Most job opportunities go south

Most job opportunities go south


I went in for my interview and, as job opportunities go, all went great. I met with the HR manager and the Division Manager. They called me back in on Thursday to meet with the Regional Manager, since he was in town. It also went well. We mainly talked about outside activities and life experiences in a jovial laid-back manner. I went back in today to take a personality test.

I am forcing myself to not get too fired up about all of this. But, I have to think that no company would subject an applicant to all of this without leaning toward the hire. When should I begin to expect something in this process? I figure that there can’t be much more for me to do than meet with three six-figure managers and take a personality test. Is there?

Nick’s Reply

job opportunities“I have to think that no company would subject an applicant to all of this without leaning toward the hire.”


Never, ever, ever succumb to this mindset. This is the point in the interview process where people start to set an expectation because they feel they’ve “invested so much.” They start to believe the employer is now “heavily invested,” too. And that sets their expectations.

Far, far worse, such expectations convince job seekers they can suspend further job searching “until this opportunity plays itself out.”

In fact, the best thing you can do next — once the interview process is done and you’re waiting for that offer — is to devote yourself to your next job opportunity. Let this one percolate, but don’t wait for the offer. You know what they say about watching water boil. Move on. Get your next interviews lined up!

Most job opportunities go south

The truth is, you have no idea what this employer’s threshold is for taking action. As a headhunter who has dealt with more interviews than you ever will, I can tell you that most job opportunities go south. Even when you think an offer is imminent, you won’t get the job. You’ll never know why. Don’t bother to guess. If you try, you’ll find nothing at the bottom of your frustration but self-doubt.

Do your best with this particular opportunity. Follow the process through. Ask for feedback and ask for a decision timetable. (That’s legit and important.) Maintain your enthusiasm, but don’t build expectations.

I’m not trying to discourage you. Motivation and a positive attitude are crucial. But never start believing “they’re going to make an offer, I can tell”. Because you can’t.

Don’t let this discourage you. I hope you get a great offer — and you might. But at this juncture it’s up to the employer. They control what they do next. Please use this advice to take control of what you do next. Never wait on the employer’s decision. Always be working on your next alternative — because most deals go south.

Were you convinced a job offer was coming, then it didn’t? What made you think so? Did you waste time waiting? If you’ve had this experience, what did you learn from it?

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New law stops firings, will catch on just ’cause

New law stops firings, will catch on just ’cause

Most Americans Can Be Fired for No Reason at Any Time, But a New Law in New York Could Change That

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek
By Josh Eidelson

just causeMelody Walker had just finished working the lunch rush at a Chipotle in New York City when her manager walked up and told her, in front of several co-workers, that she was fired. When the 36-year-old single mom asked him for an explanation, he said it was because she wasn’t smiling. (This was 2018, pre-masks.)

This is how the U.S. works under at-will employment, a legal standard that allows companies to fire people for almost any reason—and sometimes for no reason at all. Unlike in other wealthy countries, where bosses generally have to provide just cause for termination, at-will positions account for most U.S. jobs.

In 2018, a few months after Chipotle fired her, Walker began working with union organizers and local officials on a groundbreaking two-law package that will make New York City a little more like Europe. The laws, which take effect on July 5, ban at-will employment among the city’s fast-food businesses, meaning that from now on, Chipotle and its peers will have to provide just cause to fire one of their roughly 70,000 workers in the five boroughs. The standard requires employers to show workers have engaged in misconduct or failed to satisfactorily perform their duties.


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Nick’s take on just cause

Employers knew it was coming, but they’ve filed lawsuits pretending they can stop it. We’re talking about laws that stop employers from firing employees without cause. This practice has always been unfair and uncivilized. (Attorney Bernie Dietz has explained why employment contracts are desireable.) I think New York City is just the start of this trend — employees can be fired only for “just cause,” not just because. Learn what just cause is because soon it will affect everybody’s job.

What’s your take? Should employers be able to fire employees without reason? Or is “just cause” a reasonable protection for employees? I’d love to hear from both sides — employers and workers. What’s your take?



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How to get a friend hired at your company

How to get a friend hired at your company


I went to work as an engineer at a company when it was quite small. Then it got taken over by a large company that got swallowed by another company. We are growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, we are moving to a new office as we are bursting at the seams.

Many people have worked here since the 1980s, and there are growing pains. Part of the challenge is adapting to big corporate ways. I learned a few days ago that direct managers are no longer tasked with interviewing. Rather, someone else interviews and then the manager is told who is coming on board.

Right now I’m trying to help a former coworker hired. Of course, my boss is not supposed to interview him. How do we get past HR and the recruiter? Any advice on how to get a friend hired?

