…Advice for millennials

I’m only addressing this generation because there are more of you in the workplace than any other generation, and, at this writing, the 75 million of you (surpassing the baby boomers numbers of 74 million) are beginning to begin settling in to your careers. As with previous generations, you’re going to change jobs more often early in your career (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and you need to be aware of some of the issues you are facing relative to getting a job. Please PAY ATTENTION!!!

So, I’m going to discuss some of the perceived traits that you, as a millennial, have and how they impact, for better or worse, your job search.

Your expertise and reliance on technology
Most of us would agree that 99% of the advancements of technology are good for business. However, in the real world of getting a job, being “connected” is only of value if it can get you an interview. Somewhere along the line you’re going to have to have real-world conversations with people, i.e. interviews in order to get a job. Many of you rely on “just text me” to communicate. You cannot get a job by just texting. Speaking with people face to face, learning to look them in the eye and expressing yourself verbally in more than 140 characters is going to be necessary. This takes practice if you are not used to it.

It is said that you have been raised to believe that everyone gets a trophy for participating and that has given you confidence. Well, in business most people DO NOT get trophies. Now it’s true that the first step in being successful is actually showing up, but you don’t get confidence by simply being there. I have no problem with confidence but it needs to be tempered with humility. As Dizzy Dean (google him if you don’t know who he is) was quoted as saying, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” So, let your successes and accomplishments give you confidence. But, realize that your confidence will be interpreted as arrogance without performance.

It is said that you all think you can do this well. If you research the studies on the subject of multi-tasking, you will soon discover that success at it is not only a myth, but it is actually a deterrent to quality work. So, don’t go into an interview touting the fact that you’re good at multi-tasking. Any interviewer with any brains will discount you if you say this as one of your workplace attributes.

Friends come first
Try convincing a prospective employer that your friends are more important than the job you are applying for and you will continue to be unemployed. A few years of working in the real world, a spouse, a mortgage, a car payment, a couple of kids and the realization that it is likely that their college tuition per year is going to be more than you make in one, your friends will be far down the priority list. So, don’t embarrass yourself by even mentioning how important your friends are in the same breath as your needing a job.

Play then work
Common sense should tell you that communicating anything like this in an interviewing situation is disaster. But I have recently had candidates of the millennial generation say things like, “Well, my personal time is very important to me,” and by never bothering to explain what that means, be quickly eliminated from consideration. In fact, since your generation has a reputation of this trait, you better be damn sure you communicate in the interviewing process that work has an extremely high priority in your life.

Focus on involvement and participation in teams
Okay, being a team player is important. Everyone in business has to be able to get along with everyone else. However, you better be able to perform on your own, by yourself, individually regardless of what the team does or doesn’t do. It’s true that interviewing authorities are going to be interested in your ability to work in a group setting. No company wants a maverick that’s going to piss everybody off. However, if your focus on involvement is more important than your individual performance, this isn’t what business is about. You’re going to be accountable for your own performance. The team will take care of itself if each individual performs their duties well.

Don’t worry about failure
You guys got this notion when everybody got a trophy whether they won or lost. But, in the real world you damn well better worry about failing. This doesn’t mean that you’re not going to fail. In fact, you’re going to fail a lot. But not to worry about it, as though it was no big deal, will keep you living at home and certainly without a job. Be aware that you have to put failure in the right perspective. (Read the quote by Michael Jordan about failure.) Learning from your failures is what’s important, but to blow it off as though you shouldn’t worry about it will not get you a job.

Respect my skills
Wake up! No one is going to automatically respect anything about you, especially your skills, unless you can demonstrate successful performance applying those skills.

Connection to parents
This trait can be a good thing but also not so good. It’s not so good when your parents continue to let you live at home rather than forcing you to get out on your own, no matter how difficult or painful it may be. It’s not good when your parents keep giving you advice about the job market and what kind of a job might be available to you when they have no idea what the job market is really like. I’m sure they love you, but encouraging you to take nothing less than a VP job won’t help you. (Obviously, I’m being facetious when I say this. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had well-meaning parents give advice about the kind of job their prince or princess ought to get, regardless of their knowledge of the job market.)

It is good when mom and dad insist that you get off the dole by taking the best job you can find and go to work. They need to realize that the door to opportunity opens from the inside. No employer is going to automatically love their children the way they do. But that has nothing to do with the job or the opportunity that might be available to you.

They want to ‘develop’ themselves
There’s a part of this trait that might be viable. If you begin to look at job opportunities from the “outside”, judging them by how you can personally “develop”, you are going to have a rough time. There might be a slim possibility that you can judge a job during the interviewing process regarding how it might provide personal growth. But most of the time, most companies aren’t really that interested in your personal growth and will neglect to talk about it during the interviewing process.

