When I was in high school I was in this work-study program where I would go to school for half a day and work in an office environment the other half.  It was supposed to help us mimic the “real world” while getting some hands on experience in our desired career path.  My first official “white collar” job was that of receptionist at this law firm.
 
The lawyers only dealt with civil matters so most of the people that showed up either wanted to talk about some contract or some title dispute.  It was pretty benign so it’s not like people were there because they were accused of killing someone. 
 
Even though the lawyers each had several years of experience, this was a new firm (I was employee #9) so although we had a good amount of appointments, the phone didn't ring much. That meant I spent my day in a reception area waiting for someone to show up. 
 
Sometimes the clients would get there earlier than their appointment by 20 minutes.  I would offer them something to drink and let the lawyer’s respective secretary know that their appointment was there.  So now we had 20 minutes to kill. 
 
Since the phone didn’t ring much I would end up in a waiting room by myself with nothing else to look at than the waiting client for 20 minutes.

It got awkward.
 
Probably after my first week of doing this, I decided to make small talk.  So it went something like this:
 
17 year old me (after staring at client for 5 minutes without saying anything): “It’s pretty hot outside, right?”
Client (who has bigger things on their mind than some 17 year old receptionist):“Yup.  It’s hot”

Silence for next 15 minutes.
 
You know what’s more awkward than 15 minutes of silence?

Asking a question and THEN getting 15 minutes of silence. 
 
I tried different variations:
 

  1. How are you? Typical answer: Good

  2. How’s the weather?  Typical answer: Hot

  3. Did you have a hard time finding us? Typical answer:No/Yes
     
    And all of them were met with a one word answer and 15 minutes of awkwardness.
     
    I tried keeping the conversation going but it usually died down after 2 or 3 more one-word answers and I would give up.  
     
    So I kept on trying.  I didn’t know how to keep the conversation going no matter how many more things I said.  Turns out people aren’t too interested in hearing what a part-time teenage receptionist has to say.

A 17 Year Old Conversation Master

A 17 Year Old Conversation Master

 
Then I stumbled into the answer:
Instead of me trying to talk for 15 minutes, I would have the other person talk for that time. It works for two reasons: 1. People love talking about themselves and 2. You make them feel important. 

On top of that, I didn’t have to do the heavy lifting.  They had to entertain me and not the other way around.  All I had to do was ask the right questions and these people would blab for the rest of the 15 minutes.
 
I also noticed that these people coming to see their lawyers for private matters would spill the beans if you asked them.  You didn’t even have to be sneaky about it.  All you had to do was ask and people would tell you. 
 
So here is a sample conversation:
 
Me: “It’s really hot outside, isn’t it?  Is this the hottest you’ve ever seen it?”
Client: “No.  I remember once when I was little that lake over there dried up.  That was probably around 1973”
Me: “So you’ve lived around this area since then?  How was it different than now?”
Client: “Well it wasn’t as crowded as it is now. We used to live……” and they would fill up the rest of the time. 
 
My job became a lot more enjoyable after that since I didn’t have to deal with 15 minute blocks of silence anymore and people actually enjoyed my company. 
 
So you’re probably saying “Well how does that help me?”  Well I’ll show you.
 
Even now I still have go to “Primer” questions I like to pull out when I’m meeting strangers.  For example, in the elevator you have to ride for several floors with at least one stranger and it’s usually pretty weird just being in a moving box with someone else.  You know you should talk but you don’t know what to say.
 
If I’m in that situation, I like to ask something about what they’re wearing (Hey, that’s a really pretty necklace you’re wearing.  Where did you get it?” and follow it with “Is that your favorite store?”.  

Another favorite that is always good is asking about their lunch plans especially if they’re holding a to-go bag from somewhere.  “What’s for lunch?” and followed by “What would you recommend that’s nearby for lunch?” always get people to turn from strangers to a really elevator buddy.
 
One you can use regardless is “What’s on X floor?” where X is the floor they’re going to.  You can then ask them about what they do and how long they’ve done it.
 
  
You can use the Primer Questions I gave you above or you can make your own.  
 
How To make your own "Primer Questions:

Here is the formula to follow:
 
Step 1: Make sure the question can’t be answered in one word:
 
Bad Question: “Are you having lunch?”
Good Question: “What’s your favorite thing from that place?”
 
