April 24, 2012

Open Mic: What’s your problem?

Filed under: Q&A, Readers' Forum

Every week in the Ask The Headhunter Newsletter I answer one question from a reader in the traditional Q&A format. From time to time, we have an “open mic,” where you pose the questions on the fly here on the blog.

This week, I will do my best to answer any and all questions you post. As always, I welcome everyone to contribute their best advice to the questions, and to add their comments to the discussion. The more input, the better!

  • Lost your job and don’t know how to start hunting for a new one?
  • The employer wants you to do a stress interview?
  • Wondering how to deal with a headhunter who just called you?
  • They want your salary history, but you don’t want to share it?
  • Your company posted a job and you got 5,000 applicants. What now?
  • The manager made you a good offer, but HR just called to rescind it?
  • What’s your problem? Please post it and we’ll tackle it.

(You don’t have to include any identifying information.)

I’ve answered over 30,000 questions from Ask The Headhunter readers since 1995. This week I’ll answer as many as you post — and I’m sure you’ll get lots more great advice and commentary from the rest of our community. So… please ask away!

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69 Comments on “Open Mic: What’s your problem?”
By em
April 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

What is the best way to handle a panel interview?

By Newell Rambo
April 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

It appears I am to old an Architect / Interior Designer?

Laid off June 2009 with only two interviews since.

First interview was with my past employer.

The other interview was from a large firm who was just “fishing” for a “Super Hero”… Someone who was the lead designer of a 40 plus story Concrete Multi-Family Project including Lead Construction Administrator during the construction, Design / Build. (Not many people can fill that entire bill!

By HP
April 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I been on several interviews and afterwards there is no response. I could understand a “NO” you are not a good fit, but I don’t understand this complete lack of a response. Is common courtesy out?

By Mike T
April 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I was let go September 2008 (a week before the economy really hit the skids). Despite intensive efforts I have not been able to land a position in my field. I have had to take non-professional positions out of my field to help pay bills and maintain my sanity. I am still looking for a roll where I can apply my considerable experience and am still getting occasional interviews. My resume shows that I’ve done consulting for a non profit since 2009 (although,very part time). How do I address the question “what have you been doing”. Do I admit that I’ve taken work outside my profession? I was making well over 100K and am having difficulty getting back into the field.

By Pete W.
April 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm

So, here’s one for ya: How do you treat an obvious physical handicap when you’re off to an interview? I ask this because I’m legally blind, but didn’t don the white cane/dark glasses look until I took my current position. And, while I’m not looking, I’m curios as to the best way to handle that when you walk through the door. It’s perplexing, because while legally your handicap isn’t mentioned and can’t be used prejudicially, realistically you know that people are aware of it, duh. How do you get that 500lb gorilla out of the room tactfully (and without breaking the rules of engagement), so the focus can be on your competency and fitness for the position?

By Dan
April 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I previously worked for a large clinic. I left that role after discussions with the manager that I no longer met the job requirements. I am rehirable at the company though. how best can I compete against others for positions there? What might a company keep in your records and can hiring managers see that?

By Edward
April 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I am a new product development guy and I had 3 headhunters submit my background to more than 3 different potential employers. There was some interest but not enough to call me in for an interview. what the headhunter(s) said their clients are looking to manufacture existing stuff and selecting people who did it in the recient past, and it would be a stretch for my background to qualify even though I think I am qualified given the job description provided. Given your vantage point, do you see a trend away from new designs or is this a coincidence ?

By Gari
April 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Two questions: 1. What would you make of an company interviewing you for position when they are not sure of the location of the actual job? I had an interview TODAY where I could either be working in their office OR the clients office. Their office is a 20 minute drive. The client is an hour and a half + metro commute. They said they would only consider me if I could commit now to the the long commute. I said no.

2. Should you ever volunteer some of the information that they are not allowed to ask….like that you have small children (which might mean that you will have to get time off for sick kids etc) or are married?

By George R. Goffe
April 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I was laid off about two months ago but have been unemployed before. I had a heck of a time finding work then and the pattern is starting to repeat itself. I’m beginning to feel paranoid. Is there a blacklist? How do you find out? How can you check for the presence of your name?

