Category: Featured

Jobs Report obscures the true scale of the unemployment problem

While the headline preaches growth the reality is the sharp decline in the unemployment rate was due mostly to the 806,000 who left the labor force and were

therefore not counted as unemployed – statistically they aren’t counted.

It still confounds me that few people notice or comment on the numbers very few ever report on: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.t01.htm  [Table 1. Job openings levels and rates by industry and region, seasonally adjusted].  The number of unfilled jobs at month end climbed again hitting 4.1M

But sometimes the true scale of the unemployment problem can get lost in the abstract manner in which we collectively discuss the issue. We get detached from the human tragedy by impersonal preoccupation with statistics, percentages, estimates or forecasts.  Did you know that just 28 million unemployed people – roughly ¼ of those without a job – is the equivalent to every man, woman and child living in the 7 largest cities in America:  New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

That the ‘Great Recession’ has been an economic catastrophe for jobless and underemployed American workers and their families is an understatement.  Lost and Confused SignpostJoblessness not only leaves deep scars on people — financially and psychologically — but also has enduring effects on families, communities and society.  Beyond the personal suffering, the despair of the unemployed undermines their trust of employers, the economy and government.

America’s prospects are dimming:

•             Between 2001 and 2011, the trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced more than 2.7 million U.S. jobs, over 2.1 million of which (76.9 percent) were in manufacturing.  These lost manufacturing jobs account for more than half of all U.S. manufacturing jobs lost or displaced between 2001 and 2011.

•             47+ million Americans are on food stamps   (Note: In the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today one out of every 6.5 is on food stamps.  In 2011 food stamps cost was $76 billion).

Having 47.7 million people living below the poverty line is equal to every man, woman and child living in the 60 largest cities in America.

Detroit – once the Crown Jewel of America’s manufacturing industry – has long-term debt estimated to be upwards of $20 billion.    Investors say the bankruptcy will make it more difficult for cities and towns everywhere to raise the money they need to build bridges, schools and other infrastructure.

That is the true cost of having nearly 50% of working age Americans on the sidelines.

Life After 50: Shock and Awe

Meet Steve C., frPut America Back To Work - Life After 50om Pittsburgh. Like many laid-off executives, he was given an outplacement package, which included job-search “assistance” that simply didn’t work — 0 job offers in 9 months. But after working with ace Guerrilla Job Search Coach, Mark Haluska,

Steve had 8 interviews and 6 offers in only 6 weeks

That’s 6 job offers in 6 WEEKS.

Click the picture just below to see the video


This video was taken the day after Steve accepted an offer that exceeded all his expectations.

80% Success Rate for Resume

Meet Steve C., from Pittsburgh. Like many laid-off executives, he was given an outplacement package with job-search “help” that flopped — “0” job offers in 9 months.

In his ordinary job search, Steve emailed his resume “hundreds of times” to employers, with no response. (Sound familiar?)

But in a Guerrilla Job Search, coached by Mark Haluska (on the right), Steve enjoyed an 80% success rate when sending his Guerrilla Resume to employers.

He got 8 job interviews from 10 resumes sent, which resulted in 6 job offers. In 6 weeks.

Employers loved the creativity his Guerrilla Resume showed. And many asked, “How did you find me?” That’s what our coaches, led by Mark, can help you do — reach decision makers at the top, who can hire you and who want to meet you.

Zero to 60 … learn to network like a Recruiter!

Want to know how Headhunters go from from Zero in 60 in under 30 seconds?Put America Back To Work

Headhunters network every day out of pure necessity.  That’s our life.  And More often than not I’ll have an assignment for “X,” — whatever “X” may be today —  and I’ve got to deliver,  even if I’ve never recruited an “X” before. That doesn’t stop me from completing the mission. Instead, there are tried-and true methods for locating, identifying, and recruiting candidates.

AND I’m going to blow the whistle on one of the best.

Networking with the Newly Departed

The following four steps show you how to do that for yourself.

Step 1: Locate Your Target Companies

Determine which companies you want to work for, how you can add value, and why they should hire you.

