The insider's edge on job search & hiring™

Monthly archive for May 2010

How to Say It: How’d I do?

Discussion: May 18, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks How to Say It:

At the end of a job interview, I don’t like to leave without finding out what the manager thinks of me and what’s going to happen next. That sounds obvious. But how do I say this: How did I do during the interview? What are my prospects for moving forward?

You just said it. It’s up to you to ask it!

Many people feel awkward about these questions, but the questions are not only advisable, they are necessary. You just invested all this time talking to an employer. (She’s getting paid to do it; you’re not.) So get something back for your investment…

Try this: “Thanks for taking time to meet and talk about the work you need to have done. Based on our brief meeting, please give me a grade. If this had been an employee performance review rather than a job interview, would you keep me or fire me? Give me a promotion and a raise or transfer me out?”

If this seems assertive, I think it’s far more risky to go home and sit by the phone waiting for a “call back.” Find out now how the manager views you.

What do other readers think? Do you have a better way to ask these questions? Or is it best to stay mum when the interview is over so as not to upset the applecart?


Readers’ Forum: What’s a guinea pig to do?

Discussion: May 25, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader says:

I took a government job knowing the culture was not to my liking. But they said the plan was to change the culture, and I’m part of that because I’m the only “non-insider” doing this job. (The one other person who was hired along with me was an internal transfer.) Neither of us has gotten any guidance. We’re on our own. When I tried to speak up a few times, I felt I was speaking a different language. Now a few months have passed and we’re finally getting a new boss. Should I try to adapt to this culture, or am I wasting my time?

Talk about a “state” of flux! Sounds like you’re a “cultural change” guinea pig… hired as part of a new “culture policy,” but everything seems to hinge on who this new boss is.

You’ve essentially been in limbo, and your “new job” is about to start when the new boss starts. No wonder you’re disenchanted.

Should this reader stay or go? Why or why not, and what are the good options?


How to Say It: Here’s how I’ll do the work

Discussion: May 18, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks How to Say It:

Your book has been very helpful in preparing for my interviews. But I seem to lock up during the part where I am telling the hiring manager how I will do the job. I’m reading that section for the third time. What’s the best way to explain it? I mean, to say it?

Well, you just pick up the tools… and do the work. Does that sound a little bit odd? Maybe some other readers can explain it better…

A call-out to ATH regulars! What’s your rule of thumb for talking to a manager about how you will do the job? How can this reader wrap up the interview with a compelling explanation or presentation?


Readers’ Forum: What’s in a cover letter?

Discussion: May 4, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks:

I was recently laid off and I am applying for jobs online. The question I have is whether to include a cover letter or not? Do they really matter these days? I always feel silly saying things like, “I am motivated and enthusiastic, and would appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your firm’s success.” If I do need to include a cover letter, what do employers want to see that would make them look at the resume?

Resumes? Cover letters? What do hiring managers want to read? Does a cover letter buy you anything? I’ve got it… How about a cover letter without a resume? Save time… arouse curiosity?

Do you use a cover letter? Think it helps? What’s the magic — or is there none? Help this reader decide what to do next.

[Update May 18, 2010: Okay — humor me. No cover letters. They’re illegal now… What’s a good alternative to get your message to the hiring manager that you can do the job profitably? No rationalizing… alternatives only, please! Let’s do something new under the sun…]


How to Say It: Reviewing the boss

Discussion: May 11, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks How to Say It:

I’m in a new position and coming up on my 90-day review. I like what I’m doing but my new boss is inconsistent (moody) and micro-manages (control freak who insists she wants me “to be the expert”). Do I have any options for broaching these topics in a diplomatic way?

Hmmm… Who’s reviewing whom? I like your perspective. You want to candidly review your boss. It seems your boss has two strikes against her already. And if she isn’t willing to talk about changing her style, the third strike may hit you in the butt on your way out the door…!

Okay, folks. How do you say it? How do you tell your boss her style is affecting your work without getting yourself fired?


Readers’ Forum: Grand theft HR

Discussion: May 4, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks a tough one:

I worked in HR for four years. Now I am a convicted felon who is trying hard to get back into the workforce. The charge was grand theft. I have paid my debt to society and now I find that companies do not want to give me a chance. I am qualified for administrative work and I am more than willing to start at the bottom. Do you have any tips or advice on what a person with a criminal record can do to at least get my foot in the door? (I was convicted in 2008, so I do understand that my charge is still new. But I refuse to believe that because of one bad choice, I am doomed to unemployment forever.) Thanks.