By Gari
April 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

To HP – yes. Common courtesy is out. don’t expect it. ever. if they want you, they’ll call you. if not, they won’t.

By Steve G
April 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I like the idea of not disclosing salary to a potential new employer. What, if anything, can you do if the employer asks you to complete an online application. Some employers make the salary a required field.

By Tony
April 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Here’s one. This Thursday afternoon, I have a telephone interview scheduled for an internal job I applied for.
The interview is only scheduled for about 15 minutes. I surmise it is a pre-qualifying step. But maybe not.
So my question to all of you is:
What questions would you ask a candidate in a 15 minute phone interview that is going to demonstrate to you that the person is a good fit for the job in question?

By Mike
April 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Hi Nick,

Can you give suggestions on how to find skilled workers like welders and machine operators? I like your ideas of not posting ads and instead going out and identifying top performers, but for many positions that we need, there aren’t associations or online groups. Any suggestions you may have would be appreciated.

By Linda
April 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

How assertive should one be beyond follow up calls and e-mails to get feedback after this scenario when you’re applying for a sales position: Company pursues you, you have successful interviews on phone and in person with recruiter, hiring manager and their boss. You get very excited about the company & the position. You ask for the order (the job) and they are affirmative both in person and in writing that an offer letter will be extended shortly and then…they go dark. A few requests for a conversation go do not yield any response. Have grown accustomed to this hunt and how ineffective companies can be with their lack of communication/acknowledgement but how do you hold this type of situation and move forward? What should my final e-mail include?

By Paul
April 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Nick:
I have had jobs where I stayed for less than 1 or 2 years. Some of the reasons have been: tired of a 3 hour commute, bad fit with a boss and was fired or left.
Obviously a potential employer see “job hopping” and this creates a red flag. I may want to return to this industry: agriculture/food production.

What can I do to best sell myself? I am in my early 50’s.

Thanks Nick.

By Donna
April 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Hi,Nick,
I am currently job hunting and have seen a few online applications requesting social security number; in most cases it is a required field. At first I filled it in, but now I have decided not to. If it is a required field I forgo the job application. I know they could not ask for SS # until they have made an offer; why are so many laws being broken in the employment process? How you you recommend handling the SS # request?

By Jamie
April 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm

How do you network your way into a job when financial hardship makes it so that one needs a job right away and there is no time to build a network into a preferred employer?

By Ana
April 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I am in software and like the work that I am doing . It is intellectually challenging. However, the company is not growing and has been pretty much the same size for the last 5 years and consequently no career and salary growth. I am not learning management skills and feel that I wont be able to get a higher-paid job. What should I do?

By Amy
April 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

How do you compete against foreign employees? Is is all my employer hires for its IT/IS departments and from what I’ve seen, a common trend everywhere. How do I take my 4 yr IT degree and get my foot in the door somewhere to get experience? I thought going back and finishing school would open more doors for me and enable to make more than 25K per year. Instead all its done is created a lot of debt. I am stuck in a miserable dead end job and it is very depressing and discouraging that I can’t leave and have to tolerate the bullying and bs at work. HR has even tried to get me to leave and take a lesser paying non IT job with a failing company we own. They also told me that I had committed career suicide by staying in this job so long. I need some advice & some hope!

By LabRat
April 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm

How to say I want to leave my current job?

Hey Nick,
Though I’m currently employed I’m fortunate enough to land an another job. I’m currently working in a reputed R&D company but want to leave this job (my reasons are below). But, I’m having trouble to convey to my current manager or department head (hereafter ‘head’) that I want to leave without burning the bridges.

My manager and ‘head’ has issues between them even before I joined my current position. This is because, when they worked together my manager was not given appropriate recognition and ‘head’ claimed that she did everything though my manager basically did all the work in couple of projects. Because of this and other issues between them, I was told not to discuss with ‘head’ without informing my manager and forced to work independently. Though I’ve no problem working independently I hate the idea of not able to discuss reasonable technical issues (which are new to me) with the ‘head’ . Actually ‘head’ is very experienced (about 25 years) and knows pretty much all the stuff and I’ve to say that unfortunately my boss is not able to solve the problem by herself. So, every time I discuss with ‘head’ I was chided for doing so. I literally hated this proxy war between them and with no surprise my project is currently suffering.

I got fed up and I decided to look for a job. Fortunately, I found a permanent job in a another company and will be starting my work in couple of months. However, I haven’t informed my current manager or the ‘head’ about this new position. This is anyway a temporary research position but I feel that the atmosphere is not conducive for R&D work. To be honest I love working with people with different backgrounds and I was most successful doing so couple of years back. This current situation is mentally draining and honestly I couldn’t concentrate on my research. Sorry for long post, but I need your guidance here. How long before should I inform them that I want to leave?

Thanks
LabRat

By jeff
April 24, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I have been unemployed since jan 2011. I am 60 years old. I’m beginning to think I will never work again. I mean in the way I’ve grown accustomed to doing. Decent enough salary. Monday-Friday, etc. I think as soon as a prospective employer gets a load of me in an interview, and I’ve had very few, he probably thinks thinks I’m too old and will want to retire soon so why invest in me? I understand this position, but it’s pretty depressing.

By Anthony Romo
April 25, 2012 at 6:50 am

I’m having a difficult time making the transition from an IT background to Sales within the company I’ve been with for four years. It’s a Biomedical company, I’ve troubleshot the device we manufacture since I started the company but for some reason I get no responses from the hiring managers when I email them. What can I do?

By Todd
April 25, 2012 at 8:57 am

I’ve been able to do a very wide range of unusual projects. . . but they do not seem to add up to one specific, singular career.

This makes it difficult for any HR person to fit my peg into the right hole.

I am competent and experienced in many things, but cannot seem to sell these abilities.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:01 am

@em: Panel interviews aren’t much fun when they are heavily scripted by the employer. I like casual meetings with a group. If you’re in the former, I suggest hunkering down and just answering their questions politely as best you can. But I think the real solution at some point during the meeting is to ask if you’d be permitted to outline your understanding of the work, and your plan to do it. The point is to set yourself apart and to be memorable. If they’re smart, they’ll see the value.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:03 am

@Newell: This may be useful if you’re worried about your age:
http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/harocknroll.htm

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

@HP: Yes, common courtesy is out at many companies. They solicit more resumes and applicants than they can process, so they create the problem themselves. Then they tarnish their reps by behaving like pigs. We’ve discussed it:
http://corcodilos.com/blog/3761/rude-employers-slam-bam-thank-you-mam

By Skuldrick
April 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

I’m a web technology jack-of-all-trades who is strong at assessing problems and finding the solutions, by researching, contracting, or building them myself as needed. I have extensive experience as a solutions architect for a few companies, helping them to grow/modernize their web and mobile outreach – I’m really suited to startups, nonprofits, or other or growing companies that need outward-facing tech expertise. I’m fortunate to be currently employed by a good company that uses me for my strengths, but doesn’t pay quite what I feel I should be making in today’s tech-heavy economy. I’ve been contacted by a couple of headhunters who were intrigued, but had difficulty finding a fit for me – most companies out there want someone with the typical 3-5 years programming in a single language on standard applications, which is not me – I have a much more diverse background and my strength is that I am NOT so inculcated in any one tech track – I’m better able to view and use a variety of tools. How can I communicate that to headhunters, or help them to communicate it to potential employers? Better yet, how can I find headhunters that would recognize my skil set and know where it would fit best?

