Every conversation is an interview

Our office was small, 5 desks. We always wear office casual. Our interview style is casual. We ask a lot of tough questions, but we try our best to put candidates at ease.

A candidate was making some rather crude remarks about former coworkers. He shoveled up some really inappropriate dirt on some characters he knew. Finally he was told, “Saying things like that in an interview is going to keep everyone from wanting to have anything to do with you.”

He replied, “But this isn’t an interview.”

His mistake

You are in an interview anytime you talk with someone who can help you get a job. Use your interview manners when you talk to friends, acquaintances, recruiters, people in Human Resources and when you talk to a company President. Your friend who knows a manager in another company is interviewing you when you ask him to submit your resume. A recruiter is always interviewing people.

Some interviewers, like recruiters, require more in-depth information than others. Give it to them, but don’t show hatred. Don’t viciously gossip.

That doesn’t mean you should hide things, it means you should get over them. Let them go. Forgive. Forget. At the very least stop bringing horrible things up. 

A way to measure what to say

The measure of what you should say now, is what you imagine yourself saying about the situation in 5 or 10 years.

When you are looking for a job in 5 or 10 years you will not say much about the SOB’s at your last job. They won’t be worth the time. You may have to say why you left, but it will only take 20 seconds. 

When you paint someone with a hateful brush, you expose your hate. Your hatred, loathing or disgust is never pretty. Those who see it will always wonder when you will say the same things about them. A rabid vicious dog is never welcome in any neighborhood. So, why would someone want you, a vengeful, spiteful, nasty mouthed person, working on their team? 

Get on with your life. Forgive, forget. Concentrate on the good things you do. Remember, you are always in an interview.

Something to do today

Think about the negatives that come out of your mouth in an interview. Figure out a way to clinically describe bad things that happened without emotion. Figure out how to do it in 20 seconds. 

Imitate to succeed

An ex-NFL football player told me how he got to the big league. He chose a player he wanted to be just like. Then he learned to hold his hands just like him. He placed his feet just like his hero. He ran like his hero. He exercised like his hero. He did everything he could to play football just like his hero. He started in 9th grade football and continued through college. He made it into the NFL. 

When I met him in Denver, he was a couple of years into a new career selling real estate. He was doing the same thing. He picked one of the best real estate salesmen in Denver and was doing exactly what the new hero did. Once again he was becoming a superstar.

There’s a hint there. Find someone who is successful at what you want to do. Become like them. If they do something, you do it.

One more thing. Watch very carefully what your hero does NOT do. What do they avoid? What do they refuse to do? Too many people try to become a success doing the things that a successful person refuses to do. 

If you want to be a millionaire, I suggest you read one or two books by Thomas Stanley. The Millionaire Next Door is a bunch of stories about how millionaires became millionaires. The Millionaire Mind has some stories, but also takes a statistical approach. It tells what first generation millionaires do, as a group, to get their money.

Better yet, find a millionaire to personally learn from.

Do you want to be a Partner, CEO, CFO, CIO, or Project Manager? Find the best example you can, and do everything the way they do. Invite them to lunch. Ask them what they would do in your shoes. Become just like them at work.

Hero, mentor, example. Find one so you can become one.

Something to do today

Find your mentor and example. Learn to work just like they do.

Turn your weakness into a strength to get the job

What is one of your weaknesses?

The candidate gave one weakness. He was prepared for that question.

The interviewer paused and frowned. He couldn’t remember what he had planned for the next question.

The candidate got nervous. Why did the interviewer pause? He blurted out another weakness. This one was a little more serious. He hadn’t prepared to offer more than one weakness. 

This caught the interviewer so off guard that he blinked a couple of times and furrowed his brow. 

The candidate couldn’t hold back. There was another weakness. 

The candidate fell apart. He added even more weaknesses. He talked himself out of a job.

Be prepared to talk about one weakness. For good measure, make it something that could be a strength, but that you take too far. It could be working late or being a perfectionist. Tell how you correct the weakness.

Then shut up.

Never give more than one weakness. Otherwise YOU will ruin your chance.

Something to do today

Prepare for the question, “What is one of your weaknesses.” Make sure you also include in your answer how you compensate for that weakness..

Turn a bad career into a good one

Tim tells me why he has to leave his current company every couple of months. Then he says he has to stay. Leadership is lacking. The work ethic stinks. His office only stays alive because it is propped up by corporate headquarters. He and his boss both know what is wrong. Tim can’t fix it and the boss won’t fix it. 

Tim does have a good reason to stay. He had five jobs in four years before he took this job. He wants to make it to the two or even three year mark here to clear up his resume. If the office lasts that long without being closed, he will stay.

More important than collecting years of service, he is collecting accomplishments. Tim can prove he produces 2/3 of the output at his office of 6 people. He has proof that his occasional training of coworkers has had a deep impact. Tim has numbers. Tim has projects and accomplishments. Those numbers look even better because of his unproductive coworkers.

