Previous posts have provided some
thoughts about finding positions using
recruiters. Perri Capell offered a plain
and simple solution based on her
research with several who pointed out
how they are compensated for their
work…from the firm who uses them to
find qualified candidates…
She points out “it’s rare for [a] candidate
who contacts a search professional out
of the blue to actually find a job through
Five items stand out in the WSJ note
that seemed pertinent to me:
1. “Before contacting a search firm,
[find those that specialize] in your industry
“The Directory of Executive Recruiters”
lists recruiting firms by industry, specialty
and geographic location.
Target the right firms.
2. “…be visible and successful in your
current role, …speak at …conferences
or professional meetings, write articles
for journals and network…”
3. “[add]… search professionals to
your network by offering to help them
with referrals…” Consider attaching
a short note to your resume, “saying
you don’t expect to fit current openings
but would like to help the recruiter
with referrals,” for example.
4. Offer to help them, recognizing
“relationships between candidates
and recruiters typically are based
on trust.” “If you are contacted by
a search firm, you should ask questions
about ….the recruiter and the company
to evaluate it, just as you would with
any other professional…”
5. A related article by Sarah
Needleman contained topical items
that fit here:
- ”recruiters have profiles on networking
sites such as LinkedIn.com…(To find
them, do a keyword search or ask
fellow members for referrals, or click
on the “advanced search” tool at the
top of the home page for members.
In the Industry category, select
“corporate services,” then choose
“staffing and recruiting.” Enter a
keyword, such as the recruiter
specialty you’re seeking, and then
hit “search.” .)
- “recruiters belong to …associations
in their specialty… These groups may
include a roster of members…
you’ll likely have opportunities to network
with recruiter members…”
Several case studies, valued pertinent
statistics and meaningful questions about
visas for foreign born workers are given
in Phred Dvorak’s WSJ article on “Visa
“Since 2004, the U.S. has limited the number
of so-called H-1Bs — three-year visas for
skilled workers with college degrees —
to 65,000 per year; an additional
20,000 visas are available for applicants
with advanced degrees from U.S. schools.
claiming they need more workers
again, but disagreement exists on how to
fix the broader immigration system,
including what to do with
undocumented workers, is bogging
…In 2004, it took about 10 months
to reach the cap; last year, it
took just under two months;
this year, the cap was reached
the first day applications were
accepted in April. That forced the
government for the first time to
hold a lottery to allocate all of the
visas, which take effect Oct. 1.
About half of the applicants missed out.”
Care should be taken in seeking immigration
papers and understanding the big picture
in the immigration debate. This article and
quite likely the comments to it will be
Loretta Chao wrote a cogent piece that
offers motivation and suggestions
for mature workers wishing to stay in the
workforce. Some notable items are:
“…Professionals in their 50s who get
downsized out of a job increasingly don’t
opt for early retirement.
- Many can’t afford to stop working …”
- “and even if they can, they often want
the camaraderie and stimulation of a job.”
- “stay mentally active, and
- ”the need for … health benefits.”
1. convince a prospective employer that they
aren’t too old to learn something new and
have the energy to work as hard as
employees in their 20s and 30s.
2. convince the prospective employer that they are
comfortable reporting to a younger boss —
and perhaps willing to earn less than in prior jobs.
3. Consider the pros and cons of removing
references to first job and college
graduation date from applications.
4. ”reassure them that at your age, you want to
do the job you are applying for right now and
plan to stay on the job for a long time…”
5. ”Never talk “about the ‘old days’ ” and “how we did it,”
Face it. To succeed, to become
significant requires a little bit of
self confidence. Without it people
move back into the pack or worse.
With it. There is a chance to achieve.
Take a look at John Wesley’s blog on
self confidence. My list begins with
- have a purpose
- epitomize energy and enthusiasm
- study the body language of successful
people–before they were successful…
I like John’s list and some of the comments.
