Monday, October 27, 2014

Most Outplacement Programs Are a Sham

I’m only saying what many who’ve participated in such programs already know. Most outplacement programs are mostly hype, delivering little substance. Or, as I like to say, they are 90% smoke and only 10% horsepower (or less) and a rip-off for the companies that pay for them. The reason is simple, the purveyors of typical outplacement services over-promise and vastly under-deliver how much they will do for those they are supposed to help.
Outplacement services are often utilized when a company downsizes headcount for whatever reason. Another example may be universities or trade schools, which offer outplacement services as a part of their programs. Yet another might be outplacement services offered to military service members who are completing their enlistments or careers. Without going into detail because, after all, this is a blog and not an in-depth article, let’s look at what many outplacement programs consist of.
A primary component of any outplacement program or service is helping people with their resumes. They claim to help to construct a professional resume and all that goes along with it such as being able to scan and having a generally standardized structure and format. Another component they might boast is to connect you with companies where you can utilize your skills and experience. Now this all sounds nice, but most often all they are doing is helping you to post your resume to a job board or portal; maybe they have relationships with a few companies looking for people with your skills, but that’s about as far as it goes.
So then, what do we have in reality – resume help and assistance posting your stuff online? Is that the best there is? Seems to me companies are paying a lot of money for outplacement help that doesn’t provide much help, neither for the client company paying for the services nor the people they are supposed to be helping. Come on, resume templates and advice can be found all over the place, online. And posting your resume onto job portals is within the grasp of most people. Sounds real helpful doesn’t it (sarcasm)?
At the risk of sounding cynical, these programs are so obviously worthless that one might conclude senior company management provides these services for employees they are cutting loose, as a CYA measure to create the façade that they care about employees they are letting go. In reality, most senior managers do want to provide a substantive resource to help their employees to transition. But even companies are increasingly displeased with so-called outplacement services for which they pay handsomely. I’ll go still further, by saying the majority of outplacement service providers are either ill-equipped to provide any real services – or they are charlatans.
The problem is the focus of these programs. Outplacement is about helping people, not resumes or helping someone to access an online service – any 13-year-old can do the same thing and therein lies the key issue. If you are not teaching people to help themselves, you’re not really helping them. Rather, it should be about empowering or re-empowering people; providing them with substantive information they can capitalize on and from it build a foundation to help them move their lives forward.
I write about and say it until I am blue in the face; it takes more than a resume and online activity to get the results you want or need – much more. At a time when college grads are fighting over bartending and wait staff jobs, if you think a piece of paper and online activity, just going through the motions, is all that’s necessary, then you just don’t get it - or you’re in denial. If, on the other hand, you recognize something’s not working, then perhaps it is about time to rethink your strategy.
So, what are you going to do beyond monitoring job portals and limiting yourself to what everyone else is doing – which isn’t much? What other methods for finding job opportunities are you going to capitalize on? What are you going to say when you find yourself seated in front of a hiring manager and they say, “So tell me about yourself?” - I certainly hope you’re not going to recite / read from your resume. Do you know when and how best to discuss money and compensation? Do you possess any basic negotiating or closing skills? What about follow up? Are you going to be proactive or will you sit around waiting for an email, or for your phone to ring? What about cover letters, references, how to handle job offers – both verbal and written? How many outplacement programs cover these subjects? Do you know of any? No, I didn’t think so. Well, I teach this stuff but there are increasingly very few who are even capable of learning.
If you are a company executive who will, perhaps, have need to facilitate and provide outplacement services, I hope for the sake of the employees you claim you want to help that you’ll demand more from service providers. And if you’re an employee who’ll have need of outplacement assistance, take full advantage of it but press for more than simply being led through the motions. You, as an individual, need to invest the time necessary to upgrade your own abilities so you can maximize your job search and interviewing efforts.


