Sunday, February 28, 2016

Who Rather Than You

Seems everyone wants or expects someone or something else to get them a job. Apparently, the internet does that for us or their resume will do it for them or just get someone else to do it for you. Apparently, this is what everyone has come to expect. It must be true because I read it online, offered by “how-to” mavens, who claim they can help; all parroting the same talking points. They all say you need a better resume, and a bigger, better and wider online social media presence - that’s all it takes. Or, they come up with some silly and overused catch-phrase about self-branding - it’s all very gimmicky and so easy.
Sorry, but the age of online instant info that’s resulted in assumed instant gratification, does not yet extend to the jobs market – it doesn’t work that way no matter what anyone tells you. So what happens if you do these things and it still doesn’t work? Well, silly person (they’ll exclaim), it’s your fault, of course, because apparently your resume, online social networking or personal branding was not good enough. Actually, it’s just an example of garbage in, garbage out nonsense.
True, you do need a good resume and yes, an online social networking presence is helpful. But there is another component more critical and without which this other stuff is just meaningless fluff – that underutilized and neglected component is you. Finding and getting a good job is not like making instant coffee – you can’t just add hot water and stir, assuming a magical resume and social media image is going to do it for you. It is a silly premise, but people still want to believe it, to desperately hope and cling to it. Finding a good job has never been this easy and the internet actually is making it tougher, because it is so anonymous and soulless.
You are the most important component and yet, the last consideration in the minds of too many. Only you can help you to find a job opportunity, the other things are mere tools. Not trying to oversimplify it, but when I suggest that people improve their own abilities, they switch over to their programming about resumes and online activities and totally miss the point – they look at me like a dog that tilts its head because it doesn’t understand what it is hearing. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Reflexively these same people will react by arguing they know what they are doing – even as their efforts gain them zero real results. But it’s okay, really, because there are only so many good jobs. The fact that only a small number of people take the advice that I, and a few others offer, means the few who do get it elevate their chances for success above the others clinging desperately to their ineffectual placebos. By the way, what is the definition of insanity, hmm…?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Maybe isn’t an Answer

Often, when we are seeking something, we’re told maybe or some other conditional word like perhaps, possibly or potentially. Sometimes these words are appropriate and the topic under discussion is conditional, although they are also offered in lieu of a real and definitive answer. This is important during a dialogue and interactive conversation, when questions are posed and answers are reciprocated. So if your questions aren’t adequately answered, you owe it to yourself to press for a more complete and substantive response.
During an interview, two parties meet; one to present a job opportunity and the other to present their qualifications and ability to perform the job – pretty simple isn’t it? Yet everyone seems to want to complicate what should be a straight-forward process of evaluation and elimination - but I digress. If you are the job seeker, the interviewee, you likely cannot avoid answering or possibly hide behind a maybe, because it isn’t an answer. Well, the same goes for when you, as a job seeker, ask a question and you get a conditional non-answer. My point is, don’t just roll over and accept a maybe from the interviewer, press them for an answer. In fairness, perhaps they don’t have an answer, or they don’t want to answer and quite possibly they lack the authority to answer. For example: if you ask, “If I do a good job for your company, is there potential for a promotion?” and they reply by saying “maybe, that depends” the obvious fair and reasonable follow up is, “It depends on what?” and logically you should receive a substantive answer. 
However, it is surprising how many people fail to press for an answer and they leave an interview without that which they were seeking – a full understanding of the job they want to learn more about. 
When I lecture or conduct a seminar, part of what I present are basic negotiation techniques and (sales) closing skills applied to the interview process; applied in a manner to help applicants have more influence on the process they are a part of. One of the most basic rules of negotiating is that you should never give something without getting something (in return). Perhaps never is a strong word for some so instead you should try really, really, hard -- okay. I’m not going to go into it today but a job interview is a sales and selling process whether you think so or not – but, it is. And as such there is another undeniable truth in sales that when you want to close the deal and gain a commitment, a yes is a yes, a no is a no – and a maybe means no, today. 