Step 2: Identify Who Runs the Department

Find out who is in charge of the area you want to work in. This generally means identifying a vice president or general manager. For companies with less than 50 people, it may mean the owner or president. You can get this information by calling the company and asking, “Who’s responsible for X” or by looking on the firm’s web site to find the person in that position.  Several methods for doing this are outlined in Chapter 5.

Step 3: Research Referrals

Find people who worked at this company in the past [that’s the newly departed part]—refer to Chapter 8 on Guerrilla Networking—call them on the telephone, and get information about:

  • The person you are targeting
  • The department the person runs
  • The company

Be sociable and ask these people how they liked working there.  Watch for any hesitation before they answer. The pause may be a clue that they don’t want to answer negatively and are framing a safe answer.

The reasons for asking most of the following questions should be obvious. Having said that, keep the following select questions in mind even though it may not be immediately clear why you need to ask them. This exercise will help you prepare for an interview at a later date.

You should ask the following questions in the order they are presented here:

About the Potential Boss

1. Did you work directly for [insert name of potential boss]?

—If the people you question did not work directly for the person, they may not be able to answer the questions 100 percent accurately, but their feedback may still be of value.

2. How long?

—Longer is better.

3. What is [insert name] like?

—What they mention first will be a dominant characteristic. You may need to push a bit to get the response.

4. What kind of person is [insert name]?

5. What kind of manager is he?

6. What does this manager look for in an employee?

—How does your experience compare to that of the people they normally hire?

7. How is [insert name] positioned in the company?

—This is a crucial question to confirm that you are targeting the right person.

8. Is [insert name] on the way up or down?

9. Does he have the ear of the president or owner?

—You need to know whether this person has the capability to hire you and can get the president to sign off.

MORE?

If you’re not scared off by now then Extreme Networking as taught in my book Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters is an option for you.  If you click the link below you can download sample chapters from the first book.  The newest book Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 can be found at www.GM4JH.com

More: Download gm4jh_from_perrymartel.pdf

7 steps to Success: How to Plan the Perfect Job Search

Would you ever walk into a busy airport, amble up to the counter and say, “I want to go on vacation. Could I have a ticket, please?” Of course not. You’d get nothing but a baffled look from the ticket agent (not to mention a body search from Homeland Security).

Finding your ideal job is like taking a dream vacation. You can get there from here and have the time of your life. But first you need to know where you’re going, then plan how to get there.

STEP 1
To find the shortest route to your next job, you need to create a plan that is detailed in every way. The ideal plan will be solution oriented, results driven, marketing based, inexpensive to execute, realistic and specific.

Here are some ideas for incorporating those elements into your job-search plan.

Solution Oriented

News flash: Rarely is it the most qualified candidate who gets hired. (If you’ve ever had a nincompoop for a manager, you know exactly what I mean.)

In the real world, jobs often go to those who best position themselves as the solution to a problem. Now here’s the catch: Employers often don’t realize they have a problem until someone points it out to them. So, if you can identify employers’ problems – and offer yourself as the best solution – you’ll increase your chances of getting hired. Immediately. Every time.

Results Driven

Like a runner training for a marathon, you must measure your progress. Doing so tells you how close you are to your goal. It also keeps you motivated and committed to your plan.

Measuring results requires you to track certain details. Here are a few of the dozens of proven tactics from my book, Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters, that you can track:

Marketing Based

In business, the companies with the best marketing usually win. Winning the War for Talent is similar. It requires you to become proficient at marketing yourself better than other candidates.

Looking for a job is a sales and marketing activity – and you are the product.

Inexpensive

In 1997, Tom Peters introduced the concept of “The Brand Called You.” At the time, personal branding was a sort of luxury, reserved for high-flying techies and senior executives who wanted to maximize the financial returns of their biggest asset – their career.

Today personal branding is no luxury – it’s a requirement for career survival. For more on how to brand yourself for free, visit GuerrillaJobHunting.com, and click on the appropriate topic.

Realistic

Knowing what you want to do is good. Combining it with what you are ‘qualified’ to do is even better. You may be pleasantly surprised at how your current skill set can transfer to other industries.

For a clear picture of what’s possible with your skills, visit America’s Career InfoNet (acinet.org). If you’re not qualified for what you want to do, get moving and determine how to get qualified.

