explained to him that it had come to the point where he was going to have to speak to the hiring authority himself and that the company was getting a little fed up with his negotiation style. His comment was, “well, that’s negotiations.” The hiring authority tried to reach out to Joseph two more times. He didn’t return her calls.

Joseph did call me and implied that if they could change just a couple of things he’d probably do the deal. I told him that he would have to speak to the hiring authority, but all of us were getting very dubious of his intentions. I suggested that they meet face-to-face. Joseph said that he couldn’t meet until a particular day. I passed that along to the hiring authority. He said he could meet at any time that day. I picked the time that was good for the hiring authority and when I passed it along to him…guess what? He writes back and says that he can’t do that particular time.

At this point, the hiring authority is pissed off. Although she said it’s going to be a little embarrassing to explain to her that higher-ups that Joseph won’t be joining, she couldn’t imagine working with someone this way.

The offer was verbally rescinded through me. The candidate called the hiring authority and left a rather weak message that it probably would not have worked out anyhow.

Even if the candidate didn’t want to do this deal and it was pretty apparent that he didn’t, he shouldn’t have “managed” the process this way. He certainly closed the door for this organization for the future.

This is a great lesson of how not to negotiate.

…..Remember Michael, the manager

I wrote about him a couple weeks ago. I wrote about the fact that he was so smart to  take his Number Two candidate to lunch with his other sales guys and explain to him that it was a close race but they were going to make the offer to another candidate.

The candidate, although disappointed, couldn’t be too unhappy because Michael was so darn nice about telling him no.

Well, guess who Michael hired this week… this same candidate. Michael went to offer his Number One candidate the job, and the candidate put him off for one week, then hesitated another day or so. Meanwhile, our candidate kept emailing Michael, checking in with him, letting him know that he was still available, even though he was interviewing at other places, and still liked Michael’s opportunity. Michael got tired of his Number One candidate’s attitude, so he called up our candidate and offered him the job.

Michael made a great choice. (Interestingly enough, our candidate was in the process of getting another offer. Our candidate wanted to go to work for Michael because not only was it a better job, but Michael is an outstanding manager).

 

….”you talk too much”…joe jones, 1960

You talk about people
That you don’t know
You talk about people
Wherever you go

You just talk
Talk too much

Joe Jones sang the song in 1960… unfortunately it still happens today. Here is a conversation I had with the hiring authority this week:

Tony: John, how did it go with my candidate?

John: Well, Tony, the interview lasted 45 minutes… and she talked for 44… her divorce, her ex-husband, her kids… I can see from her résumé and track record at one time she was really good, but the only way she could have said  less would be to have talked longer… you really need to coach her to shut up!

What’s so sad about this is the candidate is still really good. Unfortunately she hadn’t practiced interviewing like I thought.  She had  been tremendously successful in the past for quite a number of years. Unfortunately, she assumed, that just because she’s been out of market for the past five or six years her ability to sell herself well would simply “kick in.”

Here’s the lesson. Interviewing takes practice. Nervously running off at the mouth is not going to get your hired. Ironically, she was one of the best candidates who could’ve been interviewed. She just talked too much… and what she had to say wasn’t relevant to the job. So, practice interviewing.

Joe Jones ends his song appropriately: “You can make me scream”

Don’t talk too much!

….your resume..

The purpose of your résumé is to get you an interview. You want people to look at your résumé and think, “I really got interviewed by this person!” Remember that your résumé does not get read, it gets scanned. People think, “Oh, my résumé gets read!” No, it doesn’t. It gets scanned and the people who scanned them are looking for a few key things: how long you have worked at the companies you’ve worked for, i.e., exact dates, what you did for them, in very clear terms, and how well you performed. It’s that simple.

You have to remember that these people are reviewing 180 to 200 résumés a day. They don’t read any of them. They scan them to look for some of the things they are looking for. So, this means that you have to, when you write the name of your company on the résumé, explain what that company does. There are 7.1 million businesses in the United States and I guarantee you the people looking at your résumé don’t know what 98% of them do. I get résumés every day from candidates who write down “ACME INC. 2015 – present” and never explain what Acme Inc. does. So, make it real clear, if it’s not obvious, in parentheses next to the name of the company what the company does.

Then make the title of what you did very clear in terms that anybody can understand. A title of Analyst I can mean hundreds of different things. Change the title on your résumé if you have to make it clear what you’ve done. Sometimes candidates say to me, “Well, that’s what my title was.” Okay, fine, put it down if you want to, but if people don’t understand what the hell an Analyst I is, you’re screwed. I’ve had numerous candidates over the years who had titles like customer advocate, customer liaison, client specialist and a few other esoteric inventive titles that really meant “customer service.” So, in writing a résumé, simply write the title “customer service.”

Last, and probably most important, right down how you performed in as many concrete terms as possible. Remember, stories sell and numbers tell. If there’s any way, put in your résumé statistics or some kind of figures – that you bold – so they jump out at people. Increased profits 23%. Decreased department costs 10%. Was 120% of Sales quota. Decreased turnover 12%…The more you can express your performance in measurable terms, the better off you are.

The statement you are making with your résumé is this:

  • Here is who I’ve worked for…What they do in very clear terms that anyone can understand.
  • Here is how long I worked for them.
  • Here is exactly what I’ve done. And here has been my performance.
  • I am an excellent employee and what I’ve done for them is what I can do for you!

And, by the way, your résumé needs to be in chronological order. Ninety-five percent of functional résumés (the kind that have paragraphs about all of the things you’ve done and then the list of who you worked for at the very bottom) get pitched before they get scanned.