It is more likely that after you get a job, you will figure out for yourself how you can personally grow. It is not likely that the incentive for this is going to come from your job or your employer. It’s going to come from you, intrinsically. Finding ways to grow personally in your job should be a lifelong endeavor. The sooner you develop it the better.

Constant feedback
You don’t have to worry about this trait too much. You’re going to get plenty of it, especially if you don’t perform very well. The needing of constant feedback however, can be a deterrent to your success. Constantly asking your superiors, “How am I doing?”, is simply annoying. In the job search process you’ll get pretty damn quick feedback. Either you get a second interview after your first interview or you don’t. Either you get a job or you don’t. Pretty simple! After a while… a very short while… either in looking for a job or performing on one once you have it, you’ll get plenty of feedback. You won’t have to seek it. After all, feedback is the breakfast of champions.

Personal relationships with boss or co-workers
This is a nice, idealistic thought and they can be great if you can find them. But, one, there is no way of knowing in an interviewing situation whether you’d be able to build a personal relationship with the person you’d be working for, and, two, be aware of this, that person you are interviewing with, who would be your direct boss, who might be close and caring could leave their job and the company in a heartbeat. Don’t go overboard with personal relationships at work. If you get good, valuable ones, that’s great, but remember, this is business not marriage.

I’ll google it myself
We all know you’re independent and feel like you can find things out on your own, either on the Internet or by asking friends. However, the organization you are interviewing with or working for has made a tremendous number of mistakes which result in policies, procedures and “this is the way we do things” practices. Please refrain from thinking you need to reinvent the wheel or enlighten the whole company with your discoveries. Don’t be so stubborn as to not stop, listen, and learn what goes on in the company before you start “changing” it.

Feeling entitled
Your helicopter parents might have raised you this way and the college or university you attended may have gone out of their way to make you feel special (You really were special to them. You paid them more than $33,000 a year in private school tuition, almost $10,000 a year in tuition for an in-state public college or university and almost $25,000 for out-of-state tuition at a public college. And these figures do not include room, board and other kinds of fees. Pay me that kind of money over six years, which is how long the average college graduate goes to school and I’ll be more than happy to tell you that you are special.)

To most companies that are going to interview you and hire you, you aren’t special until you perform. You aren’t entitled to a job, a paycheck or continued employment. You aren’t entitled to a pay raise or promotion until you earn it. Working is a privilege, not a right. The mantra of these organizations is that, “If you do your job, you get to keep it!”

View work as something to be done between weekends
Approach interviewing and a new job like this and you’ll get to have one permanent, long weekend.

“I’ll market myself to the highest bidder”
And, parenthetically, “I can leave in a heartbeat, you know!” This is the height of solipsism and egocentricity and unless you are the center of the universe, which you are not, or a draft pick in the NFL or NBA, in this job market you probably don’t have another “bidder.” So, stop this silly business, take any reasonable job you can and work your ass off.

Some of you are just beginning your career. Some of you are in your late 30’s and have learned all of these lessons which the marketplace has taught you. The longer you’re in the workforce, the more you realize that all of these “generational characteristics” melt away and we all advance and decline in our job search and our professional life based on the same rules.

One last thought which only applies to the male millennials – You’d make a lot better impression when you interview if you shave. Just a thought!

… References matter

There’s a tendency for those job applicants to take the references for granted. Even the most professional ones that idea with have a tendency to think that references on any big deal and, unfortunately, often wait to the last minute try to find them when a client wants to check them. This is a tale of two candidates and their references.

The first candidate, Tony (great name!) Reached out to the people that he was going to use as a reference right when he started his job search a month or two ago. He lined up to managers that he had worked for, two customers that were his and two peers just in case he needed them. He touched bases with these references every once in a while during his job search to let them know how his search was coming along. Sometimes he called. Sometimes he just emailed. But, they obviously felt a “part” of his job search because he just kept them informed of kind of where he was at.

When the time came and our client asked for his references, Tony shot them to the hiring authority within 20 minutes of being asked. He called or emailed three of them, the two managers and the customer (which is what our client asked him for) to let them know about the company he was interviewing with, about the job itself and questions he thought the hiring authority would be asking.They were prepared and were gracious about doing it.

