Heads Up! The Telephone Interview is Usually a ‘Trap’!

By

Skip Freeman

Skip Freeman

Great news! All your prospecting and presenting activities have paid off and you’ve landed a telephone interview with a prospective employer. This is an opportunity, correct? Well, yes and no. Actually, you’ve simply made it to “step one” in the hiring process. The more important “step two” is landing the all important face-to-face interview, which really is the principal goal of the telephone interview, i.e., getting before a hiring manager.

While it’s certainly understandable that you will be excited about getting the telephone interview, heads up! Oftentimes, though certainly not always, the telephone interview is actually a trap. Let me explain.

Despite what many of today’s job seekers think and believe, the hiring process is not one of inclusion. Rather, it is one of exclusion. That is, hiring managers and companies are not looking for candidates to include in the hiring pool; they are looking for ways to eliminate as many candidates as possible from that pool, up front, so that they can sooner get to the candidate(s) they ultimately will hire.

This is especially true if you are applying for a position with a large company. Normally, with these companies, the initial telephone interview will be conducted by a professional “screener,” not the actual hiring manager. Sometimes a third party may be hired by the company to screen candidates, or the screener may simply be someone from the company’s Human Resources Department. Virtually all of these screeners are trained to sound upbeat, enthusiastic and friendly, all attitudes designed to immediately put candidates at ease. That way, candidates will be more likely to accidentally “spill the beans” with various faux pas, thereby making it easier—and quicker!—for the screener to eliminate them.

After participating in one of these telephone interviews, rare indeed is the candidate who is not absolutely convinced that he or she nailed the interview. They think that the job is practically theirs! Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember, no one is ever hired as the result of a telephone interview.

So, how should you prepare for a telephone interview to keep from falling into this trap? Below are some recommendations for properly preparing for and conducting a telephone interview:

Research the company and the position. Learn the company’s “hot buttons” and then sell them on what you know they need, i.e., tell the how you can either “make ‘em money” or “save ‘em money,” or ideally, how to do both of these things.

Review news release and other public information about the company, as well as quarterly and annual reports. Pay particular attention to such communications as the CEO letter to stockholders. Learn about any new product releases, facilities expansions, etc.

Learn in advance who will be conducting the telephone interview, if you can. Check for that person’s LinkedIn profile and/or ZoomInfo profile. “Google” the person to learn as much about them as you can.

Do NOT, under any circumstances, bring up compensation, benefits or vacation! If you are asked your current salary or the salary you expect from the position being applied for, state something along these lines: “Susan, the most important goal is the opportunity. If I am the right person for this job from your perspective, and indeed, if the company is the right company for me, then I am confident that the salary will be more than fair.” And leave it at that!

Write down any questions you plan to ask during the telephone interview.

Use positive phrasing during the interview, such as “I know” rather than “I think.”

Never, never, never speak negatively of anyone or anything—a former boss, co-worker or company.

Always emphasize why you want to go to work for the company, NOT why you desire to leave your present company.

Do not try to evade any question. If you don’t know the answer to any particular question, simply say so, and then say you’ll get the answer and call back.

If things sound good to you, then say so! Don’t try to play “poker.” Remember, the interviewer can’t see you, so verbalize your reactions/feelings.

If something doesn’t sound good to you, do NOT confront (and therefore alienate) the interviewer.

“Close” at the end of the interview, using a statement such as this: “Jim, I really appreciate your time today, and I am genuinely excited about and interested in this opportunity. Based upon our conversation, is there anything else that will keep us from moving on to the next step?”

Avoid mention of anything personal, such as marital status, sexual orientation, state of your (or your family’s) health, etc.

If you will keep these telephone interview “do’s” and “don’t’s” in mind, you will be in far better position to indeed “nail” the telephone interview than 90 percent of your “competition,” i.e., other job seekers. Most of them will continue to “wing it” during the telephone interview and increase the chances of making major faux pas, and as a result, the majority of them will be excluded from further consideration, quickly and finally. Believe that.

