job search problemSpecial Edition

I started Ask The Headhunter many years ago as an “open mic” and invited anyone with a job search problem (as well as managers, HR, and recruiters with hiring problems) to post their questions. At that time, I was answering 20-30 questions per day on a massive, free-flowing discussion board. (Yah, my fingers hurt and the letters wore off my keyboard.)

Since then, I’ve answered over 50,000 questions — I really have heard it all! Nowadays I pick the best questions readers submit via e-mail, and I publish one per week along with my advice here on Ask The Headhunter and in my free weekly newsletter.

Periodically I like to open things up and let the questions fly. So, in this special edition, the mic is open to everyone —  job seekers and employers and recruiters. We’re going to tackle a lot of questions. (Yes, we.

Open Mic: You’re on!

The open mic idea stems from webinars and live conferences I do for professionals where I make a brief presentation, then we open it up. Anyone may ask any question about a job search problem or about hiring and recruiting (or about work), and I do my best to provide useful advice on the spot.

I love doing these events because I don’t have to prepare! In fact, I can’t prepare. I have no idea what anyone will ask. I also enjoy doing it because it tests me — how much value can I deliver, to someone with a job search problem, in the space of a few minutes? (Yes, sometimes it gets messy and I sometimes get egg on my face…)

We haven’t done an open mic in quite a while. But, hey — this is called Ask The Headhunter for a reason, right?? With the economy, the job market and our daily lives almost totally upended, I know a lot of people are facing unusual situations – so let’s try to help!


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What’s your job search problem?

I will do my best to answer any and all questions you post in the comments section below this column on the website.

  • Lost your job and don’t know how to start hunting for a new one?
  • You’ve got an offer but now the company is “on hold.” What do you do?
  • Wondering how to deal with a headhunter who just called you?
  • They want your salary history, but you don’t want to share it?
  • Your company posted a job and you got 5,000 applicants. What now?

What’s your problem? Please post it and we’ll tackle it. (To get an idea of how I view job search and hiring overall, please check The Basics.)

Two suggestions

  1. Please try to summarize your situation — about 100 words or so. Too much detail can be confusing. Try to boil it down as best you can. Help us understand the real issues so we can focus and offer useful responses.
  2. Please remember to ask in the form of a question. This helps crystallize the problem so we can address it effectively.

Please pile on!

I expect (and invite!) everyone to chime in and offer advice. The more suggestions and discussion, the better. Your advice is often better and more insightful than mine, so please share it!

What’s your question? What job search problem or challenge are you facing? Employers are welcome to post questions about their recruiting, hiring and HR problems, too.

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70 Comments
  1. I’m almost 60 and in early June I lost my position due to restructure of organization.

    I recently saw a couple of ‘tips’ that I plan on disregarding, i.e. to put linkedin profile link on résumé and not to put landline number on résumé.

    I have decided to also disregard the usual advice of leaving graduation dates off résumé. I grew tied of wasting my time and money going to interviews and then being ghosted most of the time. I would rather bigots not call me in for an interview and waste my time and money for travelling etc.

    • You obviously have experience…what kind if a position would you like to leap towards? (I posted as well on this subject)..don’t know how we would be able to connect but perhaps ATH could facilitate???

      • Stacy, I’m currently looking for Office Admin position. Actually, I was originally in IT until I grew tied of shrinking number of jobs available due to outsourcing.

        I transitioned a few years ago and I prefer the lower stress of office administration, rather than constantly having to keep up to date in IT.

        Of course, one’s prior experience never really leaves you, so I tend to look for how processes can be improved, such as using MailMerge to generate invoices instead of creating each invoice. It was a small organization and each invoice used to be created individually.

        I’m in BC, Canada. I could work remotely, which might be preferable anyway as I’m medically exempt from wearing a mask and have religious exemption to the vaccine.

    • Hi Borne — Curious why you would not put your LI link on your resume, and how not having a LI link supports your job search.

      • @Chris: A column in the WaPo today actually offers some good reasons for limiting one’s exposure on LinkedIn: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/26/linkedin-privacy-guide/

        But staying off of it? That’s not such an easy choice to make. Yes, it gives your resume a place to be found, but if you’re not going to rely on “being found,” perhaps it’s wise to not post it. I have no argument with anyone that chooses to use another approach to job search: finding the right employer instead of being found!

      • It was obvious that the ‘tips’ were for the older job seeker to appear hip and up to date, e.g. only old fogeys still have a landline.

    • @Borne: There’s too much clever resume advice about hiding your age by using a “functional” resume rather than chronological — but I agree with you, that’s not advice, that’s a faulty attempt to be clever. Of course, anything you put on your resume can be risky. For example, your tel# can be used to spam you. But we all have to make a choice about such tradeoffs. My compliments for making choices and having a strategy. If it doesn’t work well, then try another. But I think it’s far better to take your own thoughtful advice than to apply clever ideas from self-appointed experts.