Step 2: Follow up with another question where their opinion is the center of attention:
 
Bad Follow Up Question: “My favorite sandwich is the tuna” (that’s not even a question!)
Good Follow Up Question: “Which is your favorite tuna sandwich in town? (Assuming they said tuna was their favorite sandwich)
 
Even better, I realized that by the 2nd or 3rd question, it was completely normal and natural to ask them what their name was and introduce myself. Insta-friend!
 
So the conversation would go something like this:
 
Me (Pointing to their Jack in the Box bag): What’s for lunch today?
 
Random Stranger in elevator: “Um, a Jumbo Jack. Nothing fancy”
 
Me (with a smile): Is that your favorite burger from there? Or which one is your favorite burger in the city?”
 
Random Stranger (that is starting to warm up to me): “Well I really like The Broken Spoke.  Their cheeseburger is really good but the fries are ok”
 
Me: “Really? By the way, I’m Ramon. What’s your name?”
               
Stranger who feels important that someone would ask them their opinion: “I’m Rob.  Nice to meet you”

Me: “So Rob, which place has the best fries?”
 
And so on and so forth.  That stranger became an acquaintance and possibly a friend in just a couple of minutes. 
 
Now that you know how to do it, you’re going to have to go out and practice it.  It’ll be a little weird at first but don’t get discouraged. 

You’ll notice that people will open up a lot faster than you thought.  Don’t worry if you completely fall flat on your face the first few times.  You will become more relaxed and quicker on your feet with questions the more practice you get under your belt. This works no matter if you’re on the spectrum or not. It works very well.
 
Let me know any struggles and/or success you have.  I’m eager to hear about them. 
 
Ramon
PS:I'm looking to attend a gala or fundraiser in the next month or so.  If you have one you're attending, let me know.  I'd love to support causes my readers believe in.

How to negotiate even if it's your first job

Most people are scared of negotiations.

They think that negotiating a salary will blow their chances at the job. They usually rationalize it by saying:

“I have to pay my dues. Then the money will come”

That used to be me too.

I thought my work would speak for itself and I would get a fair compensation soon enough.

Then I started noticing everything around me.

People with my same experience (sometimes even less) doing the same work (something even less too) were getting paid more than I was.

I also noticed that sometimes those people were getting better opportunities than I was. It was like they (management) valued them more!

Since then I’ve been better about negotiating. Not only have I negotiated my salary, but I’ve also helped others negotiate theirs.

Recently I came across a thread from someone in Big 4 wondering if they should negotiate their salary and I decided to write a response. The background info isn’t too important but I’ve included it for your benefit. If you want to get to my approach to salary negotiation, just scroll down for the info.

This email includes the exact scripts you can use to negotiate your own salary so it's very detailed.  


I am due for a promotion to senior at a B4 (large market) contemplating jumping to another B4 (same large market, same line of service but with another specialized group I want to get into – the very reason I’m leaving), possibly going in as a senior. I’m not so concerned about the title at this point since realistically, managers and senior managers don’t really care who gets the work done, but I do have a question about salary negotiation. When asked about my current salary, I was honest (and perhaps dumb) and put in my actual salary, which I know is under market by a good amount given the unique conditions when I joined. I can’t disclose too much without identifying myself, but my current firm tried to make it up to me by giving me huge bonuses to get me closer to what I should be getting (which I’d also reported to the recruiter). My dilemma is this: I understand that the base salary jump from staff to senior is usually quite significant, but the new offer coming in is roughly 10% lower than what I’d expect to get as a senior at my current firm. The new firm possibly just saw how low my current base is and thought that a 15% increase would be fair for anyone getting promoted to senior. For what it’s worth, the new firm seemed to like me and expressed their need for someone with my background, but I don’t know how much room I have when it comes to negotiating my salary. Any advice would be appreciated – thank you!


So for starters, there is always room for negotiation. Ideally when they asked you what you were making your response should have been “Before we start talking about salaries, I want to make sure we’re the right fit”

I personally have used the “Wait, this is like a first date. Let’s make sure we both like each other. Once we figure that part out then we can start talking about having joint checking accounts” with great results. It gets a chuckle to lighten up the mood and gets the point across.

Now, since you told them what you’re currently making, most companies focus on giving you a bump from your previous salary. In reality, they should determine what the going rate is for the job they need filled. It’s to their benefit that they pay you a small bump from your previous salary especially if that means it will be in the lower side of their range.

