Readers’ Forum: How can I compensate for job requirements?

Discussion: June 22, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

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A reader says:

What do you do when the employer interviewing you has four requirements but you meet only three of them—yet you know that you’re the best person for the job? How can I turn this kind of situation into a job offer?

How indeed? In today’s Q&A column in the Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader didn’t meet the employer’s list of requirements. Is the job interview over? I think it can be salvaged.

What’s your advice to this reader? Better yet, has this happened to you? What did you do to convince the manager? Did it work? If you’re a manager, can a candidate compensate for job requirements?

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Readers’ Forum: What’s is good networking REALLY?

Discussion: June 15, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

(You’ve got to subscribe to the weekly newsletter to get the whole story!)

A reader says:

Everyone talks about networking as the best way to find the right job. There must be a key to this approach beyond just going to networking meetings and signing up with one of the online social networks. What advice can you give me about how to do it right?

In today’s Q&A I tried to outline some of the parameters of good networking. In a nutshell, I think networking is really about making friends. It’s got virtually nothing to do with getting a job or with any other kind of “payoff.” You do it because it makes life and work more enjoyable—and because giving something back makes your professional community (and the world) a better place. And when you live in a better place, somehow your life becomes better, too.

In the newsletter, I talked about what makes for good networking: Common ground, value and time.

What’s your experience with networking? Do you do it? Why? Has it paid off? What parameters do you believe make for good networking? (Should we even call it networking?)

Please share your experiences and comments!

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No jerks allowed

Company mission statements usually remind me of public relations dogchow. I wanna gag. I don’t know anything about Connectria — but I love the company’s guiding principles.

Especially the last item. If they really abide by it, it’s probably one of the most important career development tools any company can implement and offer to employees and new hires. (On Ask The Headhunter, there’s a related article titled It’s the people, Stupid.)

The only thing missing in the guiding principles, I think, is, “We work hard to make more profit.”

If the point of a company’s mission statement (or principles list) is to send a message to the world, I think Connectria pulls it off. And my guess is they wrote it over beers, not by paying a PR consultant.

Does any of this really mean anything? Know any companies that have meaningful (or startling) mission statements that seem to make a difference?

[Thanks to buddy Jeff Pierce for passing along Connectria’s link.]

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How to Say It: Will you be my customer?

Discussion: June 8, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks How to Say It:

Even before the recession, it seems like we entered an era of de-jobbing, more short-term work, freelancing and self-employment. I wonder if many of us would be better off staking ourselves through self-employment. Most job growth is in small business. I wonder if more people worked for themselves, if that might help create a bigger economic pie, if that would be better not just for the self-employed individuals, but for the economy as a whole, leading to more employment overall.

And your methods would be employed for the self-employed to get customers. So here’s my How to Say It question: How could I apply Ask The Headhunter methods to convince prospects to become my customers?

You just made my day. This is so tempting for me to answer… that I’m not going to do it.

Let’s start with some input from the crowd! How would you use the job hunting methods we discuss here to instead land some customers for your own new business (whatever that might be)? Is that even possible?

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I went for a run last weekend… and bought a canned resume

In the June 8, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, I discussed a blog post by Jon Jacobs — Another View of Resume Critiques. Jacobs suggests that my column Free resume critiques: The new career-industry racket is over the top. I characterized the “resume experts” who review and analyze (for free) resumes submitted by sales prospects… as monkeys tapping on keyboards. He doesn’t really see a problem with  resume-writing companies that lure customers with “free resume critiques” that appear to be based on crib sheets — boilerplate commentary that’s used again and again.

But Jacobs’ own readers torqued up the discussion in an unexpected direction. Commenting on two resume critiques he received, one reader said:

The following is what a consultant from TheLadders.com wrote me:

“These statements aren’t much too [sic] write home about because they list what you did—not what you achieved. It’s like me saying “I went for a run last weekend.” What I didn’t say would paint a whole new picture—that my “run” was actually a marathon and that I placed in the top 10 out of more than 300 runners, all while nursing a sprained ankle. See the difference? It’s all in the wording.”

Now here’s a preliminary review sent to me from a consultant at the GetInterviews.com:

“The statement above is very vague and simply does not paint a strong picture. It’s like me saying “I went for a run last weekend.” What I DIDN’T say would paint a whole new picture—that my “run” was actually a marathon and that I placed in the top ten out of more than 300 runners, all while nursing a sprained ankle. It’s all in the wording—see the difference?”

Between March 2009 (when Jacobs’ blog post was first published) and the present time, people have been posting the same cautionary comments. These recipients of “free resume critiques” are bugged about different (?)  resume writing services that keep using that clever line, “I went for a run last weekend…”

Running with monkeys tapping on keyboards… I think my original take on resume-writing companies that offer this sales come-on was dead on. And I stand by it. If the company is using canned comments in the “free resume critique,” it’s a safe bet that the $495 resume it sells you was “built” using the same scraps of keywords, buzzwords, action verbs and phrases it’s selling everyone else.

What’s mystifying is how different resume-writing companies use the very same expresssions in their “free resume critiques!” (You figure that one out. I already know the secret.)

