Category Archives: Interviews

How to connect your job search

Google puts first things first. They figured out how to rank pages by how they are connected. They put the page that will be the most useful to you at the top of your list. That saved so much time that people abandoned the other search engines. 

Connecting web pages is a simple concept. A web page links to my website. Another site links to that first web page. Now, all three are connected.  

There are simple and complex strategies to being ranked highly by Google. All of them are forms of networking. The two most common strategies are: 1) you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and 2) become the expert.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours

You offer to list their web page on yours if they list your web page on theirs. That way you both get a lot of recognition.

It works in job hunting, too. Although it’s not as simple as with websites, the basic idea is to help as many people as you can, and they will help you. 

Getting articles published in trade journals is one example. There are literally thousands of local, state, regional and national associations and publications that need authors. Call up one and tell them you want to write an article. Local newsletters are especially useful. If you do a great job, they’ll publish it. The people who get those newsletters will then consider you an expert. They may just call you to help them with a question. They may offer you a job.

If you have something interesting to say, and already know you are a good speaker, contact your chamber of commerce and get on their speaker list. If you would like to be a great speaker, contact Toastmasters. I know there is a club near you. Go to https://www.toastmasters.org/. They are the best speaker trainers in the country.

Become the expert

When you are the expert, everyone seeks to be connected to you. You can get to be known as an expert by getting certifications or doing consulting work. 

Certifications are available for almost every field: sales, HR, accounting, real estate management, security, law, computers, etc. Often hirers search resume databases for the certifications and assume a good person will be attached to them.

Consulting work can really mean just getting a temporary job in the field. If you are unemployed, you have little to lose. Contact all the temporary staffing agencies and ask them if they place people with your skills on temp jobs as well as permanent ones. If they don’t, ask them who does. I was surprised that there is a market for temporary doctors in Antarctica, temporary electrical linemen in Alaska, and temporary environmentalists in Butte, Montana.

Figure out how to get connected to as many people as possible. It is a Google job search method that gets you in front of the competition. It could eliminate all your competition. 

Something to do today

Make a list of ways other people have connected to you in your job, even people who you might not have worked with directly. Track down how they got connected to you. Think of ways you can use that to connect with more people.

Are you buying a hirer’s attention?

Google is one of the most outrageously priced stocks in the market today. They give away services that competitors charge an arm and a leg for, and they make a profit. Google is the best company in the world that is in the attention business. If you are looking for a job or a promotion, you are in the attention business too.

Google started out as a search engine. It was a simple catalog. Then the owners started selling simple ads, but in a different way. That difference changed the internet. Macbook, Laptop, Google, Display, Screen

Go out and Google “jobs”. Everything you see on that first page is a response to your attention. There are a few ads at the top and to the right of your results. The results you see on the first page were also paid for by savvy marketers. Your interest and attention to “jobs” is a valuable commodity. Google is in the business of finding out what you will pay attention to, and serving it up with the least fuss and the most profitability. Google finds out what interests you and then shows you ads you really want to see. Their ads solve your problems. 

Now the scary part. Can anyone find you? My query about “jobs” produced 5,320,000,000 hits this morning. Even Google is selective about the information they present to me. They sell more by presenting less information. That’s why there is a first page of Google.

Let’s cut down the competition. Google “biomechanical engineer” in quotes and you get 69,600 hits, and a lot of the ads disappear. Google your name inside quote marks. I got 18,800 hits on “Bryan Dilts” because I am a blogger and businessman. Can anyone find you? Google is expert at finding what interests me and presenting the most important information in the first page. People can find me, can they find you?.

This is why you are in the attention business. To get a job, you have to get a hiring manager’s attention. You have to be at the top of his employee search. There is a huge amount of competition for his attention. He has to stop and look at you as a person. He has to call you, bring you in for an interview, and introduce you to the team. Then he has to decide to stake his career on hiring you. He has to pay a lot of attention to you. Are you doing what is necessary to be at the top of his search?

The next few days are about getting the attention of people who will hire you. Google is going to play a big part in the discussion, so go out and have some fun with it.