In a previous post, we spoke about
private equity firms. It was in the
context of a lay-off and different
strategies these firms seem to take
and what we, the employees and
potential employees, should be aware
of. Other entries have mentioned Private
Equity firms in passing.
They are becoming more of a presence in
the employment scenario, so it might be
appropriate to offer a glimpse of what
they are to people who generally will not
be exposed to these details.
The information is taken from an excellent
Oakmark Funds editorial in the 3rd
Quarter Report, July 2007 W. Nygren.
“Private equity. The term is everywhere.
You can’t go to a financial website,
read the business section of a
newspaper,…without hearing about
In the most general sense, private
equity is simply ownership interest in
a company whose stock does not
In fact the after-tax cost of capital
is now lower for private equity firms
than it is for many cash-rich
companies. A private equity firm
can offer a safe harbor with
- no Sarbanes-Oxley,
- no public disclosure of executive
- no pressure from investors to meet
quarterly earnings targets.
Financially, a leveraged private
company also enjoys a big reduction
in income tax payments (which is
because interest to debt holders is
deductible, while payments to
shareholders aren’t), and a
leverage-enhanced equity return
that is about twice the return of a
Private equity firms no longer
need to devise operational
strategies that increase earnings
and grow value, but rather, most
of today’s transactions succeed
purely on financial arbitrage.”
[Dan’s note: But… some of these firms
are out to look for short term,
very high return on their investments
and do hold back on capital
improvements, do lay off people
to “balance the books” and do
extract profits from cutting to the
Nygren’s final comments are worth
“At Oakmark, we’re buying public
equity interests in what we believe
are some of the greatest businesses
in the world,…
Once an acquisition proposal is made,
our focus is as much on the process
as it is on the price. We believe that
today’s acquisition market is so
competitive that, almost by definition,
an open process will result in a fair
An open process with a level playing
field is the best insurance we can get
that we are obtaining the highest”..[value]
So, the take home message for us
is to look for honest, “open communication”
of goals, objectives, directions and
timelines in the interviewing process
and if you happen to be working at
a private equity firm.
Let me introduce this by saying that R and
I have been talking and emailing back and
forth for a month. In this I encouraged him
to attend the Boston meeting, even as an
unemployed chemist (free.).
At the Boston meeting on the first day,
R was kind enough to come to the first Mock
interview workshop session. He very
professionally came in before the session
and introduced himself to me.
Then, when we needed a volunteer
interviewee, I pressed him into service.
Now, mind you, I asked him to visit me
at the meeting and be ‘mock’ interviewed.
He declined saying he was not quite ready.
Alas, ‘the planets were aligned and it
We conducted a plain-and-simple one-
on-one interview that could have been a
script in a movie about how to interview.
All the things we had conversed and
emailed about were delivered with
great enthusiasm. So, when the audience
was asked to comment, one of the most
experienced consultants offered that he
could not believe his eyes and ears
during the interview. Everything was
The interesting comment R offered, after
the session, was that he really needed that
simple practice for his confidence. He
had interviews scheduled and it was like
the “basketball shoot-around” before the
game or the “batting practice before the
first pitch” or the “stretching before running
a distance race.” Think about doing this
before you attend screening interviews.
Today was the fourth day of the ACS
meeting. It was quite successful for
several reasons– the number of companies
interviewing for candidates was well over
100. There was only one person with
whom I spoke who came and did not get
invited to an interview– he came Tuesday…
At the beginning of a workshop session, S
introduced herself to me. She and I have
been working together for a couple of
months. She admitted to me she was very
happy to have been interviewed by Merck.
She felt she could have done better.
So our conversation went on, as we knew
one another a little. By that I mean, I learned
that she was thinking about some other things
and was hesitant to ask. I presented her
the opportunity after the session.
S mentioned that she did not respond to
a question as well as she could have. So,
I suggested has she planned to send a
thank you letter to Merck…She should.
