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Preview: Please don't call us headhunters!

Please don't call us headhunters!

Funny things happen in the world of recruiting. Search Consultants, Recruiters, Headhunters, or whatever you call us, we interact with people everyday and people can be unpredictable, funny, and even totally insane.

Updated: 2014-10-05T03:34:27.708-05:00


In case you were wondering...


In case anyone was wondering where I've been for the last 3 months...

In December of 2007, I accepted a major promotion with my company. I am now our "Manager of Operations". Lots of new responsibilities and tons to learn! My head has been spinning for weeks but I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on things.

I hope to still be able to share the occasional fun story with anyone who can still be bothered to check out this blog once in a while!

So, why did you leave your last position?


I've heard some great reasons for leaving a job in the past. But this one takes the cake.

Ian Holloway, former manager of the Plymouth Argyle Football Club, recently resigned his position to take on the leadership role at Leicester. His reason for leaving:
Life's about relationships. I had a fantastic one at Plymouth and I understand I will have broken some hearts but it was breaking my heart that I might not have the opportunity to spend all that money.

In his interview with BBC sport, it's clear that he's actually speaking about the larger budget at Leicester - at least I think so.



So one of my coworkers asked if I wrote this post on

I am much smarter than my co-workers. When one of them asks a dumb question (i.e., "What's so bad about Fox News?"), I try to be sensitive and explain without making them feel stupid. Sometimes, though, I get very frustrated, and it's difficult to hold my tongue... How does one handle working with people like this? I could keep my mouth shut and go with the flow, but it makes me feel dumb when I don't speak up—I feel that if I don't acknowledge their stupidity, then I'm not doing my duty as an informed young woman.
I think she was kidding - at least I hope she was. Maybe I need to bring the intellectual snobbery down a notch or two???


It's a jungle out there!


I really love the ad campaign that Career Builder is running these days - beginning with the "Promotion Pit" ad during the superbowl.

It appears that the good folks at CareerBuilder have now teamed up with the coporate side of the Second City comedy team to produce:

"Cube Monkeys: A Handbook for Surviving the Office Jungle" (available on Amazon) which features top 10 lists, games and hilarious advice.

You can find an excerpt on MSN Careers (powered by CareerBuilder)

But here are my favorites from the: The Boss-to-English Translator

"Great job on the report!"
Translation: "I'm taking credit for your work."

"Let me give you some broadstroke ideas and you can fill in the rest."
Translation: "I still haven't learned how to create an Excel document."

"This office is a family and my door is always open if you ever need to powwow with Papa Bear."
Translation: "I am a tool."

"I'll be out of the office for a couple hours with senior management, but you can reach me on my mobile."
Translation: "I'm playing golf."

"I'll be off-site and unreachable for the rest of the afternoon."
Translation: "I'm playing golf and I expect to be very, very drunk."

"I think we should order in some lunch for the team."
Translation: "None of you are getting a raise. Enjoy your pizza."

"It's good to see you take such bold initiative!"
Translation: "You are a threat to me. You will be fired the next time we so much as run out of coffee."

"Did you finish those projections I asked you about on Friday?"
Translation: "I completely forgot to ask you about the projections on Friday, and I'm hoping your memory is even worse than mine."

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news."
Translation: "Disappointing you is the only pleasure I have left in my dead-end, crappy job."

Job Advertising


I don't think this is what anyone has in mind for "sizzle":

Experienced maintenance technician to work on any equipment problem in a wide variety of conditions: dark, dirty, greasy, foamy, steamy, windy, hot, cold, wet, dry, confined, open, indoors, outdoors, at heights, and under difficult equipment. Must have own tools and be willing to work odd and irregular hours, weekends and holidays, come in early and stay late. Need to have stamina to work through break times, meals and shift changes week after week with a positive attitude. The ability to make anything and everything out of nothing, and change priorities every 5 minutes or faster is required. Eagerness to work as a team-of-one without much support is essential.

On the up-side - at least it's accurate!

Interviewing is like dating


Ask a Manager recently outlined 7 Ways Interviewing is like Dating:
  1. Desperation is not attractive.
  2. Give the impression that you're choosy.
  3. Make your interest personal, not generic.
  4. Use flattery.
  5. Remember to ask if you like them, not just if they like you.
  6. Don't badmouth your exes.
  7. Keep your ego in check.

