Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Job Searches

The Lie: A Guide to Fibbing in the Job Interview

September 16, 2006 | By | One Comment

truth_bernini.jpg

Truth

Sculpture by

Gianlorenzo Bernini

1652 An ancient Jewish Proverb goes He that covers his sins shall not prosper. There seems to be a disturbing trend that hiring managers are facing: job candidates who lie.

Director Mitch, The Window Manager, one of the best business blogs in the business, had a reader in a job interview with a dilemma:

How should a job candidate handle embarrassing, possibly unethical questions from a hiring authority?

He gives three interesting options. “I see the hiring process as a battle with HR and will use any means, fair or unfair, to trip them up,” says Mitch. That’s because he views questions about why any employee who left a previous job as “unethical” to begin with. So Mitch asserts that an unethical question does not deserve an ethical answer.

Your Business Blogger is not so sure.

I once asked my favorite management guru, Bill Oncken, about the challenge of dealing with supervisors who cross ethical lines from right to wrong. His wise advice was to separate, or fire, or not hire, or run away from any hint of a lack of character.

Only deal with people with integrity, says Oncken; who is filthy rich and never married with no hungry kids who need shoes and private schools. (His hobby is skydiving — out of boredom, I believe.)

But as the Window Manager outlines, sometimes you really, really need the job.

We’ve all been there. Sometimes we rationalize that “. . .the HR kumquat is a jerk who didn’t ask a fair question, or a legal question, . . . and no one will ever find out if there’s fudging on the job application. Evil deserves contempt. (Anti) Personnel departments don’t actually add value to a company, anyway.” Or so the thought goes.

When faced with an unethical boss or an unethical hiring manager, Bill Oncken, author of Managing Management Time, suggests leaving immediately. Even when the hit hurts your wallet.

“Sometimes,” Oncken says, “You have to finance your integrity.”

And this requires monetary as well as emotional maturity that not all of us possess.

I would not recommend lying as a response to any question, no matter how awful or illegal the interrogation. But Mitch does suggest humor or a superlative as a possible way out of troubling questions. As in “I took time off to train for my ascent of Everest.” Or something like that.

Humor is a dodge that Your Business Blogger used to use. My heartfelt response to questions about my misspent youth is, I’m not responsible for anything that happened during the Nixon Administration.

If humor or deflection does not work — that last sentence never worked for me — brutal truth might be necessary.

Years ago, I was once fired by a company – twice – in the same month, both times by fax, the insulting medium of the day. I would always reveal this firing whenever asked. I would explain that it was the dangerous downside of working for thinly capitalized companies in trouble. And my explanation had the added benefit of being true.

I would always get the hard stuff out of the way soonest. I would put it all on the table. Just as sales pro’s know: Whoever raises the objection, owns the objection. And get the “no’s” out early.

On my hiring travels as interviewer and –ee, I’ve learned that there are two kinds of problems: big and small.

Many small problems perhaps can be side-stepped – without being untruthful, like my little incident deep in North Carolina. (Hint: Never throw drink bottles from a ’57 Chevy at high speed.)

Early in my career, whenever that “Were you ever arrested?” silly question would come up, I would always write in NA. Drag racing on the interstate highway system was truly “Not Applicable” to the entry level sales job I was hunting. And if any explanation was required, I wanted to do it in person, rather than be eliminated by rote in HR. A face-to-face sales presentation has the highest close rate.

Fortunately, I don’t have big problems, like a felony conviction, but the terminations come close. I have been fired more times than any single reader of this reputable blog. Goodness, I’ll bet I’ve been fired more than ALL you readers combined, including Rush Limbaugh.

But there is hope for big problems on this side of eternity: Find a Friend. Any real position or client these days will be 1) A created position, 2) In high technology and 3) With someone you know.

Clients and projects and employment come these days through a network of friends and contacts. Who love you.

Like I do.

And that’s no lie.

To thine own self be true,

and it must follow,

as the night the day,

thou canst not then be false to any man. Shakespeare.

So. When to lie? Let slip a little fib?

Never.

Don’t bear false witness — even about yourself.

###

Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

It is not known if Rush Limbaugh actually reads this blog.

Help Wanted at the Family Research Council

September 4, 2006 | By | No Comments

Charmaine_Yoest_CSPAN1.jpg

Charmaine on C-SPAN Charmaine is looking for an executive assistant, here in Your Nation’s Capital. See the job listing here.

Executive Assistant to VP for Communications:

Provide administrative support, advice, and assistance to the Vice President for Communications and facilitate the daily activities of the Communications Department.