Something to do today

Cut a paragraph or phrase out of your resume and Google it. Do the same with a job ad. Have some fun.

Every candidate could use a bit of polish

Every few years a hiker in the United States finds a large raw diamond. Usually it was carried down by glaciers from Canada when sheet ice covered the north.  A raw diamond is interesting, but not exciting.  To reach its true value that stone must be turned over to an expert.  It will have scores of facets polished into it until it catches the light and sparkles with fire.  It is the expert polishing that makes people cherish diamonds.  Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way for long after they are discovered.

My old partner got a Thank You note from a candidate she first placed 20 years ago.  She convinced a bank to take a chance on him.  He has worked his way up the corporate ladder and gotten promotion after promotion.  He was a diamond in the rough.

At the bank he first decided to stand out less while working more.  He watched closely how others dressed and acted.  How did they succeed with sales and politics?  Banks are calm on the outside, but full of opportunity and excitement behind the façade. Mentors appeared as he looked for them.  Some were his managers, some were higher up or lateral to him.  They gave him advice and helped him acquire polish.  Over the years he kept on polishing new shining facets into his skills and character. He learned management and leadership.  He figured out ways to fix problems instead of just enduring them.  Instead of being noticed for his rough exterior, he now stands out for his ability to make things happen and his polish.

If you get a job based on being a diamond in the rough you will only progress a little if you don’t acquire some polish.  You may have to get rid of the nose stud or the blue jeans you always wear.  It may be your technical skills that need work.  Effective management and leadership abilities need training and practice.  Look for mentors, people above you who can lift you up.  Move away from the group that is stuck in a rut.  Find the stars that are rising and do what they do.  Learn constantly.  

You can tell a human diamond in the rough from an average person.  If you truly are a diamond in the rough, you will embrace change.  You will actively seek polish and improvement.

 Something to do Today

Where can you polish up your skills? Write ideas down and think of ways to polish up on those skills.

Everyone judges a book by it’s cover

A woman teaching my daughters held up a copy of a magazine with scantily dressed women on the cover. She asked, “What do you expect to find inside?” The answer was, “Pictures and articles about sexy dressing and attracting men.” 

She handed the magazine to a girl and said, “Open it and read from any page.” Inside those covers was a religious magazine. The teacher made the comment, “If you dress on the outside like the women on the cover of this magazine, no one will bother to find out that inside you are a woman of character. They won’t even consider it a possibility.”

In the last article I wrote that perception really is everything. How you are perceived is always critical, especially to yourself. Over time your character is altered by all the little things you do. At first you act to give an impression, but eventually you act from the bone deep character you have developed while impressing others. 

Benjamin Franklin was brought up short one day when he realized he had developed a less than brilliant character. He was a smart, hard working man, and becoming successful. He had noticed that some people would cross the street to the other side when they saw him coming. He realized he had a poor reputation in many things. In his autobiography he describes his plan to improve his character. The simple device he used thrust him forward to prominence in the fields of writing, science, diplomacy and politics. 

As Benjamin Franklin started working on his character he wrote, “I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.” He found that if he pretended to have a virtue long enough, he developed it as a part of his character.

I strongly recommend reading and re-reading Benjamin Franklin’s short autobiography.

Become the person you would admire.

Something to do today

What’s on your cover?

Their perception will change your career

There are 10 extremely ripped bodybuilders making $1,000,000 a year teaching others to exercise. Each year a hundred men and women get PhD’s in exercise physiology and they will only become high school gym teachers. The guys making the big money work hard every day on how the world sees them. Perception really is everything in their world.

Actors and Actresses? They have personal trainers, chefs and makeup artists who make more than most business executives. They won’t leave their house without 2 hours of working on how you and I will perceive them. Perception is everything to them.

