How to avoid being swindled at the job interview?

Swindled

Job Interview Swindler

It can happen to the best of professionals. The company representative or recruiter will create an illusion of grandeur unsurpassed with promises they can’t keep. They feed on your hunger to be wanted, loved, and appreciated for every little bit you stand for. And you say to yourself, “my boss does not treat me like this…these guys must be great to work for.” It’s a facade that is well presented and immaculately served to you on a platter in a way that you can not see the rotting truth underneath.

Yes my dear friends, it has happened to me also. Sucked in by the charisma of the moment and the adrenalin rush that overwhelms you straight after. We are taken off to a place, la la land, where we think we’re in such demand that we are now invincible. At this point, we are blindly about to be swindled! The only catch is  your career is at stake and your future prosperity is about to take a nose dive. Oh yes, lets not underestimate the costly mistake you have made by choosing the wrong job,  Your boss turns out to be totally opposite to his projection and profile and is a psycho in waiting with massive mood swings. The organisational culture is sick and suffering from the ravages of primal behavior and fear. You have gotten yourself into a fine mess and your strategy now turns to exiting the business before you are jettisoned yourself.

It did not have to be like this and precautionary action could have been taken prior to accepting the job. There are a number of things you could have done before accepting the job offer as part of your job search routine. It’s about stealth researching and getting underneath the nose of the bullshit you have been told at the interview to find out the truth. Research is more than just reading the annual report or articles in the press. Anyway, most companies pay to be written up well as part of their marketing strategy. You need to go deeper and talk to people in the industry who know the machinations of the company.

Speak to people who understand the industry you are about to enter and their views about the company you are about to join as an employee. You will find out the stuff  between the lines and what is underneath the cracks. What is the leadership team really like and how are their values and behaviors? What about the culture of the workplace and are the employees happy? Has employee turnover been high and why? Do they have a good safety record, and if not, why are people being hurt? Always remember that good companies are judged by the way they behave when things are not going well with an employee, and not just when they are performing magnificently. I say this because we all have our difficult moments in work life and rough patches at times. We are not made perfect and organisations that can help you when the chips are down, and get you back on your feet performing at the right level, are better to work for than those that will spit you out.

Then it gets really tough and you want to find out more about your boss and your bosses boss. We are considering not just their projection and profile but how they manage people in the workplace. What is their management style really like and how do they generally behave in difficult circumstances? What would their direct reports say about them and describe their attributes altogether? Finding this out will be worth its weight in gold as it may prevent you from making a costly career decision later on. Remember, you are making a fundamental decision at an interview. To choose the company you want to work for for many years to come, progress you career and grow your capability during this time.

There is a website you can research company reviews by past and current employees that remain anonymous, at glassdoor.com.au with over 4 million review so far. I wish I had knowledge about his web site previously before accepting job offers. It would have rounded off my research nicely and assisted me before getting swindled at the job interview!

 

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The untold truth about the Australian job market…

Do you ever get a feeling, that what is happening around you is very different to what our Government is telling you?

I have friends that are very well qualified and credentialed professionals with an abundance of experience unable to secure work within a reasonable time frame. Yes, they are getting squeezed out of the selection process and left wondering what is really going on with the job market in this country. So I did some research, and found that all is not what it seems to be. The engine room of marketing spin is working overtime in Government circles to tell us a sod story that everything will get better soon.

Collin Twiggs is an Australian market analyst and in his blog, Trading Diaries, he makes an astonishing find, and it all starts in the US.  Recently, US employment has been very topical after two months of poor jobs figures. Employers added 113,000 new jobs, against an expected 185,000, last month compared to a low 75,000 in December 2013. Rather than focus on monthly data, let’s take a long-term view.

Collin Twiggs states that the number of full-time employed as a percentage of total population [red line below] fell dramatically during the GFC, with about 1 in 10 employees losing their jobs. Since then, roughly 1 out of 4 full-time jobs lost has been restored, while the other 3 are still missing (population growth fell from 1.0% to around 0.7% post-GFC, limiting the distortion).

emp-fulltime (1)

Participation rate of employment in the US

Part-time employment — the difference between total employment [green] and full-time employed [red] below — has leveled off since 2000 at roughly 6% of the total population. So loss of full-time positions has not been compensated by a rise in casual work. Both have been affected.

emp-fulltime-total

 

A closer look at the Australian context can be made by reviewing the labour force participation rate. This is a good measure to use for employment strength in the economy because it’s less subject to manipulation by Government. It’s a  measure of the active portion of an economy’s labor force. During the GFC in 2008 the labour force participation rate for all person aged 15+ came to a sudden stop at 65.6%. The participation rate has declined steadily since to 64.7% in July 2014 and this represents almost a 1% decline.

