This is my advice for executives looking for a job

I give this list out to a lot of people - so thought it would simplify it to just write it for you. I'm a headhunter, but a niche one. I only work on jobs that clients give me in digital and social marketing, and I have never been successful in taking a candidate call and shopping them around.

Maybe it's me.

Here's what I tell every candidate/manager/executive/friend/family member I don't have a job for. It works, but only if you do it.

1) Make a list of 10-20 companies you want to work for that are local, and find one executive at that company that could hire you at the level you want. Write the company, name, and title in a spreadsheet.

2) Follow every company on that list on LinkedIn.

3) Search for recruiters and headhunters who have your resume keywords on their profile. Send an invitation to every one you can. Focus on ones with experience that you would call back (they are usually called executive search). Don't write anything in your invitation, and don't send a note if they do accept .

4) Go through the companies and look at 1st and 2nd degree connections. See if there's anyone you know. Send a message to your first degree with a short positive memory of how you know each other, and send a connection invite to anyone you've met in the 2nd degree. Don't ask for anything, unless they reply and specifically want to help you. (no, they don't want your resume, and you shouldn't send it).

5) ) Get a google voice number and put it at the bottom of your summary. You can always turn it off when you get the job. Send the phone to your cell and have it ring your number, so if someone calls, you'll know it's a recruiting call from LinkedIn

6) Connect to senior executives (VP HR and above), and executives senior enough in marketing to hire you. Send them an invitation and simply say (same industry, respect for your company).

7) Search for jobs at the company website and on LinkedIn. If you see a job you like, look at your connections. Message them and say, "I'm going to submit, but if you get a referral fee, I'll let you do it."

8) Carry your list with you. Anytime you meet or talk to someone, and the subject of employment comes up, ask them if they know a name on the list. If they do - ask them to text their contact with your name, because you're going to email them. If they don't have the cell, ask them to email from their phone or send a LinkedIn message, and you'll email the executive afterwards (ask if you can use their name - but even if you can't, that's okay. The exec saw your name).

9) You want to start an application, but if all you get is a call with an executive, tell them it's 20 minutes, you want to talk about the list of companies you want to work for and see if you're missing one, and ask about trends in the market you should look for.

10) At all times, your goal is information and connection. Never ask for help with the job search. Ask for a job or ask if they can connect you to someone on your list who can offer you a job. This is very important. "Networking, coffee, casual interviews, and help" are nonsense words you use to hide the fact that you want a job. Instead, be clear your intent is either to get a job with that company, or with a company they refer you to.

That's it. Those ten bullet points will improve your job search, and find you employment faster than you could imagine. They will also strengthen your network. Most important, they won't fool you into believing that you're making progress because someone took your call.

Don't agree? Post your experiences.

Candidate Personas: The Motivated Mover Versus The Happy Hard Sell

Candidate Personas Series: Introduction, and Part I

When looking at candidates, it's important to look at their motivations for the job search. Over time, and with enough interviews, you can begin to identify candidates based on why they would consider your position.

This is not a cure-all. It's not a substitute for behavioral assessments or proper interview procedures. It is simply a way of thinking about a candidate's point of view, so that you can learn to identify their needs and communicate in a way that will increase your likelihood of success. This is a... basket of general attitudes. It's not candidate-specific, but as you see the patterns, you should be able to clearly place someone into a general category.

Let's take a look at three candidate personas, and then we'll look at ways to start conversations with them.

Motivated Mover:

This is every recruiter's favorite candidate. The Motivated Mover is an in-demand, talented candidate who interviews well, understands their value, makes good choices, and is absolutely looking to make a change. 

Motivated Movers have a track record of success. They ask questions about what is needed and who they'll work with because they're trying to picture success at your company. Interviews are two-way conversations. Negotiations are tough, but they're part of the decision-making process. The Motivated Mover isn't looking to just get the best deal, they're determining if your compensation policies deliver success. Throw money at this person, and they'll know you overpay to cover flaws in the business. Come in too low, and they know that you can't or won't pay for the right kind of talent.

Motivated Movers also have multiple options. They don't interview with one company. They have multiple interviews and multiple offers, which means speed is important as well. Wait too long, and a Motivated Mover will get a better deal.

This is prime candidate beef.

