Monday, November 24, 2014

Resume Photo Pros & Cons

Opinions are mixed about whether or not having a photo on your resume or CV is helpful to your job search efforts. It depends on who is asked. Those who come from a human resource perspective will tell you yes. I do not think it is a good idea and, to be clear, I suggest it can actually be counterproductive to your efforts.
Human Resources, those usually the first to receive and process your resume, will always prefer you attach a photo as part of your resume. But know too their job is not to look for reasons to count you in, but rather to look for reasons to disqualify you. Yeah, okay blah, blah, blah, of course they’ll say they evaluate you according to your qualifications but that’s garbage. Hiring managers are qualified to judge your qualifications, not HR; they are just checking your resume against a very short list of items with which to compare and check off. Unless you are there in person, they are evaluating a document, which represents you, and what they have is what you’ve provided them. Make no mistake about it, in the current digital age we interact increasingly less and less, one-on-one. I say it often, human resources is less human than ever and they don’t want to meet you, nor do they want to speak with you until such time as they decide – if you, or more appropriately your resume, get that far.
Your professional resume is meant to list your professional qualifications, accomplishments and provide a chronology of your work history. Adding a photo is a distraction and, more often than you think, it will be used to judge you rightly or wrongly. But one thing’s for sure, it is not a reflection of your skills or ability so why use it? I suppose those who consider themselves to be among the pretty people, the Barbie and Ken dolls among us, are quick to add their image though even for them a photo can have the opposite effect than they intend.  
Additionally, the kind of photo you choose to use can also influence your fate. Ask any HR person and they’ll tell you they like a photo because it communicates something about that person – that very statement exemplifies you are being judged by your appearance rather than your qualifications. I find resume photos to be entertaining and, I promise you, they become fodder for fun and ridicule among human resources and hiring managers. “What were they thinking” is one of my common responses. What does your photo say about you?
There is their chin resting on their hand; suggesting thoughtfulness and a contemplative personality, perhaps even saying, “I’m relaxed, friendly and approachable”. Or the angular look-over-the-shoulder poses reminiscent of a high school yearbook photo. Or the personal photo from vacation or a company party and maybe even having cropped out whomever was also in the photograph. Are you looking for a job or a date, because sometimes I think a lot of people use the same photos. Some of the funniest I’ve seen are those of real estate agents in the U.S., who use Glamour Shots, the kind that were popular in the late 1990s and in the last decade. Overly-posed photos complete with big hair, too much make-up and maybe even a feather boa. I look at those and think of an over-the-hill cheerleader or prom queen striving to maintain relevance, or perhaps a past their prime stripper making a career change. Have I made my point?
Too often perception is reality and varies widely from one person to another. It is quite possible ten different people will perceive your photo ten different ways and your photo on a CV can help but almost never does. So keep it simple and stick with the facts, your resume is and should be about you and not what you look like, which, by the way, has very little to do with the job you seek. Unless you are applying for a job to read the evening news or provide the weather forecast on television, where’s the added value?
However, if you still choose to have your photograph on your resume or CV, then allow me to make a couple suggestions. Selfies are just plain silly, juvenile and suggest you’re not serious about your career efforts. Photos from your trip to Paris aren’t going to impress anyone nor will the photo you like so much in that great outfit you wore to last year’s party. Ensure any photo you choose is relatively up-to-date as it’s meant to represent you recently, not you 5 or more years ago. Better yet, make it easy and just spend a little bit to get a professional photo taken. It doesn’t cost much and if you get a few extras for Mother or Father’s Day gifts,  voila, now it’s a cost-effective exercise. 
Your attire should be professional, period. Translate the word professional to fit within your career niche. Or, put in the most simple of terms, if you wouldn’t wear it to an interview, then don’t wear it in the photo on your resume, duh! Or better yet, don’t include a photo at all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blaming Others