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

@Mike T: Sorry to hear it’s been so long. You have to take the work you can get if survival is the issue. Remember that the manager interviewing you may have had a recent experience similar to yours. The point is to get in the door ahead of your competition, through a personal referral. This is a lot of work, but so it slogging through the postings and waiting for your resume to “work.” I cover this extensively in “How Can I Change Careers?”, which isn’t just for career changers. It teaches how to get in the door via referrals.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:09 am

@Pete W: This is a matter of personal choice. How you handle it should fit in with your personality and style. If it were me, I’d bring it up almost immediately, in the context of, “I’m legally blind but I’m very good at XYZ,” whatever XYZ happens to be for you. Put the employer at ease. This isn’t about legalities. It’s about people taking down barriers so they can talk candidly. I’ll tell you what I tell everyone: This isn’t about where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or even who you are. It’s about what you can do to make the other guy’s business more successful. Get the other issues out of the way quickly and candidly — then focus immediately on how you will do the work profitably. I wish you the best.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:11 am

@Dan: I think one of your biggest advantages is that you know people back at the old company. Including your old boss. Reach out to them. Mention the jobs you want, and ask their advice – NOT their help. Let them talk. Then ask if they’d be willing to introduce you to the hiring manager for a quick talk on the phone or in person. Or make a visit back to the company to see those old buddies — and ask them to walk you over to the manager you want to work for. Make it casual. Such an introduction makes the interview much more personal. You become the “insider.”

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

@Edward: Most headhunters are lazy, as are hiring managers. They want someone who matches the job description 100%. They figure it’s an employer’s market, and there are tons of job hunters, so wait for Mr. 100% Right. But that’s stupid. As you point out, you can probably do the work with a bit of learning curve. It’s up to you to prove that up front, or these boneheads will just go to the next candidate. Before you give a headhunter your resume, ask for a clear description of what the employer needs done. Not the job description itself, but the actual work. What does the employer want the new hire to produce in the first month or two? Then outline how you’d do it — on one page. Tell the headhunter to give that to the employer along with your resume. “I want to help you close this deal as fast as possible. This added sheet will show your client how I will do the job.”

So it’s up to you to figure it out in advance. Because the employer won’t. Figure it out, and explain it. My guess is you can do the work. They just don’t know it yet because they think Mr. 100% Right is next in line… But he’s not.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:18 am

@Gari: I think you did the right thing on #1. The company is having a hard time finding someone who will do the commute, so they may be using the local job as bait to get applicants.

On #2, I would not disclose that information. It won’t help you land the job. Once you’re hired, the company must respect the law about the issues you mentioned.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:20 am

@George R. Goffe: If you’re worried someone is sliming you, I suggest you talk with a friend who is also a manager somewhere. All you need is a manager to call your old employers to check your references. This might sound like a ruse, but I think it’s legit as long as the caller isn’t lying. Are your old employers badmouthing you? Find out.

As for a blacklist, the only time I’ve encountered something like this is when HR people use their “back channels” to check people out. One HR person will call another and ask off the record whether they know anything about you. There’s not much you can do about this without evidence and a lawyer.

This is why it’s crucial to approach companies via personal referrals — people who will urge the employer to meet you because they vouch for you.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:23 am

@Steve G: I discuss this from all directions in my PDF book, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps.” See the sidebar at right for info and a link.

About all you can do with those forms is enter all 9’s, and make it clear you’re not fibbing. Later in the form, if there’s a comment field, explain that you don’t disclose your past salary on forms because it’s confidential. The book explains more about how to take that strong position.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

@Tony: Sorry I missed your deadline. I’d ask a candidate if he or she is ready to come to my office and outline how they’d do the job profitably for me.

As the candidate, I’d tell the manager that you’d like to meet so you can do exactly that — outline your plan for how you’d do the job. Of course, you’ll need some info from the manager first… so be ready with some very good, brief questions.

The “phoner” has one purpose: To entice the employer to do a live meeting. Talk shop. That’s all that matters.

By Chelsi
April 25, 2012 at 9:46 am

What is the best way to handle a disability when job hunting? I have had problems for years with anxiety and stress which has caused problems with retaining jobs. I was recently diagnosed with PTSD which explains a lot. I am worried about disclosing that diagnosis up front, but concerned that if I do not disclose it up front and then have problems due to stress in the workplace that will cause problems too.

By Larry L.
April 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Nick, this is such a great website with so many different situations expressed out loud for others to contemplate.