How to win: You need a transparent hiring process that is clearly communicated and actually followed by the company. You need high responsiveness from everyone on the hiring team. It's as simple as saying what you'll do and doing what you said.

Cons:  When all is said and done, if you're truly dealing with "A" talent, you're still only going to nab 50% of them (that's a good thing. If you win every pitch you make to a candidate, it's because you're not talking to a high enough quality candidate). 

Happy Hard Sell:

The Happy Hard Sell isn't a candidate you're going to see very often. They're as talented as the Motivated Mover, but they're not motivated to move. They're still quality beef, but they're the steak behind the glass. They like where they are, and they're not particularly interested in hearing a pitch. 

Recruiters often make the mistake of finding a Happy Hard Sell and thinking they can talk them into an interview. If you can talk them into an interview, you then assume they'll take an offer. They're attractive to managers because they are talented and exclusive.

How to win: The Happy Hard Sell isn't interested in being screened, they're interested in being challenged. If they sense that they're just another candidate, they have no reason to continue interviewing. What they want to see is a well-thought out pitch that makes sense for them. Be prepared ahead of time. Focus on the work, and not on selling. The benefits and perks and salaries need to be competitive, but they're not the hook.

The hook is the problem you're trying to solve. During your pitch, you need built in problems that the Happy Hard Sell wants to solve.

Cons: The Happy is a Hard Sell for a reason. That reason may be something you can't match. If so, you can spend a lot of time and resources courting someone who will never move. There's also an element of luck. If a Happy Hard Sell is on the verge of finishing a product, and they're current company hasn't planned out their future, they are susceptible to a pitch. That's a very hard timeline to match.

Planning Player:
This is my favorite kind of candidate for digital marketing management. In our industry, there is an 18-24 month window for advancement. In general, a manager will either be promoted within their company or they'll take a new position at another company. That length of time varies by industry, but it's a good balance between completing a project and embracing new technology and trends.

The Planning Player is clear that their career is the motivation. The promotion is recognition that they are improving, and they are protective of making a smart move. They're okay with a less-defined process, and jumping through your hoops, because they understand that's part of the process. It's not what they care about. They care about your reputation, and the chance to get a short-term win. They're also very focused on selling themself. 

How to win: The planner looks for clarity. They want to know that there aren't hidden risks. They will be sensitive to the company's reputation, and the job description, and the planned budget. The easiest way to pitch is to keep it simple. If they can quickly understand the opportunity, and they can quickly run it past their friends and family, they'll probably interview. And once a planner is in the interview, just don't mess up. 

Cons: Planning players don't like ambiguity. They don't like managers who want to shoot the breeze and get to know them. They believe if they're interviewing that the company has an interest in them. They're not prima donnas - but they're not sheep. You can mistreat them as a function of the process (they're not as sensitive to extra demands or steps), but when they're done with you, they're done. It's like a stress test. They're fine until they're not, and their seeming unflappable nature is hard to judge when they're close to being done with you. The problem is they don't pull themselves out of the process. They will go through to the end to see if they can get the offer, but you're dealing with a dead candidate who is just practicing their interview and negotiating skills.

Things To Say To Each Candidate Type

Motivated Mover: 
1) I know you're looking at several companies. Are they all the same position? Do you clearly know what you want to do next? 
2) Thinking about the company you're at now - what do you wish they would have done to make your last project more successful? 
3) This process is going good places, so let's stop and have a conversation about compensation. This is the ideal package the company would like to see. You can see it places you a very specific niche below a VP but above a typical Director. That's because they want you to have autonomy, but not fall under a normal salary band that requires a certain number of employees to manage. Now in this, you'll be reporting directly to this executive, but will have dotted lines to these three, and regular contact with senior executives during planning. 
4) What are we missing here? If you take the job or don't take it, what do we need to add to the work to make it successful. Is our timeline right? Is our project too ambitious? Maybe not ambitious enough? 

Happy Hard Sell:
1) What did you want to accomplish when you started your current position? 
2) When looking at our company's future, it was clear that the right team in the position takes more than a job description written by a recruiter like me. There's a tension between what we think we need, what we actually need, and what the right candidate thinks they need. It's kind of impossible to know where any of us are right. We need to be flexible, but everyone can't do this. It's a commitment to the right person, to give them the tools they need. 
3) We're not looking for a moon shot. It's not the impossible - but you don't get the chance very often to make a real impact. Our company has this window, but it's not doable unless we find the right person, and put the right team behind them. 
4) Does any of this sound interesting? Is it even worth you hearing more about, or is there someone else you feel would really be able to get their teeth into this? 

Planning Player:
1) I like your background. It's methodical, it's planned. You've managed your career well. Is this the move that you anticipated? 
2) The roles you've had in the past show you can succeed, but the next rung in the ladder is an important one. It has more competition, more risk, and is fundamentally different from your last few roles. The interview, the process, the negotiation - they're more difficult because there's more at stake. 
3) Many of the candidates that have been successful in your roles had a mentor. As their mentor was hired, they brought them along. Has that been your experience? I mean, it's great, until the mentor's career stalls. Have you been largely self-motivated, or have you been trained and led? How does that effect you now? How do you plan to adapt without...air cover? 
4) I don't like to dig into salary history, but I do want to ask, have you thought through what you need to take this next step? Financially, are you in a position to make a move, and is it about a specific dollar amount or a specific increase? What is the reward for your work, and why hasn't that occurred at your current employer? 



Do You Believe In The Curse Of The First Resume?

"I never look at the first resume. It's cursed, you know. You print them off, then take the first one, crumple it up, never look at it, and throw it away. That's the only way to ensure a successful hire." - anonymous Reddit User,  /r/recruiting, July 2009

Bill Stevens wasn't your typical recruiter. His background was in documentary film making, which made for interesting stories but did little to put food on the table. After working in New Orleans during Katrina, and then following  a profiler for the FBI, he got a plum job working in the Polynesian islands. What should have been two years in paradise ended up being two months and no paycheck, and he found himself in Los Angeles, unemployed, in the middle of a recession.

Out of desperation he answered a job ad for a staffing firm, where,  based on the strength of his interviewing skills, he was hired and sent to training for a week. And then he was dropped in a cubicle with a phone and a list of contacts to call on a computer screen. The company had a lot of openings, even in those grim times, and Bill's job was to sort through the resumes and call the best ones. He was a natural, as years of pointing a camera at a person made him easy to talk to. Candidates loved him, his bills were paid off, and like many recruiters do, he took a job inside a large company that offered more stability and less sales.

Megacorp wasn't a bad place to work - the benefits were good, the hours reasonable, and the work wasn't that difficult. Perhaps that's what led Bill to start looking around for entertainment. He loved a good story, but stories take time, and his time was taken up with the process.

It was the process that led to this amazing film, and the recruiting discovery of a lifetime. Welcome everyone, to the story of Bill Stevens, the man who uncovered, The Curse Of The First Resume.


Many of  you have heard of the curse - many of you believe it. It's been trained to generations of recruiters, justified dozens of ways, and eventually, merged with the myth of a Hindu God. Today, it is considered a best practice in the halls of the Fortune 500 and the consulting firms that prowl them. 

What is the curse? Quite simply, it is the fear of looking at the first resume in a stack of resumes. Our study of other 20,000 recruiters showed that not only did 85% of them know of the curse, over half actively avoided the first resume. Not all believed it was a curse - but they knew the activity by many names. First is Worst, Not That One, and the earliest version, The Nod to Edith. They all meant the same thing - in a stack of resumes, if you take the top one and read it, the person you hire won't be any good. 

Many people we interviewed for this documentary actively addressed the curse, printing out a stack of resumes just to crumple up the first one and throw it away. It wasn't the paper - crumpling a blank sheet didn't count, and neither did skipping the first resume on a computer screen. You had to print out a stack, crumple the first resume, and throw it away. Only then would the curse be lifted.

That's where Bill Stevens entered the picture. New to the industry, he first encountered the curse when he worked a position for a product manager in Culver City. A fellow recruiter handed him a stack of resumes, but assured him he'd already given a Nod to Edith. When Bill asked what that meant, the answer led him on a seven year journey to uncover the secret origins of the Curse of the First Resume.

The story begins in late 1980's in a branch office of Megacorp. A manager by the name of Ronald McIntosh ran a call center in Pasadena. Ron, known as Big Red by his co-workers because of his tall stature and unkempt red hair, managed about 60 people handling collections for the company. His secretary at the time was a woman by the name of Edith Stossel. One day, in late fall, a young salesman from Apple One came to the door, offering new staffing services in an attempt to replace Kelly Services, the long-time vendor for Megacorp. The young man, whose name is unknown, had a secret weapon. He offered to "fax" new resumes over instead of bringing the resumes to Ron each day to review. We can imagine the conversation as Ron and the Apple One salesperson talked. 

"Fax machine," "technology," "time-saver," "wave of the future." Maybe the young man was good, or it could have been that Megacorp had been an early adopter of faxes for corporate communications, and with Apple One local, there would be no charges for receiving resumes. Ron, the manager, could review them at his leisure at night or in the morning. Whatever the reason - he signed on. The very next day, Apple One began faxing resumes to Ron to review. 

Edith Stossel was in charge of the fax machine. She treated it like a mother hen, and made sure it ran smoothly and had proper care. Twice a day, she would go to the fax and retrieve resumes that had been sent over. She would remove the cover sheet, and place the resumes in a basket for Ron.

This went on for several years, and as Megacorp grew, it expanded it's offices in Pasadena, adding several departments including human resources, credit, audit, accounting, and a new division called Information Technology. Ron advanced quickly as the company grew, and Edith was promoted along with him, every step of the way. In 1996, Ron left Megacorp, but Edith stayed on and begin to report to a new manager, David Hedrick. David had a business degree from Stanford, three years at IBM, and his plans were to quickly grow in the executive ranks. Finding Edith very useful for her knowledge of the departments and the processes she ran, he largely delegated responsibilities involving paperwork to her. 

For hiring, which now included several departments, Edith connected with an HR generalist named Jackie Sobyak. Edith still collected the faxes, but she would bring them to each manager as they came in, and then deliver them to Jackie to contact for interviews after they were screened. Jackie saw an opportunity, and offered to take the resumes, screen them, and deliver them to managers. This would allow her to determine how many resumes were delivered, as Apple Ane charged per resume at the time. Edith liked the idea, both because it took work off her plate, and because it saved the company money. Jackie was given responsibility, and after that, she would deliver resumes to each manager. 

The first day Jackie delivered resumes, the managers were displeased. They saw Jackie deliver them, but didn't see her remove the cover sheet. They correctly assumed that she had pre-screened the resumes, removing some of them  from the stack. Two of them quickly went to David Hedrick and complained. Hedrick didn't want this marring his upward mobility, so he called Jackie in, explained the situation, and told her to bring in resumes with the cover sheet, as a "Nod to Edith." Jackie did just that. The managers were happy. David was happy, and Jackie was able to cut the spending in her department considerably. When Hedrick was promoted six months later, Jackie was named the Director of Human Resources.

One of the first things Jackie did as Director was to login into job sites. Instead of paying per resume, she paid a fixed amount, and could download all the resumes she needed. When she delivered them to managers (or rather, when her assistant did), she made sure there was always a cover sheet on top. She literally had her assistant print out a cover sheet for a printed stack of resumes, prior to delivery. Many managers never knew they stopped coming from the fax machine.

 As Megacorp grew, an entire generation of recruiters grew up following Edith's workflow, which included always throwing away the first page. In 1998, Jackie left Megacorp to join a dot-com, which received massive amounts of media attention as they grew. Jackie's methods spread throughout the city, both through Megacorp, and through her own work. The spread of the idea was like wildfire.  The First is Worst idea was seen in a recruiting handbook in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1999, and The Nod To Edith was actually found in a Usenet forum for recruiters in Boston in 1997, while Jackie was still at Megacorp. The name changed, but the process spread. When you delivered resumes, you delivered them with a cover page, and remove it in front of the manager. With the growth of the job boards, cover pages were no longer standard. Faxes still came in, but these resumes were stored  in giant file cabinets, next to the resumes from the job boards, and those received in the mail. Even as resume storage went online, delivery of resumes was still done with paper. And with every delivery, more and more recruiters learned the "Nod to Edith." By May of 2002, there were over 70 mentions of removing the first piece of paper in a stack of resumes. Unfortunately, we can't track those 70 mentions - they are noted only in passing in the Internet Archive from a site called Hiring Roundup that submitted a blogpost to something known as a blog carnival. 

The name of the curse began to mature over the next seven years. Mentions of the First Resume are noted in blog comments along with a Nod to Edith, and First is Worst. But it was in 2009, that the story took an ominous new turn. 

