PG wrote:An example of pushing to hard. This is actual conversation that I overheard in the subway so it only contains half of the conversation but I Think that everyone can fill in the gaps themselves. This is an actual conversation except for that I translated it to English and removed a couple of specifics.
Hi, my name is XX and I got a no thank you reply to my application for your position. I know that I got this reply from HR but would like to talk to you as the hiring manager about why you did not offer me the position.
Yes that is me and I Believe that I am an ideal candidate for the position and that you should offer it to me. I know that I have all the skills required and you cant possibly find anyone better.
Not a good fit for the position? How can that be? I know that I have very good technical skills and my personallity really should be a good fit for workign with you.
I Think that we should continue this discussion because you are making a serious mistake when not hiring me. You will loose out on a highly skilled coworker that would be willig to work hard for your Company.
I dont understand how you can not see that I am the ideal candidate. If you dont hire me it must be due to that you dont understand how good I am or you might be discriminating against me due to my YY
But I am the ideal candidate. At least we should Schedule Another meeting so that we can continue this discussion face to face rather than by phone.
I really dont understand how you can deny me another meeting and want you to reconsider your reply
You seem to be hearing what I am saying so you obviously have to be a bit stupid in not understanding that you should hire me for this position. I want to talk with your boss since he will Think that it is obvious that I should be hired.
ARE YOU COMPLETELY STUPID? SEND ME AN E-MAIL TODAY WITH A NEW MEETING TIME. IF YOU DONT I WILL CALL YOUR BOSS AND CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION.
end of conversation.
I am not sure whether I was most surprised that the applicant in this case actually said what he did or that the manager on the other end of the call kept it going for so long.
PG, this is easy because the candidate is being unreasonable and tactless. I never implied or said that one should insult a prospective hiring manager. You can be persistent and assertive w/o insulting your potential new supervisor. In this case, rather make statements which consists of many unknown and insulting assumptions, I would have reemphasized the strongest skills and expertise that I bring to this position, especially those I think would help this supervisor. The problem that I see at this point from a sales perspective is that we are making a huge assumption about what are the needs of this customer (i.e. supervisor) and the problems they face. This is true when we draft a cover letter or tailor a resume in response to an ad; we make these same assumptions. However, to ascertain what those needs and problems are, we potentially compound the problem by using the ad as a roadmap to answer these questions. Often our assumptions based on an ad, are incorrect because the ad often doesn't capture the specific needs or requirements of the manager. Ads are often drafted by HR, not the manager, and subject to strict company policies and EEOC regulations. The problem here is what I call "lost in translation" and why responding to ads is so ineffective. The likelihood of success of responding to ads is less than 1% (Lou Adler; louadlergroup.com and other estimates range from 1-4%). So, how do you find out accurately what the customer needs and goals are; to correctly address the concerns of the supervisor when drafting a cover letter or resume? The answer is networking and therefore, why it is much more effective (70-80%). Steven Covey said that sales is all about understanding the needs of the customer and providing solutions for their needs. How can this be done without networking or merely based on an ad?
Wouldn’t searching for a job be so much easier if candidates knew what a manager wanted and their needs as well as some understanding of the problems they would like to address with this position. I contend that this can’t be done effectively without networking. In lieu of this information, it is merely a guessing game.
However, problem with networking is that many people hate doing it, think of it as an unfair way of finding a job, or they don't like being on the receiving end of a sales pitch. Now let’s update that list of conventional advice on trying to find a job:
1) 70-80% of all jobs are found through networking
2) A majority of jobs are not advertised (i.e. hidden job market)
3) The success rate of responding to ads is about 1-4% (i.e. a response, not a hire)
The other possible complications of finding a job are computer aided screening of resumes based on keywords, recruiters in HR lacking subject matter expertise screening resumes, and hiring based on personality traits not skills and expertise to do the job well. We will ignore these other complications to simplify the arguments. If you are one of these people who dislike networking as described above, get over it because it is probably one of the most effective ways of finding a job and it is probably one of the most effective ways of finding the right candidate for a position. That's why I am saying to managers that they shouldn't give a cold shoulder to a polite request for an informational interview or an enquiry about a specific job, especially considering these three job statistics. To those managers who disagree, I say how else do you find a job?; networking odds look pretty good.
. For HR executives who want to argue about the effectiveness of networking versus other recruiting methods, I say give it a rest; candidate networking helps you fill open positions. I'll come back to this point later.
