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The insider's edge on job search & hiring™

The Q&A

Only in New Jersey?

I’ve written a lot about about the various rackets in the career industry that prey on desperate people looking for work, but I always use the term “racket” loosely. Last week I got a query from a news reporter that forced me to create a new category in this blog. We all need a (nervous) laugh:

I am a staff reporter with… a northern New Jersey newspaper. I want to ask you about a lawsuit to see if what is described within could be construed as normal “head hunter” protocol, as the defendant claims.

The lawsuit was filed by a father who claimed he paid $31,000 to a mob associate with “political connections.” The mobster guaranteed the man’s son a job in return for the money. The mob associate said he knew a sitting state legislator who would write a letter of recommendation to a local company in order for the father’s son to get a job. The job fell through and the father sued to get his money back.

Does that sound like legitimate work by a head hunter? Read more

Linked into the haystack

Relationships make the world go ’round, and it’s wonderful to make new friends and contacts. And it’s really great when you find that needle in a haystack — a new contact who changes your business or your life. Such an encounter might be a once-in-a-lifetime event. No one’s been able to figure out how to reliably trigger the unique circumstances that bring two people together, or even how to identify the special characteristics that combine to make a valuable new relationship.

Here are the last five messages people sent me when asking me to join their LinkedIn networks, in the hope that we might make magic, or even that we might just enjoy hanging out together: Read more

If you don’t like rejection

Every week I get books in the mail. Review copies. These are from authors writing about career topics who would like me to plug their books on Ask The Headhunter. I know how hard it is to get your writing published, so I don’t respond when I have nothing nice to say.

Most of the time, even the titles are embarrassing. (No, I won’t tell you the titles. Our moms were right. Sometimes it’s still best to say nothing if you can’t say anything nice.) The material is weak. The methods described are hackneyed, and they still don’t work. Some of these books are preposterous; others, too clever for their own good. Read more

TheLadders: Going down?

Recruiting-industry watcher Cheezhead reports that job-board web-site TheLadders may be for sale. I agree. In Silicon Valley, it’s an old story. Does an entrepreneur start a company to create value, or with a quick exit strategy at the heart of the business plan?

When the entrepreneur comes from another company whose reputation is for bargain-basement wares that don’t work, you don’t even need to ask. Ladders founder Marc Cenedella came from HotJobs, that bastion of quality job-postings whose success at filling jobs doesn’t even warrant mention. Well, heck, let’s mention it anyway. CareerXroads reports that less than one-half of one percent (0.05%) of jobs filled by companies come from HotJobs. The product doesn’t work. (In comparison, Monster’s success rate among employers is around 2%. Whoo-wee. Compliment all the HR brainiacs who have sent billions of dollars to Monster.) Read more

HR’s new dildo: The behavioral interview

Ever hear of the behavioral interview? It’s been all the rage in human resources circles for some time. In fact, the HR community has now grabbed onto the behavioral interview as the right way to have a meaningful interaction with a job candidate. It’s the way to really learn about a job candidate’s actual skills. The idea is simple. Don’t ask candidates about their skills and capabilities, because they’ll tell you what you want to hear. Instead, ask them how they actually handled a particular task or situation in the past. That way you can assess their actual behavior and judge their abilities more accurately. Follow me so far? Read more

Zen of job hunting

I’m a headhunter and a writer. I don’t know a darned thing about bikes, but when I look at the V-twin engine on a Victory motorcycle in the window of a local bike shop, I see perfection. Smack me, but it makes me feel like I just closed a deal and placed the right candidate in the right job and the match is forever. Of course, one has nothing to do with the other. Right? Wrong. The image of perfection is the image of quality. You know it when you see it. I see it in that V. Read more

Use the Working Resume to blow away your competition

Resumes were the topic last week… well, at least after some professional resume writers pointed out the differences between what they do and what TheLadders does… Up to that point, the topic was my critique of TheLadders’ sales gaffe in its pitch for $1,375 resume services. One should not be pitching pricey perfection in resume writing when one fails to catch one’s own spelling errors. (Hey, I make spelling mistakes, too, but I’m not trying to get you to spend $1,375 to buy my spelling and writing expertise.)

I don’t write resumes for a living. But I do provide advice about how to get an interview and how to win a job. In this week’s (February 12, 2008) edition of the Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, we’re discussing how to commit Resume Blasphemy. That is, how to turn that piece of paper you hand an employer into a Working Resume. Read more

One tiny $100K+ mistake

It’s getting so you can’t avoid the cheesiness of the job boards no matter where you turn in the career industry, because they seem to multiply like the spawn of Bernard Haldane.  After embarrassing themselves at data-base dumps like HotJobs, job-board executives re-form similar operations under new names, and run the same rackets. The trend now is to sucker-punch the “$100K+” market — managers who believe they can buy their way into the next corporate suite for the price of a “Premium Membership.”

Marc Cenedella (formerly of HotJobs), the founder and CEO of TheLadders (“The Most $100K+ Jobs”), sends his members regular solicitations that compete with the ripest junk-mail ad-copy scenting your e-mail box. A reader passed along a sample that had me howling, until tears ran down my cheeks for the $100K+ suckers who swallow it. Read more

Calling for Clark Kent

Talent shortage, my butuckus. Poor management, more likely. Overly-narrow job descriptions are killing companies, and the board of directors doesn’t even know it. A former client who is looking for a new job thought he’d found the right gig in the right company. After several interviews, the recruiter handling the search told him he was one of three finalists. So, here’s what happened, in his own words: Read more

Goobers! Where are the jobs?

Well, the news is out and once again, I shake my head. Bloomberg reports that, according to the US Labor Department, jobless claims are at a 27-month high. Goobers! And I guess we can bank on that (or close our empty accounts) because, “Monster Worldwide Inc., the New York-based owner of the most-used Internet site for help-wanted advertising, said today its employment index declined in January to the lowest level in almost two years.” (Its “employment index”? Monster’s success rate at filling jobs sucks. Why do any statistics from Monster matter? Er, ah, it’s news.) Read more

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