The economy isn’t bad enough. Try laying a conviction on top of it!

All suggestions for this reader are welcome, but I’d like to especially encourage managers to think about this one… What could this reader do to convince you to take a chance?

If you’re not a manager and you were facing this situation (come on, you may be a saint, but pretend…) what would you do to show a manager it’s worth giving you an honest shot at a new start?


How to Say It: Mo’ money is the problem!

Discussion: May 4, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks How to Say It:

Recently my job description was changed without notice. But there was no discussion of a change in salary. My responsibility level has increased and so has the time commitment. I like the work, but I cannot justify doing so much more for the same low salary. My boss commends me again and again on how well the transition is going and what a great job I’m doing. How should I tell him I want to discuss the salary?

Here’s How to Say It: “I love the new job — it’s a huge change from what I was doing before. I fact, it’s a promotion with added work, new responsibilities and more time required. Does this new job include a new salary range and performance metrics?”

By raising two issues — salary and metrics — you emphasize just how big this change has been, and you avoid seeming like money is your only concern. (Frankly, I have no problem with just talking about money — it’s a huge concern by itself. But I’m trying to be diplomatic…)

What you need to consider is whether you’d leave the new job if they didn’t pay you adequately for the work. Unless the answer is yes, you don’t have much leverage if they refuse to pay more for the added work.

Don’t just sit and stew. You need to have a discussion with your boss soon. The longer you wait, the more it seems you have tacitly agreed to the new deal at the old comp level.

But that’s not the only useful advice about this. The best is yet to come… I expect the ATH audience will have more to add!


TheLadders: A fan explains why you should pay up

A fan of TheLadders posted a comment on TheLadders: Job-board salary fraud? explaining why you should be glad to fork over $30 per month to use the service. It’s worth discussing this suggestion by itself, so I’m posting my comment to paddy s here:

By paddy s
April 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm

a lot of you are missing the point about paying.recruiters do not want to be inundated with hundreds of unqualified resumes which is the case when the service is free.your legit resume with legit quaifications is likely to be lost in all that mess. a recruiter is more likely to read a resume from someone that is serious about finding a job and has undertaken a financial commitment to that effect.also-if you are a 100k plus individual searching for a similar paying job – $30/month is cheap insurance to separate you from the lesser qualified and lower paid ranks. it is obvious,so why all the bellyaching?

The bellyaching is due to the fact that Ladders customers are paying their money but not getting “$100k plus” job listings from TheLadders.

I started headhunting in 1979. I don’t recall ever placing a candidate who paid a dime to get on my radar, so your suggestion that a person must make “a financial commitment” is hogwash.

More to your point, TheLadders claims to have tons of paying job hunters in its database. Why is a headhunter “more likely to read a resume” from the teeming hordes in that massive database?

In order for TheLadders to position job hunters “higher up” with headhunters, Ladders would have to somehow vet or confirm those job hunters. TheLadders does not do that. It does not eliminate “unqualified resumes,” nor does it ensure that its paying customers have a “legit resume with legit qualifications.” (That would be a pretty good trick.)

TheLadders cannot even deliver on its promise that it accepts “Only $100k+ talent” into its database. Headhunters have learned that the hard way, just as employers have.

Even if TheLadders could guarantee the salary levels of the people in its database,  why would I give them preferential treatment? My concern — and my client’s concern — is that the person can do the job profitably (not that they paid for my attention). What a person claims to be earning now is not a critical factor in candidate selection.

TheLadders does not ensure that a candidate is worth a headhunter’s attention, nor does it try. It can’t even ensure their salary level, any more than it can ensure the salary level of the positions it posts.

(If you want to learn how to work with headhunters, then spend a few bucks to educate yourself. Unlike questionable “positioning” in some database, the education will be yours forever.)

Do you get the point most folks here are making? TheLadders delivers no value. TheLadders has developed a reputation for dishonest advertising and dishonest business practices (read the comments from readers who continue to get billed by TheLadders when they don’t want the service, and from employers who did not consent to have their jobs posted on TheLadders).

Perhaps worst of all is the barrage of carny-barker-style e-mails TheLadders’ chief, Marc Cenedella, dumps on anyone who makes the mistake of giving him their e-mail address.

“recruiters do not want to be inundated with hundreds of unqualified resumes”

Yep. That’s what’s obvious. And that’s why good headhunters and good recruiters go out and find the people they want. They don’t sit in front of a computer screen waiting for TheLadders to ferry paying customers onto their desktops.