I totally agree – there are a couple others I’d like to point out:

If you want to see them again – follow up. The value of a well written and prompt thank you note will go far in landing a second interview or an offer

If it isn’t going to work out – don’t leave them hanging. Honest and upfront feedback from the interviewer will save the candidate many a sleepless night waiting by the phone

Appearances do matter – look and act professional in your interview and ALWAYS be on time.

(and just because I love this story) Be wary of making “the first move” – remember hugging the HR Director is not a good idea. But in all seriousness, be aware of the culture you're interviewing in; are they conservative or laid back? Respond accordingly.

International "Talk Like a Pirate Day"


Who knew there was such a thing!

Here's what not to do in your interview today!

I wish I'd known this earlier today!

More Stupid Candidate Tricks


I was out of the office last week attending a users conference for our applicant tracking software - of course being in a hotel (and yes, a bar or two) full of recruiters, there were a few more "Stupid Candidate Trick" stories to be heard.

What really surprised me is that I heard from more than one recruiter -

A candidate shows up for the interview - everything goes wonderfully and the client makes an offer, the candidate accepts the offer and agrees to start the next week. However, when the candidate shows up for work - the candidate is an entirely different person.

I know what you're thinking - people are always different in interviews - but NO, not just a different persona - but a completely different PERSON!

Can you even imagine? I'm not even sure what the purpose of that is... I mean - do they think someone isn't going to notice the difference?

Job Advertising


Alright dedicated readers - if I have any - I need some help!

A large part of my job is writing our "job ads" for sites like CareerBuilder, The Ladders, our own website of course, and a niche boards like LatPro, the Society for Women Engineers, etc.

I feel like I'm in a rut.

All my ads feel the same to me -
  1. Title - the actual job title not an ad title
  2. Description of the hiring company and the main objective of the job
  3. A basic overview of job responsbilities
  4. An "ideal candidate" summary
  5. Basic requirements
  6. More about why you would want to work for this company or want this particular job (i.e. the sizzle.)

Sometimes there is a really great story to tell - and that makes it easier but other times...

So here's what I'd like to know from anyone that happens to stumble by:
  • What would catch your eye in a job ad
  • What are the best and worst job ads you've seen (I hope none of mine make the worst list!)
  • Where do you (or people you know) go to look for jobs in your field (it's helpful if you identify the field too!)
  • What are your biggest pet peeves about job ads
  • Are opening lines like "Do you want to be a creative force in a fortune 500 company?" effective or cheesy?

I'd also be interested to know from any fellow recruiter-types what you've found works best for you?

Oh - and if anyone knows how to make Iowa sound like the BEST EVER place to live that would be great to know too!

Y is for You're Kidding, right?


We all know that one key hurdle in the job hunt is making your resume stand out from others. (See my post on “Representing Yourself in Writing” from Definitive Job Hunt)

BUT, you don’t want your resume ending up the laughing stock of the office that receives it either. (And yes, we Headhunters are brutal when we see a bad resume.) Unfortunately, that is exactly what one job seeker became today!

Here's how:
Instead of an objective, the resume in question had a list of adjectives that conveniently formed the acronym “TALENTED” (Uh-oh, just one line in and the cheesiness meter is already in the red…)

The second page however, broke the cheesiness meter entirely, as it consisted solely of a list of “reasons to hire” this candidate – 26 reasons exactly, A to Z.

I really wish I could share the entire list with all of you, but it’s actually marked “copyright 2007”. Here instead are a couple of the "most compelling" reasons:
B is for Brains
J is for Justifable
X is for X Marks the Spot

I just don't even know what to say other than (and this will come as no surprise to my regular readers) F is for FREAKSHOW!

Stupid Candidate Tricks


I was talking with a friend of mine that does some hiring for his organization. We started talking about what I like to call “Stupid Candidate Tricks”. This is when an interviewee does something so completely out of left field that it leaves you almost speechless.

I say almost speechless because you can still usually manage to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t think this is going to work.”

Past Stupid Candidate Tricks Include:

  • Opening a meeting with the HR Director by giving her a BIG HUG! (lucky it wasn’t the Evil HR Lady!)

