Job Hunting With The Headhunter: Go around the system!

Job Hunting With The Headhunter: Go around the system!

In the December 17, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, The Headhunter calls a year-end time-out and recaps the fundamental rules of job hunting that will help you outsmart America’s broken Employment System.

job huntingSpecial Edition!

Judging from the many questions I receive each week from subscribers, I worry that job seekers are falling into the most obvious traps while trying to navigate America’s antiquated Employment System. Let me show you how to go around!

In place of the normal weekly Q&A, at the end of each year I publish a summary of Ask The Headhunter methods to help you land the job you want. Last year’s Ask The Headhunter Secrets in A Nutshell were based on key concepts in my PDF books.

This year, I’d like to review seven Ask The Headhunter rules that address some of the most fundamental misconceptions that lead job seekers astray. Relying on job postings, resumes, cover letters and traditional interviews is the worst way to approach your job search!

Don’t miss the limited-time HOLIDAY SPECIAL! Scroll to end of this column!

Job hunting with The Headhunter

The best way to win the right job is to use the approach we discuss here every week. Let’s step back to rediscover the basics about how to handle your job-hunting challenges. These tips should help you overcome the many obstacles the Employment System throws at you.

1. Avoid traditional, unproductive methods of job hunting.

Don’t leave control of your job search to external forces like job postings, personnel jockeys, employment agencies, resume screeners and software algorithms. Don’t rely on the passive approach of chasing jobs that come along, then filling out impersonal online job applications. Don’t rely on sending resumes (or your LinkedIn profile) to people who don’t know you. Don’t wait for boiler-plate rejections or silly instructions from inept recruiters who ask you for your information all over again.

Take control of your job search.

2. Select 4-5 companies you really want to work for.

You cannot reasonably and ably chase 50 jobs or companies, no matter what Indeed and ZipRecruiter tell you. Carefully select three, four or five companies — not because they’ve posted jobs, but because they’re the shining-light organizations you really want to work for! Research these carefully selected companies online using relevant news outlets, business journals and industry-specific publications.

Better yet, identify and contact your target company’s employees, customers and vendors. Go hang out where they hang out — get insight and advice from insiders!

The goal is to learn what specific problems and challenges an employer faces. These will reveal a company’s motivation to hire you. Understand these problems and challenges before approaching any company.

How Can I Change Careers? “Put a Free Sample in Your Resume,” pp. 23-26 (It’s not just for career changers!)

3. Define what you have to offer that’s relevant.

Be able to describe your specific skills and abilities but only as they relate to a company’s specific problems and challenges. A hiring manager doesn’t need to know everything about you. In fact, sharing too much makes evaluating you more confusing, and it makes the manager’s job harder. The goal is to make the manager’s job of assessing your value easier — by communicating exactly how you will be a truly useful hire.

If you don’t understand an employer’s exact needs, your presentation will not be relevant or useful to the manager and you will not be hired.

4. Prove your value.

Managers are terrible at figuring out what to do with a job applicant. It’s up to you to help a manager focus on the objective of a job interview: How will your abilities profit the manager and the company? This is perhaps the easiest idea for job seekers to grasp, but the most difficult to apply.

You should be ready to frame your candidacy like this: “If you hire me, I will do A, B and C, which should add $X to your bottom line.” Sound daunting? The best job candidates can do it, and you must learn how. Be ready to explain and defend your proposal and your rough calculations.

5. Identify the specific manager who will benefit from hiring you.

Get an introduction to the hiring manager through a mutual contact that you developed through your research. Those people you spoke with about the company’s problems and challenges? Some of them will be your perfect introduction to the right manager! Don’t waste your time with personnel jockeys in the HR department. That’s what your competition is doing.

The goal is to “tell it” directly to the manager who will hire you — not anyone else.

6. Go to the interview ready to do the job.

Be ready to clearly and convincingly show the manager how you will help solve his or her specific problems. Make your interview a hands-on, working meeting with the hiring manager.

7. Control your interview and win an offer.

If the manager interviewing you seems to be asking canned questions, bring the discussion around to how you would do the actual work. Ask what the specific job tasks and objectives are. Then take control of the interview by offering to demonstrate to the manager that you:

  1. Understand the work that needs to be done
  2. Can do the work
  3. Can do the work the way the employer wants it done, and
  4. Can do it profitably.

In other words, show up with a mini business plan about how you will do the job — to win the job!