August 28, 2006 – Monday

High proficiency in Windows environment (Microsoft Word 6.0, Excel 5.0 and database). Productive, competent and dependable individual with team spirit. Ability to carry out multiple tasks in a busy environment. Keyboard speed of 35 cwpm. Experience in maintaining files. Must have a professional telephone manner. Organized, focused, detail and task oriented. Requires BA degree and a minimum of 3 years experience in providing administrative support for Charmaine_Yoest_Bloomberg_Plan_BApproved082406.jpg


Debating on Bloomberg senior staff or an equivalent combination of training and experience. Must be productive, competent and dependable with team spirit, able to direct and carry out multiple tasks in a busy office environment. Must have strong organizational, administrative and budget management skills and ability to adapt quickly to changes while executing solid professional judgment.

Charmaine_Yoest_NBCPlanB_082406.jpg

Charmaine from FRC on

NBC Nightly News

Charmaine runs a busy shop.

Hint: Her last four hires read/write blogs. Hint.

###

Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

Charmaine blogs at Reasoned Audacity and FRCBlog, and is the wife of Your Business Blogger.

17 Aug

By

2 Comments

Hiring Super Stars vs Tolerating Turkeys

August 17, 2006 | By | 2 Comments

Microsoft has one real point measurement for hiring.

IQ

Your Business Blogger has hired (computer) coders, sales reps…and government bureaucrats.

When given the option of head count and budget flexibility, I always recommended to my managers to hire the most expensive talent possible — the Super Stars.

Even when hiring government workers.

Into Good and Evil reminds us that when talent really counts, when talent determines life and death, who would get hired? He points us to Professor Kingsley Browne in The Ace and the Turkeys,

“Given the cognitive and temperamental patterns required, it is not surprising to find that the ability to fly aircraft successfully in combat is an ability that not many have. Indeed, it is not an ability that even all combat pilots have. Aviation analysts recognize that the majority of combat kills are scored by a small minority of pilots. Mike Spick has observed: “The gulf between the average fighter pilot and the successful one is very wide. In fact it is arguable that there are almost no average fighter pilots; just aces and turkeys; killers and victims.”

Fighter pilots, like sales guys in a role playing exercise, can practice and give a passable presentation, but,

As one Air Force pilot stated, “Most guys can master the mechanics of the systems, but it’s instinctive to be able to assimilate all the data, get a big picture, and react offensively. Not a lot of guys can do that.”

But the Air Force has a challenge most sales managers don’t: Separating the Aces from the Turkeys,

Ideally, one would have only “aces” or “killers,” leaving the “turkeys” and “victims” to another career path. The difficulty lies, however, in the fact that there is no known way to separate the aces and the turkeys prior to combat. Unfortunately, many of those who will end up being turkeys often do not know what they are getting into. These pilots may have the ability, intelligence, and know-how to fly the plane well, but they ultimately lack the “fighting spirit” that they will need in combat. ”

(Buffalo Law Review,Winter, 2001, 49 Buffalo L. Rev. 51,Women at War: An Evolutionary Perspective By Kingsley R. Browne)

But the hiring manager does have an advantage over an Air Force Wing Commander, the civilian Ace has a track record of Kills.

The best indication of future performance is past performance. Our armed forces are hampered by looking only to recent combat or aerial engagements — and there aren’t that many of those dogfights. The hiring manager has different metrics of combat measures for top business talent. Eat what you kill. Who had produced the best numbers?

In this human resource practice and strategy, there are down-sides as Anita Campbell, my editrix at Small Business Trends citing the Trizoko Biz Journal mentions. She and others make the valid point that Super Star and Aces are nearly impossible to manage. And, indeed, can only be managed by Super Star managers.

But if these crazy iconoclasts can be harnessed, a big ‘if’ to be sure, big numbers are sure to follow. For example, when I had a modest software company, I learned the hard way that a one genius coder was worth a half dozen coders. And not because he (and he was usually a ‘he’) was faster, but that his work was nearly bug-free. Which saved me from hiring three coders just to patch.

jack_yoest_awards.gif


With my sales teams, Pareto’s 80/20 Principle always played out. But the top guy, usually a deviant was always a standard deviation above the norm. My #1 sales guy was sometimes double the sales of #2, the rest of the sales team on the long tail. That #1 guy drove me nuts. But I loved his numbers.

And government bureaucrats? Goodness. I once had an agency head ‘lose’ a $100 million department. It was necessary to find it for obvious political reasons, but we only became aware of the lost unit because I was working the Y2K rollover and really needed to find all the laptops. We finally found it. Hidden away, quietly working away. And there were lots of good excuses why it was floating alone off on its own org chart, in its own universe. How they got paid is outside the scope of this post. I was assured that it was not illegal.

