LIVE Ask The Headhunter WNYC Radio – July 16

Please join me again this week for LIVE Ask The Headhunter on WNYC public radio on Thursday July 16, 10:40am ET, on the Brian Lehrer Show. WNYC is at 93.9 FM, 820 AM — and “streaming live” on the web at This is part of a weekly Ask The Headhunter Series during July…

*****UPDATE: Scroll down to listen to the recorded segment…

This week’s topic: The job boards.

  • What are they good for?
  • Do they work?
  • What are the success rates?
  • How can you make the most of them?
  • How do you avoid scams?
  • How do headhunters fit into the boards?

Bring your questions and please call in! You know how much I love talking about job boards… ;-) If you want to do your homework, here are some relevant Ask The Headhunter resources:

Job-Board Journalism: Selling out the American job hunter (from 2003 – but still valid as the day is long…)

CareerBuilder: Is it for Dopes?

The Dope on TheLadders (over 100 postings from readers about their, uh, experiences)

Uh-oh. A good job board?

Like they say in those ads… You decide! Please join me on WNYC Public Radio with Brian Lehrer.

***** UPDATE

Enjoy the audio! 20 minutes, no commercials. Post your questions… I’ll answer ’em… Post your comments and we’ll all learn something new…



Why would you hire yourself?

In as few words as possible (but make them compelling), give me 1. and 2. (Gag me with a spoon, but do not give me an elevator pitch, puleeez…)

Forget about jobs you’re applying for, the job you have, and jobs “available”… Now, tell me:

1. What’s the one job you really want?

That’s the easy part. (Well, maybe not. When’s the last time you even thought about that…?)

Now put yourself in the shoes of the boss who owns that job:

2. What one thing does the best candidate:

  • Know
  • Do
  • Think
  • Say
  • Show

that makes you hire them?

(Hey, remember that managers hang out here, too… and sometimes a comment impresses the hell out of them…)

Forum: Did this new grad ruin an opportunity?

In the Ask The Headhunter Newsletter I introduced a new feature recently: the Readers’ Forum. I ask you how to answer a question, solve a problem or deal with a situation. So step right up…

In the July 14 edition, I published a Forum question from a new college graduate. She enthusiastically tells a company she wants to work there. So the company makes an offer — and thinks the applicant’s acceptance is a foregone conclusion! Meanwhile, the new grad has two other jobs cooking… and asks for an extension on the time to make a decision. The company gets ticked off…

I’m a fresh grad and I just received a job offer from a company I really want to work for (Company A), but I have a pending interview at Company B.  Company A gave me 24 hours to make a decision, and just before the deadline ended, I asked for an extension of less than a week’s time, explaining that I want to evaluate all my options.

The person who interviewed me then told me they were surprised about this because in the interview I told them that I would be prioritizing Company A over my pending application at Company C. But at that time I didn’t see Company B as an option yet. She said that one of the reasons they offered me the job is because I seemed to have a strong interest in the company and because I sent them a thank-you note that reiterated my interest. In fact, they were leaning toward another candidate but because I seemed “100%” about it, they chose me. Nonetheless, she gave me an extension for my final decision.

Should I apologize to her? I still want to work for the company, and I am planning on confirming it in a few days. I don’t want to have any bad blood between us. Did I mislead her in the interview when I told her my thoughts at that time? Should I not have sent a thank-you note? I thought these were the things interviewees usually said/did during interviews. Could they rescind the offer because my interest level waned a bit after they gave the offer? What should I do?

Whoo-wee! Good news, bad news! Did this new grad blow it? I’ve already shared my thoughts with her via e-mail, and I’ll post what I said later on. I even wrote an article about this sort of situation… quite some time ago.

But this is the Readers’ Forum. And you’re up next… What’s up with this situation? What would you tell this new grad? Was she wrong to express her interest during the interview? Or does the company representative have a screw loose? Is an apology due?

Q&A from WNYC Radio

Yesterday I did 20 minutes with Brian Lehrer on WNYC, New York Public Radio. (I archived the audio on the blog post prior to this one if you’d like to listen.) We’ll be doing an Ask The Headhunter segment every week through July. Hope you’ll join us!