Once you’ve determined that they like you and you like them, then you can start the negotiation phase. So this is what you’ll do: 1. Determine what the salary range for this new job will be. You can do this by checking any of the websites out there (indeed.com, salary.com, payscale.com, etc.) If you’re comfortable with this then you go to step 2.

In step 2 you determine what is it that you really want. Most people will say more money since that’s an easy marker but maybe you determine what you really want is more days off. Or maybe you want to work from home. What do you really value?

Make 3 or 4 choices and quantify them. Do you want 5 days off and $10k more? Or would you rather have 1 work from home day? You determine what’s best for you and write it down.

A lot of the other posters have already told you that money isn’t everything or that in the grand scheme of things $10k isn’t a lot. And that’s true. Theoretically you will work at least 2,000 hours a year (40 hours * 50 weeks with the other 2 weeks as vacation). We all know that you’ll definitely be working more than 40 hours a week if you’re in Big 4.

So if our estimate is true, a $10k raise is $5 an hour. A measly $5 more an hour! You can probably steal more than $5 worth of post it notes if you wanted.

If you meet with an employer that balks at giving you $5 more an hour in the negotiating phase, a time when ideally you’re at your most powerful position, what else will they refuse once you’re working for them and you ask them to pay for CPE or to sponsor you for a conference?

Once you have part 1 (salary range) and part 2 (what would you like) together, it’s time to practice. Since you’re asking for advice I’m assuming you have limited experience negotiating. I suggest you practice in front of the mirror this script

“Hi Name of Recruiter!

I’m calling because I want to talk about the details of the offer letter. I’m excited to start working with you so I want to make sure we take care of this so there aren’t any delays later. “

At this point the recruiter will probably ask what about the offer letter you want to talk about and that it’s a very generous offer they’re making you.

Make sure you do this next:

“I have questions about the 1. The compensation and 2. Vacation days are you the correct person to make a decision on this?”

You can replace my #1 and #2 with whatever your top choices are. I’m just using those for example purposes.

You have to keep in mind most recruiters don’t have the power to approve salary terms. However they do have the power to tell you no. Make sure get to the decision maker and not a gate keeper.

The recruiter will then tell you who the person in charge is. If they don’t ask.

“Can you tell me who I should talk to then? Can I have their contact information?”

Once you get their info, email them basically the same script as above. Ask when would be a good time to talk for 10-15 minutes about it.

See script below:

Hi Boss of Initial Recruiter,

I recently received an offer letter and I am very excited about the opportunity. There are two issues I would like to discuss before I sign and I was told you were the appropriate person to talk to.

Let me know when would be a good time to speak on the phone for 10-15 minutes so we can go over the compensation package.

You can reach me via email or at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Thank you!

Mr/Ms On My Way To Negotiating A Pay Raise

Once you get on the phone with that person make it clear what you want and the proof you have. This will include the salary range stated in the job ad where you found the job, your research on salary ranges, and what you want.

Start by using this script:

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me Recruiter Boss. I have some questions about my offer letter I’d like to go over with you. I see that the salary is $X. According to the research I’ve done, the salary range posted by you guys in the job description, and what I bring to the table, I was thinking that $X+1 was really more in line.

Pause and wait for a response. They will probably tell you that that’s where they start all of their new hires at. Continue.

I understand. However, I’m not just like any new hire. I have (start listing your qualities and what you’re bringing to the table). That is why I’m so excited to be working for Name of Big 4 Firm, because I know I will be treated fairly.

By this time they will probably start to believe it themselves that you worth what you’re asking and tell you that they have to run it by the partner first.

Thank them for their time and ask them when you should follow up again. And then follow up again at the agreed time.

They’ll typically come back with an updated offer closer to what you were asking. If you are satisfied with that, thank them and sign the offer letter.

If you’re not, consider if it’s a deal breaker for you. Yeah, getting experience is great and all, but you also have to be paid fairly.

Do you really want to work for a company that doesn’t value your work and time? The decision is up to you.

Also, many of these posters will try to scare you into believing that your offer will be retracted if you try to negotiate. I have never heard of any firm retracting an offer because someone started negotiating. If they did, it was probably for other reasons.