Monday, October 6, 2014


When I encounter job descriptions, they usually speak about a minimum or an ideal range of experience required. I don’t recall seeing job postings stating a maximum limit of experience and, with good reason, it would be considered discriminatory. Yet, there are job seekers both interested and very qualified, who are ironically disqualified with the excuse of their being overqualified. I suggest it‘s most often used as a generic excuse to disqualify anyone who doesn’t fit neatly into the little boxes or differ from the majority of cookie-cutter people and personalities. It is also utilized, in my opinion, as a veiled form of discrimination.  

There are, of course, some valid reasons why companies worry about considering those with experience exceeding the stated job requirement. For example:  someone might say all the right things and accept a position lower than that for which they are qualified just a get a job, then, shortly thereafter, reveal their true intention. And, after a short period they’ll get bored and want a higher position. Or, they require more money than is budgeted for the job; this one is often valid, but not if it is baseless and lazy assumption on the part of the interviewer. There is also a worry they might use their advanced experience to usurp their supervisor; at least this is a stereotype – although, this is primarily the paranoid concern of weak and mediocre managers. By the way, it’s instructive to note the best of managers, those who are secure, confident and successful – hire in the own image. That’s right, they seek people as good or better than themselves because they are advancing in their own careers, recognizing they need good people to continue what they’ve accomplished after they move on. 

Undoubtedly, markets are shifting and changing, which requires adaptive perspective as it relates to hiring practices that are not keeping pace with economic and workplace changes. However, this would contradict current entrenched and formulaic HR selection and hiring practices, which more resemble dogma than a process of selecting the best and brightest available talent, which is the stated goal. As a result, many companies are missing an opportunity to benefit from highly-skilled and experienced applicants who might, just maybe, have a lot to contribute. So what if they may overshadow more junior employees, in effect raising the bar for overall performance? It’s as though the concept of Topgrading never existed. 

As the majority of baby boomers reach retirement age, there is a growing shortage of skilled professionals in many business sectors. As a matter of necessity, managers are increasingly becoming open to considering highly-skilled, experienced and, yes, even those who until recently had been considered overqualified. Furthermore, many senior company managers express frustration about younger professionals who increasingly lack the basic skills taken for granted in the past. Although, I find the most resistance to change in the halls of HR departments. There, the concept does not fit their increasingly formulaic processes nor institutional one and two-dimensional thinking. Their concern is often administrative in nature, rather than what might be best for business.

I have spoken with human resource professionals who lament about the lack of suitably-qualified applicants compared to the sheer mass of resumes they receive. So if there is a stale, half-hearted effort to fill a position that‘s been vacant four months or longer with no solution yet identified, why shouldn‘t a company consider someone who may indeed be a little overqualified? Or, is it better to leave the position open long term, diverting others to duties that prevent them from effectively doing their own jobs, thereby making everyone less effective? Meanwhile, there may be a qualified person (you) with, for example, 8 years experience instead of the job position’s description requirement of 3-6 years. Not enough experience I understand, but too much experience seems more a matter of perspective, wouldn’t you agree? This is especially evident in technically-skilled roles. In some business sectors, there are simply not enough qualified grads entering the workforce to offset the larger numbers of those retiring. 

If you consider yourself to be, or have repeatedly been told you are overqualified, your task is to demonstrate why you are a good choice. But your experience on paper, all by itself, is a dead and lifeless document, it does nothing to display your energy level or attitude, as well as you can do so in person. Relying on your resume to do the talking for you is a mistake no matter how good your past may have been and whether your experience is  applicable in the current marketplace. And most important, are you able to articulate why you are a better choice than others – which is the task of any applicant regardless of experience? You must be able to do this while directly addressing and alleviating suspicion, convincing interviewers that your interest in the job is sincere and your skills can add value. I recognize many people are incentivized by the pursuit and climb up the organizational ladder, although not all lawyers seek partnership, not all sales representatives want to be VP of Sales, not all administrative assistants dream about being the office manager, etc. But that doesn‘t make them any less an asset.