Nick’s Reply

get a friend hiredSo now the recruiters run the asylum? And control who gets hired? Perhaps you should reconsider subjecting your friend to that, and perhaps ask yourself whether you want to continue working for a company whose managers are not involved in selecting their new hires.

It will be interesting to see how the best managers cope with this. I suspect they will develop a black market for hiring, out of necessity. They will create their own recruiting and hiring channels, but make it appear HR is in control.

I’ll start with a suggestion to the managers in your company (if I don’t transgress!), then we’ll talk about what you can do to help get a friend hired at your company. I would not talk to HR or to the recruiter. (You can also help a friend get a job elsewhere.)

It was just lunch!

If I were a manager, I’d find my own good candidates and take them out to lunch.

Interview? What interview? I didn’t break the new HR rule. I just went to lunch!

If I decided to hire the person, I’d instruct them to submit their resume to the recruiter and indicate that they are interested in working in my department. Then I’d get in touch with the recruiter and say, “Someone I respect just told me So-and-So is a great engineer who’s being heavily recruited by our Competitor X. Any chance that person’s resume or application is in your system?”

HR recruiters love being in control, but they love making their jobs easier even more. I’d nag the recruiter if necessary until I confirmed the candidate was interviewed and issued an offer.

How to get a friend hired

Since you’re not a manager, you have even more degrees of freedom. I think you can get your friend hired if you go the extra mile. This is just one suggestion to get the ball rolling. I hope readers will chime in with more ideas!

Ask your boss out to lunch. Say you’re meeting an old friend — an engineer from your last employer. “We always have fun talking shop. You’d fit right in.“

Interview? What interview? We’re just having lunch!

During this casual meeting offsite, your boss will have a chance to learn about your buddy without pressure. Of course, if interest is sparked, after lunch your boss must be assertive enough to go talk to HR and say, “I just learned a great engineer is being recruited by our Competitor X…”

You know the old expression, “You can’t wash your hands with rubber gloves on.” Well, managers can’t run successful operations if somebody else is picking their new employees.

I think you have a lot more influence — and control — than you suspect. After all, don’t you want to be working with the best people? Someone’s got to help your company’s managers subvert a silly new policy!

I’d love to hear more suggestions from readers!

Have you ever helped get a friend hired at your company? How did you pull it off? Did HR handle it expeditiously?  Were you paid a referral fee? Did your personal recommendation clear the path for interviews? Who does the candidate selection and hiring at your company? 

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The end of non-compete agreements?

The end of non-compete agreements?

The end of non-compete agreements nationally

Source: Carey & Associates, PC
By Mark Carey

non-compete agreementsThe epidemic use of non-compete agreements has gotten out of control and too many employees have needlessly and financially suffered under this onerous default management practice. The end of this BS employment practice has now arrived!

Non-compete agreements were created by employers for employers. Roughly half of private-sector businesses require at least some employees to enter NCAs, affecting some 36 to 60 million workers. Employees never had a chance to negotiate these agreements.

[President Biden’s] Executive Order banning non-compete agreements marks the beginning of the end of abusive management practices that has enveloped the nation’s workforce since the founding of this country.


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Nick’s take on NCAs

We have discussed NCAs here many times, including advice about how to negotiate NCAs. If you’re lucky, you’ve never had to contend with the kind of corporate extortion these agreements represent. It seems the end is near for NCAs, though it seems the Federal Trade Commission still must go through a rule-making process.

Have you ever been under an NCA? Did you have a choice about signing it? How did it affect you? Have you ever refused an NCA? What was the result? Maybe you’re an employer and would like to defend NCAs. We’re listening! The times they are a-changin’!



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2 weeks vacation time? Are you kidding?

2 weeks vacation time? Are you kidding?


I’m one of those people who’s been waiting all year to quit my job and just did it. Your advice about negotiating salary (explain your value) worked great! But a careful reading of the offer and benefits (thanks again) revealed I’d get only two weeks’ vacation time! I’d be walking away from five weeks at my old job. Do I really have to give up my hard-earned vacation?

Nick’s Reply

vacation timeThis is the perfect time to negotiate assertively for what you want because employers are dying for good talent. If you’re really good at your work, you have excellent negotiating leverage in the current economy and labor market. I’m glad to hear you got a good salary offer. Now let’s work on that vacation time!

Many companies want a new hire to start earning vacation time all over again — but that doesn’t make it a done deal. If you want the vacation time you deserve, you must negotiate to get it.

I have never understood why companies claim vacation time isn’t negotiable. Their position is, “That’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s the policy.” What a company means is that it won’t be able to keep a lid on vacation policy if it negotiates special deals with new hires. But that doesn’t make sense. Just as some people are worth more salary, some are worth more vacation time.

