Monday, September 30, 2013

My 100th Blog Entry

This entry constitutes my 100th blog post and October 19 will mark a year since I began this effort. It is said that it takes about a year for a blog to gain momentum and, indeed, this one has, which is significant considering all the other stuff out there. It demonstrates there are growing numbers of individuals who recognize that the standard practices used to find work are increasingly ineffective, especially if you are a standout individual, a go-getter, to use a term. How can you get noticed if the current hiring regime has no interest in you, at least during the initial stages of most hiring processes? You’ve got to step off the well-worn path, tread upon by legions of others, who aimlessly shuffle along waiting for something or someone to do their thinking for them. Not so, for the followers of this blog.
My efforts are meant to both re-awaken and introduce effective methods to those who want to better influence their own fate. When you rely almost solely upon websites, email and resumes to accomplish something, where are you in that equation? Sorry to use a cliché, but my goal is (re)empowerment of individuals, as in helping others to empower themselves and become more self-reliant. A couple of years ago, I recognized that, as a headhunter, I was only able to actively assist a small group of people. I determined I could help a much wider demographic, with more than 20 years of direct interaction with job seekers and hiring managers and companies, by providing a unique perspective. I know I am not going to change the minds of nor appeal to the masses; it’s not my goal, zombies are defined as being animated but they are not self-aware – hmm, can truth be stranger than fiction? You cannot awaken those who pretend or want to remain asleep. Yet everywhere I turn I see people who hunger (ha ha, a pretty funny analogy after referring to zombies, eh) for advice and help they can actually grab onto and personalize for their own purposes. For them, the status quo doesn’t cut it, they know there is more they could be doing, but unsure how to go about it. Do you want to do what everyone else is doing, standing in lines that go nowhere, being drowned in crowds of others who stand mute? Not me, no thanks and that’s where this blog comes in. So, for those who are searching for effective advice to set themselves apart, I’m glad you’re here. And by the way, if you feel compelled, I often field questions from readers by replying with a related blog entry or privately, via email.
So I’d like to take this occasion to ask something of you, the readers. If you find the information shared here to be constructive, thought provoking, perhaps even inspiring, helping to restore your own sense of purpose and self-confidence, I politely request that you share my blog page with others: friends, family, associates, your professor and especially anyone who is experiencing a trying time searching for a job – most of us know someone who is doing so. Refer it to one or more individuals seeking to enhance their options in an increasingly competitive jobs market.
Furthermore, the advice and commentary I share can also be helpful to those wishing to improve their negotiating skills when it’s time to discuss promotion, a raise, or as a way to adroitly deal with people in the workplace who bully their way around at the expense of others; check out the archives, there’s a lot of good info there. If you want even more detailed guidance readily accessible, then I suggest my handbook that is previewed on this website. One more note about the book -- depending on your perspective, I’ve been told it’s an ideal instructional manual for recruiters who seek to hone their skills, as well as HR staffers and hiring managers looking for ways to more effectively interview and evaluate job applicants.
In closing, there’s always someone who thinks my advice is a little strident. If you’re not quite sure about implementing the methods I recommend, my reply is to ask what’s the worst that could happen – you might get an expression of disapproval from a minion whose coffee break you interrupted, or to be told no? I for one would rather be proactive and be clearly told “no”, so I can better focus my efforts on more productive activities, than to submit a gazillion resumes sent down a digital black hole with fingers crossed, where you have no influence and no active participation. Remember, fortune favors the bold.
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Basic Job Search Plan of Action

