28 February, 2011

Why Your Job Search Needs A "Co-SIgner"

I recently received some questions about how to deal with (1) Employment gaps and with (2) age discrimination.

Both of these issues melt away and become non-issues if you have one thing on your side that other applicants and candidates don't have. I'm going to tell you what that thing is and I'm going to tell you how to get it but before I do, please take note that I have no reason to mislead you or lie to you because I am not trying to sell you anything. I don't want to charge you money to write you a better resume or to provide you with "leads" or improve your interview skills. And by the way, you don't need any of that , either, if you have one thing on your side that other candidates don't have.

I'm talking about what I call a "social or professional co-signer".

As I've said in my blog and in my speeches about job search, a candidate with a great resume is no match for a candidate with the right relationship.

And you don't need to figure out how to deal with gaps in your employment history, current unemployment or even your age if you have a social or professional co-signer - a person who says your name to the hiring manager.

If a social or professional co-signer says your name to a hiring manager, the job becomes yours to lose. Without ever submitting a resume, you move to the top of the pile. Without ever interviewing for the job, you move to the top of the short list.

Let me share some "inside baseball" that will make my point. Clients have paid me crazy money to bring them candidates they already knew and could have hired without running employment ads and without securing the services of a headhunter. In one recent flurry of activity I was paid $12k for "finding" a marketing director my client already knew, $14k for finding a partner track architect my client already knew and $18k for a senior PE (professional engineer) my client already knew. Throughout my consulting career, I have collected sums like this for "finding" candidates my clients already knew. In the vast majority of cases, I am being paid ridiculous sums of money for "finding" candidates that my clients already knew. In the case of the senior PE, my client wasted $thousands on newspaper ads and internet ads, wasted 6 months on reading resumes and interviewing candidates and being paralyzed with indecision before he asked for my help. Right now, any headhunter who might read this is HOPING I don't tell you what I'm about to tell you but I'm going to do it. I'm going to tell you stuff HR managers, hiring managers and headhunters don't want you to know.

During those 6 months while my client was wasting precious time and money running ads, reading resumes and interviewing candidates, the job didn't remain open because he didn't know any qualified candidates. He did. The job didn't remain open because he didn't receive resumes from people who could do the job. He did. The job didn't remain open because he didn't interview any good candidates. He did. Let me stop right there to make a point. The chances are good that at some time in your career you have interviewed with an employer who was paralyzed with indecision and didn't know why. He or she described the situation by saying he couldn't find anybody good for the job but that wasn't really true. The fact was, the hiring manager had a stack of resumes from qualified candidates and had even interviewed people who would have been great in the job yet he or she kept saying  he couldn't find anyone for the job.

The problem wasn't that he didn't find somebody, the problem was that he was paralyzed with indecision because he was waiting for something he didn't even know he was waiting for. He was waiting for a social/professional co-signer to recommend someone.

And if you were a candidate who played the low percentage game of sending resumes and waiting for interviews there's a good chance that the person who ended up getting the job did so without a resume or an interview because he or she had something you didn't: a social/professional co-signer.

Get yourself some social/professional co-signers.

I didn't say "job leads". You don't want a colleague telling you about job openings, you want a colleague picking up the phone and mentioning your name to a hiring manager. You want a referral, not a lead.

Better yet, you want a colleague to arrange a coffee or lunch meeting between you and a hiring manager. When that happens, you moved to the top of the short list, the top of the pile and  you leapfrogged over other candidates who answered ads, submitted resumes and waited to be interviewed.

The best jobs I ever got in my life I got without ever submitting a resume. Why? Because I had a social/professional co-signer who ended the indecision paralysis of the employer by mentioning my name and leapfrogging me past candidates who submitted resumes and sat for interviews.

I said this to the president of a job club who later told me he thought I was wrong until he sat down and made a list of every job he'd ever had and found that, in every case, he had a relationship somewhere that caused him to get the job offer.

Now, you're supposed to ask me how to get these social and professional co-signers. And I will. And I'll do it for free.

And the answer is so obvious you're going to feel stupid when I tell you what you need to do.

And you know I'm telling you the truth because I'm not trying to sell you anything.

Read my next post to learn how to get professional co-signers.

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17 February, 2011

St. Albans Barber Shop And Public Policy Think Tank Finds Brooks McCabe and Obama In Biblical Prophecy

is Senator Brooks McCabe a tool of the Anti-Christ? Would merged city-county government help usher in One World Government and the reign of The Anti-Christ as prophesied in The Book of Revelation? Yes and yes according to the patrons of the St. Albans barber shop where I got a haircut this past Friday.

I live in a town where The Mark of The Beast, The Anti-Christ and One World Government are never far from the minds and the lips of many of its residents and can pop up in day-to-day conversation at almost any time if certain precipitating conditions are present. For example, when the cashier at the St. Albans Kroger asks a shopper for his or her Kroger Plus card it's not unusual for this innocent request to get employees and customers talking about a "cashless society" and how we're all being softened up for a mark on our foreheads or our hands without which we can neither buy nor sell. A software engineer routinely sends me updates about how close we are to being surgically fitted with government mandated  RFID devices.

The mere sight or mention of President Obama is another precipitating condition that gets people talking and speculating about "End Times". To many of the people in St. Albans, figuring out if Obama is The Anti-Christ or what part he plays in the fulfillment of prophetic Scripture is better than Sudoku.