  • Dropping numerous “F-bombs” during the interview & plant tour

  • Wearing a large gold medallion (think Flava Flav and his big clock) and a light spring jacket throughout the interview

  • Having false teeth fall out during the first 20 minutes of an all day interview

But I’m pretty sure this recent one takes the cake… I like to call it "A Fish Called Freakshow"

(image) A candidate was coming to Grand Rapids for an interview. It was about an hour long drive, and the interview was scheduled to take up most of the day was to be followed by dinner. This was apparently much too long for the candidate to leave her beloved pet alone, so she arrived at the interview carrying a small glass bowl containing her goldfish. The entire department was relieved when they were able to convince the candidate that the fish would be safe in the office while the group went to dinner. (I hope they didn't go for sushi!)

The Next Generation


As I mentioned, we have two interns working with us this fall, and I would like to preface this post with a disclaimer: Both of them have been doing a fantastic job, and that the following (at least so far!) does not apply to them. Okay, that being said...

This weekend I had a conversation with a friend of mine that is a professor at large public university here in west Michigan. We were discussing the things undergraduate students do to irk him. His primary complaints? A lack of responsibility or sense of accountability, general laziness and poor quality of work combined with an expectation of high grades in return! (The "A for Effort" mentality) Of course, dishonesty and cheating really top the list, but those are not as widespread, at least we hope not!

So today when I read Rowan's post on The Next Generation of Job Hunters discussing the issues he's seen with recent graduates and their general disregard for accuracy and quality. I thought I'd put my two cents in on the topic as well:

Rowan suggests adding this little disclaimer to job advertisements:

Please remember that this application is all we have to go on - if it is careless or sloppy, we can only presume that you are careless and sloppy. Here at XXXX, we pride ourselves on providing 100% accurate service to our clients. One misplaced word or comma in a contract could leave a client vulnerable to litigation. Therefore, spelling, punctuation, grammatical or formatting errors in your application will not be tolerated. One error and you are in the bin. Don't say we didn't warn you...

(It was my turn to spray hot caffeinated beverage from my nostrils on that one!)

And here is my advice to all you new grads and soon-to-be job seekers of this generation:

Before Graduation:

  • Start now by taking responsibility for your academic career (translation – it wasn’t the professors fault you failed economics if you didn’t bother to read the text or even show up to class!)
  • Make an effort to understand the business world before you try to join it; learn what “professional attire” is and embrace it

When seeking employment:

  • Write carefully worded, clear, concise resumes, cover letters, thank you notes, etc. with zero errors and remember, spellchecking doesn’t know the difference between their vs. there, hear vs. here and [my personal favorite] inconvenience vs. incontinence
  • Practice your verbal presentation skills – work hard to eliminate vocalized pauses (err, umm, ah, and the MOST irritating “like”)

When entering the workforce:

  • Apply those lessons about taking responsibility to your new job
  • Give your work the same attention to detail that you gave your well written, error free communications

So what am I saying? – In short, “Don’t be a slacker!”

(I really hope there are not any spelling errors here!)

The Definitive Job Hunt – Part 6


And now, my final installment in Rowan Manahan's “Definitive Guide to Clearing Job Hunt Hurdles”.

After much blathering on, we’ve finally reached the final step: Starting the New Job

So, here we go:

A few simple tips for Employees:
  • Make an effort to meet everyone and figure out what they do (this is critical especially if you aren’t sure what you’re doing there yet!)
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if you aren’t getting the training you need
  • Don’t assume that things work they way the did at your last job or that the way you did things at XYZ is better
  • Don’t bad mouth your old job/boss to your new co-workers

A few simple tips for Employers: (Yes, you have a part to play here!)
  • Make sure the new hire has a desk, a computer, and all the tools they need
  • Develop a plan for training this person BEFORE they start; make sure you follow that plan!
  • If at all remotely possible, assign this person a mentor or at least a guide
  • Create opportunities for the new person to meet others (take the group to lunch, etc.)
  • Check in with the new person frequently to be sure they are getting what they need

In general, both parties need to communicate effectively throughout this ‘on-boarding’ phase. If you don’t - you’re building a dysfunctional relationship from the beginning.

That’s all I’ve got to say – Hope I’ve been a bit helpful.

Oh yeah - one last thing - don't forget to say "Thanks!" to your friendly neighborhood Headhunter!

Definitive Job Hunt - Part 5


Rowan Manahan, from Fortify Your Oasis, has tapped me to be part of his online collaboration: “The Definitive Guide to Clearing Job Hunt Hurdles”.