Regarding Amy and foreign workers – Amy, you need to find an IT job where you’re front and center in front of customers. Foreign workers cannot pound the pavement in the U.S. It should also be noted that many of the IT jobs are coming back on shore because of poor execution on the part of the companies pushing out U.S. based IT workers.

By Paul W.
April 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Nick, your timing is perfect, thanks you!

I found out today that the small company I’ve worked for as controller/CFO for 26+ years is closing down, probably in the next month. Last time I had to job hunt was 1974. I’m 56 now, got an MBA five years ago. I’ve read lots of job-hunting, self-help articles about the steps to take to find a position & clean up your resume & ace the interview and so on, but at this point it’s all theory and blah-blah-blah. When it comes right down to doing something specific and detailed today in the face of impending panic and financial disaster, where do you even start?

Put another way, if I had the engine blow out on my car, while I (in theory) am plenty competent and capable of learning to repair or replace that engine, in fact I know that I’m vastly inexperienced in that field with little talent for that task, so I would just take the problem to a mechanic who’s an expert and have him fix it for me.

So now that I’ve had the engine blow out of my career, while I (in theory) am plenty competent and capable of learning all of the job hunting, resume writing, interviewing skills that I need, in fact I know that I’m vastly inexperienced in that field with little talent for that task — so why can’t I just take the problem to someone who’s an expert and have them fix it for me?

By Robert
April 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Thanks for the opportunity , Nick!
Is there a “Best” way to handle the question as to why you are leaving your current position. I m anot going to bash my current employer, and the new position is somewhat of a lateral move so it is not necessarily a better opportunity, not is it a step down.
Thanks very much!

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm

@Mike: I’ve never done a search for welders or machine operators, but I’d find out where they hang out and go there. Think about it. Are there training and certification programs they take? Talk to the instructors, or sign up for a course yourself.

Is there a company in your area that employs a lot of folks like this? Where do they go for lunch? Beers? Go hang out there. It may take a bit of time, but it can be a good investment. Sometimes you have to eavesdrop on conversations at the bar… :-) and then stop by and say hi.

Where do they buy their supplies? Their tools? Their work clothes? Go ask those vendors who they sell to. Ask who they’d recommend.

Hit small shops in the area that employ welders and machine operators. Ask them who they’ve hired in the past that no longer works there. Ask if those are good workers. Try to track them down. (Small shops may not be your competitors, and they don’t have many such people on the job — but they probably know more than they need. It can be a good referral.)

Those are just some ideas. These are all active methods — you have to go find them. This has nothing to do with ads.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm

@Linda: So the sales bosses are not responding after they tell you they want to hire you. Here’s what to do. Figure out who their biggest competitor is — let’s call it Company X.

At the company you’re waiting to hear from, leave a voicemail for the top sales boss that told you they wanted to hire you. Don’t even mention your interviews. Leave this message: “Hi, Mary. I wanted to ask you about Company X. I’m trying to assess how good their sales management is, what they’re like to work for. Could you please give me a call? Of course, I’ll keep this in strictest confidence.”

Don’t say anything more. Let Mary figure it out. She’ll assume you’re considering a job at Company X — her competitor. And she’ll realize that if she isn’t going to hire you, she’s going to have to deal with you anyway — as a competitor. If she’s serious about hiring you, the call might get her off the dime.

Is this sneaky? Heck, no. It’s a good question to ask. If Mary can’t get off the dime, you should be talking to her biggest competitor anyway.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

@Paul: Sounds like you have a history of picking the wrong employers and taking jobs for the wrong reasons. That reflects your judgment, and you’ve created a problem. You need top-quality references who will speak up for you. And you need to get in the door with an employer via someone who will vouch for you. Both are tall orders, but I think it’s the best way to overcome objections to your problem. There’s nothing easy about this. You have to earn your way back in after leaving an unflattering wake in the industry. Only respected people in the field can do this for you.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm

@Donna: You’ve already figured this out. Don’t provide your SS#. It’s none of their business. Or fill it in with all 9’s or any one number, to make it clear you’re not fibbing. Elsewhere on the app, note that you don’t disclose your SS# prior to employment. Let any company that’s unhappy with that take a hike.

Employers ask for this info because most people provide it. If everyone would just stop, employers would stop, too. That’s why my friend is right when he says 80% of all people are cows. They are easily herded around. Don’t be a cow: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/crocs19cows.htm

The real point here is, don’t apply for jobs through online forms. Apply through human beings who respect you. That means there are a lot of companies to ignore.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm

@Jamie:

**How do you network your way into a job when financial hardship makes it so that one needs a job right away and there is no time to build a network into a preferred employer?**

You don’t. There is no magic. Do yourself a favor: Start building your network now anway. In two years, you’ll be glad you did.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

@Ana: Please read this: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/hawall.htm

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm

@Amy: This is a question that requires a lot more info before I could advise you. It’s all about figuring out which kinds of work make employers hire IT workers whose ability to learn and evolve quickly — rather than people who have one specific skill du jour. In other words, you must figure out which jobs require talent rather than commodity workers. I suggest you start researching the IT field in depth. Start with Computerworld and related publications.

[Please see Larry L's suggestions -- some good ideas!]

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm

@LabRat: You’re dealing with two people who are unlikely to be helpful to you in the future. Neither knows how to manage or treat employees. I admire your desire to leave without burning bridges — and you don’t have to burn them. But in a year or two, I think you’ll find those bridges collapsed on their own.

Check this article:
http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/haresign.htm
I think it will help. Move on, and don’t look back. Quickly establish a fine reputation wherever you go and build new relationships that will serve you well later. Stay in touch with people at your old company — the ones you respect. Do them a favor when you can. They’ll be more useful to you than your old manager and “head.”

I wish you the best.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm

@jeff: You might find this article helpful:
http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/harocknroll.htm

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

@Anthony Romo: You need some advocates in sales to help you. Find one or two sales people who know your work on the technical side and who respect you. Take them to lunch. Ask them for advice. Ask them to show you how to parlay your earlier experience into sales savvy. Go out on calls with them. Learn how they work. Then ask them to recommend you to sales management. It takes time to change careers and to build credibility — it’s an investment and it’s a bit painful.

I wrote a whole (short) book about “How Can I Change Careers?” There’s no magic. It’s hard work, but it can pay off handsomely if you take responsibility for making the change.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm

@Todd: Forget about selling your abilities. Nobody hires abilities (regardless of what personnel jockeys tell you!).

Managers hire people who can do the work they need to have done. This means you have to choose what you want to do, figure out what it involves, get ready to do it, and go show a manager how you’ll do it profitably.

You must choose the work, and you must choose the employer. See this article: “Pursue Companies, Not Jobs.” http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/hapursuecos.htm

The mistake people make is that they wait for HR to figure out what to do with them. Which hole to put them in. HR (and most managers) suck at that. YOU must explain it to THEM. And the only way to do that is to learn exactly what a particular job is all about — then show your plan for doing it.

Make sense? It’s unconventional, but only because the employment system is stupid. It tries to fit pegs into holes. My approach requires you to select the hole you want to go into, then to shape yourself correctly, then to show the manager how easily you fit right into that hole. Because he’s not going to do it for you.

You must choose first. Then focus and pursue doggedly.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm

@Skuldrick: Forget about headhunters. They want candidates who fit exactly into the job description a client handed them. That’s not you. You’re not plug-and-play. You’re thinking-on-the-job. That also makes you far more valuable.

I’d start by putting together a business plan for the work you want to do at your current company. Show it to management. Let them see how you believe you can contribute to the bottom line — and propose the position you want that pays what you want. Give them a chance to let you call your own shots.

If you go outside, do it on your own through your professional contacts, but do it the same way. Target carefully — where do you want to go, and what work do you want to do? Produce a plan and put a value on it. That’s what to show an employer. This might involve creating a position for you.

If you can show the employer how your idea for a job will pay off, why wouldn’t he create the job? It’s how new businesses get venture capital. They have to prove their concept up front. Jobs should be the same way.