In my 20+ years of executive recruiting, the biggest problem I’ve run into is that people aren’t realistic – especially unemployed people. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you apply for jobs you’re not qualified to do. Sometimes you may have to take a temporary step backward to move forward in a new career. BUT . . . the sooner you take that step, the sooner you’ll arrive at your goal.

Specific

Knowing the exact title and function of the job you seek gives you a clear, specific goal, with no possibility for error. If you have a clear target and don’t hit it, you’ll know for sure. So, get clear and get specific. The more, the better.

For example, I’ll wager that Vicki Vlachakis knew exactly what she wanted to do and who she wanted to work for before she started her job search. When the opportunity came along to design the new two-seater convertibles for Saturn and Chrysler, she recognized her chance to hit not one, but two home runs in her career.

Nothing is more important to your success than a clear ‘picture’ of your goal. (Please read that sentence again. I’ll wait 🙂

If you can envision your dream job AND you’re qualified to do it, then you can find it. With a specific goal in mind, you can organize your job search and networking efforts with a laser-like focus.

Yes, some people are lucky and fall into great jobs, but luck (as Tom Peters says) is terribly unpredictable. The dramatic changes in today’s world of work mean that tried-and-true methods of job hunting will soon be outmoded.

The one constant in all successful job searches, however, is clarity of purpose. It will give you the goal you seek and the fuel to reach it. So, get specific, get clear, get busy . . . and get hired!


David E. Perry is the author of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters and the Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters Blog. Kevin Donlin, creator of GetHiredNow.TV also contributed to this article.

10 Tips for Dealing with Recruiters

Submitted by Lori GrantGuerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.o

Are you a job seeker looking for how to deal with recruiters? David Perry is Managing Partner of Perry-Martel International, Inc. an international Executive Search & Recruiting firm specializing in high technology. The Perry-Martel International, Inc. website offers articles for candidates, including “10 Tips for Dealing with Recruiters.” Perry’s ten tips are the following:

  1. Find a recruiter BEFORE you absolutely have to have a new job
  2. Find a recruiter that specializes in your talents
  3. Find a recruiter that you like to work with and that you trust
  4. Don’t be too quick to send your resume to an unknown but “smooth talking” recruiter… especially if you’re still employed
  5. Provide the recruiter with current salary information and expectations
  6. Don’t put important facts in the cover letter you send to a recruiter
  7. Make it easy for a recruiter to get and read your resume
  8. Recruiters are usually NOT good vehicles to help you change careers
  9. Executive recruiters recruit; career counselors counsel
  10. Executive recruiters recruit; bus drivers drive busses

Recruiters are interesting. I was once pitched the perfect VP of Marketing job for a C-level position in my industry. I remember the scope of the job being impressive. It was a new position that reported into the President; it was responsible for all marketing related functions like strategic and tactical planning, market segmentation, product marketing, product management and development, recruitment and management of the marketing team, marketing communications, lead generation, creation and support of joint-marketing partnerships, educating potential clients, and optimizing resources to assist the sales team.

While I was tempted because of the product management responsibilities, I was already in my dream job with a boss I loved reporting into and working with, a management team that I had fun working with, and team that I adored. Needless to say, I didn’t pursue the opportunity with the recruiter. However, what I did learn was the once you’re at the C-level, recruiters search for industry-specific company websites for potential recruits, and then poach executives listed on site. It was an interesting exercise to receive phone calls from recruiters quietly calling into our company switch board to talk with me. Perry’s ten tips should help you if you understand recruiters.

As for David Perry, he’s responsible for hiring 700+ Presidents, senior executives and key technical people in his position. Another reason why Perry’s name may sound familiar is because he’s the coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters: 400 Unconventional Tips, Tricks, and Tactics for Landing Your Dream Job.

Turbo-Charge Your LinkedIn Network Using Google’s ‘X-Ray Search’!

By

Skip Freeman

Skip Freeman

This powerful Google function, used in conjunction with LinkedIn, allows you to search all public profiles within the entire LinkedIn database!

