Category Archives: References

6 places to check on a company’s reputation

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.  (George Washington)

When a man or woman brags about his virtue, avoid the former and cultivate the latter. (Unkn)

 6 places to check on a company’s reputation

Mt Rushmore with "Reputation? How do you find out what it is?"

What is the company’s real reputation?

I was told, “I want to work in a Fortune 100 company.  That’s where the action is at.  Then I will really be going places.”  It could be true.  Just remember, Enron was in the Fortune 100 club too, before their leadership was indicted.

Size isn’t everything.  It seems that in every Fortune 100 company there will be whole divisions laid off or sold every year.  The CEO may call it pruning. The people in the division have more explicit names for it.

For you, the job seeker, company reputation is important.  It will make a difference in how other people view your career.  The reputation of the local division is even more important.  Your success will be tied directly to the local division’s performance.  The reputation of your new manager is critical.  He’s the one that will make your job paradise or purgatory.

Places to look and people to ask

  1. If you go to their website you can find the official company news releases. That’s what they want their reputation to be. For the people outside of their industry, it will really be their reputation.
  1. Try calling some independent recruiters. If a recruiter submitted you there then they ought to already know the company reputation.  If they didn’t submit you, ask them about the company as you talk to them about your job search.  Independent recruiters talk to everyone going into a company and everyone leaving that company.  They know where all the skeletons are buried and which managers or departments are the best to work with.
  1. Quiz anyone who has close contact with the company. Look up their competitors. It can be particularly interesting to talk to people who worked at competitors. How do you find these people? Go to LinkedIn.com and search for company names in the “Person” search.
  1. Suppliers and accountants are great sources. Expand your online search if it is a company you are very interested in.
  1. Also call people doing the job you want in nearby unrelated companies. You want people from the same level you will be at because reputation can vary at different levels. If you want to be a salesman, programmer or COO, the reputation of the company will have spread outside of their industry.
  1. In many cases there are associations for your job. Talk to the people running the association and those at the meetings. Ask them about reputation.

Your search for their reputation can help you find other job openings too.  As you expand your circle of inquiry, more people find out that you are available.  Don’t forget to ask everyone who else you ought to talk to.  You may be surprised how important the comment of the friend of a friend can be.

Make it a habit to do your “due diligence” as you start interviewing for a job.  Find out their reputation.  Contact people about the company.  It will help you select the right company with the right boss.  Your inquiries may also lead you to a different, better job.

Something To Do Today

Find out if there are any associations for your job or the job you are working towards.  Online search engines work well. Reference librarians are especially good at finding them. Go to your local library and ask for help.

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Tomorrow:     The work successful people throw out.

Later:              Lose 10 pounds in one week is not job hunting

Which Reference Is Knifing You In The Back?

ninja with a knife

Which reference is killing you?

Trust enthusiasm. Fear okay.

If something always goes wrong in your job interviews after the point where references are checked, you probably want to rethink your references.

References – phantom friends

Some of your references may be knifing you in the back.  They are your phantom friends. You thought they would give good references.  They were always friendly.  Still, they may have thought you were a poor worker.  They might just be unable to compliment anyone.

Trust enthusiasm, fear “okay”

You can’t trust a reference to tell you directly, “I’m going to say bad things.”  If you ask someone to be your reference and they say, “I’d love to.  You were a great worker.  I will brag about how well you did.  You were wonderful”, they are probably a good reference.  If they only say, “Okay”, be careful.

Interrogate okay

Ask Mr. Okay, “Will you say that if it was up to you, you would rehire me?”    If you get any hedging, don’t use this reference. For instance, “I’ll tell them I would rehire you under the right circumstances,” is hedging.  “Jim, you know I don’t have the authority to rehire you,” is also hedging.  “Of course! I’d rehire you and give you a raise.  I really wish you were still here,” is the positive reference you are looking for.

If you are concerned that someone might be a phantom friend, drop them from the reference list.  Find someone else.  That’s the safest bet.

Have someone else check your references

You can always have someone check out your references for you.  They will call up and say, “I’m checking Jane Doe’s references. Would you recommend her for the same job she had?”  They also have to ask, “Would you rehire her?”