In the recruitment industry or market we recognize two distinct cycles, employee-driven and company- driven market trends. Put simply, when the economy is doing well it is more employee driven. In other words, as it was before 2008, when there were, in many respects, more jobs than there were qualified employees to fill them. This meant that companies had to offer more and employees could negotiate for better conditions. However, as it is now, it is the opposite and there are more applicants than there are good jobs. This means companies have the upper hand; they can dictate terms to people resulting in lower salaries and less favorable terms. It’s nothing complex, but simply an issue of supply and demand as it relates to the employment market. With this in mind, what you may have been able to negotiate for yourself a few years ago, the last time you interviewed for a job, might not necessarily be possible this or the next time around. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but don’t let your ego be bruised if you don’t get your way – after all, there is a new normal that a lot of folks are already experiencing, even if you have not yet done so.
Regardless, whatever deal you may or may not be able to negotiate for yourself, many people after the fact complain of how they were cheated or treated poorly and got a less than optimal deal. Part of the problem is many people don’t have strong negotiating skills. In order to negotiate one must have a measure of soft skills, abilities that are suffering a steep decline in the last 20 years, as a result of increased online social networking. I am an expert in the hiring process and the negotiations required therein; if anyone wants to avail themselves of a crash course you should get my book, which is easily found on Amazon, but that’s up to you. Other “experts”, whose primary advice focuses on and preaches the virtues of more social networking, miss the point completely. In reality, they have nothing substantive to offer; resume advice and more online activity is mere window dressing.
However, today I want to suggest the most rudimentary and the simplest way to get the best possible deal for yourself when you interview and receive a job offer, even if you possess no ability to negotiate and regardless of whether it is for a good job or that which will suffice until you find a better one. In fact, it is so simple that I feel as though I am insulting the intelligence of many people, though too many fail to do what should be automatic, reflexive and instinctive.
Conduct pre-interview due diligence
Many fail to do the most basic research about a company or job they seek. Easy access to the internet means you have no excuse not to be acquainted with most any organization you may consider working for. Look at their website or search for press releases and new items that can provide you with both positive and negative info with which you can make an informed decision. Career biographies of key company personalities are also readily available with just a bit of effort. Furthermore, you should anticipate one of the most basic questions most interviewees encounter, “What do you know about our company?”, and/or, “why are you interested in working for us?” Even if you manage to get through the process without this knowledge do you have any clue about what and with whom you are trying to join? 
Be an active interview participant
During the interview process many people are passengers and do little more than hide behind their resume, smile and nod on cue to appear engaged when, in reality, they are just hoping to get through the interview with their fingers crossed. I recognize interviewing sucks, nobody likes to interview. But the interview process directly affects you in a very personal manner and the old adage that suggests, “the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask”, applies in this case.
Read the job offer (all of it)
Most people do not read their job offer. Yeah, they read the parts about their job title description of their responsibilities, how much they will get paid, their company benefits – you know, the important stuff. But they fail to read the equally important fine print. For example: many companies who know they call the shots in this so-called economic recovery are flexing their muscles taking full advantage. I don’t fault them for it even if some things they do may be questionable – but I do fault people who fail to review any deal to which they apply their signature without thorough review.  If you need a glaring example, here’s one: there is a very large international company, which has in the fine print of their employment contracts a passage that states that by signing the agreement you waive any right to litigate against them. Imagine, all the labor laws meant to protect you mean nothing if you willingly sign away your rights, but how would you know if you don’t read your contract – all of it. I have read articles in this regard but you won’t find many and I am sure the reason has nothing to do with media outlets owned by large corporations. 
So perhaps you can imagine my lack of sympathy for many who fail to do what is the most basic of responsibilities in their own self-interest, when pursuing and interviewing for any job. If you fail to do what I have described above – which does not require a lot of effort, then you have no right to blame anyone else for what you willingly, albeit unwittingly, agreed to. Shared risk and mutual respect is what should be the basis of any contract between parties, and anything less is simple negligence on the part of whoever fails to pay attention when it matters most. 
For those who think there is an increasingly un-level playing field of late there are two schools of thought; one is that companies, at a time which is more advantageous to them are just seeking the best deal they can for their bottom line (profitability). Others suggest we are drifting towards a techno-feudalism or new age of serfdom, lorded over by large corporate structures, which regard employees as an expendable and easily replaced commodity. Frankly, I can find some evidence of both, but this is a subject for another day. No matter the situation or the cause, all you can do is try to influence your individual situation as best you can – you are powerless only if you choose to be. 
During any process of negotiation, almost no one gets everything they want and there are always trade-offs, resulting in compromises of varying degrees. Anyone who expects to get everything they want on their own terms, when they want it, is either childish or delusional. During the current economic cycle, it is true that companies have the upper hand, although you are a victim if you willingly relinquish your role in the process.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Interview the Interviewer

