Premeditatio Malorum

This is credited to the Stoics. It means premeditation of evils. They use it in the context of preparing for a catastrophe. In other words, “what are we going to do if things go wrong…how can they go wrong…what if.”

Every candidate whoever interviewed for a job should prepare themselves for “what can go wrong in my interview?” Very few candidates ever even imagine that things can go wrong. Most every candidate I’ve ever interviewed thinks that they interview extremely well to begin with and never even imagine that things can go wrong. And, when things do go wrong, they have no idea how to respond.

What is most important for job seekers to understand is that they prepare themselves for everything to go right and things rarely do. Traffic is going to be bad. If you’re flying somewhere for a corporate visit, especially in the winter, expect plane delays or even cancellations. What are you going to do if you get lost, didn’t leave for your destination soon enough…and  YOU are late. What if you arrive on time, but the interviewing authority is late. What if the interviewing authority turns out to be somebody different than who you thought you were going to interview with? What if you get a question you’ve never been asked before and you have absolutely no idea how to answer it.

A teach in the Job Search Solution ( is about all of the things that could go wrong in just about every level of interviewing. It is one of the least reviewed sessions. I’d be willing to wager that things go wrong in some way, shape or form at least 33% of the time. The key is to try to come up with what you might think would be the major things that can go wrong and prepare for what you’re going to do if and when they do.



…hang in there

One of my candidates got hired last week by an employer I sent him to…eight months ago. The candidate kept calling the employer even after he had been eliminated, not too often, but every two or three weeks. The employer never did call the guy back, but timing is sometimes everything. When my client’s first hire resigned after eight months, my candidate just happened to call and……he got hired after one meeting…

You never know…don’t hold your breath…but hang in there.


…….collateral materials

One of my candidates who studied my online program …, was one of four finalists for a V.P. of the West for a company. He goes into the executive interview with the CEO, the Exec. V.P. and two other V.P.’s…he makes a presentation of what he would do in the first 30-60-90 days with a plan modeled after what the program taught him.

He gets the job. Turns out he is the only candidate that did anything like that….$250,000 base and with bonuses he will make $500,000…not bad for simply following instructions.

Other forms of collateral materials:

  • psychological test results
  • intelligence test results
  • business cases
  • recommendations…previous employers…clients
  • certifications
  • publications of books or articles authored
  • honors and awards
  • “brag books”….documents, letters, recognition of performance, sales or performance rankings..

Anyone can come up with their own collateral materials. Just remember that they can set you apart from other candidates.


……why do people do these things?


  • leave a phone number and the voicemail is full
  • leave a phone number and the message says, “this number cannot take any messages… try again later”
  • don’t put a phone number on their resume (… and then wonder why they are not getting calls)
  • put their phone number at the bottom of the resume
  • don’t realizing that anyone looking at the resume is looking at 150 others and if they don’t see a way of reaching them…immediately…. they call someone else
  • don’t respond to an email or voicemail immediately from a prospective employer
  • have “Google voice” answer their phone requiring the caller to identify themselves….and not being able to do it
  • don’t remember at all who they sent their resume to so that when someone calls them they have no idea who it might be (how bright does that appear?)
  • having a cockamamie email address that is not easy to use
  • have resumes that don’t tell what their company does, what they did and how well they did it (realizing that if an employer can’t detect what the person does in 10 to 15 seconds, they’ll move on to the next interview)
  • lie …once, twice, three times or more on their resume
  • have their LinkedIn profile and resume mismatched
  • have unprepared references
  • can’t find their references
  • don’t have any references

Employers and interviewing authorities:

  • who never let candidates know how or where they stand
  • who publish job opportunities that they never really intend to fill
  • whose advertisement becomes a “black hole”
  • who advertise that the candidate needs to have “good written and verbal communications skills”
  • who tell you they are strongly considering you and then never call you
  • who hire people they ‘like’ over people who are most qualified
  • who rely on a resume instead of interviewing to determine the quality of a candidate’s ability to do the job
  • who keep postponing a hiring decision because they are “afraid of making a mistake”
  • who are inconsistent in their interviewing process
  • who believe that the only “good” candidates are the ones they know
  • who interview out of “fear of loss” rather than “vision of gain”
  • who focus more on “why they shouldn’t hire you” rather than on “why they should hire you”
  • who don’t tell you where you stand as a candidate relative to others
  • who simply blow you off

…”The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control and which have to do with the choices I actually control.” – Epictetus

When I read this quote from this ancient Stoic, I was reminded about how much emotion, time and effort is spent by jobseekers on matters they cannot control. I constantly help jobseekers through the emotional difficulties of dealing with things they can’t control, worrying about and wringing their hands over things that are totally beyond their influence.