That’s how to be the job candidate who stands out and gets hired. Avoid the silly conventions of the Employment System that daily conspires to keep apart managers and the people they need to hire. The links above will help you on your way around the system. As you develop questions, ask them here — I’ll offer my advice and so will the rest of our community!

Okay, I listed seven rules for job hunting. What did I miss? What smart rules do you recommend that you follow on your job search? How do we beat the broken Employment System?

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For additional help, don’t miss this limited-time offer on the Ask The Headhunter PDF books!


HOLIDAY SPECIAL: 40% OFF Everything!

Every Ask The Headhunter PDF Book

40% OFF for the holidays!

(What books are we talking about? Click here to see all Nick’s PDF books!)

TAKE 40% OFF any book or bundle! ORDER NOW!

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This is the last Ask The Headhunter column for 2019. I’m taking a couple of weeks off for the holidays! See you next on January 7, 2020! Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year — and all my best wishes for whatever holidays you observe this time of year!

If you’re new to Ask The Headhunter, or just want a refresher on the main ideas we discuss here every week, please check The Basics — and take advantage of the search box at top right, as well as the Q&A Archive under Sections in the menu bar!

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What do these interview questions mean?

What do these interview questions mean?

In the December 10, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader wants to know why employers ask  irrelevant, roundabout interview questions.

Don’t miss the limited-time HOLIDAY SPECIAL! Scroll to end of Q&A!

Question

When an interviewer asks roundabout questions like, “What is your greatest weakness?” and “What is your greatest strength?”, what do they hope to learn about you as a prospective hire?

Nick’s Reply

interview questions

Those questions hint at why job seekers agonize for weeks or months “waiting to hear back” from employers that never should have interviewed them to begin with. Such questions are irrelevant to assessing a candidate for a job, so they don’t help the employer make a hiring decision.

Gratuitous interview questions

“What is your greatest weakness?” and “What is your greatest strength?” are two of the Top 10 Stupid Interview Questions. They tell you more about the interviewer than your answers would tell about you. Such gratuitous queries reveal that the interviewer knows too little about the job to intelligently assess whether you can do it.

Managers and some career experts suggest that those two open-ended questions tell the employer a lot about you. I don’t agree. Such questions distract both the employer and the applicant from the critical-path question in any job interview.

Can you do the work?

“Can you do the work?” is the very first thing any savvy interviewer needs to know about you. If you cannot show that you can do the work, the meeting should end right there. Your weaknesses and strengths are irrelevant. So is what animal you’d be if you could be any animal, and how many golf balls you estimate would fit in the Empire State Building. None of that “open-ended” palaver matters if you can’t do the work.

So the message is, beware this interviewer.

What should you do when you’re asked such lame questions? Take control of the interview. Do it politely but firmly.

How to Say It

“I’d like to show you how I’d do this job, if you will permit me. If I can’t do that, then you shouldn’t hire me. So that I’m not wasting your time, will you please outline three key deliverables you’d like to see from a new hire? That is, if you hired me, what would you want me to do, fix, change, create, improve after three months on the job, then after six and 12 months? I’ll do my best to show and explain how I would do the work, so that you may accurately assess me.”

If you’re not ready to make that offer, then you’re not prepared to discuss the job and you have no business in the interview. Pull it off, and any good manager will fall at your feet. (See Good Interview Questions: You need just one.)

Don’t waste your time

If the manager cannot define the deliverables he or she wants, or doesn’t “get” what you’re offering, then you’re wasting your time. It’s better to be spared early, rather than to invest hours of time and energy, not to mention the agony you’ll be spared “waiting to hear back.”

When managers ask canned, indirect interview questions rather than directly assess your ability to do the job, they are going to waste their time and yours. If that’s what you encounter, raise the standard and offer to show the manager how you’d do the job.

Can you judge an employer by the interview questions they ask? What’s the best question you’ve been asked? I’m sure you’ll share the worst! Have you ever taken control of a job interview that was going nowhere fast?


HOLIDAY SPECIAL: 40% OFF Everything!

Every Ask The Headhunter PDF Book

40% OFF for the holidays!

(What books are we talking about? Click here to see all Nick’s PDF books!)

TAKE 40% OFF any book or bundle! ORDER NOW!

Use DISCOUNT CODE=MERRY40

This is a limited-time offer! Order now!


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Why aren’t you making more money?

Why aren’t you making more money?