So what do you do, you personally, when you search for a job? Most people wake up one day and they start reading online job postings at whatever website shows the most listings, as though that is going to matter. They spend time staring into their monitors or screens like Goldilocks looking for the one(s) that are just right for them and send resumes in the hopes of being noticed, contacted and told, “…you’re just what we’ve been looking for!” Hmm, how often does that happen?
What about networking? Some people are big believers in networking and, indeed, it is a good way to go about a job search activity, but the whole trick to networking is that you already have a network of people with whom to interact, which means you were already a networking sort of person. The entire concept is based on referrals from already established relationships. I am not ridiculing these aforementioned activities; those methods should be a part of your overall effort but should not constitute the majority of your efforts. Looking for the easiest way to find a job is never the most effective way.
The manner by which I choose to conduct my work as a headhunter requires that anyone with whom I work also invests some effort into the task; I am not a magician, I don’t pull rabbits from hats and I do not lay jobs at the feet of those seeking my help. Nope, if they want my help they’re going to contribute some sweat equity for a good conclusion; I don’t work for them, but I’ll work hard with them. Among the initial questions I ask anyone I might represent is, “If there is a list in your mind, whether it is 3, 5, 10 or 50 companies, if you heard they were looking for someone like you and you would want to know about it - what companies would be on that list?” This represents your plan A list. Next, ask yourself what other competitors or similar companies there are that aren’t on your A list, but you would secondarily consider working for? This is your plan B list.
Formulating your A and B lists should require some thought unless you are working with someone like me. You otherwise need to then conduct some due diligence on your own behalf and look up each company on your list, looking for a point of contact that most closely resembles who would hypothetically be your boss; HR folks are nice people but not your first choice because they’ll tell you to send your resume and, if that’s the case, how would that differ much from reacting to online job postings, against which I am suggesting? Incidentally, if this sounds like it involves some work indeed it does, but most of the info is found online; way back in the day you had to go to the library to find often out of date information with which to work – so don’t complain.
Now that you have your preferred and secondary hit lists, formulate your plan. Initially contact, then schedule, a planned follow-up however you choose to do it and, also, when to follow up if you don’t reach them the first time. For example, resolve to commit yourself to a predetermined amount of time each day or week for your effort, have a combination of new calls along with some follow-up calls and so on. In between all of this, of course, watch the job boards and react but, I recommend even if you see an advert, attempt to make direct contact whenever you are able. It is always more effective when you are actually communicating directly with someone. Even a modest list should have you occupied with constructive activity for a number of weeks and even then you’ll add companies and make adjustments where necessary but real results require more than keystrokes and sitting around at home. Your online research beforehand is critical and is only powerful if you also combine the efforts of both seeking and actually talking to people with whom you’ve never previously spoken. Whenever possible, burn some shoe leather; get out there and shake some hands.
I am always fascinated as to how a job represents the means by which we survive in society, pay our bills, buy our food, clothe ourselves and, yet, so many people think this important function can somehow be done with minimal personal investment of their time and effort. I suggest you do not rely on a strategy of wishing and hoping, playing what amounts to not much more than engaging in an online lottery game to find a job. Unless you want to rely on sheer luck, stand in the mirror and ask yourself if your efforts are truly representative of you as a person; as a professional. 
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Setting Priorities and Managing Your Expectations

For almost as long as I’ve been a headhunter, when I speak with someone I might represent, assist and coach, the first question I ask is why they are looking for a new job; what are the motivating factors? I want to learn about their priorities and if they are reasonable, realistic and can provide me a documented track record of success, I’ll often take on their cause and assist to varying degree. If money is their primary or only reason, I rarely take them seriously. I believe that if money is a higher priority than is the actual opportunity, they have their priorities bass ackwards. To be clear, what I am suggesting is about more than money, but if we are talking about money and tying it to priorities, we can use it to illustrate my point about priorities, as compared with expectations.

When I speak with someone about what they want in terms of compensation in a potential new job, I ask them:

A)   What would you like to earn in your next job? (what they want)

B)     What do you need to earn? (what is their low end minimum need)

The results are often two different numbers. As their representative, I will then seek to ensure they hit somewhere between those two numbers, aiming for the wish number as close as is possible but ensuring we don’t fall below the need figure. I also do the same with hiring managers, with whom I pose the same question about the low and high ends of the compensation range they are offering for the position. This is in order to realistically manage expectations for both sides of the process so that, as we near a positive conclusion, we can avoid the possibility of either side feeling misled, or their time wasted; it increases the odds of reaching a mutually satisfactory conclusion.

Setting your priorities, considering what is most important and keeping your expectations grounded and reasonable is something any job seeker should occasionally contemplate and remind oneself. As situations change, therefore so should expectations and priorities. I’ve witnessed many a good opportunity slip past someone whose ego and sense of entitlement blinded them to the current reality of the job market. I am in no way suggesting you aim lower, just more realistically. There are still a lot of great jobs and if you are in select market sectors the money is still quite good. But for the majority, wages are not what they were, nor are benefits. And looking back at our parents, who might have had career-long jobs, job security and great pensions is also a bit of a misnomer. Many of those retirees are watching their pension benefits being sliced and diced, so gazing backwards to the good old days will not solve a job seeker’s issues of today or tomorrow.