In July of 2009, a subforum on the popular Reddit website for recruiting has a quote. The user is anonymous, but in this quote, supposedly directly from a manager, is the first use of the words, "successful hire." It received 35 upvotes. 

"I never look at the first resume. It's cursed, you know. You print them off, then take the first one, crumple it up, never look at it, and throw it away. That's the only way to ensure a successful hire." - anonymous Reddit User,  /r/recruiting, July 2009 

The subreddit would use this formulation as an inside joke for many years. In 2011,  a user from Hyderabad spoke of a Hindu god who was given the first portion of everything, or it would be cursed. This new version of the story became the inside joke, and it soon spread to other parts of the Internet. In 2014, a Buzzfeed writer picked up the story and rewrote it as original content, which was then shared over 7,000 times, garnering over 30M views on Facebook.

Shortly after that, references to the Curse of the First Resume became common. They made it into several corporate presentations over the years, and actually were written into an episode of the Office in their last season (only available as a deleted scene on the 4th disk). When we conducted the survey in 2016, almost 16,000 recruiters nationwide knew of the curse, specifically by name.

So it was in Century City, in a complex for Megacorp built for the IT department, that Bill Stevens first heard of the Nod To Edith. When he left Megacorp in 2010, he worked on several projects as a documentary film editor, but still sought out recruiters to find the origin of the story. When the Buzzfeed story on the Reddit jokes hit the mainstream, Bill began contacting recruiting departments and searching the internet archive for the earliest clues. This caught the attention of our producers, who agreed to fund the documentary if Bill could find enough content. 

Imagine Bill's surprise when he met Jackie at SXSW in 2015. He was telling his story to a friend in a bar in Austin when Jackie sat next to him. He quickly realized her place in the center of the story, and was amazed to find out that after years of research, it was indeed Megacorp that had originated the process. She was able to contact Edith, who had retired many years before, but still lived in Pasadena, and both Jackie and Edith agreed to be interviewed. Ron "Big Red" McIntosh had sadly passed, and David Hedrick, now a SVP for a hedge firm, refused all inquiries.

As the documentary wrapped production, legal threats from Megacorp prevented the initial release, until the threat of an Indiegogo crowdfunding attempt convinced the company to cease litigation. 

We are proud to announce that in the fall of 2017, Netflix will air the original documentary, "The Curse of The First Resume," by Bill Stevens, and a pre-release download will be available on the website, 

Thank you for your time, and if you have your own stories of the curse, please leave comments of your experiences to have the chance to be in the extra features.

List Of Interview Questions For Email Marketers

This is a series of scripts I've been writing for digital recruiters. Today, we'll address an email marketer.

Here are some current requirements for Email Marketers posted as jobs. I'll go through the requirements and post my questions at the end.

Here's one that's posted for an Email Specialist.

-Develop and maintain email marketing campaigns that integrate with website and magazines. (Integrate email with the website and with print?)
-Create and manage Email lists. (what do you mean, create? Pull from a database? Excel? Actually build the list from scratch?)
-Day-to-day activities include email set-up, scheduling, tagging, targeting, and deployment of ESP's. (ESP normally means Email Service Provider. When you say deployment, do you mean, sending the email? Do you have multiple providers? Or is this internal jargon? Do you really mean, deploy the email through an ESP?)
-Other duties are assigned. (I think you mean as assigned)

Skills and Experience:

-Minimum 2 years experience in Email & Internet Marketing. 
-Proficiency in mass mail platforms. (Mass. Is that 1M, or 100M? And how many do you need to know? Silverpop and Salesforce and Eloqua? In only two years?)
-Knowledge of basic HTML, and Adobe Suite programs. (So, a coder and a designer? Or someone who can use Mail Chimp's templates?)
-Outstanding written, verbal communication and collaborative skills.  (Outstanding, or just, pretty good? How do you measure outstanding?)

Here's another one that's more detailed. 

  • Assume primary responsibility for deployment of email campaigns, including: scheduling, content/asset gathering, creative development, database management, client approvals, landing page creation, testing, troubleshooting, detailed reporting, and overall quality assurance.  (Okay, that's a pretty good description of everything you need)

  • Develop customized email invitations and registration forms. Registration forms? For the website? Do you want me coding forms?  