Back to the scenario that PG outlined, the next obvious mistake the candidate made, besides insulting the manager, was not asking open ended questions to get at what the customer's needs and goals for this position are (especially in terms of required skills and expertise). The scenario that I am talking is subtler than PG’s example. I am talking about when you know you are qualified for a position at a target company. You compare your background to others in the group using LinkedIn. Then you draft a cover letter and tailor your resume based on what you think this supervisor’s needs are which fit with the skills and expertise you have. The letter and resume are well written and you background compares favorable based on employee profiles. In your cover letter, you make a polite request for an informational interview or consideration for an open position. For an open position, you also submit your documents to HR beforehand. However, when you follow-up with an email or phone call, you get no response or a less than forthcoming response. They might briefly talk with you but they avoid providing you with any useful information:
1) Are there any openings?
2) Is my background competitive based on your expectations?
3) Would you seriously consider my application?
4) What are your requirements (i.e. skills, expertise, and competencies) for this position?
It is almost like they are playing games. They would encourage you to apply but will never let you know the answers to these questions. A no is never in their vocabulary and a candid answer is probably asking too much in their mind. Often, I don’t push it based on my feelings about their degree of candor or openness (or lack of). However, I am wondering whether my reaction to this situation is correct. This is where self-doubt creeps in and you wonder whether it is you. Then you take it personally when there is a no response versus a more candid and open response:
1) Thanks, we have no openings.
2) Thanks, we have no openings but I’ll consider it.
3) Thanks, we have no openings but I’ll consider it. You are qualified. Send an email in a few months. Maybe we will have an opening later.
4) Thanks, you aren’t qualified for any openings in this group
5) Thanks, I like your background and skills but I am looking for X.
6) Thanks, you are not qualified for any positions in this group and I don’t expect any openings soon.
7) Thanks, if you had X skills and competencies I would consider you.
These replies are answers that I have received previously in my job searching efforts. It takes only a few minutes to give a candid answer; even if you have a candidate like that in PG’s scenario, give an answer like this and they are most likely out of your hair. Most candidates are not going to pester you insistently but they don’t want to waste their time with a manager who will never consider them or even give you an honest answer. Even though I am disappointed by these answers, I can respect their candor versus the manager who says nothing informative or plays games. Only about 15% of the times, I will get a candid reply. Over the years (esp. post 2008; Great Recession), I have noticed more managers regrettably who feel no obligation to answer questions about openings no matter how well qualified the candidate is, how enthusiastic they are, or how politely they handle the request. In the past, I usually had no problems with networking. So, why am I not able to reach the 85% of all networking and/or job enquiries?
These enquiries are about positions for which I am reasonably or well qualified. Then I thought it was my personality or demeanor but I have been active and successful in many volunteer activities within the local community. Thus, I would like to use this thread to breakdown this problem as a sales and communication challenge. Hopefully, with your participation I will find a solution to this problem. Maybe this will help another forum member.
Now, I am thinking that I am just afraid to network more assertively and to push back on objections. Further, maybe learning more about sales and marketing techniques would help me to reach the 85% of non-responders. As I have said before, I respect a candid answer versus silence and tend to pull back or take it negatively when I can’t reach someone or get a candid answer. Maybe I am looking at this problem all wrong; with a non-responder, we don’t have enough information to draw a reasonable conclusion. It could be the expertise of the candidate, it could be the communication skills of candidate, or it could a personality issue with the manager. Who knows at this point? After much reflection, I contend the problem is that the candidate must make assumptions about the needs and expectations of the hiring manager, which are often incorrect. Networking seems to be the only way a candidate can accurately understand what those real needs are. But if the manager is not receptive to such networking efforts, how do you get a job?
Presently, I am reading several sales books and communication books to see if I can implement certain strategies into my job search. To use the sales analogy here (i.e. the customer is the supervisor), I would guess that there are several stages to the sales process, appropriate for the job search, that are done in a certain order:
2) Discovering the customer's needs and goals
3) Addressing the customer's needs and goals
4) Dealing with objections
PG's scenario is so obvious in what the candidate did wrong that it really doesn't apply. When networking and/or chasing down an open position, these stages appear to be required to get an interview. I say nonsense to those HR recruiters who say don't call (i.e. our managers) if you are interested in working at our company but who agree that networking is the key to finding a job. How can I tell if my background is consistent with the wants and needs of the customer; based on a well written job description by HR, really? Most likely the person who wrote the ad had to confer with the manager to clarify certain points or maybe he didn't. Or the job ad used was such a template that it nowhere near describes the skills, expertise, and/or needs of the supervisor accurately. I doubt the manager had any say in the writing of the ad. So, then (HR) internal recruiters go on social media like LinkedIn saying that applying online is the only way to a find job and downplaying the effectiveness of networking but also saying it is sometimes important (see Lou Alder blog and thread below). Which is it? Now you wonder why people don't come to HR or ask them any questions.
