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Overcoming the Fear of Changes
|Executive Recruiters: Your Job-Search Commandos|
|Seven Keys to Interview Preparation|
|How to Master the Art of Interviewing|
|How to Evaluate a Job Offer|
|The Proper Way to Resign|
Qualified -- Better
-- Different - Unique
That's how you must be perceived to get the job you want. Your resume must project that and more -- because it represents you.
the Fear of Change
You and I are lucky -- we live in a world rich in possibilities. Besides being able to select from an unlimited variety of occupations, we also have the right to find happiness in our daily work.
Naturally, everyone has a different definition of job satisfaction. For example, the job that seems fine to you may not be of much interest your best friend, and vice versa.
The fact that you live in a free society gives you the privilege to decide your own fate. You have as much power in determining where you work as you do in selecting a spouse, a home, a car, or a pet. Your choice of jobs really depends on how much you want to shape your career, and how much effort youre willing to spend to make the necessary improvements in your life.
If youre considering a job change, its probably for one of three reasons:
 Personal -- You want to change your relationships with others. For example, you may have discovered that youre incompatible with the people in your company. Perhaps they have different interests than you; or they communicate differently or have different educational backgrounds.
 Professional -- Youve determined the need to advance your career. For example, youve found that you wont reach your professional or technical goals at your present company; or that your advancement is being blocked by someone whos more senior or more politically oriented; or that youre not getting the recognition you deserve; or that you and your company are growing in different directions; or that youre not being challenged technically; or youre not being given the skills you need to compete for employment in the future. Or youve simply lost interest in your assigned tasks.
 Situational -- Your dissatisfaction has nothing to do with personal relationships or career development; its tied to a certain set of circumstances. Maybe youre commuting too far from home each day, or youre working too many hours, or youre under too much stress; or you want to relocate to another city (or stay where you are rather than be transferred).
Whatever your personal, professional, or situational reasons may be, youre motivated by the desire to improve your level of job satisfaction and make a change.
The Complete Job Description
In order to translate your needs into results, lets begin by evaluating your present position -- its the first step in any job change.
Youd be surprised how many people are unclear about what they actually do for a living, and the way their jobs make them feel.
For example, whenever I interview a candidate, the first thing I ask for is a complete job description.
"So tell me, Bonnie, " I begin. "What is it that you do at your present company?"
"Gee, Bill, I thought I told you already. Im a systems analyst."
"All right, fair enough," I reply. "But would you please describe to me in detail the following two things:
 What are your daily activities? That is, how do you spend your time during a typical day; and
 What are the measurable results your company expects from these activities? In other words, how does your supervisor know when youre doing a good job?"
Often, I discover that people are hard pressed to come up with solid answers about the specific nature of their work. Theyre not exactly sure about their job responsibilities, and their lack of focus results in stress or counter-productivity.
While a little bit of stress may is natural in any job, a steady diet of it can destroy your incentive to work. In fact, a recent study indicates a direct correlation between a persons lack of task clarity and their level of job dissatisfaction.
Try this exercise: On a sheet of paper, write a complete, current job description in which you list your daily activities and their expected, measurable results. This exercise will not only help you clarify your own perception of your work; itll be useful later on when you begin to construct a resume and communicate to others exactly what youve done.
The Positive Power of Values
Once youve described all the facets of your job, the next step is to understand the relationship between what you do and the way you feel.
I use the term values as a descriptor of personal priorities; as a yardstick to help you:
Understand what types of work-related activities you really enjoy;
Determine which goals or accomplishments are important to you and give you a feeling of satisfaction; and
Evaluate whether your personal priorities are in balance, or in harmony with your job situation.
Although its fairly simple to decipher which daily tasks you really enjoy, the task of scrutinizing your personal priorities can be tricky. Thats because there are often factors unrelated to your job that can come into play.
To demonstrate the importance of values in our decision-making process, consider the following:
I witnessed a job-seeker turn down a position because he was an amateur athlete and he didnt like the air quality where my client company was located.
Not long ago, I placed a candidate who was a long distance runner. He took the position largely because his new boss was also a runner, and would understand his need to take off work twice a year to run the New York City and Boston marathons.
I arranged for an engineer to take a job with a company that offered him a demotion, since being highly visible within his current employers department made him feel uncomfortable.
I helped a radar engineer change to a lower paying job. The reason? The engineer was a member of the 1988 Olympic rowing team, and the new company was near a river.
I once found an excellent job for a chemist who was also an avid taxidermist. At the last minute, the chemist turned down the job, which would have required his relocation from Utah to northern California. The chemist explained that the climate in California was unsuitable for stuffing ducks.
The point is, we all have highly personal motivations which guide our career choices.
The Job Description Makeover
Now that you know how to clearly define your values, the next step is to describe the changes youd like to make in your new job.
To illustrate, listen to the way Pat, Craig, and Neil talk about their respective situations, and how they take their values into consideration:
"I want to have more autonomy where I work. That would mean having a flexible schedule, working different hours each day at my discretion, without having to ask permission. Id be able to leave early on Thursdays to take my daughter to her acting class, and in return, Id be willing to spend several hours working at home during the evening and on weekends. With my personal computer, Id have access by modem to the database in my department, and Id be able to make a significant contribution to the workload, any time, day or night. Most importantly, Id be evaluated solely on my performance, not by the number of hours Ive punched on a clock."
"Id prefer to work closer to my home. I didnt think the amount of time I spent commuting was very important when I joined the company two years ago, but now it really wears on me to sit for an hour a day in traffic. Its not only nerve-wracking to deal with all the crazy people on the freeway; I could be using the commuting time to be with my family. The reduction of stress would improve my attitude, and give me a higher quality of life. If I could find a job similar to what I have now within a few minutes of home, that would make me happy."
"Im interested in my own career advancement. If I stay at this company too much longer, Ill work myself into a corner technically and never achieve my potential. The people here are nice, but I dont share their lifer mentality. Look at Ed, my boss. Hes been here 17 years, and although hes a really solid engineer, hes not familiar with any of the latest advancements in technology. Hed have a hard time finding another job in this market, and it makes me worried, knowing I might someday be in his situation. Besides, I wont be promoted until Ed retires. So Id better leave soon, while Im still attractive to other companies. That would give me the salary increase I deserve and the opportunity to learn new skills with people who are upwardly mobile and aggressive like myself."
Now its your turn. As any advocate of goal-setting will tell you, the more specifically youre able to communicate what youre looking for, the faster youll be able to get what you want.
Naturally, youll want to be realistic with your expectations, and think like a grown-up when considering your gripes. Ill never forget Barry, an engineering candidate I interviewed a few years back, who came into my office with a suicidal look in his eyes.
"Bill, youve really got to help me," he moaned. "My job is ruining my life."