  • Gather requirements and create timelines for all email marketing campaigns.  good

  • Coordinate the cross-functional process to implement the campaign from project kick-off to delivery to performance reporting  good

  • Develop detailed documentation for best practices.  good

  • Maintain reporting log for email campaign performance. good

  • Analyze email trends and devise and develop new templates, ensuring best practices are followed and the creative is “on-brand.”  good

  • Develop list segmentation and email personalization recommendations based on data mining and email/website analytics.  Do you really mean data mining here? Or is that thrown in when it really means "eyeball the data and pretend you have a good answer?"

  • Conduct regular reviews and QA to ensure flawless execution of email campaigns.  Hopeful, but a good standard. 


  • Bachelor's degree

  • 3-5 years experience in content management, working on email campaigns, or comparable role. Law firm or professional services experience preferred. Experience with content management systems (CMS) preferred. (Law firm? That seems a bit strange considering all of the requirements you have. Did you copy/paste this from someone else with a robust department?)

  • Intermediate Web design skills including knowledge of HTML coding is required.  (Web design? What other language do I need besides HTML? Am I hand-coding the website? Or do I need to know enough to build a landing page and make changes in the design? Speaking of which - is there a designer, or an I the designer as well?)

  • Comfortable coding in foreign languages (not required to know the language). (I wasn't aware that you could code in another language. You can leave edit notes in another language, but that's not the same thing. Does this mean I'm working with overseas people who write other languages, and we're coding together? That sounds strange.)

  • Experience with Tikit or other email campaign software. (Tikit - that's a technology for the legal sector. I'm guessing you use Tikit. Can you just say you'd like Tikit experience? Why add the "or other email?")

  • Ability to identify, investigate, and act on opportunities to improve email performance/experience.

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite. (Does someone on the planet that you'd hire not have this? What if they're only good at Google Docs or Pages?) 

  • Exceptional organizational and skills and attention to detail.

  • Excellent verbal/written communication and interpersonal skills.

  • Must be a self-starter who understands the details within a much larger context. (Oh, so I'm working alone?)

  • Ability to work in a teamwork/collaborative style and environment with a willingness to share information, goals, opportunities, successes and failures with the appropriate parties. (wait - nope, I'm part of a team. So you want a self-starter that asks the team what they think first? What if you were forced to pick one?)


The first posting is just bad. It doesn't tell you anything beyond the title, and in the case of the ESP, actually gets the term wrong. The second is more detailed, but as you read through it, you understand that this is a template for the perfect worker, and is very likely copied from somewhere else. When you add in that bit about foreign coding, you began to realize they just want someone who represents well, because they have no clue how to run the program.  Both job description should make it impossible for a recruiter to find someone of quality through anything but blind luck. Basically, you find someone who did email for a law firm and present them. If that's true, why the long description? 

But let's not just pick on others. Here is a list of questions I would want to ask to determine the level of experience for an email marketer. Feel free to take them apart in the comments. 


Here are my template questions for email marketers. After each, I'd ask them to explain, and push past the simple answers: 

1) What did you do last Tuesday 

2) What kind of testing do you do? Which parts of the email (subject line, data sets, graphics load, bounce rates, open rates, forward rates and social share rates)

3) What software platforms have you used? Why did you like them? Are you expert in those? Do you code them yourself or use the template? Do you make the graphics or do you insert them into the email? 

4) Who compiled your data sets? Who managed them? Was that you? 

5) What was the behavior of the list (people bought, people opened, people called in, people clicked on a list to a landing page)

6) Did you create and test your own landing pages? 

7) Do you still send text versions of the email? Why? 

8) How much oversight did you have on this? Approval? Contribution, Interference?

9) What did you do with your data after you tracked it? (how was it used, disseminated to the rest of marketing)


Note that the questions I ask will give you the answers that fit your requirements, but they don't allow the candidates to simply say "yes," "no," or "I sent a lot."

And for extra credit, here are the answers I don't like to hear from candidates. 

1) We sent out 10 million emails a month (and no explanation of what they were). 
2) We did extensive A/B Testing of the emails. (what does extensive mean? what did you test? Was that a test each week before the send?
3) I've worked with all of the email software programs and know them well
4) We were CAN-SPAM compliant. 
5) Our data team would pull the lists each week, and we'd work with the graphics department to get the right images, and then the IT department to code the email. I would test and send the email (nothing wrong with that, but it suggests someone who is only good in a large operation, and will need each one of those components to work. But at least they know it takes more than one person. Those who don't know this and assume they can do it all, are often lacking in experience). 


