FRAUDULENT RECRUITING PRACTICES

           Let me begin by stating that when I say “fraudulent” I do not necessarily mean “illegal.” I am not an attorney. While the practices I am about to describe may be considered “deceptive,” and I believe they are unethical, I am not saying that anyone behaving in this regard should be the subject of criminal proceedings. Civil? Maybe.

           It seems to me, if a recruiter prepares a candidate for a job interview so well, that the candidate behaves in a way totally divorced from their real character and personality, and they are hired, the employer may have grounds for a civil suit because of the deception.

End of “law” lecture.

Everyone in business, whether they know it or not, whether they want to believe it or not, whether they like it or not, is in sales. What is “sales?” What is “selling?” For me, it’s the art of persuasion.

I don’t remember the book, but I remember reading a sales book where the author deals with the traditional sales job interview request by the interviewer to the candidate, “Sell me this pen.” The classic response is to ask the person why they need a pen and then, based on the response, to talk about the pen’s attributes and benefits. A more modern approach is to tell a story that will resonate with the prospective buyer by explaining how the pen helped someone, similar to them, in their same exact situation. But the author of the book had a novel approach: His suggestion was to take the pen, put it in your pocket and walk out of the room. If the interviewer wanted the pen back, he’d have to buy it!

After reading the book, I had a job interview for a fundraising position. Sure enough, the interviewer handed me his pen and said, “Sell me this pen!”

I smiled. I put it in my pocket. I got up. I left the room and sat in the Reception area. I had a huge smile on my face. The receptionist asked what I was smiling about. I told her, “You’ll see!”

A minute later the (angry) interviewer, let’s call him “Joe,” appeared. The conversation went something like this:

Joe: Give me my pen.

Bruce: What pen?

Joe: The pen I told you to sell to me and that you put in your pocket.

Bruce: You can’t ask someone to sell you something that they do not own. So, by implication, when you handed me the pen and told me to sell it to you, you were giving me ownership. The pen is mine.

(At this point a delivery guy arrived with lunch for the receptionist and one of her colleagues who were doing their best not to fall over laughing.)

Bruce: Excuse me. How much is their lunch?

(Let’s say, for say of argument he said $17.)

Bruce: I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll sell you the pen for $20 and you can give it to the delivery guy and he can keep the change.

Joe gave the twenty to the delivery guy, I gave him the pen, and he stormed out of the Reception area to the laughter of his colleagues.

Now understand. I’m not stupid. I knew after one minute that I would not work for the guy. I didn’t like anything about him. Not the mess in his office. Not his manners. And certainly not his lack of personality. When we met, he did not stand up, he barely looked me in the eyes, gave me a weak handshake, couldn’t find my résumé in the pile of papers on his desk and actually asked me what my name was. I was not going to work for him! So, seeing that I had nothing to lose, I figured I’d have some fun. And I did!

But, as I said, sales is the art of persuasion. And persuasion is nothing new. If I am not incorrect, Aristotle was the first to address the topic. He said there were three ways to persuade someone to do something: ethos – meaning ethics; pathos – meaning emotion; and logos – meaning logic.

The problem is you don’t know which to use. The good news is, it is easy to find out. Just, and more importantly listening, to your prospect. If, in the case of an employer, they are focused on their company’s mission, you know to use ethos. If they are talking about all the people they help, you know to use pathos. And if they are focused on why the position needs to be filled by someone who possesses all of the requirements listed in the job description, you know to use logos.

The idea for this talk came from a lead article in this month’s (Winter 2019/2010) Inc. magazine, by Cameron Albert-Deitch. It is titled “The Rise of the Fake Applicant: How misinformation is clogging the job market” (pp. 13-14).

That article begins with the story of a woman who lied on her résumé. She claimed to have worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Problem was, she applied to a company that actually worked with NOAA and the boss did not know her or of her. During her initial phone interview, he was in the room and asked to meet with her in-person. Realizing she was caught, she withdrew her candidacy and hung up.