So what has happened to jobs growth and why are we in a period of decline? During the GFC companies got smarter and became conditioned to survival strategies. After all, they had just been through the worst global economic threat since the great depression of the 1930’s. Every time there is blip in the global economy or the US market sneezes we see the ripple effect down under.

During the GFC crisis companies learned to do more with fewer employees. So if you feel stressed out doing the job of 1.5 or 2 people with little or no extra reward, then you’re not alone. It has become common place and it may be the price you have to pay to stay employed. It’s my opinion that ongoing efficiency, rationalization and economies of scales has meant there is limited job creation penciled in for our future economy. The 1% decline in the participation rate may be a signal for worse to come as the trend line points downwards. Alternatively, are we experiencing similar structural job decline to the US, and those percentage of jobs lost since 2008, have simply vanished…never to be seen again?

Do you warm up before a job interview?

warming-up

Your on your way to an important interview first thing in the morning and navigating through some stiff traffic. Your listening to your favorite morning radio program and having some laughs along the way. Some drivers have cut-in front of you inappropriately, while trying to steal the last meter of territory you have managed to obtain through some tricky and skillful driving. You share your opinion of their driving standards in the usual manner by sign language and other unpleasant expressions of the not so kind variety. No need to worry about the interview for now…you will cross that bridge when you arrive at the employers premises. In the meantime, you have some personal objectives to achieve such as testing the limits of your road rage and the amount of points you have scored against inferior drivers.

The interview is worth a major promotion to you and a 10-20% increase in salary with a highly reputable company. It’s the third and final meeting with the CEO, and as far as you are aware, there are 2 candidates remaining for this highly regarded and well sought position. Have you prepared appropriately for this meeting? Have you given yourself every chance to succeed or are you just going in cold and hoping your personality and experience will pull you through? Anyway, this employer really wants you and how could they not resist hiring some one of your reputable professional talents.

Sports athletes prepare meticulously before an event. Musicians and television performers go through a managed routine to ensure they are stage ready to deliver an immaculate performance. Stunt drivers plan every centimeter of their task execution in intricate detail to ensure they survive the dangers of their harrowing ordeal. However, I have lost count the amount of times i have seen job candidates come to an interview unprepared thinking their smarts is going to wing-it through the process. Why do they think they are so good that they can outperform at the interview with very little preparation?

Lets go back to the early morning driver and reverse the situation. You have turned off the radio and left home 20 minutes earlier, driving patiently in a reasonable way, and not concerned too much about other drivers.  You have prepared a number of practice interview questions and have jotted them down to trigger your memory and activate your thought processes. Preparing your mind about what’s ahead at the interview and silently role-playing answers aloud or in your thoughts will give you an edge. Elite athletes use this method of role-playing and visioning in preparation for the real thing when the match commences.

Here are a list of ten warm-up questions you can role-play on your way to the job interview to stretch the mind and put you in a state of readiness whether it’s the first or final interview;

  1. What attracted you to this position and why do you think you are a good fit for the role?
  2. What do you know about our Company?
  3. Provide me with a brief overview of your work history by focusing on your key areas of expertise?
  4. Provide me an example of a difficult situation at work and how you resolved this issue? What were the key steps you took to achieve a satisfactory outcome?
  5. What are the 3 things you enjoy doing most at work and why?
  6. What are your career objectives for the next 5 years?
  7. Why are you seeking to leave your current job?
  8. Can you give an example where you have made an improvement to a process at work and how you went about achieving this?
  9. How would others describe your work style and work ethic?
  10. Are there any questions you would like to ask about our business and the job?

Warm-up before the interview…when travelling to work in the car, bus or train. Alternatively, grab a coffee before the interview and find a quiet location to sit down. Warm-up by jotting down bullet point answer to the warm-up questions provided. It should not take more than 20 minutes…and be in a state of ultimate preparedness that will give you the edge and outperform at the interview.

‘Jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs’ – Job Myth of Fact?

Interview Outfit 1

Interview Outfit 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what are the secrets to job success? Do jobs really go to those that are good at getting jobs?

Lets bust this job myth open and uncover some key ingredients that elite job hunters use in their skill set to propel them to the top of the pile.

How critical it is today for employers to ensure they can achieve a quality match during the recruitment process when screening possible candidates. Your projection and profile may be the only thing left standing when applicants of equal ability are key contenders for a job. Your ability to align with corporate values and mission statements is essential. Companies will want you to be an extension of their corporate profile and you will be measured on your ability to fit the mold.

If you can obtain information on the corporate values of the company you are attending an interview for and can translate that into your profile, then you have a definite edge.