In the newsletter I pointed out that there are legit professional resume writers out there, and you’ll know them by the time they take to talk to you, interview you and produce a custom resume that reflects who you are. I also pointed out that I’m still not a fan of using a resume to introduce yourself to an employer, but if you’re going to do it, at least make a sincere effort to write your own resume. The learning lies in the doing. So do the hard work to write it.

Let’s hear your experiences with resume writing services — good or bad. (Resume writers are welcome to comment, but please — no advertising or sales pitches. If you’re going to post, please focus on the distinctions between pros and hacks.)

[Disclosure: The Jon Jacobs blog referred to in this column is part of eFinancialCareers.com, which regularly publishes Ask The Headhunter columns.]

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New grads in job interviews

I just read an article full of advice for new college graduates going into job interviews. It’s on BNET: Fred Ball: Killer Interview Skills for New Grads.

I’d love to know what the Ask The Headhunter audience thinks about Ball’s tips. I’ll add my two bits later.

Are the tips realistic?

Will they help kids get jobs?

Will the employer be impressed?

Best parts, worst parts?

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New York State: On the “B” list with TheLadders

This economy makes strange bedfellows.

In good times, who’d want to be associated with a B-list “partner?” When times are tough, though, good organizations seem willing to hop into bed with just about anyone for a few bucks’ worth of sponsorships… Judge them by those they hang out with…

IT industry watcher Winston Lawrence reports that the Better Business Bureau has assigned a reliability rating of “B” to TheLadders because of the number of complaints filed against the “$100k+” jobs board.

Lawrence’s comments got my attention because a notable career-industry expert recently pointed out something interesting to me. It seems some of the leading career-related events, conferences and publications are heavily subsidized by TheLadders.

The Human Capital Management Summit, operated by The Aberdeen Group, lists TheLadders as a “partner.”

The  2009 AESC (Association of Executive Search Consultants) Member Mid-Year Outlook Survey was sponsored by TheLadders.

In 2007, TheLadders sponsored the Career Masters Institute Conference. (CMI is now owned by Kennedy Information Systems.)

ERE, “the leading online provider of information and networking opportunities for recruitment and HR professionals,” produces webinars sponsored by TheLadders.

OnRec, a UK association of online recruiting organizations, held its awards ceremony recently — sponsored by TheLadders.

The Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal lists TheLadders as “a Premier Partner.”

But what I find most interesting is Winston Lawrence’s report about New York State’s Workforce New York website. Operated by the N.Y. Department of Labor and subsidized by taxpayers, the site lists jobs from TheLadders — in spite of repeated consumer complaints and the B rating from the BBB.

It’s easy for all these organizations to argue that they need sponsors, and in exchange they give TheLadders a great measure of professional credibility.

Life on the B list. There’s an old adage about that. A people hang out with A people. B people hang out with B people who attract C people, and soon the B list becomes the C list.

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How to Say It: How’d I do?

Discussion: May 18, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks How to Say It:

At the end of a job interview, I don’t like to leave without finding out what the manager thinks of me and what’s going to happen next. That sounds obvious. But how do I say this: How did I do during the interview? What are my prospects for moving forward?

You just said it. It’s up to you to ask it!

Many people feel awkward about these questions, but the questions are not only advisable, they are necessary. You just invested all this time talking to an employer. (She’s getting paid to do it; you’re not.) So get something back for your investment…

Try this: “Thanks for taking time to meet and talk about the work you need to have done. Based on our brief meeting, please give me a grade. If this had been an employee performance review rather than a job interview, would you keep me or fire me? Give me a promotion and a raise or transfer me out?”

If this seems assertive, I think it’s far more risky to go home and sit by the phone waiting for a “call back.” Find out now how the manager views you.

What do other readers think? Do you have a better way to ask these questions? Or is it best to stay mum when the interview is over so as not to upset the applecart?

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Readers’ Forum: What’s a guinea pig to do?

Discussion: May 25, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader says:

I took a government job knowing the culture was not to my liking. But they said the plan was to change the culture, and I’m part of that because I’m the only “non-insider” doing this job. (The one other person who was hired along with me was an internal transfer.) Neither of us has gotten any guidance. We’re on our own. When I tried to speak up a few times, I felt I was speaking a different language. Now a few months have passed and we’re finally getting a new boss. Should I try to adapt to this culture, or am I wasting my time?

Talk about a “state” of flux! Sounds like you’re a “cultural change” guinea pig… hired as part of a new “culture policy,” but everything seems to hinge on who this new boss is.

You’ve essentially been in limbo, and your “new job” is about to start when the new boss starts. No wonder you’re disenchanted.

Should this reader stay or go? Why or why not, and what are the good options?

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How to Say It: Here’s how I’ll do the work

Discussion: May 18, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks How to Say It:

Your book has been very helpful in preparing for my interviews. But I seem to lock up during the part where I am telling the hiring manager how I will do the job. I’m reading that section for the third time. What’s the best way to explain it? I mean, to say it?

Well, you just pick up the tools… and do the work. Does that sound a little bit odd? Maybe some other readers can explain it better…

A call-out to ATH regulars! What’s your rule of thumb for talking to a manager about how you will do the job? How can this reader wrap up the interview with a compelling explanation or presentation?

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