    • @Borne-
      I feel you here, man. Unlike you, I’m still employed, but like you, I’m an older worker and looking as well.
      I’m 64, and will be starting my 10th year next month at an employer that’s clown world and spinning around the drain. I’ve got my resume masked as well as I can to at least slow the ageism down initially. Besides the usual (often in your face) ageism you speak of, I’ve been seeing a noticeable trend (especially with Indeed) with employers in my area. These are:
      1.Refusing to disclose a compensation range.
      2.Refusing to disclose the identity of the individual/individuals who will be conducting a phone or face-face sit down interview that they set up. This one really throws me a curve ball.
      When asking for the name/names of the interviewer/interviewers, its crickets.
      Wish you well, for what its worth.

    • Borne, I got my last job at 69. and prior was an oldster going through the mill. we Nick’s blessing I posted my 2 cents on his webpage, sections/guest speakers. the ideas still are valid, based on real experience.

    • This. This right here.

      Rampant ageism, even now that I have my own freelance copywriting practice. The instant a potential client finds out that I have four decades of business experience and not just four recent years of crawling the campus bars, I get ghosted.

  2. I finally found a great company to work with…perfect timing, perfect fit. My company is actively looking for people to hire who meet the requirements of ethics, passion, doing good & making a positive difference for our clients. The issue? Finding people who are motivated…my company has an hr department & they value utmost who we put forward as a candidate…yet it’s been a challenge to get people to take that 1st step…applying. your thoughts?

    • @Stacy: First a company has to figure out who it wants to hire. Then it has to go where such people hang out. Spend time with them. Get to know them and let them know you. Earn your way into their circle. Talk shop. Ask about their work. Make friends. The discussions about work will arise naturally. It’s kind of a Zen approach: Don’t talk about jobs. Then you’ll be able to talk about working together. Make sense?

  3. How to handle ghosting? During various stages of the process (with different opportunities) all the way until after a final interview I’ve had companies go silent. Do I follow up, or accept that’s their way of saying no? I find it annoying, rude and disrespectful.

    • My steps are twofold if there’s an obvious ghost, whereupon I’ve reached out actively and heard nothing back:

      1) Kill all contact with that firm immediately. If they reach out to you again, do not talk to them, or if you do, make it expressly clear that you do not work with firms that enable the practice of ghosting as did to you.
      2) Post anywhere you can give feedback on that this happened. Glassdoor is great since you can post interview reviews, and I believe you can on Indeed as well. Make sure it’s known they do this. It helps to warn other candidates off, at least those that do their homework first.
      Optionally: notify any executives of the employer/recruiting agency, if applicable, that this has happened. Sometimes they won’t care, but sometimes they do, and their actions can tell you if this is a deeper problem or just one rogue employee.

      How far you take it and when you invoke your actions is up to your own tolerances. If I do a face-to-face or commit some serious time to an interview and I get ghosted, I will go scorched earth, though not if it’s been just a submitted application or if I’ve had a quick phone call. Why? It’s important to remember that we’re people too, and if you can’t even bother with a simple rejection email, your reputation means nothing.

    • @Rick: Ghosting is so much in the news that I think everyone is aware of it. This means it’s fair game to discuss in a job interview. “So, Ms. Manager, what’s your company’s policy about ghosting job candidates? My personal policy is that I will always respect an employer that takes time to interview me. I will stick to deadlines and commitments I make to follow up and deliver information. Can I count on you and your company to do the same as we get to know one another in this process?”

      I’m a big believer in full disclosure up front, so everyone knows what expectations are. David Edelman offers some good consequences for those that don’t live up to their commitments.

      Here’s more about ghosting: https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/15054/ghosting-recruiters-employers

  4. I was let go from my last job with no reason given. I have worked through my emotions but now I am finding I’m having a hard time connecting with my network, and getting people to respond to me to talk. I have been an advocate for others my entire career, but not getting the same back.

    Also, I’m almost 65 and need to work at least another 5 years. I am afraid I will be forced to retire when I don’t want to!

    • Putting this in a question form –

      How can I re-invigorate my network AND is it possible to land a job without a strong one?

      • 1) Re-invigorate the same way one eats an elephant … one bite (step) at a time.

        2) See my (free) networking guides in the Featured section of my LI profile: linkedin.com/in/chrishogg–ohio

        3) Of course it’s possible to land a job without a strong network, or without any network … but it’s usually a lot faster and easier to do with a network.

        • Silly program.

          My LI profile is linkedin.com/in/chrishogg–ohio

          • Let’s try this one more time.

            My LI profile is linkedin.com/in/chrishogg[dash][dash]ohio

    • @Vanessa: It’s normal to feel down about an experience for which you have no apparent reason. Think of it this way: There is no reason that you will ever know so it’s unreasonable to blame yourself or your possible failings. Move on.

      I think the best way is simple. Don’t just look for a job. Look for (and find!) groups of people who do the work you do (or want to do) and go hang out with them. Talk shop. Ask them about their work and jobs. Don’t ask for a job or a lead! Let them talk. Learn, and make new friends. That’s where the best referrals come from.

      Yes, this can take time. It’s why you should start now, or in a year you’ll look back and wonder, why didn’t I do that sooner?