Research the founder of the company and what type of person they are. See if you can obtain articles on the company and write-ups on the CEO. Is the company older, traditional and more conservative or is it a new, vibrant and an entrepreneurial business? Do your homework and get that edge on other candidates.

You will be asked questions at interviews that seek to project your personal, business and professional profiles. Employers are always interested in your profiles as part of trying to establish a key match. For example does your professional profile match the organizational profile and corporate culture? Here are questions you may encounter that focus on your profiles:

  1. How would you describe yourself?
  2. How would people you work with describe you?
  3. How would your superiors describe you?

During the interview process, try wherever practicable to reflect on your personal and professional profiles in your responses to interview questions.

Personal Profile

Professional Profile

 

Reliability

Drive

Honesty

Motivation

Pride

Communication skills

Dedication

Team-player

Analytical skills

Energy

Listening

Confidence

Integrity

Determination

During the interview, it is good practice to add to your personal and professional profile by reflecting on your business profile. Your business profile is an indication of your work ethics. Companies are always interested in the prospective candidate’s work ethics and will consider various behaviours such as getting to work on time and working late if required.

Interviewers will test your ability to get tasks done more efficiently and economically by thinking of improved ways of doing things. Companies also have rules and standards called procedures and they expect employees to follow these rules all the time whilst performing their daily activities. The bottom line is about money and companies are profit-making organisations, so your ability to contribute to business profit growth will be considered positively by employers.

Build your business profile into your answer to interview questions wherever possible. The following is a list of the key business profiles you should consider:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Economy
  3. Procedures
  4. Profit

So there you have it…what elite job hunters practice as their key ingredient for success…they have a self awareness of their projection and profile and how it translates into a compelling business profile. Its about seeking a quality fit with the organisation and its culture. This is how jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs.

Exposing the hidden job market…elaborate marketing myth or fact?

So what is the mystery of the hidden job market that has us in raptures and clinging to a sea of job opportunities undiscovered to the naked eye? Jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs and the secrets of elite job hunters  are revealed in an invisible jobs paradise.  A Shangri-La of employment opportunities that only career transition experts hold the keys to good fortune.

Let me bust this discussion right open with a bout of controversy that will inspire you senseless into believing its nothing more than an elaborate marketing hoax! That’s right, there is no such thing as the hidden job market.

When I wrote my book, How to find a Job in 6 weeks, almost 7 years ago, I dedicated a whole chapter to the hidden job market and I researched this phenomenon to find proof of this sea of jobs. I attended seminars and even paid good money pretending I was out of work by attending career transition programs, at a lofty expense.

What I found was incredible and consistent throughout; an elaborate sales training program re-packaged into a networking platform for job hunters to generate leads. And leads for what? It was leads to people, by way of referral, who are in the know about untapped and hidden jobs. Wow! It was a sales lead and networking program that also involved cold calling prospects that have the ability to make hiring decisions.

So there is no hidden job market and by definition it can’t exist. To assume one does exits would be saying that employers are deliberately disguising or hiding their job vacancies. That is, jobs that are not advertised by internal job boards, newspapers, online or anywhere else. For a small proportion of jobs, employers may ask a recruitment agency to research candidates confidentially or perhaps the hiring manager has knowledge or a relationship with someone containing specialist skills that goes back many years. However, that is not a hidden job market but a select and very small proportion of jobs that are recruited outside traditional advertised means. Hardly the sea of jobs referred to as the hidden job market.

So how big is the hidden job market? 70%, 75% or 80% I hear you say? This is nothing but statistical  nonsense of the best kind that cannot be justified. The hidden job market is no way as large as proposed. US Government Bureau of Labor  Statistics in a regular report called JOLTS stated in 2010 that 40,831,000 hires were made. Of this number 25,490,000 were advertised positions.  The difference is 15,341,000 or 38% that falls into the category on unpublished jobs. This is significantly lower that the touted 75% hidden job market.

So, is there a place for networking in your job search tool kit? The answer is yes, and concept of networking as a job search tool must be part of your toolkit when looking for work and not discounted. It should work together as part of a suite of job search methods, and more importantly should be targeted at high value contacts and  people who are genuinely interested in helping you.

Looking for a job by networking is about relationships you have built over time with people in your industry and profession you trust. These are people who are more likely to assist you or direct you to job opportunities that you are not aware because there is a mutual concern for you. The solution to the hidden job market is to engage in sensible networking principles that may assist you in tapping into a less inflated number of unpublished opportunities.

Resume Resurrection…bringing it back to life?

If you have come to this page thinking you are about to discover a new age religion that was lost and found within the depths of the deep Amazon jungle…I’m sorry…you may have to move on to another category!