This is not a race away from his old job. Tim is slowly rowing away from the rocks in his career. He may need a new job tomorrow or in two years. There is no telling how long corporate will suffer losses cheerfully. So he is preparing to leave. 

If you are in a dead end job, use it as a lifeboat to your next job. Be the most important person in your office. Keep track of exactly how good you are. Slowly row away from the rocks in your lifeboat job.

Something to do today

Whether you plan on it or not, your current job is the boat you are in until your next job. Collect accomplishments, projects and cheerful statistics.

Write those accomplishments in your job journal. Give a list of them to your manager. That is the only way to be sure he notices what you do.

Keep your job without getting promoted

Not everyone wants to get promoted. I knew an accountant who was approaching retirement who had done nothing but the lowest level accounting positions since he’d gotten out of college. When I offered him a promotion, he laughed and said “I’ve been doing exactly what I wanted for the last 40 years. I don’t want a change.” 

Some businesses have an “up or out” style of promotion. Get passed up for a few promotions and you may find yourself out of a job.

How do you get respect and a chance to keep a job that people usually get promoted out of?

Wrong ways that keep you from getting that promotion

Keep dice in your drawer.  Whenever your boss asks for a decision, roll the dice.  Pull out a chart and run your finger down the rows.  Then give the correct answer, not the one from the chart.  That will keep you from getting promoted, even if it only LOOKS like you’re using the dice to find a solution.  Of course you may lose credibility with your boss, but not all plans are perfect.

That’s a terrible idea. Don’t do it. 

The right way to prevent getting promoted

You can keep from getting pushed out if you don’t want a promotion.  First of all, let your boss know you love your job and don’t want a promotion.  

Next, don’t get stuck in place.  You should become the company’s greatest mentor. You can be a mentor as a technician, manager, HR specialist or assembly line worker. Just help others with their careers. 

Keep an eye out for complainers and whiners.  Avoid them.  There is usually very little you can do for them.  Look for people who sincerely want to advance.  Find the diamonds in the rough.  These are people who put in extra work, take night classes and are always helping others.  Find the one or two shining examples in the workforce and help them advance.  

Often the biggest thing you can do is to recommend one of your diamonds for a project.  Then help them to see the critical path for the project and follow it.  Give them encouragement along the way.   Make sure they know where the levers of power are.  They need to know who really makes things happen in the company.

As a person who doesn’t want a promotion, you need to help the people blocked by your permanence.  Help them move up beside you or to hop over you.  If you get a reputation for developing leaders, you will never be laid off.  Good companies covet good leaders.

Something to do today

You should be developing leaders whether you want to stay where you are or not.  In your job journal write down the names of the top one or two candidates for promotion in your group.  Help them out.  Be a mentor even if you aren’t above them

How to get your boss’s job

You have to kill your boss, or the senior technician to get a promotion. They have the job you want and are not leaving. They don’t want a promotion. They are fat and happy. They are like a big wad of hair and grease in the sink trap. They clog up the career track for everyone else. So, where is the Drano? How do you get them out of your way?

First be sure they are the biggest problem. It is embarrassing when you have complained for 5 years about your boss preventing you from getting a promotion, only to have him leave and a coworker is promoted in his place. 

You need to have a list of standout accomplishments that prove you are perfect for the job you want. That way you can get the job in your current company OR the next one. 

Become the obvious candidate. Ask your boss to help you get promoted. Also ask HR (Human Resources) and your boss’s boss. Find someone who will champion your cause and be your mentor. A mentor helps you prepare to advance and gives you visibility outside your team. Your mentor will help you to find high visibility assignments where you can prove your worth.

In a job journal write a weekly list of your accomplishments and projects. Use that list in your annual reviews. Also submit a weekly, monthly and quarterly list of accomplishments to your boss. Make sure he knows how much you contribute.

You can also look for a new job. If you have a list of undeniable accomplishments you will be a good hire for another company. 

The same things that prepare you for a promotion in your company will make you a better job candidate.

Something to do today

Write down your career goals. It doesn’t matter if they change tomorrow. Know where you want to go today.

Patience gets you paid what you’re worth.

Henry accepted 30% more salary for a job than he was initially offered. Acme Corp. ended up paying 30% more. (Yes, the story is true, the names are changed.) Five factors affected it. I mentioned four of them yesterday.

The five factors are:

  • The company’s finances 
  • The other people available for the job 
  • The resume 
  • The interview 
  • Patience

Here’s how it happened.

Acme is doing well financially. Unfortunately finding highly skilled people for the job is difficult. Mediocre people earn Acme half the profit that a highly skilled person earns them. The resume proved that Henry was one of the top people in the country. The interview confirmed it. The initial offer was flat out rejected by Henry. Acme looked around for weeks and couldn’t find anyone of that caliber. In the meantime Acme was being hurt by waiting to fill the position. Acme and Henry got together again and came to an agreement.

A very important step was proving how much Henry was worth. First we used the resume, then the interview. The resume gave absolute, ironclad, irrefutable proof that Henry was one of the best in the country. We gave verifiable production numbers as well as comparisons to everyone else in his old company. 

In the interview the figures were repeated. Henry also interviews extremely well.

Last of all, Henry rejected a low offer. He waited without being offended. After a few weeks it became obvious the company made a mistake. Henry got his offer at a number he deserved.

You need to make a list of things you have accomplished that prove how much you can be worth to your next company. If you absolutely prove you will be worth twice what anyone else is, you too will get a lot more money. 

The next article is about how to radically increase your interview effectiveness. I’ll give you three things you can do to prepare for interviews. Things that could get you 10% more money.

Something to do today

Can you prove how much you are worth to your company? How many customers did you bring in or save? How much profit did you generate? How much money did you save the company? 

Make a list.

What the companies are really willing to pay you

You have interviewed with five people at the company. Your references have been checked. The background and drug checks came in clean. Your recruiter has more negotiating skills in his pinky than the whole management chain in that company put together. Now to see how much money you will be paid for the job. 

There is an upper limit you won’t get past. It may be the first offer you hear. It may be reached after a week of haggling. There absolutely is an upper limit. The best negotiator cannot get you more money than that limit. That limit was more than 50% more than the listed salary range for one position I’ve seen. But there is still a limit.

What are the factors that set the limit?

  • The company’s finances
  • The other people available for the job
  • Your resume
  • Your interview

That’s it. The first two are very complex, but you can’t do anything about them. The last two are closely related. Your resume and your interview work together to show possibilities. They show how you might affect company finances. They allow you to be compared to those other people.

The next two blog posts will deal with what information you need to get to your future bosses, and how to radically increase your interview effectiveness. They are about how to get that 10% more.

Something to do today

Make a list of the topics covered in your last job interview. Tomorrow we’ll see if you covered the most important information.

Get your resume read

I read The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, the abridged Reader’s Digest version. It was fantastic. I liked it so much I started reading the original by Victor Hugo. It was torture. Every building in Paris was carefully described. A walk down a street was as long as a chapter. I couldn’t finish it. 

Like Reader’s Digest did, you have to simplify your resume according to your simple plan. Your resume plan should simply be – GET A PHONE CALL.

Get a Phone Call

Make getting a phone call the point of your resume. Now remove the stuff from your resume that won’t get you a phone call. You need to entice people to call you by giving them exciting information, and NOT fully explaining it. Then they have to call you.

If you set out to simplify your resume without a simple plan, you will fail. You have to cut out the things that don’t apply to the plan you are pursuing. You may end up with three simple resumes. That’s fine. Each resume should be simplified so that it applies to one single objective and the single plan to GET A PHONE CALL.

For someone living before photographs, a description of Paris was thrilling. For someone who has been there and can see pictures of it on the internet, descriptions of Paris are chloroform in print. Victor Hugo decided on a simple plan: have a good plot, and double sales by having great descriptions. He knew his audience. He sold a lot of books to his target audience.

The same thing goes for the person who wants to be a manager. He’d better have a manager’s resume. If the same person applies for a job as a technician he needs to leave out all the manager stuff. Complexity gets confusing and discouraging to the reader… and therefore gets your resume deleted. If you want to be a hands-on manager, then show how you have done that in the past. That is actually a simple plan like Victor Hugo with plot and descriptions.

Simplify your plan, then simplify your resume. You will get a phone call.

Something to do today

Are you applying for several different kinds of jobs?

Split your resume into several distinct resumes. One simple resume for each job.

Simplify your resume into a 6 word career objective

You will find a job a lot quicker if you simplify your career objective and your resume. Simplicity will get you a phone call.

Career objectives are generally considered outdated, but some folks still include them. If you’re going to include a career objective, use it to explain what is unusual about what sort of position you’re looking for. 

Computer, Resume, Office, Manager

How a simple plan leads to success in business

Fedex has a very simple business plan.  They get packages anywhere the next day.  Google is incredibly simple.  They help people find stuff on the internet.  Microsoft started out with a simple concept.  Make personal computers work for people.  

Just like business plans, first you have to simplify your career plans.  What do you want to do, achieve or become? 

Make your career objective a 6 word sentence

I rarely read more than 6 words of the “objective” portion of a resume.  I don’t have time to read that you want to work in a team, grow, contribute, and add to the bottom line.  Who doesn’t want those things?  

Can you write your career objective in 6 words?  Would you dare put that on your resume?

Most resume screeners and managers decide whether to read career objectives based on the first few words.  Why not put your real objective there? 6 words.

Something to do today

What do you want in a job that’s different? Put that in as few words as possible in your objective.