Refocusing Career Counseling Clientele

When I started my company, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., it was with the mission of promoting the hiring of veterans and merchant mariners. I worked with everyone, but our national heroes were my primary concern.

I will still work with everyone when it comes to executive recruiting. If you are qualified for a position I am looking to fill, I will consider you regardless of whether or not you have served. However, when it comes to career counseling, as of January 3, I will only work with veterans, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, healthcare professionals, merchant mariners, and their spouses. The reason is simple: We have new heroes who need our support, not just veterans of the military.

I don’t want to make this political, but the treatment of law enforcement has been disgusting, to put it mildly. Firefighters, to a certain extent, have had to risk their lives because of how law enforcement have been treated. Healthcare professionals are facing burnout. As for our merchant mariners, they have always been the forgotten heroes. And the spouses of all (hopefully) have stood by them. They all need credible career services without the games. Others may be able to afford to go to career counselors, pay thousands of dollars, for services that can last years – that’s not a typo! – but our heroes cannot. The game is simple: The longer the services last, the more the counselor (sometimes called “coach,”) earns. So they have not incentive to work quickly. I work quickly, efficiently and effectively.

All my clients have always paid a flat rate, veterans receiving a 50% deduction, and my services have always continued until the client gets their next job. That will not change. I have no incentive to draw out the process. All I require is an initial 2-hour session and then we will have unlimited interview rehearsals (those are what are important) until the job is secured. (I also make myself available to answer any questions a client has.) No limits. No small print. No strings attached. And the price will stay that which was previously paid by veterans.

Anyone can hire me to help them with their resume and cover letter, as part of my Professional Writing Services, so I am not leaving those who can’t afford my competitors in the lurch. But the important services, the planning of a job search campaign and, most importantly, interview practice, are reserved for my Career Counseling clients.

Let me tell you about some of the veterans, police and medical staff I have helped in the past. In all cases, the key was the response to the offer (it is not a question), “Tell us about yourself.”

One soldier, who had served in the Infantry, told me his response would be to summarize his resume. That’s the mistake most people make. The good response is to tell the interviewer something not in the resume that speaks to their character. In this case, the veteran had guarded a construction site where the Afghans were building a girls’ school. Then he guarded the girls. His response to the interviewers was to tell them about his pride and satisfaction in being a part of girls receiving a formal education for the first time in their lives. Their response was a job offer.

A Marine who came to me was very shy. He did not want to tell me about his military career. It took a couple of hours but he finally relented. A job interview is no place for modesty. He told me that he was the recipient of a Silver Star! When I asked him why he had received it, he smiled and said, “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you!” I told him that that was exactly how he should respond in an actual interview. We added “Silver Star recipient” to the top of his resume. His phone starting ringing. He got interviews and he got job offers.

I have a great deal of respect for nurses, having worked at nursing homes for over four years. One nurse’s story was about how she successfully integrated technology (administrative not medical) into her team’s workday, decreasing the time they had to spend away from patients. She, too, got the job offer.

A police officer, who had taken early retirement, told me a story which, when he told it, was very funny. I cannot do it justice, and won’t try. The short version is that while serving on the New York Police Department, in his first year, he delivered two babies. That was it. No more babies. One day he single-handedly captured two armed bank robbers with the loot. He told me he was more afraid delivering the babies than confronting the robbers, face-to-face. When he told the story to the job interviewers, he got the job offer.

One doctor told me a story which I would really like to forget! (I apparently had not made it clear enough to him that I’m a Ph.D. doctor, not an MD doctor! For the record, they are jealous of us because we have one more letter than they do!) In any event, while his story was not appropriate for me, it was certainly appropriate for his job interviewers and he got the offer.

Our heroes have unique stories to tell. They just have to know which ones to tell and how to tell them.

I look forward to serving those who have served – including their spouses.

It’s All About Customer Service

In today’s day and age, it may not be such a bad idea to review the basics, for both employees and employers:

Way back in 2009, when I started my business, I met with a friend who arranged a meeting for me with a friend of his who was thinking about hiring staff. According to my friend, who was a baseball lover, I “hit it out of the ballpark” when it came to answering questions, but I blew it because I did not know the answer to the question, “What are the three things people notice about you?”

The answer was, at least in the case of men, your shoes (which must be shined), your pen (which must be impressive), and your watch (which must be professional). My shoes were shined and my pen, while not expensive, was (and is) impressive. The problem was my watch. In those days I wore a Casio watch with a calculator. Not a very professional look. So I purchased a nice looking Timex and, for the first time ever, people actually complimented me on my watch!

Years later, a gentleman called me about my professional writing services. As we discussed his needs it became clear that he probably would be better off hiring a marketer. I told him, “It sounds like you are trying to buy individual puzzle pieces and not the complete puzzle.” Little did I know that his one hobby was putting together thousand-piece puzzles! Needless to say, it was a productive conversation.

He had met with marketers who were more than happy to charge him thousands of dollars for their boilerplate solutions. They talked to him about logos, and websites, and everything else they could design. The one thing they could not do was to answer his question, Why, when people come to his store, do they leave without making a purchase?

I told him my guess was that he probably had either a staffing problem – his employees did not know how to sell – or a technology problem – closing a sale was too complicated. So I told him I would be happy to do a little friendly corporate espionage but I needed a Rolex. When he asked me why, I told him that I wanted his staff, and the staff of his competitors, to think I was wealthy.

When we were chatting prior to getting down to business, he had mentioned that his wife had a jewelry shop so I was confident he could get me the Rolex. We met at her store, she gave me the watch (I insisted that she not tell me how much it was worth!), I signed away my life, promised her that if I lost the watch, damaged it, or it was stolen, I would make her a widow! (I don’t know why I said it, it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.) I then handed her my Timex (Who needs two watches?!) and her husband and I left, he headed for his store and I headed for him competitor a half a block away.

At his competitor’s, I was immediately greeted by a saleswoman. She welcomed me to the store, asked me what I was interested in and then, when I told her I wanted to look around, she invited me to do so and to call me if I needed any assistance. I spent a good 20 minutes in the store, touched a few things, inspected a few things, and then proceeded to leave. At the door the woman stopped me, thanked me for coming in, and gave me her card in case I had any questions. I thanked her and left. At no time was the Rolex visible.

Then I went to my friend’s store. No one met me at the door. I was ignored. Then, using my left arm, I reached for something and the Rolex appeared. As if by magic, so did his staff. They asked me what I wanted. I told them “I just want to look around.” They hovered over me the entire time I was there. They pointed out the most expensive things in the shop. Finally, I thanked them and left. They did not thank me and did not give me a card.

I went back to the owner’s wife’s store, returned the Rolex, got my Timex back, and, once my heart started beating at a near normal rate, I foolishly asked her how much the Rolex was worth. Let’s just say it’s a good think I did not know when she gave it to me because it was far more expensive than I thought!

I asked to use the phone, called her husband and told him it was time for him to pay up. (My fee for the initial information gathering was a pastrami on rye, coleslaw and a diet Coke.) You know what I reported. He had a high-end store (thus the need for the Rolex) but low-end salespeople. What surprised him was that I blamed him. I told him that it was a matter of training. That he should not hire me to get new staff for him, but he should find someone, with industry experience, who could retrain his staff. He belonged to a trade organization and could easily be introduced to the right person. Which is precisely what happened and his sales problems vanished.

Sometimes the employees are the problem. Sometimes it’s you, the boss. And sometimes you may need someone willing to tell you that.