      Keep job hunting and “hanging out” separate. The latter will turn into the former all by itself. You’ll also learn more and have more fun hanging out.

      I wish you the best! Please: Leave your last job behind!

    • @Vanessa
      Wow, that’s a bad deal. Especially for an older worker, and to be blindsided like that. Been there, done that, died on that hill.
      I’m 64 and looking for a new job, but thankfully am still employed, at least for now.
      With goofy at will employment, one never knows the “why” in these cases. For what it’s worth, as with Borne, I wish you well.

  5. My main issue is dealing with the myriad Indian warm-body shops out there. They’re the primary users of spammy tools like Ceipal, Bullhorn, and Jobdiva. Finding an actual recruiter amongst that mess is getting harder and harder. I doubt there’s anything Nick can do, this is me more just venting. This has always been a problem with recruiting, but lately it seems like it’s been so much worse.

    • I only work with recruiters that are part of a company. The one’s that work for agency’s are flaky and non-trustworty.

      • You say that, but I’ve had just as many internal recruiters be flaky and non-trustworthy as well.

        • How can you tell if a recruiter is lying?

          You just got an email, phone call, or text from them.

          • How can a recruiter tell if a potential candidate is lying?

            They answer your email, phone call, or text.

    • David E’s problem is widespread.

      I’ve had a few of these places (typically from New Jersey but more and more from Georgia) spam me with emails about the same job coming from 4-5 different people from the body shop. Recently, one of these folks sent me 6 emails about the same job in one day—two of them *after* we’d talked on the phone and concluded that it was a bad fit.

      I’ve actually put some of these so-called “recruiters” in my spam filtering regime. And, apparently, I’m not the only one as I typically monitor/tail my incoming mail log and occasionally see some recruiter email that is being rejected due to being flagged by places like spamhaus.org, barracudacentral.org, etc.

      • Most of them aren’t actually from New Jersey, Georgia, Ohio, etc. They operate a shell company there and everyone is actually overseas, usually in India.

        If you start blocking known spam tools like Ceipal and Bullhorn, simply by matching header data, you’ll see a massive reduction in the hits.

        • Yes… I know. I have no way of knowing their exact location—only what my phone tells me.

          • A lot of those body shops will pay their staff based upon the number of contacts they make. So if one sends out 300 emails and makes 200 calls, even if those 200 calls are to 200 of the 300 email recipients, they still get paid for 500 contacts. They’ll double dip to increase their earnings. This is partially why I tell people to not put their phone number on their resume. The spam tools are easy to block, the spam calls not so much unless you operate a PBX and know how to block known low-reputation carriers like IP Horizon or Onvoy.

    • @David: This may sound “out there” to you, but the best way to avoid inept recruiters is to avoid all recruiters and instead find hiring managers (and the people around them) to talk with. This method also has the benefit of “surfacing” the very few good recruiters out there. They will find you using less conventional means than those who dial for dollars.

      So, select specific companies. Meet people that do business with them. And see my reply to Vanessa above. There is nothing easy about this. No one has yet automated it, much less turned it into a successful “volume game.” I know you know that. :-)

  6. 50+ in W.Europe country. 3-4 different companies/industries/leader roles over 25+ years. Despite pitching myself as specialist/interested in X, I get few bites, that typically end with “someone else with more extensive experience in X specifically”. (And younger). How to break generalist profile?

  7. After suffering a few years of serious abuse at two different jobs due to being Autistic, and then taking several years to heal, I am finally able to apply for jobs now. After carefully evaluating what went wrong in the past, I believe the ADA accommodation I need is an ally at the C- or VP-level I can turn to when another abusive or bullying situation crops up.

    I need someone to help me navigate the various options for dealing with that kind of problem, and it would be great if the person were willing to step in and enforce company anti-bullying policies and the like if all else failed.

    Is this a reasonable request?

    (And no, “talk to HR” won’t suffice. HR fundamentally wants everyone to sit down and shut up and not cause any trouble, and they have no desire to SOLVE anything, so abuse continues unabated.)

    All I *really* need as an “accommodation” from a workplace is a little respect as a fellow human being working toward the same company goal, and a modicum of tolerance for [everyone’s] differences (e.g., Don’t get angry and abusive with me if you use a calculator, but I use a spreadsheet, for the same task).

    If a coworker can’t manage that, then I need them to just pretend I don’t exist and limit any required communication to email. But no company can promise or control that, so I’m looking for a more concrete solution.

    Thoughts?

    • You didn’t say what industry you are in or where you are located, but I have found that tech, startups, and generally more forward thinking companies are more sensitive to neurodivergence.

    • AAU, I’m sorry you have experienced such negativity in the workplace. I do think you are asking too much for the average employer to champion you as you have described. It may not be morally correct but they simply want the job done in a way that promotes their bottom line. How do you add to their bottom line? Not to discourage you but to point out that the employer tends to want no drama and no problems and thus spur you to consider work that fits your personality and skills.