Thus, how do you find out and understand the needs of the supervisor accurately? Guess what, the only way to do this right is to network by calling or emailing (with the preference on emailing first with a resume or professional summary and then calling to warm that lead). I believe that to get a job interview you must go through these sales stages (1-4) and this can't be done by just sending in an application (i.e. cover letter and resume). But what if the prospective manager doesn’t want to participate, how do you engage this person. Based on my results of 85% non-responders, I think engagement is the hardest step of the process. However, I realize people can be irrational and emotional about jobs. Sales is an art form that deals with typical patterns of human behavior and helps alleviate the irrationality of human decisions.
Somehow when networking you need to engage the prospective manager such that you have gained their trust. This needs to done concisely and with the upmost respect for the manager’s time. I don’t have a good answer about how to this or some typical sale approaches to gain this trust of a prospective manager. If this is done correctly and you have gained that trust, the rest of the process will go smoothly often with little or no objections. I only have a few ideas based on my experiences which I will share. One needs to develop a brief script (< 5 min) that conveys who you are and what you are looking for professionally based on the background of the audience and possible shared interests. Look at their LinkedIn profile or biography if posted online, send them articles on topics which might interest them, smile into the phone when talking, always be polite, invite them for a career talk at the University, invite them for a luncheon at a Rotary or alumni meeting, or get the help of their administrative assistant. My goal here is to get them to talk shop about the profession and have them ask questions about my background. Gaining the trust of the prospective manager is the key to the process. Another successful strategy is getting referral from above your target and prospective manager. Have some near or in the C-suite provide you with a referral to someone in that organization who you can talk about X. This is how I got my last job when I wrote a nice letter to the CEO of a law firm with of about 100 employees. How can this be done at a company that is considerably larger (e.g. Biogen)? Ever since the Great Recession of 2007-2008 and 1% GDP since then, US professionals have cared more about themselves than helping anyone who might be unemployed, underemployed, or changing jobs. Perhaps, your understandable if things aren't going well in your career. This is probably the "real" reason why it has been so difficult gaining the trust of managers when networking (not the excuse I am busy; that's a common sales objection). Just to make my point with an analogy, when you are sick or not feeling good about some part of your life, like your career, do you care about helping others, probably not? Anybody have any ideas on engaging the 85% of non-responders?
A few points should be said about which managers you show identify as a person of interest. Start at the top and work your way down but don't go too high; try to use the referral from above strategy. Think a referral from the bottom gets noticed? Board members, investor relations, and public relations are great starting points who can get you the right introductions. I can't say enough about how invaluable a third party public relations firm is; make friends with these people! Don't start with friends or colleagues who work at that company or in the same field as well as don't talk with current company employees that might be considered your peers. Why? This is your competition. In a tight job market, are you going to help your competition; probably not, you probably want to send them elsewhere on a wild goose chase, especially if you don't know them that well? To be effective in your search, you need to talk with a manager who is in control of a budget and has the right level of authority. For a PhD or MS with some experience, start looking at the VP or director level trying to identify who runs X group. Call the operator if needed. Then start networking at this level.
By going to the top, most likely you eliminated any dysfunctional personalities (i.e. a sociopath). People in these positions are probably reasonable and well mannered. If they were jerks, they probably wouldn't have been promoted; they would know what it takes be promoted in terms of people skills. Thus, for the job candidate politely looking for information and a job, these managers are more likely to be receptive to a networking enquiry. I have found that the inexperienced or less senior manager is more likely be less receptive to the same networking enquiry. A further benefit by going to the top is that, if you gain the trust of this more senior manager, they are likely to make a hiring decision unilaterally without the opinions of others. Often that decision is more objective and transactional; based skills and expertise (vs personality traits) than the decision of the junior level manager. I don’t a good explanation for these observations. However, I have asked several senior executives that my family knows personally about this (e.g. former Nabisco COO for twenty years, the CEO of a major airlines, Executive VP at Cargill, COO at a major airline company). They agree with these observations and that networking is the right approach.