If you fit the demographic we are discussing and, thus far, unable to gain full employment status, you may also need to think outside of the box; consider offering to be a contractor rather than an employee on the company books. You might also suggest you can do the job on a temp to perm basis. Then later when you’ve demonstrated your value, challenge them to hire you as a permanent employee. 

If you are confident in what you have to offer, do not let the term overqualified  automatically prevent you from pursuing a company to which you’d like to contribute your experience. While some may call you overqualified, be ready to explain why, instead, you are in fact eminently qualified.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Begging For a Job

People should always accompany their online job activities with other methods of looking for opportunities, utilizing a combination of strategies. One of them involves literally, physically and actively approaching companies and company managers on your own behalf in-person, with all that entails. Handshake-to-handshake, face-to-face and eye-to-eye, is hands-down the best way to go, anytime you can facilitate such an event. But if you’re only going to passively wait until you are invited as a result of your online activity, well, then you’re missing the whole point. I recognize that for many people this concept is foreign to them.
Imagine; there are people with whom I speak, for whatever reason, who act with incredulity and react viscerally, opposed to such crazy talk and very often they’ll respond by telling me they absolutely refuse to sink to the level of going and begging someone for a job. Yeah, that’s what they tell me. So let me get this straight, physically approaching a company you’d like to work for in-person; knocking on the door to introduce yourself, makes you a beggar. Oh really?
Some may think their perspective derives from an inflated sense of entitlement. For the record, I consider their negative reaction just plain stupid and naïve – sorry, but it is – it’s weak, wimpy, short-sighted and sad. However, it is more likely only a panicked response because they’re no longer capable – or they never learned how to do anything more than point and click. Meanwhile the clever people, the few still possessing a measure of self-confidence, are finding their way to companies and they are getting jobs, while most others choose to continue to hide behind their computer screens with their fingers crossed.
Just Today, not more than 3 hours before writing this blog entry, I spoke with a company hiring manager about someone I’m representing. I shared the person’s background, accomplishments and what they claim they have to offer a company. I didn’t look online to see if there were any job openings because that’s a sucker’s game. Personally, I don’t care what’s posted online and never have. For years, I’ve recognized that companies don’t post everything, anyway. Although, hiring managers are always interested in hearing about good professionals with a demonstrable track record of success. As proof of this, upon hearing about my candidate’s attributes and accomplishments the hiring manager suggested, “Please send me their resume, there aren’t any jobs posted on the website but we’d be interested in someone like this.” Hello, ding, ding, ding…ding - if you missed it, go back and read this paragraph again.
And yet, even with overwhelming evidence to support my claims there are those who I described above, who assume that contacting a company directly will somehow diminish them. Meanwhile, they are more than happy and willing to search online for a job in the same manner as one might look for and purchase vitamins or something -- yeah, that’s much more dignified, eh. If this is the level of importance you apply to your career and professional wellbeing, so be it.
If you want to be more direct but you don’t know what to do, the hard part isn’t picking up the phone to call; yes, it is a little bit of a challenge to find and contact the appropriate hiring manager (see the entry I published last week). The toughest part is when you have your moment to speak with a potential boss. But you can do this if you so resolve.
When your moment arrives, demonstrate what you have to offer (your experience), what you think you can contribute and immediately validate any claim with anecdotal evidence of your career accomplishments. So, voice interest, make a claim, back it up with fact / figure / example and then repeat for each individual claim. Do it in a brief synopsized manner and remember, peoples’ attention spans are short. Be brief, your initial intro and presentation should not be longer than about 30 to 40 seconds, tops. Remember, the goal is to secure a meeting / interview, so don’t tell them everything and save the best stuff for when you are face-to-face. And no, it isn’t easy to do this and it takes time to perfect. If this is too much for you then go back to the way you’ve been doing things – but don’t complain if you’re not willing to try new things.
Furthermore, don’t over-analyze either, before you act -- better that you mess up and stumble, adjusting as you go, than to sit doing nearly nothing and make excuses. Online only job searching is about as near to doing nothing as there is. Indeed, what I’m suggesting requires real effort and commitment. By the way, this is how you make your own luck.
So is there anyone who still wants to tell me taking charge and making potential employers aware of you, is akin to begging, and is beneath your dignity? I say it all the time, the tools and the means to take more control of your career are available, my handbook is the best example I’d point to; buy it or don’t buy it, I don’t care, but it has a lot of good info I’ll bet you don’t know but could use. Likewise, there’s free stuff in dribs and drabs on my website and blog, which you can access from my LinkedIn profile.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Take Back Control – or Else…