It’s time to treat your career like a CEO would. Do you think the CEO of your Big 4 Firm just went in and took whatever offer they gave him? I doubt it. So if he doesn’t, why should you?

Be Bold!

Ramon

PS: Before you try to do this, practice in front of a mirror or record yourself with your phone. Make sure you sound confident and sure of yourself before you call.

You Have A Bad Recruiter If...

Or "How Recruiters Are Screwing You Over"

Let me start this off by saying that there are some excellent recruiters out there. I have the good luck and fortune of being able to work hand-in-hand with some of the best in the business and help them place candidates at great companies.   The candidate gets the job they wanted, the recruiter earns their commission, and I help someone turn a job interview into a job offer.  A win-win-win!

Unfortunately that’s not always the case.  There are many bad recruiters out there that are damaging and even ruining your chances at a better job.  Not only are they hurting your career path, they’re also affecting how much you earn and how happy you are at your job.   

Recruiters are important…..if you get a good one.  So for those of you who aren’t versed in the inner workings of recruiters, I’m pulling the open curtain for you.

Are you ready?  This isn’t for the faint of heart.  Once you know what is really going on, you won’t be able to go back.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

1. Bad Recruiting Firms Deliver Very Little Value

Recruiting firms typically charge between 25-35% of your 1st year salary.  Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more (up to 50%).  What’s 25% of your yearly salary?  That’s what  a recruiter made for looking through LinkedIn for jobs and  being the roadblock, err, I mean middle man, between you and the employer. 
 

2. Bad Recruiters Don’t Care If YOU Get The Job Or Not

Most recruiters use the “spaghetti cannon” approach (shoot a bunch and hope one of them sticks).  A recruiter basically works for the hiring company so their job is to find someone to fill that job.  They don’t care if it’s you, the guy that came after you, or the one that they cold-called this morning.  They’re going to throw as many resumes as they can at the client hoping one of them gets the job.  As long as one of their candidates gets the job, they get the commission.
 

3. A Bad Recruiter Doesn’t Have Time To Help You

Tell me when was the last time a recruiter actually met with you face-to-face and gave you interview pointers?  And I mean real pointers not just generic “Show up early and ask good questions” advice. Unless you’re dealing with a good recruiter, probably never.  A bad recruiter is too busy cold-calling everybody and anybody in order to fill up that spaghetti cannon full of resumes with the hopes that one of them will stick (see #2 above). 

A good recruiter doesn’t have to bury their client with resumes.  They take their time finding a good candidate for the job and a good job for the candidate.  They coach their candidates, either themselves or by bringing someone like myself into the mix, so that even though they send only 1 candidate, that candidate has a better chance of getting the job. 
 

4. A Bad Recruiter Won’t Help You Negotiate Your Salary

Recruiters don’t have your best interests in mind particularly when it comes to negotiating.  The sooner you accept an offer, any offer, the sooner they’ll get their 25% commission check. They’ll try their best to get you to accept whatever it is you’re being offered and won’t encourage you to negotiate because they’re afraid the deal will fall through.  Even if they did try to negotiate, they don’t know how to.  Bad Recruiters are only good at cold-calling and praying someone they sent gets the job.

I help my clients negotiate pay raises anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000.  What would you do with an extra $30k?
 

5. You Can Be A Bad Recruiter And Still Make A Good Living

The average Experienced Candidate Salary is around $80,000.  Assuming your recruiter gets the average 25% commission, they get $20,000 whenever someone they refer gets the job.  Your recruiter only needs to place 5 people every year to make $100,000.  5 people!  Do you consider someone who can only get 5 people a year a job to be successful?  Of course not!  Even if some recruiters don’t make that much, they make enough to scrape by and continue giving terrible service and advice to unsuspecting victims. Do you really want someone who can only do their job right 5 times a year handle your job search?

BONUS REASON (Like they say, “Under promise and Over Deliver!”)
 

6. Most Bad Recruiters Aren’t Really Recruiters

Hello, World!

There are very few career recruiters.  Most bad recruiters are really just people who were previously unemployed or who got tired of their previous jobs and are “trying out” recruiting.  Do you want to take career advice from someone who couldn’t get a job or who doesn’t know what they want to do with their life?  If you do, then you’re getting what you deserve. 

Professional recruiters typically have several years of experience, are typically recommended by your peers, and stay at one firm for several years in a row. Keep that in mind before sending your resume to a recruiter.  