On the day when the barber shop in which I was waiting for a haircut erupted in speculation that Brooks McCabe might be in league with Satan and that merged city-county government might have an ignominious and nefarious place  in biblical prophecy, there were at least three precipitating conditions present: (1) The guy in the barber chair was complaining about government abuse. (2) Much of the brown-skinned, Muslim world was in revolt against their governments. (3) President Obama was on TV making a speech about the fall of Egypt's Mubarak.

The mere sight of President Obama was making the guy who came in after me visibly twitchy. Every once in a while he groaned or muttered curse words in a stage whisper.

"Merged government just moves us one step closer to One World Government" said the guy in the barber chair.

The guy who came in behind me nodded his head in agreement.

"So by your reasoning" I said, "we also moved one step closer to One World Government when the 13 colonies merged to become the United States."

The guy who came in behind me grunted but never looked at me. Had he been Egyptian he would have removed a shoe and held it in the air like the Egyptian revolutionaries did to show their contempt for Mubarak.

The guy in the barber chair got a familiar far away look in his eye that told me he was experiencing cognitive dissonance - he was trying to reconcile two contradictory, mutually exclusive thoughts. On one hand, the guy in the barber chair believed Peter Marshall, David Manuel, Glenn Beck and David Barton, that God Almighty guided Christopher Columbus, The Pilgrims and the Puritans to the New World where He also led them to form the nation that would become the beacon of light to the world. Never mind that the US was formed 150 years later, not by Puritans and Pilgrims but by Deists and skeptics.

On the other hand, the guy in the barber chair also believed that government - especially Big Government - is of the Devil. So Big Government is bad - except when it's the US government which was a work of God but is now led by a man who may be a candidate for Anti-Christ.

Anyway, that's how a barber shop think tank decided that Brooks McCabe may be a tool of Satan and merged government may help usher in One World, Anti-Christ led government.

16 February, 2011

Corporal Punishment Teaches The Wrong Lessons To Students

My octogenarian interlocutor says West Virginia's troubles started when corporal punishment was banned from public schools in 1994 and likes delegate Brian Savilla's (R-Putnam) bill that would reinstate paddling. 

I was a product of Kanawha County public schools prior to the 1994 ban and I can attest to the following: (1) West Virginia had problems even when teachers were free to hit their students. (2) Being physically assaulted by a teacher only teaches kids that adults are hypocrites who resolve conflicts through violence but will spank kids who try to resolve their conflicts through violence. (3) West Virginia teachers aren't wise enough or smart enough to control their classrooms without resorting to violence.

11 February, 2011

How Writing An Article About Bar Code Technology Helped Make Me A Liberal

Sometimes when conservatives ask me how I became a liberal I tell them that some of the seeds of liberalism were planted in me when I wrote an article about bar code technology for Rx HomeCare magazine nearly 30 years ago.

Why was it taking so long for bar code technology to "catch on"? Why wasn't bar code technology becoming affordable faster? Why was the technology that was transforming the retail industry not catching on in other industries?

These were the questions managing editor, Dana Bigman, wanted me to answer in the article she asked me to write.

I thought I was writing a boring technology article. I was wrong. As I began to interview the developers, manufacturers and prospective customers of bar code technology I expected to hear a lot of tech talk but what I heard instead was a lot of talk about economics and human behavior and how waiting for free market forces and Adam Smith's "invisible hand" to show up were costing businesses billions of dollars and even costing human lives.

Yes, the lack of bar code usage in hospitals was literally killing people. Patients died because they were administered the wrong drugs or given the wrong surgeries. The technology existed to information about meds, nutrition, etc.,  on bar coded patient bracelets. Nurses and doctors could then scan these bracelets and find out everything they needed to know to prevent deadly mistakes. But hospitals weren't investing in the technology. What were they waiting for?

Here's what I found out: competition wasn't driving the price of bar code technology down the way conservatives tell us it always does, competition was actually preventing bar code technology from becoming cheaper because there were, at the time, 17 different bar code standards and since potential buyers didn't know which of the 17 competing standards would survive, they simply waited for that "invisible hand" of free market forces to select winners and losers.

Remember when you had to choose between VHS and Beta?

Perhaps you're trying to decide between e-readers. You're paralyzed with indecision about a $100 purchase - and nobody will fire you if you buy the wrong product.

30 years ago businesses were paralyzed with indecision about which bar code standard would eventually be adopted by enough other buyers that it would become the obvious and affordable choice.

Remember when your small business lost untold time and money while you delayed the purchase of a computer system because you didn't know if you should go with OS2, Mac or DOS?

As I interviewed hospital administrators, distribution executives and electronics developers I kept wondering why instead of sitting idly by and doing nothing while lives were lost and  businesses sustained untold billions in lost opportunity,  governments didn't get all the developers and patent holders together and figure out a way to hasten the adoption of a universally-accepted bar code system.

30 years later, I know the answer: conservatives and businesses - the very people who stand to profit most when new technologies make business more efficient - would call such a government role "socialism" or even "tyranny".

The "invisible hand" of free market forces doesn't always choose the best products, either. VHS won the compact videocassette race but Sony's Beta provided the best picture quality in a smaller cassette.

Since I wrote that article about bar code technology for Rx HomeCare nearly 30 years ago I haven't kept up on which bar code standards survived so I have no idea whether the better technologies won or lost, but I do know that America's self-defeating and irrational fear of a government role in helping new  technologies succeed will delay the deployment of important new products and cost conservative Republican businessmen billions of dollars in financial sacrifices to the "invisible hand" they worship.