There are really only two limitations to using the Google X-Ray function: (1) If a person has marked his or her LinkedIn profile as “private,” Google won’t find them; and (2) The person has to have put the key words you are looking for in their profile. So, for example, if you are looking for a “Georgia Tech” grad, the person has to have used “Georgia Tech” in building his or her profile. If they used “Georgia Institute of Technology,” for example, then you won’t find them unless you do a second search using those key words. (Other Boolean operators such as OR and NOT don’t work as well in the X-ray command, either, so you’re wise to stick with the AND operator as you will see below.)

THE X-RAY: APPLICATION

• Go to www.google.com
• Copy and Paste the following search string into Google:

site:www.linkedin.com intitle:linkedin (“Chemical engineer” AND “Georgia Tech” AND “Georgia Pacific”) -intitle:profile -intitle:updated -intitle:blog -intitle:directory -intitle:jobs -intitle:groups -intitle:events -intitle:answers

What is in bold is REQUIRED, as it forces Google to look only at profiles. If you don’t put this in the Google search string exactly as shown, you will have returned to you all kinds of things that have absolutely NOTHING to do with PEOPLE (such as questions, answers to questions, information from news groups, polls, etc.)

The items in quotation marks and regular typeface, i.e., not in BOLD, within the search string above are your variables.

Examples (as of this writing):

• If I use the above search string, I find one person who is a “chemical engineer” at “Georgia Pacific” from “Georgia Tech” who has a public profile on LinkedIn who used those particular words in their profile.

• If I change “Georgia Tech” to “Georgia Institute of Technology”, I now have two people.

• If I want to find all Georgia Tech grads at Georgia Pacific, I would take out “chemical engineer” and use the following:

site:www.linkedin.com intitle:linkedin (“Georgia Tech” AND “Georgia Pacific”) –intitle:profile -intitle:updated -intitle:blog -intitle:directory -intitle:jobs -intitle:groups -intitle:events -intitle:answers

  • With this search string I NOW get 116 people.
  • If I change “Georgia Tech” to “Georgia Institute of Technology”, I get 221 people. Certainly some of these people might be the same people if they used both sets of key words in their profile. (NOTE – Some of these people may have been at Georgia Pacific in the past, so I can’t differentiate between current employees and former employees.)
  • If I want to find ALL names at Georgia Pacific, I can try to find hiring managers, people to network with, et al., I would use:

site:www.linkedin.com intitle:linkedin (“Georgia Pacific”) -intitle:profile -intitle:updated -intitle:blog -intitle:directory -intitle:jobs -intitle:groups -intitle:events -intitle:answers

  • When I do that, I get 9,320 people. WOW! That is a lot and I should be able to find good people with whom to network.

However, that also may be too many to manage, so if I go back and put in a qualifying key word such as “sales” I get 2,940 people. Here is that particular string:

site:www.linkedin.com intitle:linkedin (sales AND “Georgia Pacific”) -intitle:profile -intitle:updated -intitle:blog -intitle:directory -intitle:jobs -intitle:groups -intitle:events -intitle:answers

Use qualifiers within the parentheses to narrow or widen your search.

SO NOW, HOW DO YOU GET IN TOUCH WITH THESE PEOPLE?

__________________________________________________

Skip Freeman, President and CEO, The HTW Group (Hire to Win) Executive Search, and author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! (http://www.headhunterhiringsecrets.com), has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years for over forty companies. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

Never Rebut an Objection—’Roll’ With It!

By

Skip Freeman

Editor’s Note: This blog is an excerpt from Skip’s book, “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!

Skip Freeman

There is always a natural tendency to attempt to rebut each and every objection you might receive when conducting your telephone prospecting (or while interviewing). The secret to handling objections, though, is simply to “roll with them”! Get a dialogue going! Rebutting an objection causes tension and anxiety, and seldom gets you anywhere.

In wrestling, martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, the easiest way to deflect the opponent is to “roll with them,” not block them. Someone is coming at you, use their momentum to keep them going past you.

Let’s review some common objections and how to roll with them.

For example, get prepared for this Number One objection:

“You need to call HR.”