"Your situation sounds pretty serious," I replied in my most empathic tone. "How long have you felt this way?"
"Gosh, I dont know, but Ive got to make a change. My personal life is awful."
"How do you mean, Barry?" I asked.
"I mean Im never at home, and dont have any time to spend with my wife and kids. My company makes me travel constantly."
"Well, I can see how that might make you feel torn between your work and your home life. What can I do to help you?"
"See if you can get me a job where I dont have to travel all the time. I just cant stand the separation from my family," he pleaded.
My heart went out to him. "Sure, Barry, anything to help. But first tell me something. Exactly how often is your company making you travel?"
"Oh, its terrible," he cried. "They make me stay overnight in a hotel at least one night every three months!"
Your Job Changing Strategy
Someone recently asked me whether I helped people get "better" jobs or jobs that made them happier.
My answer was that the two were the same.
Of course, if you were to look at your career from a purely strategic point of view, I could give you four good reasons why it makes sense to change jobs within the same or similar industry three times during your first ten years of employment:
 Changing jobs gives you a broader base of experience: After about three years, youve learned most of what youre going to know about how to do your job. Therefore, over a ten year period, you gain more experience from "three times 90 percent" than "one times 100 percent."
 A more varied background creates a greater demand for your skills: Depth of experience means youre more valuable to a larger number of employers. Youre not only familiar with your current companys product, service, procedures, quality programs, inventory system, and so forth; you bring with you the expertise youve gained from your prior employment with other companies.
 A job change results in an accelerated promotion cycle: Each time you make a change, you bump up a notch on the promotion ladder. You jump, for example, from project engineer to senior project engineer; or national sales manager to vice president of sales and marketing.
 More responsibility leads to greater earning power: A promotion is usually accompanied by a salary increase. And since youre being promoted faster, your salary grows at a quicker pace, sort of like compounding the interest youd earn on a certificate of deposit.
Many people view a job change as a way of promoting themselves to a better position. In most cases, I would agree.
However, you should always be sure your new job offers you the means to satisfy your values. While theres no denying the strategic virtues of selective job changing for the purpose of career leverage, you want to make sure the path you take will lead you where you really want to go.
For instance, I see no reason to make a job change for more money if itll make you unhappy to the point of distraction. Not long ago, I placed a project engineer with a company that offered him a $47,000 a year job. Later, he told me that the same day he agreed to go to work for my client, hed turned down an offer of $83,200 with another company. The reason? The higher offer was for a consulting position with an aerospace company in Detroit -- a job that would have taken him down a road he felt was a dead end.
To me, the "best" job is one in which your values are being satisfied most effectively. If career growth and advancement are your primary goals, and theyre represented by how much you earn, then the job that pays the most money is the "better" job.
Your responsibility when contemplating a change is to evaluate whats most important to you. Whether you focus on a single aspect of your job (like Pat, Craig, and Neil did), or on the overall nature of the job youd like to improve,
The more clearly you connect your values with your work, the greater the potential for job satisfaction.
Recruiters: Your Job-Search Commandos
Keys to Interview Preparation
Its been said that Napoleon won his battles in his tent; that is, he did all the planning the night before the battle was joined, so that every contingency could be adequately covered. Interview preparation is similar. You never know exactly what will happen on the battlefield, but by being ready, you can eliminate a lot of the uncertainty, and know how to react to different scenarios.
Later, well look at ways to effectively conduct the interview itself; but for now, lets focus on the list, each item at a time.
One: The Resume
Of course, bring a couple of copies, and be sure to read your resume before the interview, so youre completely familiar with everything youve written. Nothing is more embarrassing (or potentially fatal to your candidacy) than being quizzed on some aspect of your background that appears on the bottom of page two -- and not being able to remember the details.
You might also bring materials which would be particularly good at illustrating an important aspect of your work, such as creative designs, writing samples, and so forth. Just remember to use your better judgment.
I once interviewed an engineer who brought with him a lawn and garden string trimmer made by his current company, so he could show me the design improvements hed made on the product. It turns out his engineering efforts had lowered the trimmers cost to manufacture, which resulted in increased profits for his company. His version of "show and tell" was a bit extreme (my whole office was buzzing for weeks about my Weed Eater candidate), but at least his real-life picture told me a thousand words.
Be careful, though, not to overdo it with the props. College diplomas, letters of commendation, and company bowling trophies should be left at home. When in doubt, just bring your resume and your business card -- theyre the most important props youll ever need.
Its a good idea to carry a leather folder or day runner with you so you can take notes or store written materials the company might hand you during the course of your interview. A briefcase is also fine, although I prefer a folder, which is lighter to carry, and less cumbersome. Always remember to bring a pen or pencil.
Two: Appropriate Dress and Appearance
Much as I find some aspects of the New Dress for Success (Warner Books, 1988) formula as espoused by author and wardrobe consultant John T. Molloy a bit disheartening, theres simply no practical excuse for dressing any way other than the book suggests. Sure, wed all like to think that were being judged on our qualifications, skills, and depth of character. But the truth is, when it comes to interviewing, in most cases, clothes make the man. To think any other way is to ignore reality.
Three: Directions To the Interview Location
Try to get directions at least a day before your interview, so you dont get lost and arrive late. And heres a tip: Always bring some cash to pay for parking. Never ask an employer to validate your parking stub, or reimburse you for parking. Not only is it impolite, youll create a negative impression, since its considered common courtesy to pay your own expenses for a local interview.
If youre coming from out of town, then its especially important to get directions. Naturally, if the expenses for your interviewing trip are going to be covered by the employer, wait until the interview has concluded (or better yet, the next day) to settle up. Usually, the company will prepay the air fare, or other major expenses, and will reimburse you for the rest, such as your car rental, cab fare, hotel room, and meals. Its customary that you pick up certain non-essential expenses, such as long distance phone calls from your hotel room, or the bar tab from the lounge in the hotel lobby.
A few years ago, a client company of mine flew a candidate to Los Angeles for an interview. The candidate, unfortunately, was unemployed at the time, and was in pretty dire financial straits. He charged the phone calls he made to his wife back in Wyoming and all his dry cleaning expenses (he only brought one shirt with him for two days of interviewing) to the company. When they got his expense voucher a few days later, they got pretty upset -- they never expected to pay for all these add-ons. It was too bad, too, because he was generally well received when he interviewed. Id hate to think it was these little charges that were responsible for his not getting a job he really wanted.
The best time to arrive for an interview is precisely when youre scheduled, not early or late. It can irk an employer to be told that the candidate for a 2 oclock appointment is waiting in the lobby at one thirty-five. The employer will either become distracted knowing theres someone hanging around waiting to see him, or hell scramble to rearrange his schedule to accommodate the candidate, which disrupts the rest of his day. If your appointment is at two, then arrive at two.