So many people are nervous about the prospect of interviewing. Most of us hate putting ourselves through it and I don’t know anyone who likes to interview. One’s ability to interview effectively comes down to one primary factor – your own level of self-confidence. Fear and indecision is palpable, our basic animal instincts sense fear. Recognizing it, overcoming it, controlling it requires courage, which Hemingway referred to as “grace under pressure”. Though, for most people this takes time and concerted effort to develop. Regardless, there are a few things I suggest you should recognize on your road to building, re-building and galvanizing your own confidence level.  
There is another aspect to consider that few people want to address honestly – and that is, the manay of those who conduct interviews have no idea what they are doing, they’re following a script or making it up as they go along. I have met hiring managers who were dumber than those they were interviewing but, after all, they have a managerial title on their business card and they might have a degree from a prestigious university. That doesn’t mean they know how to interview, much less attract top talent. And for the managers reading this, don’t kill the messenger, it’s already an open secret. For example: senior company managers are voicing concerns about employees (which include managers), who increasingly lack essential soft skills. But, as I recently commented in another blog entry, the problem is increasingly that their own middle managers themselves lack soft skills and, as a result, are incapable of identifying much less evaluating the soft skills of applicants. I am not ridiculing anyone or being nasty, it is simply the truth and, yet, these are the people who are evaluating you when you interview. Note that when you are asked an inconvenient question you are nonetheless expected to answer, however, ask an interviewer a question that isn’t on their little formulaic list and watch what happens. They’ll get discombobulated if you ask a question that isn’t on their departmental or company-issued FAQ list or talking points, from which they recite nicely wrapped and pre-packaged answers. So I suggest, instead of being passive participants, we should help them along a little bit.
Interviews are by their very nature formulaic because it is, after all, a process, a ritual, with some predictable steps that vary from one company to another. Sure, there are different styles and methods but there are similarities inherent to every interview process. For example: the initial interview is meant to validate you are what and who you claim, as stated on your resume. It is also meant to learn the basics about the job you are considering and being considered for. The second interview is for both sides to gain more details as a continuation of the first. It is also from the second interview stage onward as the appropriate time to discuss money - for more about discussions related to money, see my post from 19 October. All remaining steps concern the finer points of the job as well as meeting others, in order to determine if you fit their company culture (and if they match your expectations).
I want to focus on that all-important first interview where impressions are made. Fortunately, it’s this first real step that is the most predictable. Most assuredly they are going to ask you, “What do you know about our company?” And, “Tell me about yourself?” Identifying the end of the interview is also obvious because near to that time they will say, “So, do you have any questions?” If you know it’s coming, if you want to make an impact and exert a small measure of control over your own fate I suggest you get out ahead of the curve, take the initiative whenever possible; don’t be only reactive, but be proactive anytime you see an opportunity; flip it around somewhat and interview the interviewer.
Instead of just sitting there waiting to be told when to roll-over, speak, beg or play dead – actively engage the interviewer. Let’s put it this way, if you are only speaking when spoken to, you’re wrong. Of course, wait your turn and then impress not only with your qualifications but also your interaction. Take initiative and ask insightful questions, which clearly benefit you as well as demonstrate to the interviewer you are in fact more switched-on than most others they meet. What I am suggesting isn’t as radical or aggressive as it sounds. Here are some easy examples of questions to demonstrate what I mean:
  •  “Beyond the basic job description, as the manager, what are your key factors when considering someone for this position?”
  • “Can you describe for me, what a typical day (in this position) would be?”
  • “What happened to the last person in this role?” Followed up by, “And how long were they in the position?”
  • “How long have you been with the company / organization?”
  • “What made you choose to work for this company?”
  • “For someone who performs well in this position, where is the career advancement?”
  • (your final question of the interview should be) “So, what’s next – do you have any concerns - is there any reason you would not advance me to the next step?” (then stop talking, shut up and listen)
These are but a few examples; there are countless more depending on your particular situation and market segment. Although be prepared, some interviewers resent being questioned. I suggest that if they are difficult to deal with during the interview stage, you might not find them particularly pleasant to work with – but that’s for you to decide. Generally speaking, I find that good managers, the kind you want to work for, react positively to this kind of interaction, and for them it is like a breath of fresh air compared with most droids who nod and smile on cue but offer little else during interviews.
So rather than relying solely on the interviewer to know and show you the way, take responsibility for yourself, take the initiative to exert more influence on your own fate. But, if you’re going to take the initiative you should be fully prepared to be able to back up any claims you make, and be able to prove successes if challenged with provable anecdotal or documented evidence. At the end of the interview, if you feel confident you can take it a step further by offering references before you are asked (provided your references have already been warned ahead of time you may refer to them). Do it with confidence, this kind of toe-to-toe active interview participation differs hugely from most everyone else out there and you will stand in contrast to others. As I stated above from the start, it’s about confidence in your own abilities and rejecting the timid approach to which too many people have been reduced by current trends, which are sometimes designed to diminish you.
If you are looking for yet another reason to do what I am suggesting, if you choose to behave like, sound like, the rest of the sheep, when it comes time for a hiring manager to determine who among the applicants will advance to the next stage, why should they choose you?


