What Job Seekers Can Learn From Johnny Carson

This article is based on the e-book edition of Henry Bushkin’s biography, Johnny Carson, published in 2014 by First Mariner Books. Johnny Carson was the undisputed king of late night television, reigning over the airwaves for some 29 years. Mr. Bushkin was his attorney, financial adviser, and “fixer.”

Ed McMahon was Carson’s “sidekick” for the entire time he was hosting The Tonight Show. It was a rather an odd pairing: Carson had served in the Navy as a Lieutenant Junior Grade while McMahon was a Colonel in the Marines. So for the first lesson for job seekers, and everyone else for that matter, comes from McMahon: leave your ego at the door! A colonel can work for a lieutenant, and very successfully at that!

But Bushkin, and now I am getting to the book, has a great quote from Carson on this very issue. When he was asked to which movie star he would compare himself, Carson answered, “Lassie. We’re both lovable, and we both come when we’re called.” (Page 14)

The second lesson comes from a quote from McMahon about Carson: He “was comfortable in front of [a television audience of] twenty million but just as uncomfortable in a gathering of twenty.” (Page 13) I remember watching Carson and how, when interviewing actors, he would bring about the issue of shyness. Carson was a shy man. Yet he had to overcome his shyness to become a success. So the lesson is, no matter how much you hate networking, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you, you have to overcome your discomfort. Networking is the major way to get a job and public speaking is the only way to reach the pinnacle of your industry. So, literally, take a deep breath (oxygen is a proven cure for tension), and start introducing yourself to strangers. If Carson could do it, so can you!

The third lesson is this: Carson “knew audiences and was pleased when they liked his work. He knew ratings and took pride in what they proved about his appeal. He treasured the respect of his peers in the industry. Awards were all but irrelevant.” (Page 146)

I remember reading not too long ago that if you post something on social media a third of people will buy from you but half (of everyone seeing your post, not half of the third) will buy less. The fourth lesson from Carson: When talking about why he never shared his political views with his audience he said, “Why lose fifty percent of my audience?” (Page 154) Keep politics out of the workplace and especially out for a job interview!

It can be very frustrating looking for a job, having the phone never ring and never getting an offers when it does. The fifth lesson for job seekers is a remark Carson made: “If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.” (Page 183)

Finally, the sixth lesson is going to sound misogynistic and sexist. It is also going to explain the source of a popular commercial that has not aired in a while. But it is excellent advice. Always keep your personal and work life separate. This includes, with rare exception, during job interviews. As Bushkin explains, “Maybe the protocol was influenced by the old mobster tradition that is part of the DNA of Vegas, the one that dictates that family and work be strictly segregated, but it was made clear early, often, and explicitly that this was the custom on Las Vegas Boulevard: whatever you had to do, leave the wife out.” (Page. 185) For the record, he was talking about the rampant marital infidelity that went on among the star performers and, while they were given rooms in the hotels where they performed, wives never stayed the night!

Remember these six and you may just get that job offer!

——————————–

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

What Job Seekers Can Learn from LBJ

President Johnson was crude, rude and lewd. He was probably also a pathological liar who may only have been bested by the Clintons. And, as they say, “if it was not for” the Vietnam War, he would have gone down in history as one of our greatest presidents. (As would Nixon if not for Watergate. Polk if not for Mexico?) But he was highly intelligent and a legislator without equal. That is why his unofficial biographer, Robert Caro, titled one of his books, “Master of the Senate.” He was and, despite his many flaws, we can learn a great deal from him.

(As you have no doubt guessed, this article is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography. References are to the ebook edition.)

Dr. Goodwin writes, “The judgments of history are neither immediately rendered nor are they set in stone.” Contemporaneous accounts of presidents, predictions of their ultimate place in history, are almost always wrong. The most recent example was probably President Ford. At the time, he was roundly vilified for having pardoned President Nixon. But today, many experts on leadership cite him as an example of just that, leadership, and for that very decision.

The point for job seekers is that you do get a second chance to make a good first impression. Many a time I have disliked a candidate when we first met. A weak handshake, a button undone, perhaps an unfortunate initial comment/attempt at humor. But as I began to interview them, I changed my minded. My initial reaction was wrong. First impressions are not “rendered in stone.” That does not mean that you should not make every effort to make a great first impression, just that if you think you failed there is always a chance to recover. For that matter, as some of my career counseling clients, and a few candidates, have learned, a poor interview can be saved by a great thank-you letter. There is always a chance for a second chance.