The best way to handle this objection, which will occur often enough to become an issue, is by using a response like this:

“Sure, I can call HR. But before I do, may I ask if I am the type of individual you could see making a contribution to your team?” (You didn’t try to block the objection. You “rolled with it” by saying, “Sure I can call HR.” You have agreed with them, which they weren’t expecting. Now, when you ask the follow-up question, they are more apt to work with you.)

Another, very common objection you will encounter when telephone prospecting:

“We are not hiring.”

Here is how you might handle this response:

“I didn’t necessarily think you were at this point. If someone were to resign, or when business increases at some point in the near future, am I the type of individual you would be interested in speaking with?” (Assuming you have laid out your credentials. Otherwise you can say/ask, “I didn’t necessarily call thinking you were hiring right now. What is the best way for me to get my information in front of you, so that if someone were to resign, or when business increases at some point in time, I will be ‘top of mind’ in terms of being able to bring value to you in a position?”)

Let me give you an example of an objection I, as a recruiter, hear virtually every day:

“We don’t use recruiters.”

My response is always something like this:

“I understand. Please tell me, when you have a very difficult position to fill, how do you go about filling it?”

Notice, I don’t “push back”—I merely “roll with it,” and you should too. What do I mean by pushing back? If I responded something like this, “The reason you should use recruiters is. . . .” I would be pushing back.

Let me share with you one more instructive example:

Someone tells you:

“You need to go to our website, see what positions are open and apply online.”

(You)

“Certainly, I can do that. By the way, may I ask you a question? (Remember, selling is not telling, it is asking.)

(Their response)

“Sure.”

(You)

“What do you feel makes your company a unique place to work?”

Assume they respond with something positive. Then, you could say,

“Wow, that sounds interesting and it sounds like you enjoy working there?”

(Their response)

“Yes, I do.”

(You)

“May I send my information to you? I would like to be able to stay in touch with someone who is as excited about his work and company as you are. That is somewhat rare these days.”

Now, she may or may not agree to do that, but it is a way to again develop an insider who might ultimately sponsor you. You didn’t debate why you shouldn’t apply online, you didn’t whine (spew venom) about how you have applied online six times and have never heard from someone.

Though there are no “magic words” for overcoming objections, there is a “magic formula,” and this is it:

• Don’t push back. Do not become (or appear) argumentative.
• Ask questions. Get a dialogue going.
• As you will learn further on in the face-to-face section, “lead the witness.” Implement that here.

_________________________________________

Skip Freeman, author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

Visit or contact Skip at his book website, http://www.headhunterhiringsecrets.com

How to Save Your Cover Letter from the ‘DELETE’ Key!

By

Skip Freeman

Skip Freeman

Let’s face it, many, if not most cover letters are . . . well . . . to put it as diplomatically as possible . . . extremely B – O – O – O – R – I – N – G and largely without any apparent direction or focus. They are also essentially a waste of time, both for the job seeker who writes and send them, and certainly for the recruiter or hiring manager who receives them. That’s at least part of the reason most of them get the same treatment—they either end up in the “circular file” or, if sent through Email, quickly and summarily get the old “delete” key treatment.

Below is an example of the typical cover letter, sent either through the mail or via Email, that I—and most other recruiters and hiring managers—receive each and every single business day:

Dear Mr. Freeman

Attached is my resume for consideration for any sales positions that you may have. Please give me a phone call to review my credentials and how I may be of value to one of the clients you represent.

Sincerely,

Mr./Ms. Job Seeker

What, specifically, are the problems with such a cover letter? Let me cite just two of the more glaring deficiencies.

First, the job seeker asks for “any sales position that you may have.” Does he or she really mean any sales position? Of course not. If, for example, the job seeker has a background in, say, insurance sales (something that we can’t learn from the cover letter, but it is hoped we will learn from the “attached” résumé), would he or she really be interested (not to mention qualified for!) in a chemical sales position I might be trying to fill? Again, of course not.

Second, has this job seeker honestly given me (or any other recruiter/hiring manager) any compelling reason(s) to pick up the telephone and make the call to him or her? The answer, of course, is a resounding NO! Has he or she included any kind of “value proposition” in the cover letter to arouse my interest and get my attention? Again, the answer is a resounding NO!