Monday, October 27, 2014

Most Outplacement Programs Are a Sham

I’m only saying what many who’ve participated in such programs already know. Most outplacement programs are mostly hype, delivering little substance. Or, as I like to say, they are 90% smoke and only 10% horsepower (or less) and a rip-off for the companies that pay for them. The reason is simple, the purveyors of typical outplacement services over-promise and vastly under-deliver how much they will do for those they are supposed to help.
Outplacement services are often utilized when a company downsizes headcount for whatever reason. Another example may be universities or trade schools, which offer outplacement services as a part of their programs. Yet another might be outplacement services offered to military service members who are completing their enlistments or careers. Without going into detail because, after all, this is a blog and not an in-depth article, let’s look at what many outplacement programs consist of.
A primary component of any outplacement program or service is helping people with their resumes. They claim to help to construct a professional resume and all that goes along with it such as being able to scan and having a generally standardized structure and format. Another component they might boast is to connect you with companies where you can utilize your skills and experience. Now this all sounds nice, but most often all they are doing is helping you to post your resume to a job board or portal; maybe they have relationships with a few companies looking for people with your skills, but that’s about as far as it goes.
So then, what do we have in reality – resume help and assistance posting your stuff online? Is that the best there is? Seems to me companies are paying a lot of money for outplacement help that doesn’t provide much help, neither for the client company paying for the services nor the people they are supposed to be helping. Come on, resume templates and advice can be found all over the place, online. And posting your resume onto job portals is within the grasp of most people. Sounds real helpful doesn’t it (sarcasm)?
At the risk of sounding cynical, these programs are so obviously worthless that one might conclude senior company management provides these services for employees they are cutting loose, as a CYA measure to create the façade that they care about employees they are letting go. In reality, most senior managers do want to provide a substantive resource to help their employees to transition. But even companies are increasingly displeased with so-called outplacement services for which they pay handsomely. I’ll go still further, by saying the majority of outplacement service providers are either ill-equipped to provide any real services – or they are charlatans.
The problem is the focus of these programs. Outplacement is about helping people, not resumes or helping someone to access an online service – any 13-year-old can do the same thing and therein lies the key issue. If you are not teaching people to help themselves, you’re not really helping them. Rather, it should be about empowering or re-empowering people; providing them with substantive information they can capitalize on and from it build a foundation to help them move their lives forward.
I write about and say it until I am blue in the face; it takes more than a resume and online activity to get the results you want or need – much more. At a time when college grads are fighting over bartending and wait staff jobs, if you think a piece of paper and online activity, just going through the motions, is all that’s necessary, then you just don’t get it - or you’re in denial. If, on the other hand, you recognize something’s not working, then perhaps it is about time to rethink your strategy.
So, what are you going to do beyond monitoring job portals and limiting yourself to what everyone else is doing – which isn’t much? What other methods for finding job opportunities are you going to capitalize on? What are you going to say when you find yourself seated in front of a hiring manager and they say, “So tell me about yourself?” - I certainly hope you’re not going to recite / read from your resume. Do you know when and how best to discuss money and compensation? Do you possess any basic negotiating or closing skills? What about follow up? Are you going to be proactive or will you sit around waiting for an email, or for your phone to ring? What about cover letters, references, how to handle job offers – both verbal and written? How many outplacement programs cover these subjects? Do you know of any? No, I didn’t think so. Well, I teach this stuff but there are increasingly very few who are even capable of learning.
If you are a company executive who will, perhaps, have need to facilitate and provide outplacement services, I hope for the sake of the employees you claim you want to help that you’ll demand more from service providers. And if you’re an employee who’ll have need of outplacement assistance, take full advantage of it but press for more than simply being led through the motions. You, as an individual, need to invest the time necessary to upgrade your own abilities so you can maximize your job search and interviewing efforts.