Of course, there are times…

Quoting Arthur Schlesinger, Goodwin recalls: “Once an American diplomat met him [Johnson] at the Rome airport and on the way into the city methodically instructed him, as if he were some sort of uncouth backwoodsman, on how to behave. Johnson listened to this singular performance with unaccustomed patience. When they arrived at the hotel, the diplomat said, Mr. Vice President, is there anything else I can do for you? The Vice-President, looking stonily up and down at his model of diplomatic propriety, replied, Yes, just one thing. Zip up your fly.” (Loc. 7970-7912)

LBJ wrote in his college paper, “The very first thing one should do is to train the mind to concentrate upon the essentials and discard the frivolous and unimportant. This will ensure real accomplishment and ultimate success.” Great advice for job seekers. Don’t let your concerns about what you perceive to have been a poor start to an interview result in a poor interview. First, you might be wrong. Second, in the interview, if you have the answers, and, at least as far as I am concerned, more importantly, the questions, you can turn it around.

It is true that a job search is a numbers game. But it is not simply luck. Once recalling LBJ’s childhood hero and then Sputnik, Goodwin notes, “Just as the young college editor told his fellow students that Lindbergh’s success was due not to luck but to pluck, so now the Majority Leader told his fellow Americans that the Soviet success was due not to magic or superior resources but to determination—a determination we could match and surpass. ‘Our people are slow to start,’ Johnson later said in analyzing why America had originally lagged in the space effort, “but once they start they are hard to stop.’ ” (Loc. 2604-2608). Pluck, patience, perseverance and persistence usually win the day!

Finally, one problem a great many job seekers face is constantly reevaluating their decisions. “What if I had just…?” or “What if I hadn’t..?” are very popular questions. And very foolish questions! LBJ respected President Truman (so much so, in fact, that he took Washington to Independence, Missouri so that the former president could witness the signing of the Medicare Act which he, Truman, had tried so hard to get passed!) especially when it came to doubting his decisions. Goodwin recalls that LBJ once told her, “You know the great thing about Truman, is that once he makes up his mind about something—anything, including the A bomb—he never looks back and asks, ‘Should I have done it?’ ” (Loc. 6489-6491)

Don’t overthink or dwell on the past. Someone must have said, “God put our eyes in front so we would look ahead, not backwards.” And whoever said it, was right!

——————————–

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?

How to Overcome an Interview Error

It’s called being human. It happens to everyone. You are asked a question and blow the answer.

Now there is one answer that is always useful. “I don’t know, but I’ll find out!” No one is expected to know everything. According to Einstein, a clock that is moving runs slower than a clock that is at rest. Similarly, a rod is shorter when moving than when at rest. I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it. (I think it’s because the clock or rod are pushing up against gravity, but my Ph.D. is in International Relations, so what do I know? And what if the clock is digital – something that did not exist in Einstein’s day?) But if Einstein says it, it’s good enough for me.

Of course, I would never be interviewing for a job where I would have to explain the Special or General Theory of Relativity (and, I admit, I am not certain which one is relevant here, although I think it’s the Special). But what if you are interviewing for a job for which, heaven forbid, you are actually qualified?

That happened to me years ago. I was asked a very simple question. “How are your communication skills?” What’s easier to answer than a question where you can engage in self-praise and brag?

As I began to answer the question I heard myself saying what I was about to say and I could not stop myself. I actually said,

“I write good…” Luckily, I knew I had a big problem which I had to fix in a nanosecond, if not sooner.

Humor is never a good idea in a job interview. I guarantee the joke will bomb or someone will be offended. I was once asked, in an interview, to tell a joke. I chose this one (compliments of Buddy Hackett):

A duck walks into a pharmacy. The druggist asks him, “How can I help you?” “I need Chapstick.” “Will that be cash or charge?” “Put it on my bill!”

OK, it’s a terrible pun. But offensive? No. Yet, for some reason that no one could understand, one woman in the room did not react with a chuckle or a moan of feigned disgust, but almost with disdain.

But there is one type of humor that you may get away with: Self-deprecating. When you make fun of yourself, people should laugh with you, not at you. It’s also a sign that you have no ego issues.

So how did I get out of my grammatical conundrum?

“I write good…and speak even betterer.”

Everyone laughed and no one was the wiser. (And, yes, I got the job.)

——————————–

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 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

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.