It’s important to remind jobseekers what they can control and ask them to focus on these issues rather than worrying about things that are beyond them. Here’s a primer:

  • Attitude… This is probably the most important issue a job seeker can control. The first step in developing a positive attitude is to be aware that it is the first thing one can control. For every one positive thing that happens in a job search, there are going to be 14 negative things. That’s just a plain fact! Constantly reinforcing a positive attitude with prayer, spiritual reinforcement, motivational reading and being around positive people makes a phenomenal difference.
  • Activity to get interviews… Probably the biggest frustration with most job seekers who are seeking a job full-time is the frustration of not being able to get interviews. They feel like if they can get the interview, they can perform well on it. It is getting the interview that is the major difficulty. If people relegate themselves to simply sending resumes to job postings, their probability of getting an interview is ridiculously slim. People have to develop a systematic approach to contacting all kinds of people in order to get interviews. (I discuss this in detail,
  • Taking any interview they can get… Many candidates eliminate the opportunity to get an interview based on what they hear or think about the company or particular job. “I’ll talk to anybody that will listen,” has to be the mantra.
  • Massive action… Treating a job search like it was a job. There’s no such thing as a “passive” job search.
  • Interviewing well… Most job seekers focus on what they “want” in a job rather than what they can do “for” a prospective employer. They say stupid things and forget to put themselves in the shoes of the employer. They forget to “sell” themselves
  • They don’t ask for the job… I’m continually amazed when I asked candidates, “Did you ask for the job?” That they say something like, “Well, kind of… I asked what was the next step?” That is not asking for the job.
  • Lousy negotiations… Those candidates operate out of fear of loss rather than vision and again, they don’t adopt the attitude that “We’re all in this together… How can we work it out?”

As Epictetus finishes his quote, “Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own.”


….women work harder than men

I read two recent studies about women in the workforce. One study demonstrated that women are a lot more realistic about how well they do on their job than men are. The other one proved that women were less likely to “self promote” than men were.

Having been in this business since 1973 and personally placed more than 11,000 candidates and interviewed more than 100,000 candidates, I’m convinced that, for the most part, women work harder than men. This is absolutely an anecdotal observation. I have tried to find studies that prove it and beyond a few in the scientific verticals, there don’t seem to be any broad, general proofs.

But I know from experience that women have to work harder than men in order to do the same basic job. I think there are two reasons for this. The first one is the fact that, unfortunately, there is an underlying hidden, ingrained, subtle assumption that women aren’t really as good as men in most business environments. Instinctively, women have to over perform in order to be recognized on the same level as men. They simply have to work harder. And when they do, it really shows.

Secondly, men simply have bigger egos than women do. This of course is great for fighting tigers and lions and battles in war. And in the business world having a healthy ego is imperative. But that’s quite different than a big ego. It is the “my dad is bigger than your dad” syndrome that simply doesn’t enter into a female psyche. Men have to live up to this image of “I know what I’m doing and don’t need to prove it.” Women don’t have to worry about proving anything except that they are better than what you think they are. So, they have to work harder.

Now put this in the equation. About two-thirds of the 23.5 million working women with children under 18 worked full time in 2018. Working mothers make up a significant part of the labor force, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all employed women. Raising kids is the hardest job in the whole world. There is nothing in business that compares to the challenges and difficulties that raising children poses. I think we really have a tendency to forget this in the business world. So, many, many, many women  raise children and still perform well… better than men…in their job.