After a brief reprieve from my rants, I’m back with -

Step 5: Getting the offer you can’t (or at least won’t) refuse

Talking about salary obviously ignites some debate in the blogosphere (as evidenced by this post from the Evil HR Lady), but here’s my take on the “offer stage”.

There is a story that goes something like this:

Reaching the end of a job interview, the human resources person asked a young applicant fresh out of business school, "And what starting salary are you looking for?"

The applicant said, "In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer said, "Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks' vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50 percent of your salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?"

The applicant sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

The interviewer replied, "Yeah, but you started it."

This moral of this story – know what you are worth & be realistic. If you’re expecting a salary that’s ridiculously far out of the range – you’ll certainly be disappointed in any offer that comes your way.

As with all parts of the job hunt, going into salary negotiations armed with information is the key.

First, evaluate what you are making now and understand the monetary value of your full compensation package. (For example, base salary, bonuses, what are you paying for benefits, what is the value of the benefits, do you have a car allowance, how much did your employer contribute to your 401k last year?) This is why we ask potential candidates, “What is your base salary?” and “What did your w-2 show?”

Second, research the “going rate” for someone in your field. (I like for this part.)

Now, don’t expect too much – you’re extremely likely to get a bump in salary when you change jobs, but it’s unlikely that you’ll double your salary overnight.

What you will most likely see is a significant but reasonable raise – depending on your industry, career, experience, and how close to that “going rate” your current salary is.

Finally, establish your “yes” and “no” points. To do this, we will ask a candidate “So if the offer comes in at $XX, with relocation and a car allowance, can I accept on your behalf? In short, know your bottom line.

The reality is, this is kind of a difficult topic for me. Since as recruiters we usually know what the company is prepared to offer and what the candidate is prepared to take; a level of knowledge makes all of this much easier! (One reason it's good to work with a recruiter!)



Oops - I've let two weeks pass without updating my blog! Bad Bad Karen!

So sorry - I've been personally swamped with car maintenance and making the Michigan county fair circuit with Figure 8 (who is currently running 3rd in points for the year by the way!)

I've also been been busy celebrating our firm's achievement of our yearly revenue goal a full 3.5 months early! (And that's a celebration that takes a little recovering from!)

I've also been busy getting two interns started with the firm, which is a first for us, and something I'm sure will produce at least one blog-worthy incident.

With that said - I'm ready to continue on the topic of "The Definitive Job Hunt".

The Definitive Job Hunt – Part 4


Rowan Manahan, from Fortify Your Oasis, has tapped me to be part of his online collaboration: “The Definitive Guide to Clearing Job Hunt Hurdles”. Today's installment:

Step 4: Pre- Employment Testing (it's more than just fill this specimen jar these days!)

First, I want to say that although there is much more to pre-employment testing than just the standard drug screen; clearly you should avoid failing your drug screen.

When it comes to drug screens, also avoid:
  1. Asking, "It’s just a urinalysis, right?" (uhm – are you saying you’d fail another type?)
  2. Trying to “fool” the drug screen in any number of creative, yet disgusting, ways. You're going to get caught - no really, you are! (unless you're interviewing with Major League Baseball, then maybe not!)

But enough on that. There are many other types of pre-employment testing, psychological evaluations, sales testing, personality assessments, etc.


If you allow the test to make you nervous you’ll probably do worse than you would normally.

It’s good to know the test is coming, and you may want to find out as much as possible able the testing involved, but as a rule, you can’t “fool” these tests.

Keep in mind that there is a reason the company is asking you to take or endure whatever test, they believe it works; if the test says you won’t be a personality fit in the organization, do you really want to work there anyway?

For example, I once (in a moment of utter insanity) applied for a job at a financial services firm. I did not know it when I scheduled the interview, but this was a sales (read as “telemarketing”) job. I was asked to take a computerized “assessment test” that asked me all sorts of questions about my willingness to bend the rules, and whether I thought ethics were “flexible”. I’m pretty sure I failed the test, because I didn’t even talk to anyone before being told “we don’t think this is the right fit for you”. I thought, if my answers to those questions were not the ones they wanted, I don’t think this is a fit either!

These tests are becoming more and more commonplace in the job hunt market – I guess we just have to live with it.

Definitive Job Hunt - Part 3 (Addendum)


Ask a Manager commented on my last post "I was interested that you wrote that the best interviews are the ones where the interviewer does most of the talking. I've rarely heard that said and I wondered if you'd elaborate on it more?"

