Readers’ Forum: Are people enough?

Discussion: November 24, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

In today’s newsletter, a reader tells how she’s on a roll… conducting her job search exclusively through personal contacts. She hasn’t sent out a resume but has lined up phone calls with VP’s and CEO’s at her target companies.

How is that possible? How’d she do it? (You’ve gotta subscribe to the newsletter to find out… and it’s free!)

I didn’t publish this week’s Q&A column to congratulate myself because a reader finds that the Ask The Headhunter approach works. I ran it because it’s Thanksgiving and it’s nice to share an upbeat story!

But I also ran it because I want to ask you something:

Does the talk-to-people approach that this reader is using a substitute for the traditional job ad/resume approach, or should it be used only in addition to job ads/resumes?

Have you ever searched for a job purely through personal contacts? Is a person nuts to skip resumes and ads?

Is it enough to talk to people? Please weigh in and don’t worry about getting extreme…


How to Say It: Please let me into your network!

Discussion: November 24, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks:

Calling people up to make new contacts is awkward for me, but I’m doing it anyway. I know I have to use each contact to build my network — to ask for more introductions. How do you say it? How do you ask to meet the other people in someone’s network?

How to Say It: People have a hard time with this because they think asking for new contacts is awkward. But it’s the most natural thing in the world if you keep it conversational.

I offered my suggestion about how to do this effectively… in this week’s newsletter. Now I’m asking you, What’s a good way to ask someone to let you into their network? How do you ask to meet their contacts?

(I’ll post my suggestion about How to Say It a bit later… But in the meantime, I want to encourage blog readers who don’t subscribe to the newsletter to please sign up — it’s free!)


Pay for a job? (Part 2)

About a year ago we first asked the question, How much would you pay for a job?

In this week’s e-mail Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, we’re covering part two. (Don’t get the free newsletter? Oops. You’re missing the full story. Sign up now!)

A reader says:

I recently signed an agreement with a search firm that places people either (1) as a contingnecy search firm, or (2) as a career counseling firm. That is, depending on the position, they charge the employer or the employee a fee. I am willing to work with them only if the employer pays the fee, but the agreement includes a number of provisions about how this firm could collect the fee from me.

There’s more… in the newsletter. (Hey, if I publish it all here, what’s the point of the newsletter? The point of this part of the Blog is to enable newsletter subscribers to chime in on the topic. Feel free to join in…)

Witness the degree of desperation in the job market… and beware of “pay to work” schemes that masquerade as legitimate headhunters or employment agencies.

Suckers are born every minute. Some of them are pretty smart — just desperate and in need of help. (We’ve all been there.) I guarantee you, there are scams even I have never heard of before… Would you pay for a job? Have you encountered “agencies,” “career counselors” or “search firms” that charge both the job hunter and the employer? (And, what did you think of my advice in the newsletter?)

Have you been scammed another way?

Expose the fraud and let’s educate ourselves before another one of us gets suckered…

****UPDATE: Newsletter subscribers have asked for access to the June 9, 2009 edition of the Newsletter, titled Should I pay to apply for a job?, which is mentioned in this week’s edition. While the newsletter is not normally archived online, I’ve put that edition up so you’ll have it for reference. Hope it helps, and thanks for the requests!


Readers’ Forum: No phone calls, please! (Version 2)

We recently heard from a reader who saw a job posting that warned, “No phone calls, please!”

In this week’s newsletter (October 27, 2009) another reader runs into the same warning, but the story has another twist. (What is it with employers who don’t want to talk to job applicants, anyway?)

I found the job of my dreams posted in an industry newsletter. The posting says to apply via, where a more complete job description can be found. I researched and found the name of the executive that position reports directly to and I also found her on LinkedIn. Do I send a message via LinkedIn? The posting does specify “No calls, please,” so I don’t want to get black-balled before I even apply.

On the one hand, we have a smart, motivated job hunter — the kind of out-of-the-box thinker companies claim they love. On the other hand, we have an HR department so goofy that it directs job hunters to a 3rd-party job board to apply for a job at the company… while the company’s managers are available on LinkedIn.

What would you do?


Readers’ Forum: What do I owe the headhunter?

A reader’s problem:

Five years ago a headhunter convinced me to interview with Company A. I wasn’t offered a job after the interview, but the experience motivated me to find a job with another company, B. After a few months, Company A offered me a job (through the headhunter), but I had to decline since I had already started working at Company B.

Now that 5 years have passed, I’d like to pursue a job at Company A. Am I obligated to work through the headhunter? Or is it fine to contact the hiring manager at Company A directly?

Forum: Does this reader owe the headhunter a call? What’s the best way to handle this? Post your comments and I’ll add mine later! (If you have a copy of How to Work with Headhunters, you can handle this one with your eyes closed… and you also know why the reader should have stayed closer to that headhunter!)


How to Say It: No phone calls, please!

Well… I’m not going to tell you how to say “No phone calls, please!” (It’s just a nice, catchy title.)

But I hope we can address what a job hunter should do when the personnel jockey warns  not to call anyone at the company…

A reader asks:

I researched the company and sent in the requested cover letter and resume, but after discovering your website today, I would like to do more towards “being my own headhunter.” The problem is that the job posting on the company website clearly states “no phone calls, please.” Does this exclude me from contacting people within the company who are not the hiring manager? How do I communicate that I think I deserve an inside edge?

If you get the newsletter, you know what my advice is. (You don’t get the newsletter? Well, sign up now — it’s free — or you’ll miss my advice on the next How to Say It!)