It seems to me, and again, this is anecdotal, since 47% of the working population is female, when a woman under performs it seems to be more pronounced. It seems that when a male under performs it has nothing to do with his gender. It may be subconscious, but when a woman under performs, her being a woman is a part of her underperforming identity.

The wage gap between women and men has a lot to do with the “mommy track” that most women have to be diverted from their jobs and careers to have and raise children. But even taking into account all kinds of different factors, the wage gap cannot be really explained. It might just be discrimination.

Life isn’t fair and there may not be any justice in this world. And maybe the reasons for all of these issues don’t matter. I still believe that women have to work harder than men.





Interviewing is a stage contrived event. There’s really nothing like it that goes on in business. But, as is said about democracy, it sucks, but it is the best we’ve got. The most unfortunate thing about interviewing is that, no matter how extensive it is, it really measures the person’s ability to interview rather than their ability to perform on a job.

It really doesn’t do any good to complain about this, because we all know in our hearts, both interviewing and hiring authorities, as well as candidates, that things are not going to change. A person’s ability to get a job and a person’s ability to perform on the job are really two different things. So, that’s why it’s so important for both parties, but especially candidates, perform well in interviewing situations.

The major fact about the interviewing process is that a decision may be made on one or two maybe small issues or factors or, most importantly, answers. I will admit that this is not fair. But life isn’t fair. We have to learn to recognize this factor and deal with it.

What brought this to mind was that this week, not just one, but two of my candidates made pretty major mistakes in the interviewing process. The first mistake was made when the candidate answered a question…just one question… totally wrong because he really didn’t understand the question. His answer had nothing to do with what was on the mind of the interviewing authority. According to the hiring manager, the answer was wrong, because the candidate didn’t seem to really understand or grasp the question. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Candidates are nervous and so anxious to make a good impression, they often “jump the gun,” and answer to what they “think” the question is.

To make matters worse, the candidate went on and on with the wrong answer. According to the hiring authority, he stopped the candidate and restated the question. Unfortunately, the candidate was now so flustered realizing that he had answered the question the wrong way and became even more nervous and stumbled through what was a better answer but unfortunately he delivered it so poorly, the employer quit listening and pretty much wrote the candidate off.

The second incident had to do with a young but very intelligent candidate. Her “whoooooooooooooops” was that the hiring authority, near the end of the interview, asked if she had any questions. According to her, he seemed like he was in a great big hurry and even asked it in a rather dismissive manner. Admittedly, she has not prepared any questions for the hiring authority, but she was smart enough to be able to come up with them, but was thrown so off guard by what she perceived to be his being in a big hurry, she hesitated and nervously said that she couldn’t think of any right then.

Up until then she’d been doing very well in the interview. But, as happens often, the hiring manager kept getting hung up on the fact that she had no questions. A person would not have to be much of a mental giant to know that any, even an average candidate, is probably going to have some questions about the job. Unfortunately, the employer was also distracted by other things as well as having interviewed a number of other candidates and basically dismissed the candidate. She was actually one of the best candidates that he interviewed, but he made his total decision on one issue.

The major lesson in this is that decisions about considering a candidate are very often made on very small issues. You’ve got to remember that psychologically negative events have four times the impact that positive events do. Negative issues always get more attention than positive issues do.

We will discuss next week the major way for candidates to deal with whoooooooooooooooooops. But a candidate has to be aware that what might seem to be minor mistakes to a candidate can cost them consideration.

This is why practicing interviewing and developing smooth interview skills are so important.

……permanent, pervasive and personal

 There are 12.8 million people out of work in the United States according to the latest statistics. I receive calls every week from a number of candidates who have been out of work so long that they are just downright depressed. And these are professionals who never dreamed that this kind of thing would happen to them. It doesn’t take long for many of these people to start asking, “What’s wrong with me? I’ve never had this much trouble finding a job. There’s got to be something wrong with me.”

I was reminded after a number of these calls of the psychologist Martin Siegelman’s studies which led to the theory of “learned helplessness.” Its basic definition is that people, often after some kind of difficult event… death of a loved one, a divorce and especially, a loss of a job… after a while begin to see the event personally, pervasively and permanently. This is especially true with loss of a job and the very difficult time and effort it takes to find a new one. After a while of being unsuccessful in looking for a job, many people have a tendency to take it personally… like the quotes above, “What’s wrong with me,”… pervasively…. “It’s always been this way with me,” and…. permanently, “It’s always going to be this way and there is no hope that I’ll ever find a job.”

