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Forum: Should you hide your age on your resume?

The age barrier is something we’ve discussed before. Some employers look at a resume, see lengthy experience, judge the candidate as “over qualified” and toss the paper into the circular file. Dumb, dumb, dumb… but if that’s you we’re talking about, what can you do?

A reader asks The Forum:

Career professionals are telling older and more experienced people that have been “workforce-reduced” to remove information from their resume that makes them look over-qualified. (For example, shorten the work history, take off any graduate degrees unless needed for a particular job, omit industry-specific credentials.) Many experienced professionals are looking for an edge when applying for lower-level jobs and seem to be taking such advice. The goal of reducing the information on the resume is to get to the interview and then sell yourself to the hiring manager.

How do HR professionals view candidates that try to look less experienced? Do you think that this approach is a valid way to get to an interview? Thanks!

Should you mung your resume to… ahem… appear younger, less experienced and less intimidating to an employer? You guys go first… but I can’t wait to dive into this one. (And if you work in HR, what do HR professionals think of this approach to getting an interview? And why does HR avoid “over-qualified” applicants? Is less better? Do “career professionals” really tell people to devolve to get hired?? Can you be too good-looking, too smart, too experienced, too willing to take a lower salary? What is this world coming to?)


How to Say It: I want more money

Now we get to the juicy part of every job interview… the part where most job applicants blow it. Read my lips: After an employer makes you an offer, you cannot just ask for more money without explaining why more money for you is good for the company.

Duh… Yet job candidates sit there and say, “Uh, you ought to raise the offer because it’s not enough. The salary surveys say a job like this pays 20% more than you’re offering me…”

And when the savvy employer responds, “Oh, yeah? Show me the exact same job as this one that pays 20% more,” you look like an idiot. Because no salary survey describes the exact same job you’re talking about…

In this week’s Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader asks:

I’m considering a position, but I have no idea how much such a position ought to pay. My last employer compensated me at approximately $60K plus stock options, etc. How can I figure this out?

If you read the newsletter, you know what my advice is. I’ll post part of it here soon… but I’d rather hear your suggestions first. (Even if you want to suggest that I should sit on my advice and rotate. ;-)

The reader who submitted this question hopes you have a good suggestion regardless… (But do me a favor, subscribe to the newsletter — it’s free — and at least we’ll all be on the same page the next time we do one of these.)


Forum: Re-starting after bankruptcy

In the Readers’ Forum section of this week’s Ask The Headhunter Newsletter there’s a question from a reader that fits into a category I don’t use on this blog: “There but for the grace of God go I…” Maybe I oughta add it.

I went through a personal and business bankruptcy. I’m gradually getting back up on my feet. I’ve never had financial problems before, but the economic times hit me hard. Now I need to jumpstart the rest of my life. How should I handle this when a potential employer asks me about it?

If several things were to get very weird all at once, it could be any one of us asking this question. You go belly-up financially, but you finally get an interview, and the employer wants to know more. What do you say? How do you handle it?

Managers — Under what circumstances would you still hire someone who went bankrupt?


Q&A: Why do people pay to use job boards?

I just answered this one on LinkedIn’s Answers section.

Why are so many “job boards” charging job seekers to look for jobs or post their resumes?

Nick’s Reply
The job boards serve a very important service to smart employers and smart headhunters: For a fee (paid by job hunters and paid again by employers who post jobs), these boards effectively corral people who are looking for a job, any job.

These boards clear the playing field for us so we can focus on potential candidates who (1) aren’t desperate, (2) reflect their reputations among other professionals who are glad to recommend them, (3) would rather talk only to legitimate employers, rather than field calls from multi-level marketers and scam “headhunters.”

The more the boards charge, and the more “exclusive” they make themselves out to be, the more the hordes flock to them… and the better they separate opportunists from people who know what they want. I love it. More power to the job boards. (Forget about the fact that last year, companies filled only these percentages of their openings thru these boards — Monster, 3.14%; CareerBuilder, 3.95%; HotJobs, 1.35%. Source: Lotsa luck.)