_______________________________________________

Skip Freeman, “headhunter” and 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

The ‘Daily Misogi’: PREPARE First, Take ACTION! Second

Skip Freeman

By

Skip Freeman

If you are anticipating being laid off, or have actually lost your job, you are quite likely to have a very strong temptation to take ACTION! This is very understandable and a very human reaction under the circumstances. You want to pick up the phone and call a recruiter, contact people in your social and professional networks. You want to hit the job boards and start sending out resumes by the dozens, if not the hundreds! You’ve got to get something going, and you’ve got to do it NOW!

STOP! It is criticial that you take the time to collect your thoughts, to get adquately prepared and to formulate your plans. Rushing around helter-skelter without first preparing your mind and your spirit and your plan is unlikely to be very productive for you. Let me suggest a method for accomplishing this goal, the daily Misogi.

The Daily Misogi 

The Daily Misogi . . . no, it’s not some kind of Japanese soup. Rather, it’s an ancient Japanese cleansing ritual involving preparation of the mind and spirit for each new day. It’s a ritual that can serve you well in preparing for your daily job search activities.

The majority of us start each day with at least some general plan regarding the activities that we would like (or have) to undertake. But most of us don’t fully prepare our minds and spirits for the day.

Oh, some of us may start our day with prayer, reading a holy book, or even by going to a religious service. But how many of us really ever stop to think deeply and quietly about the issues of the day ahead and make a definite plan of activities?

Misogi as Practiced by the Samurai

My professional mentor and coach, Pat Scopelliti, taught me that ancient Samurai warriors, who were practitioners of Misogi, would get up before dawn every day, sit cross-legged and sharpen their swords, often for a couple of hours. Did their swords really need to be sharpened for two hours? Of course not! While it may have appeared to the casual observer that the warriors were merely sharpening their swords, actually, they were really “sharpening” their minds.

The reality of each new day for a Samurai was that, potentially at least, he lived in a “kill or be killed” world. He would therefore visualize the day ahead, and analyze the results of previous battles. He would visualize victory. He would do “success/failure” analysis. What must he do to replicate past successes? What had he learned from past failures?

Applying Misogi to your job hunt

Preparing for the “job hunt” each day requires this same kind of intense, daily preparation of the mind and spirit. And once you find your next position (or even if you are currently employed), you would do well to continue such daily preparation.

Before the start of each new day’s activities, you should quietly and deeply reflect upon and then set “drop dead” targets and/or goals, i.e., those things that you positively, absolutely must accomplish, as a minimum, for the day. Equally importantly, you should also quietly and deeply reflect upon the targets and/or goals you set for the previous day.

Ask yourself, “What successes did I achieve?” “How do I replicate those again?” “What failures occurred?” “How do I learn from those failures?”

There are two types of failure: Honorable and dishonorable.

Honorable failure means that you didn’t achieve your objective(s) for that day. However, you analyzed the failure(s), discerned lessons, applied them and simply collapsed on “the battlefield,” exhausted, having failed, but still knowing that you didn’t “surrender.”

Dishonorable failure means one of two things. Either you didn’t learn from your failures or you simply surrendered (quit) before completing the task(s) (“drop dead” minimums) that you had set.

How I practice Misogi

Here is how I practice Misogi. When I get up in the morning it is still dark. The coffee has automatically brewed. I savor the aroma. I stumble downstairs and pour a large cup, groggily make my way back upstairs and turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it. I get in the shower, sit down with my legs crossed, let the hot water flow on my neck and back, and I slowly sip the coffee. (Taking care not to let water from the shower get into my cup, of course!) I am still groggy and sleepy. I let my mind wander. I think of the known issues of the day ahead. I think of the successes and failures of the past day.

After sitting in the shower for about twenty minutes, suddenly the synapses in my brain start firing rapidly, “dots” are instantly “connected.” Ideas surface that I hadn’t previously thought of. Solutions to persistent problems seemingly occur out of nowhere. My mind and my spirit are on full steam ahead by the time I exit the shower.

None of these things would likely have happened had I merely jumped out of bed, hopped in for a quick shower, dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee and made a mad dash to get out the door and head for my office. For what? So I could quickly fire up my computer and check my email, taking the day largely as it unfolded? Or, another way of putting it: I would be letting the day seize me rather than my seizing the day!

This isn’t magic, of course, or any kind of strange “voodoo,” but it has proven to work remarkably well, time and time again for me, and it can also work for you, although it wasn’t until just the last couple of years that I learned that the practice (now a habit!) actually had a name—Misogi. (Some “purists” may debate me on this and say that I am not actually doing a Misogi. But again, the point is not what we call it. The point is that we do something each day to prepare our mind and spirit for the day ahead!)

Remember: Misogi—a Whole New Way of Preparing for the Day

Again, Misogi is different from praying, reading a holy book or a “how-to” or motivational book. This is a practice of intensely focusing on the day ahead and the specific tasks that must be accomplished, in light of both the successes and failures of the previous day, in order to develop creative solutions.

So, whether you do what I do or get coffee and just go sit in a swing or rocking chair on the porch, find a way to spend about twenty minutes waking up slowly, keeping your eyes closed and truly, thoroughly contemplating the day ahead. Consider some “hard” questions/issues such as these:

  • What interviews do I have today?
  • If I don’t have any interviews, what must I do to start getting them?
  • How do I best follow up on the ones I have had?
  • How do I identify new companies and hiring managers to contact?
  • What can I do today that is unique versus the other “job hunters” out there, so that I will be perceived as adding value to a potential employer?

This is how I have uncovered the secrets for hiring: I would ask myself questions such as, “Why didn’t the candidate we represented get the job?” Or, “Why was the offer so low?” “What happened to enable the offer to be so high?”—higher, actually, than any of us imagined? By letting the brain ponder such things in solitude and quietness, solutions and answers come together that you probably would never think about otherwise.

The power of the human spirit, coupled with the human brain, is boundless. Overlay that with knowledge and you are ready to begin your job search!

______________________________________________

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

Are YOU Casting ‘Shadows on the Wall’ During Job Interviews?

By

Skip Freeman

 

Skip Freeman

Remember when you were a small child and your mother put you in bed, kissed you good night and slipped quietly out of your bedroom? Remember how snug, safe and secure you felt as you were slowly drifting off to sleep? But then . . . on some nights, the wind may have suddenly picked up, the trees outside your bedroom window began swaying to and fro, casting frightening shadows on your bedroom wall! You felt uneasy . . . scared . . . unsure about how to react. It’s likely you merely threw the covers over your head, snuggled deeper into your bed, closed your eyes and tried to block out the whole frightening image. (OK, admit it, some of you yelled for your mother to come back to your bedroom!)

You might be surprised to learn that, particularly in today’s brutal job market, many hiring managers (and other “screeners”), afraid to make a mistake that could cost them their jobs if they hire the “wrong” people, demonstrate similar fears whenever a candidate casts “shadows on the wall” during a telephone or face-to-face interview. (Although admittedly, they don’t usually yell for their mothers!) Let me give you a couple of examples on what I’m talking about here.

KEEP YOUR ‘SECRET’ CAREER DESIRES TO YOURSELF!

A friend of mine is a Human Resources screener, a position he has held for nearly thirty years. He has an uncanny knack for immediately putting a candidate at ease during an interview.

A couple of years ago, I sent my friend a candidate for a technical sales position his company had open, and my friend said he would like to conduct a telephone interview with the candidate.

It just so happened that my friend had been in the candidate’s hometown once for a baseball game, so he and the candidate chatted briefly about their mutual love of the game. Then, the Human Resources screener asked a typical, “warm and fuzzy” question:

“If you could wave a magic wand and be anything you wanted to be, what would that be?” he asked the candidate.

By this time, the candidate was feeling very comfortable with his “new buddy,” so he responded, quite honestly, with this response (remember the candidate was interviewing for a technical sales position):

“If I could wave that magic wand and be anything I wanted to be, I would want to be in product marketing,” the young candidate said.

“Why would you want to do that?” the HR screener asked the candidate.

The candidate then went on for at least another five minutes about his deep interest in marketing. How he wanted to get an MBA in marketing. How he felt he would like to be able to position products strongly through well-done sales literature, creative training materials, etc.

Typically, a phone interview with this company would last about an hour. This one lasted just 20 minutes.

Soon after the telephone interview, the candidate called me and said, “Skip, the interview went GREAT! I think I nailed it and I am so excited.”

Upon learning from the candidate that the phone interview had lasted only 20 minutes, instead of the typical hour, I knew, instinctively, that the only thing the candidate could possibly have “nailed” was his own foot to the floor! The evidence that I was correct came very shortly thereafter when the screener called me.

“Skip, your candidate doesn’t even want to be in technical sales,” he said. “He wants to be a product marketer, so that’s the type of job he really needs to find.”

In other words, this candidate cast a “shadow” on the screener’s “wall”!

If you are interviewing for a sales position, you want to be in sales more than anything else in your life. If you are interviewing for an accountant’s position, you want to be an accountant more than anything else in your life. During an interview, you want to be in that particular role more than anything else in your life. (And this is true, at least during the interview, right??!!)

KEEP PERSONAL BUSINESS STRICTLY PERSONAL

I presented another candidate for a marketing position in Denver. The candidate lived in Dallas. She was a high-quality, very-qualified candidate, too, just like the candidate previously mentioned. Still, she also managed to cast a “shadow on the wall” and exclude herself during her phone interview. About 45 minutes into the interview, which had gone rather well up to that point, the screener simply asked,

“Why would you want to leave Dallas and move to Denver?”

This was the answer the candidate gave to the question:

“My husband is running around on me, so I am going to divorce him. I don’t care where I go, just as long as it gets me out of Dallas.”

Talk about “shadows on the wall”! And that “shadow” got even bigger in the hiring manager’s mind.

“Skip,” the hiring manager told me over the phone, “If she can’t keep her personal information confidential, then how do we know she would keep company information confidential? We just can’t take that risk.”

Think these are just isolated incidents? Think again! These type of faux pas during telephone and face-to-face interviews happen all the time, and are committed by otherwise highly qualified, very intelligent job candidates. Almost without exception these unfortunate “missteps” are sufficient for most hiring managers or other “screeners” to summarily exclude candidates from further consideration.

Remember that old saying about “putting your brain in gear before engaging your mouth”? That’s really good advice when it comes to either the telephone or the face-to-face job interview. Don’t be lulled in to a false sense of security because you think you have found “your new best friend” in the interviewer. Keeping this in mind will keep you from casting “shadows on the wall,” something that will take your right out of the running for a job—regardless of how well qualified you may be.

_______________________________________

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

Climber’s Catalyst: Social Media Convergence for the Job Seeker

** To View Climber Catalyst offerings and capabilities first-hand register for free HERE

In a challenging economic environment, we often assume that the number of unemployed provides target rich active candidates that are easily assessable. The unexpected complication however reveals a more complex introduction exchange between recruiter and job seeker. The disenfranchised effected by layoffs likewise become disconnected from their corporate brand, corporate emails bounce, corporate numbers become disconnected – often relegating name generation research to a short shelf life. The under employed is likewise an under appreciated statistic within the latest employment discussions and their job title and employer on a social media profile doesn’t provide the complete picture of the availability. Basically, whatever tool of choice you choose to boost your online identity can only be as useful as the up-to-date status of your individual profile and the energies you invest – otherwise it’s about recruiters having to read, ‘between the lines’.

If there is one thing I have tried to convey on my personal blog, SixDegreesfromDave.com is the importance of building an online personal brand. It creates a way for recruiters to find you when they search throughout the major search engines and you are much further ahead still if you investigate and adopt search engine optimization technologies as the vehicle to enhance your searchability online. Even if you are not actively looking, creating a personal brand helps establish you as a leader in your industry. Plus, employees who are recruited for a new job earn 15% more on average compared to those who applied for the job.