If for some reason youre running late, call ahead to ask if you can reschedule for later the same day, or if not, later in the week. If something unexpected happens that you have no control over, simply explain the situation to the employer when you arrive.
I placed a candidate named Alan recently, who was over an hour late to his first interview. Hed been caught in a monstrous traffic jam and was unable to call ahead; but fortunately, he handled the situation like a real pro. When he arrived, he apologized for being late, and got right down to the business of interviewing. He simply put all the anxiety and frustration behind him, so that he could concentrate on the reason he was there, not the reason he was late.
If youre ever caught in a situation like Alan was, stay cool, take a deep breath, and remove whatever misfortune befell you from your mind.
Four: Name and Title of the Interviewer(s)
When you arrange the interview, find out who youll be talking to, and what their function is within the company. Will you be speaking with the hiring manager? The manager from another department? The personnel director? The internal recruiter? A peer level employee or subordinate? A staff industrial psychologist?
You might already know the person. If thats the case, youre ahead of the game. If not, send out feelers among your own contacts within your industry, or look in your industrys trade publications to see if the person youre going to be meeting is distinguished in any way.
Its also helpful to find out whether you and the person youll be meeting have any commonalties or interconnecting points of interest, in the way of origins ("Hey, youre also from Wisconsin?"), schools ("My brother went to Duke, too. How did you like it?"), professional achievements ("My article appeared in Ad Week a month after yours did."), or personal interests ("I heard you were the Nebraska state ping pong champion. Well have to get together sometime for a match."). These tidbits can break the ice when an interview begins, and create a bond with the interviewer.
Five: Understanding the Companys Hiring Procedure
To correctly gauge the sequence of events surrounding or following your first interview, ask these questions:
Can you describe to me, step by step, the hiring procedure for this position?
This is important to ask, because you want to find out if (and when) the company needs to schedule a second or third level interview. Some companies will make hiring decisions on the spot; others will take months of meetings and endless signatures to process a simple request for a second interview.
Will I be asked to take any tests?
And if so, what are they, and how long will they take to administer? Proctor & Gamble, for many of its professional positions, requires candidates to take a one-hour math and abstract reasoning test. Some companies require a full day of psychological, aptitude, technical skill, and intelligence testing. With most companies, failure to pass the tests means automatic elimination from consideration.
Most drug tests are simply referred to as "physicals," and may take several days to schedule and process. Often, youll have to use your own doctor or clinic.
How long will it take before you reach a decision?
This will help you measure your progress through the hiring process, and could spare you from getting the jitters if you dont hear something immediately.
I once got bent out of shape because a new client company was taking a long time to make a decision whether to bring back one of my candidates for a second interview. Later, I found in my original notes that the company was right on schedule; theyd told me up front that it would take them several weeks to reach a decision. As it turns out, I had no reason to complain.
Do you currently have any finalists?
This question lets you know if youve entered the race late, and your interview with the company is only a formality. In a situation like this, isnt it best to know where you stand?
Who will be making the hiring decision?
Find out if the decision will be made by a committee. If it is, must the committee come to a unanimous agreement? Or, will the decision be based on the recommendation of a single person?
The more information you can dig up about the hiring procedure, the better youll be able to give a more confident, thoughtful interview. Whats more, arriving at an interview armed with a bastion of facts will help you shield yourself from the fear that occurs as a result of feeling out of control.
Six: Background Information On the Company
While the amount of background information you can gather about a company is practically endless, it would be ludicrous to try to become a walking encyclopedia of corporate trivia. However, knowing something in each of these categories should significantly improve your odds of getting hired:
The companys personnel -- who the major players are, who was recently hired or let go. Its also a good idea to know something of the history of the company, and who the founders were. For example, if you were interviewing for IBM, it might be considered a faux pas to look puzzled and ask, "Who?" at mention of the name Thomas Watson, Sr.
The companys basic structure -- what products or services they provide to which customers, what the various divisions are, and whether theyre privately or publicly held.
The companys vital signs -- how the company is doing financially. Are they solvent or struggling? Are they involved in a hostile takeover, or merging with another company? Hows their stock faring? You get the idea. Many of my candidates like to look through Value Line before they interview, so they can talk intelligently about the companys financial picture.
The companys divisional or departmental details -- the changes that are taking place that could potentially affect the position youre interviewing for. Is there a new product introduction or marketing strategy in the works? Or how about an overhaul in the companys accounting methods, capital equipment, or computer system?
By arriving for your interview adequately briefed, youll make a strong impression on the interviewer. Best of all, you can spend your interviewing time discussing your background and the companys needs, not the corporate biography, or company financial report.
Seven: A Complete List of Questions You Want to Ask.
During the course of an interview, your dialogue with the other person will spawn a number of questions spontaneously. However, there may be important issues to discuss which will never come up unless you take the initiative. For that reason, you should bring a list of questions with you that will address these issues, so that you dont leave the interview uninformed.
Premeditated questions can be grouped into four different categories:
 Company questions deal with the organization, direction, policies, stability, growth, market share, and new products or services of the prospective company or department;
 Industry questions deal with the health, growth, change, technological advancement, and personnel of the industry as a whole;
 Position questions deal with the scope, responsibilities, travel, compensation policies, and reporting structure of the position youre interviewing for; and
 Opportunity questions deal with your own potential for growth or advancement within the company or its divisions, and the likely timetable for promotion.
You may have specific interests or concerns surrounding topics in each category. For example, if youre interviewing with a computer manufacturer, you may want to ask about the future growth of the industry. Or, lets say youre interviewing for a position with a company thats known for its high rate of personnel turnover. You might want to prepare a carefully worded question that deals with that issue.
Leave Your Laundry List at Home
Naturally, you need to be careful not to come on too strong by asking too many questions -- it may turn the interviewer off. Presumably, if theres mutual interest, youll get all your questions answered at a subsequent interview. The general rule of thumb is to limit the number of premeditated questions to about a dozen or less. While its true that youll be interviewing the company as much as theyll be interviewing you, the last thing you want to do is turn a dialogue into an inquisition, or come across as a walking encyclopedia of corporate trivia.
You should also be aware that theres one specific taboo to first-level interviewing, in terms of the questions you should ask. Never, ever bring up the issue of salary or benefits. If the employer initiates a dialogue surrounding these issues, and asks if you have any questions, fine.
But if it appears to the employer that your primary motivation for changing jobs is the new companys compensation or benefit package, youll be out the door quicker than a bolt of lightning. Employers get chills of fear and loathing when they think youre only on the job market to feather your nest at their expense. They visualize your employment with them as a short term, non-committal, career leveraging maneuver, and understandably, want to avoid being victimized.
Early in my career as a recruiter, I arranged an interview for a qualified candidate with a client company. After the interview, I called Shelly, the employer, to debrief her.