Keep it up. You, too, can compete with all job hunters… while managers are interviewing the few people they hire through personal contacts. (40%-70% of jobs are found and filled through personal contacts, depending on which surveys you look at.)

Disclosure: I’m a headhunter. Further disclosure: Headhunters fill only about 3% of jobs. But we spend all our time hanging out with people who do the work our clients need done.


Where 95% of headhunters come from

Do the math. I keep telling you, just like 95% of HR people aren’t worth spit, neither are 95% of coaches, counselors or headhunters. Bad economies stimulate mutations in the business community that should be destroyed before they wreck the gene pool:

The birth of a headhunter

In the next mutation, they join with former founders of, HotJobs, TheLadders and CareerBuilder and hawk v!aGra by e-mail. They have great potential to mess up your life — if you let them.

(Thanks to Scott Adams, who could have chosen to become a headhunter but did not.)

H-1B: Foreign companies hiring foreign nationals

I’m a big believer in international competition and in Have brains, will travel. So I’ve never been able to find a comfortable position on the H-1B visa controversy. Do American companies need foreign talent so badly that they must import specialized workers to fill critical positions? Or are they using H-1B to lower costs by paying below-industry rates for foreign workers?

When I thrash around over these questions, trying to figure it out, I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. If American companies need foreign talent, let them justify their needs and let’s get to it.

Keep in mind that this is all about ensuring American companies have a competitive edge. It’s about making sure they have the talent they need to keep American business strong. Even if some American workers don’t like it.

But H-1B should have nothing do with creating opportunities for foreign nationals in the U.S. Sorry, but I’ve traveled to progressive countries where getting an entry visa means signing a statement that you will not work in that country. You will not take a job from a local. It makes sense for a nation to protect its jobs and to absolutely favor its own citizens — including the U.S. Likewise, once a foreign national is allowed into the country to work, that individual should be extended many of the same rights and courtesies (and obligations) its own workers have. Otherwise, why let them in?

So here’s where this all gets dicey. Why does the H-1B program — which ostensibly protects the interests of American companies — give an edge to foreign companies by letting them bring foreign workers into the U.S.?

When a reader recently sent me a rundown on H-1B Visas, I slapped my head, rubbed my eyes and looked at the numbers again. The top 4 employers on the H-1B list are Indian companies. (If you already knew this and I’ve been asleep at the wheel, slap me. The controversy that’s been emphasized in the media is about how H-1B screws American workers. Turns out it screws American companies even more.)

Why is the U.S. helping foreign companies import foreign labor?

According to an Informationweek analysis reported in Fierce CIO, these 4 foreign companies were granted over 12% of the 85,000 H-1B Visas issued in 2008.


How does this protect the competitive interests of American companies?

10,693 H-1B Visas were granted to just 4 foreign companies. Microsoft is #5 with 1,037. The 4 Indian companies at the top of the recipient list received more H-1B’s than the next 50 American companies received as a group.

Guess I’ve been a dope. The H-1B program is a U.S. government subsidy for foreign companies operating in the U.S. No wonder Microsoft campaigns for more H-1B visas — it’s competing for a U.S. subsidy with India. The U.S. government ensures foreign companies operating in the U.S. can hire foreign nationals.

The Wall Street Journal’s Tips for Tricking Employers

Readers sometimes point out that I don’t often link to career articles on other web sites. I know. It’s because most career articles are the same-old re-treads or desperate attempts by reporters to write something clever to satisfy their clueless editors. Don’t believe me? Visit The Wall Street Journal‘s Careers web site. You’ll find drivel like this: Explaining Short Job Stints. The article could have been titled, “Let’s Trick the Employers, Boys and Girls!”

This is The WSJ‘s idea of hard-core advice for difficult times. Reporter Elizabeth Garone recommends tricks for deailing with a daunting problem because the experts she cites can’t come up with any useful common sense. Let’s contrast the tricks she offers with some honest suggestions that protect the job hunter.

She suggests: To downplay jumping between two employers in six short months, do what executive-search expert Fred Coon says: Put the blame on your employers. Oh, yah. That’s nice work. Show the employer that you solve problems by blaming someone else. Smart thing to do while you’re talking to a guy about a job. Read more

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