Your references are one of your strongest job search weapons.  Make sure they really are good references.  It will make a huge difference.

Something To Do Today

Go back over that list of potential references you gave yesterday.  Make sure none of them are phantom friends.

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Next:               You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Later:               Resume magic

Imperfect and highly paid

The most common interview questions

How To Deal With Bad References That Cannot Be Avoided

Evil man with a banana

The best way to protect yourself from a bad reference

What can you do if you know a reference check is going to kill you?  Here is what happened to a candidate I placed.

He told me, “I only have 3 references from my previous job. That’s all the guys who worked there.  My 2 coworkers will tell you how well I worked.  The owner will only bad mouth me.  He’s mad that I am leaving after 3 years.”

I called, and the owner was a terrible reference.  Since I checked all the references I was able to prepare the hiring company for what I heard.  They wanted to call to verify what I said. I cautioned them to find out what really ticked off the old boss.  It was things like, “He only gave me 6 weeks notice before he left. I may not have given him a raise in 3 years, but he’s essential to the project.  He knows that, and he is leaving.  He’s a quitter. I hate him and would never recommend him to anybody.”

I had them really dig into performance. I gave them specific questions to ask. The boss couldn’t deny the candidate’s accomplishments.  His answers were, “Yes, he did that well, but you don’t understand.  I hate the guy because….”

That candidate was hired. He got a 50% raise at his new job.  No kidding.

The easiest way to deal with a bad reference is not to give out that name.  In some cases the company insists on a specific reference, and you know it will be bad. Tell them in advance what the complaints will be.  Tell them precisely what to ask and how to word it. What does the bad reference have to confirm you did well?

It’s an uphill climb, but you can often overcome a bad reference you can’t avoid. You just have to prepare the ground in advance.

Something To Do Today

Go back over that list of potential references.  Expand it again.  You will never be hurt by having too many good solid references to choose from.

Next I’ll talk about the references that you don’t know are killing your job opportunities.

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Coming up:     References – phantom friends

You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Resume magic

Imperfect and highly paid

The most common interview questions

9 Job References Most People Overlook

be believable

Be believable with great references

Why do you have to have real job references? To be believable.

When you say it, it’s suspect selling.  When your old boss says it, it’s absolute proof.

When your friend puts your resume on the desk of her boss and says, “Jill is the best salesperson I’ve ever met,” that’s not a reference. She never worked with you. It is only a fantastic introduction.  So get your friend to do that, and also find real references.

The people you choose as references need to know how well you work.  If you provide your pastor, a bowling buddy and your son’s Scoutmaster as references, it will work against you.  People who check references want to know how well you work, not how well you sit in church, drink beer, or drop off hikers.

When you give people you have not worked with as all of your references, you wave a big red flag in front of your candidacy.  The hiring manager will wonder why you have no coworkers you can trust.  Isn’t there someone you worked with in the past who can say something nice about you?

Don’t limit yourself to coworkers and bosses.  Try these references:

  • A secretary or administrative assistant who you constantly worked with
  • Suppliers you dealt with extensively, more than just order takers
  • Contractors you worked with, supervised, or reported to
  • People you sold to
  • Salespeople you negotiated with
  • The person who always came to you with questions
  • A business rival you constantly competed with and sometimes beat
  • Someone from where you do a lot of real work as a volunteer – hours weekly
  • A teacher who supervised a big project (only if you are fresh out of school)

Your current job and previous jobs are your biggest assets in a job search.  Use your jobs to prove how well you will work for your new company.  The bad news is if you screwed up on two jobs in a row, you are going to have a hard time getting hired. The good news is if you impressed three people at your old jobs, those are the only three you have to give as references.

Something To Do Today

In your job journal list the people you impressed in the last 5 years.  Use the suggestions above to add people beyond your coworkers, bosses and subordinates.

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Coming up:Bad references

You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Resume magic

Imperfect and highly paid

The most common interview questions

Get a job by being like the guy who invented running

Experts are hired quickly.  They rarely look for a job very long. An expert knows all the answers – if you ask the right questions.  You can become an expert, just like Jim Fixx.