And of course, I'd be happy to do so!

While doing most of the talking, hopefully the hiring manager is sharing with you the real meat of the job, and giving you insight into the problems that the successful candidate will be expected to solve. (This is critical to being able to "close the deal" at the end of the interview.)

But probably the biggest reason is that when the hiring manager starts doing most of the talking, that usually means they've taken over the "selling" role in the interview process. This role reversal is usually a sign that the interview is going well!

I also make a point to tell candidates that "the best interviews are when the hiring manager does most of the talking" because when a candidate is actively thinking about letting the interviewer do most of the talking, they are less likely to ramble (the big pitfall for most candidates.)

Hope that clears things up a bit.

But now I must "Ask a Manager": How do you know when the interview is going well, from the hiring side?

The Definitive Job Hunt - Part 3


Rowan Manahan, from Fortify Your Oasis, has tapped me to be part of his online collaboration: “The Definitive Guide to Clearing Job Hunt Hurdles”.

Step 3: Blowing them away in the interview (even without weapons of mass destruction!)

Much like "writing a better resume" there are tons of resources on effective interviewing. A shameless plug here for my firm's website and it's rather handy section: FAQ's for effective interviewing. (Can you tell I did our content development?)

In my time with a third party recruiting firm, I've heard lots of feedback from perspective employers. From that, here are my big no-nos:

Rambling, babbling and in general talking too much:
This is by far the most common bit of negative feedback we hear. How do you avoid it? Well, especially for those "nervous talkers", prepare in advance.
Most everyone knows the basic questions you're going to be asked in a interview, "Tell me about yourself" "Describe your experience with ..." etc. So, take some time to think about what your answers to those questions will be. Now, trim those answers down to NO MORE than 60 seconds, and you'll do much less inane babbling. Don't forget you can always ask if the interviewer needs more information.

Not knowing why you are there
Companies expect those seeking employment in their organization to know something about them. Know why you are interested in working for XYZ company, or what challenges attracted you to this position.

Acting like a Know-it-all, arrogant or conceited
Yes, you should "sell" yourself in the interview, but you wouldn't be there unless they already thought you could do the job. Stick to quantifiable examples of your achievements and discuss your role as part of a team (if that's the case.) Again, it's best to have the examples prepared in advance, so that you can articulate them clearly and evaluate your statements in advance for "bragging".

Not asking any questions
The best interviews are those where the interviewer does most of the talking. Ask relevant questions about the job, the management style, growth opportunities, company culture etc. Again, think about these questions in advance. (Sensing a trend here.)

Not "Closing the Sale"
This is a tough one, throughout the interview you should have learned what the company or department is "missing" as the job goes unfilled. At the conclusion of the interview summarize your understand of their needs and how you can bridge the gap. This is one you'll have to be working on throughout the interview. Brush up on your active listening skills and take notes if you need to (especially useful on phone screens!)

Overall, well prepared candidates are much more successful in interviews! Investing the time up front to prepare answers, research the company and position, and think about the questions you will have, pays off in the end.

Next Step: The dreaded pre-employment testing (it's more than just fill this specimen jar these days!)

The Definitive Job Hunt – Part 2


Rowan Manahan, from Fortify Your Oasis, has tapped me to be part of his online collaboration: “The Definitive Guide to Clearing Job Hunt Hurdles”.

Step 2: Representing Yourself in Writing

There are tons of resources on how to write a better resume. My firm has accumulated a pretty extensive advice section on our website on How to Format A Resume and Writing A Better Resume.

And I’ve done my far share of ranting about resume writing before, so to avoid beating a dead horse, I’ll keep this short.

Here are my 3 things to keep in mind:

1. Follow these simple rules to all written communication with your potential new employer:
  • Check, Check, Recheck and then check again for spelling and grammar errors
  • Keep the tone professional
  • Don’t ramble (don’t do this in the interview either!)

2. When communicating by email – be sure your email address is sending the right message. (Hint if your moniker contains "hot1", ends in “4u”, or makes any reference to your anatomy go to gmail or yahoo and set up an address you can use just for professional correspondence) Yep, I've ranted on this before too!