Our other candidate, Paul, competing with Tony, had done an equally good job of interviewing and was asked for his references. The hiring authority told both Tony and Paul that it was a neck and neck race and he was going to check each set of references to see if there might be a difference. Unfortunately, Paul had to “get his references together.” He had not prepared any references before he started his job search, because he didn’t think it would be any big deal to get them together when a prospective employer asked for them. Once Paul was asked for his references, he called a few people that he thought would or could help. It took him a day to find one of his old managers and, unfortunately, he couldn’t find another. He did find A customer, which took him a whole day to do and since he couldn’t find another one of his previous bosses he conscripted one of his peers to be a reference. Two days after he was asked, the guy got his references lined up.

Well, you can imagine what it was like for our client who is checking the references. Tony’s were impeccable and Paul’s were mediocre at best. Tony prepared his while Paul was panicked to even find them. Paul felt lucky to locate them even a day or so late and never gave them much information about who is going to call and what they might ask for what the position was then what about hiring authority might want to know.Paul was a good candidate but his references weren’t that good for him.

Lesson:Find really good references. Keep them posted about your job search and prepare them for anyone who may call the.

… Your dance with the HR department

most people don’t even know where the HR department came from. It was invented in the early 60s 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 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 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 are you getting an interview have decreased at least 75%. The HR department is taught to look for reasons of why thingsWon’t Work, not reasons as to why theyWillWork. They see the glass as half empty rather than have 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 10 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, you’re 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 they’re hiring authorities want and actually make a 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 at the HR department would lead you to believe they are. How to why no this? I told at least once a week by hiring authority that their HR department hasn’t gotten them any qualified candidates. And, if they have plenty of good candidates 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, he prepared.

….when things go wrong

Things are going to go wrong in your job search. On average you’re going to have 15 or 16 negative things happen for every one positive thing that happens. Now, unfortunately, there are times in your job search where the wheels really fall off. You get into a terrible slump. Not only do you get two or three rejections in a row but your interviews seem to dry up and you can’t seem to find anybody that will even listen to you, let alone interview you. We all go through this. Slumps are part of every business and game. Winning wouldn’t be as sweet if these kinds of events weren’t so devastating.

It’s really easy to say that this kind of thing isn’t any big deal and that we all go through it when we’re talking about the other guy. It’s really hard to do when you are experiencing it yourself. So, the first thing to do is to heed my warning and expect these things.

The most important thing you can do, and I really want to emphasize “most important thing you can do”, is to rely on the “system.” I go through slumps in my profession all of the time. I’ve seen some in the last few years, but I always know that the downs eventually create ups, and I just need to keep hanging in there and working my system.

My system and process centers around making calls to clients or potential clients. I know that if I make 100 calls either to existing or potential clients, I’m going to get to two hiring authorities that are going to be interested in the candidate I present. Of the two that call me back, only one of them is going to have a job opportunity in Dallas that one of my candidates might be interested in. In one week, I get two to three job opportunities. I’m going to have to send nine candidates out on interviews…either nine candidates to that one opportunity or nine candidates to nine different opportunities or five candidates to one opportunity and four candidates to three or four other opportunities. My “ratio” is nine appointments to make one placement. I average 3.5 initial appointments per candidates a day. You can take the math from there.

I know that no matter what, as long as I keep working my “system,” my process, I’m going to be able to place people. No matter how difficult and challenging it is, the numbers are always going to work for me. There are years where it has taken 14 appointments to make one placement and years where it has taken only four. I know that I can’t control the economy but I can control my activity.

… Advice about your “plan”

I place sales people, marketing professionals, VPs and folks on just about every level in the IT products and services arena. Last week I read some advice, promoted by an authority, or presumed one about getting a job. This guy was discussing the situation of when you’re asked to give advice or provide a 30-60-90 day plan, or a marketing plan or any kind of business plan during the interviewing process. He was recommending that the candidate should refuse to do it. His claim was that you don’t want other people to steal your ideas and use them. He was advising candidates to explain to prospective employers that their advice was proprietary to them and, if they wish to get the candidate’s advice they should hire the candidate. This guy’s comment was that there is no reason a candidate should Give to a prospective employer their business solutions and their “secret sauce.”

I’ve written about this before, but there’s so much junk out there on the Internet written by people who never found anybody a job. There are a lot of these career advisors out there. Many of them post all kinds of awards on their websites and I guess that’s okay. But my rough estimate is that 30% of what they tell people is just junk.

Here is the answer. When someone asks you to provide any kind of 30-60-90 day plan, or any kind of detailed solution to their problem… do it! First of all, you don’t really have much choice. If you take this career coaches advice and tell people that you won’t do it, who will promptly be eliminated. Don’t think that you, or anyone, has that much political capital to be able to refuse doing this and still be considered as a candidate. You gotta bet they have three or four other candidates who will accommodate their wishes in a heartbeat.