How to Learn How to Listen

I have been an executive recruiter since 2003 and formally a career counselor since 2009. During this time I have been asked hundreds of questions, some of which have almost made liars out of those teachers who had assured me that there was no such thing as a stupid question.

Today I was asked a question I have never been asked before. And it’s a good one.

While discussing interviewing, my new client explained that she has problems listening. “Shut up and pay attention” was not the answer to her problem. That she knows. The question is how to get practice so it becomes a natural process.

I have been through this myself and I told her about the one thing that has helped me to overcome difficulties listening. First, I do shut up. Second, I remind myself that day dreaming is a no-no. Third, I really think about what the person is saying. I concentrate on their every word and jot a few things down. But those are the mechanics, not the skill.

The way I learned to listen, which is another way of saying “concentrate,” was by listening to old radio show mysteries. You have to pay attention. Some are rather complicated. If you day dream for a minute, you may miss the clue and then you will not understand the ending. So Google “mystery radio shows” and find ones that interest you. A good many appear to be free. So for no money you will not only be entertained, you’ll also learn possibly the most important skill for having a successful interview.

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador. 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.

How to be an Expert: The Difference Between Knowledge and Understanding or What Job Candidates Can Learn from Max Planck’s Chauffeur

Max Planck, who won the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics, was one of the founders, if not the founder, of quantum mechanics/physics. (Just as an aside, he was involved with the plot to kill Hitler, for which his wife was assassinated.)

Apparently, in his time, it was not common practice for physicists, even prominent ones, to be photographed. As the story goes, he would travel throughout Germany speaking to lay audiences. One day his chauffeur told him that he had heard his presentation so often that he could give it himself. So, at their next stop, they changed hats, and the chauffeur entered the hall where the presentation was to be given wearing the professor’s hat and the professor was wearing the chauffeur’s cap.

The chauffeur perfectly recited the lecture. He was flawless. And then things started to fall apart. Following his remarks, people wanted to ask questions. The chauffeur knew the speech, he had the knowledge, but he lacked the understanding so he could not answer the first question.

Apparently Professor Planck was smart about hiring as well as physics! The chauffeur did not miss a beat. He looked at his questioner and responded, That question is so simple I’ll have my chauffeur answer it!

I’ve read this story a couple of times. I want to believe that it is true. Even if not it is something to keep in mind because the lesson is valid. Repeating what you have heard does not make you anything make than a recorder. To be an expert, you need understanding. So in an interview, if you can’t explain it, don’t say it!

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador. 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.

Three Questions to Ask to Determine if You are a Cultural Fit for a Company

Employers, if they are smart, will spend most of a job interview asking questions to see if the candidate is a good cultural fit for them. Similarly, smart candidates will ask questions to see if they are a good cultural fit for the company. In the end, even if they meet all of the qualifications, they still may not be right for the job because the company is just night right for them.

So what should you ask?

Who succeeds here? This is the question, if you are having a telephone interview, and only have the chance to ask one question, that you should ask. What is amazing is that employers sometimes have difficulty answering. They respond to a different question: Who succeeds in the position? Then you have to repeat the actual question and clarify: Who is successful at your company?

That’s the direct question about culture. Let’s take a simple example that probably will never happen. If they say, “We micromanage everyone,” and you can’t stand being micromanaged, don’t waste any more time interviewing.

The beauty of the question is in that last phrase, “don’t waste any more time.” By asking the question you are sending the message that you don’t want to waste your time or the employer’s. Employers like that! So if the response is acceptable, you have just raise your stature in the eyes of the employer.

Do you promote from within? Well, not exactly. You should know the answer by viewing the LinkedIn profiles of their employees. So you should either ask, “I see from the LinkedIn profiles of your employees that you promote from within. How does that work? Do you have a formalized career development/advancement program?” Or, the question could be, “I was surprised when reviewing the LinkedIn profiles of your staff that none indicated that they were promoted from within. Is that accurate and, if so, why don’t you promote from within? Do you have any career development programming?”

What is your turnover rate? This tells you everything you need to know about the company. First, if they don’t know the answer, move on. Second, if they won’t tell you, move on. Third, if it is high, ask why and what they are doing about it. Fourth, if it is low ask why and see if you possess the qualities of their longest tenured employees. (This is different from “Who succeeds here?” in that a person can be very successful at a company and leave after three or four years. But if everyone leaves after three or four years, there’s a problem.)

Interested in learning more? Watch my interview on Jessica Dewell’s program:

——————————–

Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador. 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.

%d bloggers like this: