July 31, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Job applicants seem to complain a lot when they describe how they feel they’re treated during and after their interviews. I thought it only fair to get some candid perspective from prospective employers and the applicant situations that bother them. Here are just a few:
Our interview committee was so impressed with a job candidate we wanted to make him an offer on the spot. The hiring manager insisted that we check references first and although the rest of us didn’t think it necessary, we went along and made a few calls. I called the first name listed and the so-called reference never heard of the applicant. I called the second on the list and was told the reference died several years ago. The third person on the list knew the applicant but didn’t have anything good to say about him. We not only didn’t make the offer, we decided that we won’t hire anyone unless we check references thoroughly, no matter how impressive the applicants are in person or on paper.
On the subject of decorum:
Too many young applicants treat our waiting area like it’s their personal break room. They bring in food, drinks and cell phones; they’re loud and use disrespecting language. We’re not interested in hiring them if they don’t know how to show consideration for our workplace and the people who work here.
These comments were addressed to ”seasoned employees who ought to know better”…
We continue to be distressed at the number of job candidates who walk into interviews while talking on their cell phones, who check text messages and take calls in mid-interview, and those who ask us (with a polite gesture) to wait while they complete their conversations. Tell them to leave their blasted cell phones in the car.
This employer described job applicants who shoot themselves in the foot by demonstrating their total lack of self-awareness:
Save me from applicants who explain why they’re late by telling me about their sick children, cars they can’t count on, and clocks that don’t work. Shield me from applicants who wear seductive clothing, overpowering perfume, and exhale stale tobacco breath all over me and my office. Protect me from applicants who describe their depression, confess their addiction, and describe their predilection for things I just don’t want to know. Tell them to limit their comments to skills, strengths and abilities that would cause me to hire them, so neither they nor we are compromised in the process.
This employer weighed in on resumes filled to the brim with fabrication:
According to the applicant’s resume he went to the best schools and worked for the best companies. His problem was that the document looked like a bad cut and paste job; different fonts, different formats, like it was lifted from different sources. Because it looked suspect I checked it out and found out that none of it was true. I don’t know what other companies do, but if we hire someone and later find out his or her resume is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, we terminate that person, immediately.
And then there’s this story about an applicant so rehearsed she sounds like she’s memorized a script:
I knew the minute she walked through the door she was too tense for her own good. Whatever question I asked she responded with something that sounded memorized. There wasn’t anything spontaneous about her, so naturally I questioned her about flexibility and her ability to work under changing conditions. She stared at me blankly, then looked like she was going through her mental Rolodex of responses and finally said, “I haven’t practiced that one yet. What do you think would be a good answer?”
July 24, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
If you want to start doing something, you need to stop doing what was getting in the way. Some of these ideas might get you going or encourage you to adopt a few starts and stops of your own:
Start focusing on long- term objectives and figure out strategies to get there. Stop focusing on short- term goals at the expense of what’s important, long term.
Start focusing on your total presence, your confidence, capabilities, and ways of expressing yourself. Stop limiting your focus to appearance, how good you look, how smartly you dress.
Start driving for the right results for the right reasons. Stop getting so hung up on the right reasons that you end up with the wrong results.
Start simplifying complexity. Stop making the simple needlessly complex.
Start aligning your strengths with your goals. Stop playing out of position.
Start saying what you think. Stop assuming that others can read your mind.
Start watching bottom line while you drive top line. Stop insisting on one at the expense of the other.
Start balancing empowerment with controls. Stop overdoing empowerment at the expense of controls.
Start celebrating small wins. Stop waiting for something to celebrate.
Start accepting accountability for the mistakes you make. Stop blaming others for your role in a flawed outcome.
Start rewarding transparency. Stop encouraging opacity.
Start leveraging team strengths. Stop focusing on team weaknesses.
Start reading your audience. Stop playing to your audience.
Start focusing on follow through. Stop dropping the ball after a strong beginning.
Start checking in. Stop checking out.
Start inviting, including, inspiring. Stop shutting up, shutting out, shutting down.
Start with a vision and follow with the mission. Stop changing course every time you hit a roadblock.
Start looking for balance in perspective. Stop worrying that balanced perspective means they win and you lose.
Start apologizing when you make a mess. Stop acting like apology is a sign of weakness.
Start accepting credit when you do a good job. Stop taking credit for someone else’s good job.
Start giving others the benefit of the doubt. Stop doubting the benefit of giving.
Start dealing directly with difficult issues. Stop thinking they’ll go away if you avoid them.
Start having fun. Stop waiting for an after life to enjoy life.
Start taking vacations. Stop acting like exhaustion is a virtue.
Start turning on the lights. Stop thinking bad ideas look better with the lights off.
Start taking action. Stop confusing avoidance with a constructive response.
Start talking to co-workers. Stop emailing them.