      Bullies in the workplace tend to be tolerated in my own experience. Why? Sometimes everyone seems afraid of them or they have enough power to be invaluable to the big boss. We have to learn to be our own best friends and advocate in most/many workplaces. Which is where’s you are looking for help. How can you gain better skills in this area?

      There are a few organizations that promote hiring people with “disabilities” so to speak. Perhaps searching for one that promotes job placement for people on the spectrum would lead to more success for you. Some of them provide mentors which could perhaps provide the guidance you seek. Or maybe even starting your own business. Maybe working in a very small business where the owner likes and appreciates you and their staff. Best wishes to you!

    • @Autistic: Before I demonstrate my general ignorance about issues people on the Autism spectrum face, I’m going to ask anyone out there with personal experience about this to comment.

      Otherwise, I generally agree with Kathy’s tough-love view. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll find much support in most companies. However, what might work is to just seek out a mentor, not specifically an advocate. If there’s someone at or above your rank that you respect, it may take little more than approaching them quietly:

      HOW TO SAY IT

      “As I move up in our organization, I recognize the value of a mentor. Someone that can help me navigate new or difficult situations. I don’t mean someone whose shoulder I can cry on. I mean someone that can answer questions I can’t answer myself, steer me in directions I can’t navigate as well myself. Not someone to take responsibility for me or the choices I make — but someone that can be a trusted sounding board and guide. I admire your management style and acumen. I don’t want to put you on the spot. But if you’re willing to give me a few minutes once or twice a month to chat, it would mean a lot to me.”

      What I’m saying is, don’t make it about Autism. Make it about your success at your job, because your employer doesn’t pay you to overcome your Autism at work. It pays you to do your job. So make it about that, and I think when Autism is part of the discussion, your mentor will see that your objective is to do your job well.

      If you like what I’m suggesting, you must tune it to suit your style and intentions. Hope it helps. I wish you the best.

      • There are some sites that cater to people with different “issues” or disabilities. It is called Club Capable.

        https://www.wearecapable.org/post/introducing-club-capable

        Larry

      • @Nick:

        Thank you for responding.

        Clearly, I was unclear in my original post (an incredibly typical occurrence, unfortunately, especially regarding emotional issues).

        I neither want nor need any kind of babysitter or moral support or white knight. I could even make a cogent argument that I don’t particularly need a mentor.

        What I *do* need is someone who has the power and inclination to take care of the following kinds of problems when my best efforts and “chain of command” have failed:

        * When my peer-level “trainer” specifically and directly instructs me to do something that is a federal crime, is potentially lethal, is awful customer service, and is obviously unethical/immoral. Then, when the matter is brought before our Director with evidence in writing, he doesn’t see the problem and thinks I should just follow the instruction.

        Obviously, I refused to follow the direction for all the reasons above, not to mention the liability to my employer. This was NOT a case of stubbornness or insubordination or “differing approaches”. I have actually *enforced* that particular law and have read the clinical concerns and related data.

        In hindsight, I realize my Director was completely unaware of the relevant law and oblivious to the potentially dire clinical outcome, as he was not a clinician. I think he chose to rely on the “expertise” of my “mentor” instead of finding out for himself or letting me show him the law and clinical information.

        * When a “peer” spends the first 30 minutes of a meeting including my manager and a dozen other colleagues red-faced and screaming directly at me and insulting me and my intelligence because he doesn’t like the formatting of page numbers and the font size of text in a document (might take 6 total mouse clicks to make the purely stylistic changes he wanted).

        I’d never even heard of this person until that meeting. My manager, sitting right next to me, told me NOT to stand up for myself, but then she did absolutely NOTHING to address the problem. My Director agreed it was inappropriate, but also did nothing.

        * When a dotted-line manager told me to “be quiet and let the MEN speak.” I was required to attend daily 4-hour-long meetings for months because I was THE subject matter expert on the $12 million hardware & software project they were trying to expand. Quite literally, no one else in the whole state knew as much about the project and all the required technology as I did then.

        So when the MEN (who were not computer literate enough to send an Outlook meeting invitation reliably) would spin up some fantasy function for the hardware/software (“It’ll give us GPS coordinates!!” when the hardware was ONLY a timekeeping chip, small LCD, and a battery, with no receiver or transmitter of any kind, and certainly no GPS interface), I, as the SME, felt compelled to explain to them why the system was completely incapable of fulfilling that particular fantasy. Apparently, this was unacceptable, especially coming from a woman.

        I hope these examples clarify what I’m asking for. It may still be unreasonable/unlikely, and I’m open to hearing that, but I very much hope there is some kind of solution to this kind of problem.

        Regards,

        Autistic Among You

        P.S.-As far as I can tell, being Autistic plays a relatively minor role in these situations. It definitely “others” me, which has always made me the target of choice for insecure people who abuse others, and looking back, I believe that’s why these particular people chose to treat *me* as they did. But their behavior was unacceptable regardless of who the target was, and it should have been stopped and addressed!

        Being Autistic also means I almost NEVER pick up on the red flags of sabotage (like in the first example where the “trainer” thought I wouldn’t know any better), deceit, and manipulation before it’s too late.