Now you know some of the secrets of bad recruiters.  Do you want to know the easiest way to determine if you’re dealing with a bad recruiter? Show them this list.  If they agree then you’re dealing with a good recruiter.  You can be really sure if they add some more items of their own to this list. 

If they moan and complain, then, I’m sorry to say, you have a bad recruiter on your hands.  Not to worry, I can recommend some excellent recruiters that can help you on your job search.  Just contact me.

Still think your bad recruiter is going to work out for you in the long run?  Have fun getting screwed over during your job search. 

Share this list with someone looking for a job.   Friends don’t let friends have bad recruiters.

Be Bold!

Ramon

What happens when you get “ghosted” during your job search

I’ll keep today’s post brief since I think it’s a powerful message that doesn’t need much explaining to make a point.

It’s about getting rejected as much as it is about moving on.  

What do you do if you’re really interested in an opportunity (job/client/date) but you haven’t heard from them in some time?

Many times when we are chasing a client, a job, or a date, we get so fixated on the perfect outcome that we forget we may get rejected.  

Actually we don’t forget as much as we ignore a potential rejection.  

We think about how awesome it will be to have this great client that loves our work, or this cool job that will be the obvious stepping stone to the next opportunity, or even how this one girl checks off all of our “boxes” in the dream girl checklist.  

We think that if we get a “no” our hopes and dreams will disappear.  So what do we do?

Nothing.  

We choose to not do a damn thing so that we won’t hear a “No”.  Granted, we won’t hear a “Yes” either but as long as you don’t get rejected, we still have hope.  

It’s like checking your lottery ticket 3 days after the drawing.  You do it because you know that as soon as you find out that you didn’t win you lose all hope.  You rather not check your ticket for a couple more days just so you’ll have some hope alive that you’re a millionaire.  

“No” doesn’t mean “Never”.  It just means “Not Right Now”.  

As I was writing this, I literally got an email asking me how to handle this same situation.

“There is a job I really like and I interviewed for.  They said they were very interested but it’s been 2 weeks since I’ve heard from them.  What do I do?”

Everyone knows what to do. You call them.

What they’re really asking  is “I’m afraid they’re going to say no.  What do I do?”

Sometimes we get so fixated on a particular outcome that we forget about the ultimate goal.  

Yes. Maybe this job will be a great stepping stone to the next opportunity but remember that this isn’t the only way to the final goal.  

Whether it’s a job, a client, or a special person, these are all what I call opportunities that present themselves to you. Below, I’ll refer to any of the three situations as opportunities and you can exchange for the word that best fits your current situation.  

3 Things to Keep in Mind When You Get Rejected

  1. “No” doesn’t mean “Never”.  It just means “Not Right Now”

Years ago, I had this HUGE crush on this one girl.  She seemed like she was the perfect match for me.  Gorgeous, smart, funny, etc, etc.
 After years of missed opportunities, the stars aligned and a time came where we were both single and I finally mustered up the courage to ask her out.  
 

I still remember the day, time, and place when I called her.

“Hey, What are you doing this weekend.  I’d like to take you out to dinner and talk with you.”
Her response: “I can’t.  I’m going to be out of town”
Me (in my head): “Whatever. She’s probably just letting me down easy”
Her: “But we can go out next week”


Many times we think that a “No” puts us out of the race immediately and forever.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  

We are self-centered creatures and tend to think of ourselves as the only deciding factor in others’ decision making process.  In reality, we are just a small part of the equation.  

Sometimes there are external factors that affect our decisions.  A client with a small budget, a hiring freeze, or even, in my example above, other plans.

Just remember: A. It’s not always about you. and B. Never Say Never

  1. This isn’t the only path to your ultimate goal

When I was in college there was this prestigious program called PPA (Professional Program in Accounting) where you could get your bachelors and masters in accounting in 5 years.  To this date it is a prestigious program and the best way to start off your accounting career.  There is an application process to be accepted and I pulled all the stops when I applied.  I turned in a packet 5 inches thick with letters of recommendations, essays, completed projects, and anything else I thought would help me get accepted.  

My goal was to get accepted, which would put me in a level playing field with all the other intern candidates and get a Big 4 internship which would lead to a full time job in a Big 4 Accounting firm.

I had it all planned out.