Salary history & vacation time history

Employers demand to know your last salary because they want to base their offer on it. “The only fair way to structure an offer is to look at what you’re already earning,” they explain. So if a job offer is based on your last salary, why shouldn’t your vacation time be based on the amount of vacation time you received at your last job, too? When a company asks for your salary history, why doesn’t it ask for your vacation history? Both reflect your industry seniority and your value.

So what does it mean when a company offers you a job with a paltry two weeks of vacation, and you’ve been taking four or five weeks off at your old company? Okay, let’s get to the advice part of this column. But please remember: this is advice, not a guaranteed way to get five weeks of vacation.

Time off is compensation, not a benefit

The reason you can negotiate salary but not vacation time at most companies is because salary is part of your compensation. Vacation time is not. Vacation time is considered a benefit. Salary can vary, but benefits are fixed. (Or so companies would like you to believe.)

But there is no rhyme or reason to this distinction.

In my opinion, time off is compensation just like cash is because “time is money.” You get compensated for your work with money, and you get compensated for your work with time off. Your expertise, experience and seniority make you worth higher compensation because you probably do more and better work than most junior employees. So it makes sense to give you more time off. Your work still gets done.

I think vacation benefits are negotiable if you have the leverage of expertise and experience (or “seniority”), and when the company isn’t policy-bound.

Negotiate all compensation

My advice: Wait until the offer has been made, then diplomatically and matter-of-factly explain that just as you wouldn’t take a lower salary, you wouldn’t accept less vacation time for your level of seniority in the industry.

Of course, you must decide in advance whether vacation is a deal-breaker for you. In fact, you could test an employer by bringing this up before you agree to do an interview — make vacation a condition, just like your desired salary range. Some companies will balk at this. The more they need you, the more likely they are to negotiate. When employers aren’t flexible, you might want to take an alternative approach.

Tips from an HR insider

To get a well-rounded perspective on this issue, I turned to an expert I respect. Marilyn Zatkin is a veteran HR manager and consultant in Silicon Valley. Her perspective on both the policy and practical sides of this question is solid. She reveals that some companies will be flexible because they understand that vacation is a form of compensation. They also don’t want to lose a great candidate! Here’s what she has to say about this:

“Most companies do not like to alter their vacation policy and create internal equity issues. There are alternatives to granting more vacation than policy allows, such as giving the person a sign-on bonus equivalent to the desired vacation amount, and then letting the worker take the extra time off without pay in the first year. A company can also take that ‘extra vacation value’ and include it in the total compensation package. However, they usually try to limit a special deal like this to the first year.”

I’ll point something out: The moment Zatkin (or any HR manager) concedes that there is a dollar value to vacation time (after all, she’s offering a cash bonus to pay you back for less time off), we have established that vacation time is, indeed, part of compensation. The only thing left to negotiate is how much. I don’t see why that sign-on bonus or “extra compensation” can’t be permanent. (See also Can’t negotiate a higher salary? Ask for more money.)

This may not solve your long-term vacation problem, but it suggests to me that companies are indeed aware there’s an issue they have to face. So I say, negotiate and be as firm about vacation time as you are about salary.

Is time off a benefit, or part of compensation? Have you sacrificed vacation time when changing employers? If not, how did you negotiate it? Do you think you’d have more negotiating leverage nowadays if you changed employers?

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4-day workweek, 5 days of pay?

4-day workweek, 5 days of pay?

Iceland tested a 4-day workweek. Employees were productive — and happier, researchers say.

Source: The Washington Post
By Paulina Villegas  and Hannah Knowles

4-day workweekSeveral large-scale trials of a 4-day workweek in Iceland were an “overwhelming success,” with many workers shifting to shorter hours without affecting their productivity, and in some cases improving it, in what researchers called “groundbreaking evidence for the efficacy of working time reduction.”

Some of the trials’ key findings showed that a shorter week translated into increased well-being of employees among a range of indicators, from stress and burnout to health and work-life balance.

The trials ultimately involved 2,500 workers, more than 1 percent of the nation’s working population, who moved from working 40 hours a week to a 35- or 36-hour week, without a reduction in pay.

To be able to work less while providing the same level of service and productivity, workers and managers alike made strategic and creative changes to their working patterns and dynamics, constantly rethinking how tasks were completed and using working hours in a more efficient way.


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Nick’s take on 4-day workweek

A 4-day workweek for 5 days pay is really about efficiency. And I think we all know it. Many successful businesses seem to succeed in spite of themselves, because employees find ways to get the work done. Cut the work week to 4 days, and it seems workers figure out how to still get it all done for the same pay. Don’t miss the quote from the Stanford professor who suggests cutting the work week and cutting pay — what do you think of that?

Is a 4-day workweek really feasible? What would it take to make this happen in the U.S.?



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