The guy who invented running died

Jim Fixx transformed himself into more than just another old runner like this guy.

Runners were either late to an interview or just weird before Jim Fixx.

Jim Fixx passed away in 1984.  Some obituaries said, “The man who invented running died.” Before his book, The Complete Book of Running, jogging and running were not sports.  They were just weird.  Jim Fixx didn’t revolutionize running, he just brought it acceptance.  In 1977 his book was the best selling non-fiction hardcover book ever. He is a legend in the running world.

Every month I run across at least one or two people whose names are synonymous with excellence in their field.  Hailed as legends and gurus, they aren’t necessarily the brightest people, but they are smart.  What they have done is study extensively, had a few successful projects and published a few articles or a book.  If the field is broader, they get involved writing the certification tests in their discipline. They all command a 30% to 100% earnings premium compared to people who are merely better than they are.

Hiring managers feel embarrassed to admit they don’t know who these people are.  It is obvious from their resumes that they are the “go to” guys in their narrow field.  I have to emphasize, these guys are smart, but not geniuses.  They have figured out how to be impressive.  They have psyched out managers, consultants and experts.  They have become the gurus in their field.

Can you become the legend or guru in your field?  How about in your company?  In your team?  Your name can become synonymous with a particular subject.  You may have to teach a few classes, write an article or a training course.  What can you do to become a legend?

Something To Do Today

Who are the gurus in your field?  Ask them how they built their reputation.  Scared to call them because they wrote a book?  Truth to tell, authors are human too.  They will succumb to the rapt attention of an informed audience.  Call them, email them or write to them.

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Tomorrow:     I make the milk

Guerilla gardening

Great ideas are…

Forgetting

How to resign your job – part 2

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. (Russell)

bridge-512086_640-pixabay“Take this job and shove it” – can really hurt YOU

Every week I hear, “I know that candidate from a previous job.  I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. He was not a team player.”

Sometimes that comes from the way the person left a previous team.  Often the comment arises from an incident a decade or more before the comment.  Someone burned bridges as they left a job.  They were rude, bitter, destructive or insufferable.

Your boss may be getting ready to quit too.  He could be your new boss again at your next job, or in 10 years.  A current teammate may be on your future interview team. Leaving in a professional manner makes it possible to work together with members from your old team in the future.

Professionals leave relationships intact.  I have heard it put: “Be wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove.”  Don’t let people take advantage of you, and don’t purposely hurt anyone.

We are back to the right way to quit.  Hand your boss a simple letter that states:

“I have appreciated the opportunity to work for XYZ company.  I am resigning with my last day of work on -date-.”

Then keep your mouth shut.  Say only positive things.  Never brag about where you are going.  Cooperate with your boss and coworkers.  Avoid all questions about where you are going geographically or with which company.

Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.

Something To Do Today

Have you got a network list?  People who you are actively cultivating to help your career should be in that network. How many of them would like to work for the same type of company you find ideal?  Count it up.  Really.  Count it up.  Doesn’t it make sense to have them as future allies?

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Tomorrow:     A successful email

Later:              The guy who invented running died

I make the milk every morning, my wife will keep me

Propagating blueberries guerilla style

Great ideas are a dime a dozen

How to overcome an employer’s resistance to hiring you

Why won’t they hire you? Do desperate employers resist hiring anyone?  Do they resist change? Or is it something else they resist?

Would you like to win a million dollars tax free?  But isn’t that a change?

If Oprah gave you a new car and money to pay the taxes on it, how hard would you resist? That is also a change.

Did you notice that I added that line about taxes in each question?  I had to add that because you might resist otherwise.  It isn’t the taxes, it is what the taxes represent in your mind that may cause you to resist.

Employers have the same resistance to hiring you that you might have to accepting a new car or even a million dollars.  They are afraid there is a hidden tax, a hook, a hidden problem.  They are afraid they will be forced to do things they don’t have time or energy for.  It can all be boiled down to their fear of losing control. People are afraid of losing control of their million dollars or their new car due to taxes. They are afraid of losing control if they hire you.

