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How To Hire: 8 stunning tips

In the June 6, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a manager offers 8 stunningly clear tips about how to hire so effectively that other managers in your company steal your hires.

A hiring manager who prefers to remain anonymous teaches us how to hire. This should be required reading in every company. There’s nothing for me to add except Thank you.

how to hireA manager’s short course on how to hire

Most of my colleagues do not know how to interview anyone. They rely on rules of thumb, guts, or chicken entrails.

Actually, they have their direct reports interview the candidate and then vote on the candidate. I have a different way to hire and I think it works.

1. Recruit all the time

Always be in interview mode. Talk to prospective candidates even if you don’t have a place for them. (See The manager’s #1 job.)

2. Don’t hire by consensus

Do not allow your team to vote on candidates. The hiring manager hires. People are tribal and will pick people like themselves. Do not have a team where everyone is the same.

3. Start with all the resumes

Tell HR to send you all the resumes. Don’t let anyone edit your selection because they’re not as qualified as you are to judge the applicants. If you know what you want, you can go through them much faster than an HR clerk. (See also Sorting Resumes: A strategic hiring error and Why HR should get out of the hiring business.)

4. Hire the dancers

Don’t hire anyone for whom the job is a lateral move. That’s what contractors are for. You want people for whom the job will make a difference in their lives. You want your new hires to dance to work.

5. Interview wisely

Interview only 5 candidates to prevent interview fatigue. Schedule interviews over a 3-4 week period and make a decision within 24 hours of the final interview. (Use the phone only to confirm availability. Phone interviews are nearly worthless.)

6. Can they do the job?

Ask candidates to audition for the job. Give them a simple assignment before the interview. (See What is the single best interview question ever?)

7. Act responsibly

Write to every candidate after the interview and give them your results. It is common decency. Besides, you may want to hire the second best candidate in a few months.

8. Get better at hiring

Last, review your process and look for improvements.

The problem with hiring this way is that the people you hire are so good that other departments will poach them. But that’s really okay, because you want to bring motivated people into your organization. Be proud of the impact your hires make.

Nick’s Reply

Like I said, this is so good that there’s nothing for me to add. What I think would be incredibly productive is to hear from this community — from hiring managers, job seekers and HR folks — about how you would flesh these 8 suggestions out.

How exactly would you put these tips to work? How would you tweak, bend and shape these ideas about how to hire, to make them work best in your work environment? If you’re a manager, maybe you already do some of these things. If you disagree with some of them, please explain and offer your own tips.

I’d like to thank the manager who essentially wrote this week’s column for me. For another manager’s hiring methods, see Smart Hiring: A manager who respects applicants.


Update

Number of interviews

After this column was published, a good question was raised by readers (in the comments section below) about whether the manager (whose advice this column is based on) really means you should interview only 5 candidates in total, and how long the entire process should really take. So I asked him. Here’s his reply.

Scheduling a series of interviews with the internal stakeholders is not easy. You don’t want a candidate to return to the office multiple times to interview. Placing a line in the sand is for the benefit of the internal stakeholders telling them you will finish this task in 3 weeks. I have had SVP’s insist on interviewing a potential hire and then have their schedule full of meetings for the next 2 weeks. I have also had other managers want to interview a candidate to determine if they are good fit for their team.

I stop at 5 candidates because of interview fatigue. The candidates start to blur over time and they become difficult to compare. The interviews are at least ½ day and the cost to the team in lost work starts to show. If you try to interview 5 candidates in a week your team will not be able to get any work finished.

Also, at least 2 candidates will be from professional conferences or prior interviews. They are already known to the team and just have to run the HR gauntlet.

Salary

The hiring manager also explains how he handles the salary question during interviews.

I never ask the candidates current salary because I feel it is irrelevant.  I know the market clearing price and most of the time the candidate knows it.  The ones who don’t know it are HR and that’s where the struggle begins and ends.  That’s why it will sometimes take weeks to schedule an interview.  You don’t want to bring anyone in until HR agrees with you on the salary range.

I had one hire who told me that his new salary was 100% higher than his previous salary.   That was a person who danced to work every day.


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88 Comments
  1. Nicely explained. But isn’t this only common sense? When I was a hiring manager, I used to follow each of these plus one more tip – consciously keep out personal likeability from affecting the hiring decision, but weed out jerks rewolutely.

    Got some amazing out of industry hires who did very well for the company and themselves by following these.

    Now, I’m on the other side of the table and keep wondering why so many companies have a exceedingly bureaucratic approach to hiring – Is it fearfulness as they know they haven’t got it right??

    • Here is a true story…

      I meet someone who is looking for a system admin at a networking event. He starts talking about the overwhelming number of resumes that have come in. So many, that he had his current system admin developing some sort of applications to screen for the most qualified (this is during the Great Recession).

      I said “Rather than do that, go through the resumes by hand. When you have three or four that look good, interview them. If someone will work out, hire them.”

      He said “But there might be someone better in the stack.”

      • There’s an actual math algorith which says you’ll find the hire you want in the first 37% of interviews.

        • Analysis paralysis?

          • @Dave: Maybe. The more parsimonious explanation is laziness. The more generous explanation is fear of making a mistake and needing plausible deniability.

            • A tidbit I picked up when I did some seasonal work at Circuit City…

              We had a wall of televisions, well over a hundred. I was getting really, really aggravated with customers who would spend a couple hours looking at sets, then leave without buying anything from me (especially on Saturday!).

              I was complaining to my manager, and this was the tip he gave me: Find the customer’s three most important features and desired price-point. Show them three (absolutely no more than three) televisions that have those features. Let them choose.

              It worked like a charm. I have applied that to almost anything where I have to make a decision (or present to anybody else who has to make a decision).

        • Its called the Secretary Problem. You can see an explanation and interactive solution here:http://www.math.uah.edu/stat/urn/Secretary.html

    • @Manoj: Common sense in hiring? It’s been supplanted by algorithms.

      There’s actually more to it. Labor researchers at U Penn’s Wharton School have shown that in the past 15 years companies’ investment in employee training and development has shrunk to virtually zero. It’s not hard to see how that has affected the quality of hiring. I recently did a workshop for a group of 10 seasoned, successful managers. I asked them how good they felt they were at interviewing, on a scale of one (low) to ten. No one claimed more than a four. Companies simply don’t teach managers how to hire. Common sense is not always innate :-)

  2. Great article (as always)! But I think it was missing something: https://i.imgur.com/VwNkNyW.jpg

  3. I don’t agree with hiring someone who is making a lateral move. Lateral moves are often not by choice, but due to downsizing, or escaping a bad boss.

    • that’s “NOT” hiring someone who is making a lateral move.