According to Seligman, “Many things in life are outside of our control. But one thing that is within our control is how we explain the things that happen to us.” Our “explanatory style,” according to Seligman, the language we use to explain our experiences, can have a debilitating effect on our psyche if we don’t deal with it in the right way.

I’d say that most people who get laid off or fired or downsized don’t take it personally unless it’s happened to them a number of times. Most people think that it’s going to be easy for them to find a job. After all, they’ve always found a job before. Most of these people forget how long it really took them to find the last job and how difficult it was. So, even those people after a while of unsuccessfully looking for a job, start seeing things very negatively. Their spouses or friends or relatives who are gainfully employed have a tendency to imply that it was their fault that they have to be looking for a job. This may not be true at all but the job seeker “feels” their thinking…even if it isn’t true.

After four or five months of looking for a job many of these people become depressed. And yes, I’ve had a few candidates over the years that took their own lives because they were so depressed. (I’m sure that having to look for a job was not the only issue in their depression, but nonetheless, it has happened.) But even minor depression during long periods of unemployment can cause a person to take the whole thing personally, pervasively and permanently.

Now it’s really easy to simply say, “You just shouldn’t feel that way.” That’s the last way, the very worst way of helping someone to overcome this kind of depression. Having empathy for these people is one of the first things that a third-party can do. Simply listening to what they have to say is a great start.

I devote a whole session in

 on how to deal with, even avoid this kind of psychological state. But here are some quick bromides:

  • Know that you are not alone. Lots of other people are in the same position and some of them are dealing with it really well. Find some of those people, but do try to avoid pity parties.
  • Know the difference between what you can control and what you can’t control. Focus on what you can control.
  • Take massive action. Start reading motivational books and take courses like The faster you start taking massive action, the better.
  • Expect your job search to be hard, because it’s probably going to be. If it winds up that it’s not, consider yourself lucky.
  • Write out everything about how you lost your job and start a journal about your job search. This helps alleviate negative emotions.
  • Do not postpone actively job searching for a month or so because “I haven’t had a vacation in a long time.” No matter how much you relax, the longer you put off starting an active job search the harder it’s going to be. Take a vacation after you’ve found a job.
  • Be grateful for all the blessings that you have …write them down… every day
  • Acknowledge your fears, but remember you’ve had them before and you overcame them
  • Small wins… the things you can control like: contacting lots of people often about interviewing you, making a daily plan and sticking to it, practicing interviewing, getting interviews…(many more in
  • Volunteer…find people who need your help…who are worse off than you and, if nothing else, just listen to them without complaining about your own situation.
  • Develop a daily routine…and stick to it (don’t succumb to the temptation to go play golf with your friends or go shopping instead of doing real job search activities).
  • Approach finding a job like it was a job.
  • Figure out your “numbers”…. how many negative events are you going to get before you get a positive one (for instance, even after doing this for so many years…since 1973, before the pandemic, it took me, personally, about 100 cold calls to discover one job opportunity. In this market it takes me 210. It does no good to complain about this. I simply have to do it.)
  • Be compassionate…. with yourself and with others, especially with others who brush you off, don’t call you when they say they’re going to, lie to you about the fact that you’re a great candidate, etc.
  • Hold yourself accountable… When you don’t do well on an interview, take responsibility. Don’t just blow it off and convince yourself that the folks you were interviewing with are stupid, insane or downright crazy not to hire you.
  • Go to thejobsearchsolution for more.

It’s really easy to accept the job search and the emotions that go into it personally, pervasively and permanently. It doesn’t have to be that way.


…..your references

As long as we are talking about references, I wanted to mention something that happened a month or so ago and happens a number of times a year… and it’s a great lesson of what not to do

DO NOT put your references on your resume. We had a candidate that had his references on his resume. He sent the resume into a perspective employer (not our client). The employer liked the resume and the places the person had worked.