Glasses, Reading Glasses, Spectacles, Eye Wear, Reading

In every job there are people who, “Don’t care what others think.” They are rarely the best paid person in the shop. The ones who do care about “what others think” either succeed wonderfully or alienate others beyond belief. The ones who succeed make sure their bosses know what they have accomplished and what their team did. The ones who fail tried to grab all the credit for everyone’s work, not just their own. They fail because the perception becomes that they are conniving, scheming and untrustworthy.

Who do you respect? Did they earn that honor? If you respect a computer programmer because he “never sold out”, hasn’t he sold that perception? A musician who is famous for “never going commercial” cultivated that precise image. They all care for their image as carefully as Hulk Hogan of pro-wrestling fame. A great salesman who never counts his commissions carefully implants that perception in his customers. That is what he sells: perception of himself as only interested in the customer’s success.

Figure out how you want to be perceived. Be that person. Prove to your boss that you are that person with weekly reports that show it. That same proof can be applied to your resume. Show what you have caused to happen in the past and you’ll get the chance to do more in your next job. Perception will be reality. 

Something to do today

Ask a coworker or an ex-coworker how they perceive you. How do you want people to perceive you? What can you do to attain that new image? 

Everyone wants a better bargain

Desert, Drought, Landscape, Sand, Tree, Nature

Buzzards circle overhead. Struggling across the desert mile after mile, a hiring manager finally can walk no further. He starts to crawl. A candidate drives up in a jeep with 100 gallons of water. He offers the hiring manager a ride to a hotel and all the water he can drink if he’ll split the cost of gas. The hiring manager says, “I’ll only pay you for the water. You are going that direction anyway.” The candidate shakes his head and drives off.

Everyone wants a bargain. It is just a fact of life that candidates want more money and hiring managers want to pay less. Your lifestyle is affected if you earn less. Thus is the lifestyle of the hiring manager. Managers are evaluated based on overhead. Even if they are rewarded on output, they want to cut overhead. It is their nature.

There is no magic chart that tells what you should be paid as an employee. I know one programmer who got a 40% raise when he finally realized he was worth more. He went to his manager and said, “Everyone else on my team is earning $50,000 per year. I’m better than most. Why am I earning so little?” What bothers me the most is that the manager and the employee felt good about the raise. How about a bonus to make up for the previous years? 

Even if you are the only person in the country who can save his company, the owner is going to look for a bargain. They just do. In the same vein, you will want a raise immediately after finishing training the company pays for. For some reason, a man dying of thirst still wants a bargain on a bottle of water. That’s why you have to be worth 10 times as much to be paid 2 or 3 times as much. 

Something To Do Today

Where have you been out-bargained in your job search? What can you change about you, to be a better bargain?

You have to prove you are worth more than you are being paid

“I am earning $115,000 per year. But I don’t want to be a food scientist anymore. I want to be a Java programmer. I’d like to earn about the same salary, but I’d consider less. Maybe $80,000 per year. I also want to move to Pennsylvania. I don’t like Texas. I almost got a PhD degree so I am sure someone will want me. Can you find me a job?”

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At that time Java programmers with 2 years experience were earning $60,000 per year. They had no Java experience. They were studying it. Their goal was to get certified and then move to their new career. Their degree was unrelated to programming. Dropping from $115,000 per year to $80,000 per year seemed to them to be a sure way to interest an employer. I had to let them know that they weren’t worth anywhere near that as a programmer. 

Their problem was that they wanted to be hired at top dollar before they had a track record. And, yes, he did get hired. Just not at those terms. They realized the reality of the situation.

No employer can stay in business when they overpaid their employees. If their expenses are high, they have to charge more. Then their competitors take all their customers away. No customers, no business, no jobs. 

In order to be hired you have to be the best bargain of all the people who apply. You need to have proof that you will do more excellent work for less money than anyone else. That doesn’t mean you have to be the lowest paid. You have to be the best bargain.

A great salesperson will be paid three times what a mediocre one is. Yet, everyone wants a great salesperson and will pay for them. You may pay them three times as much, but they bring in 10 times the profit. That’s because high volume cuts your overhead costs. Great salesmen are worth a lot more. Did you notice the ugly fact that great salesmen are worth 10 times more, but are only paid 3 times more?