Except I didn’t get accepted.  

That was one of those times where I thought I was destined to be a failure.  I even thought I should just quit college and go back home.  I was never going to get an internship much less a full time position so why even waste my time.  

To add insult to injury, a week later, a director for one of those Big 4 told me point blank that I “would never get an internship with any of the Big 4 without the PPA”.

I was crushed.  

I gave myself 1 afternoon to throw a 1 person pity party.  I was allowed to cry, yell, blame, accuse, and anything else I wanted to do but for only 1 afternoon.

When I was done I realized that those in the application committee didn’t really know me.  They just saw some application and probably based their decision on some GPA they saw and that’s it.  

Just because they could decide on a particular point in my life didn’t mean they could decide on my whole life.  

Just because I didn’t get into the PPA didn’t mean I couldn’t get an internship or a full time job with one of the Big 4.  

All it meant was that I had to take a different route.

Two months later I had an internship with one of the Big 4 beating out several hundred of those PPA students.  When I graduated, I had my choice of doing industry or Big 4 and I chose industry.  3 years after that I went back to Big 4.  Why?  Because I could.

I had made my own path.

  1. You may not be right for the Opportunity or the opportunity not be right for you

Oftentimes we don’t go get what we want and instead just grab what we’re handed.  It’s an easy and practical way to go through life.  Particularly if we were raised with this “Be grateful for what you have” mantra.  

If someone offers you a job, you take it without negotiating a salary or without firs figuring out if it’s right for you.

If someone asks you out, you automatically say yes since you don’t have anything else to do.

If a client has a project that’s not interesting to you or doesn’t pay what you want to get paid,  you still take it because money is money.

We all go through similar situations every day where instead of getting what we want, we get what’s given to us.  

I’m going to tell you something that’s helped me improve my life and in a weird way improve the opportunities that come to me.

I started saying “No”

I become more selective with what I did, with whom, for whom, and why.  I used to attend every event I was invited to, go over everyone’s resume (for free), and generally just say yes to anything that was offered to me.  

I started to realize that this wasn’t helping me.  I was spreading myself too thin and I was doing projects that didn’t interest me.  This prevented me from helping people who really valued me, my knowledge, and the results I can get for them.  

By the way, I’ve coached several entrepreneurs to help them build their confidence and learn how to better value themselves and their services.  Do you know anyone that could use my help? Forward them this email.

Nowadays, I say “No” more often than I say yes and I am definitely more happier.  Which brings me to my next point….

  1. Being Rejected is Liberating.  It allows you to move on and focus on other opportunities

Being told “No” is not as bad as it sounds.  Knowing that an opportunity is no longer on the table frees you from having to worry/think/focus on it and move on to the next one.  

The position has been filled?  Great.  I can start focusing my energy on another position instead of taking up mental space on a position that is no longer available.  

This is a version of “failing fast”.  The idea behind “failing fast” is that the sooner you find out something isn’t working, you move on to the next idea/plan.  No need to spin your wheels on something that isn’t going anywhere.  

Here is a little 3 step formula for this process:

  1. Call them

  2. Get an Answer

  3. Move on

What are your thoughts?  Do you feel like the fear of hearing a “No” keeps you from finding out?  Do you think waiting several days before checking your lottery ticket helps?  

Let me know.  I want to know what you think. I read every email. Promise!

Be Bold!

Ramon

PS: This is one of the questions I answer in my new book that's coming out next month.  I'll give you details on what it covers and pre sale pricing next week. 

How to turn down a job offer

Last week I received an email asking how to turn down a job offer.  You’re probably saying “Turn down a job offer!  Why would I do that?  I’m trying to get a job!”

I know I’m probably jumping the gun here but I’m going to show you how to solve a problem you will soon have: having too many job offers. Yes, it’s true. Believe it or not, whether you’re on the autism spectrum or not, there will be a point (soon I promise) where you’ll get not one, but two and maybe even three job offers.

When it rains, it pours

I always like to tell the students of my coaching program that when it rains, it pours. I’ve seen it over and over again to where people get two job offers in the same week whereas before they started working with me they had gone 6 months without even getting an interview. When you start getting job offers, they come at you hard and fast.

First world problems two job offers.jpg


Today I’m going to show how to turn a job offer down in a way that’s professional, respectful, and doesn’t burn any bridges. Remember, just because you’re not working with them this time, doesn’t mean you won’t be working with them sometime during your career.