So, how, exactly, is an effective cover letter designed, one that stands a very good chance of getting read? Below is an example of a cover letter that certainly could be expected to catch my attention, as well as the attention of most other recruiters and hiring managers.

Dear Mr. Freeman: (NOTE THAT THE CORRECT PUNCTUATION TO USE IN THIS SALUTATION IS THE COLON, NOT A COMMA AND CERTAINLY NOT A SEMI-COLON)

Are your client companies happy with their time to market and sales to date, or are you of the opinion that there’s room for improvement between now and the end of this year? Do they have all the new business revenue they want and deserve? Do they have all the fresh ideas that will help them surpass their strategic goals and objectives? (WHAT A GREAT LIST OF PERTINENT, ATTENTION-GETTING QUESTIONS!)

With this year just flying by, do you think there is enough time left for any changes and the improvement that change can bring? If you could present a sales professional to your client companies who is sitting on a $20 million pipeline, is that something you would be interested in? ($20 MILLION PIPELINE?! WOW! YES, THAT IS SOMETHING A RECRUITER OR HIRING MANAGER WOULD BE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT, HUH?!)

If any of these initiatives are of interest to your client companies, why don’t you make your last business call of this day to me. I’ll be prepared to answer any questions you may have about my ideas and solutions and how we might be able to put them both to work for your client companies. (NOW THIS IS SOMETHING UNUSUAL IN A JOB SEEKER’S COVER LETTER—HE ACTUALLY ASKED FOR THE ORDER!)

I’ll be in my office today between 3:00 and 6:00 P.M. Eastern Time if you would like to contact me. My number is 678-123-4567. Otherwise, I will reach out to you Friday, October 1, at 10 AM ET. (I HAVE TWO CHOICES HERE: I CAN CALL THIS JOB SEEKER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AT THE TIMES HE IS AVAILABLE, OR I CAN SIMPLY WAIT AND EXPECT HIS CALL! ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, THOUGH, THIS JOB SEEKER IS DETERMINED TO VISIT WITH ME! P.S. IT’S VERY LIKELY THAT, IF HIS RÉSUMÉ IS AS SOLID AND AS WELL-THOUGHT-OUT AS HIS COVER LETTER, IT WILL BE I WHO CALLS HIM FIRST!)

Thank you for the consideration.

To greater success,

Mr./Ms. Job Seeker

To be sure, it takes a little more time and effort to create a cover letter like the second one presented here. But, when you consider that sending a generic, anemic, boring cover letter like the first example shown can only be expected to result in its being “trashed” by a recruiter or hiring manager . . . well . . . spending the extra time and effort literally becomes a “no-brainer,” doesn’t it?

______________________________________________________________

Skip Freeman, author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

 Visit or contact Skip at his book website, http://www.headhunterhiringsecrets.com

Learn to ‘Lead the Witness’ During Job Interviews

By

Skip Freeman

Skip Freeman

While it’s a big “no-no” for attorneys to “lead the witness” during a trial, i.e., try to “put words in a witness’s mouth” to shape testimony, learning how to effectively use this little-known, though very valuable skill can pay BIG dividends for a job seeker during a job interview.

You might suppose that most hiring managers would be really good at conducting job interviews. You would be wrong, though. Because the typical manager hires relatively few new people over an entire career, he or she usually doesn’t have the skills necessary to be great interviewers. Most, though certainly not all, really don’t even know where to begin an interview, what to ask of the person being interviewed, or even the direction in which to take the interview. So, as a job candidate, you’ve got to learn how to “lead the witness” and direct them where you know they want to go—even if they don’t know themselves!

Let me caution you here, however, “leading the witness” is NOT the same thing as taking over (or hogging) the interview!

What is it that a hiring manager instinctively wants to learn from you during an interview, again, even if they themselves are not consciously aware of it? Virtually all hiring managers want you, the job candidate, to answer essentially FOUR questions for them:

• Can you do the job?
• Do you want to do the job?
Will you do the job?
• Are you a good cultural fit?