      • Agree…this comes under the “why are you leaving your current position?”

        The other half to the “lateral move” question is “Are you willing to hire someone who needs to grow into the position they are being hired for?”

        In my experience, many companies want to hire someone that will be producing on day one.

        • @Gregoy: There has clearly been a trend of just-in-time hiring. Many employers view new hires as disposable. Hire someone who has been doing the same job for 5 years. No need to train or develop them to move on to different work in a year or two. Just fire them. (Or cancel their contract if you had the foresight to use a contracting firm.) And hire another perfect fit.

          • You are exactly on with that. The companies that supply these contractors market their services with a “vast pool of the expert talent you need.”

            I am also quick to point out that this is not the same as a company that has a specialty and a stable of expert employees to do the work.

  4. “Give them a simple assignment before the interview.” Great, make them do work for free. And I know you’ll come back and stress “simple,” but everyone’s definition of simple differs. I once had the hiring mgr demand I perform three massive design projects to “prove” myself, and there was no promise I’d even get an offer afterwards…thx but no thx.

    • My guideline would be 2-3 hours, tops, for how long the assignment would take. And that includes factoring in that the person may have to do a little research since he/she may not be very familiar with your company.

      *And* it should be of no value to the company. In other words, it should show what the candidate can do, not provide any benefit to the company beyond evaluating the candidate. Otherwise, that incentivizes the hiring manager to milk people for free work product. For example, one time I had prospective employees write a short report to a “customer” based on background information and technical data. All the information and data was typical of what the position would see, but it was all “made up” for the purposes of the exercise.

      • I’d agree, if totally theoretical and not of the manhole cover variety. That’s maybe 1 of 10.

    • Agreed. My experience is that there’s a fine line between ‘simple assignment’ and doing free work, which for a marketer/communicator and a designer gets crossed easily. I have had it thrown at me a few times and it was ALWAYS to get a free plan out of me, including a reorganization of a department! Nick, I know you believe that there should be compensation for same, but that’s not gonna happen in our lifetimes.

      I would try to give approaches and examples of how I succeeded in the past, demonstrating a comfortable knowledge of their business. There are different ways you can show you can do the job without giving away the store.

    • I caution against working for free, but I believe “doing the job to win the job” gives a good candidate an edge over the competition. In Silicon Valley I’ve seen employers misuse job applicants terribly. “Take this 2-week project home, do it, and we’ll consider you for a job based on your results.” That’s thievery.

      My advice is to offer to show what you can do, but do it judiciously. Do just enough to whet their appetite — and withhold enough that they can’t profit from your work unless they hire you.

    • I am a petroleum geologist. The best interviews are where I have had to do some technical presentations, interpret some seismics and well logs, and had good discussions on the work – rather than some HR person asking hypothetical qurestions.

      I assume this is true for most people: They would prefer to do a few hours of preparation on the work and discuss it, rather than the typical BS interview questions. Because it shows that the employer respects their competence and values their time.

      • From the BS interview question department…I recently had an interview and one of the interviewers asked me something like, “Which animal would you say you most closely resemble?”

        • If someone asked me such a stupid question I would reply, “Homo sapiens.”

  5. Rule #1: After my high school daughter’s CU campus visit with her mom, they stopped at a pancake house in Boulder. A gentleman at the next table must have listened to them talking because he approached and offered his card (Ball Aerospace) merely saying “Call or email me if you’re interested in a job.” She kept his card and finally emailed him 20 months later. Shortly after that, she was a Summer Intern at Ball. They liked her enough to give her 16 hours/week of employment during the school year with a guaranteed summer job the next year. Now starting her senior year, she’s still working that job and has (probably) got a full time job offer after graduation. Did I mention that they have a program that might pay for her grad school? Win/win – all for the cost of a business card.

    • @Doc W: Actually, the real cost was listening to the conversation going on at your daughter’s table. That’s the investment the Ball manager made. People don’t believe me, but I’ve recruited many people after overhearing conversations in restaurants or while standing in line somewhere, and then politely introducing myself like the gentleman in your story.

      That’s what I mean when I tell managers they need to devote at least 20% of their time recruiting. You can do it anywhere.

      Good for your daughter!

  6. Rule #2: The buck stops with you, the hiring manager. But it is useful to get the perspective from your team members, as they may see something that you have missed (whether it is good or bad).

    Rule #4: In programming, I’ve found it useful to give interviewees a very short (10-15min.) programming task to demonstrate how they approach a problem. This may be specific to programming, but I’ve found some people can talk a much better game than I can, but couldn’t program (i.e. do the job) their way out of a paper bag if it was on fire. The approach is the crucial point – one hire I helped with couldn’t finish the program because of some missing domain knowledge, but I could see that he would have solved it just fine after looking up some stuff (and turned out to be a great hire as I had expected).

    • I always offer to come in and workshop some real world problems with the team…not that I have ever been taken up on it.

      I have been in interviews where I was not quick enough with the answers, or was unfamiliar with the terminology. But if I had been able to “show”…

      As for the time…I am willing to put time in to doing my research and prep, what is a couple more hours…especially if I am interacting with people I want to work with.

      As for being taken advantage of, sometimes it is the cost of doing business. But if it costs me a half day NOT to work for a company that would do that, I consider it time well spent. And as great as my work is, I doubt a few hours will save a failing company or get a project back on track.

    • @Mark: The broader rule is, treat the applicant like an employee and expect them to act like one. That means, as in your story, HELP THEM DO THE JOB FOR YOU. That’s part of a manager’s job. Interviews aren’t sneaky tests full of tricks. The point is, you WANT the next applicant to succeed — just like you want an employee to succeed — so you can get back to work yourself!

      My compliments! We’re getting some great tips here that reveal really good management insight. And common sense :-).

  7. I question the four to five weeks to interview. If you have a good candidate, the competition will be looking at them as well. Time is not your friend.

    • Yeah, I was also perplexed by that. If you’re only doing 5 interviews, knock those suckers out in a week at most and get going on this whole “hiring” thing!

    • Please see the O.P.’s explanation about the limit of 5 interviews, which I posted as a comment down below. You can search for “UPDATE” to find it quickly.

  8. It seems to me the “traditional” interview focuses too much on the past, on what the candidate did 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago… ad nauseam. If I am ever in a hiring manager’s role again, I would ask the candidate for two things, and I would tell them in advance of the interview what they are, so they have a chance to think about it.

    One, what do you see as the specific deliverables for this job? What do you see as the contribution to the organizations success from this role?

    Two, imagine it is your first day. I show you to your desk. There’s the phone, there’s the computer. Go to work. What would you do? Where would you start? How would you get up to speed.