The second, and probably just as important reason is that even if they have your brilliant solution to their problem doesn’t mean that they could execute on it. Here’s the analogy. Everyone in basketball knows the theory of the triangle offense that was made so popular by the Los Angeles Lakers. Most every high school player knows it. But just because you know the theory doesn’t mean you can execute it. Unless you have a Kobe Bryant on your team as well as a few others of the same caliber, knowing the theory and executing it well are really two different things.

So, don’t get all upset and agonize over being asked for your ideas or your solutions. Give a lot of thought to the answer and realize that you are going to be judged by it. Don’t spend any time or effort agonizing over whether it’s right or not to ask it and focus on a quality answer.

…Keep your resume simple and to the point

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. 2009 – 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. 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.

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 them to do.

…numbers tell

We’ve addressed in previous entries that people love stories. Stories sell! But if stories sell, numbers tell! People love to see and hear numbers. Job seekers who know how to use numbers to their advantage in their cover letters, on their résumés and especially in their interviews, always have a phenomenal advantage. People always sound more authoritative and sure of themselves when they use numbers to demonstrate their successes. This is especially true when it comes to any individual impact on increase in revenue and/or profits or decrease in overhead.
Getting in the habit of “proving” your success with the stories you tell in the interviewing process with numbers really sets you apart from others. It’s one thing to say in the interview that “I am/was a really good performer.” It’s another thing to state, “I am/was a really great performer because:
• “I decreased bad debt 35%.
• “I was 130% of sales quota this year, 125% last year, and 150% the year before that.
• “I decreased shrinkage 28%.
• “I was able to decrease payroll costs by 10% while increasing production 7%.
• “I saved the company $123,000 in inventory costs.”
I’m sure you get the idea by now. You can even combine stories and numbers by explaining in this story how the numbers were reached. People will remember your story better when it’s reinforced by numbers. When you have the numbers on your résumé they often lead to great stories.


I’ve heard this three or four times over the last few weeks. It was the response that a number of millennial’s gave me when I explained to them that they didn’t interview very well and they needed to change the way they approach things in the interviewing process. Not only did they not seem to care, they took a very nonchalant attitude towards the whole process. When these kids is been out of work for almost 3 months and says he really needs to go to work. He then gives me the “whatever” sarcasm and informs me, or, rather, should I say, tells me that there’ll be another one just around the corner.

One of these kids doesn’t seem to answer voicemails, but responds to texts all day. I tried to explain to him, when it first happened, that I can’t easily communicate feeling with a text and that it works much better when we can talk on the phone. He reluctantly calls me back maybe a day later.

I’ve also noticed with this “whatever” group That where they work i.e. how close to home workplace is makes it bigger difference than to most folks. “I’m just not willing to drive an hour to work every day,” is something I seem to hear more from these kids then I hear from other generations. One told me the other day that he shoots pool every Tuesday and Thursday evenings and the group starts there tournament training at 6:30 PM and if he got a job in Frisco when he lives in uptown he would miss the first half-hour of their practice programs every Tuesday and Thursday evening. The pool was more important than a job.

There is also a hint with these kids that since they been to college and gotten a degree they have a (confidence?) bit of an “entitlement” attitude toward the kind of job they can get. They seem to be rather shocked at the kinds of jobs that are available to them, that seemed to be “below” the expectations they were given when they graduated. Unfortunately they didn’t start thinking about their career and job when they were sophomores like they should have.

These are smarter kids then probably the last two generations, boomers and GenXers, but, no pun intended, it seems to have gone to their head just a bit. My sense is that after a few years in the workplace their expectations will be level set and they will get on with their career the way the rest of us did. Gallup tells us that most of these kids are in jobs that have nothing to do with their degree. Interestingly enough, that may be true for most of us. The differences, I think, is that most of us took what we could get and made the best of it .( my PhD is in higher education administration. I spent three years on a college campus and administrative role and decided that, although I loved students, I hated, literally hated committees. So I got in the placement business! Go figure!)

Our 30-year-old son, James, who founded a startup in California and got funded by Andreessen Horowitz happen to be home visiting and just read this. He’s hired as many as 96 very technical millennial’s in the heart of Silicon Valley. He laughed about what I was writing. He reminded me that it’s only the past 25 years or so that we have defined these “generations.” He claims that there are just as many people in each generation that have, in their own times, the same group of people that were really interested in working very hard and those that weren’t. Maybe because of technology we are more aware of our “labels.” He mentioned that maybe, just maybe, we like to “label” people and then look for the definitions of the labels.



