July 25, 2023

Bad Job Seeking Advice, Exposed


Episode Highlights


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They say the best things in life are free. But don’t they also say you get what you pay for?

When the job market gets tough, job seekers are thirsty for whatever edge will help them land their next gig. The free advice from life coaches (and frankly anyone who’s ever looked for a job before) comes out of the woodwork.

But let’s call a spade a spade: some of the most common tips are objectively bad. They’ve just been repeated over and over again until they sound plausible.

Not on our watch. Jeff Smith and James Hornick call out some of the most common tips absolutely no one should listen to in The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 70 “Bad Job Seeking Advice, Exposed”

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick, joined by Jeff Smith, and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space. Maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in. All of our content could be found at talentinsights.hirewell.com

This week’s topic, episode 70, Bad Job Seeking Advice Exposed. More of a list than rant, but, lots of good stuff sourced this week. Yeah. Then the takeaways are just don’t do these things. That’s really the takeaway, so. Right. Exactly. It’s not that often, like a single comment I read really sparks an idea for an entire rant, and honestly, I think this one, I’m not really sure how we not gotten around to this one already.

I have to give it a shout out to Jim Janosik. I probably should have figured out how to pronounce his name before I gave him a shout out here. He’s an executive recruiter, I think out of Arizona. We were chatting online. He coined the term the “Life Coach Effect.” His quote-

It was one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in the last six months. So another big kudos to you, Jim. Candidates entering the process from day one, knowing the top end of the range get to offer stage, and they want 20% more because the life coach told ’em that they’re addicted to the whole know your worth concept.

So yeah if you know you’re getting an offer at the top end of the range and asking for more, like, I’m not sure what you’re expecting there. I can say like all my career I’ve been dealing with candidates who get bad advice like this, and it used to be like, way back in the day, it was just like younger people, like their parents who were, had no idea what they were talking about, or their friends who had limited experience like telling them dumb ideas.

I get it. Then I think the whole career coaching industry really took off and like no shade at individual career coaches. Some of you are very good, but I think even you could admit there’s a lot of pretenders in your industry. People who have no idea what they’re doing, giving out advice they shouldn’t.

And now like TikTok’s the latest thing. There’s all kinds of people who want to be influencers based upon like giving out stuff that sounds plausible, but in practical applications it’s actually terrible so. Yeah. We’re just going to go through it. We got about six things here that we see pretty frequently, and, we’ll call it out and just tell everyone yeah, think twice before you do any of this stuff.

So, Jeff, why don’t you, take us away here. I will say, not to bring my dad into the rant, but this is, this would be the equivalent of me going- my father asks me all the time, said, did you find any good recruits lately? Like, this is what he thinks of my job. And I’m like, yeah, dad, found some good recruits.

This would be the equivalent of me asking for advice on a late stage negotiation. So shout out to you, pops. Yeah, like I said, probably more of a list than a rant, so, bear with us. Number one, piece of a bad advice, keep your resume to one page.

So this made sense back when we were using paper resume. That was the entire point. Like you had a piece of paper, you had to give it to someone, and having multiple pieces of paper was just kind of weird and it would get lost. Yeah. You maybe collate wrong and. Pick the wrong thickness of the paper anyway.

Yeah. Don’t worry about that. You know, if you have to tell your story on two pages, feel free to do so. It’s literally an electronic document. It’s fine. Yes, you’re fine. Number two, keyword stuffing. I did not realize that this was happening until, like a year ago. And then it kind of came up in 3, 4, 5 different conversations.

This is the approach where you’re just basically putting every conceivable skill on your resume, thinking that like the, you know, this master machine is going to pick up on things, which more to come on that. Sure, you’ll probably pop up on more searches. You’ll also pop up on a lot of searches that you don’t fit for.

So you’re just, you’re doubling down on your own frustration, but you’re also doubling down on the frustration of the individuals who are actually employed to go and find folks for their companies or their customers. Yeah. And like the worst part about it is you’ll appear in searches that you actually do fit for and you will look like a unfocused mess.

Yeah. And I think this is the core reason, anytime I see someone saying like, “Hey, I applied to a hundred jobs,” Like, you’re applying to a hundred jobs you don’t really fit for, or you’re applying jobs you do fit for and your resume looks unfocused and that’s why you’re not getting anywhere. Right.

Anyway, kind of tangentially related to that is just obsessing over number three, obsessing over fonts, colors, format. And I think this combined with that one is where the whole like try to beat the ATS like nonsense comes from. It’s funny when chat gpt came out and all of a sudden we have a grasp of what AI kind of is.

I don’t think people realize how backwards recruitment technology is, and there’s absolutely no AI or algorithms involved in any of the major ATSs. It’s just a complex Excel file that you’re trying to beat, which just sounds kind of silly. But back to like fonts, colors, formats, and all that. It’s like, some people will say it has to pop with color.

Other people say black and white. Everyone says, use this font. No, use this font. Everyone’s got a different opinion and it doesn’t really matter because there is no right answer. It’s like the amount. Yeah. If you’re going to use color, like, and you’re creative or you’re a designer- sure. Like that makes sense.

Like if you’re an operations manager in the manufacturing sector, like, do you really need like pastel colors? Probably not. Design resumes are the only ones that matters because that’s inherently part of the job. Everybody else, like no one cares. I can say my entire career reviewing resumes, I never pushed somebody forward or held someone back.

