Monday, November 28, 2016

Getting Past the Past: A Job Search Killer

Caleb and I were sitting in a small diner. His company had hired me to assess his fitness and ability to move to the senior management team after twenty plus years of service

I'd talked to the people he'd worked with, worked for and supervised. Everyone said he was a solid performer and he was identified as a real leader.

So there we sat.

Caleb was nervous and kept wiping the sweat from his face with a napkin.

What are you afraid of?

I don't believe I am qualified for this job. 

How come? 

Oh, John! You wouldn't believe some of the things I've done during my career. Stuff I'm not proud of.

Lemme ask you something. Do you regret those things. I mean if you had to do them over would you stop, think and choose a different course? 


Have you made amends where you could? Did you let people know  you'd goofed up and did you apologize?


Can I share something with you? I've spent the past two days talking to a wide variety of people you've worked with over the years. I'll summarize their opinion of you in three words - "Stand Up Guy." So, whatever you are doing keep doing it. As long as you keep looking at every pimple and wart you are never going to be the person you want to be. 

That means all those people who respect you will never reach their potential either. The past is the past. You can't change it. 

Caleb had one half of the equation down pat - He readily forgave other people. It took him awhile to understand that he needed to learn from his past, forgive himself and move forward. When he did he blossomed as a leader.

I can't tell you how many interviews I participated in where the candidate feels they have to go to confession and share every faux pas, they've committed in their life. The interviewer baits the hook by asking:

What are your weaknesses? 

The flood gates usually open wide. 

Tip Number One
As it relates to the position I'm applying for I have no weaknesses. I have areas I can improve in and I'm sure there will be a learning curve in the position. I am always willing to learn

Your interviewer wants you to do their work for them. Instead of trying to figure out your fitness for duty on their own, they load the gun and hand it to you. 

Don't blame them. 

Most people conducting job interviews receive less than 5 hours of formal training and most of that is focused on the questions you can and cant ask. Unfortunately a lot of company's  believe anyone can do it.

They can't. It's one of many reasons there is so much turnover today. We'll slay that dragon another time. 

Look at it this way. You have invested a lot of time, effort and resource to position yourself for the career you want. If you don't believe in you, why should anyone else.

Be confident.  

Tip Number Two
Don't tell them about the pimple on your nose unless they ask, "Is that a pimple on your nose?"

Remember Caleb? He went to great lengths to tell me every one of his faults. Had I not spent some time doing back ground interviews I might have told the folks who hired me that Caleb wasn't the right fit for the position. 

An old boss of mine put it best: 

Telling the truth isn't telling everything you know

Caleb's story may be a familiar one to you. Many of you have heard me tell it before,just not in great detail.

At one point in our conversation I stood up, clicnked my spoon on my water glass and announced the following to the entire resturant. 

Anyone here who has never messed up in a royal fashion at work, please stand up!!!

A few folks laughed, a few looked startled but no one stood up. I sat down and looked across the table

See, you're in good company. 

So are you and so am I

Next time I'll share a technique that impressed even me when I saw it used for the first time. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

We Don't Always Hire the Most Qualified Person - What happens when the interview room door closes

I looked up from my desk and the president of the company was standing in my door

Do you have a minute?

((((What am I gonna say? "Go away I'm busy."))))

He needed a favor.

A local official's nephew had just left the Marine Corps and was having a difficult time finding a job. It would mean a lot if we could find something. So, I did what every mid-level manager in the 1990's did - I handed the assignment off to someone in my department and went back to more pressing issues.

By the way: This story may not be going where you think it's going

A few weeks later I looked up from my desk and guess who is standing in my door? 

Didn't we have a discussion about hiring Mr A's nephew a few weeks ago? 

This was accompanied by a furrowed brow. 

Lemme check,boss 

Please do!!

Down the hall I went. 

Hey Janice!!! What ever became of  the person whose resume I gave you a few weeks back. You know, the one Jack wanted us to interview. I put a heavy emphasis on "Jack."

We're not hiring him? 

We're not? Did he fail the drug screen, background check come up sorta wonky?

Nope. He was wearing the same after shave my first husband wore and he was no good. I just saved the company a lot of heart ache. Birds of a feather..........

If you have spent any time with me at all you know it's a rare occasion that I am speechless. Count this as one of those rare occasions!!!

A few phone calls later and he was a new employee. That was 21 years ago and as far as I know he is still working for that company. Everyone he worked with had rave reviews about his attitude and performance.

In his book Blink! Malcolm Gladwell asserts that we form an opinion about someone in the first two seconds after meeting them. Once formed it's hard to shake that opinion, good or bad. In Janice's case, as soon as she got a whiff of the candidates cologne, it was game over. Too many negative memories.

This supposition has another facet though.

A few years earlier I was working at a company as as human resource director. Our manufacturing manager and vice president of operations, Joe,  instructed me that anyone who submitted a resume that said they attended XYZ University was moved to the head of the line.

Guess where he went to school? Yup, XYX University.

I could write another four paragraphs about how those interviews and subsequent hiring's went. I'll only say it is a part of my life I'd just as soon forget.

While Janice believed anyone who wore a certain brand of cologne could do no right, Joe believed anyone who went to XYZ University could do no wrong.

After all, look at him!!

We've been led to believe it's a level playing field when we walk into an interview.

Far from it.

When the door closes and the games begin, it is far from objective.

In my next few blogs I'll share some tips I learned in over twenty years of interviewing people that can help you avoid the mine field.

So stay tuned. There is more to come.

John Jurkiewicz is the owner and operator of  New Career Creations a unique approach to happiness and success in our lives through gaining satisfaction and fulfillment in our careers. He has over forty years of experience in operation management, human resource management, training and development and has owned his own business for close to 17 years. John is certified as a life coach, a career coach, and an intuitive career coach.  He and his wife Joan have been married for over 42 years