So what are you going to do? I suggest we look forward both realistically as well as optimistically. If you are going to have expectations that are over-inflated and outdated, you are very likely to be disappointed with what otherwise may be a good job, or at least a job that will take you in a new direction. Depending on your circumstances you might have to take a step back, in order to have steps available to move forward. Forsaking a few things you’d like to have in order to get what you need is not surrender. Whoa! A Rolling Stones tune just popped into my head – Thanks Mick, for helping me to make my point in closing this blog entry! “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you might just find you get what you need” 

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Forecasting Your Job Search Effort

Often people fail to consider all that is involved when conducting a real job search. Don't fool yourself with the wide misperception suggesting that with thousands of jobs posted online you can spend a few minutes per day surfing the net, send resumes and voila - you can get a good job. A rather silly assumption, eh? A lucky few find good jobs that way but they are the exception and not the rule. Why would otherwise smart individuals rely on those long odds for success?

Without being insulting, unless you have a plan you aren't serious. And relying on others or the Internet to get you a job is not a plan; and neither is the panacea of sending digitalized resumes all over the place. You're responsible for getting your own job, what are you actually doing for yourself? Do you have a plan, rudimentary or otherwise? For example, without some sort of plan of action, how will you keep track of to where you sent your resumes? If you intend to send your resume, to whom? Have you made the effort to identify an actual person; a point of contact? Who are you going to follow up with, when and in which manner? And what about your forecast, at what point will you pause and review results to determine if you need an adjustment to your efforts? Do you have a reasonable target date for when you will attain the goal resulting from your efforts? If you have difficulty answering these questions, sorry, but you are in trouble and you need to make some adjustments to your efforts, now.

For example, whenever I speak with a company seeking to hire someone asap for a critical role, I ask them when they foresee a potential new employee as starting, and very often they reply, "we need them yesterday". Well that's nice, but part of my job is to provide the parties involved with a reality check; I then take them through the sequence of chronological events in reverse order, back to the start point and the discussion we are at that moment engaged in. I do this to more reasonably connect their expectations with the reality of the situation, before going forward in mutual cooperation.

If you are looking for a job you should do this also. What's your level of urgency? If there is none, then there is no reason for stress at the moment but that does not mean you should sit back either, you'll just plan accordingly. Perhaps there is a point of time on the horizon or a circumstantial event that could present more urgency. However, if you are under some pressure, there is no time to waste.

For better results your task is not as tough as it sounds. With regard to timing the general guideline that I use is, from the time someone begins a focused effort through to when they receive a job offer can take between 10 - 16 weeks and that's starting from square one. Could it be faster, yes; could it take longer, indeed, but that is a good guideline from which to plan. This accounts from start to finish, of a general 3 step / interview process and the resulting offer stage. After the fact, most people I speak with admit that after they dithered around or procrastinated with half-hearted efforts; when something occurred which compelled them to make a serious and focused effort, when it really became a priority, in retrospect it didn't take so long once they got serious. This, of course, does not account for those who are struggling to remain viable in a dead or dying market sector. Sadly, some jobs are going away and might not come back, which requires honest evaluation of a person's individual situation. Take the time to save time, if finding a new job is a priority, do more than a few aimless keystrokes and your result will become more self-evident.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Dulled Senses

After posting my last blog, I was called out by a middle-senior manager working in an administrative capacity, who suggested I am being provocative, picking on and ridiculing companies and especially human resources with regard to their hiring practices. For the record I am not, quite the contrary although, what I am categorically against is the creeping fungus that is lethargy, apathy and especially atrophy as a consequence of expediency and supposed time-saving methods for hiring and evaluating job seekers. I am likewise admittedly critical of individuals who think they can obtain, much less deserve, a job by doing little more than sending a few, or a lot, of emailed resumes and assume they are deserving of a job more than others who actually make an effort. If we’re honest with each other, we have collectively gotten lazier for one simple reason, we’ve been allowed to do so.

Question: when was the last time you did a mathematical equation in your head beyond single or perhaps double-digit addition, subtraction, division or multiplication; how about converting a fraction to a percentage? I'll bet your reflex or habit was to reach for a device to do it for you. Furthermore, when was the last time you used cursive writing, I know mine has gotten rather sloppy because I don’t use it, although admittedly it always was a bit illegible, but like most people, we are more tied to a keyboard or we text and these examples symbolize my point. By our very nature, people will always take the path of least resistance to accomplish tasks. That is not to suggest we are lazy, it is from this that innovation takes root, as someone somewhere finds better and easier ways to do things more effectively. But as time passes, the phrase if you don’t use it, you lose it comes to mind.