Based upon the font they use or which Google doc style they used. Like it does- like no one cares. It’s like the last thing on anyone’s mind who’s reading. Like readability is important. Articulating copy and what your skills are like, that’s important. But just like worrying about- the amount of time wasted on this stuff, it’s just another thing for career coaches to make a buck on, I think.

I don’t know. It is. Another one. So number four is, negotiation is a mess. And just the idea that companies should always be the first one to say a number, it’s just flat out wrong. This is kind of back to where we started with all this. Like salary negotiation is what, when Jim was talking about things, what kind of kicked all this off.

I believe that the never give the first number is just so ingrained in our culture. And it’s something I heard a million times as I was kind of growing up and early in my career. And the thing is, it’s not wrong. It’s just not always right. And if there’s one piece of homework, I’ll give everyone out there cause I don’t think we can do this topic justice, read Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. It’s a fantastic book. He has one chapter in there that kind of relates everything specifically to salary negotiations. This is a guy who’s actually like an FBI hostage negotiator, just explains the psychology of how negotiations actually work. And it’s important because when you’re an FBI hostage negotiator, you’re not allowed to lose.

Like you have to win every time. Right? But the core concept of this that I think is important that people need to understand is anchoring and it’s whoever gives the first number warps the reality of the situation. Like whatever might have been absurd is now the reasonable starting point by default.

Yeah. And it sets the course of any further negotiation counteroffer past that. So it’s not the end of the world when you don’t go first and someone sets a low number, or if you’re the high number, depending on which way you’re looking at it. But it’s knowing how to react like psychologically if the same job and if your goal is to get 150K salary, like that’s what you want, and the company goes first and-

but they say a 100K versus 140K, like how you’re going to react to those numbers and what you’re going to feel about those numbers and what you’re going to counter with is completely different. That 140K you’re like, cool, I got this.

That 100K you’re probably like, oh man, like maybe 120K is the best I can do. Like, there’s psychological value in that versus had you gone first and just said 170 is what I’m looking for. You know, it makes a difference. If you know the top end of the range, which we know so many times nowadays because we know what these, like, we know what these salaried ranges are when they’re posted.

And a lot of times it’s the first thing, like it’s why not give your top end? Go first and give your top end ask. You know what I mean? Like you already know what their range is. But I guess the other thing is it’s just like success or failure isn’t based on who goes first or second, but it’s such a more nuanced topic than people want to make, like hard and fast rules for that if there’s anything it’s worth learning how to do, it’s this.

And just understanding kind of how you should react and when it’s appropriate to go first versus second. So again, read the book and just-

but discard any advice that’s like hard and fast. This is the only way to do it because anyone who says that is just flat out wrong.

Yep. Agreed. Probably the most important point of all of these. Number five, just keep following up. Ad nauseam. Just keep going. And I’ve heard this too, it’s like, the squeaky wheel or the squeaky wheel gets the the oil, there’s all of these analogies that are synonymous with American culture and finding jobs in a capitalist society. You’re just-

you just got to be persistant. Dude, we get it. Like, ghosting sucks. It shouldn’t happen. It does. It’s going to happen. And honestly, pestering people nonstop is just simply not the solve for that scenario, unfortunately. There’s also going to be a plenty of situations that, internally at the company that you’ve applied for, you’ve interviewed for, that something happens. A bomb goes off, things drastically change from the strategy and their hiring plans go, you know, they get sidetracked, right? Sending them a dozen emails and calling 50 times, it’s not going to help any matters, in fact, it’s going to demonstrate that you probably have low EQ and it makes it a lot easier for that hiring manager in that company to just kind of simply move on.

You said it best in our prep, like, a better use of your time, focus your energy on finding a job elsewhere. Erin Riska, the Great Erin Riska, great collaborator with us, dropped another dime and it was be hungry, not thirsty, and pretty much all of Hirewell was like, that’s a great line. Love that one.

We’re going to use that. So shout on Aaron. So good? Yeah. Number six. Last one. Finish this off here. The last one. Focusing entirely on base comp, when benefits, equity, all of these different things kind of play into the package. The point sits with your point at number four. It’s really important for the job speaker to clearly communicate about what’s important to them, both range wise as well as package wise in terms of compensation, i.e. talk about it early, often, with your recruiter or the hiring manager.

An example, if you don’t need benefit, for sure, because your partner has amazing benefit, bring it on. It is a negotiating tool. No one’s going to say like, oh, that’s, you know, well, that, you know, that’s not going to, that is literal cost that doesn’t have to be absorbed by the organization so that you have tools to negotiate your comp, equity, bonus, in a little bit wider fashion than you would have before.

So just some things to think about. I think that like the salary obsession, it’s important, but benefits, if you’ve got a family, a place with great benefits versus lousy benefits, it can be a five figure difference per year. And not even in getting into like equity. Like equity’s tricky.

There’s not enough time in these kind of rants kind of address it, but. Some equity is great, some equity is complete BS and kind of knowing the difference, but it’s just as important. And I think the reason why the advice out there on these things isn’t as prevalent is because it is trickier. It’s not something you can like package in a LinkedIn post or like package in a course you’re going to sell online or package in a TikTok, you know, so. But again, there’s far more to it than the simple advice you hear out there and it would behoove you to kind of read up on some of the stuff. Be leery friends, be leery. Be leery. We are short on clock. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks again for tuning the 10-Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insights series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com, as well as YouTube, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and Amazon.

Jeff, thanks again as always, everyone out there. We will see you soon.

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