During the 22 years during which I have been a headhunter or, more categorically, a direct-search recruiter, I have been watching with studious interest the standardization and streamlining of hiring processes. Let me be clear: the processes, and the rules you are told to follow, serve only to benefit companies, not you. Most of the advice you read is presented by those very same people telling you what and how to do it to fit their vision of what’s best for you. It’s rather like asking the prison guard what your rights are from the confines of your cell. That is because you, your concerns and your interests, are not their priority. That which differentiates you from everyone else is a distraction, by and large they aren’t interested. They have a script, a list, a ritual they follow and to step out of line is to attract a look of disapproval. They’re too busy trying to connect the dots of some generic job description, just one of many job vacancies they are tasked with filling. They aren’t as interested in you as they are with trying to find a match to an ideal psychometric profile; they can’t be bothered with your needs while they are busy trying to connect the dots. Just get in line with everyone else, react when summoned, speak only when spoken to and don’t call us we’ll call you. You need to understand and accept that human resources is less human than ever.
But we share a lot of the blame because, for the sake of convenience, we’ve disarmed ourselves, gotten fat and lazy to the extent that far too many people are not capable of doing more than the online activities. Imagine, when I suggest that people do something so basic as to pick up the phone and seek out an actual hiring manager (not to be confused with human resources who, in reality, are process oriented, they don’t make actual hiring decisions) they give me a look of incredulity that implies I am being unreasonable and even radical. In the modern era, if it isn’t posted online most people have no idea what to do for themselves. So they do nothing, beyond the same pointless routines over and over again with the same result – which defines what? Yeah, and I’m the crazy one?
So welcome to the new normal, which is increasingly analogous to Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Unless you make a conscious choice to take responsibility for yourself, turn away from those with interests other than yours and what’s best for you and your family – here is your future; here is your kid’s future, get used to it. Actually, it’s already here, we just have better clothes and a brighter, better-appointed workplace.



But all is not lost. For those who want to take initiative, actual hiring managers still want to find the best available talent. But you’ve got to get their attention and even before that, you need to navigate an obstacle course of bureaucracy. This misconception the internet has made finding jobs easier is a lie; what it has done however, is create yet another barrier between you and a decision maker. It has also made it much easier for human resources to avoid having to expand their precious time dealing with pesky applicants. Meanwhile, you’re more frustrated than ever.
Ironically, I hear managers often lament they can’t find the best candidates. I also hear job seekers complaining that they pursue job opportunities and apply online, only to never hear from anyone and are not even sure their resumes have been reviewed or considered. Hey look, this blog now has an archive spanning almost two years. Also available here is a series of video segments, free to anyone who’ll take the time to view them. Best of all, I have a step-by-step handbook with more detail than I can provide in a blog or the videos and you’ll always have it at your fingertips to quick-reference, anytime. So if you want to improve your chances you have no excuses – and if you still fail to do anything, I haven’t an ounce of pity or even any sympathy for you.
A lot of people talk about doing things, but increasingly fewer actually do anything about it. I’ve done my part, making this information available. It’s up to you to do something with it or share it, bringing it to the attention of someone you know who is in need. And you will set yourself apart because human nature is such that most people will continue to do nothing and prefer to complain. This is an advantage for you, so capitalize on it.    