Get A Job In 2014

I get a lot of requests from job-seekers. This is my standard advice.  

I applaud you for reaching out. I'm not in St Louis any longer, and don't have any positions to offer you, but there are several things I can think of. 

1) Recruiting. Staffing isn't hard to learn.  If you're good at it, you can make six figures by your third year. All it really takes is the ability to get on the phone, ask questions of people, and keep getting on the phone.  There is a ton of information online about being a good recruiter, and the dirty little secret of getting hired is all you have to do is pick up the phone and start calling around. 

The hardest thing to hire is someone who wants to work. Calling the 100 plus staffing firms in St Louis and telling them you'd like to start as an entry level recruiter is a guaranteed way to get a job. Your salary will be less than $30,000 to start, but if you can work hard, it will quickly jump to 50,000 then to 75,000, then to 100,000.

Owners and managers want to hear that you will use the phone. If you call them, ask them to hire you, and tell them you're going to call all 100 staffing firms until you get an answer, and when you've made 100 calls, you're going to call back with what you learned, someone will hire you. 

Recruiting also fits your career goals of helping people, and I can guarantee you that personal likability is the second most important skillset.  The first being the phone. 

Don't send resumes.  Yours won't get you hired. Instead say, my resume won't get me the job - the only thing that will is that I'm calling you while other candidates are pressing send.  

Seriously - it's a killer argument.  

2) Marketer 

The other suggestion is to start a small business marketing to restaurants and small stores.  Go knock on doors and tell them you do their social media for $500 a month. Read all you can, copy from other cities, and keep getting new clients.  6 clients is $36,000 a year, and that isn't that much work. You could focus on places that have bands, but I'd do anyone who advertises in the yellow pages or through direct mail. 


3) Read This


4) Sending resumes isn't job searching.

Instead make a list of things you might want to do.  List 5.  Then start calling everyone you know and ask them if they know someone who does one of those jobs.  Ask for the phone number, and ask your friend to call that person and tell them you're calling with questions. 



  • What do you like about the job?
  • How did you start? 
  • What would you do differently if you were starting today? 
  • What would I read (website or books) to learn more?
  • Who else should I speak with to learn more?


Don't ask for a job.  Ask for information. Someone will ask if they can help get you a job.  When you get an interview, tell the recruiter/manager/HR person what you did to get the interview.

Someone will hire you.  

I've given this advice to hundreds of people in the last two decades. Six have listened.  All six got great jobs.  The rest still call me back and ask what they can do. 



Curious About College Recruiting And The Class Of 2013?

The folks at Sparefoot kindly sent out this infographic about college hiring.  Hiring is up from the 2008 doldrums, but there are also more kids in college, and one thing is for sure.  

Real degrees still pay more coming out.


[Note: to see the whole thing, you'll have to click on the popup.  My blog width isn't big enough for infographics.]  

College Class of 2013 Storage Infographic
Produced by SpareFoot. Copyright 2013.

How And When To Use A Headhunter

The best time to get money from a bank is when you don't need it.  If you have cash and collateral, getting a loan is pretty straightforward, because there isn't much risk for the bank. 

The same is true of how a candidate uses a headhunter. Far too many jobseekers assume their first contact with a headhunter or recruiter is when they've exhausted their job-seeking efforts and are unemployed.  Talk about losing your leverage!