Monday, October 6, 2014


When I encounter job descriptions, they usually speak about a minimum or an ideal range of experience required. I don’t recall seeing job postings stating a maximum limit of experience and, with good reason, it would be considered discriminatory. Yet, there are job seekers both interested and very qualified, who are ironically disqualified with the excuse of their being overqualified. I suggest it‘s most often used as a generic excuse to disqualify anyone who doesn’t fit neatly into the little boxes or differ from the majority of cookie-cutter people and personalities. It is also utilized, in my opinion, as a veiled form of discrimination.  

There are, of course, some valid reasons why companies worry about considering those with experience exceeding the stated job requirement. For example:  someone might say all the right things and accept a position lower than that for which they are qualified just a get a job, then, shortly thereafter, reveal their true intention. And, after a short period they’ll get bored and want a higher position. Or, they require more money than is budgeted for the job; this one is often valid, but not if it is baseless and lazy assumption on the part of the interviewer. There is also a worry they might use their advanced experience to usurp their supervisor; at least this is a stereotype – although, this is primarily the paranoid concern of weak and mediocre managers. By the way, it’s instructive to note the best of managers, those who are secure, confident and successful – hire in the own image. That’s right, they seek people as good or better than themselves because they are advancing in their own careers, recognizing they need good people to continue what they’ve accomplished after they move on. 

Undoubtedly, markets are shifting and changing, which requires adaptive perspective as it relates to hiring practices that are not keeping pace with economic and workplace changes. However, this would contradict current entrenched and formulaic HR selection and hiring practices, which more resemble dogma than a process of selecting the best and brightest available talent, which is the stated goal. As a result, many companies are missing an opportunity to benefit from highly-skilled and experienced applicants who might, just maybe, have a lot to contribute. So what if they may overshadow more junior employees, in effect raising the bar for overall performance? It’s as though the concept of Topgrading never existed. 

As the majority of baby boomers reach retirement age, there is a growing shortage of skilled professionals in many business sectors. As a matter of necessity, managers are increasingly becoming open to considering highly-skilled, experienced and, yes, even those who until recently had been considered overqualified. Furthermore, many senior company managers express frustration about younger professionals who increasingly lack the basic skills taken for granted in the past. Although, I find the most resistance to change in the halls of HR departments. There, the concept does not fit their increasingly formulaic processes nor institutional one and two-dimensional thinking. Their concern is often administrative in nature, rather than what might be best for business.

I have spoken with human resource professionals who lament about the lack of suitably-qualified applicants compared to the sheer mass of resumes they receive. So if there is a stale, half-hearted effort to fill a position that‘s been vacant four months or longer with no solution yet identified, why shouldn‘t a company consider someone who may indeed be a little overqualified? Or, is it better to leave the position open long term, diverting others to duties that prevent them from effectively doing their own jobs, thereby making everyone less effective? Meanwhile, there may be a qualified person (you) with, for example, 8 years experience instead of the job position’s description requirement of 3-6 years. Not enough experience I understand, but too much experience seems more a matter of perspective, wouldn’t you agree? This is especially evident in technically-skilled roles. In some business sectors, there are simply not enough qualified grads entering the workforce to offset the larger numbers of those retiring. 