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Uncomfortable Truth About Jobs Posted Online

As you read this, if you are looking for a job you will no doubt get depressed, however, that is not the intent but, instead, to jar you out of your walking coma. More about that later -- if you are someone who does not look very often or regularly at the job portals and postings, you won’t notice; but if you do, it is increasingly frustrating. There are jobs, but fewer and fewer are the good jobs that people want. You can get a job, anytime you want.
You likely don’t know this, but I have known for years large companies post jobs they have no intention of filling through outside sources. I’ve been told this directly and recently in conversation, by a member of human resources responsible for recruiting at a well-known pharmaceutical company. There was a very good position posted and I knew an ideal candidate who was interested, whom I told I would attempt to help, so I called. I was told that, indeed, the position was posted and again recently re-posted, but they were going to do an internal selection and transfer. I know what you’re thinking; so why post the job in the first place? And it’s not the first time I have seen this – routinely, even if a manager has an internal referral, often they have a policy jobs will first be posted for the public. However, they have no intention of actually considering someone from outside. They’ll always first look within for internal referrals or dig into their own databases for those who are already on file.
Or, what about companies that post jobs, not because they need anyone, but because they want to build their database for future reference. This happens as well.
Or, you see the same jobs over and over again every week, which, according to my experienced eyes suggests there’s a bait and switch going on or worse, the jobs suck so badly no one stays more than a few weeks or months.
Or, the fact that there are jobs out there that are not even being listed – I’ve written about this particular topic in the past. Yep, there are open positions that you are not even aware of, but dutifully and obediently watching online portals won’t get you any closer to them. So what if you take the time to investigate more portals or aggregate sites – it is not likely you will find more jobs, just the same jobs posted elsewhere and any resumes sent are going to the same place.
My point is the same as it has been; everyone has accepted a norm that is increasingly ineffective; an ever more automated and faceless system that is already not efficient, but it does relieve HR and admin from having to deal with those pesky applicants. You see, they are too busy sifting through emailed resumes to deal with a real person – until they are called. Who do you think the system is meant to benefit, you or them? Yeah, I know you don’t like hearing this but it is true – not every time mind you, but increasingly and more often than you think or they are willing to acknowledge.
My advice is and has been, to go back to the basics. I urge people to get off their butts and step away from the computer. Indeed, use it for research; you’re lucky, folks used to have to go to the library to research companies. Then pick up the phone, call someone other than human resources in the company structure and then put on some decent clothes and try to meet them. Yes, it is more difficult and if you can’t find it in yourself to do so, no problem, sit back down and delude yourself into thinking point and click will get you the job of your dreams. Or, go ahead and mortgage your future with a very expensive scholastic degree and it’ll work itself out because you’re special and never mind everyone else with a degree, who is also convinced they are special. Sorry, but it ain’t enough, and it never was.
But bear in mind you need to prepare yourself also, yeah you, the person in the mirror, before you go out knocking on doors. If all you’ve been doing is sending virtual resumes you’re out of shape mentally and your resilience to rejection is probably pretty flimsy after years of indulging in the empty calorie Twinky represented by mostly fruitless internet efforts. And no, I am not spoon feeding you, I wrote a handbook with tons of advice – if or when you decide to get serious you can even point-and-click from your comfortable chair to get it, too.
Frankly, I recognize my blog only appeals to a minority of people who actually want to do more and explore different options, but it is becoming clear people prefer to be told that everything’s okay and be patted on the head and told it is because they are trying. But I know I am talking to the wall and those who agree with me, well, I am just preaching to the choir. They prefer warm hugs with worthless advice, which only reinforces empty effort. Don’t stop looking online, you might luck out, but it should be only a portion of your efforts to help yourself.
You can be talented; you can be qualified and have a terrific resume. You can be a great interviewer but, even if you are all these things, what does it matter if you are sending your resume into a virtual black hole. What happens when you finally recognize the vast majority of resumes submitted online are never seen by human eyes. You need to resolve to stop pretending you are actually doing anything – if all you are doing is relying on predominantly faceless online efforts. If my honesty is a little harsh I contend everyone asks for and wants the truth – until they get it. Fewer people are willing to do more – even if they would benefit as a result. Sorry to sound a little harsh but I grow tired of people complaining meanwhile, they’re unwilling to take real measures which might result in (gasp) rejection. I guess faceless online rejection or inaction is easier.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