        The vast majority of Autistics are extremely honest and straightforward, and we can’t understand why anyone would go to all the trouble to be dishonest and indirect and just “hint” at things.

        This is such a strong and pervasive trait across our community that, according to recent research, 90% of Autistic women have been sexually assaulted, compared with only 30% of neurotypical women. We just don’t pick up on the same creepy red flags that neurotypical people do while there is still time to change the situation.

        P.P.S.- We’re “Autistic people” or “Autistics”. We’re not “people with autism” or “people on the spectrum”, any more than you are a “person with Maleness”. ?

  8. I get at least 5 emails every day from contract recruiters wanting to represent me for a job opening. Many times the jobs are exactly same from different staffing companies. I’ve tried searching for key words and phrases from the job description to find the true hiring company, but I am rarely successful. Where are these contract staffing companies finding the job postings, and why can’t people apply directly?

    • They’re getting it from an ATS opened by the employer to headhunters and are scraped by their tools. Around here, it’s mostly Verizon and Citigroup, and I know when they’ve opened a new position as I’ll start seeing the same keywords come in from a variety of Indian shops, oftentimes multiple times from the same shop.

      You probably don’t want to apply directly considering the method used.

    • @Mike L: What David said. If a company is farming out its positions to body shops, you’re not likely to get in the door on your own unless you cultivate inside contacts to get the hiring manager’s attention. See https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/6290/skip-the-resume-triangulate-to-get-in-the-door

      • Thanks Nick and David! In my experience, companies will have a different budget for contract employees than for RFT’s. When I have a contractor req to fill, I work with one or two select staffing firms directly and not through an ATS. Do the big companies have an ATS for contracting firms separate from RFT’s?

        Also, If the big companies like Verizon, T-Mobile, Citigroup, etc. have already open reqs for contractors (and these are usually long-term contracts), then getting a hiring manager to change to a full-time req is near impossible. I don’t mind a contract-to-hire role to build my contacts and reputation. Some roles I see are what I am looking for, and the client is on my target list, but trying to work with body shops is a PITA. Do you have any other guidance to working with them (or around them)?

        • I can’t speak as to what the companies have with regards to FTEs vs contractors as that’s based upon each company’s hiring preferences.

          My earlier “you don’t want to” comment was more about the hiring practices of these large companies. You have to give out personal data before you can even be submitted with your DOB and last 4 of your social. To me, that is unacceptable. No personal information beyond my name and email/phone should be released to a company before an offer is made.

      • I hire contractors and regular staff. I recommend becoming active in a local professional society and offer to make presentations at their meetings. It is a variation of if you want the job, do the job.

        • @Jonathan: That is an excellent example of “to win the job, do the job.”

  9. I am searching for a remote or hybrid job (preferably remote) so I can continue taking care of a loved one. I’m looking to change industries. Total burnout in the current one! I know I need to narrow down the list of possible companies for networking purposes but am struggling to do so since remote work opens up work across the world. I have narrowed it down to the U.S., but that isn’t enough. Any ideas on how to narrow it further? I’m looking for small to midsize companies since I feel my skillset works best in those settings.

    • Hi Jennifer — there’s millions of small to mid-size companies in the US, so instead of starting there, I’d start with what you want to do — what role in what career field — and then use applications in your local library such as Mergent Intellect and Reference Solutions to find the kind of companies you’re looking for.

      In addition to searching through the entire US, you might also include a local search that could turn up some hybrid opportunities, so that maybe they could be mostly remote but an on-site visit 2 or 3 times a month.

  10. Why do companies post a job and want you to interview with them Great,
    But they aren’t flexible with meeting after hours, they just expect you
    to take off work & be there.

    Now the interview process, 4-6 interviews for a $ 50K job

    • @Larry: Unfortunately, they act this way because they can. They’ve been programmed by LinkedIn, Indeed, Zip and the ATS companies to believe there are SO many “right” candidates available that the employers don’t have to accommodate anyone — least of all about when to sched an interview.

      So this is what you buy into when you rely on job postings. It’s a hamster wheel. Alternatives? Please check this article and the comments on it:
      https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/5675/getting-in-the-door

  11. Thank you Nick for answering the questions. And helping us get our dream job! We appreciate it (that’s the post)!

    • @Thomas: You da Man! You’re welcome, and thank you for your kind words. If any advice I offer here is helpful, I’m glad.

    • Yes, thanks Nick :)

      For some of us it is a dream job.

      For others it’s a matter of survival.

  12. For non-exempt or hourly jobs, it seems like employers hire people with lies.I know that most of your readers are in the white collar world, but even among college grads, w/ degrees up to Ph.D. (such as in a research lab), there is still an issue of being told by the employer that the job is 30-hours a week, then only schedule 12 hours a week or schedule inconsistent shifts. Employers scream about not being able to find good employees, but make it so difficult on the employees who WANT TO WORK to be able to make ends meet – WHY?