Most candidates don’t. A small per cent
do and it stands out. Consider, the suggestion
went responding to the question the way
you would to well in the thank you letter.
It will make an impression about how serious
you are and tell them that you are very
interested in working with a strong firm
whose products help people so much.
So, instead of leaving the meeting with an
“I know what I will do the next time” attitude
she left with “I know what I will do next and
turn the less than perfect situation around in
a professional way.
Good luck with this S.
Resume reviews and mock interview sessions
often give the opportunity of discussing
important career topics that may have
little to do with the resume.
An interviewee in a mock interview asked me
to take a look at her impressive resume, She
is in the third year of an NRC post-doc.
Two pages of high level publications
accompanied a solid, well-written resume
that has garnered her many telephone
interviews, but no on site interviews.
Why is this happening, she asked?
Without going into the full details, the
initial suggestions related to
her focus in her responses and
understanding what interviewers need and
CONFIDENCE. We spoke about what
avocations she most enjoys and she told me
about Tim MacGraw. Play them just
before you go to your interview.
Smile when you listen and speak;
FOCUS. Her answers to simple questions
were long and lacked focus for what an
interviewer would seek. To do this, she
needed to perceive the “questions behind the
Interpersonal skills and
RESPONSES INTERVIEWERS SEEK.
Funny, though, the above two may not be it.
The problem she then ‘thought out loud’ was
lack of success in telephone interviews.
There the lack of seeing the interviewer
and getting visual feedback is key. Also,
she felt she may not have shared her responses
with enthusiasm in her voice.
Her most outstanding discoveries in our
to ask for the question to be asked again in
other words (rephrase the question) to learn what
response was sought and
to ask, “am I answering your question.”
I was wowed how simple it was!
Working at the Boston ACS meeting today I
had the pleasure of working with M who is
a post-doc at a prominent east coast university.
He is in his first year there after completing
his Ph.D. at a Big Ten school. He has had
no luck in landing interviews with his resume
despite reasonable credentials and wondered
what he needed to do to improve his success
A quick review pointed to not fully understanding
how resume reviewers frequently are limited to
look at resumes, ie, very little time and too many.
He did not articulate what he wanted to do with
So, I pointed this out and probed his effort in looking
into companies he applied to, listened carefully to
his words, body language and facial expressions,
and explored what his hot targets might be. He
is articulate, a good listener, and sensitive to even
slight nuances that his manner of presenting
himself could be a problem. I left it as only a
suggestion. He sensed the message. I asked
him if he would be willing to work for a person who
does not have a B. S. He asked in response how
could that happen….before he caught the attitude
he was portraying…
His resume did not contribute his personal objective
on page 1 and his key skill sets. It was something
he could not articulate.
I then directed conversation to outlining what a
person’s resume file and resume document could
be. This left off several things that the had not included
and could not figure out how to include. .
It ends up that he enjoyed being quite flexible and able
to attack many problems, including computers,
programming, computer networking, electronic
circuits, molecular modeling, polymers, synthesis,
Thus, It seemed he may have been looking at an
area (large chemical companies) where he might
not be happy. With his description of what he enjoys
and he was quite accomplished, he should consider
seeking out small companies. There were many
more of them and known ways of exploring them.
We reviewed how he might explore them through
information interviewing, mentors, chambers of
commerce, university incubators, BBB.
Thus he left the session more focused on what
he needed to do next in defining what he wished
to do in his career first. Then activate his network
to help him find positions in small companies that
could use his repertoire of skills.
He seemed to think the session met his personal
A year ago an attendee, Z, in the audience
of a couple workshops asked if she could
continue career consulting to help her
find a position in SF Bay area. We spoke
weekly and emailed resumes, research
summaries and cover letters. Our
interaction lessened with time.
The article by Emily Meehan brings up
the uphill plight Z faced. Z is a multi-
lingual person with synthetic and
in silico experience developing quite
sophisticated understanding of molecules.