    I think if a candidate can provide satisfactory answers to these two questions, they’ve demonstrated they understand the role. Additionally, this now becomes a commitment they can be held to.

    • I believe the hiring manager should know what the specific deliverables are. On my last interview, the deliverables kept changing as I went through the interview process.

    • @Tom: I like your suggestion, but I’m with Dale (below). Why not tell the candidate (in advance) what the deliverables are and ask them to show how they’d tackle the work? Even an outline at the whiteboard should be sufficient. It’s just the next step on your idea, which is great because it focuses on what someone can do.

      Here’s what a guy named Rich Mok wrote to me after I did a workshop at Cornell’s Anderson School of Management. (He was an EMBA student.) Right after the workshop, he went on an interview. Here’s what happened:

      “The hiring manager more or less offered me the position on the spot and indicated a salary range that is roughly 40-50% more than I make now. Your two biggest lessons (at least for me) at work in the flesh: (1) Never divulge my current salary, and (2) Talk about what I will do, not what I’ve done.”

      Tell what you’re going to do, not what you’ve done. Managers can ask candidates for anything they want (within reason and the law). So why do they ask for a resume or “What animal would you be if you could be any animal?” when they can ask them to show how they’d do the work?

      You guys are delivering great ideas, totally out of the box! I love this!

  9. Yes! Request all resumes and applications!

    Many years ago, our Medical Editing department was hiring an assistant editor. The hiring manager was not happy with the applications sent to her by the Personnel department, so she requested ALL the applications.

    Our best candidate was found in the second batch of applicants whose applications had not originally been sent to our department. She had a Master’s degree in English, experience teaching English at the college level, and she was working in the hospital’s Medical Secretaries department. The Personnel people couldn’t read between the lines and see that this candidate had excellent skills and qualifications for the assistant medical editor job.

    I resolved then that I would always request all applications and resumes if I became a hiring manager.

    • Bingo. HR is a huge problem, but so are managers who “let” HR take the first cut on applicants. Any engineer knows this problem as a problem with the “source” signal. If the system corrupts the source signal, there’s no way to produce an accurate output. E.g., in the old days, when we made mixtapes on cassettes, the quality of your turntable made all the difference. No matter how good your recording system was, if the source — the vinyl on the turntable — was crappy, the resulting sound quality on the tape was compromised.

      You need all the original resumes to optimize the hire. Thanks for your story!

  10. All great. I’d like to think I mapped into all of them, but over time to his last point…learning how to do better hire.

    Probably part of always be recruiting, heavy support for, and utilization of intern programs, part timers, summer hires which map nicely and more strongly into giving candidates sample work. And don’t draw the line at college. I once worked near an advanced high school that focused on STEM. I hired seniors part time and in the summer and got some really good heads up on budding talent. Give them real work/projects, that will set you apart from managers and companies that blow them off entirely or with mickey mouse tasks. Treat them as a part of the team.

    On laterals. Generally agree. Why hire someone who merely wants to do more of the same? But…giving some hard times you also need to take into account that people are on the market, not by choice. So I’d talk to them, and interest depended on where they wanted to go from there, and belief in their ability to do so.

    to his last point, improving one’s ability to hire. I think early on I had to learn to spot potential as it gave me an edge over my colleague competitors for talent. They’d fixate on their current need and using elaborate and demanding job descriptions as a check list. I didn’t care that much about that, as organizations and business changes and I wanted people who were smart enough to learn and adapt to whatever you threw at them. That’s why I agree with the point of reading resumes yourself. HR could and would check off description fits, but had little ability to look beyond.

    Consensus interviewing. About every where I worked used it. And I did too. But…interviewing is not all about you. By letting others in your team, particularly direct reports participate, they learn how to do it, and you’re letting them know their input counts. But I worked for a boss who explained consensus. It’s not a vote, it’s a comparison of input. He paid attention, but if people thought it was a voting exercise, he told us he gets 51% everyone else’s totals to 49%. He said “I’m not letting some junior engineer control who I hire”.

    I would add one more rule #9. Follow up. which closes the loop, back to his 1st point. In recruiting you win some, you lose some. You meet people you’d like to hire, to the point of offers and don’t get the hire. Many managers take it personally which is a big mistake. Meaning that person is dead to them. Dumb move. If you thought they are a great hire, turning you down doesn’t change fit. You stay in touch, and continue to help them and sell. Nothing wrong with winning on the 2nd try. And very important, pay a lot of attention to on boarding and career development after people join you.

    He’s a class act as to career development. I had a boss who told me he thought a boss’s obligation to people is to help them grow,,including beyond you. You can’t guarantee employment, but you can do a LOT for employability. And that’s your followup

    • If you leave out the laterals, or even a step down (perceived) in title, you will leave out highly experienced–yes, older–candidates who want YOUR job because it is interesting, a new field, or have other needs to downshift–it could be less travel, fewer people to manage, or home obligations.

      Don’t overlook them if they can be a fit.

  11. Mostly great advice, except for a few things.
    Phone screens – don’t do it if you are hiring locally, but if you are hiring nationwide, it pays to check a candidate first. I’m looking for depth of knowledge, and I’ve found a few people on phone screens who couldn’t explain the classes they supposedly took or the projects they supposedly did. We saved a lot of money by not bringing them in. By company rule we brought in interns using phone screens only, and it worked out great.
    Lateral moves. I agree with Lisa M. If your company has a lot of steps on a career ladder I can see it, but if you have only a few you are just asking to be hit by the Peter Principle. We promoted people doing the job already, I don’t see how you can figure that out in an interview.

    Hiring by consensus. Again I agree with a previous comment. The hiring manager has final say, so it isn’t a vote, but if an interviewer turned up a problem you should listen. I’ve at times given out assignments to interviewers, so that they could focus on one aspect of the job or the resume.
    But I certainly am good with hiring all the time and getting better at it. It would be useful to look at performance review results for new hires, turnover, and what percentage of offers you make get accepted.

  12. Those are some of the best interview tips I have read so far. If I may add one thing, that would be for candidates to be cautious about auditioning for a job. For many technical positions, I am familiar with “whiteboard problems” being given to candidates. These conceptual problems are similar to (but not the same as) an issue the engineering team faces, and the candidate walks through how they would solve it on a whiteboard with the interviewers. In my opinion these are acceptable.

    However, I think many companies abuse the interview process and have their candidates provide free consulting or are asked to do an afternoon or day of real work for free “as part of the selection process.”

