Tag Archives: finding a job

Don’t dig your own grave in an interview

I had a guy come in for an interview after a depressing few months of job hunting. Within 5 minutes it was obvious why no one wanted to hire him. What really killed him was that it wasn’t his fault, sorta, why he left his last 3 jobs.  If your boss won’t explain what you have to do so that you can understand it, it isn’t your fault, sorta.  When you finally decide not to work 50 hour weeks any more, it is not your fault you quit.  And an affair with your boss that ends unhappily is certainly not your fault, is it? And every detail was explained in the interview. Worse, when questioned, “Do you explain this to everyone you interview with?” the answer was, “Of course, I can’t lie about it.”

He was digging his grave with his own hands.  He would shoot himself to prove why gun safety is important.  In a game of checkers he would explain why he made each move so he didn’t surprise his opponent.

We worked for an hour to give him answers that were true and made him look discrete and loyal.  Near the end he said, “I guess I am going to have to learn how to lie.”  He didn’t understand. We explained, “In 20 years you won’t tell all the heart wrenching reasons you left your recent job, so don’t tell them now.” He just couldn’t accept that.

What to say 

For any negatives, acknowledge them very briefly, and also find the good side of that experience.  I said, “Acknowledge them.”  I did not say, “Explain them.”  In almost every negative situation there were some positives.  Think of what those positives were and emphasize them. Explain the positives and not the negatives. Here are examples: 

Your boss didn’t train you:

“I was very grateful for that job, but I needed an opportunity to grow more. I had a strong boss who taught me about leadership.”  

You left because of long hours:

“My boss taught me a lot, but we disagreed on working conditions.  It was great to work directly with an entrepreneur like him.”

The office affair went sour:

“That was a great company, but I left because of the office atmosphere. My trainer at that company was brilliant.  I learned a lot about business as well as the technical side of my job.”

When someone asks you more about the negative, refuse to talk about it.  Instead, talk about the positives you brought up.  It is called loyalty when you refuse to discuss unimportant tidbits of gossip and concentrate on the positive. Another word to describe it is discretion.

Something to do today

Make a list of all the things you mention in interviews that just don’t sound good.  Figure out how to mention them in 5 words or less.  Then figure out 2 good things you can mention that are related to those negatives.

There’s always a reason for getting fired.

My son was the best checkout clerk in the store. His checkout speed was consistently the best. Customers loved his happy personality. He often had the most “add on” sales at the cash register. Then one day he was put on probation. Shortly thereafter he was fired. It was because he had decided not to double check when the cash register said that a particular coupon had no corresponding product bought by the customer. Most of the cashiers ignored the warning at least part of the time. One of the baggers had noticed it and informed the managers. They checked, asked him, and found out he was guilty. Probation was a formality. They fired him as soon as they could get it approved.

I’m proud my son accepted responsibility and never told anyone who the bagger was. When asked, he admitted what he was doing immediately. He was fired as a warning to the other checkout clerks. He didn’t have a chance to eat crow and change his ways. 

The real question is: What about the other clerks? The clerks had a chance to get upset at the baggers in general. They could moan and complain on breaks about how unfair it was. They could become paranoid and follow each rule to complete stupidity. Or they could admit their problem and humbly accept the truth, like my son did. They knew they had been costing the store money by not checking coupons. They had been breaking the rule all the time, not just when the checkout lanes were jammed. They had talked about it. They weren’t listening to the managers about it anymore when the firing occurred. It was time to eat crow. And crow is best served warm, when the offense is fresh.

How about you? What do you do when someone is fired for doing something everyone does? What about when you are passed over for a job you apply for?

If you blame another person, you are human. If you blame society, you are human. That being said, it doesn’t make YOU right.

If you got fired for poor performance, accept it. If you were the best at a particular job but got passed over for a promotion, there was a reason. Admit defeat. Find out why. Don’t brag about how smart you are and how stupid the managers are. There was a reason.

Back to job hunting. If the job is evil and horrible, drop out of the interviews or don’t apply. If you found out the manager, company or division is full of idiots because they didn’t hire you, thank God you didn’t get that job. No need to ceaselessly murmur about the idiots. However, you may want to eat crow and find out why you really were not hired. Getting the truth can be difficult. Still, the time to eat crow is when it is still warm. Ask what you did, said, or put on paper that disqualified you. Then decide if you want to fix it.

Something to do today

Ask why you didn’t get the job. Ask the recruiter. Ask the company. Ask the hiring manager. Don’t worry about offending someone. They already offended you by not hiring you, didn’t they? Ask politely, but ask.

Patience gets you paid what you’re worth.

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

The five factors are:

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

Here’s how it happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to do today

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

Make a list.

Simplify your resume into a 6 word career objective

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

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

Computer, Resume, Office, Manager

How a simple plan leads to success in business

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

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

Make your career objective a 6 word sentence

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

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

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

Something to do today

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

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.

Using every opportunity to network

When Bill Gates was trying to sell a PC operating system to IBM, his mother was on a charity board. The president of IBM was on the same board. Was there a possible connection? Maybe. I doubt Bill Gates’ mother got the deal for him, but I’m sure it helped.

An unemployed salesman asked me, “Can you help me find a job? You know I’ve been looking for months. What can I do?” 

I didn’t have a job for him, so I asked him about his job search. We talked about networking. It turns out he already was in touch with some very influential people. They even offered to introduce him to other leaders, but he was afraid to take their help.

This salesman had convinced himself that, despite what these leaders thought, he just wasn’t worth their time. He didn’t feel comfortable networking at that level. He couldn’t see a reason why they would help him. Here is why they would help him: That is what President’s do. They help people succeed. They are focused on it. They spend all day thinking about helping others succeed. I put that salesman in a verbal headlock and got him to promise he would use the help he had already been offered.

Remember Bill Gates? He sold a PC operating system to IBM that he did not create or own. Bill Gates had gotten the right to sell it from the creator. He outsold a guy who owned a demonstrably better operating system. Bill Gates did it by using every string, every avenue and every potential aid he could find. Lots of people wanted him to succeed, not just his mother. He got everyone’s help he could.

Don’t be afraid to use every bit of help you can find to get your new job. Others wouldn’t help you if they didn’t believe in you. Now, believe in yourself.

Something to do today

Make a list of the most powerful and influential people you know. Ask for help. If they are in your current company, ask for help growing where you are. If they are out of your company, ask for help finding a new job. Go to the most powerful and influential first. 

You are worth it.

Keep learning, and you’ll never be out of a job

My grandfather was a modern farmer in 1930. The local farm bureau agent came by and said, “The government will pay you to rotate your crops.” Grandpa replied, “That is the stupidest thing I ever heard. I already rotate my crops because I can grow more that way. My land doesn’t get worn out. It gets renewed.”

Grandpa was stubborn and wouldn’t take the government’s money to do something he knew he should already be doing. The guys from the conservation bureau had problems with him. He always implemented the latest ideas without waiting for them to come up with a program to get him to do it. Crazy old coot? Really, he was a visionary farmer.

Do you have to be paid to prepare yourself to earn more money? 

Reading about your field, reading books, or even listening to audiobooks on your way to work is the best way to keep current in your field. College courses in the evening are a great way to build the basics you need for a foundation for growth. Enthusiasm will get you into seminars and conventions. Pay for it yourself if you have to. It is worth it.

Don’t wait for someone to come and tell you what you need to do and learn. Go out and learn it yourself before that happens. 

Something to do today

Find new articles, books, or audiobooks in your field and write down a few things that stand out or are new to you. How can you apply that to your work?

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.

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.

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.