3. Check your image - keep in mind that your potential employer isn’t going to just look at the information that you willingly provide – have you Googled yourself lately? I recently interviewed a potential intern, and after viewing her MySpace page, I found it difficult to take her seriously. What’s on your MySpace page? (or your Blog for that matter!)

Next Step: Blowing them away in the interview (even without weapons of mass destruction!)

On a personal note


Just on a personal note, aside from the work of work, part of my lack of blogging lately is because Figure 8 is keeping me so busy with race season. We've been having some luck this year!

And if I could just get him to quit breaking the cars, I might have time to blog!

Check out the highlights at Figure 8's Blog and Unique Motor Sports.

The Definitive Job Hunt - Part 1


Rowan Manahan, from Fortify Your Oasis, has tapped me to be part of his online collaboration: “The Definitive Guide to Clearing Job-Hunt Hurdles”.I am supposed to provide the “Headhunter” perspective on the job hunt, and I must tell you, it’s not a pretty picture. We are the job hunt professionals, and everyday I see job seekers that are clearly job hunt amateurs; failing about in a see of classified ads and online job boards, without direction or strategy.Rowan has outlined 5 hurdles in the process - I’ve decided I can address at least four of them, beginning with:Step 1: Pick your target and research, research, research! When you enter into a job search, it’s for a reason. You are likely unhappy in your current role, or you aren’t working. Either way, you should approach your search methodically.Do not, I repeat DO NOT, send your resume around willy-nilly in response to every position that even remotely relates to your experience. We don't take these applicants seriously, on a very rare occasion we might have a "hey she'd be good for that other position" moment. But corporate recruiters are often so focused on their functional areas, that this kind of sharing just doesn't happen.Besides, nothing bothers me more than wading through hundreds of resumes from people who clearly did not read the qualifications of a job posting. Yes, there is often wiggle room in requirements, but if your life’s work to this point has been picking blueberries your unlikely to be qualified for my Director of Engineering position. Don't waste my time.Picking a Target:Establish the criteria that make up your ideal new job; doing so will help you test your own commitment to making a job change. You have some serious decisions to make here: What do you want out of a new job? Are you really willing to relocate for a new job? (Is your family??) Would you consider taking a step back in salary for a job that offered more growth opportunity? Identify where these opportunities exist. STOP!! I did not say go to Monster or CareerBuilder and start applying for jobs! Take a few minutes to think about your skills, and in which companies or industries are these skills most valuable. Develop an understanding of the market for people with your skill set and level of experience.Research:Identify potential employers within your target industry and research each company thoroughly. Learn about their history, their products, their track record and their plans for the future.Learn about the typically salary ranges you can expect in these types of positions.Act: ALWAYS evaluate any opportunity against that set of criteria your first developed. Then aggressively market yourself to the companies and positions in which you have an interest. This does not mean just sending your resume by email in response to an online job ad. This means make an effort to introduce yourself to the hiring authority within your functional area and address how your skills can benefit the organization. (Hint: Many job postings will give you the position title to which the job reports – if you can contact that individual you are two steps ahead already!) My Professional Plug:Working with a professional search firm can help give you an inside track on much of this information. And a good recruiter can market you to your target employers. Next Step: Representing yourself in writing. [...]

Still alive and kicking (somewhere under all these resumes!!)


I did not drop off the face of the earth… instead I have been completely overwhelmed with work and (imagine that!) haven’t found time for my diversionary blogging!

Fortunately, the amount of work we’ve been doing is paying off and we are having a banner year! We’ve achieved 84% of our yearly revenue goal and surpassed last year’s total revenue, and we’re just over half-way through the year!

What’s making for such a good year? Obviously we have a great team, and we’ve all been working hard. But I think in addition, we’ve put together some interesting, unusual and fun incentives for the team.

Now, we can’t always control when a deal will close, so the incentives here (I think) have more to do with keeping the team focused on the goal, and making sure that we’ve got enough “in the works” to make our goals.

Here are some of the incentives we’ve had this year:

  • Cash bonuses in the $100-250 range
  • Dinner out for the entire company and their significant others
  • Extra “casual days” for the team (including a “Casual Month”!)
  • A “tubing” trip for the company (including a Friday out of the office!)

So, here’s to my co-workers for the great year so far… and remember keep it up! Congratulations! Your hard work is appreciated by all of those around you! (Especially since if we meet that yearly goal before December 1, we'll all be taking the week between Christmas and New Year off!)