So, knowing this, carefully craft your answers to questions not only to address the specific question(s) being asked, but also to directly or indirectly address any (or all) of these four implied questions. In other words, feel free to “lead the witness,” i.e., the hiring manager.

Let’s suppose, for example, that you are applying for a technical sales position and the hiring manager asks you (in an attempt to determine if you can actually do the job),

“I notice from your résumé that you had increased sales of over $2 million during the last three years. Tell me how you were able to accomplish that.”

A good answer, and equally importantly, one that incorporates the principle of “leading the witness,” might be this:

“I firmly believe in the necessity to continually prospect. For example, I have identified all of the potential buyers of my company’s products within my geographical territory and I call on them on a regular basis. With some prospects you have to make many calls over time to win their business, while with others, you just happen to call on them at the right time to win their business. The key is that you are calling, so that when they have a ‘pain point,’ you are there.”

“Consistently taking this approach has allowed me to steadily increase sales.”

Even though the hiring manager’s question was relatively straightforward and ostensibly designed as somewhat of a “warm up” question, your answer not only addresses the implicit question of can you do the job, it also amply demonstrates that you want to do the job and that you will do the job as well.

A perennial favorite question asked by hiring managers is this one:

“If you are the successful candidate for this position, where do you see yourself in, say, five years?”

This apparently “innocent” question is anything but, so be particularly alert when answering it. Again, even though the hiring manager may not consciously be aware of it, the question actually is designed to determine if you want to do the specific job for which you are being interviewed.

If you’re at all like most candidates, you likely will perceive this question to be designed to determine how “ambitious” you are, how motivated you are to “grow” beyond the position and within the company. Nine times out of ten, that’s really not the case at all. For example, let’s assume you are interviewing for a position as a chemist and you answer the question this way:

“I really think, with my qualifications, education and skill set, that I could easily be supervising the entire department in five years.”

It’s highly unlikely that you will endear yourself (or be the successful candidate!) to the hiring manager, who probably will feel you’ve way over-stepped your boundaries, not to mention be perceived as arrogant and presumptuous. He or she may even feel personally threatened by thinking that the job you really want is his or hers!

A much better answer, and again, one that allows you to “lead the witness,” would be one like this:

“Over the next five years, I want to become known as the person who can develop new, novel surfactant technology that makes the company money. I see myself hitting the ground learning the processes and procedures that you follow, understanding the mission of the group and how it aligns with the company goals, then immersing myself in new product development, where I can apply my creativity and help the company make products that customers want so we all make money. I would love to be able to help write some technical papers, help patent some products and do anything possible to make this lab team world-renowned in what we do.”

Wouldn’t an answer like this allay most fears or concerns in the hiring manager’s mind that you want to do this specific job?

Assuming that you have satisfactorily answered (and implemented the tactic of “leading the witness,” where appropriate) the questions of Can you do the job? Do you want to do the job? Will you do the job? you can then expect to be asked questions to determine the final criterion for acceptance in the hiring manager’s mind: Are you a good cultural fit (for the hiring unit, the company and the hiring manager himself/herself).

That question usually is phrased along these lines:

“What do you do if you have a conflict with a co-worker?”

While there are a number of ways to correctly answer such questions, here is one good way:

“Unfortunately, in life there is conflict, and that includes in the workplace. What you must not do is become offended. Everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. You respect the opinions of your co-workers, ask questions and work to iron out any differences.

“If it is affecting the project or the goals of the company and we can’t work it out, then I will take it to a trusted colleague to see if she can offer some helpful advice. If that fails, then it may be time to have a confidential conversation with my boss. I only will do that if indeed it is having a negative impact on the company’s performance.”

How can you become adept at providing such well-thought-out answers and, at the same time, directly or indirectly answer the important FOUR questions in the back of every hiring manager’s mind? Anticipate the questions you’re likely to be asked during an interview, then create—and memorize!—stories and “word pictures” so that the hiring manager not only “hears” what you’re saying, but also “see” what you’re saying. Then, finally, practice, practice, practice! Believe me, that’s what successful candidates do and I guarantee it will be well worth the effort!

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Skip Freeman, author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

 Visit or contact Skip at his book website, http://www.headhunterhiringsecrets.com

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