Now people have been stretching the truth on their résumés probably since the first résumé was written. I’ll start with an example of someone you might have heard of, John F. Kennedy.  As Richard Reves, author of President Kennedy: Profile of Power (Simon & Schuster, 1993) told David Rubinstein in his 2019 book (Simon & Schuster), The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians (p. 243):

Kennedy’s résumé was faked. It said that he had studied under Harold Laski at the London School of Economics and therefore was an expert on Marxism. [Laski was a famous political theorist, socialist, and Labour Party leader.] The truth was he enrolled there but never went to England, never met Harold Laski.

 Now if I may dust off my Ph.D. in International Relations for a moment, his lie led to all sorts of troubles, including (in part) the Cuban Missile Crisis, because when he met Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna, and tried to debate him on Marxism, the Soviet Premier made a fool out of him and believed he was an amateur who he could beat at will. But that’s another story.

Let me give you a few personal examples of résumé lies that I could use. I never have. I never would. But if I did, I would not exactly be lying.

I am an award-winning athlete. Anyone who has seen my chiseled features and rugged good looks will not be surprised by that and would not give it a second thought. The sport was bowling, and the trophy was for perfect attendance. (I can’t prove it because I threw it away decades ago!) But, technically, that makes me an “award-winning athlete.”

I am the author of six books. My master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation (highly recommended for sufferers of insomnia) were published by leading academic publishers. That’s perfectly true. I also wrote four other books: one was a textbook for my students (Don’t waste your money; it’s dated.); one was a tongue-in-cheek look at the trials and tribulations of job seekers (a little dated but still pretty much relevant); the third is a serious look at conducting an effective job search (highly recommended by all people of good taste!); and the fourth is about some of my experiences living in/moving to Israel (which is not very popular in some quarters).

Now I wrote all six books, but only the first two were actually “published.” The final four were self-published. In essence, that means they were not “published” at all, just “printed.” This country has a long and proud history of self-publishing. Benjamin Franklin comes to mind. I believe The Federalist Papers were self-published. But when you self-publish you are not going through a peer-review process. All it means is that you wrote a bunch of words and paid someone to print out the pages and bind them in covers. That’s it. You had the money to make the books, not necessarily the brains to write on the topic.

But here is where things get tricky. The “tongue-in-cheek” book was a Number Four bestseller on Amazon. The book about conducting an effective job search was a Number One bestseller on Amazon. And the book on Israel was an international Best Seller on Amazon reaching Number One in the US and Canada and Number Five in the UK. All quite true. And all quite irrelevant since being a bestseller on Amazon is not like being a bestseller on The New York Times or Wall Street Journal lists. All it means is that for one hour, of one day, the book was in the top 100 in at least one category in which I chose to list them. Now in my case, I took it seriously and did not choose frivolous categories. I’m not so certain that everyone does that because they all want to claim to be an “Amazon bestselling author.” It looks good on the bio when they are introduced at a speaking event, and it looks good on the résumé. Unless, of course, people in the audience or the job interviewers, have seen my video where I reveal the deep, dark, ugly secret of how to do it, or at least how I did it. (I’m not sure, but if the author were to buy, let’s say 100 copies of their book, and they system were to allow the purchase, that would probably make it an instant Number One bestseller!)

Now some people “fudge” their accomplishments on their résumé. I’ll use myself as an example. I can honestly say that, when I was a fundraiser, I brought in the largest one-time annual gift that 150-year old charity had ever received, to the best of our knowledge. That’s true. But it was only $25,000. For us, that made me a “major gifts” fundraiser. I was a hero for a day. Fundraisers at large non-profits, reading this, are now falling on the floor laughing because 25 grand is NOT “major” for them, but fairly “minor.” In the four years or so I was at that charity, I increased donations almost four-fold. That’s true. But it went from around $200,000 to about $750,000. On my résumé, I included the numbers, not just the percentages. Whenever I receive a résumé that states financial goals were reached, but there are no hard figures, I have a pretty good idea that we are not talking about significant financial successes. And when I ask the applicant to include real numbers, I have almost always been proven correct.