Once you have the face to face interview with the manager of interest and you have his trust, suppose now you are the good and inquisitive salesperson. I need to understand his what his hiring needs are and what goals he hopes to solve with this hire. If I know what his goals are, I can gain probably a good understanding of his problems and maybe some insights in how he wants to solve these problems. Since this forum is mostly concern about alternatives in the for-profit private sector, I’ll assume that every hire has a monetary component. In other words, how will this hire contribute to either increasing profits or saving the company money. So how do I get him to talk shop with me where he shares his experiences and asks me about my background. I say first do your homework about him, the group he leads, and the company. This way you are armed with some intelligent questions beforehand. Personally, I like to read the patents of the group, the SEC Edgar reports, business intelligence reports (if I can get them; sector or company), and any internal documents published by the company. Ask open ended questions to get him talking to where there is a mutual exchange of information. Show excitement and energy when talking. Compliment the manager if they have done something fascinating or remarkable. Then ask specific questions about the group and possible jobs if the conversation is going well. This may seem awkward and some inexperienced managers may not like this, especially if this meeting was arranged as an informational interview. However, most experienced managers will know that an “informational interview” is really a conversation about jobs and will steer the conversation towards jobs or careers anyway, if they have a good impression of your background. Also, experienced managers are more transactional with their hires where decisions are based more on competencies and expertise than personality traits versus behavioral attributes (e.g. work ethics or honesty). I can provide some examples of this and it only makes my point that one should start at the top. I am sure there are others sales approaches for determining the hiring needs and expectations of this manager at this stage of the sales process. At this point, you should have all the accurate information about this manager’s hiring needs, required skills, expertise, and competencies, as well as some understanding of the problems he is trying to solve with this hire; to make a good case for your candidacy. The third step of addressing the manager’s needs and goals is the easiest part of the process. Here you are trying to provide solutions for the customer’s needs given your background and skills.
By now, if successful, you have reached a point where you might receive some pushback or objections by the manager. The manager hopefully will express those concerns verbally rather than trying to close the conversation or by not being receptive to further discussion. I believe moment this is key point in the process and a lot depends on how well you established trust. Sometimes not obvious, the decision here is know when the customer “just hasn’t been sold” or has a legitimate concern. A cleaver salesperson will be able to dig out those objections and can easily recognize the typical excuses (i.e. the product is too expensive or I don’t have time). Excuses meaning reasons not to make a commitment that have nothing to do with you or the product you are selling, in this case that’s you. The intuitive salesperson will recognize these excuses and have ways to get at the heart of the matter. I am always amazed at how many interviews are not conducted like a sales presentation and negotiation (even for a sales job). However, job interviews are the same and same excuses are often given but rarely discussed in a job interview. If the customer “just hasn’t been sold” but he seems receptive to further discussion, I say continue selling with some thoughtful questions. I think there is a sales approach known as consulting selling that is helpful with this. This is where I am not the most skilled in these types of negotiations and dealing with objections. Often, I tend to shy away and sometimes become frustrated rather than defend my qualifications with an assertive and intelligent answer.
In this process of a finding job, which is akin to the sales process, we make inaccurate assumptions about the hiring needs and expectations of the manager. To get at the real hiring expectations and the problems facing the manager, one must network which requires more than submitting a resume to HR. Networking for a job is nothing more than a sales presentation and negotiation. Throughout this process, you are going to receive conflicting messages, which can be verbal or non-verbal in nature, and which has to be addressed to move foward. Unlike a sales presentation, managers more reluctant to talk about their concerns but these concerns are the same as the typical sales “excuses” which require further discussion to get at the real reason behind the excuse. When selling your yourself for a position, you are going to get these mixed messages which amounts to a hurdle to overcome and to do so a candidate might have to cleverly and politely push through these obstacles with a prospective manager to move forward with one’s candidacy. Unless the customer says no I am not interested and/or provides a candid answer, I would take the non-responder situation as a I am “just not sold yet" scenario.https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140325 ... eader-card
This thread supports my observations about the negativity surrounding networking and how HR feels about the topic. I thought the ideas by Lou were good. To those critics of networking in this thread, I say how else do you find a good job; the odds of networking seem pretty good compared to anything else. HR don't be a hypocrite when you probably found your job by networking, right!