Job Seekers Getting Attention: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Source: evo_terra (Flickr)

Source: evo_terra (Flickr)

I recently came across, a blog by Philadelphia-based headhunter Rich DeMatteo. Helping job seekers with good advice is important to Rich, as it is to me, and I enjoyed visiting Rich’s blog. Rich just posted on a topic that was on my on-deck circle: job candidates “thinking outside the box” to gain attention. There are definitely many job seekers acting “outside the box”…but I’m not so sure these folks were “thinking.”

The Boston Globe did a very good piece on “outside the box” (more like “beyond the pale,” unfortunately) job seekers making spectacles of themselves, including, among others, Pasha Stocking of Connecticut who blew $2,500 for her “HIRE ME!” billboard that earned the “odd news” type of national media attention…but no job opportunities.

Since that Globe article, others have joined this group of job hunters gaining attention, but not the “good” kind of attention that will land them a job. Chances are you have heard of one Trina Thompson, who has sued the college she graduated from seven short months ago because she remains unemployed. Now we can all agree this is the worst public spectacle attention a job candidate can get. Rich gives Thompson a well deserved dressing-down along with some good common-sense advice that Trina Thompson should have done already (join LinkedIn, look into a resume writing professional, etc.). The Onion sums up Thompson’s hapless lawsuit with suitable irreverence. Litigious mediocrity is not a good personal brand to embrace, Trina…

But Rich DeMatteo and I have agreed to disagree on the virtue of an “outside the box” tactic by Sean Christman, a recent La Salle graduate.

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Job Hunters, Read this Book: Ask the Headhunter (Book Review)

Original post date: June 11, 2009
Last updated: December 17, 2020

I was in a job interview and I opened a book and started reading. The [HR recruiter] said, “What the hell are you doing?!” I said, “Look, I have one question for you. If you are in a spaceship that’s traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?” She said, “I don’t know!” I said, “Forget it, I don’t want the job.” – Stephen Wright

Submitting job applications online, waiting for responses after interviews, braving overcrowded job fairs…this is what most people may think of when imagining the necessary components of a job search.

But there is a better way: show the hiring manager directly the compelling work value you will provide. So says Nick Corcodilos, former headhunter and author of the book Ask the Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job.

A friend first referred me to this book just after starting a job search predicated by the 2009 market crash. If you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall getting nowhere in your job search, read this book.

One of the most important pieces of advice Nick Corcodilos offers is to focus on winning the right job by demonstrating your ability to do the job profitably in the interview.

You must replace the “I’m looking for a job” mindset in an interview with “I’m here to get the work you need done profitably.” In other words: You’re not there to “get a job,” but to “do the job in the interview.”

The April 13, 2009 Fortune magazine cover story by Jia Lynn Yang, How to Get a Job, featured a success story that read like the perfect Ask the Headhunter case study:

Halfway through the [final interview], [recently laid-off 55 year old sales manager Rob] Sparno and the [hiring] manager started discussing how to target a client Sparno had worked with before. The manager went up to the whiteboard to throw out some ideas, and Sparno leaped up to join him, until the two were standing shoulder to shoulder, markers in hand, batting strategies back and forth.

Mr. Rob Sparno, prepared relentlessly before the interview, successfully “did the job in his interview,” and yes, he landed a lucrative sales job during one of the worst global economic crises in recent memory.

Jia Lynn Yang’s article also underscores the sad reality of many job hunters spinning their wheels, struggling through sweaty, mass-of-humanity “job fairs” and sending out hundreds of resumes. As Yang observed, that’s not looking for a job; that’s buying a lottery ticket.

Instead of buying job search lottery tickets, get a job search business plan, namely Nick Corcodilos’ Ask the Headhunter book. And while Nick’s Ask the Headhunter website still looks like an early 2000’s website, it is in fact a treasure trove of valuable information for fellow job hunters fed up with the old school job search tactics and old school recruiting practices.

Got a Minute? My Job Search Advice

I was profiled in this week’s Bentley@Work, the weekly job search/career resource e-newsletter for Bentley alumni. As part of that profile, I was asked to share what worked in my successful job search and what advice I could offer others. Here’s what I wrote. I hope this is helpful to you…

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Introverts: Not Networking is Not an Option! (A Brief Interview with Holland-Mark CEO Chris Colbert)

I am happy to report that I successfully bounced back from a surprise April 2009 layoff from a former employer and landed a great new job two months later.  Networking made all the difference in the world.  In fact, in terms of what really worked in my job search, networking was the world.