  13. I find phone screens a waste of time. Instead I ask about situations we are facing and ask how the candidate would tackle that problem. This step is very important. After I think I’m interested in hiring that person, I give them a simple programming problem. I do mean simple. But I give them a week to hand it in. That way they can throw in extra things to impress me. That shows me they can code, do it well, and they take the initiative to show me what they can do. Its a more positive way to interview someone, rather than asking stump-the-chump type questions.

  14. Nick, I agree with Dee (who happens to be someone I consider a friend and know well). Deliberately eliminating by passing by lateral moves is a very short-sighted way to recruit and to consign these roles ONLY to contractors is to assign these roles to people who are 1) restricted by their contracted time limits, 2) possibly restricted in their authority to be able to execute or commit the company contractually (as in procurement and contracts professionals) or 3) other legal provisions. In my current role as a contractor, a role consigned to me by age and current company circumstances, I am restricted by all of the above, as well as a reporting supervisor who will not permit me to negotiate on behalf of the client to the maximum extent of my ability. That said, I have now adopted the contractor mindset of doing only what I am permitted to do and declining to involve myself in those activities that are rightly the responsibility and domain of the FTE. When you hire contractors and treat them that way or as mercenaries, then don’t be surprised when they behave that way.

    The argument for the lateral movers and those people with the experience to do jobs that need to be filled is one that has effectively been answered in the US military through the use of and expansion of the warrant officers corps in the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, where specialist officers, with many years of experience in their former enlisted roles move laterally and also upward to fill roles that generalist, commissioned officers who lead and command are seen as above doing. The USAF, with all its techno whiz-bang toys, led by arrogant fighter pilot generals eliminated their warrant officers and also an entire class of highly experienced people.

    Companies do this at their peril and arguing in favor of it doesn’t solve the problems that exist or are exacerbated by the use of disposable workers.

    • I will add to my friend Paul C.’s comment that not only do those contractors find themselves in a situation where they are required to hold back and not contribute 100%, but also when they leave after the contract is over or for another opportunity, they ankle out the door with a ton of knowledge and usually NO non-compete/solicits. While I hate the latter, it’s something that has to be factored into the contractor equation. This is in marketing, product development, engineering, IT….

      The by-products of the vaunted ‘gig economy’ are mercenaries.

    • @Paul & Dee: Points well taken. The problem with ignoring laterals is that when a good worker can’t find an appropriate job, but needs to eat and pay the rent, they’re happy to go lateral or take a cut. That’s really up to them. As long as they deliver the work for the pay, you’ve got a gem at a discount who is eminently promotable.

  15. UPDATE

    A good question was raised about whether the manager whose advice this column is based on really means you should interview only 5 candidates in total, and how long the entire process should really take. So I asked him. Here’s his reply.


    Scheduling a series of interviews with the internal stakeholders is not easy. You don’t want a candidate to return to the office multiple times to interview. Placing a line in the sand is for the benefit of the internal stakeholders telling them you will finish this task in 3 weeks. I have had SVP’s insist on interviewing a potential hire and then have their schedule full of meetings for the next 2 weeks. I have also had other managers want to interview a candidate to determine if they are good fit for their team.

    I stop at 5 candidates because of interview fatigue. The candidates start to blur over time and they become difficult to compare. The interviews are at least ½ day and the cost to the team in lost work starts to show. If you try to interview 5 candidates in a week your team will not be able to get any work finished.

    Also, at least 2 candidates will be from professional conferences or prior interviews. They are already known to the team and just have to run the HR gauntlet.

  16. There’s been some practical cautions discussed herein on giving away free work. And in some previous discussions it’s come up. Nick sums it up well
    “My advice is to offer to show what you can do, but do it judiciously. Do just enough to whet their appetite — and withhold enough that they can’t profit from your work unless they hire you.”
    In short there’s a line, on one side interviews should focus on determining capability to do the applicable work and establishing the trust in each other to believe it…and on the other is actually doing the work. Good ethical managers develop their skills in how to determine the former without crossing that line.
    This is a really a sales issue. And a good analogy is selling consulting services. I worked for hi tech companies all of whom had consulting arms. Same dance. Consultants need to convince a potential client they can meet a particular need, better than competitors and certainly better than the client. But I can’t charge you to talk about my merits, that’s the sales burden of the consulting world. But if you expect me to cross the line and hand you solutions gratis..dream on. Not that a client won’t try. This concept also applies to the execution phase, e.g a client trying to slip in what is called “creeping requirements” (to the contract) by asking for more to be delivered than originally agreed to. Reasonableness and willingness and trust will determine how to respond to such changes.

    What hasn’t been discussed is that the door/line swings both ways. This is not all about the job candidate. On both sides of the fence, interviewing is educational. Job seekers learn things. And see new things, that make them smarter and more marketable. So a hiring manager/company also needs to be careful about freely revealing competitive information, intellectual property, and even in the case of a hiring manager his/her dream product or process to candidates. Who by definition, are working through my industry including my competitors, and likely could leverage my winning ideas to their benefit. Like candidates, I’ll give you enough information to whet your appetite without giving you the full course meal. That’s why companies employ tools like non disclosures, so they have some freedom to give you needed insights on making a choice, and what they’d like to convince you of, the wisest choice.

    And this is a non trivial aspect of interviewing..at least in the hi tech world. In the military I had an intel MOS. But some of the companies and one in particular could put the military to shame with it’s degree of secrecy and paranoia.

    • Oh yes, the old mission creep. There simply seems to be less reluctance to push marketers and graphics people to provide to the client usable free work, the kind you’d pay $ for, ‘or else’. There aren’t any lines–it’s their way or the highway, and it’s usually delivered by an HR robot. Frankly, we get less respect because of what we do in many companies, and it does not help if you are female and older. It says as much about them as it does you, who might really, really need that job.

  17. @Dee. Oh yeah I forgot in my analogy to services, that some managers & companies aren’t bashful about making your job description a living document, piling on additional work but of a higher level. I’m all for showing you can do the job before you get the promo, and good managers give people a shot at stretching, but too often they forget the promo part.

  18. I would also add that you the hiring manager should be realistic about what you want in an employee and thus take care in how you write the job description. Is the job really ten jobs combined into one job? Is it doable for one person? I recently applied for a library job. I didn’t have all of the skills she listed, but figured I could learn the ones I didn’t have. When she saw (I stopped by in person with a paper résumé) that I didn’t have the social networking/media and asked to see my phone, she tore up my résumé in front of me and threw it in the trash, telling me that she needed someone months ago who can do both the library part AND be the social media/networking person; that she’s by herself, that she doesn’t have time to train anyone, that she’s at work until midnight trying to do everything, that she would hire me because I didn’t have a smartphone (whoever gets that job will have to do all of the social media tasks from her own phone and not be compensated for it). Then she complained that the applicants she got have been one or the other–either they’re librarians who can do the library part but they’re not social media and networking pros, or they can do the social media/networking thing but have little to zero library experience (and specifically experience with a particular kind of system–most of the academics use a different system than the publics and while they could figure it out, it would still take them some time to get up to speed) but not both.