They lose control when they make you a job offer

As long as the employer is looking at resumes, interviewing, testing, talking about candidates, doing reference checks, and thinking about making offers, they are in control.  The second they make you an offer, they lose control.

Suddenly it is all up to you.  They get edgy.  To regain some control they will put a time limit on their offer. Usually they will give you overnight.  Sometimes they will give you up to a week.  But they want to have control over the process.

They have even less control when you start working for them

I am sure your new boss has worked with someone who was hired and was an absolute disaster. That person looked like the solution to their problem and was a horrible mistake.

You look like the perfect solution to their problem.  But, if they hire you, they lose control. When you come on board, there will be training, detailed supervision, review of your work, correction, adjustments to team duties, interpersonal conflicts, and a lot of other things that change. They will lose control of all those things the second you start with the team.

You have to help them regain control before you are hired

In order to soothe your potential boss, you have to give them as much control as possible.  If you can prove a few basic things, they will hire you immediately.  You need to prove:

  1. You will take the job and keep it
  2. You can do that job
  3. You won’t take too much training
  4. You will take the initiative to do things within their system
  5. You learn quickly
  6. You get along with all kinds of coworkers – good and bad
  7. You will quickly take other burdens off the boss’s back and give them back control.

How do you prove it?

We’ll talk about that over the next few days.

Networking, referrals, recruiters, and job boards

Even a fox can get a job guarding a henhouse if he has good enough references.

Internet job boards fill 25% of jobs, recruiters fill 16%, and referrals fill 27% of jobs according to one survey.     So where do you want to concentrate your job hunting time?

But there are so many jobs on Indeed, Monster, Dice, and Career Builder, shouldn’t I try to get those jobs?

Absolutely!  But that doesn’t mean you should automatically send a resume through those services.

22% of jobs are found on a company’s own website.  Gotta like that.  Still, don’t even apply at the company’s own website until after you have tried to take advantage of this country’s main job finding system: Networking into referrals.

Print out the jobs you want that you find on the internet.  Make a list of the companies.  Next to each company, make a list of people you know who work there.  Include people who know someone who works there.  Add a list of recruiters who can get your resume past HR (Human Resources) and directly to the hiring manager.  Get into www.linkedin.com and see if you can find someone working at that company.  (Link to bryan@dilts.us to expand your network.) Add the people at companies you are targeting to a list.

Your objective is to find someone who can drop your information on the hiring manager’s desk.  Look at your whole list before you make a move.  Who has the best chance of helping you?  Who is the best connected?  Is it a professional networker or a recruiter?  Is it your friend’s wife?  Get your resume in there and follow up.  If you don’t get a call within a week, try again through another person.

27% of jobs are being filled by networking, 25% by job boards, 16% are being filled by recruiters.  Shouldn’t networking AND job boards AND recruiters be your main job search tools?

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Something To Do Today

Get into www.linkedin.com

List where everyone you know works, their spouses too.  Keep adding to the list whenever you find out where someone works.  Keep track of coworkers who leave.  Start making a list of where everyone who knows you works. It may be worth more than gold to you now or in the future.

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Later              Personality tests

Resume blasting

Certifications –  gold and lead

Job interview – Good manners

Good manners soothe people in a potentially bad situation.  In a positive situation good manners make everyone involved even more pleased.  Manners are society’s way of helping people cope with each other.

Here are some situations and how to deal with them:

I really want this job:  At the end of the interview say, “This sounds like a great opportunity.  Is there anything you’ve seen today that would keep me from working for you?”  Then say, “Can we set up the next step of the process right now?”    They will probably say they’ll call later.  That’s okay.  They know you really want the job.  Send an email and ground mail thank you letter.

In the interview, I realized I don’t want this job:  Never walk out of an interview unless they are asking you to do something illegal or immoral. You may be interviewing with this person in 5 years for a different job. Companies change. Opportunities change. If you get the feeling the job is absolutely not for you, stop the interviewer and ask very specific questions and explore your reasons in the interview. Don’t let your interviewer bypass your concerns. They may have solid answers, they may not. Once you are sure the job is NOT for you, look at the interview as a network building opportunity. You may have a chance to talk with a manager who will have a different hiring need, and get the job you really want. Networking for an extra half hour in an interview is easier than getting a manager to go to lunch with you.