Start building ideas on fresh perspectives. Stop finding problems with every idea. Start letting go of bad outcomes. Stop holding on to flawed ideas.
Start opening lines of communication. Stop pulling the plug on discussion.
Start mugging problems. Stop mugging people.
Start working on what’s most important. Stop wasting time on busy work.
Start doing things that give you energy. Stop spending time on what takes more energy than it’s worth.
Start doing more of what you do best. Stop forcing yourself to do what others do better.
Start asking expansive questions that broaden the discussion. Stop asking closed questions that are self- serving.
Start showing respect for other people’s opinions. Stop interrupting the flow of ideas.
Start demonstrating confidence. Stop aggrandizing arrogance.
Start combining courage with consideration. Stop acting like disrespect is a sign of strength.
Start practicing the art of apology. Stop playing games with the role of responsibility.
Start talking about what’s right with people. Stop looking for what’s wrong in people.
Start tomorrow with what doesn’t have to begin today. Stop worrying today about what tomorrow has time to consider.
Start saying please and thank-you. Stop assuming courtesy is kids stuff.
July 17, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
The interviewer asks you to describe your strengths. You respond by reciting a ready list of tidy, scouts-honor phrases.
“I’m loyal, honest, hard-working….”
Are you making points with the interviewer? Probably not. She’s heard the same or something similar from everyone she’s asked. Rather than parrot words that may be true but sound like the National Anthem of all Job Seekers, advance your candidacy. Describe your attributes in ways that demonstrate your understanding of what those words mean to you and the circumstances in which they apply.
You are more than the sum of two or three words. Expand your responses so you’re more than a cliché. For practice’ sake, I’ve provided some examples. Tailor them so that your intentions match your impact. For example, if you typically say that you initiate, anticipate, and have integrity, create word pictures that tell your story. Here’s what I mean:
Initiate: When you initiate you capitalize on opportunity before the moment can pass. When you initiate effectively, you combine instinct, logic, and action and respond to all three. When you initiate you’re aware that consequences follow, that you learn, stretch, grow, make mistakes, and gain experience while developing a reputation as someone willing to take and manage risk.
Anticipate: Actions yield consequences. If you act on instinct without
considering consequence, your mistakes can outweigh your intentions. When you anticipate, you evaluate outcomes prior to creating them, improving your odds for long term and short- term success.
Integrity: Integrity is an inside-out process that integrates thought and
feeling, action and reaction. It defines and clarifies what you value as important and are willing to defend without compromise. When you demonstrate integrity you conduct yourself accordingly and consistently, in all places and with all people.
Timeliness: If time is the currency of the workplace, your timeliness
describes how appropriately you spend it. If time is a commodity, being timely dictates the value of your effort and the outcome of its worth. Spending time toward an end that benefits you at the expense of others, manipulates time. Utilizing time in ways that solve problems and achieve goals for all concerned is time well spent.
Loyalty: Loyalty is a demonstration of trust. Trust in ones
employer is based upon an assumption of shared values and principles. Employees are perceived as loyal when they consistently behave in ways that mirror the observed behaviors, implicit beliefs, and effectively and efficiently respond to the expressed or unexpressed expectations of their leadership. Employees are seen as disloyal when those behaviors, beliefs, and expectations are ignored, questioned, or violated, consistently, and over time.
Employers are seen as loyal to their employees when they consistently communicate their intentions and reasonable expectations, do what they say they will, and tell the truth while demonstrating courage, conviction, and compassion.
Honesty: Honest people tell the truth as it is, not as they wish it
could be. They tell the truth to inform or persuade, not manipulate or conceal. Honest employees have agendas that are open to examination and clarification. They respond to criticism by focusing on solutions and common interests.
Strategic: Strategic thinkers consider, evaluate, and analyze potential as they envision future opportunity. They design and develop methodology to optimize that potential.
Tacticians respond to strategic vision by objectively modifying and codifying what must be done to achieve it.
Organized: Combining intellectual organization and
external structure enables you to prioritize importance and communicate findings, to take appropriate action or motivate others to do the same.
Respectful: Respectful employees are true to their personal preferences, values, and principles even as they show consideration for those whose opinions, perspectives, and orientations differ.
Accountable: Accountable employees consistently examine choices, acknowledge consequences, and own results.
July 11, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
“I’m intimidating. I know it. I don’t like it. I’ve never known what to do about it. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s my personality. My whole family’s like that. My mom’s direct and my father more so. My brothers and sisters are all competitive go-getters. We earned our stripes around the kitchen table. Every meal was a potluck of competing voices and spirited debates. We argued about everything you shouldn’t; from politics and religion, to obscure factoids and just plain nonsense. We loved it. No surprise that everyone who grew up in our house is candid, opinionated, and brutally honest. The problem we’ve all encountered is that no one seems to like our opinions as much as we do.”