….if it’s God’s will

working with a pretty solid candidate with some reasonable skills. I sent him on an interview. It would be a really good job for him and it’s a wonderful company. He doesn’t do very well on the interview. He calls me to check in to see how he did and I explained to him that they’re not having him back because he didn’t interview very well. He says, “Well, if it’s God’s will.”

I hear this kind of thing at least three or four times a month. Now, I deal with a lot of candidates and it might be that three or four times a month isn’t all that great of a percentage relative to the number of candidates I work with. But it absolutely drives me stark raving NUTS when people blame their not getting a job because they interview poorly on “God’s will.”

The guy didn’t do one iota of preparatio. I gave him access to our interview tutorial, which we do for every candidate we get an interview for (it’s outstanding I might add!) and the guy doesn’t even take the course. He says he was just too busy. He doesn’t do any research on the company or the person that he was interviewing with… a VP I might add. He doesn’t sell himself and he doesn’t give the people he was interviewing with reasons why they should hire him. In short, he did a really lousy job of interviewing… really lousy!. And he’s telling me that it wasn’t “God’s will?” He then had the gall to ask me if I had another opportunity for him.

I was raised to have a very healthy fear of the Lord. I do my best to keep my prayer life up, go to Mass every Sunday and receive the sacraments as often as possible. I’m humbled, joyful and awed about my relationship with God, but, come on, are you kidding me? Forget blaming the fact that you didn’t get a job because you performed so poorly on an interview on “God’s will.” Stop it! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s absurd!

Lots of bad things happen in all of our lives. I don’t know which of it is God’s will. I guess I don’t know God that well. My non-theological sense would be that God would want the best for me and my family. When bad things happen, I ask for His graces and love to help me deal with whatever happens. But when someone doesn’t get a job because they didn’t even try very hard, it’s hard to imagine that God had anything to do with it.

If the guy had worked really hard and was trying to do well at the interview and tried real hard to do everything he could to get the job and then he didn’t, I might have more empathy for him. I might’ve even let the comment pass. But to blame God when the guy didn’t work very hard is the demeaning to, well,… even God.

There are some people who see the world this way, I guess. But it’s not reality. I believe that the only thing that God might do regarding anyone’s interviewing is to give them the graces and determination to do their best and accept the results no matter what they are.

Outside of my profession I hear people talk about “God’s will” all the time. It becomes an excuse for not doing well and psychologically lets them off the hook of responsibility. I’m reminded of the old story about the preacher who was driving through the country and stopped at farmer Brown’s house. He got out of his car to greet farmer Brown, and in the exchange, wanted to give praise to the Lord. The preacher said to the farmer, “Farmer Brown aren’t you just emotionally and spiritually moved beyond yourself to give praise to the Lord when you look around your wonderful farm here, green, lush and beautiful for as far as the eye can see?” Farmer Brown paused a minute and thoughtfully looked at the preacher and said, “Well, preacher you should’ve seen it when God had it all to himself.”

Mama used to say, “God helps those who help themselves.”

I’m not sure anybody can personally know God’s will in their own life. Maybe they can. But using it for an excuse as to why they didn’t really try to perform well on an interview or why they didn’t get a job seems mighty unfair… to God

….mangled metaphors and misapplied analogies

Can’t tell you the number of very educated candidates over the years that in their speaking, become fond of metaphors…which is OK…however…they mangle the metaphor.

They say things like “pass mustard“, instead of “pass muster”…”took off like haywire”…instead of “wildfire”…”preaching to the congregation“…instead of “choir”…I have had different candidates tell me they wanted to “hit the ball running,” “give their best foot forward,” or said, ”I’m living fat on the hog” and the “cream will rise to the crop”…”you are barking up the wrong dog”…”eats at my crawl”…”brightest block in the box ”…

I could go on, but you get the message. We have all heard folks do this at times…we are amused and kind of laugh. But in the interviewing situation, they can be disastrous. This is especially true if they are repeated. They are distracting and, in most cases, don’t reflect well on the person being interviewed. Soooo, practice interviewing. If you have a tendency to mangle your metaphors or misapply your analogies, have someone help you or get yourself some and google a few. If you are going to lose a deal, don’t let it be over something so simple to correct. So, keep your nose to the ground and your ear to the grindstone…practice interviewing…watch the pictures you describe…

As long as we are at it, here are some others:

“As long as that dog hunts, we’ll ride him,”

“It’s the best thing since sliced Spam.”

“Never judge a book by its title.”

“Never put all your eggs in one omelet.”

“The guy just couldn’t cut the custard.”

“That guy is a wolf in cheap clothing.”

Oh, brother…