Just to be clear, this is NOT effective networking! (Source: University of Melbourne, Australia)

Just to be clear, this is NOT effective networking! (Source: University of Melbourne, Australia)

Without networking, I never would have found this job, or for that matter, another good offer for an appealing extended consulting opportunity. I was not one of hundreds of resumes in someone’s email inbox. Neither opportunity was advertised anywhere. In fact, the opportunities were not even fully defined yet when I first explored them.

If I did not have my network which I initiated before I was laid off, if I had not cultivated my network with new contacts after I was laid off, I would still be unemployed.  It’s that critical.

Holland-Mark CEO Chris Colbert led a thought-provoking presentation at last week’s Bentley University Success Network meeting which I believe inspired attendees to build and nurture their networks.  Effective networking is made possible by your personal brand (Brand U); who you are and what makes you unique (what Chris refers to as your One Simple Thing).  Chris’ presentation was recorded and should be available on the Bentley University website soon (stay tuned).

I spoke yesterday with Chris about his presentation and dug a little deeper on how job searchers predisposed to introverted behavior might be at a disadvantage, as they might be more reticient or even shy about approaching others and developing a network to succeed in their job search.  The bottom line is clear: Not networking is not an option.  But introverts out there who bristle at the thought of getting out there and networking should take heart: Networking is not about winning a popularity contest or using phony flattery to manipulate others to help you.  At its core, networking is all about being authentic.

Read on for my chat with Chris Colbert.  I hope you find it helpful.

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Working Effectively with Search Firms: Bentley University Panel Discussion

Bentley Success Network Panel Discussion Search Firms
Bentley University Success Network Panel Discussion. Pictured L to R: Peter Wollford, Judy Dumont, Mike Urbonas, Jon Mahoney and Steve Mazur. Photo by Bentley alum Marci Reynolds.

I was honored yesterday (Tuesday, June 2) to serve as facilitator/host of a panel discussion during the Bentley University Success Network featuring four search firm professionals discuss how to find a “good” professional recruiter and work effectively with him or her, as well as how to stand out in today’s difficult job market.

I would like to express my great appreciation to the panelists:

  • Judy Dumont, Sally Silver Companies
  • Jon Mahoney, Hollister
  • Steve Mazur, Accountants International
  • Peter Wollford, Kforce

Here are a few highlights of the panel discussion…

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The Glass is 2x Too Large!

If you use AOL Mail, you have probably noticed the random splash screen below, with two different descriptions designed to make everyone happy in the “glass half empty or half full” debate:


Of course, being an optimist also tends to come in rather handy for product marketers and managers, not to mention fellow job searchers amid this economy!

I have just built out a new Publications and Presentations page, including my writing samples, presentations, byline articles, and articles written for Productivity, the Boston Product Management Association (BPMA) e-newsletter. I have also added some articles, written by others, which I solicited for publication in Productivity. This includes a very practical article on Optimism: The Hidden Asset by author Bruna Martinuzzi, and more.

Glass-half-empty-half-fullAs for the glass debate: While an optimist will say the glass is half full, the pessimist will say the glass is half empty, I have concluded that the product manager and product marketer will conclude revealing research and effectively message that the glass is 50% 2x too large, resulting in the smaller glass that customers really want, cutting production costs and improving margins! You GO, product marketers and managers!

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Me 2.0 Sure Beats “Me Too” (Me 2.0 Book Review)

I am thankful to have met David Meerman Scott a number of times over the years, including welcoming him as a guest speaker at past Boston Product Marketing Association events. I’ll hazard a guess that it is likely you have David Meerman Scott’s WebInkNow blog bookmarked already; if not, you’ll probably want to once you visit his site.

Me 2.0 Book - Dan SchawbelRecently David Meerman Scott featured 20-something author – and fellow Bentley University alum – Dan Schawbel on his blog. Although just starting out in his post-Bentley career, Dan Schawbel has already racked up some impressive accolades old 40-something guys like me would be very proud of. He has positioned himself as a personal branding expert, with a self-branding blog and magazine, and now a brand new book hot on the shelves: Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.

I can vouch for the value of Dan’s advice in his book, not to mention his wise advice in his free e-book Blogging Your Brand (PDF), which I have found indispensible as I get this blog, and in so doing, my own personal brand, off the ground.

David Meerman Scott’s discussion with Dan Schawbel is well worth reading in its entirety. A few specific comments from Dan Schawbel I found of particular personal interest follow:

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