    I know the person who had the job–a college student who is supported by her parents (pay her rent, buy her food, bought her a car and pay the insurance, maintenance, gas, etc. because there is no public transportation to this library, bought her a smartphone and put her on their plan, etc.). She left to begin graduate school last year, and this library has been down to one person since then. The new employee really needs to be the one who left, or her clone.

    So I think hiring managers need to be reasonable when hiring–hire the person you think is best for the job AND train him/her in what skills s/he is lacking. Don’t expect brain surgeons who can also be the hospital accountant, etc.

    • Marybeth, this librarian is several dishes short of a picnic–more like one with ants. To tear up your resume in front of you is damned cold, and I’m sure that when you left you thought of what she could do with the pieces in a place where the sun doesn’t shine. Does this library not have a desktop computer and internet access, where social media could be done with proper access, or does it exist in the Pleistocene Age like her? To do Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram properly, you need to do it from a laptop, not struggle with it from a phone.

      What a creature, what a bullet you dodged.

      • Dee, that is exactly what I thought! A good friend of mine suggested buying a cheap smartphone and checking back in a few months, thinking that this director won’t be able to find anyone and then I might look more attractive to her. I think I dodged a bullet, and told her so. If she behaved this way upon first meeting me (granted, I stopped in, no appointment, no call from her asking to interview me, but still…), what happens when she’s no longer on her best behavior?

        Re your question about the library computer, yes, they do have computers–some for patrons, and just one (that I could see) for staff. Whether she had anything on it except the regional system libraries here use (nearly all are part of the Central/Western MA Regional Library System) I don’t know. I work in an academic library now. We have three staff computers at circulation alone; two of them have the C/WMARS on them and you can’t print anything except receipts for fines paid and ILL lists from them. The other has Word, Excel, Chrome, etc., so staff can use other programs and do other work on it. None of them have sound, so even if you wanted to watch a Youtube video, you couldn’t hear it. This other library is much, much smaller. I don’t even know whether the director has her own computer or if she has to bring in her own laptop.

        That was what I thought too–I’m slowly becoming more active on FB. I had figured out how to post links, photos from the internet, and more on my own or by simply googling how to do it. The social media stuff isn’t brain surgery, rocket science, or cancer research–I’m sure I could figure out how to post a photo taken with a phone (my phone doesn’t take photos or have internet access—it is just a phone), but I think as an employee, unless I’m going to be paid a higher salary or reimbursed for all work-related expenses to a phone, the employer shouldn’t expect me to shoulder that burden. And if the town isn’t giving the library enough monies to do it, then social media presence should go down.

  19. @Dee, that looks like a Marine uniform

    • US Army Nurse Corps, WWII. Distinctive peaked in front cap, darker OD uniform. Woman Marine WWII had a slight peak but was fuller in the back and somewhat softer all around (not the early WAC kepi style), and of course in the Marine dark green.

      • @Dee, love those old posters! At my last job, I had found and framed the cover of an old magazine featuring a WWI VAD/Red Cross nurse on the wall in my office. Much prefer that (and other old military recruiting posters) to soup cans or Jackson Pollock paint spatter.

  20. Nick: Once again, you miss the point and I believe your bias toward FTEs is showing. Many people, myself included would much rather be FTEs than contractors because in all too many organizations (GE being perhaps one of the most flagrant about it), contractors are viewed as second class workers and “not good enough” to be hired by the organization.

    Then, too many are contractors because of active and rampant age discrimination (which many here will tell you is hard to prove).

    As to your comment about needing to pay the rent, eat, etc.; while true, I’ve NEVER met a contractor who was “happy to take a cut” just to be able to do the above. Today, as never before, there are also too many companies that are driving down labor rates for contractors to the same level they pay employees (but sans any benefits). This attempt to equalize pay while denying anything resembling benefits or some career/job continuity is one of the more truly cynical, venal and ugly sides of business today. It illustrates a complete lack of anything resembling a moral compass on the part of the organization and most contractors know it is being done and resent it.

    The general rule of thumb used to be contractors earned more because they received no benefits, PTO/vacation, etc. Now, HR departments and hiring managers demand the same skill sets and qualifications they seek from FTEs, but don’t want to pay for them with contractors while also denying the contractor applicant anything resembling stability in the workplace.

    I am pro-capitalist, but let’s face it, publicly owned companies care about only two things, the first being profits and the second keeping the shareholders happy. All else is secondary and increasingly, they are more than happy to arrogantly display those attitudes as part of their public faces.

    To be blunt about it, companies don’t give a sh*t about people and the fact is everyone is disposable. But to quote George Orwell’s Napoleon from ANIMAL FARM, “all pigs are created equal, but some pigs are more equal than other pigs.” There is no defense that I am willing to accept for the way companies treat applicants, be they FTE or contractor applicants. The hiring processes are broken, perhaps beyond repair and no amount of jawboning about it in this blog or any other is going to fix that.

    Companies, like governments do all they can to protect themselves from outside forces. They do what they want, when they want, how they want and to whom they want. The recent reduction of contract workers to mere chattel, to include the way you referred to people like myself is proof that the arrogance and condescension is not just the purview of hiring companies, but that it also exists in the headhunting world as well.

    • @Paul C: So you’re frustrated. So am I. And we agree the employment system is incredibly broken. Heck, it’s corrupt. But not talking about it is no solution, even if talking about it might not change it. We’re here to shine the bright light of public scrutiny. Does that fix anything? Trust me — it’s a good start. What each person decides to do beyond that is up to them.

  21. If you want compensation and a culture of respect, then contract or consulting work is not for you, agreed. You need a thick skin to work independently.

    “To be blunt about it, companies don’t give a sh*t about people and the fact is everyone is disposable. ”

    Large companies like GE will indeed never love you back Everyone is disposable, but disposing of people costs money, and companies know this.

    I don’t feel hiring is broken beyond fixing, but if you limit yourself to large public companies you may be right.

    “Today, as never before, there are also too many companies that are driving down labor rates for contractors to the same level they pay employees (but sans any benefits).”

    I don’t see this. I charge between $350 and $650 per hour. I turn away work.When I have negotiated rates, I make it back in scope. When Finance of a client said my people couldn’t travel business on overnights, I charged them for two days of recovery time at 3x the cost of the ticket – and the still flew in first.They paid it because they were able to check the box that said ‘contractor reimbursed for economy’ Mrs Gump wisdom comes to mind…stupid is as stupid does.