In his article, Albert-Deitch reports that employers are seeing totally false résumés, with phony employers. That’s not surprising. (More on that later). Also, with all the information available about companies and their key employees, a good con artist, and that’s what they are, can tell an uninformed interviewer everything they want to know about a company and its leadership simply by spending some time on the company’s website and LinkedIn. They know everything about the company, and their chosen supervisor, but they never actually worked there.

That is something that in my 17 years as a recruiter I have never seen.  I have had people claim to have degrees, which I guess is technically true, from unaccredited “universities.” I have spotted many. I never attack the candidate or accuse them of lying, I simply asked, “Why did you attend an unaccredited university and list it under ‘Education’ on your résumé?” And they always respond the same way: Click – they end the call or leave the room.

But this all has to do with “fraudulent” practices by candidates, not recruiters. There are, recruiters who advise candidates to “fudge” their résumés. I won’t even try to guess how many times I have been told, “The recruiter told me to change it,” when I asked about a job title or even dates of employment.

The problem is getting worse because the economy is so good. It’s a tight job market and, especially in IT, and especially in cybersecurity, there is a shortage of qualified candidates. It has gotten so bad, based on Albert-Deitch’s article, that apparently candidates have their qualified friends handle the initial phone interview, get them the in-person interview, and then they show up for the actual interview hoping that the interviewer will not remember what they sounded like over the phone. But, again, that’s not the recruiter, that’s the candidate.

However, according to the article, recruiters prep candidates for interviews “or feed answers to inexperienced candidates in real time.” And some, unbeknownst to the candidate, redo their résumés so that they will pass the algorithms used by the employer’s (the recruiter’s client’s) Applicant Tracking System so they will be considered for the job.

The reason recruiters do these things is that they only get paid if their candidates are hired. They want to close the deal. So they help the candidates any way they can, ethics be damned.

In the Inc. article it was reported that there are numerous résumés on Indeed with the same formatting and identical wording, except for the candidates’ names, contact information and employer names. Apparently, this may include totally fictitious companies.

So, what can an employer do to catch the disreputable?

First, if you have never heard of a company listed on a résumé, see if it exists. Don’t just Google them to find a website. After all, anyone can set up a website. And even if you call the listed phone number, so what? If the person is willing to set up a phony website, why wouldn’t they get a “burner” phone and give it to a friend to play receptionist? Go to the state website, usually the office of the Secretary of State, and see if the company is actually registered in that state.

Second, ask for clarifications. If an applicant claims to be a “published author” and there is no list of publications on the résumé, ask for it. Are we talking books, articles, letters to the editor, or blog posts? If they claim to be a recognized expert, ask who recognizes them? If they say they have been quoted in the media, ask for the list. If they claim to have been on television, ask for the links. If they claim to be “award winning,” and there’s no “Awards” section on the résumé, ask about the award.  In other words, make them prove that their claims are valid.  And if you do that during the initial phone interview, you’ll probably save yourself a lot of time and aggravation.

Third, check references. I once had a candidate tell me that he had more references on his LinkedIn profile than anyone else. And that may have been true. There were a lot! So, I printed out the first page of references, handed it to him, and told him to get me the phone numbers of the first 10 and I would choose three to call. I promised I would tell him in advance so he could reach out to them. (Fair is fair.) I never heard from him again.

Fourth, contact HR at former places of employment to confirm that the person actually worked there, their title and pay range.

Fifth, conduct background checks. In the end, you might save money.  And this is not just in the case of persons who will have access to money. Everyone you hire will have access to your most important asset: data, yours and your clients’. Are they going to use or abuse it? Everyone should have to undergo a background check.

Fifth, if it is the type of job that requires hard-skills, using a certain software, coding, etc., bring the candidate in for a day, pay them, and give them actual work to do. Don’t give them access to your network but see if they can deliver on what they claim. They may actually and honestly believe, for example, that they are great with QuickBooks or Excel, but their definition of “great” and yours may be totally different.