Her mentors were (European and more
traditional) organic chemists had not
prepared her for the American
employment scene. She was baffled.
Ms. Meehan’s article describes the
unexpected restrictions one faces in living
and working in an appealing chic urban
setting. The SF employment picture leaves
little for “new grad [scientists] with suitcases
in tow and few connections…”
“Almost every job sector… as hardly grown…”
Cost of living is not easily balanced with
What struck me more were the comments
to Ms. Meehan’s article indicating people
finding other measures to deal with the
desire to live in SF. Many decided it is
a nice place to visit, but could not afford
to live there.
Never learned if Z landed a position in a
small company or university. She is not
alone in that challenging job search in SF,
and several other areas in the country.
It seems best to find a job then move there,
rather than move there and try to find a job.
This is part of the “trailing spouse’s” problem.
Take note of four strong suggestions (she does
a very thorough job of storytelling and adds other
1) Type any URL in an e-mail you receive
directly into your browser, rather than
clicking on a link in the e-mail.
— Roll your mouse over the link to
reveal the underlying URL and verify
that it matches what shows on your
2) Make it a policy that you do not provide
sensitive information to anyone via web
driver’s license number,
bank account, credit card etc.
3) Do not share personal information with
anyone unless you have verified that they
are who they claim to be.
— Google the company
— Check the Better Business Bureau
— Visit the company or recruiting firm’s website
(accessing it via a link you find yourself via
Googling, NOT one contained in their e-mail),
4) Be wary of anyone asking for money
in exchange for “representing” you.
The following links provide further information about
Phishing and Spoofing to help you protect yourself
against fraud and identity theft:
National Consumers League
Stay Safe Online
Career Builder Job Seeker Info
Washington Post Blog
Two recent consultees have contacted me
after beginning their searches with limited
progress, either because one was in a
“remote location” or the other “had no major
chemical companies in the desired area.”
One area was Tennessee, the other,
Mississippi. Each sought a single answer
to writing a resume that could be sent out
to many companies that would win interviews.
It simply does not work that way, for us
‘mere mortals’ anyway.
One has to develop a strategy based on
understanding what each wants to do with
a passion and what location and salary
requirements they may have.
Once these understanding requirements
are defined and written out as primary,
then a second, forward-step can be made.
->What are the leading places for developing
contacts to learn about suitable openings?
Tennessee has some formidable organzizations
at Eastman, Oak Ridge and other places.
This is in addition to the person’s network,
chamber of commerce and university
incubators. Mississippi has a similar set
certainly around the Huntsville area. There
are also targeted recruiters that can be helpful.
It requires stepping outside of “one’s comfort
zone” to define your top company targets.
Several specific items and attributes will
be helpful. They are:
- Before sending public relations documents
do some serious research on the company
or organization. Use what you learn in
information interviews, discussions and
reading in the cover letter to show your
effort and enthusiasm.
- Display a serious, focused positive attitude
that indicates high energy in each step. The
way you look for a job is the way you will
perform the job.
- When you do submit your targeted resume,
cover letter and other information, to a person
supply as much information (and references
to support your information) to validate your
experience and background.
- If you have citizenship issues, or have been
out of work for a while, or are from a different
field, prepare your reasoned responses and
test them out with mentors. Get feedback and
- Before going on even screening interviews,
practice doing mock interviews and identify
your responses to the typical interview questions.
Then do refined research on the company,
people, the position, the business status and
- Treat everyone you meet with respect in every
interaction. Plan to send thank you’s, collect
addresses from each interview, make commitments,
meet them and expect others to do the same.
- Plan to ask the questions you need answered
so that you will be certain that the position is the
right one for you.