Turning down a job offer isn’t a terrible thing and it won’t brand you as someone that’s ungrateful or too big for their britches. I actually spend quite some time coaching people on this because it’s something they truly struggle with. I think it’s because it can be hard to go from hoping and wishing you get any job to getting having to pick from two or more awesome jobs.

It’s not about the money

Some job offers are easy to turn down because they’re bad jobs. Either they pay too little and aren’t willing to negotiate, there isn’t room for professional development, you don’t like the people, or the company just plain sucks.

The hard decision is when you have two great offers. They may both pay the same, same benefits, great people. Both of them are the whole package. This is when you have to make a decision based on what you want. When you’re making a decision on what job offer to take, you have to really think about what the pros and cons of your choice, what each particular job can help you achieve now and in the future. It’s not as easy as choosing a job that pays you more. Sometimes it’s about choosing the job that will prepare you for the next job.

At the end of the day, you have to make the decision based on what you want now and what you want in the future. You have to make the choice based on what’s best for you and not on how it’s going to make other people feel. “I don’t want to disappoint them. They’re such a great company and everyone was super nice” and that may be true, however, this is a business decision and their feelings don’t really matter. Think about it another way: Would a company make you a job offer just so their feelings wouldn’t get hurt? Absolutely not. They made an offer because it made business sense to hire you instead of someone else.

So how do I do it?

First off, make sure you already have a signed offer letter from the company you want to work at. You wouldn’t want to turn down a job offer only to find out that you don’t have the other.

Another thing, no matter how you do it, the people you’re turning down are going to be disappointed and frankly, that’s not your problem. No matter what, you want to maintain the level of professionalism they’ve come to expect from you throughout the whole interview process. Anyone can be polite when a company is wining and dining you to convince you to work for them. A true professional is the one who can maintain that level of professionalism when it’s time to deliver bad news.

“Hi NAME OF CONTACT,

Thank you very much for your offer. After much consideration, I have decided to go with a different company. I was very impressed by the whole team and the recruitment experience. I hope we will be able to work together sometime in the future.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME”

Notice how I don’t include the name of the company you’re going to, or why I chose the other company, or any type of explanation. Your decision isn’t up for consideration or change. You’ve made a decision and you’re sticking to it.

As a side note, this is very much like breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s better to just be straightforward, honest, and decisive about it. Would you tell your ex all the reasons why you’re breaking up with them, who you’ll be going out with next, and why this new person is better than your ex? Absolutely not! That’s why restraining orders were created.

Same goes for job offers. You never know how they’re going to take it and frankly, it’s none of their business so don’t give them extra info they don’t need.

The company you turned down may reach out to you and ask you all types of questions (same goes for exes) and it’s up to you to decide what you want to let them know. I personally like to stick to my guns and just tell them that that other job was a better fit for me long term. Why don’t you want to get into specifics? Well, for starters, it’s doubtful that they’ll try to negotiate at this point or change any other terms. Second, If they’re willing to throw in more money/benefits now, why wouldn’t they do it at the beginning when it was time to negotiate? Third, if you chose another job based on things besides money/benefits, that means that the job you turned down would have to radically change what they would give you career-wise. Not only that, they would have to change it so much that it would be better than the other offer. This is very unlikely to happen. Along those lines, changing your mind about jobs because they offer you a couple thousand dollars more after you’ve made a decision, in my opinion, shows a lack of character. At some point you will have to make a decision and stick to it. Remember, not making a decision is a decision itself.

Be Bold!

Ramon

Salary Negotiation Resources

Several weeks ago I gave a salary negotiation presentation to the SHPE DFW chapter and it was a great turnout.  The group really enjoyed the material and as a bonus, I sent them a list of resources they can use to start developing their negotiation skills.  

Since the material was so good, I figured you would like to get it too.  The link below ncludes the slide deck of the presentation as well as a list of the top negotiation books you can use to get started.  Just this info alone will make you be ahead of your competition and is my gift to you.

You can access the gifts using this link:  SHPE DFW Bonus Gifts

If you have questions on how to approach your next negotiation or starting your job search, feel free to reach out to me.  I’m always happy to help.

Happy negotiating!

 Be Bold!