You have something usual: A brain that solves problems. That’s worth money — but most managers lack the brain that can figure out what to do with you. So you have to tell it to them. :-)

By Nick
April 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

@ Mike – if you’re close to a community college, you can contact the program coordinator in charge of the Welding program who can refer you to his or her graduates who are currently working in the field or to their top ranking students who you can take on as paid co-op students.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm

@Chelsi: Sorry, but I think you need to discuss this with a qualified doctor. I believe it’s best to be honest about anything that would materially affect your ability to do the job you’re being hired for. But this is a medical issue. I can’t advise.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

@Paul W: Before you hire someone who tells you he’s a great mechanic, check this:
http://corcodilos.com/blog/4786/rip-off-edition-whos-trying-to-sell-you-a-job-video

Job hunting is not a health problem for which you go to a doctor, or a car problem that needs a mechanic. I just don’t believe in “job hunting skills.” I think it all boils down to — Are you good at the work you do? If you are, then you can win a good job. Employers don’t pay for job hunting skills. They pay you to get a job done.

Identify the company you want to work for. You must choose.

Study the work you want to do. How will you do it? What’s your plan?

How will you make the work profitable for you and the employer? Plan it out.

Explain it to the employer. That’s it. To get to the employer, you need to meet people who work with the employer — employees, customers, vendors, consultants, etc. They will get you in the door if you ask them for advice and insight.

I just don’t think you can pay anyone to get you a job. Think about it: If you can’t figure this out, why should anyone want to hire you?

By Nick Corcodilos
April 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm

@Robert: I think the best way to explain why you’re leaving your last job is to be honest about it, without dissing anyone. Keep it very brief and move on to talk about how you’re going to help the new employer. Keeping it honest will keep you motivated in the interview. Nothing trashes an interview like fudging answers — it just weakens your presentation. Challenge yourself to say it honestly. (Okay — now someone will point out how this can be disastrous… bring it on!)

By Nick
April 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm

@ Nick and Robert – telling the truth isn’t disastrous . I recently had an interview and the HR person who did the interview totally understood my situation when I told her why I wanted to change jobs. Fortunately, some HR people get it.

By Greg
April 26, 2012 at 7:29 am

@Mike: welders and machine operators

There are professional organizations for welders and machine operators.

The place to begin is make your company a place where these people WANT to work.

Meet your current machinists and welders. Who do they know? How do they recommend tapping the labor pool?

Hold equipment and product demos, workshops, events that will help welders and machinists advance in their careers.

By Greg
April 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

@Nick Corcodilos: be honest about it, without dissing anyone

Practice the answer and be well versed before interview. Very easy to veer into the negative.

“I went as far as I could with my current company” and “My boss is deliberately holding me back” can both be true, but the second would be disastrous.

And move the topic back to the value you bring to the company you are interviewing with.

By Dave
April 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm

@Nick..

‘Most headhunters are lazy, as are hiring managers. They want someone who matches the job description 100%. They figure it’s an employer’s market, and there are tons of job hunters, so wait for Mr. 100% Right. But that’s stupid. As you point out, you can probably do the work with a bit of learning curve. It’s up to you to prove that up front, or these boneheads will just go to the next candidate. Before you give a headhunter your resume, ask for a clear description of what the employer needs done. Not the job description itself, but the actual work. What does the employer want the new hire to produce in the first month or two? Then outline how you’d do it — on one page. Tell the headhunter to give that to the employer along with your resume. “I want to help you close this deal as fast as possible. This added sheet will show your client how I will do the job.”’

I think you are spot on here. :-)

The problem is getting HR/Managers/Recruiters/Head Hunters to buy into this model. As you say, it’s much easier to have a checklist of desired attributes.

By Nick
April 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Is it better to get into a company first so one can work their way into the division he or she wants to work for?

By Nick Corcodilos
April 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm

@Nick (is there an echo in here? ha ha): I think a great way to get the job you want is to get into the company first, in any reasonable job, and move to what you really want from there. This can take time and patience, but it’s up to the individual. How much do you really want the target job? (More Nicks are always better…!)