Furthermore, the demands of job hunting and interviewing methods in recent years pull us in many different directions. Consider your resume; for example, there’s no shortage of opinions about what makes a resume too long or too short, or emphasizing that you must ensure it has plenty of key words and can be scanned, otherwise it may not be noticed. So what of the content, the information that will actually attract the attention of a hiring manager?

However, I believe what has suffered most is the ability to communicate, not through technical or digital means but face-to-face, in person. Granted, your resume is important in order to get you in the door, but after that you’re up, what then? It might not be your fault, although I don’t know how there is anyone else to blame, it is your responsibility and nobody can do it for you. Too many times I’ve met people who are otherwise smart, clever and talented but, for whatever reason, when they are required to articulate a thought, often I hear little that could be described as impactful; I hear one statement after another that goes something like this, “well um, you know…I mean, I was, like…you know…” No wonder so many hiring managers are increasingly frustrated. The reason for this in my view is the digital divide between communicating online and reliance on abbreviated statements used in text, twitter and other means of instant communication.

All of the cool tech toys we enjoy have only been around a short time, which curiously coincides with the backsliding and deterioration of interpersonal skills during the last twenty years, although I am not pining for the good old days. Looking forward, I write in an attempt to appeal to as many people as I can who want to improve their chances for success when they determine it is time to look for a new job. There are a lot of people out there competing for good jobs. Referring back to human nature, I know the vast majority won’t do anything different. So this means those who do make a concerted effort will elevate themselves; I mean we’re talking about basic stuff here. The only real difference between today and twenty or twenty five years ago, is that the Internet has replaced the newspaper classified section and email displaced snail mail, fax and increasingly, the telephone. Come on, does anyone really think they can point-and-click their way to a decent job without significant effort in the other more critical aspects incumbent upon you to be at your best? From where did that perception derive?
So what about you? Do you recognize room to improve your skills and what are you doing about it? While others remain stuck in neutral feeling safer amidst the herd, busy talking about what they can do, will you take advantage of trends that are holding others back?

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mediocritization, Genericism and the Death of the Individual

Generally speaking, the purpose of my blog is to provide advice for job seekers to assist them in gaining a better result from their efforts. There is a sad trend taking place right under our very eyes. Hiring practices are increasingly discounting that which defines us as people and employees. While hiring processes are evolving and processes becoming more technical in nature, interaction and communication among the parties involved is devolving.
It is ironic that most companies go to great pains to emphasize and trumpet their mission statements that claim their purpose, their mission is to produce things, or provide services meant to help people, improve lives or make the world a better place or whatever high-minded and lofty set of values they claim to stand (or hide) behind. Yet hiring practices that are becoming more and more disconnected from human interaction send a very different message.
Just this morning I spoke with an accomplished professional who shared with me his frustration about the lack of any interaction with a company that was considering him for a director-level marketing position, as though they wanted to minimize their interaction with him as much as possible. His assumptions are not without merit and I never enjoy telling people about what I recognize as the increasing shift to intentionally remove the individual as much as possible from the process of hiring. They won’t tell you that’s their goal, and they may not even personally recognize it, but shifting to more and more digital means of filing and adapting software to the process to save time and money cannot have any other effect. Software tools are handy and helpful but there is not now and never will be a replacement for human interaction. Advocates of these trends claim they are refining and standardizing processes for a more consistent result.
Ironically, I communicate with hiring managers who complain they are seeing hordes of people that more resemble a generic sampling. I contend the reason for this lies in the screening processes that result in most applicants never being actually considered, as a result of the increasing lack of human interaction, leaving out many otherwise good potential employees. Worse yet, believe it or not, I occasionally hear human resource personnel lament about their disdain for having to deal with individuals who seek employment, as though their inquiries are unwelcome distractions. Fortunately, this latter group is a minority but that mindset of sidestepping the individual is emblematic of an unfortunate trend.
So where does this leave you, the reader, who feels the same as I do about hiring processes that dehumanize and discount you from the very moment you seek to apply? Changing times require changing methods and the job market is evolving; evolve with it. My book describes methods of pursuing and finding opportunities, with subsequent suggestions as to how to establish direct contact with hiring managers; in essence I suggest how people can flip the process around, thus setting themselves apart right from the start. Anything I suggest is a result of the same best practices I have been effectively utilizing and adapting for over 20 years. Sadly, a blog format does not allow for more detailed explanation.
I know the job market has tightened, but if you have a good background and have performed well in your job and find yourself getting nowhere in your efforts; do what I do. When I am confronted with companies that don’t recognize the value of what I can deliver in services, when they are fixated on the irrelevant, reluctant to do what will bring them the benefit they seek-- when I find myself talking to the wall, I walk away and find companies that will value what I have to offer and, believe me, they are out there. However, you must be prepared to invest more effort to find them; point-and-click solutions are not always enough. Often in life you get what you give. When times are tough you’ve got to innovate.
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Monday, September 9, 2013

A Job or The Job?