"Well, your candidate didnt do so well," Shelly said.
"Really? I thought he had the perfect background."
"That wasnt the problem. I just didnt like the way he handled the interview."
"I spent over an hour with him, telling him everything about the company, and introducing him to all the key people," Shelly said. "I even gave him an extensive tour of the manufacturing area."
"And then, I brought him back to my office, and we sat down to talk about what hed seen. I asked him if he had any questions."
"And did he?"
"Yes. Thats when the interview ended. He looked me straight in the eye and asked, What are your benefits?"
"And I got up," Shelly said, "and walked him right out the door."
Dont misunderstand me. The candidates actions in no way reflected on his abilities or his character; his intentions were perfectly honorable. But after that incident (which cost the candidate a job and me a placement fee), I learned to caution interviewees not to initiate the subject of salary or benefits.
My suggestion is to take the John F. Kennedy approach to interviewing: "Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company."
This way, you can present yourself as a loyal, hard-working, virtuous, and dedicated candidate, rather than as an opportunistic job-hopper whod prefer to live off the fat of the land.
While its unthinkable to accept or even consider a job without first knowing the financial rewards (or the details of the benefit package), there are better and more timely ways to broach the subject, without endangering your candidacy.
Interview preparation is perhaps the single most overlooked aspect of the job changing process. A candidate whos fired up and ready to go at the time of the interview has a tremendous advantage over a candidate whos not.
The more carefully you prepare for your interview, the better your chances of getting hired.
to Master the Art of Interviewing
To a large degree, the success of your interview will depend on your ability to discover needs and empathize with the interviewer. You can do this by asking questions that verify your understanding of what the interviewer has just said, without editorializing or expressing an opinion. By establishing empathy in this manner, youll be in a better position to freely exchange ideas, and demonstrate your suitability for the job.
In addition to empathy, there are four other intangible fundamentals to a successful interview. These intangibles will influence the way your personality is perceived, and will affect the degree of rapport, or personal chemistry youll share with the employer.
 Enthusiasm -- Leave no doubt as to your level of interest in the job. You may think its unnecessary to do this, but employers often choose the more enthusiastic candidate in the case of a two-way tie. Besides, its best to keep your options open -- wouldnt you rather be in a position to turn down an offer, than have a prospective job evaporate from your grasp by giving a lethargic interview?
 Technical interest -- Employers look for people who love what they do, and get excited by the prospect of tearing into the nitty-gritty of the job.
 Confidence -- No one likes a braggart, but the candidate whos sure of his or her abilities will almost certainly be more favorably received.
 Intensity -- The last thing you want to do is come across as "flat" in your interview. Theres nothing inherently wrong with being a laid back person; but sleepwalkers rarely get hired.
By the way, most employers are aware of how stressful it can be to interview for a new position, and will do everything they can to put you at ease.
The Other Fundamentals
Since interviewing also involves the exchange of tangible information, make sure to:
Present your background in a thorough and accurate manner;
Gather data concerning the company, the industry, the position, and the specific opportunity;
Link your abilities with the company needs in the mind of the employer; and
Build a strong case for why the company should hire you, based on the discoveries you make from building rapport and asking the right questions.
Both for your sake and the employers, never leave an interview without exchanging fundamental information. The more you know about each other, the more potential youll have for establishing rapport, and making an informed decision.
Basic Interviewing Strategy
There are two ways to answer interview questions: the short version and the long version. When a question is open-ended, I always suggest to candidates that they say, "Let me give you the short version. If we need to explore some aspect of the answer more fully, Id be happy to go into greater depth, and give you the long version."
The reason you should respond this way is because its often difficult to know what type of answer each question will need. A question like, "What was your most difficult assignment?" might take anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty minutes to answer, depending on the detail you choose to give.
Therefore, you must always remember that the interviewers the one who asked the question. So you should tailor your answer to what he or she needs to know, without a lot of extraneous rambling or superfluous explanation. Why waste time and create a negative impression by giving a sermon when a short prayer would do just fine?
Lets suppose you were interviewing for a sales management position, and the interviewer asked you, "What sort of sales experience have you had in the past?"
Well, thats exactly the sort of question that can get you into trouble if you dont use the short version/long version method. Most people would just start rattling off everything in their memory that relates to their sales experience. Though the information might be useful to the interviewer, your answer could get pretty complicated and long-winded unless its neatly packaged.
One way to answer the question might be, "Ive held sales positions with three different consumer product companies over a nine-year period. Where would you like me to start?"
Or, you might simply say, "Let me give you the short version first, and you can tell me where you want to go into more depth. Ive had nine years experience in consumer product sales with three different companies, and held the titles of district, regional, and national sales manager. What aspect of my background would you like to concentrate on?"
By using this method, you telegraph to the interviewer that your thoughts are well organized, and that you want to understand the intent of the question before you travel too far in a direction neither of you wants to go. After you get the green light, you can spend your interviewing time discussing in detail the things that are important, not whatever happens to pop into your mind.
Dont Talk Yourself Out of a Job
Ive got a friend whos the hiring manager of an electronics company. He told me once that he brought a candidate into his office to make him a job offer. An hour later, the candidate left. I asked my friend if he had hired the candidate.
"No," he said. "I tried. But the candidate wouldnt stop talking long enough for me to make him an offer."
Dont misinterpret me. Im not suggesting that an interview should consist of a series of monosyllabic grunts. Its just that nothing turns off an employer faster than a windbag candidate.
By using the short version/long version method to answer questions, youll never talk yourself out of a job.
The Prudent Use of Questions
Beware: An interview will quickly disintegrate into an interrogation or monologue unless you ask some high quality questions of your own. Candidate questions are the lifeblood of any successful interview, because they:
Create dialogue, which will not only enable the two of you to learn more about each other, but will help you visualize what itll be like working together once youve been hired;
Clarify your understanding of the company and the position responsibilities;
Indicate your grasp of the fundamental issues discussed so far;
Reveal your ability to probe beyond the superficial; and
Challenge the employer to reveal his or her own depth of knowledge, or commitment to the job.
Your questions should always be slanted in such a way as to show empathy, interest, or understanding of the employers needs. After all, the reason youre interviewing is because the employers company has some piece of work which needs to be completed, or a problem that needs correcting. Here are some questions that have proven to be very effective:
Whats the most important issue facing your department?
How can I help you accomplish this objective?
How long has it been since you first identified this need?
How long have you been trying to correct it?
Have you tried using your present staff to get the job done? What was the result?
What other means have you used? For example, have you brought in independent contractors, or temporary help, or employees borrowed from other departments? Or have you recently hired people who havent worked out?
Is there any particular skill or attitude you feel is critical to getting the job done?
Is there a unique aspect of my background that youd like to exploit in order to help accomplish your objectives?
