Wednesday, April 1, 2009

They know your salary history

I spoke today to a client who is probably about to get  an offer after a very good interview. They're calling his references. BUT...he's concerned that since they know his salary history (he had to fill out their standard application for the face to face meeting) that they'll cave because he's too expensive in this recessionary economy.

He wanted my advice on how he could let them know they could have him cheaper without looking desperate. Well, if they're calling his references, they can't be so dumb to have ignored the application with his last salary. All he has to do is trust that if he gets an offer, either they'll meet or beat his last salary or if they want to offer him less, they will. The last thing to do is interfere when the ball is already rolling in your direction.

The desperation of fear can pervade the thinking of so many in the job market. Make no assumptions unless you have hard evidence. There are many strong companies who know they have to pay for true talent. If you're one of them, relax until you're back in the hot seat.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Keith Keller - Career Coach, BLOG TALK RADIO Presenter & Online Job Search Specialist

Well, here is an unabashed plug for my friends, Keith Keller and his partner Annemarie Cross in Australia. His broadcasts are at 8 AM from Melbourne Australia's time zone and 6 PM eastern time in the US, Sunday evenings (Monday mornings in his part of the world).

It's called Career Communique Radio and they talk about finding real meaning and purpose in your work. They interviewed me live in Boston from Australia and he got emails back from other Bostonians.

To listen to next week's show, go to

You might even understand their speech. It's charming and not at all hard. They're good people with good advice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hydra of a Good Job Campaign

A hydra is a water animal that if cut into pieces, each section regenerates into a whole new animal. Humans are like hydras. How?

There is so much time and talent wasted on going only the direct route to job finding that we lose sight of the whole animal we are. We see ourselves as "cogs" to be plugged in somewhere to keep paying the bills, to keep the wheels spinning. Even worse is that the old job title, the skilled function we've practiced for so many years becomes our identity. Now it's serious.

Today more than ever we are invited to have portfolio careers. And it's about time. We're living longer and like hydras, there are whole parts of us that can be pressed into service, and the benefits are way beyond imaginable. We don't quite have to reinvent ourselves,  just our personal marketing. The talent has always been there. 

Most of us were born with multiple gifts, but pushed into silos, funnels of productivity to meet the needs of an adult life. What we haven't noticed is how those external needs change and how much we have to offer,  all stuffed into our subconscious, to meet those needs. This economic disaster is a great awakening. We don't have to stuff our natural gifts. We have to use them to pay the bills. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Practice Interviews

I've heard people say many times over the years: I'm not interested in this job, but I'll take the interview just for the practice.

Why the charade? Interviews are serious face time between people. Scoring an actual interview with a hiring manager is a feather in your cap. Keep it real. If the commute for you would be 75 miles each way and you know you'd burn out in six months, don't fool yourself or tease the interviewer with your game. There's no such thing as a practice interview (except with a career coach). People see right through it and if they don't and make you an offer, you've wasted their time. The employment relationship is one of trust, or it certainly can be that way if you want it.

Don't practice with real interviews. Know what you want; it's easier to sell yourself when you're sincere.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Taking what you don't want

Don't do that! One of my candidates was thrilled to have an interview at a company only a few miles from his home, and the telephone screening had gone quite well, and the hiring manager was anxious to meet him, and he even had signaled my friend was highly qualified and could be a good fit.

But.... something else happened. The actual interview. The hiring manager would not shake his hand. He was a nice guy, but maybe he had a germ thing! Then my friend found out there had been high turnover in the area for which he could be hired. Then there were the hours: this is a 24/7 shop and there's a need to be on call. Remember Hillary's 3 AM commercial? My friend might not be that cool.

This talented candidate was disappointed with this interview. He's also afraid to turn down an offer if it comes in, but when he considers all the bombs that dropped during the interview, it doesn't look at all like a good fit.

Recession or not: don't grab at hell just for the dollar. At least put off a decision while you cultivate other potential offers. My friend knows he could be miserable and he and I both know that fear of scarcity is behind his rationalizing an acceptance. You're still you. Do all that you can to be authentic to your basic values and to your well being. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Energy, Passion

I have a candidate who worked for 23 years with a Fortune 500 company and loved the corporate culture there, which has always been notoriously nurturing, but she hated her job. Downsized and free at last, she wants to purchase and open a franchise. She came to one word for her newfound enthusiasm: passion.

Joseph Campbell, the anthropologist guru, is well-known for his advice to "follow your bliss". As a career counselor, I have struggled with that notion throughout my own career. I always counseled people to follow their bliss/do what you love and the money will follow. But rarely did anyone believe it was possible. You had to earn a living, and that meant find a job that pays enough to make ends meet or provide even a luxury or two. Being happy, passionate about the work itself was pure luck.

But we're in a new economy, and if the spirit of the entrepreneur isn't alive today, it never will have an opening like this one, at least not for a very long time. The way out of dreadful work and working your passion is to nurture that intuitive longing, perform due diligence on getting the facts, and then budget yourself well enough to confirm you have a fiscally responsible business mentality. Then take the leap. This difficult downturn may be your uptick. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Losers and Gainers

We hear about big companies laying off hundreds, but what we don't hear about is those same companies are hiring. They are even hiring back some of the people they just laid off. Why go through this rigmarole? 

Sometimes it's just the numbers: take a sweep and figure out what you need after you see the holes in your workforce. I spoke with a woman today who interviewed with her former boss for a position that's new in her old company, the one that let her go just six weeks ago. Now some have told me this happens when companies want to hire reliable people they already know, but it's all about relocation. They'll take you back but you have to get out of Dodge. Who knows?

I also spoke with someone today who was laid off from a company that a man I talked with yesterday was just hired by. And he's getting a six figure income.

The job market is about flow. There are losers and gainers (people aren't losers or gainers; the jobs are lost and gained). Keep that in mind. The economy is in terrific flux, but there are plenty of solvent companies ( maybe not some of the banks) and there is a stimulus that has some high focus, so don't believe that companies who are laying off aren't capable of hiring. They still are, even in this economy.