This post is truly about resumes and how you can dust the cobwebs of your existing template and bring it back to life…resurrect them as part of an ongoing career plan. That is, im assuming you can remember where you keep your resume? Is it In a forgotten file path on your PC or dusting away in the confines of a cabinet draw with other unrelated documents?

So why should you bother? Have you not got enough to think about already? Now the author wants you to develop a career plan amongst all other things. Let me bring this terrible tragedy of the resurrected resume to an end and encourage you to at least consider the benefits of keeping your you profile document up to date.

I have been resurrecting my resume for many years in a way that is less time-consuming than you think…I will explain how to go about it…The best time to resurrect your resume is when you are on leave from work and usually during the Christmas break. You are relaxed and not in constant demand from work and other activities. All of a sudden you have some time up your sleeve to ponder about your future. Yes…its New Year and everyone becomes retrospective about what they did and what they want to be doing better. Your brain is fertile ground for reviewing you resume with the future in mind because you are in the zone, and heaven forbid, you may even be creative and adventurous.

Resumes

Resumes (Photo credit: jdlasica)

Find your old resume document, wherever it is, print out a hardcopy, grab your favourite drink and just look at it for a while. It’s probably out of date, and does not have your current achievements listed. Be critical…is it a true reflection of your projection and profile? If you were a recruiter in your field would you give this person a job?

Spend no more that an hour and pencil in your changes. We all have to set objectives at work every year and then measure our performance against them during the performance review process. This is where you will find your new achievements for your resume.. You only need 2-3 significant objectives that can demonstrate how you contributed to solving Company problems each year. So you don’t even have to think about developing new achievements for your resume. They already exist during the course of your work and all you need to do is to paste them into your resume. So the job is done and it only took around an hour of your time.

So you are still sceptical about this and need more convincing. Let me offer some words of wisdom which is about as close as you will get to a new age religion from me today. Expect the unexpected in life, one day during your career, either yourself or your boss will decide that you need to part ways and move on. It may not happen today or next year, or maybe not for the next 5 years, but being prepared with you career plan will grow your confidence during this difficult time. Because you are in a state of preparedness rather than panic-stricken and anxious.

And how can we not be prepared for ambitious recruitment consultants that head hunt candidates for a living. Maybe you will be approached one day, and I can assure you that the first thing they will ask you for is an updated resume because they need to move quickly on your candidature. Again, it’s about your state of preparedness.

Stealth Performance Management – When you don’t see it coming…

stealth

 It’s cloak and dagger stuff. Or at least, this type of behaviour went out of fashion during the dark ages of autocratic and control freak management. However be warned, not everything is what it seems to be and you should always twist your head sideways  from your computer to see what’s around the corner. Maybe you can’t see it coming…

In my book, how to find a Job in 6 weeks, I discuss the importance of trying to hold onto your job and resolve issues that may plague your portfolio from time to time. That is because its better to be gainfully employed when seeking work rather than unemployed and having to provide a half baked reason why it was imperative you resign from your job. In this context though, we have to be fair also and understand that some actions are beyond your control, and despite every good intention you may have, when your manager decides to go stealth and apply unethical means to push you out the door, that becomes a difficult proposition for anyone to contemplate.

I had a call from a colleague that was distressed about a conversation he had with his boss. He was called into a discussion at short notice disguised as a chat. He was told, its just a chat, and not a performance discussion, however, they wanted to discuss some aspects of his work. If it’s not a performance discussion then why is someone else in the room taking notes? This is when the lines get blurred and stealth management sets-in. The discussion did not go well and my colleague was dragged into a performance review unknowingly. Several aspects about his work performance were raised. He was caught unaware and did not see it coming. There had been no prior performance discussion or concerns raised by his boss.

The best way to protect yourself against stealth management is to follow some guiding principles;

  1. Ask you boss if you are having a performance discussion?
  2. If the chat metamorphosis into a performance discussion you have a right to stop the meeting
  3. You also have a right to have the performance concerns addressed in a formal letter with examples and evidence of poor performance so that you may respond accordingly
  4. You need to check if there is a policy for managing performance, performance improvement plans, in your business and whether your boss has followed procedure
  5. If you do meet again for a formal performance discussion you have the right to a support person
  6. You may need to seek advice from a lawyer or employee advocate to understand your rights during the process
  7. Stay calm and don’t panic during the initial chat, it will hurt you and you will feel let down,however you should maintain your composure.

If you follow these basic principles, your boss will recognise that his conduct in managing the process is now being questioned. Your boss is not above procedure and needs to tow the line also. It just so happens that every once and a while they think they can apply pressure techniques outside a fair process and get away with it. Who knows, maybe they have done it before and got away with it?

And don’t be hard on yourself, sometime these carefully orchestrated events are hard to detect, and we don’t see it coming…