Questions like these will not only give you a sense of the companys goals and priorities, theyll indicate to the interviewer your concern for satisfying the companys objectives.
Give It Some Thought
Here are seven of the most commonly asked interviewing questions. Do yourself and the prospective employer a favor, and give them some thought before the interview occurs.
 Why do you want this job?
 Why do you want to leave your present company?
 Where do you see yourself in five years?
 What are your personal goals?
 What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
 What do you like most about your current company?
 What do you like least about your current company?
The last question is probably the hardest to answer: What do you like least about your present company?
Ive found that rather than pointing out the faults of other people ("I cant stand the office politics," or, "I dont get along with my boss"), its best to place the burden on yourself ("I feel Im ready to exercise a new set of professional muscles," or, "The type of technology Im interested in isnt available to me now.").
By answering in this manner, youll avoid pointing the finger at someone else, or coming across as a whiner or complainer. It does no good to speak negatively about others.
I suggest you think through the answers to the above questions for two reasons.
First, it wont help your chances any to hem and haw over fundamental issues such as these. (The answers you give to these types of questions should be no-brainers.)
And secondly, the questions will help you evaluate your career choices before spending time and energy on an interview. If you dont feel comfortable with the answers you come up with, maybe the new job isnt right for you.
Money, Money, Money
Theres a good chance youll be asked about your current and expected level of compensation. Heres the way to handle the following questions:
 What are you currently earning?
Answer: "My compensation, including bonus, is in the high-forties. Im expecting my annual review next month, and that should put me in the low-fifties."
 What sort of money would you need in order to come to work for our company?
Answer: "I feel that the opportunity is the most important issue, not salary. If we decide to work together, Im sure youll make me a fair offer."
Notice the way a range was given as the answer to question , not a specific dollar figure. However, if the interviewer presses for a exact answer, then by all means, be precise, in terms of salary, bonus, benefits, expected increase, and so forth.
In answer to question , if the interviewer tries to zero in on your expected compensation, you should also suggest a range, as in, "I would need something in the low- to mid- fifties." Getting locked in to an exact figure may work against you later, in one of two ways: either the number you give is lower than you really want to accept; or the number appears too high or too low to the employer, and an offer never comes. By using a range, you can keep your options open.
Some Questions You Can Count On
There are four types of questions that interviewers like to ask.
First, there are the resume questions. These relate to your past experience, skills, job responsibilities, education, upbringing, personal interests, and so forth.
Resume questions require accurate, objective answers, since your resume consists of facts which tend to be quantifiable (and verifiable). Try to avoid answers which exaggerate your achievements, or appear to be opinionated, vague, or egocentric.
Second, interviewers will usually want you to comment on your abilities, or assess your past performance. Theyll ask self-appraisal questions like, "What do you think is your greatest asset?" or, "Can you tell me something youve done that was very creative?"
Third, interviewers like to know how you respond to different stimuli. Situation questions ask you to explain certain actions you took in the past, or require that you explore hypothetical scenarios that may occur in the future. "How would you stay profitable during a recession?" or, "How would you go about laying off 1300 employees?" or, "How would you handle customer complaints if the company drastically raised its prices?" are typical situation questions.
And lastly, some employers like to test your mettle with stress questions such as, "After you die, what would you like your epitaph to read?" or, "If you were to compare yourself to any U.S. president, who would it be?" or, "Its obvious your background makes you totally unqualified for this position. Why should we even waste our time talking?"
Stress questions are designed to evaluate your emotional reflexes, creativity, or attitudes while youre under pressure. Since off-the-wall or confrontational questions tend to jolt your equilibrium, or put you in a defensive posture, the best way to handle them is to stay calm and give carefully considered answers.
Whenever I hear a stress question, I immediately think of the Miss Universe beauty pageant. The finalists (usually sheltered teenagers from places like Zambia or Uruguay) are asked before a live television audience of three and a half billion people to give heartfelt and earnest responses to incongruous questions like, "What would you tell the leaders of all the countries on earth to do to promote world peace?"
Of course, your sense of humor will come in handy during the entire interviewing process, just so long as you dont go over the edge. I heard of a candidate once who, when asked to describe his ideal job, replied, "To have beautiful women rub my back with hot oil." Needless to say, he wasnt hired.
Even if it were possible to anticipate every interview question, memorizing dozens of stock answers would be impractical, to say the least. The best policy is to review your background, your priorities, and your reasons for considering a new position; and to handle the interview as honestly as you can. If you dont know the answer to a question, just say so, or ask for a moment to think about your response.
Wrapping It Up
At the conclusion of your interview, you can wrap up any unfinished business you failed to cover so far, and begin to explore the future of your candidacy.
During your interview wrap-up, its a good practice to make the interviewer aware of other opportunities youre exploring, as long as theyre genuine, and their timing has some bearing on your own decision making.
The fact that youre actively exploring other opportunities may affect the speed with which the company makes its hiring decision. It may even positively influence the eventual outcome, since the company may want to act quickly so as not to lose you.
However, your other activity should be presented in the spirit of assistance to the interviewer, not as a thinly veiled threat or negotiating tactic. Id advise you to play it straight with the interviewer.
And remember to maintain a positive attitude. In todays job market, youd be surprised how often victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat.
The better your interviewing skills, the greater your chances of getting the job.
Comparison: How to Evaluate a Job Offer
Lets assume your employment interview went well, and theres sincere and mutual interest on both sides.
Now you need to decide two things: first, whether the new position is right for you; and if so, what sort of offer youd be willing to accept.
To evaluate the pros and cons, ask yourself the following: Does the new job meet the criteria you spelled out when you first began your search? Will the new job improve your level of personal and professional satisfaction? Or will it simply offer you a rehash of what you already have? Hopefully, the unique qualities youre seeking will be within your grasp.
If youre not sure about the new job, or need help in being more objective, take the following test as a way to compare the two positions. You should be able to get a feel for how the job you interviewed for stacks up against your current position by selecting which considerations best suit your needs.
The position comparison test can be "scored" two different ways. You can either tally the totals (the best job has the highest score); or you can use the test as a way to examine your priorities.
Lets suppose your score was 15 to seven, in favor of the new company. Does that mean you should change jobs?
Well, not necessarily. It depends on which considerations are most important to you. If an increase in travel will ruin your marriage, then it wont matter how many positive considerations point to the new job. (This is assuming you want to stay married.)
However, a simple tallying of the score can be very helpful when the decision is a tough one, and no single consideration acts as a "knockout" factor. Besides, mathematical "logic" can always be used to justify what you already feel to be the right decision.
The Economic Factor
Compensation, of course, will be a key factor in your decision whether to accept a new position.