  13. @Gari B: Wish I could tell you, but that would mean I can think like those people, and I can’t. I doubt most of the time they’re lying. I think most of the time they’re just lousy managers or business owners. An old mentor of mine taught all his students: “Never work with jerks.”

    Well, there are too many jerks. The advice I’d add is, “You know pretty quickly who’s a jerk, so don’t kid yourself – move on immediately!”

    There ARE good, honest, smart employers out there that manage their businesses well. You will find them through their customers, their vendors, their employees, their bankers and the people that clean their buildings. This goes for any kind of job – white or blue collar.

    The trick is to not kid yourself. You know a jerk when you encounter one. And if you’re not sure, ask around before you engage. The few really good employers will reward you when you find them.

    So my advice is, ask around, do your homework, and apply only to companies that have good reputations.

  14. I’ve found that the hard part is finding a stable employer. I see lots of “help wanted” signs, and every day there are segments on the news about how employers can’t find workers, that all workers are lazy, etc.

    I’ve tried doing my research about companies, agencies, and jobs, and yet I’m still finding more of the same bait and switch. The job advertised is not the one on the table. The salary has gone down while the job description has changed. The hours aren’t what was listed on the website, or worse, I’ve seen jobs requiring a master’s degree, years of experience, but paying only $38K and you have to be on call evenings, weekends (24 hours).

    I like the “don’t work for or with jerks”. Sometimes it is obvious, based upon how I’m treated when I reach out to a hiring manager, but many times I’ve wasted my time. Is there a better way to research companies? Unless I know someone working there who isn’t scared to tell me the truth about it, it is difficult to know.

    • Look up reviews on Glassdoor and Indeed. I always look at negative reviews and try to filter by job function if I can. Some people will complain because they’re overworked CSRs so a lot of negative reviews might be that. Some might complain for absolute nothingburgers, and those complaints can also be discarded. I know plenty of companies that will instruct or pay workers to astroturf reviews on Glassdoor and other sites, so seeing the negative reviews helps to offset that. Positive reviews aren’t bad, but unless they contain more than some boilerplate about it being a fantastic place to work, it’s probably not real, and most of them don’t pass that sniff test.

      Also, if they have a lot of external presence, look up reviews on Ripoffreport, Google reviews, Yelp, etc. That can tell you how they deal with the public which helps to show the employer’s style.

  15. Here’s one I haven’t seen AskTheHeadhunter address: I recently submitted my application for a job with a large telecom company. They “require” all applicants to submit a Video interview answering questions they supply you. They will keep this “interview” on file for a year so you can apply for various open positions. This seems lazy on their part, and not sure it’s something I want to do.

    • @KevinV: We’ve actually discussed the issues (there are loads!) surrounding video interviews. The pandemic left almost no alternative for a while (I prefer tel interviews over video), but it’s really been taken too far. It’s one thing when you do a Zoom with a manager; another when you talk to the hand.

      Here are some thoughts and suggestions:

      https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/9044/hirevue-video-interviews-insult-talent-in-talent-shortage

      https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/13461/ai-robo-interviewer

      You raise a specific issue – they will keep the interview “on file for a year” – that’s a quagmire. Video interviews are invariably done using a third-party service which invariably requires you to sign for permissions and/or waivers. This raises questions:

      1. Who has your video file? Who owns it?
      2. Where is it stored and who has access to it?
      3. If company A uses video service X to “interview” you today and next week company B (which also uses service X) needs to fill a job, what’s to stop X from selling access to B without your knowledge?
      4. Who or what will “view” or “analyze” your video? In some cases no one will view it – software will “analyze” and score it.

      We could go on. A video interview with a human is one thing. Doing it solo is something else. I’ve got a suggestion for that, too. This article explores the question, Why should I give them my time when they won’t commit their own time?

      https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/11783/interview-for-1500-jobs

      You’re right to hesitate.

  16. I put the following out there before, but this whole discussion seems to be apropos for a resubmitall

    Stop Looking For Jobs.