Unemployed? Check out the Unemployment Calculator

Climber’s Catalyst approaches the challenges described handedly. It was designed specifically to enhance the recruiter to job seeker, relationship experience through a seamless capability for introductions. It can create instant networks then transition to Linkedin or other social media applications – introducing them to existing targets among college educated professionals within a salary range of $50k to $160k. Though each are subscription based, the similarities with the Ladders, ends there. Climber’s Catalyst provides both employers and candidates with an actual marketing and distribution platform, in addition to SalesForce Automation Software to support its backend aspects.

Climber’s Catalyst utilizes a sales-oriented approach to track source destinations, and to market prospects to potential recruiters to gain momentum in their career journey. It provides a workable technology solution similar to the metric aspects commonly associated as strengths of a CRM. Staffing organizations can access the ratio of how best to qualify process aspects; i.e., how many actual leads to connection to the pivot point of an actual resume sent, to the number of interviews established to accomplish an actual hire.

Catalyst is built upon a modular platform which allows organizations to instantly connect, in a very targeted, precise manner and it can do so, ‘socially’ all from one place. Recruiters can access Catalyst’s Resume Center –whereas Job Seekers can modify their existing resume to fit a particular job opening. With an enterprise account, if 5 or more recruiters from a corporate brand are interested, Catalyst can build them a free micro-site, with video etc to brand the employer experience.

A Unique, Corporate Branded, Social Integration Like No Other

Through Catalyst’s distribution network, jobs are viewed by 27 million unique visitors a month. The Network directs traffic to over 330 distributed, search optimized job sites. Recruiters can SEO their own individual profiles across the major search engines with a consistent, corporate branded experience. Furthermore, Catalyst offers the unique extras that are unmatched in this arena, with search optimized, branded video housed on-site that can likewise be distributed to across social media networks or shared anonymously. Multiple twitter feeds can be fed, as well as LinkedIn profiles with auto-update/auto-tweet. Moreover, catalyst offers candidate feeds/job tweets with dynamic content easily accessible for a user friendly , eye catching experience.

Climber’s Catalyst offers 3 types of distribution networks:

(1) narrow – Company XY wants java programmers for example, a corporate recruiter can click and immediately distribute within their network to attract referrals;
(2) industry oriented – say for example, nurses in Denver, or all healthcare at once within an associated in geographic area;
(3) geographic radius specific – within a 50 mile radius, or broader.

A recruiter or a candidate can import their Linkedin network or specific individuals to heighten the effectiveness of their efforts and create targeted emails which can reach up to 5,000 people at a time.

A One Click, One Stop Jobs connector on Linkedin and Throughout

The tactics to the networking strategy are maximized with Catalyst’s click frequency of auto posting to multiple LinkedIn and twitter accounts; to include auto hash tags and even a tiny url. It creates a focused way to harness social media with click through metrics provided that pin point effectively to your featured jobs. The platform allows auto access to your network email enhancing the number of successful candidate opt-in’s. A recruiter can even advertise within your LinkedIn profile – advertising jobs, and an open invite to ‘connect with Climber’s Catalyst profiles to redirect interested applicants.

The job feeds are likewise easily reconfigured by importance in real-time; a recruiter can rotate jobs up or down according to their individual priority. The widget capability can even be made available to niche blogs, and just as easily updated hourly to highlight your jobs.

Export your LinkedIn Network and Import it into Climber.com Catalyst


I will continue to keep you informed as Climber Catalyst and their broader suite of products evolve. Their intriguing use of social media tells as much about how technologies are providing job seekers another look. To put it simply, matching you with companies whose company DNA aligns well with your Career Fingerprint™ is the road best traveled in finding the perfect job waiting for you!

View Climber Gallery for Screen Shots

Resume Carousel: Resume Generator, Resume Templates & Resumes

*** For more articles, visit SixDegreesfromDave.com

** Make sure to take advantage of the free registration at Climber Catalyst, for job seeker and recruiters alike to experience its capabilities first-hand: HERE

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!

________________________________________

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

The Job Seeker Experience Survey: What should a Candidate Reasonably ‘Expect’ from an Employer?