Oddly, few people take the time to really understand their economic choices, mostly because there are so many hidden factors, such as cost of living, benefits, relocation expenses, and so forth.
Regardless of where compensation ranks on your list of priorities, its a good idea to know what you may be getting into when faced with a career decision.
To help you put your economic choices into perspective, use this compensation comparison to evaluate both your prospective compensation package and what youre currently earning.
The best time to make your calculations is before an offer is made. That way, you can form a clear idea of what youll need, without having to dicker (or experience shock) later on.
If youre looking at an opportunity thats in a different geographic location, you might want to do some investigating before you even interview. For example, if you live in a nice suburban community in Lawrence, Kansas, what would it cost you to maintain your current lifestyle in an area like San Francisco? Your answer (and your willingness to make the necessary trade-offs) will help determine your level of interest when considering the new position.
Figuring the Bottom Line
The best approach to putting the deal together is to decide whether you want the job before an offer is extended. This allows you to clarify whether the job suits your needs. Unless youre motivated solely by money, its doubtful a few extra dollars will turn a bad job into a good one.
If the job interests you, then determine the conditions under which youll accept. These fall into two categories: Bottom Lines and Porcupines.
The term "bottom line" refers to the amount of compensation you feel is absolutely necessary to accept the job offer. If, for example, you really want $46,000 but would think about $45,000 or settle for $44,000, then you havent established your bottom line. The bottom line is one dollar more than the figure you would positively walk away from. Setting a bottom line clarifies your sense of worth, and helps avoid an unpredictable bargaining session.
I recommend against "negotiating" an offer in the classic sense, where the company makes a proposal, you counter it, they counter your counter, and so on. While this type of tit for tat format may be customary for negotiating a residential real estate deal, job offers should be handled in a more straightforward manner.
Heres how: Determine your bottom line in advance, and wait for the offer. If the company offers you more than your bottom line, great. If they offer you less, then you have the option of turning the offer down or revealing to them your bottom line as a condition of acceptance. At that point, they can raise the ante or walk away.
Lay Your Cards on the Table
Once the bottom line is known, you can avoid the haggling that so often causes aggravation, disappointment, or hurt feelings.
My experience has shown that its much better to lay your cards on the table in the beginning than to barter to get what you want. An employer can get very irritable when a candidate says, "Ill think it over," or keeps coming back with new demands again and again. Even if you get what you want, youve created a negative impression with the company which will carry over after youve been hired. In effect, you may win the battle, but lose the war.
By determining your own acceptance conditions in advance, youll never be accused of negotiating in bad faith or of being indecisive. Whether youre representing yourself or working with a recruiter, learning to differentiate between financial fact and fantasy will facilitate the job changing process.
You may want to itemize your bottom line, and, if its appropriate, show it to the company (or your recruiter) as a means to justify your salary request. Carefully figure your total package, and document any loss of income that may result from a differential in benefits, geographic location, car expenses, and the like.
If a recruiter asks for your bottom line, he or she isnt trying to manipulate you or conspire with an employer that plans to "lowball " its candidates. The recruiter is simply making a good faith effort to discover what makes you happy, and put together two interested parties.
The Porcupine Category
Of course, there are considerations aside from money that usually need to be satisfied before an offer can be accepted. Factors such as your new position title, review periods, work schedule, vacation allotment, and promotion opportunities are important, and should be looked at carefully.
To understand the candidates needs, I use the porcupine approach to quantify each consideration or "point" made by the candidate as a condition for acceptance. Once I understand each point, I can work with the company to put the deal together, without having to go back later to get "one more thing."
Once you know your bottom line and each condition, or point on the porcupine, youre in a better position to get what you want, since youve established quantifiable goals to shoot for.
How an Offer Is Staged
Every company makes hiring decisions differently. Some will encourage shoot-from-the-hip managers to make job offers on the spot. Other companies will limit the decision makers ability to act quickly and unilaterally, and require a drawn-out series of staff meetings, subsequent interviews, corporate signatures, and so on.
These days, its not uncommon for the hiring cycle to last weeks or even months, regardless of how "critical" the position might be. The best approach is to maintain contact with the company, allowing for the fact that therell probably be some delay. Presumably, you asked what the hiring procedure was when you first interviewed. Their answer should give you some indication as to when a decision will be made.
Offers can be extended by either a letter, or verbally from a hiring manager. They can also be made through a third party, such as a recruiter. In either case, be careful. An offer needs to include these three components before it can be considered official:
 Your position title;
 Your starting salary; and
 Your start date.
Before you resign from your present job, make sure you nail down each of these components from a company official, either verbally or in writing (in the form of an offer letter). Even if the offer comes through a recruiter, you should always contact the employer directly, and if possible, get a letter of offer or acceptance to verify the deal (although a verbal offer and acceptance will act as a legal contract).
Not long ago, I was working with a candidate who interviewed for a position with one of my client companies. The interview went extremely well; so well that the VP of the company called the candidate at his home that evening to discuss the offer.
"Well, Paul, we really like you," the employer told the candidate. "The job is yours if you want it."
"I want it," said Paul. "When do I start?"
"Well, Ill call Bill tomorrow and work out the details," replied the employer.
Understandably, Paul got excited. Filled with pride, he drove his ailing grandmother by the new company the next day, so he could show off his new place of work.
But guess what? The employer never called me, and never called Paul, either. For some reason he changed his mind, and didnt have the decency to let anyone know.
The reason I tell this story is to warn you that even when the cat seems to be in the bag, it aint over til the fat lady sings. An offer has to include a position title, a starting salary, and a date of start to be official; just telling you the job is yours isnt enough.
Heres another word of caution: Offers sometimes have strings, or contingencies attached. Dont be surprised if the fine print requires you to:
Pass a physical examination;
Document your citizenship or immigration status;
Obtain a security clearance;
Undergo a thorough background investigation, in which your credit history, police records, and travel history might be examined;
Verify your academic credentials; or
Provide proof of your past employment, salary, or military service.
Very often, these contingencies must be satisfied before you can to report to work or receive a paycheck.
Accepting the Offer
If everything about the new position is satisfactory, go ahead and accept the offer. If youre expecting an offer from a second company, you should let the second company know about your offer right away, so they can speed up their decision. That way, youll avoid jeopardizing one deal for the sake of another.
Once an offers on the table, it makes common sense to accept or reject it within a day or so. Otherwise, your inability to commit will reflect poorly on the way you make decisions; or it will telegraph your lack of enthusiasm to the new employer. In either case, youre likely to be bruised by waiting too long.
If you have legitimate concerns, or you still have questions that need to be answered, now is the time to bring them up. Rather than tell the employer, "Ill have to think it over," use the following script:
"Mr. Employer, this job looks very good to me, and Im enthusiastic about coming to work for your company. Ill be in a position to accept your offer and start in two weeks if I can just clarify a couple of things..."