One of the writers I enjoy is Marilyn
Gardiner of the CS Monitor. She recently
wrote about considerations when a
person does not find satisfaction in
a new position shortly after starting
‘Funny feelings’ that can appear include:
- title does not match job details that
you are urged to perform, even after
you have gone through the “learning
curve” of what is involved
- travel expectations not specified
or do not match your personal situation
- previous employees in the new role
did not “last long” because of job duties
- after a short time on the job, you receive
an inadequate review of not meeting
- unprofessional dealings that don’t
meet your standards of behavior, respect,
Some of these could be discovered by
a detailed “background check” on the new
company before your join them. Some
of them cannot be.
Does it matter that you change jobs
frequently, or leave after only a short
stay? How does one express this short
stay on your resume? Do you omit it
entirely on the resume?
This possibility should stand out as strong
reasons to develop and maintain a helpful
network, seek out mentors, and try to
establish a good relationship with your
The network, both social network and
more formal contact network, could
help you explore information about the
position, boss, and company before
and while employed. It can also help
you through the transition with the three
“i’s”– information, ideas and interviews.
This is where having professionals on
your side with whom you can speak
confidentially to offer your experiences
and explore alternatives is highly
It is fair to say that we can have
goals in mind and change them.
The key thing is to think through
your goals and understand what
this company will do to help you
get there. The company is asking
the same thing of you– where do you
fit in their reaching business goals.
For recent graduates, short term
assignments or positions can represent
a “temporary professional detour. For
those in midcareer, the consequences
can be greater.”
The author points out work that can be
done before accepting position. The
- “questions you” [need answers to]
“during the interview process”
- trust your gut about the workplace,
the people, the stress/friendliness level
- “ask to interview people you will
work with…,” and “the person who held
the postion before”
- “ask about your prospective
boss’s management style”
Many times, it is not easy to learn
about the business issues that can
affect the company, especially if it is
a private equity concern. Thus, this
is something that you should obtain
as much information as you can before
you agree to work there. Share it with
trusted advisers and seek out their
On one’s resume, my advice generally
is honesty is the best policy and learn
the hard lessons of undesirable
Job Searching while still working is a risk and
is hard to do without taking precautions.
Nonetheless, one of the common things that
is said that it is easier to find a job if you
are working. It seems just counter-intuitive.
There was a colleague sometime ago who
requested suggestions on doing such a search.
I am sorry, I might not have done as good a
job helping her then. I’ve learned some things
especially in Dana Matioli’s recent article.
Dana lists the following precautions:
- on-line job boards “block” or “privacy” features
- “bio-confidentiality” features
- only apply to companies who give their name to
an ad or posting
- wearing ‘interview clothes’ to your normal job
- don’t search or interview or correspond while at
- don’t use your employer’s facilities to create
your public relations documents
Now, all of this is “turned off” if your company is
downsizing or going bankrupt or your boss gives
you specific permission to pursue other avenues.
That can happen.
Did you ever run across an article that
can’t miss when you see it? This happened
this morning when I opened up my alumni
Tom Friedman, a member of the board of
trustees of the university delivered the
commencement and some quotes of his
are still resonating for me….
The world has changed but some essentials
remain true– buidling solid character and
holding firm to an honest and purposeful
reputation. “When everyone can blog with
their laptop, when everyone can be a
paparazzi with their cell phone camera and
everyone can be a movie maker with their
YouTube site, it means that everyone else
is a public figure….the internet is becoming
a kind of permanent record.”
As is typical Tom Friedman, it is filled with
quotable quotes. He urged the audience
1. do what you love, the pay is in more than
2. work your way up, be sincere and build
your competence and confidence and
3. Listen with respect and sincerity to all,
especially with those who you disagree.
4. Treat people with kindness and care.
Many top people have been brought to
their knees for not doing this.
5. Consider what you are doing ALL THE
TIME. It will be remembered.
6. Truth is often stranger than fiction. Be
wise in how you express your uncertainty
about people, facts, and events.
Too bad most readers will not get the
Brandeis University Magazine, Summer 07!