Instead of calling a candidate for an interview, however, the hiring authority called two of the candidate’s references and invited them in for an interview. The candidate had not only put the names of his references on his resume but also their titles and phone numbers. One of the references called the candidate and actually told him how he had gotten the interview. The candidate was not very happy. He mentioned to us he thought it was very unethical for a hiring authority to do this kind of thing. Not true!

It is nothing of the sort. The hiring authority is trying to find the best candidate he can, anyway he can and your references are as good a place as any to get them.

The lesson is, don’t put your references on your resume.

…How to lose a great VP or any other A+Player

This is a $150 million company that’s managed to survive with the CEO and two or three salespeople that have come and gone. Both the CEO and the newly promoted CRO ( who got promoted out of  engineering because the CEO had done such a miserable job at managing sales and the sales force which kept turning over) decided that they really needed to find a top-notch VP (A+ player) to really reorganize and build a sales organization.

The CEO calls and communicates the company’s sincere commitment to finding the right person. She states that neither she nor the CRO really like or know sales, but in order for them to grow they are going to have to find a really first-class VP. Our firm goes through more than 100 candidates and comes up with five excellent people, who the CEO and CRO interview.

The CRO carries on most of the communications with the two final candidates and it seems like the CRO does most of the interviewing and coordinating of the candidates. He does a fairly decent job of communicating what he “thinks” the company needs to each one of the candidates. Unfortunately, after they claim they are going to have the two candidates back they start postponing the interviewing process. They came up with all kinds of excuses… COVID-19, vacations, business trips. But they keep telling us that the two candidates are the best they’ve seen and (words that always seemed dubious to us, “We’re going to hire one of these guys.”)

What had been fairly open communications between the candidates and the CRO all of a sudden started dying down. The candidates would email and call and eventually get no returns of either kind.

This goes on for about three weeks. We tried to explain in emails and voicemails to both the CEO and the CRO that our candidates are losing interest, mostly because they are feeling neglected. Both are employed and, although not that unhappy, very interested in the position. Or at least they were!

So much time elapsed that the CRO decided he wanted to interview the candidates again. He didn’t really say that he wanted to “start over” but said that he wanted to get “re-refreshed” with the candidates. His lack of experience in the real sales world was showing. And, his fear of making a mistake was too.

One of the candidates was pretty irritated about the whole thing. He agreed to talk with them again but he certainly wasn’t feeling loved or that hiring him…or anyone, was a high priority. The second candidate seemed just as interested as he had been before, but told us that the situation at his company had changed and he wasn’t sure how that change was going to affect him.

We communicated all of this to the CRO. We had written the CRO and the CEO a number of weeks before this that when things drag on like this, candidates not only lose interest but the company appears indecisive about making decisions. They both acknowledged our warnings, but didn’t really change their activity. They told us that hiring someone was important, but they certainly didn’t act like it.

They brought both candidates back. Unfortunately, the CRO basically interviewed them as though he had never met with them before. He asked the same questions he had asked almost a month previously and both candidates were beginning to feel like they were wasting their time and really could not see much point in the interviews. He then informed them that they would both have to speak to the CEO..again.

Believe it or not, the CEO told us that she wanted to speak with the candidates again but couldn’t for at least two weeks. We tried to explain to the CRO directly that this was just getting to be too much and we ran the risk of losing both candidates.

And that is what happened. The first candidate told us that he just didn’t feel like the organization was committed to finding a good candidate. His assumption was that they were going to treat him as an employee the way they were treating him as a candidate. (It was very hard to argue with that.) The second candidate’s situation at his company changed to the point where, since he wasn’t really excited about the new opportunity, he was going to wait and see what was going to happen at his present firm.

As of Friday, we don’t really know what our client is going to do. Experience has taught us that they will either start all over or postpone the whole thing because they have created such a mess, they really don’t look good. My bet is that there is a 75% chance they will postpone the whole thing. Leaders in companies, especially inexperienced ones, simply don’t like doing interviewing and hiring. They obviously don’t do it well, look poor at doing it and are just plain afraid. When most folks are subtly afraid, they do nothing. They avoid the elephant in the room.

This is one way of losing a great VP candidate!