What about network technicians? If you can improve computer response time by ½ second per entry by 1000 clerks, you can save $100,000 per year for your company. If you can keep the computers of 1000 clerks from going down for 10 minutes each week, you are saving the company 166 man hours per week. That will allow them to save the wages of 4 clerks. A great network technician is worth much more than the one who allows network problems to continue. The ugly fact is that a great network technician is only paid 2 or 3 times what a barely acceptable one is paid, yet his contribution is 10 times greater.

You need to document what makes you great. Present it to your boss when you do it. When you are looking for a job, put dollars produced and saved in your resume. If you prove you are worth more than you are being paid, there will be less resistance to paying you more. Prove you are worth ten times more, then accept wages two or three times higher. It’s ugly, but that’s the way it works. 

Something To Do Today

Think about what work you have done over the last week or two. What are a few things that can make you worth 10 times more?

You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip

A while ago I talked to a very good programmer whose skills are hopelessly out of date. She was hoping to get a job as an intern so she could upgrade her skills. She has only one problem in her job search.

Only antique collectors say, “I like things that are outdated, frustrating, inefficient and dangerous.”

Train, Railway, Old, Abandoned, Outdated

Luckily she knew she might only be hired as an intern. Some people think that they should be hired as rocket scientists even though they have outdated skills. I have people severely infected with archaic abilities approach me every week. They freely admit their problem and then tell me they deserve a great job, a raise and happiness without their own effort.

Bosses want to hire the best people they can. They aren’t social workers. Some companies train the people they hire, but they are going to try and hire the best worker who needs the least training. It is pure common sense; they hire the best person.

If you are a master of buggy whip technology, don’t expect a job at NASA. There will always be a few buggy whip makers scraping by, but you won’t get rich working for them. Invest in yourself. Get the updated skills you need to be employable. Get out of the buggy whip age and into the computer age. Leave the stone arrowhead tools behind and become an engineer. Learn to be an expert.

That means YOU need to invest in yourself. It may be as simple as asking your boss for training. More likely YOU will have to study on your own. Read a new technical, sales or business book each month. Subscribe to journals and websites about what you do. There are community and online colleges that you can use to get a degree or advanced training. 

You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip, but with time and patience you can turn a mulberry leaf into a silk purse. It takes specialized knowledge and a silkworm. Learn the specialized knowledge you need for your job. Go make a silk purse.

Something To Do Today

Think about what skills YOU have that are outdated. What can you do to update those skills or replace them?

Measure and beat your competition to the job

James Bond, 007, has the best enemies. They are ruthless, evil and totally bad. When he “accidentally” kills one, you cheer. 

In your job search you don’t have to kill or destroy your opponents. All you have to do is get rid of them. It is a very simple process. The people competing against you must be known, measured, and either beaten, eliminated or enticed elsewhere.

Fight, Fight Club, Boxing, Sport, Punch
  • Known

Who else is applying for the job you want? Is it college graduates, high school kids or guys who have been in that industry for 20 years? You have to know how they are like you and how they are different. If you are exactly like everyone else, you won’t be noticed. If you don’t fit in at all, they probably won’t hire you either. If you don’t know who is applying, call up the company or recruiter and ask.

  • Measured

I call and ask why the people applying for a job are not getting hired. I ask HR and hiring managers exactly what skills and traits they are having trouble finding. You can certainly call HR or a recruiter and ask. They can’t fire you. You don’t even work there yet. You can also see if you can find old ads for the same job. Look at what has changed from the old ad. They are probably emphasizing the hardest to find traits in newer ads. Another possibility is to just think a bit. What are the hardest to find skills they are asking for? Do you have any of those skills?

  • Beaten

Since you know and have measured your competition, beat them flat out if you can. Emphasize your strongest qualifications. Tell them how well you can do the job. Prove you have done similar things in the past. Say what is different about you. Mention in passing how you have all the traits every other applicant has, but do something to stand out.