Your turn now: Can this reader still make the call? (Ah, that’s a loaded question!) How? And how should she use the call to leverage an inside edge on the job?


Q&A: Climbing out of the hole

You think you have problems?

We’re the parents of a 30-year-old college-grad-gone-wrong man. Our son now has two incidents and a criminal record as a result of his ten-year obsession with eastern culture (martial arts/intense spiritual yoga indoctrination). He got fired from his daytime jobs and still has a few hearings scheduled in court.

While we provide support for him, there must be some honest labor or odd jobs that he can do. Not only for $, but we feel that a sense of providing for himself can restore his self-esteem, which could be just the thing to tear him away from that spiritual breakdown and return him to society.

Do you know any job source that can tolerate his criminal record? I asked his public defender. He had no clue! We will appreciate any leads for him. Thanks a million.

The problem is that he’s getting fired presumably because of his behavior. I don’t know of any job where that would be tolerated. He has to want to build his self-esteem, or his behavior will not change.
This might sound strange to you, but a program like Toastmasters or a Dale Carnegie course might help him — if he wants the help. These groups teach self-reliance and the ability to get up in front of people to talk with poise. I find that problems with work and self-esteem often stem from a lack of self-confidence. Learning to talk to others publicly is a great path to building confidence. By changing his behavior around other people, he may be able to change his underlying attitudes. (This is a simple tenet of behavioral and cognitive psychology — behavior change can stimulate a change in attitude.)

Toastmasters is free. Carnegie charges.
The nice thing about both? Many of the people you meet in those programs have jobs in good companies. They can be the first step toward a new job.
He has to want to do it.
I wish you the best.


Turn down the volume

When I give a presentation, the first thing I tell the audience — whether they’re job hunters or hiring managers — is, “Everything you know about job hunting (or hiring) is wrong.” Shoulders relax. People giggle nervously. They are so relieved to hear they’re not crazy. They know the conventional wisdom is wrong.

Then I tell them that a mistake everyone makes when job hunting or hiring is volume. We are all taught that it’s a numbers game. You have to wake up every morning and get 50 resumes out before breakfast. Apply to as many jobs online as you can. Then you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something before lunchtime! Or if you work in HR, keep your pipeline full of candidates so you’ll have a lot to choose from.


Let me give you a specific counter-example that blows the fallacy of “volume” out of the water.

I had lunch with John, a client, to discuss a position he wanted me to fill. It was a $125,000 marketing job. We spent two hours talking. For the next two weeks, I talked to several people who worked for John, and to others at his company who knew him. John had no idea I was doing this. I learned a lot about what his operation was like and about how his staff worked.

Then I talked to a handful of people around the country — a handful — who are experts in marketing and who work with experts in marketing. I didn’t run any ads. I didn’t solicit any resumes. I conducted no in-person interviews. I called John back and gave him a name and a phone number. I told him to call Joe, the guy who could do the job.

John and Joe talked and scheduled a face-to-face meeting. In the meantime, I put together a very simple resume on Joe using information he had given me and information I gathered from his references. I sent it to John so he’d have some background on Joe, to fill in the blanks.

They met. John offered Joe a job and Joe accepted it.

One job, one meeting, one candidate.

Read more

Q&A on Midmorning, MN Public Radio: Oct 5 10am CT

Please join me on Midmorning with Kerri Miller, Monday October 5, 10am Central Time, on Minnesota Public Radio.

UPDATE: I’m glad to take overflow questions from the show here on the blog. Just post them in the comments section below… I’ll try to get to them all!

Here’s the audio from today’s Midmorning segment:

I referenced these articles during the segment today:

Put a Free Sample in Your Resume

Too Old to Rock & Roll

Information and statistics about job boards:

Job-board Journalism: Selling out the American Job Hunter (an oldie but goodie)

CareerBuilder is for Dopes

Job Board B.S. Abounds

Why do people pay to use job boards?

Your question might also be answered in one of the many other articles on the web site: Ask The Headhunter.

This is live, call-in talk radio — bring your questions! MNPR streams live online.

Our topic? The Job Hunt! The insider’s edge, how to find a job, how to interview, how to get the job, and if you already have the job, how to keep it and advance in your career.

I’m told that a representative of will be on the show, too…

(If your questions don’t make it on the air, please post them below and I’ll do my best to address them all after the show!)

Tune in here!


Readers’ Forum: Old, talented and sidelined

It’s the question on the lips of the ever-growing over-60 population. (Hey, you’re not over 60? Just wait a few minutes… because when you get to 60, it’s gonna feel like just a few minutes ago that you were younger.)

From the new Ask The Headhunter Newsletter Readers’ Forum:

I’m a 64-year-old (healthy and talented) TV director with two Emmys, one Peabody, and a dozen other awards. I love my job as an adjunct professor of television production and writing at a respected university, but at best it’s a part-time thing that brings more satisfaction than income. TV is staffed largely by young people who either perceive me as their father or ask why would someone like me be looking for work with someone like them. I’m afraid I’m not alone in my quandary: old enough to have a distinguished career, too old to be thought employable for any number of reasons. I have no intention of retiring. What would you do?

Forum: There are lots of articles on this topic in lots of publications. The Net is awash in advice for “old people” looking for jobs. But I’m not interested in the conventional tips for this reader. (Dye your hair. Act young. Leave dates off your resume. Learn the new lingo…) Can we do better than “the career experts” and their mushy apologies? We’d better, because soon it’s gonna be us kicking and screaming while they try to drag us to the sidelines…