The Link: http://bit.ly/d78aSW

My friends, Gerry Crispin alerted me to the work of an Intern to Shaker Consulting group in Cleveland, Ohio a few weeks ago. Joe Murphy, a principal of that firm.

Shaker Consulting Group developed an excellent survey of 29 questions that delves into the details of what a candidate might reasonably ‘expect’ from an employer.

The results will be public and not sold nor used for marketing. They have about 200 responses but the ‘n’ is too small given the various ways they want to cut the data and getting to jobseekers is not a trivial task.

I find the cause to be a good one and anything we can do to assist the job seeker experience is incumbent upon us to try and to pass the word as widely as possible.

Please take this job application process survey and tweet about it to spread the word: http://bit.ly/d78aSW

TWEET:

@davemendoza Applying for a job online? Please take this job application process survey: http://bit.ly/d78aSW Via @GerryCrispin

How You Can Make ‘Voice Mail’ Work FOR You!

Skip Freeman

By

Skip Freeman

One of the most frustrating, most pervasive systems virtually every business employs today is the ubiquitous “voice mail” system. It has literally become the contemporary equivalent of the traditional real-life “gate-keeper.” Its primary purpose is not to implement better communications; it’s primary purpose is to keep “outsiders” at bay! (Unless, of course, the business you are calling is trying to sell you something!)

Nonetheless, with all its warts and multitudes of detractors, I believe it is safe to say that voice mail is here to stay, so we will just have to learn to deal with it. As a matter of fact (and I am confident that this won’t come as a shock to many of you reading this!), eight out of ten calls to a business today will automatically go to “voice mail.”

So, what does this mean for you when you are telephone prospecting? Certainly, it makes prospecting more difficult and more challenging. It should not, however, dissuade you from continuing to do the all-important telephone prospecting during your job search.

I’m not a big fan of leaving voice mail messages when telephone prospecting because you actually want to talk to the person. If you don’t leave a voice mail message, you can still keep calling back. You are in control. Once you leave a message, you have put the recipient in control. Still, I am a realist and recognize that, sometimes at least, you may feel that you simply have to leave a voice mail message, if you are ever to have a chance to connect with the “real” person you’re trying to reach.

Assuming, then, that you do decide to leave a voice mail message, one of the approaches I have found that results in a call back about half the time is called the “advice” or “project” message. Here is the suggested script for such a message:

“Bob, this is Skip Freeman. My phone number is 678-123-4567. I am working on a project that I would really like to get your opinion and advice on. I will be in my office all day today, April 27th. Again, Skip Freeman. 678-123-4567.”

Another message that often works is the “referral” message:

“Bob, this is Skip Freeman. My phone number is 678-123-4567. Jim Rogers suggested that you and I should visit soon. I will be in the office all day today, April 27th. Again, Skip Freeman, 678-123-4567.”

Do these approaches work all of the time, on virtually every hiring manager? Of course not. Nothing works every time, all the time. But they do work often enough to at least consider using them.

Some key considerations to keep in mind if you do decide to leave voice mail messages during your telephone prospecting:

• Keep your message short and simple.
• Leave your name and telephone number at the beginning and end of the message.
• Clearly state the purpose of your call without “giving everything away”!
• Never leave more that THREE voice mails for any hiring manager. (Leaving more doesn’t make you look “aggressive” and assertive,” it makes you look like a pest!)

Obviously, there is nothing “magic” in these approaches to leaving voice mail messages when you must. But if you choose to leave a rambling, nonsensical voice mail message, you may as well not even waste your time. To be sure, you shouldn’t reasonably expect any response from a hiring manager if you do leave such voice mail messages.

___________________________________________

Skip Freeman, professional “headhunter” and 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

The ‘TOP 10’ Mistakes EMPLOYED People Are Making Today

By

Skip Freeman

Skip Freeman

Chances are, if you are currently employed, you probably think there is little, if any, reason you should even be thinking about finding another job. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. With companies shedding jobs virtually every day, no one is “safe” in today’s BRUTAL job market, and that certainly includes those who are currently employed.