    • “I don’t see this…”

      *Sigh* another member of the “I haven’t seen it so it can’t be real” crowd. It would be like me telling people dying of cancer “well d’uh I don’t have cancer and I don’t know anyone with cancer so you’re cancer can’t be real!”

      Hourly contract rates in my field have been going steadily downward for the past decade. I was offered one that was on par with what I earned at my very first gig back in 1997.

      “stupid is as stupid does.”

      Not certain why it was necessary for you to call anyone here “stupid.”

      • “I don’t see this…”

        “Anonymous” is so far removed from the average income worker he/she has no clue, can’t relate, and likely couldn’t care less. Yep, another member of the gold plated club looking down on us copper coins.

    • “I charge between $350 and $650 per hour.”

      Wow, we’re impressed.

      I’ve defeated attorneys in court who charged around 400 – $500. Oh, did I mention – I did so pro se in TWO separate cases. So, technically I’m worth MORE than $500. My guess is by about a 25 – 30% margin so that makes me worth more than you based on ACTUAL production on the job (litigating). And by golly, I don’t have a law degree either. Gee wiz, imagine how much I’d be worth with a JD?!?

      Charging and being actually worth said charge are two different animals – completely.

      Is that “Mrs Gump” we hear calling you “Anonymous”???

    • Wow, how clueless and arrogant.

  22. Gee Anonymous,

    What field are you in and what planet is that where you work? My guess is you go Corp 2 Corp. And whoopdee doo, you make a shit load of dinero that you just felt compelled to brag about. Imagine that! Good for you. Feel better now?

    And don’t tell me contracting isn’t for me, since you know nothing about me. What I will say is that it is for me, because it’s what I’ve been relegated to this world and so have have hundreds upon thousands of others. It’s not what we all choose to do, but rather and to quote Nick C, “we do it to pay the bills, eat and keep a roof over our heads.”

    I work in IT Strategic Sourcing and am placed via IT Staff Augmentation firms and if your rates are true, then I make a fraction of what you do. I can also tell you that most companies I’ve done work for have stringent travel requirements and ENFORCE them. Quite frankly, I think you’re a liar and bullshit artist. Oh and BTW, my real names is PAUL CONNORS and I don’t hide behind anonymous.

    • “What field are you in and what planet is that where you work?”

      LOL. True that.

      More like what galaxy and how many light years from the Milky Way. Sounds like “Anonymous” might have been a C-suiter during the Great Recession who walked away free as a bird after causing damage everywhere and anywhere.

      Enjoy that high hourly rate while it lasts “Anonymous.” They say you meet the same people on the way down that you stepped upon on the way up.

  23. The pendulum going back & forth as to staffing with full time employees, or 1099’s or consultants is as old almost as time itself. Understanding the process from inside will add some clarity, and that inside mindset effects all sorts of uses and misuses of hiring vs using various forms of less solid employment.

    As I noted in another discussion, companies manage employment by headcount. To be clear, headcount is counting employees, people who get paychecks and benefits..part timer may or may not be counted, but if so, usually as 1, not a fraction. In my decades of management experience, the use of money to manage is rare. You’d think that would be the primary management tool, but it isn’t. For example.. let’s say you had an approved hire for 100K per year plus bennies. 1 person. Then let’s say you as a good manager, propose a plan to promote someone, and hire 2 college grads for a cost of 80K for a 20K savings, per annum The answer will most likely be NO. Because you’re proposing to add 2 heads, not 1. And some VP will miss their approved headcount. In the world of headcount management…an admin assistant = 1, a VP = 1.

    Additions and reductions count heads. Simple but often flawed.

    Temps, contractors, 1099s, and consultants are not people to be counted. They aren’t headcount..they are an expense. zero headcount. This is why tales are rampant of people/heads being terminated one day, and starting the next week as a consultant, contractor etc. Same people, doing the same job, but different employment status. In some quarters e.g. the Washington DC beltway this game is played endlessly.
    Usually the hourly rate is higher recognizing they need to buy their own benefits. But in terms of bottom line expenses..Layoffs don’t offer nearly as much savings as you’d assume. It’s a game. You know management knows you’re doing this, approve it, that they know you know they don’t give a crap about the bottom line, just to show they have “met” their headcount goals. It’s not unusual for the actual # of people walking around increases after a layoff if you play the game right.
    So let’s say I want to be a hero. Make do with adding 0 to my headcount. I get approval to hire a consultant for 200K on a SME justification, or hire a grad for my approved 1, and my SME, who likely was cut loose from another department & knows everyone, the projects etc.

    Unfortunately, since they aren’t counted as a “head”, or as someone pointed out.. a person, they often aren’t treated as such. I’ve seen them excluded from meetings, from acceptance, just an expendable.

    And while we’re talking about consultants, it may be useful to understand why consultants are deployed. I like don’t have the buzzwords right..but there’s basically 2 kinds, Consultants who advise and recommend…they don’t execute. They “study” you and produce pounds of paper and PPTs that suggest that “winning strategy, product or process” that will make you smarter and more effective. For a lot of money. But don’t assume management will do anything with this. And you as a consultant delivered as promised and don’t give a shit what they do with it. To add insult to injury, their primary source of information and ideas may come from your client’s organization, the employees, managers who do the job every day and have good ideas of what to do. It seems that a consultants/outsiders view has more value, because the company paid them a lot of money..even if you already had the information. Why bother? why ignore it? Politics. For example you may have been audited producing the resultant insight that your operation is all screwed up, needs improvement etc. So I hire a consultant(s), because that appears you are doing something about it. Then forget about it, because every manager up the chain is playing that game. And no one follows up.

    then there’s implementing consultants. Who do the above then are on the hook to execute, with staged payments on verification of meeting milestones. This is best done for one off projects that won’t theoretically repeat, so you don’t want to employ people then lay them off when the project is done. Or recover failed projects. this kind of consulting is a rougher row to hoe, fraught with resistance, resentment and more politics. Their business model of course is once inside to get more projects and make yourself too valuable to lose.

    But…when companies use consultants as I said, The wrist never touches the hands…0 headcount.

    I’m not saying consultants are of no value. Good consultants earn their pay and take their work professionally serious. Consultants who advise, want to see their recommendations respected and executed. Those who implement, want to do so successfully. But the combinations and permutations of differing consulting expertise, client motives,attitudes about people commitment, expertise, and political game playing generate a whole range of scenarios between debacles and home runs.

  24. “…or chicken entrails.” LOL! I disagree with #4. Not everyone aspires to be a manager, supervisor, director, etc, and there are sometimes only so many different jobs within particular career fields. Additionally, companies seem to encourage lateral moves…look at all the jobs requiring years of experience.