Many times I’ve been asked, “I don’t know which is better or worse, to take a job, any job in order to avoid gaps in my employment or should I hold off and wait for the job I want? What’s better, to look like a job hopper to avoid gaps in my employment, or wait until I find the job I want, regardless of the gap in my employment history?” Good question, the answer depends a lot on your own personal situation.

If you are already currently working, unless you absolutely hate your job and can’t take another day of it, do not leave one job until you have another to which to go. I’ve written about this in more detail previously, but please don’t use a lame excuse of, “Well, I don’t think it is professional or honest to look for a job while working for my current employer.” Pleeeeze, give me a break; figure out how and when you can arrange to interview before or after work, during lunch or take a personal day. But don’t leave one job before securing the next one because what might start out as potentially a short span of time can turn into something much longer and unanticipated. Gaps in employment should be avoided as much as possible.

Sadly, many companies’ representatives with whom selection and hiring is their responsibility, tend to make generalizations and judgments about your suitability based on what they see on your resume. Before they actually evaluate the content they scan down the page, connecting the dots, so to speak, checking for holes in your employment history. If there is no information present to justify the changes it could detract from your otherwise documented successes, work history and experience. More about this another time, but back to the subject…

I’m aligned with the side of the argument that contends that gaps in employment are more detrimental than job changes, especially if you have a prior track record of stability. The chaotic and lethargic job market of the last few years is well understood and can be justified. Although it can also be said with regard to periods of unemployment, if you’ve had until recently a stable record of employment, most will understand there are many people who’ve found it necessary to start over, taking their careers in a new direction.

While a tough economy is an excuse it is not is a valid reason by itself. In both the case of repeated job changes or breaks in your employment chronology, you must be prepared to explain your circumstances in order to sufficiently satisfy any potential employer. I suggest that if you have nothing to hide and you are making the best effort possible, you are able to back up your claims and explain your circumstances in a truthful manner -- don’t be so stressed. Besides, anyone who seems unaware of the difficulty of the current job market is either thick as a brick, or has been living under a rock. Other ways to bridge any concerns would be to gather valid reference letters or written recommendations beforehand and at the ready, anytime you find it necessary.

Additionally, review your resume from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know you, or have someone else look it over objectively. Then, go back and connect the dots; in other words, if you were downsized or your position made redundant but your resume does not say so, add it. If your company merged or was acquired, note it so it does not appear you’ve had two separate employers; add the information, perhaps in a smaller italicized font. My primary suggestion for this blog entry is that, until they meet with you and you have a chance to sit down with them for an interview, they’ll already have a document that provides answers to some of their questions about your particular circumstance.

The tired old rules and dogma, which were in vogue until a few years ago with regard as to how to find a good job, now ring hollow. Innovate and proactively plan ahead in anticipation of questions that you already know will be on the minds of any potential employer.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

After the Honeymoon

In any personal relationship, it’s all hot and passionate at the beginning for a while, but then as most often happens at some point in time things evolve, settling into a routine where people sink into their comfort zones and back to their true selves. And this is when you hear things such as, “I remember when you used to at least try…” or “You used to buy me flowers…”

I often compare work environments and situations with our personal lives because I can get my messages across more easily. Another primary reason is that most of us spend as much time at work with our employers and co-workers as we do with our families. Some of us spend more time away from home working than they do at home, so my correlation of the two is not so strange then, is it?

In the beginning of a relationship we put on our best face, make our best efforts because we really want to win over and get the other side to like us and want us. We do the same thing when we are pursuing and interviewing for a job. Some people will do whatever it takes to succeed, sometimes going way overboard. Then, after they reach their goal, as time passes people slip back into their true self. It is the same at work as in any relationship and while most of the time there isn’t a remarkably big difference, in a few instances it’s like night and day.