The answers you get will make your decision for you, and youll either accept or reject the companys offer.
If you decide to reject an offer, remember that its almost impossible to resurrect the deal at a later date, since the position will be offered to someone else, or the employer will feel insulted, and close the door on your candidacy. Whatever you do, make certain your decision is final.
New Angles and Unusual Deals
Most deals come together quite cleanly, with little need for haggling or creative financing. Sometimes, though, it takes a little imagination to satisfy both parties.
Money can present a problem for employers when your salary requirements exceed the published range for the position, or create an inequity within the department. In fact, internal equity issues (in which your expected salary might be greater than someone on the staff who has more professional or company seniority) are the cause of most deals that fail to close for financial reasons.
To satisfy money matters, look for ways to increase your overall yearly compensation, rather than your annual salary. Here are a few added goodies you can shoot for to boost your earnings without ruffling too many feathers:
A sign-on bonus to be paid in cash on your date of start;
A performance bonus to be paid after thirty, sixty, or ninety days, assuming your clearly defined goals are met;
A discretionary bonus to be paid in a lump sum, or over a specified period;
A generous relocation bonus to be paid on your date of start to cover expenses (but which can be spent at your discretion);
An accelerated review which would occur after three or six months, rather than on your first anniversary of employment, in which your salary would be increased; or
An early participation in the companys bonus, stock purchase, or pension plan; or other employee benefit program.
When required, companies will sometimes serve up these tasty morsels to hungry candidates who recognize that overall compensation consists of more than salary alone.
The craziest deal I ever put together involved a candidate whod just purchased a home and was beyond commuting distance to the interested company. Since the candidate wouldnt sell his home and relocate, the company president agreed to buy the candidate (who had a pilots license) a single engine airplane so he could fly to work each day. It just goes to show, where theres a will, theres a way.
Careful evaluation mixed with a little bit of creativity will help you get the deal you want.
Position Comparison Guide
Candidate _________________________________ Current position ______________________________________
Old position _____________________________________ New position __________________________________
Todays date ________________________________ Prospective start date __________________________________
Directions: Compare the position you have now with the one you are considering, according to the following elements:
Score: ____________ Current job ____________ New job New job differential (+/-) ___________
Position Compensation Guide
Old position ___________________________________ New position _____________________________________
Todays date ________________________________ Prospective start date _________________________________
Directions: Compare the position you have now with the one you are considering, according to the following elements:
Current job $________________ New job $________________ New job differential (+/-) $___________
Proper Way to Resign
Congratulations. Youve accepted a new job.
Now take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the challenge ahead. Even though you may be floating on cloud nine now, there are a lot of emotional and logistical hurdles yet to clear.
As youve already learned, the job-changing process arouses all sorts of feelings. During the transitional phase that begins with your acceptance of an offer and ends a month or two after youve started your new position, the emotional limbo youll experience will be especially acute.
Why? Because suddenly, the reality kicks in. After all this time, the changes youve been contemplating are actually going to happen.
This jolting realization will be followed by a sense of guilt. Oh, my God, you tell yourself. Ive been cheating on my present employer. Having an affair is one thing -- but divorce? I never knew it would come to this!
Then the fear of reprisal begins. My boss is gonna kill me, I just know it. Hes really gonna make me suffer.
And if the fear of guilt and reprisal dont give you enough to worry about, consider the buyers remorse youll probably feel. What if I made a mistake? you ask yourself. Im gonna ruin my life. Aaauuuggghhh!
Dont Let the Demons Get You Down
Relax. Everyone who changes jobs is plagued by these demons, to a greater or lesser degree. Its only natural.
But rather than dwell on the past, imagine for a moment that youre in your new job.
Isnt this great? Think of all the changes youre making, and how your new life is a huge improvement compared to what you had before. Think of the new people youre meeting, the new skills youre acquiring, and the new opportunities you have to advance your career.
Now, are you going to let your fears unravel everything youve accomplished in the way of self-evaluation, planning, resume writing, interviewing, and putting a deal together? No way. Youre not the type of person whos going to allow cold feet to put the chill on changing jobs. Youre a person of action, and you seize the moment. You know that those who back away from golden opportunities may never get another chance.
Self-affirmations like these can do wonders for maintaining your positive energy and high self-esteem. And by projecting all the beneficial aspects of your new job into the present tense, youll ward off the demons that can distort your judgment, and make you vulnerable to a counteroffer attempt.
Considering the Counteroffer
Of course, if your motivation for getting a job offer was to position yourself for a counteroffer, then youre in the catbirds seat -- you cant lose either way.
Or can you? Some employment experts point out that accepting a counteroffer is the equivalent of career suicide.
According to Paul Hawkinson, publisher of The Fordyce Letter, your acceptance of a counteroffer could very well blow up in your face.
Heres how. Lets say you announce your plans to leave your current job. This, in effect, blackmails your boss, who makes you a counteroffer only to keep you until he can find your replacement, at which point youre dropped like a hot potato. In the meantime, the trusting relationship youve enjoyed with your current supervisors and peers abruptly ends, and your loyalty becomes forever suspect.
Is this sort of scenario accurate? I guess it depends. My experience has been mixed. That is, some of the candidates Ive known whove accepted counteroffers have remained at their old jobs for years, and have smoothed over whatever difficulties caused their split in the first place.
Its precisely for this reason that Im so cautious when I work with currently employed job seekers. I want to feel confident that their motives are pure before we both invest a lot of time and energy in testing the market.
However, theres a lot of evidence to support the theory that candidates who accept counteroffers become damaged goods once theyve been herded back into the fold.
Here Come the Three Stages
If your intention to make a change is sincere, and a counteroffer by your current company wont change your decision to leave, you should still keep up your guard. A counteroffer attempt can be potentially devastating, both on a personal and professional level. Unless you know how to diffuse your current employers retaliation against your resignation, you may end up psychologically wounded, or right back at the job you wanted to leave.
The best way to shield yourself from the inevitable mixture of emotions surrounding the act of submitting your resignation is to remember that employers follow a predictable, three-stage pattern when faced with a resignation:
 Theyll be in shock. "You sure picked a fine time to leave! Whos going to finish the project we started?"
The implication is that youre irreplaceable. They might as well ask, "How will we ever get the work done without you?"
To answer this assertion, you can reply, "If I were run over by a truck on my way to work tomorrow, I feel that somehow, this company would survive."
 Theyll start to probe. "Whos the new company? What sort of position did you accept? What are they paying you?"
Here you must be careful not to disclose too much information, or appear too enthusiastic. Otherwise, you run the risk of feeding your current employer with ammunition he can use against you later, such as, "Ive heard some pretty terrible things about your new company" or, "Theyll make everything look great until you actually get there. Then youll see what a sweat shop that place really is."