By Nick
April 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm

@ Nick – echos are great :) I really want that target job so I’m going to go for it (you only live life once). Thanks again for your invaluable help and advice! Everyone appreciates the time you’ve taken out of your day to read and respond to these blog questions; ditto for your email newsletters.

By LabRat
April 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

@Nick – Thanks for the link and suggestions. It helps me a lot. Appreciate your kind time.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

@All: This has been a great series of questions and discussion! Thanks to everyone for posting! If anything I’ve suggested has been useful, I’m glad. I learn far more from all of you than you could possibly learn from me.

By Emjay
April 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Hi Nic ( & all),

Firtly , thanks to Nick – he is one person out there thats truely a ‘purple cow’ – and a breath of fresh air in the job game (lottery).

But here’s my situation – as a tech exec, we moved to Australia 5 yrs ago. (so now I’m an ex-exec)
Ever since, I’ve been unable to find work in my field seemingly due to a combination of ‘scaring them off’ (overqualified)to ‘no Australian experience or referee’s. (What balony, but I can’t change the culture!)

SO what do I do ? I took ‘silly’ work to get by , but that hasn’t helped ’cause I’ve still no top drawer references locally.
And yet, if I apply for middle to base senior level roles, (ie dumb myself down)they’re scared I’m going to get bored/jump ship at the 1st opportunity, so I miss out.(and the local refs I do have now will pidgeon hole me as a low level mgr)

The other day I found a good role in Perth and was called within an hour of applying. But they(HR)were reluctant to set up a video-con for the interview – and they’re an IT MNC. (But they wanted me to fly over despite it being 4000km away). Huh?

I’ve had countless cups of coffee doing face-to-face networking in my area (admittedly its not a big city, but one lives in hope that someone knows someone….), I’ve tried countless variations of my Resume, I’m on LinkedIn, I’ve applied for well over 1000 roles and so far – nada, nix, zip. Seriously, not even an interview.
And despite being very up-front about wanting to re-locate (almost anywhere) it seems noone wants to consider this option seriously.(Oh and to echo one person above, trying to apply for a US job is quite impossible unless you have an S/S number)

And back in Oz, the current cry is “professionals needed”…. “Skills shortage gets worse”.

Seems to me that with an oversupply of people, it’s mostly a case of cut risk & employ known people ie jobs for mates.
And I think people like me simply carry too much uncertainty & risk for recruiters & HR alike – despite ‘stellar’ career credentials in 2 other continents a long time ago …

So my question is, short of crawling into a hole and hibernating, what else can I do to break this unbelievable logjam? WIth many past contacts having moved on, Co’s changed or gone broke & I not havingBill Gates on my speed dial it all seems like mission impossible( Oh, I did try sending Bill a birthday card, but he chose not to reply personally. Its true!)

So to Nick (and anyone else for that matter), please believe me when I say I’m really , really listening when it comes to a new strategy!

By Greg
April 30, 2012 at 6:56 am

@Emjay: It sounds like a time for this…

By Nick Corcodilos: I think a great way to get the job you want is to get into the company first, in any reasonable job, and move to what you really want from there. This can take time and patience, but it’s up to the individual. How much do you really want the target job?

By rmr
May 2, 2012 at 11:52 am

Thought the ATH readership might enjoy this mini-rant about unqualified recruiters “evaluating” technical and IT people:

http://www.recruitinginferno.com/2012/05/01/why-most-recruiters-suck-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/

By dave
December 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I was fired in January of 2013 for having a bad drug test. I went to work at a different company. I started February 4 2013. On October 31st my current employers company was purchased by my previous one. I was told I was being laid off. I am on the no rehire list there. It has been 8 weeks of job searching and I have yet to find employment. I filed for unemployment and have not received any benefits. I contacted unemployment and was told it was still under review due to the employer stating I was fired. Will I get my unemployment and if so when?

By Nick Corcodilos
December 28, 2013 at 12:33 am

@dave: Sorry, I can’t advise you on your state’s unemployment rules. But it seems to me the “new” employer would have a whole lot of ‘splaining to do about why it fired you after you were on the job 8 months without a problem. I hope you’re given a chance to tell your side of this in writing.

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