I'll never call it Bland Rapids again!


JoAnn Fitzpatrick, former editorial editor of the Patriot Ledger in Boston, apparently visited my home town recently and penned this piece on “Why can’t we be more like Grand Rapids?”

Although my company works nationwide, with clients in locations that can be notoriously hard sells (think Iowa, Nebraska and a “quaint little town in western New York state") we have run into the “Grand Rapids… really?” response when talking with candidates about our local clients.

Our local clients are major multi-billion dollar companies and industry leaders with great reputations, but that often can't overcome the "but it's in a flyover state" roadblock.

This "ugh" response to the location is really difficult for me to understand, because... well I like it here!

So, it was nice to hear the positive impression Grand Rapids left on a visitor from the coast. Her comments include:

…A place that truly seems to represent good old-fashioned American values

The streets of Grand Rapids are as gleaming as the refurbished buildings throughout the downtown

Midwestern friendliness and helpfulness were everywhere

Downtown Grand Rapids, a city of about 200,000, is a laboratory of urban renewal.

But I had to laugh when I read: “There you can buy a five-bedroom house in the historic district for $400,000. Yup, $400,000”

I found myself thinking, do you really think $400k is a great deal? Our neighbor’s house (4000+ sq ft, 4 bedrooms, and an in-ground pool, all on a beautiful 1 acre wooded lot) is less than $300,000! Granted it isn't "downtown" but there is hardly such a thing as a "difficult commute" in Grand Rapids!

Is the Midwestern cost of living is the best kept secret in America?

Think about these numbers:
  • Compared to Boston, the Grand Rapids cost of living is 34% lower.
  • Compared to San Francisco, the Grand Rapids cost of living is 53.5% lower
  • Compared to New York City, the Grand Rapids cost of living is 56% lower will tell you that, yes, employees make a bit less in Grand Rapids… but not that much less. For example, if you’re making $100,000 in Boston, and you moved here, you would need $71,000 to maintain your currently lifestyle, and would be likely make at least $90,000 or so - and besides, it's not likely that you'll be asked to take a drastic pay cut when you move here!

Don’t get me wrong, Grand Rapids has its fair share of problem neighborhoods and not-so-great areas, but for a city of 200,000 it’s a pretty nice place.

I promise to never call it "Bland Rapids" again.

Bad Recruiters


Yes - there are many many many bad recruiters out there!

Evil HR Lady has a great example in her post Bad, Bad Recruiters! (by the way, sorry for the marathon comment, Evil.)

I wish all the recruiters, search consultants, and headhunters would do things the right way. That is to say: Respect your candidates, respect your clients, and take an interest in the long term success of the match between the two.

Unfortunately many recruiters just don't.

Common Interview Questions


Rowan Manahan at Fortify Your Oasis is running an commentary on the Common Interview Questions. Although my posts tend to spend more time talking about Odd Interview Questions, I have some opinions on the more conventional questions as well.

Common Question #1: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My Advice: They are going to ask you this, I almost guarantee it! So prepare a response in advance. Use a REAL example, when discussing your weaknesses, then talk about how you overcame the issue and kept it from adversely affecting your performance or how you are currently working to improve.

Do not try to “spin” something like… “Well I suppose I care just too much about my job.” That just makes you look like an idiot, at least if I were interviewing you.

When discussing strengths, do so in a way that highlights your skills and relates them to the position for which you are interviewing. Provide examples (and quantify your results if possible.

Stop short of sounding arrogant. “I can do just about anything I put my mind to!” is just blather.

See Rowan’s advice here

Common Question #2: Tell me about yourself.

My Advice: If you think this response begins with “Well, I was born in a small town in Iowa…” STOP. I don’t need to know your life story, I want to know how you chose your line of work and what brings you to this interview today. Speak briefly about your career history, how you moved from position to position, what attracted you to the company, and why you feel you’re a good fit for the job.

If you have something JOB RELEVANT to add from your personal life, for example you design engine cooling components for a living and in your spare time you build race car engines, that’s job relevant. However, my experience building off-road demo-derby race cars with Figure 8 isn’t relevant to my job. (Well, it did come up in an interview once: when I asked to “Share something about you that would surprise us.”)

See Rowan’s advice here

Of course I've always got plenty to say on this topic. Since teaching candidates to interview effectively is a major part of our jobs. See all I've got to say about interviewing here.