I forgot to mention, 60% of the people that are going to initially scan your resume don’t really know what they are looking for, professionally. They are usually some underlying, albeit they are nice, sincere and well-meaning, they really don’t know anything about the profession that you are in. They were instructed by one of their superiors to, “look through those resumes and find me a few that I ought to interview.” They may be qualified to know what they’re looking for, but most of the time they’re not.

So, look at your resume and ask yourself, “is someone who really doesn’t know what they’re looking for looks at my resume are they going to see the quality of person that I am?”

If a résumé “scanner” likes what they see, they simply pick up the phone and call you about an appointment. That is exactly what you want

….blooper of the week

Hardly a week goes by where we don’t have experienced candidates say something just downright stupid that cost him or her the job. This week a guy I’ve known for almost 20 years who is really a very good salesperson got into an interview with a hiring authority and in the process of talking about himself said, “Well, I do know that I have a few good years left in me.”

When I followed up with the hiring manager he said, “Tony, is this guy ready to retire? We aren’t looking for someone who has just a ‘few good years’ left in them. We are looking for a long-term commitment.” It didn’t even have to be sad that this candidate already had his age going against him. He’s in his 50s. But lots of guys and gals in their mid-50s and beyond get hired. But drawing attention to it as though you were on your last leg or just “a few more good years,” does not help your case of being hired.

Unfortunately, most folks don’t seem to think about, “How does this sound to a prospective employer?” They don’t seem to think about the fact that hiring authorities are looking for just as many reasons not to hire a candidate as they are reasons to hire a candidate. When a candidate gives even a minor reason not to be hired, it can be totally blown out of proportion. So, a smart candidate thinks about absolutely everything he or she says in light of how it appears to the potential employer.

Over the years, I’ve had some real doozies articulated by really good candidates:

One said, “I have just overcome a great battle with cancer, but I’ve sure learned a lot.” When asked what the biggest obstacle he has overcome, one of my candidates said that he had recently recovered from a nervous breakdown. I have had candidates, both male and female, explain that they were in the middle of an awful divorce, an awful child custody suit, and awful business or personal lawsuit and other kinds of terribly traumatic or distracting events. Some of these people even justified what they did by claiming, “They just want to be honest.” Well, you can be honest by saying, “Your baby’s ugly,” or you can be tactful and claim, “What a cute looking baby…looks just like you!”

The moral to all of this is really simple. Think about what you are saying and how it is going to come across to a prospective employer and if there is the slightest chance that it might hurt you or put you in a negative light, shut up!

 

 

….Being a consultant “between” jobs

Not a day goes by that I don’t get a resume from a candidate who has somewhere on his or her resume, in between jobs, a job function called “consultant.”

But most hiring authorities see the word “consultant” and make the assumption that the candidate has just plain been out of work and is trying to cover up by appearing to be a “consultant.”

So here is the message. If you have been a consultant, you’d better well have actually been a consultant and be able to document the kinds of people and organizations you have actually consulted to or for. List every company that you consulted with, exactly what kind of project you consulted for and exactly the amount of time you spent on each one. Offer even a specific name of someone who can attest to your consulting ability. In other words, a good reference. Even if they were brief consulting gigs, put them down.

This is short simple advice. But if you simply put the word “consultant”, it is going to be automatically assumed that you have been out of work.

……one of the best moves I’ve seen a manager make

Michael was a really good manager for our client. He had one of the best regions in the country and all of his people loved working for him. He was smart, aggressive and relaxed in his own skin. Just a really good guy.

After two interviews with our candidate Michael invited the candidate to lunch with two of his salespeople. Candidate thought things must be really going well and was kind of expecting this to be the final interview before he got an offer. He was elated.

They talked about the company, the job, sports and a number of other things. They had a really great time. At the very end of the lunch, Michael said to the candidate, “I’m really glad you could come today. We really appreciate your time. We think you could do well in our company but fortunately for us, we have another candidate that has some experience that is a little better than yours. We are blessed to have two excellent candidates. We feel like the other fellow has a number of relationships that we really need to cultivate and we’re going to try to hire him. But you need to know that you are an excellent candidate. Should something go wrong with offering him the job, you will be the first we will call. Also should we have another opening in even the near or distant future, I would love to call you. You are a great fit for our company.”

Well, of course, our candidate was very disappointed. He said that it was very hard to be bad because they were such nice people. He said that he had never been turned down so gracefully and so nicely by such a nice group of guys. He seemed to understand that they were going to do what was best for them and he would sure love to work there.

I’m sure it’s happened before, but I don’t remember when in the 45 years that I’ve been doing this that the hiring authority went out of his way in such a nice manner to tell a candidate that he wasn’t going to get hired. Obviously it was hard for the candidate to be mad. But what Michael did was so smart. He kept his company in the good graces of the candidate and, should he need the candidate either now or in the near future, the guy would love to go to work there.

Ninety nine percent of the managers that I work with don’t have the courtesy to even talk to any candidate that they aren’t going to hire, even after they’ve interviewed them. It’s probably the crudest thing that hiring authorities do in the process of hiring. For some reason, they think that they’re never going to run into that person again and act like being rude is inconsequential.

I can’t tell you the number of times over the years that I’ve presented the candidate to an employer only to have the hiring authority tell me that they wouldn’t hire the candidate on a bet because a number of years ago that person was terribly rude to them. What goes around comes around.

I complimented Michael for the wisdom he had in treating my candidate to lunch, just to tell him that he wasn’t going to get hired at least this time. What a smart move. Michael could have openings throughout the next two or three years and my candidate is indeed a very good fit. But even if they never cross paths again, my candidate will always think highly of Michael. And I have to say that it motivates me to help Michael whenever I can.

.Good move, Michael!