If you consider yourself to be, or have repeatedly been told you are overqualified, your task is to demonstrate why you are a good choice. But your experience on paper, all by itself, is a dead and lifeless document, it does nothing to display your energy level or attitude, as well as you can do so in person. Relying on your resume to do the talking for you is a mistake no matter how good your past may have been and whether your experience is  applicable in the current marketplace. And most important, are you able to articulate why you are a better choice than others – which is the task of any applicant regardless of experience? You must be able to do this while directly addressing and alleviating suspicion, convincing interviewers that your interest in the job is sincere and your skills can add value. I recognize many people are incentivized by the pursuit and climb up the organizational ladder, although not all lawyers seek partnership, not all sales representatives want to be VP of Sales, not all administrative assistants dream about being the office manager, etc. But that doesn‘t make them any less an asset.

If you fit the demographic we are discussing and, thus far, unable to gain full employment status, you may also need to think outside of the box; consider offering to be a contractor rather than an employee on the company books. You might also suggest you can do the job on a temp to perm basis. Then later when you’ve demonstrated your value, challenge them to hire you as a permanent employee. 

If you are confident in what you have to offer, do not let the term overqualified  automatically prevent you from pursuing a company to which you’d like to contribute your experience. While some may call you overqualified, be ready to explain why, instead, you are in fact eminently qualified.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Begging For a Job

People should always accompany their online job activities with other methods of looking for opportunities, utilizing a combination of strategies. One of them involves literally, physically and actively approaching companies and company managers on your own behalf in-person, with all that entails. Handshake-to-handshake, face-to-face and eye-to-eye, is hands-down the best way to go, anytime you can facilitate such an event. But if you’re only going to passively wait until you are invited as a result of your online activity, well, then you’re missing the whole point. I recognize that for many people this concept is foreign to them.
Imagine; there are people with whom I speak, for whatever reason, who act with incredulity and react viscerally, opposed to such crazy talk and very often they’ll respond by telling me they absolutely refuse to sink to the level of going and begging someone for a job. Yeah, that’s what they tell me. So let me get this straight, physically approaching a company you’d like to work for in-person; knocking on the door to introduce yourself, makes you a beggar. Oh really?
Some may think their perspective derives from an inflated sense of entitlement. For the record, I consider their negative reaction just plain stupid and naïve – sorry, but it is – it’s weak, wimpy, short-sighted and sad. However, it is more likely only a panicked response because they’re no longer capable – or they never learned how to do anything more than point and click. Meanwhile the clever people, the few still possessing a measure of self-confidence, are finding their way to companies and they are getting jobs, while most others choose to continue to hide behind their computer screens with their fingers crossed.
Just Today, not more than 3 hours before writing this blog entry, I spoke with a company hiring manager about someone I’m representing. I shared the person’s background, accomplishments and what they claim they have to offer a company. I didn’t look online to see if there were any job openings because that’s a sucker’s game. Personally, I don’t care what’s posted online and never have. For years, I’ve recognized that companies don’t post everything, anyway. Although, hiring managers are always interested in hearing about good professionals with a demonstrable track record of success. As proof of this, upon hearing about my candidate’s attributes and accomplishments the hiring manager suggested, “Please send me their resume, there aren’t any jobs posted on the website but we’d be interested in someone like this.” Hello, ding, ding, ding…ding - if you missed it, go back and read this paragraph again.
And yet, even with overwhelming evidence to support my claims there are those who I described above, who assume that contacting a company directly will somehow diminish them. Meanwhile, they are more than happy and willing to search online for a job in the same manner as one might look for and purchase vitamins or something -- yeah, that’s much more dignified, eh. If this is the level of importance you apply to your career and professional wellbeing, so be it.
If you want to be more direct but you don’t know what to do, the hard part isn’t picking up the phone to call; yes, it is a little bit of a challenge to find and contact the appropriate hiring manager (see the entry I published last week). The toughest part is when you have your moment to speak with a potential boss. But you can do this if you so resolve.
When your moment arrives, demonstrate what you have to offer (your experience), what you think you can contribute and immediately validate any claim with anecdotal evidence of your career accomplishments. So, voice interest, make a claim, back it up with fact / figure / example and then repeat for each individual claim. Do it in a brief synopsized manner and remember, peoples’ attention spans are short. Be brief, your initial intro and presentation should not be longer than about 30 to 40 seconds, tops. Remember, the goal is to secure a meeting / interview, so don’t tell them everything and save the best stuff for when you are face-to-face. And no, it isn’t easy to do this and it takes time to perfect. If this is too much for you then go back to the way you’ve been doing things – but don’t complain if you’re not willing to try new things.
Furthermore, don’t over-analyze either, before you act -- better that you mess up and stumble, adjusting as you go, than to sit doing nearly nothing and make excuses. Online only job searching is about as near to doing nothing as there is. Indeed, what I’m suggesting requires real effort and commitment. By the way, this is how you make your own luck.
So is there anyone who still wants to tell me taking charge and making potential employers aware of you, is akin to begging, and is beneath your dignity? I say it all the time, the tools and the means to take more control of your career are available, my handbook is the best example I’d point to; buy it or don’t buy it, I don’t care, but it has a lot of good info I’ll bet you don’t know but could use. Likewise, there’s free stuff in dribs and drabs on my website and blog, which you can access from my LinkedIn profile.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Take Back Control – or Else…