So Anita and Trizoko Biz are right, Super Stars are a pain.

But I wonder how many $100 million business units are lost. And could be found with a few dozen more IQ points.

###

Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

Your Business Blogger’s columns appear in Small Business Trends on Tuesdays and Small Business Trends Radio on Fridays. Please tune in.

06 Jul

By

2 Comments

The New Sales Cycle: Forecast Failure in 8 Easy Steps

July 6, 2006 | By | 2 Comments

Every motivational speaker uses Babe Ruth as the example to just keep swinging for the fences. Joy always comes with persistence. Keep Swinging!

This is a lie.

jack_yoest_awards_very_small.png


Your Business Blogger

with sales baubles:

Always avoid

braggards and

blowhards

like this.

Managing salesfolks is the best job in the world.

And the worst job in the world. Your Business Blogger has had a number of sales teams full of Babe Ruths. The swings, the misses, the whining. The winning.

The pain. Even for the Babe, striking out would hurt.

But not all sales guys have Ruth’s talent.

Most fail.

And here is the script so that you, too, can see failure coming down the track. Like a whistle before the train wreck, listen for these clues.

It starts in the interview. The bragging sales guy [ tout chapeau aucun betail ]says, “Hire me…”

1) I can sell anything, (You Want Refrigerators in Antarctica? I’m Your Man) and so he begins,

2) Exaggerate the client’s interest, (They Love Us, Baby) with

3) Unfounded optimism, (The Deal is Done — Good as Booked) then

4) Excuses Galore, (The Order is Coming — Next Quarter, You Can Take That to the Bank) — here it is:

5) Disaster, (My Contact Quit, Stabbed in the Back, Poor Bugger.) followed by

6) More Optimism (We’ll get ’em Next Quarter — Guaranteed) and later

7) Finger Pointing (It’s a terrible territory; It’s not the man — it’s the land.) finally

8) Abandonment (Great concept; a little too soon…Sign this expense report.)

And he’s off to another start-up making even more money. (Not that I’d know.)

So, if your need something to sell; You Want Refrigerators in Anartica? I’m Your Man.

Meanwhile, check out my upcoming post on working with super star Bono — coming tomorrow. U 2 can be a star. (See #2 and #3 above.) “Hire me…”

###

Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

Be sure to know When to Quit.

And visit my weekly column in Anita Campbell’s Small Business Trends.

Get a Blog; Get Hired — And the First Question

July 3, 2006 | By | One Comment

help_wanted_classifed.jpg


Blogs are better

than classifed ads Whenever Charmaine or Your Business Blogger have to hire someone, the first question we ask ourselves is,

Who do we know?

So we then tap into our network of contacts and friends and get the background propaganda on candidates.

But to really, really know a candidate, we’d like to check deeper on:

Their Opinions, and

Are their Opinions worthy? and

Does the Candidate want those Opinions known, and

Does the Candidate want to make a difference?

To learn it all fast and easy, we ask, “Does she have a blog?

We now have an (unwritten) rule: We like to hire only those who write and read blogs.

The most recent example is Joe Carter from Evangelical Outpost. Charmaine hired him for some work, and we only knew of his talents through the blogosphere.

For example, Tom McMahon quotes Joe in Important Stuff,

Why do so many people buy into the ridiculous notion that a daily diet of “current events’ is anything other than a mindless (though perhaps harmless) form of amusement? Even ardent news-hounds will admit that the bulk of daily “news” is nothing more than trivia or gossip. How much of what happens every day truly is all that important? How many of us have ever even stopped to ask why we have daily news?…

As Malcolm Muggeridge, himself a journalist, admitted, “I’ve often thougt…that if I’d been a journalist in the Holy Land at the time of our Lord’s ministry, I should have spent my time looking into what was happening in Herod’s court. I’d be wanting to sign Salome for her exclusive memoirs, and finding out what Pilate was up to, and…I would have missed completely the most important event there ever was.”

Indeed, imagine if Dan Rather had been a reporter during that era: “…three revolutionaries were crucified on Golgatha today. Included among the executions was a man called Jesus, who some Jews considered to be the messiah. Those hopes were dashed, however, around three P.M. when Roman soldiers declared Jesus dead. And now…this….”

Oz Guinness also wrote about our fast-paced world; the, “Now this…culture” where every event is superceded by something, anything, to hold our short attention spans.

Joe Carter is a guy who knows signal from noise.

And a guy who thinks like this is someone we needed on the payroll.

I wish we could get Tom McMahon.

###

To help in your job search see PASS this test.

Basil’s Blog has a picnic.