  25. “Always be in interview mode.”
    Yes indeed, ABR = Always Be Recruiting

    “Do not allow your team to vote on candidates.”
    America has been PC for so long it’s unlikely weak HAs will grow a pair – voting which promotes the “go along to get along” mantra will continue to job seekers detriment. Too bad.

    “If you know what you want, you can go through them much faster than an HR clerk.”
    True. Any competent headhunter can skim a resume in <20 seconds and make an initial screening decision. A clerk could stare at it for minute after minute and still not know which side is up.

    "I stop at 5 candidates because of interview fatigue."
    Same thing with real estate. If you know what you're looking for you're selective from the get go. To use a driving analogy, movers and shakers get things done. They know what entrance and exit ramps to use while Sunday drivers wander aimlessly, get in way, and arrive at the destination late.

    Good list, unfortunately, many HAs have to deal with overbearing and controlling HR departments.

  26. I would like to add one more thing to this great article. When the hiring manager tells you to they want to interview you face to face after a phone interview that went well, the HM needs to be CLEAR The company will book the flight and hotel for you. If you expect the job applicant to pay upfront for airfare and hotel it will leave a bad taste in their mouth.

    My policy is to never pay for airfare and hotel and other large travel expenses upfront for a job interview as it tells me they are not serious about hiring me. To be so cheap is a red flag to me. I just had this happen to me today where they want me to spend 2 days at their HQ interviewing me to meet their team. I was sent an itinerary that I am to make a presentation to their C Suite then meet individually all day long with their CEO, CFO, COO, VP of Marketing and CIO. This job is for a lower salary than I made at a previous competitor as I am currently consulting part time.

    I sent the HM an email stating I don’t pay for airline tickets or hotels for a job interview and how does he want to proceed with this?

    I already got burned in the past by 2 companies where one never reimbursed me for my money I laid out and the other refused to pay upfront to fly me to their HQ to interview.

    • Donna, I’d be very careful on this one. First, they may be lowballing you on salary as you’re consulting part time and undoubtedly like me, it’s on your LinkedIn profile. Second, I can understand meeting with the c-suite and spending the day, possibly two, if needed for scheduling. Usually these involve dinner as they may want to see you in a social setting. But that presentation, which sounds like it is going to be at least a couple of hours, raises some red flags to me. Depending on what they want to see, it begins to sound like free consulting (work) or a dog ‘n’ pony show they’d get from a vendor. It surely is not a one-on-one with the HM showing him or her how you’d do the job, what you’d do to solve some problems, and finding out how you’d fit and do the job. Also, where’s the meeting with more ordinary mortals?

      I get the impression that you’re going to be onstage with the Cs so much you’ll feel like you’re in a beauty pageant, so much so that you’ll only see what they want you to see and never get a feel for the company–or the people you’ll be working with.

      • That presentation–if to the c-suite, why do they then need to meet separately with you?

        And yes, I agree with you. Have them book and pay for your travel direct. Asking to be reimbursed is almost like putting a ‘kick me’ sign on your back, especially if they are being cheap. (And that includes Fortune 500 companies.)

    • @Donna: Good warning about travel costs. When the company wants you to pay your own way and “submit for reimbursement,” RUN. If they don’t make an offer, they get very reluctant to pay the costs. I admire your policy: This is a test. No pre-paid travel, no dice!

    • I learnt this recently. A large, reputed global company asked me to fly down and meet their Country head. They were to reimburse me the costs of travel, but when I reached their office and tried to hand over the travel documents for them to process, their global HR and local HR reps started playing the game of tag. Not just this, when I walked into the big man’s cabin, it became clear he had not gone through my resume, was wasting his time and mine, and he either already had a hire in mind, or was clueless.

      Sure enough, the costs never got reimbursed, and the ‘interview’ if it could be called that was such a pathetic experience that I walked out, very clear I would not wish to have anything to do with this company. After one polite enquiry, at which their HR sent a form and explained a long convoluted process, I decided to cut my losses, wiser if somewhat poorer.

    • I concur with Donna on not self-funding interviews. I did a number of long (sometimes overnight) drives during the 80’s and 90’s and got burned almost every time. Not just for lack of reimbursement, but that the companies were just window shopping and never serious about my candidacy. Most weren’t poor struggling outfits either. So by mid 90’s my policy became: if you don’t pay, I don’t play. Not to mention the odds of getting an offer back then were much better than today.

      Incidentally, I relocated for most of my job changes, and sure enough, the companies that paid my way made good offers and relocation too. So I take it as a sign of earnest intent to give you more than trivial consideration.

  27. Donna’s right about travel costs. I had the same thing happen to me with a Canadian company called AGRIUM for a position at their Loveland, CO US Headquarters. First off, they didn’t seem to have a travel department, so they wanted me to do all the booking and pre-pay for airline, rental and hotel and with the hotel, they would only pay for one night so it would have been an overnight out to CO from the east coast the night before, do the interviews and immediately fly back east. I told them I’d been burned in the pasts by a company that did this to me, didn’t hire me and then refused to reimburse me for costs. When I told them I simply would not expose myself to this risk again, their HR team cancelled the interview. I was fine with that because by the time this whole process was terminated, I no longer even wanted to make the trip, let alone put in the effort of interviewing with a large company that had so few systems in place to manage travel expenses for out of state interviews.

    • @Paul C: I think you made the right choice. The idea that an employer is soliciting you about a job and wants you to pay the overhead to meet you is stunningly ridiculous. Meanwhile, employers tell us that job applicants should do everything they can to impress the employer. Duh. That cuts both ways. Telling you to essentially loan the company the price of travel is nuts.

  28. @Dee I received an email back that they normally reimburse after the interview but he will put my airline and hotel on the corporate card. I wrote back Great here is the airline info. There are no direct flights and seats are limited as they want me there less than 2 weeks and the cost will be $1,400 for flights alone and the hotel is $300 a night! Wow so I would have to lay out over $2,000 by the time I am done with my travel expenses.

    He updated the schedule and has me flying in the night before and next day starts early at 7:00 am the next day with the HM for 1 hour then 1 hour with someone else then a presentation for 30 minutes to C-Suite and then individual meetings for 1 hour with each of C Suite and ending with CEO. Then a late lunch with HM and off to airport where I fly rest of evening until I arrive very late at home.

    I told the HM I am not going to present anything about the industry or their company and will present a bogus case for them. He said they want to see my presentation skills and how I answer questions. I have been doing this almost 30 years so I can handle myself well. What I am leery of most is that they want free advice and confidential information from interviewing me one on one for all that time. I won’t be sharing that info. What I will be telling them is what I can do for them and solve their problems.