Based upon years of experience, as well as what I see in the job market each and every day, here are the “Top Ten” mistakes employed people are making today:

MISTAKE #1 — Not realizing that the best time to find your next job is while you still have a job. In today’s economic environment, many employed people are overworked, haven’t had a decent pay raise recently, have not been able to take vacation, are “furloughed,” (or soon to be), etc. Understandably, there is a huge pent up level of dissatisfaction in the work place and it’s growing worse by the day. A recent survey by Robert Half, for example, indicates that 58% of the work force plans on making a career change as soon as the economy gets better. (That number goes to 79% in the 18- to 35-year old category).

What does all of this mean? It means that as soon as the economy does in fact get better—and it will, eventually—the number of people competing for openings will double and, whether it is fair or not and whether one likes it or not, currently employed people will have an edge over unemployed people.

So, if you are dissatisfied at work, NOW is the time to begin to ramp up your job search activities before everyone else does.

MISTAKE #2 — Believing that a company will be loyal to you. Loyalty is gone, if it ever did honestly exist. If a company has a choice to keep you or cut you, they will do what is in the company’s best interest, not yours. If you can bring a return to them that is worth more than your cost, they may keep you. If they believe you cost them more than you are worth, they likely will let you go. They don’t care if you are on the unemployment line. They don’t care if you and your family will have health insurance. They don’t care if you can feed, clothe and house your family. So, your keeping an eye open for better opportunity is no different from the company keeping an eye on its bottom line and determining every month whether you are worth it to them to keep you on the payroll.

MISTAKE #3 — Not keeping an updated resume handy. When I was in graduate school, one of my professors said that there are at least four things you always need to have readily available: (1) A certified copy of your birth certificate; (2) a certified copy of your grade transcripts; (3) a copy of your marriage license (if applicable); AND (4) a copy of your updated resume. When you get that call from a recruiter or the perfect opportunity avails itself, you don’t want to be delayed by having to craft your resume from scratch. Here, 20 years later, I know from experience that he was right.

MISTAKE #4 — Not creating (and updating) your LinkedIn profile. This is a must for any professional. (And, by the way, make sure your LinkedIn profile and a resume profile are the same.)

MISTAKE #5 — Failing to align yourself with an excellent recruiter within your niche. Good recruiters become career coaches and finding one is a lot like finding a good doctor, lawyer or accountant. You may have to work with several before you find one that gels with your needs and personality. Once you do, stay in touch. You don’t use recruiters everyday, just as you don’t go to a lawyer everyday (at least I hope not!), but develop a relationship with one so that when you do need them, they are there to help you.

MISTAKE #6 — Failing to stay involved within your industry or professional specialty. The more contacts you have within your industry or profession, the better. These contacts can literally spell the difference between quickly “landing on your feet” following a job loss or not.

MISTAKE #7 — Failing to develop (and keep updated) your personal marketing portfolio. This portfolio should contain the “highlights” of your professional accomplishments, e.g., promotions, contributions to current or past employers, awards received, professional organizations that you’re associated with or have made contributions to and so forth.

MISTAKE #8 — Failing to ensure that you can be easily found, i.e., making sure that your personal and professional contact information (home and business telephone numbers, cell phone numbers, email addresses) are current and constantly monitored.

MISTAKE #9 — Failing to learn how to network properly and then participating in appropriate networks on a continual basis. Remember, the time to begin networking is not right after losing a job. It should be an ongoing process—whether or not you are satisfied with your current position.

MISTAKE #10 — If offered a new position with another company, you even think about entertaining any “counter offer” your current employer may offer you. To do so usually is tantamount to “career suicide.” Why? From the moment you submit your resignation you will forever be considered to be “disloyal” to your current employer, a “traitor.” While the company may appear to be “buying” your continued services with their counter offer, in fact, all they really are doing is buying “time” until they ultimately can replace you with someone who is more “loyal” to the company.

If you are currently employed, how many of these “mistakes” are you making? Remember, the Boy Scouts have a great motto: Be Prepared! Certainly, if you want to survive in today’s “challenging” (to put it mildly!) job market, that’s what you should be.

____________________________________________

Skip Freeman, “headhunter” and 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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