The caller had been terminated from a job she enjoyed and thought she was doing well. Her boss had consistently rated her as “exceeding expectations” and “high achieving”. She recalled being told that her overbearing style was “difficult” but it didn’t seem to be a big deal. She assumed that achievement outweighed style; that despite her argumentative nature, she actually cared what people thought.
She remembered another occasion when her boss had taken her aside and asked that she hold back in meetings and let others take the lead; that her colleagues were less apt to talk after she stated her opinion. When that happened she thought it best to say less and keep a respectful distance. In her exit interview she was stunned to learn that her efforts at humility were interpreted as having “a demanding style and negative attitude that was punctuated by moodiness and thinly veiled hostility.”
She was frustrated, angry, hurt and confused.
“I don’t know how to fix this or if I can. I’m afraid to take another job for fear of it happening again. Do other people have this problem? What can I do about it?
You’re not the only one. You have more company than you might imagine. And yes, you can you keep it from happening again if , and that’s a big, heavy-lifting if, you’re willing to 1) search for employment opportunities in organizational cultures that reward your strengths and value your personality style; 2) seek on-going objective, constructive feedback and coaching from a limited number of trusted sources so you can understand when and why your behaviors net negative reactions; 3) learn alternative responses that net positive outcomes.
In the meantime, consider the following, reevaluate your past actions, and choose more effective ways to relate and react to others.
Communicators who are as forceful, direct, and uncompromising as you describe yourself, should work with employees equally comfortable with that combative style. Therefore, stay away from jobs that require you to be a team player or a team leader. That’s not you. Stay away from jobs that require you to develop and learn from others. That’s not you either. You want a job that gives you the right to always be right, a trait as unpleasant to employers and co-workers as it is to prospective customers, clients, and vendors.
You can change your behavior without changing your character. You can be honest, open, and direct and bring out the best in others if you focus on them instead of yourself. You can learn patience, develop empathy, and demonstrate compassion without compromising quality, performance, or outcomes. You can learn to give others time and space to make their points without challenging or ridiculing them. You can learn to question perspective, not judge it. You can learn to invite expansive thinking and not limit or diminish creative response.
You have the makings of a leader and the style of a bully. Develop the former, forgo the latter and you have great potential for career success.
July 4, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Moms, Dads, your grown kids are home for the holidays. Some of them are gainfully employed, making tons of money. They’re beautifully groomed, happy, healthy, generous, and kind to small animals. They’ve not only met your expectations, they’ve exceeded them.
Others have returned home, not for the holidays, but for the duration. As kind, good, well groomed, respectful and generous they may (or may not) have been in the past, what’s been leeching out lately hasn’t been so pleasant. They’re touchy, defensive, withdrawn, depressed and you’re at a loss to know what to do or how to react.
Your beloved grown children are out of work. Scared. Alone. And they want to be under your roof with you. And your cooking. Cleaning. Car. And hopefully, charge card. That’s not quite what you had in mind when you thought you launched them several years ago.
What’s a well- meaning parent to do?
“Why can I do? I can’t close my door to them. I feel stuck. I want to help, but don’t know how or if I should. None of my friends’ children have done this so I’m a little embarrassed to talk about it. Help!”
There’s no shame for them or for you that your children have come home. These are tough times. Life is expensive. It takes two salaries to do what one salary did and when one salary is the only salary and it goes away, the person impacted needs time to regroup and rethink. It’s natural to want to go home, literally and figuratively, to the emotional support and hot meals of memory. It’s natural for parents to want to embrace that need or feel that they should. It’s unnatural to expect parents to embrace the memory of piles of dirty clothes, dirty dishes, and a disrupted life.
There are mixed emotions on both sides of the equation. Grown children don’t want to live at their parents’ home. They see their return as a public admission of failure and a private act of defeat. They want to retain the independence that time and effort have earned them They don’t want to return to a time and place where they were children, and they don’t want to compare notes with childhood friends who are now successful. They don’t know what else to do.
How can adult children and their parents weather this unexpected and unplanned passage with maturity, grace and humor? By setting boundaries, clarifying expectations, establishing agreements, and demonstrating respect for each other.
For parents, setting boundaries can include hours for coming and going, and meal times Clarifying expectations can range from charging room and board to bartering food and lodging for lawn and home care and maintenance, cooking and cleaning, etc. Establishing agreements requires open and honest communication and keeps flawed assumptions from derailing family relationships.
If you’re at a loss as to how to approach these vexing problems, what would you do if you were renting a room to someone you didn’t know.
Returning grown-kids need to set expectations and boundaries for their parents as well as well as understand the ones they’ll need to heed. Before moving in, establish financial obligations: how much is room? and if board is included, what are the hours? If there’s no charge, barter your services in exchange for what you are so graciously offered. And keep your word.
Advise your parents on the best way to discuss your unemployment. Say with you and with others. Sound tough? It’s the best bargain you can get while protecting your relationship with the people you always want to be there, in word and deed.