Category Archives: Interviews

The right words to end an interview

I once had a candidate end an interview with “How soon can I take my vacation days?”. Unsurprisingly, that did not end well. The CEO was already planning on hiring him. That candidate didn’t get the job.

When you end your interview with the wrong words, your interviewer often says, “They didn’t want the job. They never really expressed an interest in it. So we are offering the job to someone else.”

I rarely hear this about my candidates because I tell them exactly what they should say right before they leave. It should always be a variation of, “I want this job.”

Examples

“This is the kind of company and job I thrive in. I think we could work well together. Can we set up the next step in the interview process right now?”

“I have really enjoyed talking with you. Thank you for interviewing me. The job is something I would definitely like to do. Based on everything you have learned about me so far, is there any reason you would NOT hire me for the job?”

“I would like to work here. I enjoyed meeting the team. I can do an outstanding job here and I really want to go to work for you. Can we set up a time for our next meeting right now?”

“This is a great job. I would love to work with you. Can I have the job?”

“This is a great job in a great company. When can I start?”

If it all seems a little too gutsy to you, then go back and read the second paragraph. 

I only occasionally hear, “He didn’t want it enough”, from employers. That is when my candidates do not ask for the job.

Something to do today

Do you have a list of all the jobs you have applied for and the people you have talked to? That is another good list to keep in your job journal.

Prove your worth on your resume

The first paragraph of most resumes states: I am hard working, a team player, a great contributor, an original thinker and will make you money. 

In an interview every candidate makes the same assertion.

Why do so few people prove it?

I used to work with a salesperson in a national company. She was in the top 5 salespeople of her company. She never told me. She didn’t put it on her resume. Her friend finally told me. She had absolute proof of how good she was compared to others, but she never used it. To her credit, she did talk about the dollar volume of sales she made. She just never said how much better than average she was.

I work with engineers who know exactly how much money they saved their company, and they don’t write it down. They don’t mention it in interviews.

CEO’s and CFO’s fail to mention how much money they made stockholders.

Why? They have been taught not to brag. 

If you don’t prove how good you are, you look like every other candidate. 

Who is going to hire you? There are ten candidates. One proves how much money he can make you. The other nine say they are team players who want an exciting job.

Which candidate were you?

Something to do today

Keep a special folder at home or work where you prove how much money you saved, how many customers you helped, the money you made and how much faster things work now. Write a summary in your job journal every week.

Negotiating a salary at a new job – first interview

“Will you work for minimum wage?”

Not a winning question when negotiating salary with an engineer.

“Give me all your money!”

Probably not a wise gambit for any job interview.

At some point in your job exploration the question of money has to come up.  Asking a recruiter what the job pays is fine.  Asking what your pay will be in a phone or first interview is a mistake.  They may have been given strict instructions to only mention $50,000, but have been told that they can go to $60,000 for the right candidate.  That happens all the time.

Timing is critical. Don’t negotiate salary, vacation or perks until they love you and are sure they want to hire you. You have no leverage for negotiations until you are the final candidate.

Money, Profit, Finance, Business, Return, Yield

When THEY ask you how much you must make to switch jobs, THEY are nervous.  So are you.  Here is an answer that works.  It doesn’t get you eliminated for asking for too much.  You won’t get paid too little for being too meek.  It leaves room for negotiating.  It gives them the information they need to make you a good offer.

The answer has 3 steps:

  1. the compliment
  2. the money
  3. the rules.

First the compliment.  This job and your company interest me.  I’d like to go to work for you.

Now the money.  Last year I earned a total of $70,000 and just had a raise to $73,000.

Finally the rules.  I certainly wouldn’t want to earn less.  I would like to be able to entertain your best offer.

This works for minimum wage jobs and CEO salaries.  If they ask a second time, tell them the same thing.  Let them know that you feel it is the company’s job to make an offer, not yours.  You just tell them the facts about what you are earning.  That’s all.  You can negotiate AFTER they have decided to make you an offer.  Then you will have some leverage.