    Let me take a shot at answering your question. One could write a book on it, and I tend to be long winded/cursored so I’ll try to make it brief.
    1. Your question is key. It says you’re on the right track from the start. How you go about finding a “good” company starts here. Stop looking for jobs. Look for companies. One in which you think you have something to offer & in so doing, will further your career and in turn offer you a good quality of life as you define it.
    2. This is a challenging endeavor, complex, work intensive & far removed from blasting resumes into job boards, web sites etc that the majority of job hunters do when focusing on jobs.
    3 You start with yourself. Wrestling yourself to the ground is perhaps the hardest part of it. Define what constitutes a “good company” to you. Different strokes for different folks, based on your priorities, financial situation, what you love to do etc, Your idea of a good company may be quite different from someone elses. Profile your ideal target. This will provide you focus, and focus will increase the probability of a successful result.
    4. Then define your idea of a good boss. If you’re going to burn energy, might as well target the ideal. You can decide later if anything less is tolerable. But know what one is. The ideal would be to work for a great company working with a great boss. Just factor in pragmatism. Believe it or not you can find that working for a great boss, even in a crappy company can work fine. But I wouldn’t recommend working for a crappy boss in a great company. For example I’ve had some great working experiences in companies going down the slippery slope & out of existance .I sometimes think it was me. I join, they die.
    5. Once you have a sense of what you’re looking for, you can start your hunt. Which begins with a LOT of research time. Depending on your Quality of Life priorities. For example, let’s say you love where you live & aren’t interested in moving under any circomstance. You now have a useful boundary on your search. Let’s say you’d prefer not to spend your life commuting. You then refine your search target. Say within 20 miles max from home. Draw a circle with a 20 radius from home. Then ask yourself. What companies are in that circle? Now see how they stack up to your company profile. I used a bricks and mortar example. It may be different, hybrid part office, part home. Or you may want a totally remote situation. Or perhaps industy is your priority anywhere Or Or Or depending on some sandbox you’ve defined.
    6. Now that you have a target you dive deeper. In depth research about those companies. Generally make it your business to know their history, how they are performing (financially, industry & customer respect, industry influence, their technical chops, rankings pertinent to their corporate world) their org chart Spend some time digging into their leadership. CEO, the executive team. This is context. Then dig into your specialities, your areas of interest. Let’s say you’re a high level IT guy, specializing or targeting Artificial Intelligence. Any sign of life in these companies that you can find?. Absence of any or leadership in same may signal further effort. Depends on you & what you find out. This will become easier as you go, is you’ll develop your own template, your own process that you’ll easily repeat as you move forward. Sort of your standard. Having such, will position you to make comparisons.& set priorities. You’ll need to find & develop research resources. As to resources for example, get you know your way around your local library and librarians. They can offer you a lot of assistance as they know way more than we mere mortals on where to quickly find info and some may provide the research as a service
    7. Let’s say for sake of discussion you’ve ruled out some companies & some got your attention. Now you can better focus & dig deeper on the ones that caught your eye. You now turn to your network. Equipped with your own base of info you look company specific not found in the general sources you’ve used. Insider info. Up to now you’ve done due diligence on the big picture stuff on these companies. Now you start chasing after insights on what it would be like to work for them …you’re trying to find the goodness (or not), to put a BS filter in place. You check your personal network.. Make it easy, develop a simple set of questions to ask. Help your network help you. Do people you know ever work there? Know someone who worked there? Know someone who knows someone who worked there? If so , will they connect you? Intro you? Reassure you’re network that you’re not looking for job leads. You want to know if that COMPANY has the potential for your next adventure.
    8. This is important. Notice I’ve said nothing about jobs. Nor will you when you work your network at this point (unless in the process they bring it up with a specific lead). If your network shifts to jobs, jumping ahead of you e.g diverting it to an inference that you’re looking for job leads, disabuse them of that & reinforce the point so they don’t go down the wrong path if you can convince them to look for info leads. In other words, you have to drive the bus, own your agenda. It will derail your hunt if you knowingly let someone else define your agenda.
    9. Lets say your network is coming up with some people who can & will connect you to someone(s) with info on a target company. Be prepared to extract the info. What do you want to know? Some suggestions would be: recruiting practices, (e.g. using outside recruiters or not or both, speed of making a hiring decision, respectful process? , new hire onboarding or not, cultural which goes across a lot of space, but key to an interest to come aboard would their comp processes, pay per market? Will they negotiate or play hard ball? Organization structure for some idea of where your profession fits & to what degree it’s used., what’s a person’s take on a good or bad place to work & why. Obviously someone who works there presently & is willing to talk with you is a good connection, but don’t discount former employment, customers, suppliers, previous applicants. Keep in mind at this juncture all insights are valuable. Don’t get wrapped around the axle of your specific professional interests. You’re assessing the company as a whole, the sandbox you’ll be playing in. Confidentiality. Talking with current employees is touchy & elusive. They will have an underlying concern that somehow they’ll get nailed for shooting off their mouths. Off site lunches or zooms with someone they trust rolled in can be helpful.
    10. Also keep in mind that when you are chasing these companies you are in concert networking and network building. You may get a question for a question, from someone also hunting. Help them as you asked to be helped. You’ll be network building because your network will fall short. Due to its size, inclinations to help, or other limitations. So you’ll be digging into & building new sources. Your profession likely has associations, your past company has social media groups and so on. Get involved or reinvolved with them And your target companies likely have groups as well. Here’s one most people don’t use. Find connections to people being outplaced. Outplacement companies have huge databases of resumes, that the outplaced can access. So do recruiters. Do not assume recruiters won’t help you. You as a stranger perhaps not, but a previous placement, someone in their network can ask for you. Keep the words “Thank You” close at hand. And again, have a great memory for those who helped & if some day they need likewise, be ready & willing.
    11. You now have the general information & good internal insights on a # of companies. Have done the best you can do to understand them inside & out. Now using the same networking tools noted previously, you’ll apply them to zero in on a hiring manager who closely aligns to your professional interests & has passed your litmus test of a good manager. You’ll work at getting a referral to that manager, and contact information for same. Adding one more tool to your toolbox. Attempt direct contact. Prepare for it. Learn to be your own recruiter, as that’s what recruiting is all about. Another thing to do is retool your mindset to do so is to accept the concept you are now in sales. You’ve reach the point where you will leave info gathering mostly behind and are now going to take that info & use it to sell your value to that manager AND the company. What to sell? Make it simple , your value.& it’s worth…for that company & that manager. Sell that. Let them define a job. So in sum, all the preceding is to position you to do this. To meet & talk with a hiring manager..& sell sell sell. And through this whole process, keep & use this point. “You are not looking for a job..you are looking for a COMPANY” And if you do this right, & are asked why you want to work for them…you can answer that question better than they’ve probably heard before. You know why & can present your case well.
    12. Jobs: Jobs are legal tender for job hunters, recruiters and hiring managers. They articulate (supposedly) the labor value involved. But building your working life on a job foundation is akin to building your house on a sea of mud. They shift, they move, they disappear, they get farmed out. Building your career life on an enterprise is not foolproof either, they change and also can disappear. But it usually takes much longer. However good companies endure.& endure because they change for the better This is why targeting companies is a better target. The obvious is always there…success = a good job with a good company as long as the good part holds true. Of course you’re looking for a job, the network knows you are, the hiring end knows you are, and you know it, & we know you know. What we’re talking about is what’s really important to you & how you go about it. For instance, my last JOB was an inside recruiter for a small company. I did not see my purpose as fillng jobs. My role was to act for the own to find good people for the company. In the form of jobs.
    13. For the sake of discussion I talked about how you find good companies (and job hunt) in a serial way #1, 2 etc. I noted that this who process is complex, & labor intensive. It’s a full time job. And I’ve described it as if you were conducting your search in a nice smooth sequence. The real world is you’re multi tasking, involved with several compnies in various stages of this.
    14. And finally all through this, just as it is in the sales world. There is the liklihood of simply dumb luck. At any point someone can pop a strong job lead, meaning they know of a job, in another company or one of your target companies and they know the hiring manager or someone who has their ear. It happens. Even so, my recommendation is to make good use of “I’m not looking for a job, I’m looking for a company”. It will serve you well. Especially if you get presented with the “you’re over qualified” BS. When you look for a company, over qualified is irrelevant. It’s bolted to a job mindset. And it doesn’t translate well into “You’re too interested in the company.”
    Go for it!