Seventh, and most importantly, protect yourself from unscrupulous recruiters. (Pause for blatant self-promotion.) I give a six-month guarantee that if for any reason a placement does not work out, I will conduct a replacement search, for that position, for free. It is not in my self-interest to con a client for a quick pay day. That’s why I don’t prep candidates. I don’t tell them, “The last guy who went in for an interview did this, that or the other thing, which really bothered the owner, so don’t do it.” I need the candidates to be themselves because I do not like having to honor my guarantee. (And I have only had to do it maybe five times in the 10 years I have been in business for myself.) A six-month guarantee is reasonable for all concerned, albeit not for industries notorious for having high-turnover rates.

Most recruiters, I would like to believe, are honest. But, as employers, you have to be suspicious.  It’s called “due diligence.” It’s a good thing to practice!

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Bruce Hurwitz, the Amazon international best selling author of The 21st Century Job Search and Immigrating to Israel, is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that! A five-star rated speech writer on Fiverr, he is the host and producer of the live-interview podcast, Bruce Hurwitz Presents: MEET THE EXPERTS

Links to LinkedIn Posts You May Find of Interest

Ten Things for Veterans to Keep in Mind When Conducting a Job Search

10 Things to Do to Get over the Holiday Job Seeking Blues

Why I Believe I am Correct in Accepting Connect Requests from Everyone

The 5-Second Resume Skim

Two Jobs to Think Thrice About Before Taking

How I Got a Former Prostitute Hired

5 Steps to Successful Career Change

Closing the Salary Gap

9 Questions Every Candidate Should Ask in an Interview and Why

Before hiring, meet the wife!

Why reading the classics is important

Check Your References

What is an Informational Meeting and How Should You Conduct One?

The Dangers of Frivolous Accusations of Sexual Harassment

Why Volunteering is so Important for Job Seekers

What is appropriate to share with colleagues and what isn’t?

Is this the Dumbest or Most Brilliant Reason for Working on a Straight Commission?

On Time Management

What will the 2018 Resume Look Like?

Job Alert: IT Project Manager and IT Account Exec – Hoboken, NJ

IT Project Manager – Hoboken, NJ   (20 minutes from the Port Authority)

Are you looking for a career move to a company where the environment aligns to your career goals?Are you unafraid of new challenges?Are you comfortable with a reasonable amount of change and fluid reporting structures?Would you like to work at the “best college” in the industry, one of the few companies that can claim to have been listed seven consecutive years by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation’s fastest growing privately held companies?And do you want to work in a culture that promotes unlimited learning,entrepreneurship and opportunity?Then continue reading.

The Project Manager (PM) will be responsible for the overallon-time and on-budget delivery of successful technology installations, along with developing and communicating work plans, managing deadlines and coordinating the Network Engineering team’s activities and sub-team activities.He/she will be responsible for defining and agreeing on deliverables and milestones, setting and controlling scope.Additionally, the PM will be responsible for communicating client status and vision to the company’s management and any other project shareholders.Projects tasks will include the definition of user requirements, strategy for project delivery, process measurements, test plans and implementation approach.The PM will be continually tested and will deal with a wide range of challenges.

While the PM will be expected to travel to clients (85% local), this is primarily an on-site position.The PM will have dotted line management responsibility for a team of six engineers, including senior engineers.

The ideal candidate will be energetic, good at assessingsituations, and possess both problem solving skills and the soft skills necessary to know when to compromise. They must have a strong technical background especially familiarity with Microsoft infrastructure, as well as Cloud experience. Additionally, they must be a multi-tasker who can simultaneously oversee projects, deadlines and competing priorities.

Veterans are encouraged to apply.  LOCAL CANDIDATES ONLY!