    • I am thinking Donna that this schedule was set up to be unnecessarily grueling…and along with this presentation, is another kind of test. Couple with the lower pay … Tread carefully, and watch out.

      • Thanks @Dee for the advice. Much appreciated. I also think this is a test as well to see how much I can take. The HM did get back to me that night and booked my flights and hotel for me. I know they want information about the competition that is confidential and don’t plan on sharing anything with them.

  29. @Paul C sorry to hear you went through a similar experience. I think this happens more than we know to job applicants. We are qualified but they don’t want to absorb the cost of interviewing the right candidates for the job when they cannot find local candidates. That is the cost of doing business. It should not be the burden on the candidate.

    @Nick maybe an article about how companies turn off job candidates is in order such as how they don’t want to pay costs to fly out candidates or won’t pay relocation expenses to move.

  30. @ Donna and Nick: Amen.

  31. I’d like to circle back to Dee’s comments re: non-competes/non-solicitations for contractors. I’ve seen some incredibly egregious non-competes/non-solicitation clauses in the E.A.s that many (but especially the US domiciled but INDIAN OWNED) try to foist on folks. Being in IT Sourcing and Contracts, almost ALL that I do is review contractual documents and have become accustomed to negotiating them. I will also add that I have 30 years of experience in procurement/sourcing in the military and as a civilian, with the last 16 years in IT Strategic Sourcing.

    In the case of E.A.s many folks don’t realize that they can ‘negotiate’ various clauses that are too heavily favoring the employer. In NJ where I live, non-competes are generally ONLY enfoeceable in a court of law if they are considered ‘reasonable from a geographical and chronological time period’ standpoint. My current agency, where I’ve worked 2 X originally had a 2 year non-compete period at “any customer he might do business with in the world.” This is obviously ABSURD an unreasonable and pointed it out to the account manager and owner. I negotiated my first agreement and the second, which is an amended and updated version of the first that provided the agency some protection but was more heavily in my favor. It reads (my verbiage): “For a period of 90 calendar days after completion of the assignment, Contractor agrees to not accept employment with the most recent client company or any other company within a 5 mile radius of the last work location unless Agency cannot provide gainful employment at the most recent client company or any other within specified radius that Contractor may qualify for based on qualifications to include: education, experience, security clearance or other criteria called for in a hiring organization’s job descriptions.”

    My current agency’s owner insisted on a year and suggested he might pull the offer, whereupon I reminded him that the client company SELECTED ME over the only other candidate and he then removed himself from the equation by finding another role. I reminded the owner that if he pulled the offer (he had no other candidates) that he would then receive 100% of ZERO hours billed. He acquiesced and I started at the client company.

    Two years later (now a year ago)instead of re-inventing the wheel, the account executive at this agency told me they didn’t want to have to negotiate with/against me again because they knew they would not win and simply re-issued the original E.A., amended to cover the current period of performance and labor rate.

    While I realize that my negotiating style won me no points with the folks at the agency, I believe the owner realized he was up against someone who knew what he was doing and was NOT going to back down. After pointing out the flaws in his unreasonable agreement, as well as the stupidity of pulling an offer because he lost a negotiation, I reminded him that assuaging his own hurt feelings was nothing compared to the financial loss he’d incur by not placing me at the client. That simple math lesson seemed to improve his disposition.

    I would like to suggest that anyone on this blog who contracts or may do so in the future READ EVERY WORD and EVERY CLAUSE in the agreements that may be presented to you and if you find conditions that are disturbing to you, either seek legal advice OR, if you cannot afford to pay an attorney for a contract review, I will ask Nick to forward my email address to anyone who may need assistance. We can then discuss how you can address the issues that concern you. If you would like me to redline an E.A., there would be a nominal fee.

    • I can personally testify to Paul’s negotiating power-he flagged language in a consulting agreement that would have placed any mistake, any flaw in the third party project, even if the client’s, solely on my liability. I walked away from it when the nonprofit sicced their single shingle lawyer on me who yelled first, listened not at all, and the VP who brought me into it suddenly was nowhere to be found. Even if you have an LLC and E&O insurance, you don’t want to do business with folks who behave like that.

      That being said, you have to look at every agreement, even NDAs, which tend to be boilerplate, and determine what is enforceable and what you can live with. Also be careful about your previous proprietary information and works because there have been instances where companies attempt to establish their rights over it.

    • Great advice @Paul C. I am very familiar with NDA and non-compete clauses and have had them altered to suit my benefit. I plan on getting an attorney to look over any documents with any full employment job I may have. For the P/T consulting work I do now, my clients must sign my contract or I don’t provide any work period. It’s not negotiable as I own all my work and will sue them if they use it without my permission. Thanks for providing specific details.

  32. NDAs come generally in TWO variants. The first is MUTUAL where both sides are disclosing information to each other and agree, generally for a fixed period of 2, 3 or 5 years to not disclose each other’s proprietary information. The second is a one sided NDA where a potential hiring company or customer company will require a candidate who becomes an employee to not disclose their information for a fixed period of time commencing with either the signing date or date of employment, or perhaps a fixed period after one’s departure from said company’s employ.

    Most NDAs I’ve seen in my role in IT Sourcing have been involved with potential new vendors, to include those that provide professional services. I signed an NDA from the client company through the agency that staffed me to them not to disclose. As Dee said, it was boilerplate and I had no trouble with it. HOWEVER, I DID READ all of it before signing.

    Another area job seekers should be wary of concerns IP rights and the demands by a potential new employer that you sign over any patentable creations, discoveries, processes, inventions, etc. Some employers will demand the sign-over of work commenced PRIOR to them employing you, even if you did all of the discovering, inventing, engineering on your time before you met them. You must not do this regardless of how desperate you may be.

    I had two procurement process patents at one time when a potential employer demanded the rights. I adamantly refused stating that the patent applications had ALREADY been submitted and they had been submitted PRIOR to our introductions. They persisted and told me the offer was contingent on signing their standard paperwork. I again refused and told them to “shove their offer where the sun doesn’t shine,” got up and walked out.

    Intellectual Property rights are extremely valuable, whether they are patentable or copyrightable. DO NOT SURRENDER THEM, especially not without considerable financial compensation.

    • Curious how the employer knew about your patents. Do you conceal them now?

      I remember when starting out in the 1980’s it wasn’t unusual (especially at large companies) to have clauses on the APPLICATION FOR EMPLOYMENT turning over any and all IP to the company, whenever and however acquired or developed. I often wondered how that was legal. Luckily, haven’t seen anything quite that outrageous since.

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