How can I change careers? (audio)

Whether you’re changing careers or changing jobs, your challenge is to make yourself stand out from your competition — and your competition might be fierce. You might be competing with people who are more experienced than you, and whose resumes look better than yours.

In this short presentation (from a recent teleconference), I explain to a group of job-hunting executives what it means to stand out — and how to prove you’re worth hiring into a job that’s new to you.


      Changing Careers

To learn more about how to carefully select your target companies, how to use a business plan rather than a resume to apply for a job, and how to demonstrate your bottom-line value to a company, check out How Can I Change Careers? It’s not just for career changers — it’s a powerful tool for changing jobs.



The down side of job hunting

About 15 years ago, when I first started publishing Ask The Headhunter online, I met a fellow that I’ve stayed in touch with on and off. Recently we renewed our acquaintance — and I encouraged him to start a blog.

He prefers to remain anonymous. He calls his blog Unemployed and Clinically Depressed in the Midwest. I’ll call him UCD. Though his medical diagnosis is “clinically depressed,” what’s notable about UCD is his candor and forthright perspective on who he is, what he’s been through, and where he’s going. He minces no words. UCD doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He reveals both his confidence in his future, and his fears about the things that confront his confidence.

Unemployment exacerbated UDC’s depression, and his story quickly pulls us into a realm that none of us want to look into.

There are a lot of people unemployed. Some get depressed as a result. Some suffered from depression to begin with, and the agony of unemployment has pushed them to the edge. Some jump. Some find the courage to turn around and take a new direction in their lives. Some, like UCD, find strength and power in teaching others — and in learning more about who they are. UCD has taken control of his next steps.

UCD has written a an anti-suicide note to the world. It’s his story, blunt and direct, honest and hopeful. It’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve read: Suicide. It’s about getting up from the down side of job hunting.



How to Say It: Got a fish? We need a fish NOW!

Discussion: April 6, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader wants to know How to Say It:

One thing that really bugs me about the tech industry is this focus on Skills, as opposed to Ability to Get Said Skills. When I interview for management roles and I am asked about the types of people I hire, I always lead with a comment to the effect of, “I’ve never fired someone because they weren’t technically capable, but I’ve fired people because they weren’t capable of getting the necessary skills.”

I know that I’ve lost at least one opportunity because the interviewer strenuously disagreed with me on that point. (Not that I would want to work in a company that focused on skills as opposed to skills acquisition…) What’s a good way to explain my position? How should I say it?

This is a fine point in management. Do you hire someone who can do exactly this job now? Or someone who can quickly learn how to do this job and the work that comes next, as well?

Many managers are dopes. They’d rather hire someone who brings them a fish, than someone who knows how to catch more fish. (I cover this in more detail in Talent Shortage, or Poor Management?)

How do you explain the difference between having skills and being able to get skills in a job interview? How do you say it?



Readers’ Forum: One page resume?

Discussion: April 6, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader wants to know:

Are one-page resumes really “the thing?” I don’t feel I can adequately present my strengths on a one-page resume, more like two pages.

Er, ah, I don’t wanna touch this one with a ten-foot pole! Well, I could suggest you not use a resume at all and stop worrying about it… Okay, folks? How long should that resume be?



TheLadders: Scam, complaints, rip off

Toby Dayton is a very smart guy. He did something that I really wish I had thought of, but I don’t have the Google brain he does… Toby has done us all a favor and boiled down TheLadders’ reputation to its essence. And it’s so simple I wanna cry because I never thought of it.

google-search-the-ladders-2Toby Googled and watched as Google applied its “intelligent auto-complete” feature while he was typing… I’m gonna borrow one of Toby’s graphics that shows the results:

Try it yourself. Then go to Toby’s blog and read the rest of his insights. He uses this technique to look at the reputation of another notorious “jobs” site, with similar results.

Some might view this as a cute little trick, chuckle and forget about it. But this is profound. Google’s auto-complete tells you what people are looking for online — that’s how auto-complete works. It reflects public sentiment.

When people search for, what they’re also searching for is information about scams, complaints and rip offs.

My compliments to Toby for posting these meta-facts. Don’t miss his article, Great Insight on Job Boards From Google.



Readers’ Forum: Your favorite scams

Discussion: March 23, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

Between my recent segment on N.Y. Public Radio and today’s Q&A, that makes this The Scam Edition!

In today’s Q&A: A reader gets scammed into an interview and out of a “job.”

My son interviewed with a sales company. There were six applicants all interviewed at the same time. He was one of two offered a job on the first interview. When he questioned them on benefits, he was told that it would be discussed in training. He showed up for training only to be told that no one was officially hired the first week, and that there were no benefits.

These people are a scam with deceptive hiring practices. I want to pursue some kind of action on this and I do not know where to go. They promised him the world and now his world is crushed!

In the newsletter I pointed out the clear signals (in that very brief story) that reveal a problem, and I suggested what the young man could have done about them. But the scams just seem to keep piling up and people keep getting suckered.

From time to time, it’s a good idea for us to talk about these kinds operations and to discuss how to quickly recognize them. Have you been scammed into an interview that turned out not to be what you expected? Did you bail out of an “opportunity” because you smelled a rat?



How to Say It: Getting severance

Discussion: March 23, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader’s challenge:

My company is going to lay off some people. If I’m in the group, I’d like to ask for severance pay. How should I say it?

Okay, folks — how would you ask for money on your way out the door?

But let’s make this more interesting. It’s usually best to take care of something like this before it all hits the fan. So suppose there’s no layoff in the offing. But you want to protect yourself in case it happens. Do you have any leverage to get a severance agreement in place now for later? What do you tell your company to make it happen? How do you say it?



Job-board Scams: WNYC Public Radio

On Tuesday, March 16, 2010 I talked with New York Public Radio (WNYC 93.9FM) host Brian Lehrer about bogus and misleading job advertisements. Brian has been following a group of his listeners as they try to land new jobs — and in this segment we discuss some of the scams they have encountered.

jobscams1This audio clip (12:41 minutes) is from a longer segment in which listener “Jim” described a service that wanted to charge him $5,000 for “exclusive job listings.” We discuss that scam and we also talk about:

  • The success rates of the job boards
  • TheLadders’ misleading “Only $100k+ jobs” advertising
  • Whether you should ever pay a recruiter or “consultant” who says he’ll find you a job
  • The value of using personal contacts
  • “Education” scams that cost thousands of dollars but deliver nothing
  • Common sense: the importance of checking references before spending money on “help”
  • Identity theft
  • The CareerXroads “source of hires” surveys

Listen in and add your comments!

The entire radio segment can be found at WNYC: Help Wanted.

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Readers’ Forum: Headhunters who get it (Are there any?)

Discussion: March 8, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

In today’s Q&A (What? You don’t get the newsletter? So you don’t know the story? Sign up now — don’t miss the next one!) a reader complains about headhunters who can’t get past the gaps in his resume. They don’t see how he can help their clients. As I point out in the newsletter, most headhunters simply won’t look past the resume. But some do, especially if you nudge them in the right direction.

Try this: “Look, I know it’s more difficult to make a match from my resume because I’ve been doing consulting since my last traditional job. I don’t expect you to recruit me if I can’t show you what the fit is. During 20 years building a start-up, I was fortunate to learn almost every aspect of growing a business, and that doesn’t all fit into a resume. Let me suggest something. If you can outline one or two specific challenges your client is facing, I’ll show you — step by step — how I’d tackle them. And I’d be glad to walk your client through it.If I can’t show you how it would pay off, you shouldn’t recruit me.”

Some headhunters get that, if you take the time to try and explain it.

We routinely rag on headhunters here — but there are certainly some good ones out there. If you’ve worked with a good headhunter, tell us about the experience. How did you get their attention? Were you able to turn around an interview that was going nowhere?



How to Say It: The evidence is confidential

Discussion: March 16, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

In today’s newsletter a reader says:

I work as a design engineer in an industry where projects are typically confidential. However, prospective employers frequently ask to see a portfolio. I am comfortable showing one in person, where I can control its dissemination, but do not want to e-mail or send a hard copy. How do I let them know that without sounding like I’m trying to weasel my way into an interview?

How to Say It: So… your portfolio of work might help you land a great job, but showing it might also get you fired or sued.

Okay folks: Can this reader reveal the evidence of his abilities without adverse consequences? Is there some other way to leverage his portfolio without leaving it lying around?

Or, should he just spread his stuff around and stop worrying about it?