09 May

By

4 Comments

Job Interview: 3 Questions for Your Prospective Boss

May 9, 2006 | By | 4 Comments

In your job search you are prepared to answer many questions.

But there are questions you should be prepared to ask. Questions for your possible new boss. And not just the trite and true, “Tell Me How You Came To XYZ Corp.” My questions are to (dis)qualify him. You may not want to work for him. And if you really, really need the job, you at least won’t be blind-sided.

1) Love. Does he love me? I was humbled to have Jesse Brown, the former Veteran’s Administration Secretary for Bill Clinton, as a business partner.

“Does he love me?” was Jesse’s one rule for taking on a new client or a new job. “If the love’s there, all else will fall in.” Look for; get the feel for the love. Yes, yes, I know it’s an emotion. But so is misery. Look for the love.

jesse_brown.gif


The Honorable

Jesse BrownJesse was an honorary campaign manager for the Al Gore presidential race. Which meant he was a $100K contributor. And could have any job he wanted. So I asked him why he gave the money, he wasn’t going to take a position in a new administration. “I wanted to help my friends get jobs.” He didn’t need anything for himself; he sincerely wanted to help others. Including me. And no, I was not about to take any Gore job. Please. But he could have made it happen.

2) Strategy. What would you do if you hit the lottery? Or the IPO is successful, the rich uncle dies. What would your potential boss do if he had a sudden windfall of piles of cash? I asked that in a job interview and was surprised. The hiring manager leaned back, and with a far away look in his eye talked about opening up a marina. His big dream. His big dream was not in that building and I wasn’t a part of it. I didn’t feel the love.

jj_abrams_tom_cruise_stephen_vaughan.jpg


JJ Abrams with Tom Cruise

Credit: Stephen VaughanThe right answer is seen in JJ Abrams, the director of Mission Impossible III with Tom Cruise. He was recently asked what he did with all his money and about his work,

Next up for Abrams is a “Star Trek” movie, now in pre-production, which will unleash his inner geek as never before. He’ll also be working on “Lost,” trying to ensure the show doesn’t splinter into so many directions that it chokes on itself or stops moving.

There’s not a lot of talk from him about downtime.

Asked if he has any plans for his money, he seems confused.

“What money?”

You know, the money you get paid for all this incredibly lucrative work.

He thinks for a moment, then tilts his head and points to his locks.

“Hair care,” he says.

The reporter’s question was met with a joke. JJ Abrams really didn’t think about the money, didn’t think about the stuff it could buy. Or taking long vacations. He was consumed with his passion of making movies. The Love.

If you had the wealth of Solomon you should be doing exactly what you are doing now. The right answer from your potential manager is, “If I struck oil in my front yard, I’d still be doing what I’m doing now.” And he is really saying, “I love it here and so will you.”

3) Tactics. What classes are you taking now? Continuous learning is, well, continuous. Life-long-learning is the hallmark of leaders.

benjamin_franklin.jpg


Benjamin Franklin“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” said Benjamin Franklin. An outstanding prospective boss is reading a compelling book, just finished a seminar on international business etiquette, or studied parallels on initiative between business units and military units for a board presentation.

Education and continuous improvement is the one thing every boss should care about.

I was surprised to learn this.

Your Business Blogger once acted as the COO of a Fortune 350 size organization. In my first meeting with the human resource directors, I asked them what was the one thing our employees wanted.

I thought it would be more money. More time off. Vacations days. Sick leave. The typical union demands.

Nope. The nine HR professionals, who happened to all be women said, unanimously, education. More budget and time for improving knowlege, skills and abilities. More opportunities for studies and credentials. (Then they’d clamor for increased pay based on increased efficiency. Clever buggers.)

So we opened attendance for adult education programs at local universities and community colleges. And squeezed out budgets for fancy business consultants to teach advanced management skills. Everyone was happy. Our employee retention rate improved.

If your new manager doesn’t care about adult education for himself, he won’t care about it for you.

So you are now armed with three qualifying questions to test your next boss. Or try them on your current boss if you are looking for an excuse to leave. But get a new job first.

And let me know how it goes.

###

Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

Jesse Brown passed away almost 4 years ago. I still miss him. My inaugural post was dedicated to him.

Basil’s Blog has a Picnic.

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

Charmaine is Hiring: Media Relations, AV Production, Web Editor

April 28, 2006 | By | One Comment

The wife of Your Business Blogger is hiring talent in Your Nation’s Capital.

At the Family Research Council. Defending Family, Faith and Freedom.

If you know of a candidate, please email me or comment.