I’ve spoken on more than a few different occasions during my career with hiring managers who’ve related scary stories about someone they hired a couple months earlier, who just wasn’t working out. They claimed all was fine the first few weeks and then it was like a completely different person showed up for work one day. I’ve also spoken with employees who told me their boss, who welcomed them to the company, suddenly took on a whole different persona, as if there had been an invasion of the body snatchers or such. I find most of these issues originate from the interview process.

Rather than to trust they will be appealing as they are, there is an attempt in the minds of some to try to be not who they are, but instead the kind of person they think the company wants to see. So they morph into someone else to suit the situation. Bosses might do something similar if there is a great employee they want to hire, thus putting on an even better, albeit it false, best face. But the way things are during the honeymoon period (at work) are not always the way things stay and no one can fake it forever. The result is someone ends up feeling misled.

So to wrap up my point, when you interview, indeed, show your best face and put your best foot forward; do not try to be someone you’re not because inevitably you just can’t keep up that game forever and you’ll be miserable. I contend that if you are going to be damned, be damned for who you are, rather than someone you are not. If your best is not good enough for them, find another company and manager who values you for who you are and what you bring to the professional relationship. That honeymoon period is the best it’s going to be, so what happens when ardor cools and routine sets in; are you in it and committed for the duration?

In our professional lives, as in our personal lives, we seek to minimize unnecessary drama and especially that which is self-inflicted. When you interview, present yourself in the best possible manner, of course, just make sure it’s really you.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Whiners Need Not Apply

No, I did not say winners I meant whiners. Nothing kills the mood or your chances in a hiring process more than a whiny-butt baby complaining about how unfair the world is, and that you cannot seem to get a break. And yet it would surprise you as to how many people do this and never realize what they are doing to themselves by bad mouthing and criticizing current or former employers, while in the presence of potential future employers during an interview. For that matter, valuable time spent complaining in general terms is no better. 

It can be a slippery slope to use the opportunity of an interview to vent, even if the rapport with the interviewer is good. They may smile and let you ramble on for entertainment value but you won’t be getting a call back, regardless of how good you are at what you do. I can imagine some readers saying, “So what, I can’t tell the truth, everything’s supposed to be sugar-coasted? Well that ain’t me!” I am not suggesting you BS or withhold info, although I state it over and over again; it is not what you say but how you say it. 

Similarly, there is a tendency for some to share their personal problems. I know this may be politically incorrect because it seems everyone is expected to feel everyone else's pain, but applying for a job and then asking not only for the job but also for special flexibility tailored to your needs – sorry, but that’s not how it works. To make my point, here’s just one example of what I am talking about; I have actually heard a few people suggest that because they have a small child they feel they are somehow entitled to more flexibility or consideration, assuming others without small children should accommodate them, taking up their slack at work while they run to their child’s daycare, or whenever the little ones have a sniffle. Not so, there is a clear divide between the obligations of the employee and the company. If you think I am being cold hearted, accusations of “you just don’t understand” ring hollow with me. I was a single parent from the time my daughter was 3 1/2; been there and done that. 

So that is my overall message – leave your personal baggage at home, it has no place at the interview and does not belong in the workplace. We all have issues we deal with, however, your employer and co-workers have no obligation to carry or bear the burdens of individual employees or their extended families, sorry, but that is the cold, hard truth. And airing your problems in the hope that somehow there are pity points awarded on an interview scorecard will instead detract from any positive points you’ve earned for your qualifications and professional experience. 

You should also guard against efforts to encourage or goad you into speaking poorly about an employer for another reason. Occasionally, managers might have an alternative agenda, seeking an opportunity to conduct opposition research if you happen to work for a competitor. If you are interviewing with a competing organization, they may convey friendliness and make a comment, such as, “So I hear the person you work for can be difficult…” while they wait for you to take the bait. It's business, so keep it professional, don’t gossip or trash talk.  

There is one more and the most compelling reason for why it is never a good idea to speak poorly about a current or past employer. If I am an interviewer and I hear negative comments, I think to myself, “So this is the way they will be talking about me, later.” And there’s no way that can leave a good vibe. 

With all this said, if indeed there is a legitimate reason you do need real consideration beyond the basic job description, such as a handicap or other special issue, it is always better to make mention of it early in the process, in either the first or second interview but no later. 

As you pursue opportunities and seek to be the person whom they will select, focus on your talents, abilities and experience. Be able to demonstrate why you are a good choice and build rapport going forward with mutual respect and on a basis of shared risk and, no matter how tempting, leave the negative stuff outside the door. 

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