Specific Skill Requirements

  • Project Management skills necessary to prioritize and manage day-to-day activities and deliverables of the team
  • Act as a liaison between business and technical staff at all levels
  • Support, lead and assist internal customers with requirements definition, project definition, and project planning
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships will all stakeholders in project to assure success
  • Prepare project plans, tollgate documentation and reports
  • Work closely with customers, developers or (AND?) vendors to manage issues, scheduling, etc., as they arise
  • Monitor progress of each project at every phase of the process, doing everything possible to avoid delays and costs
  • Prepare and submit proper close-out documents to all parties.  Assist customers with cost-benefit analyses and business cases to support new project proposals
  • Develop and maintain a detailed understanding of business processes and applications, customer needs and priorities
  • Experience identifying process changes; ability to design and help implement revised processes
  • Experience with preparation and delivery of communications to all levels within an organization
  • Manage dispatch team (TBD)

Experience

  • Minimum 2 to 3 years’ project management experience
  • Technical experience with Microsoft products, the Cloud, Firewalls, Storage Media, and Mobile
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Excellent customer services skills
  • High level of consistent organizational skills
  • Attention to detail in handling and tracking technical issues

Education

  • BS in Computer Science, IT Management/Project Management preferred
  • Microsoft certifications a plus
  • PM Certification NOT required

To apply please submit your resume as a Word Document to bh@hsstaffing.com.

***************

IT Account Manager – Hoboken, NJ  (20 minutes from the Port Authority)

If you are looking for your next job, then this position is not for you.If you are looking to advance in your career, continually learn and work in a dynamic fast-paced environment, then you should continue reading.But only if you have a passion for IT.You need to read the literature out of enjoyment, not duty.IT needs to be not just your career but your hobby. You understand all the capabilities of your cell phone, you’re fascinated by all things digitally transformed, and you know that the “The Cloud” is not something that’s over your head. As for your skills and experience in sales, you need to be a prospector.You can’t be someone who waits for the phone to ring!

If this sounds like you then you are encouraged to join one of the few companies that can claim to have been listed seven consecutive years by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation’s fastest growing privately held companies.They have a culture that promotes unlimited learning, entrepreneurship and opportunity.

As an inside sales support representative you will be pivotal in executing the company’s growth strategy.You will be in contact with IT managers, CFOs and COOs of small and medium-sized blue chip clients, assisting them in resolving their technological challenges.

Veterans are encouraged to apply.  LOCAL CANDIDATES ONLY!

 Qualifications

  • Possess the personality to successfully engagement with C-Suite executives and senior managers
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Proven track record as a strong prospector
  • Positive attitude and desire to work in a rapid-growth professional environment
  • Technical aptitude: Either you are in love with technology or you have a desire to learn how technology impacts business and have the aptitude to understand its impact
  • Phenomenal phone skills with the ability to convey enthusiasm and energy
  • Positive attitude and desire to work in a rapid-growth professional environment
  • Minimum of 2 years’ of continuous employment history

Position Responsibilities

  • Manage client expectations and deliverables
  • Complete outgoing calls to follow-up on existing technology contracts and purchases
  • Complete outgoing calls to leads provided by the Marketing team
  • Explain the company’s value proposition
  • Distribute marketing materials to prospects as needed
  • Schedule 2-5 qualified new account  appointments per week
  • Work with Marketing to develop customer touches to enhance connect rate with prospects
  • Self-motivated and achievement oriented

Required Skills

  • Prior business-to-business calling experience
  • High school diploma required.  Minimum Associates degree in Business or Technology.
  • Knowledge of and experience with managing customer expectations
  • Strong technical aptitude and knowledge, along with the ability to translate the complexities of technology to a lay person’s language
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

To apply please submit your resume as a Word Document to bh@hsstaffing.com.

Stupid Reasons for Not Hiring: Issue 3 – Too Smart

This is the third in what I hope will be an ongoing series about stupid reasons employers give for not hiring someone. The first dealt with being too attractive, and the second being unemployed. This installment is based on the Comment of a reader. If you have an example of a stupid reason for not hiring someone, please share it as a Comment and I may write about it. As I mentioned in the first article, I am interested in stupid reasons, not illegal ones.