    • Hi Don — Great post (and good book idea).

      For the person who buys into your Great company before great job philosophy, there are 2 books that fit / support that concept: Read first, The Job Closer, and read second, The2-Hour Job Search, both by Dalton

  17. Until about 2 years ago, my biggest struggle was simply getting job interviews. For the last two years it has been getting to the second interview for those jobs that had multiple interviews, and getting the offer if it was a one interview hiring process. Next week will be the first time in close to 5 years that I will be having a second interview.

  18. Hi Robert —

    Thanks for commenting. Are you saying that you have been unemployed and searching for employment for the past 5 years?

    And also, is there a question here that you’re seeking an answer to?

  19. Well, since this is an open mic session, I’m taking advantage of it.

    Question 1: When are employers in general going to come clean and be honest about their job offerings and why they turn over positions so much? It’s mostly the same companies looking for the same positions week in, week out. Even for the employers that don’t have horrendous turnover many seem to be dreadful and dysfunctional to work for. Many job ads are poorly written and demand skills and credentials that the vast majority of applicants will never have and the person who actually does have the credentials and skills they want probably won’t apply for that job because it’s a joke. I see way too many employers looking for purple squirrels, to be honest.

    Question 2: This sort of relates to the previous question: When is American management (including any that might be lurking here) going to get their act straight and clean their ranks up? Part of the reason that there is so much turnover in the work force is because of management; there are way too many diabolical examples here to go into too much detail of how American executives act. It doesn’t matter how many years they have been ‘managing’ (more like babysitting, and they can’t even get that right) a company or organization; many American leaders seem to fail at the most basic tasks in being even just a front line supervisor. Don’t even start on the incompetence of upper management; one good example is having an engineering firm being managed by someone without a formal background or education in engineering. I can’t believe I’m the only one who sees that as a comedy of errors!

    Question 3: When will American employers start taking their customers more seriously? This may not be obviously related to the workplace but I do think that a company that doesn’t care about its customers will certainly not care about its employees. As a consumer myself I see a lot of corner cutting and shoddy work across all industries, from the grocery store that tries to sell expired food, to retail stores with falling apart displays, to the repair people who rig up electrical/plumbing wrong, to engineers and architects that design Three Stooges quality buildings and roads, to schools that hire teachers that can’t spell right, the list goes on and on. Hack work makes for a hack workforce if you ask me. Simply because a company talks about quality does NOT mean that it does high quality work. I think this is a huge factor in how employers relate to their employees.

    These are old issues, not new ones; they go back long before I was born. Instead of addressing these issues for about maybe 50 years or so American employers spent more time on motivational garbage and executive hot air, basically. No offence but the average American employer is terrible to work for now.

    (Drops Mic)

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