They ask how much they have to pay you:  Answer them, “I really like this company.  The opportunity seems like a good one.  I’d like to go to work for you.  In my previous job I earned $(amount), I certainly wouldn’t want to work for less.  What I would like is to entertain your best offer.”

You are concerned they won’t pay enough:  Ask the recruiter or HR person what the pay range is for the job.  Don’t ask the hiring manager about money unless you become convinced they won’t pay near enough.  Better to ask, “Considering what I have done previously, how will this job continue to challenge me?”  That lets the interviewer know you are concerned that the job sounds too easy.

You want to know about vacation time and benefits:  Wait a bit.  The first interview is absolutely NOT the place to ask.  If at some point you talk with an HR person who is already explaining that stuff, ask away.  If you are working with a recruiter, ask him.  Otherwise, when they are offering you the job is early enough.  You don’t have any bargaining power until they have made a decision to hire you.

They ask an improper question:  You don’t have to answer.  Better to try to understand what they want to know.  Reply, “Why do you ask?” or “Have you had a problem with that in the past?”  Another way is to answer the underlying question.  If they ask, “How old are you?” You can answer, “I’m in perfect health.  I haven’t missed a day of work in years.” That gives them the information they need without answering a question you may dislike.

I will be late for my interview:  stop and call the person you are to meet.  Apologize and tell them when you expect to arrive. Add 10-20 minutes to the time so they are pleasantly surprised when you arrive earlier than you said you would.

I don’t want to go to the interview:  call the person who set up the interview, the recruiter, HR person or manager, and explain why.  Explain your true reasons and then listen.  After a couple of minutes of discussion, finalize your decision to go or not.  Let the person who set up the interview tell the people who would interview you.

You don’t want them to call your boss for a reference:  Just tell them you don’t want to jeopardize your current job.  They will understand.

 

The basic ideas are: 1. Ask the question at the right time.  2. Let people know your concerns in as positive a manner as possible.

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Something To Do Today

Make an interview preparation list.  What things do you want to review before you talk to your next boss?

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Later: Skipped parts

Referrals vs. Monster and CareerBuilder

My last job stunk, what do I say?

“My last employer lied to me.  He looked me straight in the eye and lied to me twice in the employment interview.  Then he spent the next year undermining me.  He made it impossible to reach the pay level he promised me.”

When he told me that, I understood.  I’m an agency recruiter. I could see from his previous jobs that he was exceptionally good at what he does. Before he goes out on a job interview I’ll tell him how to handle that situation.  Eventually he’s going to have to get over that job wound.

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  (Gandhi)

Remember, your attitude is everything.  Managers know that some bosses reek.  Every manager has also had an employee who was terrible.  Your interviewer has to decide if you or your boss was the problem.  Because they lack facts, they will decide whose fault it was by your attitude.

When they ask you about that lying, thieving, disgusting, wife beating boss you had at your previous job, be careful.  Remember, the slimeball’s dog still loves him.  Say only, “At my last job I accomplished..” and list the good things you got done.

If asked, “Why did you leave?”  Say, “My boss and I did not see eye to eye.”  Then add something else that is positive that you accomplished.

Never say more than one sentence at a time about that vile, filthy, back stabbing, dog kicking boss. Remember the Grinch’s cat still purrs when he pets it.  Make each short comment about him as positive as you can.  Follow that sentence with something positive you were able to get done at that job.

The best thing you can do is GET OVER IT.   Forgive the louse.  No.  Forgive the man.  Stop brooding.  It affects your attitude.  Hate will make it much harder to get a job.  Interviewers can smell your discontent.

Forgive, forget, and get on with your life.  Do you really think you will be telling every interviewer for the next 20 years about that boss?  You won’t.  The time to stop telling people about that boss is now.

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Something To Do Today

Had a boss you hated?  Make a list of 10 things you accomplished there.  Not your job duties, things you made better.  Accomplishments.  Use that list every time you are asked about the job.

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Later: Fired!

Job search progression