Imagine this conversation.  A recruiter interviews you and submits you to a manager, and the manager calls to talk about the candidate.
Manager: I see you submitted this guy named Joe for the job.  He has the right resume, but what can oyou tell me about him.
Recruiter:  Well, I met him for the first time this morning.  We talked about 30 minutes last night, and then he agreed to come in so I could submit him.  He lost his job three months ago, and his wife is starting to make his life miserable about his job hunt.  His mother-in-law is sending clippings from the newspaper, and his severance runs out next month.  So he looked me up on, sent his resume to me, and I was the first recruiter to call him, which is lucky, because two others called about the same job, but only after I met him.  
Manager:  Excellent paper shuffling.  You've sure earned your fee!
Far more of the employment world works just like this then we'd care to admit. The conversation above is subtext, but it's recognizable to every recruiter out there, both outside and inside. 
And it gets worse when you realize that at least Joe was responding to a job posting.  If he had called in randomly, what are the chances a job that fit him would be on the desk of the recruiter he called? 
So don't be the candidate calling headhunters expecting them to work for you to get a job.  You may get interviewed, yo umay get placed in a database, and even given some advice, but even that is a luxury most recruiters can't afford.
So how do you do it?
1) When employed, make it a habit to take calls from headhunters.  Not every one, and not when you're busy, but if you have time, take the call or respond to the email (prioritize the calls, because they actually matter).  High-level executives know that taking headhunter calls throughout their careers keeps them top of mind should something come up.  They build relationships over years with all the recruiters that call for that time when they do need a position.  That should be you.
This isn't a long, involved call. It is enough to be polite, tell them you're not hiring or not looking right now, but speak to the headhunter for a moment or two to assess how good they are.  If you're impressed, take their info down and tell them to call you once every year or two.It takes only a few minutes a year, and yet it pays dividends when the time comes to look. It also helps you identify what a good headhunter does, instead of trying to learn when you most need one.

Understand what you're doing. You're building relationships with someone that has regular knowledge of the hiring market.  Rather than allow yourself to be questioned as to what you do, learn to flip the script and get them to open up.  Good recruiters spend a lot of time listening.  Getting the chance to speak is rare, so we're likely to not be prepared when you ask us about salaries in the market.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say once you build a rolodex of recruiters, to be proactive in calling them and tapping their brain for knowledge to help you.  Some will be put off that you're using them for knowledge, but that's a sign of their lack of savvy.  Short, pleasant conversations create a business relationship that you both can tap in the future.  Isn't that the point of networking?

Does It Work?  
A friend of mine is a national president for an international firm, and he has been speaking with headhunters for years, discussing positions that were always one step above his current level.  He has interviewed a few times over the years, but has been in the same firm over 12 years.  Recently, he interviewed for a CEO position brought to him by a recruiter who first called him seven years ago, looking to make a placement.  Simply by staying in touch, he was submitted and was one of the top two candidates for a position (in the end, he turned it down, but he now know he is CEO material).  
Think about that for a moment.  He didn't work with the recruiter, but was polite and told him to stay in touch. When the CEO position came, who do you think the recruiter called first?

If Recruiters Were Hollywood Gangsters

If I ran my own recruiting firm, all of my recruiters would be required to memorize the speech Marsellus Wallace gives to Butch (Bruce Willis) in Pulp Fiction.

The day of the offer, you might feel a slight sting. That's pride messing with you. To heck with pride! Pride only hurts ... it never helps. You fight through that stuff 'cause a year from now, when you kickin' it in the Caribbean, you gonna say to yourself, my recruiter was right."

I'm not saying it would be legal, or even advisable, but it sure would be a lot of fun to see the reaction you would get.

And if any of my candidates ever backed out of an offer, you know what speech they would get.

Continue reading "If Recruiters Were Hollywood Gangsters" »

A Different Way To Look At Technical Interviews

An interviewer and a candidate are in a room, conducting an interview for a software programmer. 

In front of the candidate is a question about a complex coding problem.  The interviewer asks the candidate a series of generic questions and then tells him it's time for the technical part of the interview, and motions to the question. 

The candidate begins, but quickly finds themselves stumped.  Maybe the room is too hot.  Maybe he's nervous, but he's drawing a blank. 

Here's what should happen. 

Candidate:  I'm a little lost on this.  Let me ask you, what would you do?

Interviewer:  Actually, this test is designed to find out what you would do.

Candidate:  This is what I'd do.  When I'm stumped, I reach out to other people to see if they have ideas.  

Interviewer:  I'm afraid I can't help you. 

Candidate:  Can I use my phone?  Or my tablet? 

Interviewer: This is a mental test. 

Candidate:  Yes, but my mental model includes reaching out to trusted sources and looking for information online quickly, in order to fill in gaps and check my work. 

Interviewer:  That's a bit unorthodox. 

Candidate:  For an interview maybe, but not for actual work.  Do you ask your programmers to solve problems with pencil and paper in a small, hot room under a deadline?  Or do you sit them at a desk with a phone, a computer, and access to other smart people?  One of those ways is a test on how well you test.  The other is a test of how you successfuly do your job as a developer. 

Interviewer:  You're hired.