 

Trade war, weaker economy are among reasons

Source: USA Today

more money

By all rights, U.S. wage growth should be kicking into a higher gear amid falling unemployment and intensifying worker shortages…“Wage growth has hit a wall,” Joseph Song, senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, wrote in a report. Economists blame myriad factors, including President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and a slowing U.S. economy, weak productivity growth and meager inflation.

 

Nick’s take

I love this topic. Washington crows about low unemployment, but nobody in government seems to worry that your wage growth sucks. “Explanations” get tossed around like dry leaves whipped up by a forest fire: It’s the trade war, productivity, low inflation. I’ve got a simpler answer: Successful companies don’t share the wealth with their employees because it just feels better to keep the money. Job candidates need to push back harder. Can’t negotiate a higher salary? Ask for more money.

What do  you say?

  • Why are wages not going up meaningfully?
  • How can you get more money for your work?

 

 

 

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3 reasons to say NO to a job offer

3 reasons to say NO to a job offer

In the December 3, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader gets a job offer that may deserve a NO.

Question

job offerAfter months of looking for a job, I finally got an offer using your methods. (Thanks! The interviewer said I was the best candidate she’s talked to in a long time.) But there’s a small matter that concerns me, and it’s not the money. The salary is good. But neither the interviewer nor the HR person would tell me who my boss will be. HR just said I’d be assigned to the manager who needed my skills the most. Then she said they need my answer by end of day tomorrow. Is this a trap? Should I take the job?

Nick’s Reply

It may not be a trap, but it’s a risk in many ways — and not knowing who your boss will be is certainly not a small matter. Your story raises a bigger question. When should you say NO to a job offer?

There are many signals that might turn you away. I won’t tell anyone who needs to pay the rent or put food on the table to turn down a job offer. Take it if you really must, but consider the risks.

Here are three reasons to say NO to a job offer.

1. You don’t meet the manager you’ll be reporting to

You have no idea what you’re getting into if you don’t meet the manager. If the HR department (or a committee) does the hiring, you won’t be able to assess whether you and your new boss are compatible.

In Fearless Job Hunting, Book 5: Get The Right Employer’s Attention, I show how to conduct due diligence before and during the interview, and before accepting a job offer. These are just a few tips to help keep you out of trouble.

In the interview, don’t miss these points:

  • What must the company do to meet its goals? Is your job important in meeting these objectives? How?
  • Check out the tools that will be at your disposal. If they’re not part of the deal today, don’t expect you’ll get what you need later.
  • Who, in other departments, will affect your ability to do your job successfully? Meet them. Look for facilitators and debilitators—people that will help and hinder your performance.

From “Is this a Mickey Mouse operation?”, pp. 13-15

This cuts both ways. If the boss doesn’t meet you, it may turn out you’re not as qualified for the position as HR suggested. Your new job might be short-lived.

If the company won’t arrange a one-on-one meeting with the boss, it could mean the boss will shortly be gone. Where does that leave you? Ask to meet your future boss. Reconsider the position if the employer declines the meeting.

2. The job offer is low but you’re promised a raise “soon”

This is how companies seduce reluctant job applicants: with a promise of a raise “soon.” Will the company put the date of the future raise in writing along with the amount? Will it guarantee in writing a performance review in so many months? You have every reason to doubt the good intentions of the employer if it will do neither.

Compensation is what the written job offer says it is. Do not count promises as part of the job offer. Get it in writing.

(There’s another promise to watch out for: stock options. See What are stock options worth in a job offer?)

3. The details of the job are not made clear

It’s an old story: A person takes the job based on the description in the job posting, only to find that’s not the job. The actual work is something else. If all you get are vague answers when you ask about details, you may be accepting a broken job. The company may want you only for a short-term project or — even worse — “to fill head count.”

Ask the employer to list the main tasks you will be doing, and ask for a written definition of what exactly is expected of you after three, six and 12 months on the job. Or consider walking away.

Is the job offer really right for you?

These are just three of many reasons to say NO to a job offer. (See 13 lies employers tell about job offers.)

It’s important to pause when you receive an offer. Don’t get lost in the thrill of success. Take time to consider all the terms of the offer, the company that made it, the manager you’d be working for, the work you’d be doing, and — of course — the compensation. Like the proverbial car shopper, you must be ready to walk away from a deal that’s not really right for you.

Have you ever turned down a job offer? Why? What other reasons can you think of for saying NO? Have you ever accepted a job only to realize that the signs were clear that you should have said NO?

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