 Theyll make you an offer to try and keep you from leaving. "You know that raise you and I were talking about a few months back? I forgot to tell you: We were just getting it processed yesterday."
To this you can respond, "Gee, today you seem pretty concerned about my happiness and well-being. Where were you yesterday, before I announced my intention to resign?"
It may take several days for the three stages to run their course, but believe me, sooner or later, youll find yourself engaged in conversations similar to these.
More than once, candidates have called me after theyve resigned, to tell me that their old company followed the three-stage pattern exactly as I described it. Not only were they prepared to diffuse the counteroffer attempt, they found the whole sequence to be almost comical in its predictability.
How to Tactfully Resign
The first thing you need to consider is the timing of your resignation. Since two weeks notice is considered the norm, make sure your resignation properly coincides with your start date at the new company.
You should always try to avoid an extended start date. Even if your new job begins in 10 weeks, dont give 10 weeks notice; wait eight weeks and then give two weeks notice. This way, youll protect yourself from disaster, in the unlikely event your new company announces a hiring freeze a month before you come on board.
And by staying at your old job for only two weeks after youve announced your resignation, you wont be subjected to the envy, scorn, or feelings of professional impotence that may result from your new role as a lame-duck employee.
Some companies will make your exit plans for you. I placed a candidate once whose employer had the security guard escort him out of the building the moment he announced his intention to go to work for a direct competitor. Fortunately, he was still given two weeks pay.
Your resignation should be handled in person, preferably on a Friday afternoon. Ask your direct supervisor if you can speak with him privately in his office. When you announce your intention to resign, you should also hand your supervisor a letter which states your last date of employment with the company. Let him know that youve enjoyed working with him, but that an opportunity came along that you couldnt pass up, and that your decision to leave was made carefully, and doesnt reflect any negative feelings you have toward the company or the staff.
You should also add that your decision is final, and that you would prefer not to be made a counteroffer, since you wouldnt want your refusal to accept more money to appear as a personal affront.
Let your supervisor know that you appreciate all the companys done for you; and that youll do everything in your power to make your departure as smooth and painless as possible.
Finally, ask if theres anything you can do during the transition period over the next two weeks, such as help train your successor, tie up loose ends, or delegate tasks.
Keep your resignation letter short, simple, and to the point. Theres no need to go into detail about your new job, or what led to your decision to leave. If these issues are important to your old employer, hell schedule an exit interview for you, at which time you can hash out your differences ad infinitum.
Make sure to provide a carbon copy or photocopy of your resignation letter for your companys personnel file. This way, the circumstances surrounding your resignation will be well documented for future reference.
In all likelihood, the human resource staff will want to meet with you to process your departure papers, or cover any questions you may have concerning the transfer of your medical insurance or retirement benefits.
Now that youve gotten your resignation out of the way, you need to shift your attention to the new company.
If a relocation is required, and you havent done your house hunting, let me make a suggestion. Work with a relocation specialist, to give you a hand in finding a place to live in your new city or town.
Relocation specialists are brokers who make their living by matching candidates and locations, similar to the way recruiters match candidates and employers.
Relocation specialists will interview you and your spouse (or significant other). Once they discover your housing and lifestyle needs, theyll refer you to Realtors who are familiar with the local communities that satisfy your needs. Relocation specialists receive a commission or finders fee from the Realtor, once a property is sold. Theres no charge to you or your new employer.
Often, relocation specialists will be able to prequalify you for a mortgage loan, or refer you to an amenable mortgage broker or lending institution.
Relocation specialists can also be good at handling unusual situations. For example, a relocation specialist I was working with a few years ago was able to help a candidates wife transfer her teaching credential from California to Michigan. Without the transfer, the candidate wouldnt have been able to accept my client companys offer.
In another instance, a relocation specialist was able to pinpoint the exact housing needs of a candidate and his wife, show them the perfect property, qualify them, and arrange a 5-percent down mortgage loan with a bank -- all in one morning. That afternoon, the candidate went to his final interview with my client company and accepted their offer, secure in the knowledge that his relocation wouldnt be a problem.
If your new company has a relocation specialist on staff, fine. If not, ask for a recommendation. Your relocation is too important to leave to chance, or entrust to a randomly selected real estate agent. In the event youre unable to find an independent relocation specialist, you can probably hook up with a realtor who works mainly with executive corporate transfers. Century 21, for example, does an outstanding job of matching out-of-town buyers with desirable, local properties.
Culture Shock and Task Clarity
At last, youve arrived! Welcome aboard.
In the beginning, your new job may seem overwhelming. After all, there are new people to meet, new systems to learn, new schedules to keep, and new personalities to adjust to. In many ways, culture shock might be the best way to describe your first week.
The real key to early success with your new company boils down to the issue of task clarity. Task clarity refers not to your ability to do a certain job, but to your understanding of how the jobs defined.
Task clarity is dependent upon the quality of communication between you and the person assigning the task. Any breakdown of task clarity will result in frustration or poor performance, or worse.
To illustrate, let me tell you the story of John, a technical writer I placed with a high tech client company in California. Three weeks after John started in his new position, I called to ask him how everything was going.
"Fine," he answered. "They love me here. Ive completed the documentation on everything theyve assigned me."
Later that day, I placed a call to Johns boss, expecting him to heap praise on me for my recruiting genius. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
"Bill, Im afraid I have some bad news for you," said the manager. "Im going to fire John this afternoon. It looks like well have to start the search all over again."
"Really?" I was stunned. "What seems to be the problem?"
"John hasnt produced any of the documentation we need for our customers, and we have to get the work done to meet our deadline. If John cant do the work, Ill have to find someone who can."
"Thats odd," I said. "I talked to John this morning and hes under the impression that the documentation hes producing is exactly what you asked for. When was the last time the two of you sat down to discuss his assignment?"
"Oh gosh," replied the manager, "it must have been about three weeks ago, right after he started to work here."
"Well then, let me make a suggestion. The two of you should talk this through, because theres obviously been a communication breakdown. As far as Johns concerned, hes doing a terrific job based on his perception of the assignment."
Changing Jobs: A New Beginning
A simple failure to communicate the task clearly in the beginning had almost resulted in Johns termination three weeks after he started his new job.
Fortunately, we were all able to dodge a bullet. After my call to the employer, John and his boss sat down to discuss the project. The assignment was quickly clarified, and John went on to complete the documentation needed to meet the deadline.
John was lucky that my intervention helped save his job.
If youre working with a recruiter, make sure he or she keeps in touch with the company, to monitor your progress.
You owe it to your career to sharpen your task clarity. Ask for a weekly review for the first month or so of your employment, and try not to let things get set on automatic pilot, especially in the beginning.
With a little bit of planning, its possible to make a smooth transition from one job to the next.