20 minutes is not a lot of time to take questions from listeners, or to provide much in the way of advice. But Brian’s blog is full of good follow-up questions from listeners, and I’ve tried to answer many of them in the comments section.

One listener was bugged about what I suggested about becoming a consultant in today’s economy:

This was a terrible segment. Almost chilling. The conversation seemed utterly detached from reality; the idea that someone at their kitchen table, six months into being fired, is going to be able to tell some company (and whom exactly at that company?) how to run itself, (or use information technology or green technology or whatever), is bizarre. There seemed to be a huge disconnect between the reality of the callers’ situations, and the generic bromides and cliches that the guest suggested. Brian should have worked harder to bridge this gap.

It seems that the real issue is the social and knowledge-networking isolation of the recently unemployed, and the need for supportive communities, not a dated piece on how to turn yourself into a consultant from home…

Here’s my reply:

You’re right: Unemployed people become quickly isolated. But the problem is magnified when they join “support groups.” Unemployed people gathering to share job leads and advice. Think about that. It’s patently absurd. The best thing you can do to stay motivated and to actually get something done is to hang around people who do the work you want to do. Starting your own business is not bizarre at all. Waiting for some company to come along and hire you is what’s absurd. Waiting for some personnel jockey to pluck your resume from the millions on a job board — that’s absurd. As for telling a company how to run itself better, why do you think companies hire people? Not to fill head count. They hire you to help them make more profit. If you can’t explain that to a company that you work for, you will eventually get fired or laid off. If you can’t tell it to a company you want to work for, then you have no business in the interview. Job hunting is not a step by step process. If it were, every ad would yield an interview which would yield an offer. Far from it.

That listener is pretty demoralized. Maybe I’m misreading the comments, but what I read is a plea for magic dust and for a place to commiserate with others. And my point — which I discussed with Brian at the very beginning of the segment — is that job hunters and consultants must focus first not on getting a gig. They must focus on showing a company the money. Why should anyone hire you — or even sit through an interview with you — if you aren’t prepared to show how you’re going to improve the business?

Listeners from WNYC are welcome to post more follow-up questions here — I’ll try to get to them all. Unfortunately, Brian’s blog does not handle longer URL’s so I can’t refer to relevant articles there.

LIVE Ask The Headhunter WNYC Radio – July 9

Join me for LIVE Ask The Headhunter on WNYC public radio on Thursday July 9, 10:40am ET, on the Brian Lehrer Show. WNYC is at 93.9 FM, 820 AM. And on the web at

Topic: Consulting gigs. How to get them, keep them and deal with the crunch in today’s economy.

And I’ll (surprise?) Brian by explaining how the consultant’s approach to sales should be the job hunter’s approach to job interviews.

***** Update

Enjoy the audio! 20 minutes, no commercials.

I’ll be doing a special Ask The Headhunter Q&A segment with Brian Lehrer on WNYC New York Public Radio each week during July. Next week: Job boards.


Top 10 Stupid Inteview Questions: #8

Reader Mike Urbonas did a nice post about my 1997 book (not to be confused with the new book, How to Work with Headhunters) … Thanks, Mike! … But that’s not what’s so cool about his post.

Mike brings up an old story published by Mr. Angry (Melbourne, Australia) that’s very instructive and a good reminder that just because some guy is asking you stupid questions in a job interview doesn’t mean you have to behave stupidly, too. Pointless Interview Questions actually conks us all on the head — and rips interviewers a new one.

Top 10 Stupid Interview Question #8 (well, maybe it’s #7) that a recruiter asked Mr. Angry:

How would you move Mount Fuji 1/2 a kilometre to the South?

And part of Mr. Angry’s let’s-come-back-to-reality response:

How could that possibly benefit the business?

Why do employers ask stupid interview questions? Mr. Angry reveals the sad truth — interviewers can’t justify the canned questions they ask. They’re asking them simply because they read somewhere that asking what animal you’d be if you could be any animal reveals deep truths about a candidate… Gimme a break.

Mr. Angry’s transcription of his interview is a must-read. His handling of the interviewer is funny, but it’s much, much more. His responses are dead-on. All kidding aside, I’d use a personalized version of what he said to the interviewer without hesitation.

Thanks, Mike. Mr. Angry — kudos to you!

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.)