Question: I have a lot of experience and feel my age may be blocking me from job offers. What’s your strategy about filling out job applications?
Answer: You can’t change your age, just how you deal with it. You need to build your case for why your age is an advantage, and deliver a confident message. If it is still an issue at the time you are filling our a job application, then you may not be conducting your search the most effective way. You can’t lie on the application, and you are unlikely to get to the next step if you don’t fill in the application accurately, so I would advise completing it and keeping your fingers crossed.
Follow-Up Question: Here’s my take away from what you are saying:
I wrote an article on focusing your career search, and received the following comment
The Focusing topic sounds interesting, since we are often told– even in the same breath– to focus but “consider wider possiblities.” Hopefully, you cover “overfocusing” as well– the “third finger manicurist” syndrome as I call it. In such cases there is focus and differentiation, but not much of a meaningful market or application.
My responseMy experience is that lack of focus is a much greater problem than overfocusing. If you do a great job of explaining exactly what you are passionate about, and the types of results you can provide or problems you can solve, it opens up a meaningful dialog. Even if that’s not what I might be able to connect you to, I’ll remember you when I hear about something that might be a possibility. And I may still present you with some ‘wider possibilities’ to consider, once you’ve attracted my interest. What may mask itself as an “overfocusing” problem is the person who gets stuck down in the details of what he or she does, instead of focusing on potential accomplishments and results. I won’t get very excited about someone who tells me he is a thrid finger manicurist (titles and duties aren’t particularly interesting); a better conversation will come from telling me that he helps people maintain the health of their fingers. One of the strongest candidates I ever interviewed told me he really didn’t want the job I had to offer, and proceeded to tell me exactly what role he wanted. It led to a great discussion, and before he left the office, I made him the best possible job offer I could to try to attract him to my operation. You can get the article that prompted this, Don’t Kill Your Career Search With Lack Of Focus!”, here: http://www.JHACareers.com/LackFocus.htm
This question was posted to a group to which I belong
I’ve been short listed for a position and they are bringing in the final candidates for interviews over a two day period.
Question: Do I want to go first, last or somewhere in the middle? They have given me the option since I will be traveling so I was wondering if there were any thoughts? Since the interviews will only be over a two day period, perhaps there’s not much difference.
I’d go for 1st, for 2 reasons:
What do YOU think? Post your own comments…
I came across this advice some time ago for how to reach out to a hiring manager who has an opening:
“If the manager’s secretary answers, introduce yourself and ask for the manager by name. Expect that she will tell you he is not available and ask the purpose of your call. Do not, under any circumstances tell her you are responding to an advertisement or seeking a job, but rather say, “it’s personal.” Then leave your name, phone number at which you can be reached, and a time you will be available. The chances are very good that she will pass the message on.”
I take very strong exception with telling someone “It’s personal”. Having been a hiring manager for many years, I can tell you that anyone who did that with me would have a big hole to dig themseleves out of. In fact, most times when I got a message saying “it’s personal”, and didn’t recognize the name, I would throw away the message, ask my administrative assistant to call and find out more, or simply assume the person would call back some time. I had learned that 99% of such messages I received were either recruiters or salespeople.
There is the additional issue of potentially alienating a very important person - the hiring manager’s administrative assistant. By misrepresenting yourself this way to get around the assistant, they will also remember you negatively for having done that. You have just turned a critical gate keeper into your enemy!
Although the “it’s personal” strategy may get you through more often than being honest about the call, when you do get connected you are on a much stronger footing. The key to an influential conversation, to a winning interview, is to build a strong relationship with the hiring manager, so that they see you as someone they really WANT to work with day by day, who is clearly aligned with their goals, who they can always rely on. Starting out with something that already may negatively influence that relationship is not a great strategy.
For more on how to Hit a Home Run in Every Interview, see this article:
By the way, another tactic used by a recruiter for whom I used to have respect was to leave a fake name. He claimed it was to protect the candidate, since he was so well known. At the time I didn’t realize this - he hadn’t needed to try that particularl dodge because I always took his calls.
He then did 2 things I considered unethical in presenting candidates to me, and I told him not to ever bother to call our company again, as we would never use him in any capacity. (I was responsible for all actuarial hiring.)
A few years later, when I was looking to make a move myself, he called me under the fake name (which I still didn’t know), and sent me materials about his firm with that name on the letterhead. Since he had moved in the interim and had a different phone number and area code, I didn’t realize it was him. I went on the interview, afterwards happened to mention the name to a friend, and found out who I was dealing with. I never let on, and made a note in my address book never to return a call again that was left under that name!
Recruiters can be critical contacts in a Career Search, but you need go about working with them the right way. Just as in any profession, there are a large number of average (or worse) recruiters, and a small percentage of top notch professionals.
You want to be selective, choosing to work actively only with those who have proven successes in the exact type of job, industry, company and compensation level you seek. You want to evaluate them just as extensively as they evaluate you as a potential candidate they might present. For more on this, see this article:
Here’s a comment I received some time ago on the subject, in response to an article I wrote about seeking to Hit A Home Run in your Career Search: