How to Say It: Women need not apply


Discussion: December 8, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks:

I’m an award-winning sales rep. I’m also a woman. I applied for a job at a company whose #2 sales rep is female. After interviewing with the head of sales, I contacted the HR person to follow up. She dismissed me, saying, “We’ve found men do this job better.” I wish I’d recorded the call. I checked and found out the woman who is #2 was hired by a previous sales manager, not the current one. I want to call him or the HR person to tell them they’re making a mistake. How should I say it?

How to Say It: I wouldn’t waste time with an HR person who made a statement that suggests the company violates employment law. But don’t assume the head of sales is just as corrupt. When there’s an obstacle, go around. But don’t call the manager.

I’d call the #2 sales rep. Introduce yourself, then say: “I’ve heard great things about you from headhunters I know. Like you, I’m very successful in sales. Can I ask your advice? Should I consider a job at your company?”

If the answer is yes, she’ll share more advice about getting a job there. My suspicion is she’ll tell you something else — maybe even ask you for advice about finding a better employer.

That’s my advice. What would you tell this reader — and what would you do in this situation?



Job Boards? BNET sez fuggetaboutit.


BNET’s Sales Machine (Geoffrey James) asks the question one more time with vigor: What’s the best way to job hunt?

I asked Nick Corcodilos, author of the professional’s job hunting classic “Ask The Headhunter” what he thought of job boards like, Careerbuilder,com, and  His observation: “Job boards are a rip-off.  Companies only hire about 3 percent of their employees on these sites. is probably the worst.  The claim that they’re finding jobs at the $100k-plus level is nonsense. They can’t and don’t deliver the goods.”

A whopping thank you to Geoffrey for spiking this topic back to the top of the stack.



The helpful (?) spouse


Is job hunting a solitary project?

I am currently job searching. My wife, who is in another field, constantly asks me how she can help me with my job search, and I don’t know what to tell her. I consider a job search to be a solitary activity, or an activity where the only help I get is from people in my same field. What should I tell my wife when she asks how she can help me?

You should handle all person-to-person contact during your job search, including e-mail. If a spouse (or anyone else) does it for you, there will be inevitable lapses when you are exposed as using a proxy. Employers don’t appreciate encountering the job hunter’s secretary or assistant.

If you need to do research, your spouse could help you with that. However, the risk is that while she’s exploring an info source, she may miss info that you might recognize (serendipitously) as useful. That’s up to you.

No matter how close your spouse is to you, I think you’ll find that job hunting and career change are indeed solitary activities. This is a time when we learn about ourselves and often find that we’re not who we thought we were. Another person can’t help you have this experience, except in passing. One of my favorite quotes is from Vladimir Nabokov, whose words might inspire epistemological terror in even the most self-confident person: “You are not I, and therein lies the irreparable calamity.”

No one — not even a spouse — can substitute their experience for your own.

One great way for a spouse to help is to listen and be a sounding board, without actually getting involved.

The worst thing that can happen is Acute Spousal Interference.

Let’s hear some other ways a spouse might be helpful (or cause problems) in a job search!