During the 22 years during which I have been a headhunter or, more categorically, a direct-search recruiter, I have been watching with studious interest the standardization and streamlining of hiring processes. Let me be clear: the processes, and the rules you are told to follow, serve only to benefit companies, not you. Most of the advice you read is presented by those very same people telling you what and how to do it to fit their vision of what’s best for you. It’s rather like asking the prison guard what your rights are from the confines of your cell. That is because you, your concerns and your interests, are not their priority. That which differentiates you from everyone else is a distraction, by and large they aren’t interested. They have a script, a list, a ritual they follow and to step out of line is to attract a look of disapproval. They’re too busy trying to connect the dots of some generic job description, just one of many job vacancies they are tasked with filling. They aren’t as interested in you as they are with trying to find a match to an ideal psychometric profile; they can’t be bothered with your needs while they are busy trying to connect the dots. Just get in line with everyone else, react when summoned, speak only when spoken to and don’t call us we’ll call you. You need to understand and accept that human resources is less human than ever.
But we share a lot of the blame because, for the sake of convenience, we’ve disarmed ourselves, gotten fat and lazy to the extent that far too many people are not capable of doing more than the online activities. Imagine, when I suggest that people do something so basic as to pick up the phone and seek out an actual hiring manager (not to be confused with human resources who, in reality, are process oriented, they don’t make actual hiring decisions) they give me a look of incredulity that implies I am being unreasonable and even radical. In the modern era, if it isn’t posted online most people have no idea what to do for themselves. So they do nothing, beyond the same pointless routines over and over again with the same result – which defines what? Yeah, and I’m the crazy one?
So welcome to the new normal, which is increasingly analogous to Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Unless you make a conscious choice to take responsibility for yourself, turn away from those with interests other than yours and what’s best for you and your family – here is your future; here is your kid’s future, get used to it. Actually, it’s already here, we just have better clothes and a brighter, better-appointed workplace.



But all is not lost. For those who want to take initiative, actual hiring managers still want to find the best available talent. But you’ve got to get their attention and even before that, you need to navigate an obstacle course of bureaucracy. This misconception the internet has made finding jobs easier is a lie; what it has done however, is create yet another barrier between you and a decision maker. It has also made it much easier for human resources to avoid having to expand their precious time dealing with pesky applicants. Meanwhile, you’re more frustrated than ever.
Ironically, I hear managers often lament they can’t find the best candidates. I also hear job seekers complaining that they pursue job opportunities and apply online, only to never hear from anyone and are not even sure their resumes have been reviewed or considered. Hey look, this blog now has an archive spanning almost two years. Also available here is a series of video segments, free to anyone who’ll take the time to view them. Best of all, I have a step-by-step handbook with more detail than I can provide in a blog or the videos and you’ll always have it at your fingertips to quick-reference, anytime. So if you want to improve your chances you have no excuses – and if you still fail to do anything, I haven’t an ounce of pity or even any sympathy for you.
A lot of people talk about doing things, but increasingly fewer actually do anything about it. I’ve done my part, making this information available. It’s up to you to do something with it or share it, bringing it to the attention of someone you know who is in need. And you will set yourself apart because human nature is such that most people will continue to do nothing and prefer to complain. This is an advantage for you, so capitalize on it.