Smart employers know to hire people who are smarter than they are. If you know more than your hire, you will be micromanaging them. Not good for a long-term relationship. Plus, what advances will they bring to your company? Doubtful there will be any.

Of course, the exception is an entry-level position where you are hiring based on potential, not experience. But then you want to mentor and train. It is the best investment a company can make in its future. But only if it is an entry-level position.

There are a lot of bosses who do not want to hire people who may challenge them. These bosses should not be bosses. Someone once said, You never want to be the smartest person in the room. That’s true. And if you are the owner of the company, you never want to be the smartest person in the company. By definition, you will be the most knowledgeable about a great many things, but you don’t want to be the smartest.

Of course, if a candidate is smarter than the interviewer, they have to be smart enough not to make the interviewer feel uncomfortable or threatened. And they most definitely have to be smart enough not to appear to be an obnoxious know-it-all who is not a team player, is not willing to learn, and thinks he or she is better than everyone else. In other words, the “too smart” candidate cannot be “too smart” for their own good.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

Stupid Reasons for Not Hiring: Issue 2 – Unemployed

This is the second in what I hope will be an ongoing series about stupid reasons employers give for not hiring someone. The first dealt with being too attractive. Based on the Comment of a reader, the next will deal with being too smart. If you have an example of a stupid reason for not hiring someone, please share it as a Comment and I may write about it. As I mentioned in the first article, I am interested in stupid reasons, not illegal ones.

“It is easier to get a job when you have a job.” That statement has always been very popular. With the downturn in 2008, it lost some of its popularity. Sadly, it’s coming back.

I understand the logic behind the policy: If the person was any good they would be employed. It may be logical, but it is also wrong.

I’m not talking here about someone who stole from their previous employer, or lied, or did any other actionable act which rightly resulted in their being fired. That is understandable, although I must say, I have secured positions for two persons who had been fired for cause. They handled it the correct way and were able to overcome what was an unfortunate lapse in judgment.

For present purposes, I am talking about someone who was laid off. In other words, they did not lose their job because of something they did, but despite what they did. They were good at their job but their job was eliminated because of a restructuring. Or, the company lost a major client or, in the case of non-profits, a major funding source, and their employer had to cut costs.

In this scenario, an employer would be crazy not to consider an unemployed candidate, for a number of reasons:

First, they need the job and will have salary demands lower than someone who is employed. (I am assuming that they are as qualified, or more qualified, than other candidates.)

Second, they will be more appreciative of the job offer. They are scared and you have eliminated their fear. This could result in long-term loyalty.

Third, they can start work immediately. No need to wait two, three or four weeks.

Not hiring someone qualified, simply because they are unemployed through no fault of their own is, in my opinion, stupid. But it also might be illegal, depending on where you live.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

Stupid Reasons for Not Hiring: Issue 1 – Too Attractive

Over the course of my career, I have encountered a number of really stupid reasons for not hiring qualified candidates. I am not talking here about illegal reasons; I am focused on stupid reasons.

For example, when a company says they will not hire someone who has only worked as a consultant, you may not like it, but it is neither illegal nor stupid. The employer is concerned that the candidate will not be able to cope with daily supervision, a 9-to-5 schedule, working closely with colleagues, and dealing with office politics. These are valid points.

What I am talking about are reasons that you would have to bend over backwards to try and justify.

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of topics on the subject. Please share your examples as comments. I’ll be happy to “steal” your ideas. For the record, #2 in the series will be on not hiring the unemployed. (And, yes, I know, some states are trying to me it an illegal practice.)

But for now, let’s focus on the attractive.

I am going to use a female candidate as the example. The reason is, I have seen attractive women not being hired because of their looks for the reasons that I am about to explain. It may very well also happen with male candidates. I’ve just never seen it.

A very attractive, totally qualified woman applies for the position of Executive Assistant for a married, male CEO. Hands down, no argument, no debate, nothing to discuss, she is the best candidate. So why does the CEO not hire her? “My wife would kill me!”