Director of Media Relations

Under the direction of the Vice President for Communications, develops and implements FRC’s daily communications strategy. Develops media messages and strategy and implements plans for both immediate response news items and long-term projects on FRC issues. Builds relationships and conducts interviews with news outlets. Promotes FRC president and other FRC experts to news outlets. Oversees the distribution of FRC publications to the media. Assists Development department to increase donor awareness of media activity. Serves as an FRC spokesperson. Works as an Associate Producer of FRC Simulcasts. Manages Media Coordinators.

Manager of Audio & Video Production

Under the direction of the Vice President for Communications, produces and edits FRC’s 90-second daily radio commentary and the 30-minute Washington Watch Weekly. The Manager of Audio and Video Production maintains the production schedule for FRC’s radio studio. The incumbent manages production, distribution, and marketing of FRC audio projects; to include radio programs, public service announcements, commercials, and audio tape productions. The incumbent also has responsibility for all video needs in the organization; to include taping, editing, and posting FRC events on the web, in coordination with the Web Editor. The incumbent in this position will also be responsible for special video projects as they are developed.

Web Editor

Under the direction of the Vice President for Communications, serves as the editing and preparation channel through which all publications, papers, and communications from all FRC departments are funneled for the most effective presentation on FRC website. With assistance and expertise of information technology staff, insures posting, revision, and arrangement of material on website. The incumbent works to enhance FRC’s Internet presence and image as a public policy research, education, and advocacy organization. The incumbent is responsible for managing the content and appearance of FRC web sites. Prepares all materials (publications, papers, legislative updates, press releases, etc.), including promotional material and FRC merchandise, for posting on website. Monitors web site traffic and provides weekly reports on traffic trends.

This position requires an undergraduate degree in political science, history, or social science and three years in a professional office environment, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Requires the ability to engage with all levels of staff and mgmt with tact and diplomacy. Excellent organizational skills, ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, and demonstrated ability to function in fast paced environment. Incumbent must have demonstrated conceptual, writing, and editing skills along with technological expertise in html and web design. Previous web editing and image design experience a must. Knowledge of the public policy arena as well as family and cultural issues is essential.

###

13 Apr

By

4 Comments

Illegal Interview Question: Are You a US Citizen?

April 13, 2006 | By | 4 Comments

human_resource_management_navy_mil.jpg


Hire the Best People,

but don’t get sued

The law is an *ss — an idiot…

Charles Dickens

Your Business Blogger once ran the Human Resource function for a 14,000 employee enterprise. The boss demanded, “Get the best talent!”

And don’t get sued. It was like playing defense. You can’t win it, but you can lose it.

Anyway, when interviewing job candidates, a series of trick questions are necessary to:

1) Get answers and

2) Stay within the Law

Sometimes mutually exclusive, because the law is, well, an *ss.

So. During the interview, I would say, not ask, to the job candidate,

“That is a beautiful ring [on the third finger on the left hand]…”

“I have the five best kids on the planet…”

“I love California! I was born in San Diego…”

“I’ve been married to Charmaine for 16 years this May…”

This work is best left to your anti-personnel, personnel department. The HR professionals have become as vital as lawyers. And can kill a contact or contract even faster.

Here’s more from our friends at Military.com,

Illegal: Are you a U.S. citizen? Where were you or your parents born?

Legal: Are you authorized to work in the United States? What other languages do you speak? This question is okay as long as it relates to the job you are interviewing for.

Illegal: How old are you? When is your birthday?

Legal: Are you over 18 years of age? Again, this question is considered legal if it relates to the job.

Illegal: What’s your marital status? Who do you live with? Do you plan to have a family? How many kids do you have? Do you have childcare arrangements?

Legal: Travel is an important part of the job, would you be willing to travel as needed?

Illegal: Do you belong to any clubs? What are your affiliations?

Legal: Do you belong to any professional trade organizations that you consider relevant to your ability to perform this job?

Illegal: How tall are you? How much do you weigh?

Legal: Are you able to lift a 50 lb weight and carry it more than 100 yards for this job?

Illegal: Do you have any disabilities? Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations? If so, please list the dates of these operations.

Legal: Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations?

Illegal: Have you ever been arrested?

Legal: Have you ever been convicted of a crime? The crime in question should be related to the performance of the job in question.

Illegal: If you’ve been in the military, were you honorably discharged?

Legal: What type of training or education did you receive in the military?

And this is why you will never hear back from a company about why you didn’t didn’t get that job. It is rude. But it’s not personal. It’s personnel, and

It’s the Law. It has made us all *sses.

###

Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

Photo credit US Navy.

And this is why managers are socio-paths.

Basil’s Blog has a picnic.

Mudville has Open Post.