  • Eliminated

I prefer to eliminate the competition entirely. The best way to do that is to have someone tell the manager to call you without even presenting a resume. Okay, you may have to give them a resume to hand to the boss. Either way you can eliminate the competition by leapfrogging the qualification process. Get in front of the hiring manager before he sees anyone else. He may decide it isn’t worth his time to look any farther than you. 

  • Enticed elsewhere

Some jobs and companies are so wonderful everyone is applying for them. If you know you can’t beat the great masses of people, you are going to have to go somewhere else. Look for a job where the masses of people are not applying. It may be in a very small company. Ask everyone you know, “Who needs someone with [my skill]? The masses are enticed elsewhere. They see high profile jobs. You will be looking for the less obvious openings. Become an expert in locating companies that could use your skills, but aren’t widely known.

Your competition is easier to get rid of once they are known and measured. Then they can either be beaten, eliminated or enticed elsewhere.

Something To Do Today

Write in your job journal about what is unique that you’ve accomplished in the past. It needs to sound exceptional. 

Exploit your “excuses” for your advantage

You are not trying to get the job of “minion” or “muscle”. Don’t pretend that exploiting your life experience is wrong. It is not the same as mugging someone in a back alley. The real reason most people don’t want to exploit their advantages is that they “want to stand on their own two feet”. It is a lovely macho phrase that means very little. Our society, families and personal lives all rest on the shoulders of those who came before us. Admit that no matter what you do, others have helped you. Get on with using the advantages that parents, teachers, friends, clergy and God have given you. 

Here are some excuses people use and reasons to exploit them for your advantage.

  • I will not exploit my family connections to get a job.

Acorns don’t fall far from the tree. Employers need reliable hires. Getting someone from a good family is a much better bet than hiring a complete stranger. If they can’t hire you, but they suggest someone else hire you, they get brownie points from that other person. They win as much as you do.

  • My friends are too close to my heart for me to ask them for help.

If your friends object to helping you get a job, they don’t trust you with THEIR reputation. If you are going to let them down, you are not a friend. If they trust you and you will follow through, helping is what builds friendships.

  • I refuse to manipulate their emotions.

People always hire based on emotion. Always. Even if no one talks to you and they only give you a paper test, they hire on emotion. Paper tests are put together based on what people FEEL will give them the best employee. Your pay will be based on emotion – how well they FEEL you will do. Promotions are based on emotion – how do they FEEL you will do in the new job. Don’t be dishonest. Don’t be an actor. Tell the truth simply. The emotions behind the truth will help you Use them.

  • Inviting them to lunch is brown nosing and sucking up.

Actually it is called networking. In many companies senior partners and executives can be fired for not having lunch with enough different people. They are evaluated on lunch. Literally.

  • I won’t tell them I left because I was sick. I don’t want their sympathy.

You are fine now and it is relevant to understand your resume. If it will substantially help you get the job, tell them. Talk to a couple of job experts and get their opinion. If it will help, exploit it. 

  • I want the job, but I don’t feel right pressing them to choose me

They want to hire the person with the best attitude. They want the person who will work the hardest. They want someone who they can promote. They want someone who is excited. They want to hire the hungriest person. How can they tell that about you unless you keep asking them, “When will you decide?”, and, “When can I start?”

  • It is greedy asking for more money.

If the offer is very good, take it. Don’t argue. Otherwise, ask for more money. If you really are worth it, get the money. If they pay you more, you will be less likely to leave for another job because of more pay. They win too.

  • Taking this job to get experience, when I plan to leave later, is wrong.

Hiring and training you does cost money. Companies that invest that money have already figured out how to profit from it. They will either give you a raise and promotion, or expect you to leave. They will make money. You won’t cost them a thing.

  • I’m a veteran, but it is not fair to use that to get a job.

The leadership, teamwork, calmness under fire, discipline and fortitude veterans develop is uncommon. Bring it up.

Your life experience makes a difference. Whatever that experience is. You need to use it and exploit it.

Something To Do Today

Think of these “excuses”. If there are any that you use, how can you use it to your advantage?