A very attractive, totally qualified woman applies for a job. The boss does not want her because he (or she – it goes both ways!) is afraid that the men in the office will find her a distraction.

This, too, was something I experienced first-hand, kind of. (I witnessed it, I was not the “victim.” For whatever reason, the women I have worked with have been able to control themselves and they never congregated around my desk…)

A young woman, fresh out of college, with a good resume (she had a couple of impressive internships) came to me because, while she was getting interviews, she was not getting any job offers. I got to know her and then we did a mock interview based on the job description for the previous position for which she had been interviewed.

To my mind, she did nothing wrong. But I had a feeling.

I told her that I was going to tell her something that might sound strange. The story went like this:

When you walk into an office for an interview, the women all look at you and start talking among themselves in a whisper, glancing in your direction. The men do the same. And when you had your internships, the guys in the office would find excuses to congregate around your desk.

At this point, she had a weird expression on her face. She stopped and said: That’s exactly what happens and what happened! How did you know?

I told her about what I had seen when I had office jobs. These things are not new. They happen all the time and with every generation. Sadly, as a species, we have not advanced much!

Then we did another mock interview. This time I told her what she had to say in her next interview.

First, I warned her not to say “Because I am so attractive…,” because that sounds pompous. You have to be modest. So, in response to the appropriate question or opportunity I told her to say the following:

For whatever reason, some guys find me attractive. When I had my first internship they would find excuses to come to my desk. I was always polite but I told them that I was there to work and learn, not to date. Most accepted that but in one or two cases, they would not stop. So I went to my supervisor and she stopped it. I tell you this because I want you to know how I deal with difficult situations and that I keep my private life out of the office.

Of course, I told her she could only say it if it were true. She smiled and told me that it was true for her second internship, but not the first. She was used to guys hanging around her and didn’t realize that it was inappropriate. (Ah, to be young again…) So her boss called her into his office and educated her. Then he called the guys into his office and read them the Riot Act.

I suggested that she include that in her answer. She made a mistake. Had a good boss who corrected her behavior and that of her male colleagues. She learned from the experience.

About a month later she called me to say that she had an interview. We did a mock interview. After the real interview, she called to say she had gotten the job. After she met with HR, the person who would be supervising her and some of her potential colleagues, the owner came into the room. He had one question, “What should I know about you?” She told about the office flirting and learning from her mistake. She also complimented her former boss and said that he was her role-model for dealing with difficult situations. He smiled, shook her hand, and said two words, “You’re hired!”

Don’t forget to share your examples of stupidity!

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

The First Questions all Candidates and Employers Should Ask in Job Interviews

When the time comes, and candidates are asked in a job interview if they have any questions, this is when they can take control of the interview. And they want it to be a positive experience. There is one great question every candidate should lead off with which will guarantee positivity. By definition, it has to result in the interviewer(s) praising them. They will have no choice. So what is this question?

Why did you invite me in for an interview?

Of course, you can rephrase it – What about my resume appealed to you? – but the result will be the same. They will let you know what they felt were your strengths and now you know what to reinforce and, more importantly, what to emphasize. They probably missed something else that is great about you. So let them know what it is.

And then there is the question every interviewer should ask. Regardless of the job for which a candidate is applying, every employee of every company has tasks to perform. For every task employees must prepare. Employers need to know that candidates know how to prepare well for whatever situations they will face. Of course, an employer can usually tell how well a candidate prepares for meetings by the quality of their answers, and more importantly, their questions during the interview. But sometimes nervousness can interfere with an otherwise top-notch candidate’s performance. So there is one question which is likely to put the candidate at ease and provide the interviewer(s) with the information they need. So what is the question – the FIRST question – interviewers should ask?

What did you do to… – or, if you prefer – How did you…. prepare for this interview?

Either way, you will get the information you need to make an informed decision.

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 350,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements. Follow him on Twitter at @HurwitzStaffing.

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