How to think about salary – do this.

Write down three numbers.

First, what are you earning now?  Obviously you would take your current job for that much money.  You did.

Second, what do you really think you would be paid in a good but realistic situation if you switched jobs next month?  It should be a raise.

Third, if the ideal job came along, with you doing, learning and being exactly what you really want, with a great company and future, what is the least you would take to go there?  Is it a drop in pay?

You now have three different numbers you would work for.  So why should you demand to know what a job will pay before you find out which of the three possibilities it is?

Using a mirror to find your problems

Most people have no clue what happened in a job interview. Did you do well?  Did they hate you? Is there a big mistake you keep making? You lose sleep, hope, talk to yourself, and relive the interview, praying to find a clue.

It is like when you want to see the back of your head or you want to see the middle of your back. It takes at least two mirrors and a lot of luck, twisting, and patience.

A friend’s eye is a good mirror.

Find a couple of job interview mirrors, like the ones you use to see the middle of your back. You need a friend who won’t just parrot back what you say. Someone who listens and will feel comfortable telling you what they really think is critical. They need to walk you through three questions. Not just ask them, but make you stay on track. They need to pull you back to reality and away from your emotional state. Have them explore these three questions:

  1. Walk me through the interview like a movie. What exactly happened without any emotional coloring?
  2. In the interview, what were their hiring priorities? What did they explore and worry about the most?
  3. In your gut, how do you really feel about it?

You can go through those questions yourself and it will help. But, there is something about having to answer to someone else that often clarifies the situation. That’s one reason that a recruiter earns his keep. He becomes a sounding board after an interview for both the candidate and the client, helping them stay in sync with each other.

Having someone who can point out your mistakes and help you find where you need to work on to get a job is important. A friend or a family member is helpful but only if they know saying the bad things not just the good things is good for you. A recruiter is a great choice too, because it’s their job to help you find a job.

Something to do today

Find that mirror. Who will be honest with you? Who will YOU be honest with?

It’s easiest to become an expert in a NEW technology

If you focus on the innovations happening around you, it can change your career. When an idea, technology or procedure is new, it takes a week to become an expert. A year later it takes a year to become an expert.

Startup, Whiteboard, Room, Indoors, Adult, Office

I became a database expert in a week when Oracle 1.0 (yes, I’m that old) came out. I talked my boss into springing for $100 to get a copy. I parlayed that into becoming a DB2 guru by buying a book. One book. I became a data modeling expert because no one else had a clue what that was. One innovation led to another, and my bosses had no desire to stop me. All the industry magazines and experts were using the buzzwords I could implement. I was on the leading edge. I was riding the wave of innovation. Every career progression was caused by taking two weeks to prepare for an upcoming, essential, mystifying technology.

Do a little internal innovation and focus on using other’s ideas and new technology. It is always easier to become an expert when technology and techniques are new. What is new in your field?

Something to do today

Try it again. The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Figure out what the buzzwords are that people are barely starting to define in your field.

Use raising technology and new techniques to get a great job

Fingerprint locks are used by tons of people on a daily basis, whether on computers or phones. People use them more often than the number or word locks because of convenience. They even have fingerprint locks for doors, and eventually I can see new locks like these being used more often than the everyday lock and key. The world changes a lot around us, and with that there are new ideas and new ways of life. 

Your job search should be like the world, always changing, always improving.

Every year thousands of people get great new jobs with massive pay raises because they have learned something new and exciting. I know average programmers who are earning $120,000 per year. They learned the latest technology and tools and have been riding the gravy train for 3 or 4 years. Accountants that can implement brand new systems are still worth their weight in gold. 

Adding a fingerprint lock helps sell thousands of new electronics to geeks like me. New technology, techniques, and skills can sell CEO’s and managers on your value.

What can you learn today? 

Something to do today

The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Try it today.