Sunday, February 14, 2016

No Evidence, No Credibility

The good jobs, the ones we all strive for are fewer and harder to get than ever. This means, conversely, that you need to be better prepared than others, more on your game and at your best. If you do not recognize this, you obviously haven’t been in the current jobs market or you’re simply going through the motions with your fingers crossed, or, you think you’re extra special and a good job is going to find you. 
Regardless, any claim you make about your employment history, duties, accomplishments and anything you put on your resume needs to be verifiable. I am not talking about a job you had for three weeks that you selected not to put on your resume; this is trivia and unnecessary minutiae, in my view. But let me share an easy example. I read an article recently that suggests if you haven’t worked in a while, simply get some business cards made and award yourself with the business title of consultant and “voila”, problem solved and gap accounted for. Some people do, in fact, consult while between jobs or as an extension of their work, so this is not an indictment of those actually doing this kind of work and, why not, if they have expertise from which they can leverage or profit. However, I’m a long-experienced headhunter and I can identify and shoot down BS very quickly. I would simply ask them for examples of their clients and what they’ve done for them – in other words, show me the evidence. Trust me -- any experienced interviewer knows to do the same.
This goes back to the point about what I am writing today. Any claim you make on your resume must be backed up and provable; it validates your claims. And by doing so, by being prepared and ready with facts, figures, active references and/or reference letters, you will have more confidence. Combined, these things will set you apart from most people, who either cannot or don’t bother to take the interview process as seriously. Oddly, for such a serious endeavor the vast majority are doing nearly nothing except sending resumes and crossing their fingers. Not everyone is a top-ranked sales person, employee of the month, or an award winner – but, you don’t have to be. In reality it doesn’t take too much effort to separate yourself from the crowd. Sometimes the difference between mediocrity and excellence is marked by small things, which taken together make a difference; therefore, just be prepared so that whatever claim you make can stand up to scrutiny.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Interview “NEVERS”

There are some things you should never do during an interview, yet I see people willingly doing or saying the dumbest things during an interview process. While I can think of a long list of suggestions of what you should do, let me suggest some of the most basic and potentially damaging things you should never do during an interview.

Never go to an interview without having done some research or without having at least a basic understanding of the company or organization. With the internet as a resource, there’s no excuse for not being prepared and, in almost every interview situation, you will be asked either what you know about the company or what it is about the company that interests you.

Never assume that you are the only person or candidate being considered for a particular position. You are among others seeking the same job, no matter how good you think you might be. Confidence is fine but expectation and an air of entitlement are the fastest ways to eliminate yourself from the process. Ironically, the result could be that you’re the most qualified person who didn’t get the job.

Never speak badly or in a derogatory tone about your past employers, the company for which you most recently worked, or other persons with whom you have worked. It’s never favorably looked upon. It isn’t the type of information that will impress or earn you a new opportunity. Getting personal or complaining serves no purpose and will be more likely be regarded as excuses and offsets any good points you might otherwise make. You’ll be demonstrating why you are the wrong person for the job. It may rightfully lead the interviewer to conclude that if you speak that way about others with whom you’ve worked, then you’re likely to do the same later about the job for which you’re currently applying. Reasons for departing a previous job should be described professionally, without getting personal.

Never dump your personal problems on an interviewer. They do not have one ounce of interest or responsibility for any of your personal issues. When you go to an interview, leave your personal problems at the door. If a subject of this nature comes up, keep your responses to a minimum and focus instead on the job, your qualifications and abilities.

Never assume that the final interview, or any interview for that matter, is just a formality and you already have the job. There is no such thing as a rubber stamp interview. Until you sign a written offer you are not finished demonstrating why the job should be yours. Until you sign the job offer or contract there are no unimportant steps. I have known many people who ruined their chances and blew it on the final step of the process.

The dumbest wounds are those that are self-inflicted.