When It Is Decision Time

When you receive a job offer don’t celebrate, not yet, it is premature. I know it is the goal, the brass ring and the prize, but actually there are a few steps yet in the process, shortened somewhat, if you don’t have a current job to resign from first. But let’s not get side-tracked because even at this late stage you must remain focused, even more so. This is the critical part and, even here, it can get screwed up if you are not concentrating on the task at hand and that is – what is your decision?
There is an old saying among sales persons that suggests, “Time kills all deals.” There is a cycle, an ebb and flow if you will, or a level of interest that progressively builds and gains momentum during the interview process. It is at that peak period of mutual interest when the deal is struck, and good faith between parties should be at its zenith. It is at this point in time you want to strike the deal; good marketers and sales people develop these instincts – they know what you should also learn to do on your own behalf, for yourself.
This logic absolutely applies directly to the interview process, and it is most notably that critical moment in time when a job offer is presented. It’s at this moment when the mood is right, when both sides are most interested and working towards the same goal for a mutually favorable and climactic conclusion – everyone’s happy, right? Well yes, for the moment.
So imagine, if you will, more often than I can count I have witnessed all of that mutual interest and enthusiasm wither away because the potential new employee and recipient of the job offer said they wanted to think about it. In and of itself that is fine and nobody should be pressured to accept a job they don’t want or of which they aren’t sure. But how much time is appropriate to consider your answer when it is decision time? Before I answer, consider that by the end of the interview process, all remaining questions about the job should by now be answered to the satisfaction of both the applicant and hiring manager. If they haven’t been addressed then the presentation of the offer is premature – think back, what did they say throughout the interview process? “Do you have any questions?” I am referring to job role and responsibility questions, not the admin stuff that comes at the end.
So when they provide an offer and you tell them you need to think about it, okay, for how long? Unless there is an extenuating circumstance my answer to the question is twenty four, to forty eight hours or the following Monday, if you received the offer on a Thursday afternoon or Friday. That’s it, what’s your decision? Furthermore, I advise client companies I represent that if they don’t get an answer in a reasonable span of time (which I just described) they should consider withdrawing the offer – yep, that makes me a cold -hearted meanie, doesn’t it? But here is the question I asked people who suddenly wanted to put the process into neutral, “What will you know in two weeks that you won’t know tomorrow or the day after?” They usually don’t have a legitimate answer and reply with something like, “Well, I just want to think about it.” No problem, you’ve got a day or two to discuss it with your wife and family, or, if you want to run through everything in your mind one more time, sleep on it -- whatever. But then, make a decision.
You see, my background is in sales and I know that in sales situations a yes means yes, no means no and maybe means no, today. You need to consider what is going through their minds, after you have demonstrated you are an enthusiastic and interested candidate. You’ve proven yourself to be the best choice and then you tell them you want time to think about it and propose some ridiculous time frame? I have had people tell me they wanted a month to consider a job offer. This tells me and telegraphs to the hiring manger one or more of the following:
  • You’re awaiting another or a better offer to compare (they don’t like the idea of being a bridesmaid)
  • You’re not serious (they don’t like when people play games with them)
  • You are indecisive (they don’t like people they cannot depend upon)
  • Reality has hit you and you have cold feet (again, they don’t like people they cannot depend upon)
It doesn’t matter which or how many of these points apply to you, or even if they apply; the perception by itself can cloud the overall feeling about you, which was previously glowing and positive. When you do get around to saying yes, you will have squandered a measure of good will – no doubt about it, it’s just a matter of how much because inevitably, ardor cools. And, I don’t want to be a jerk but what you think doesn’t matter, they will begin to lose interest in you. But go ahead and play that game, after all, there are so many other good jobs out there you can afford to dictate terms to employers, right?
I regularly give employers heat about their inability to make decisions and leaving applicants hanging and wondering what’s going on. The excuses don’t matter, trying to legitimize indecisiveness will not better help to attract the best and brightest who might have other options…well guess what, the same goes for you. If you get in the (interview) game and portray yourself as being their best choice -- as a solid, dependable and decisive choice – then, do more than talk about it, do it, or move out of the way or you’ll possibly be run over by someone else who is more serious, while you stand around trying to make a decision.

