Category Archives: References

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.

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?

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