Tag Archives: Interviews

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?

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.

Demand attention from the hiring manager

A giant cockroach steals the hero’s gun and swallows it, So the hero taunts the cockroach until it eats him. A few minutes later the cockroach explodes and our hero is standing there holding the huge gun the monster ate a few minutes before. Men In Black was a lot of fun. In that case the only way to save the world was to survive in the stomach of a giant bug.

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There has to be at least 5 great job hunting analogies there. Create your own, then read mine. I bet mine is different.

The giant bug wants nothing more than to get into its spaceship and get away. Of course the earth will be destroyed if it gets away, but that is not the bug’s problem. The two puny humans must do everything they can to keep it from leaving. They taunt it, harass it, insult it, and step on small earthly cockroaches (relatives and friends) to get it to delay its departure. They figure out what the bug can’t ignore and get it to come back and deal with them.

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. Take three lessons from the way the Men In Black fought the giant bug:

  1. You have to find the right words
  2. You have to engage them in conversation
  3. A relative or friend may be able to get them to talk to you

Over the next three articles I will show you how to do each of these things. The giant cockroach, the hiring manager, will give you all the hints you need. I’ll show you what those hints are.

Something to do today

What do you need to do to get a hiring manager to need to talk to you?

Every candidate could use a bit of polish

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

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

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

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

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

 Something to do Today

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

Everyone judges a book by it’s cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Become the person you would admire.

Something to do today

What’s on your cover?

Their perception will change your career

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

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

Glasses, Reading Glasses, Spectacles, Eye Wear, Reading

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

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

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

Something to do today

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

Everyone wants a better bargain

Desert, Drought, Landscape, Sand, Tree, Nature

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

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

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

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

Something To Do Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something To Do Today

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