Monday, August 18, 2014

When Self-Promotion Crosses the Line

Most things in life are not self-destructive or detrimental if applied or acted upon in moderation; of course, too much of anything can be bad for you – this is well-known, common sense. Last week I sought to illustrate the need for projecting self-confidence whilst describing the difference between that and arrogance or hubris.
I received an email from a reader who is concerned and seeks to avoid being seen as bragging so I think the subject bears additional explanation and clarification. Readers of my blog live and work in different parts of the world and from different cultures, so no one single formula works for everyone – nor should it. I try to champion the cause of the individual in opposition to the soulless, generic collective, which seeks to reduce and categorize people into boring, ineffectual and un-dynamic sameness. Although I have been Europeanized and internationalized, having lived abroad for over 13 years, I am, after all, American born and raised and, like many Americans, I am consciously aware of family roots as a 2nd generation Czech – American. Differences matter, they are something to celebrate rather than to diminish or degrade.
For example, Americans, in general, have no problem telling about themselves. This is not a bad thing, we are outgoing and friendly and most people find it an endearing quality but there are others who find it a bit off-putting. Indeed, some Americans do go a bit overboard and, indeed, stereotypes can characterize us as verbose or self-aggrandizing. Europeans, on the others hand, are not as comfortable telling about themselves and in this particular context they are not easily disposed to telling of their professional accomplishments and, therein, lies the reason for this blog entry.
It is predictable, and you should assume one of the first requests you will hear from an interviewer during the interview is, “So, tell me about yourself.” It is from this point forward many people squander the opportunity just presented to them. Referring to your resume is fine, but reading from your resume is a mistake because they’ve already reviewed it before you shook hands and sat down with them. So reciting back to them what they already know will not inspire any hiring manager. This is when you must share with them your attributes, qualifications, etc.; in short, the information that will inspire them to elevate you to the next level or step in the interview process.
Telling of your accomplishments is not bragging and if you don’t tell them, how else can they know – you’re only hurting yourself and diminishing your own chances.
So, what is the difference between telling of your career accomplishments and bragging? Here is a painfully obvious example:
  • “The project was assigned to me when I worked at XYZ company…and as a result, we grew and expanded our market share by 30%”
  • “The project was assigned to me when I worked at XYZ company…and as a result, we grew and expanded our market share by 30%. I was the one who made it happen…that deal was dead until I saved it…It was me, who…”
The difference between those statements should be crystal clear and so long as claims made about your work history and accomplishments are rooted in fact, and about which you can produce evidence if questioned or challenged, you have nothing to worry about. During the 1980s when meeting with Soviet General Secretary Michail Gorbačov, President Ronald Reagan cleverly co-opted an old Russian proverb, which states, “Доверяй, но проверяй” (doveryai, no proveryai) – “Trust but Verify”.  It applies here as well and you should also be prepared to be quizzed about the details to validate any claims you make. Don’t feel insulted or get your feelings hurt, because a good interviewer can and should probe and question whomever they are interviewing – it’s a part of the interview process. It is no different than your responsibility to verify and validate any potential employers’ claims about jobs you are considering – but I digress.
So the weak excuse of “I don’t want them to think I am bragging…” is a silly rationale to avoid your responsibility as an interested party during the interview process. Your task is to do more than simply show up with a resume and sit mute like a piece of furniture. Instead, seek to articulate why you should be considered for any job you seek. When provided with an opportunity, it is up to you to make the most of it.