How to be persistent with your job hunt

Kids can be a practically irresistible force. I have 10 children. Usually I can resist them. Not always. Sometimes they have to admit defeat, but with kids they don’t admit defeat till they have exhausted every avenue towards success. Here’s how they win.

  1. Be totally, irresistibly, and eternally committed to a world changing idea
  2. Jump up and down with enthusiasm
  3. “No” means not now
  4. “Not now” means try again in 5 minutes
  5. Laugh, smile and tickle your dad
  6. Run around and get all the other kids excited out of their minds
  7. Ask dad for help to figure out how to do it
  8. Cry if dad is not listening
  9. See if you can turn it into a school project
  10. Ask mom to talk to dad about it
  11. Bring a partially completed task to dad to be fixed
  12. Change your plans and try again in an hour
  13. A small explosion in the yard will get dad’s attention
  14. Make it a game

Kids win because they are too excited to accept defeat. They are willing to try every possible way around an obstacle. When I am the obstacle and they are really really determined, they know they can win.

Is there a job you really really want? Why not job hunt like a kid?

Something to do today

Take a pen and paper and translate each of those 14 things into something you can use for job hunting or working for a promotion in real life.

Using friends and relatives to help get a job

To stop a giant cockroach from leaving the earth, one of the heroes in Men In Black steps on some earth sized bugs. They are relatives of the big one. The giant one comes back down and “engages” the hero. “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you.” 

If you can get a relative, friend or recruiter to help you, you multiply your chances of getting a job instead of a rejection from that hiring manager.

Let’s start the way we did in the last article. First, make sure you want the job and that you are a decent fit. You can only use friends and relatives two or three times. They are the big guns to use when you really are well qualified and motivated. If you are not qualified for the job, just send a resume through Indeed or ZipRecruiter. That way it only takes you 10 seconds to send it and the computer will delete it for them. Relatives and friends are too important to overuse. A recruiter won’t let you overuse them, so use recruiters as heavily as you can.

Once you identify the job you would be excellent for, you need to figure out a plan of attack. 

First: who really respects you that can help? A recruiter who respects you is a much better reference than a brother who thinks you would bomb. The person who you know directly will hand your resume to someone you don’t know. The enthusiasm that is passed on with your resume is the big advantage you get from a friend, relative, or recruiter handing over your resume.

Second: figure out the final target who will be given your resume. Particularly if your friend works there or is a recruiter, they will have several options. If possible, have them give it directly to the hiring manager or their boss. If you cannot get it directly to someone making the decision, figure out who else it will be given to. Just handing your resume to the HR department may do nothing for you in a huge company.

Third: follow up. If you know the hiring manager or their boss got your resume, give them a quick call to verify they got it and see if they have any questions. You may only get their secretary, but you can still ask them if they have any questions. This is where you can reinforce your advantage. If a recruiter handed in your resume, ask the recruiter to follow up, and then you can follow up with the recruiter to ask what the manager thought. 

Using a friend, relative or recruiter can get your resume put on the top of the pile of applicants. It will not guarantee you a job, but it will sure help you get an interview. 

Use friends, relatives, and recruiters when you are prepared and the stakes are high. That is the best way to get a hiring manager’s attention.

Something to do today

Networking time. Identify the 5 companies and jobs you best fit and most want to fill. Start asking people you know, who they know who works there. You can invite that stranger to lunch with a friend. Scary? That’s okay. Invite them out to lunch anyway. With the friend along it will be more comfortable.

How to engage the hiring manager in a conversation

How to engage the hiring manager in a conversation

The heroes in Men In Black have to stop a giant cockroach from leaving the earth. If it leaves, the earth will be destroyed. They are able to engage it in a conversation, sort of. They find out what is interesting enough to get the cockroach to come down and interact with (try to kill) them. 

Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you.” If you can engage the manager or their assistant in a conversation you will multiply your chances of getting an interview or a job. Here is how you do it:

First, make sure you want the job and that you are a decent fit. The Men In Black were the guys in charge of saving the earth. They were motivated and had the tools, they just had to figure out how to do it. If you are qualified to become a computer technician, audit manager or director of international sales, engage the hiring manager in a conversation. If you are not qualified for the job, just send him a resume through Indeed or ZipRecruiter. That way it only takes you 10 seconds to send it and the computer will automatically delete it for them. Conversation only works if you really want the job and really are qualified.

Now, write down the titles the hiring manager may have. Then call up the company and ask for that person. You may get through to him or you may get routed to someone else. If you get routed to someone else ask, “Are you helping (title) find the person for (job name)?” Push your way through until you get to someone who actually is helping him find a new employee. It doesn’t matter if it is them, the HR department or a receptionist. It has to be someone directly involved with the hiring process for that particular job.

When you get to the right person, say, “You are looking for a (job name). What has been the hardest thing for you to find in the right person?” Then wait. Engage them in a discussion of what they are having a hard time finding in a new hire. Make sure and ask, “Is there anything else you have a hard time finding?” Ask that last question again and again. Probe their answers. Find out what the problem is that they have to solve. 

Another good question is, “For the (job name), what is causing you to throw away most of the resumes that you get?” Then probe that too. Add, “Is there anything else?” Listen. Ask more questions. Find out what can disqualify you.

Be helpful. If you find out you are the wrong person, offer to tell someone else who is qualified about the job. If you are the right person say, “I really fit that job, what is your email address so that I can send you my resume directly?” You have a 50-50 chance of getting their direct email address, and that will get your resume right on top of the pile. If you really are qualified, that is a great place to be. And you get there by engaging them in a conversation. 

Don’t forget to specifically change your resume and cover letter to match their needs. Then call up an hour later and ask, “Did you get my resume? What more do you need to know?” You may just end up having a phone interview right then and there.

That is how you get a hiring manager to talk to you.

Something to do today

Make a list of a few jobs that you really want and are qualified for that you have not already interviewed for. Whether or not your resume has been sent in, call them up and try this out. Change your resume after your conversation and highlight things you didn’t know were so important. You just may get that job.

Using the right words to catch the hiring manager’s attention

In the last article I talked about how hiring managers are NOT God. I even went as far to say, “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you.”

The hiring manager is not God. They are a giant cockroach. 

You cannot assume that a hiring manager will glean 4 key words and 2 key points out of a 3 page resume. You get no points for length and thoroughness. You get no points for briefness. You get points, or an interview, for saying the key words and phrases that the hiring manager wants to hear. If you don’t shout those key words and phrases, the manager’s receptionist will shred your resume. Then the cockroach, the hiring manager, can hide in their office where you can’t get to them.

To find the right words and phrases you need to do some forensic language work. Like a crime scene investigator. Take 3 or 4 job listings on Indeed or ZipRecruiter for different jobs with the same company. Place them all side by side. Highlight all the phrases that are identical. Identify the stuff the human resources department puts around the description the hiring manager wrote. That fluff may possibly be necessary to get you past the HR department, but it won’t get you a job. 

Now take your blue highlighter. Mark every misused acronym, word, technical term or technical phrase. Those are the words the HR person didn’t understand. They could very well be critical. You need to have an exact match on those words in your resume.

Continue marking with an orange highlighter. Again look for all the technical terms and acronyms. Mark them all. The orange words are the most likely to be used by a computer or receptionist to screen out resumes. 

Finally, go back over the resume with a pink highlighter. Mark the skills that are the most difficult to find. What are the things in the ad that everyone wants and nobody has?

I bet those ads look terrible. That’s good. It means you have taken the time to study the exact words that will get you an interview. You need to include those words and technical phrases in your resume. They will force the screener to pass your resume on to the hiring manager. He will have to call you in order to see if you can do the job. You will prevent him from closing his door and hiding from you. 

Something to do today

Get some highlighters and go through ads on the internet. Find the really key words and phrases. Alter your resume before you send it out. Make it so they cannot miss the things that are important to them.