 Ramon

How to answer the most difficult interview questions

I received great feedback from last week’s email and received a bunch of questions from readers on how to handle particular interview questions.  Right now I’m compiling all the questions and ranking them based on the number of times they were asked. In the following weeks I’ll answer them and share a little surprise I’ve been working on.

Below is an actual question that was emailed to me although there were different variants of it from different people.

It reads:

“I had an interview where the director asked me the following: "I have 40 candidates that want this position, why should I hire you specifically instead of any of them?". That question made me freeze for a seconds, and it shook me. I wasn't expecting such a direct and personal question. Plus adding her strong personality and her fixation on me, made me feel a little intimidated instantly. I was answering all the questions in a good manner, until she hit me with that question.  

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them.”

Most interview questions are the same and they just vary somewhat between interviews/interviewers.  However, sometimes you get a question from left field which you may have no idea how to answer. Instead of practicing 101 Interview questions, you should focus on creating an Interview Theme.  

An Interview Theme is what you think you want to be seen as.  In other words, what kind of impression do you want to make when you’re there and what do you want to be seen as once you leave the interview.  As long as you have your Interview Theme created, you should be able to answer any question that comes your way.  

Instead of just telling you to practice a question, I’m going to help you break it down to its different components until we get into the why (purpose), the typical answer and why it’s not the best answer, an example of the perfect answer, and what makes up the perfect answer.  

By understanding what makes a perfect answer, it will help you create your own perfect answer.  This is better and more authentic than parroting some generic answer from a book.

On to the question!

What makes you different than the other candidates?/Why should we hire you?/I have 40 candidates that want this position, why should I hire you specifically instead of any of them?

Purpose:  This question is typically asked towards the end of the interview and it is used to see if there is anything else you would like to mention to make your case as the top candidate.

Typical Answer: “I’m a hard worker, I’m dedicated, and I’m a team player.”

Problem with Typical Answer: What makes you think you’re the only applicant who is hard-working, dedicated, and/or a team player?  Chances are everyone else gave the same answer.

Best Answer:  “I haven’t met the other candidates so I don’t know if they’re better than me but something that I know makes me different is my ability to find solutions/get everyone on the team to work together/get done things on time.  

For example, there was a time when I found a solution/got everyone on the team to work together/finished a project before the deadline by.… (Provide examples).”

Why this is the Best Answer: For this question you will obviously come up with one of your strengths. This is what makes you different than the other candidates.  An important point is to use a strength that relates to the job at hand.

If you notice that the job description has several instances of needing an expert in Excel, bring that up as your strength.  If communication is what the job requires, bring up examples of why you’re better at communication than everyone else (member of debate team, editor of college newsletter, etc.)

However, what will turn this answer from good to great is citing examples.  Instead of just saying that you’re good with Excel, talk about examples where you have used Excel successfully in the past.  Tie that in to how your previous Excel experience will tie in with the hiring company’s needs.  

Your Turn: What makes you different than the other candidates?

Remember to cite your strengths, provide examples, don’t be generic, and tie it to the job at hand.

Be Bold!

Ramon

PS: Send me other questions you’d like me to answer and I might include them in my next email.

Can a high functioning person with ASD get a job at a Fortune 500?

As attitudes towards hiring those who fall under the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or aspergers have slowly been changing, there has been a lack of resources available to those who want to pursue careers at the higher levels like Fortune 500 companies or those in Silicon Valley. Through my work coaching these specific types of candidates, I have identified a 3 pronged approach to help them make progress and ultimately get results during their job search.

Looking for a job when you have high functioning autism or asperger’s syndrome is possible by following three steps:

  1. Make sure you identify 3-4 ideal companies

  2. Understand the “why” behind the questions you will be asked

  3. Research the person who will be interviewing you to understand what they value

Identify Your Dream Jobs

A mistake most people make when looking for a job is to use the “spray and pray” approach.  In other words, people start focusing on applying as many jobs as possible hoping that one of them will eventually call them.  This approach can be exhausting as well as overwhelming for anyone.

Recently, when I started working with a client that fell on the spectrum, he asked me how many jobs he should be applying per day.  I suggested to instead spend some time thinking about 3-5 ideal companies that matched up to his major, his short/long term career goals as well as some “nice to haves”.  These “nice to haves” included what city and how far away from his parents’ home he wanted to live.

Instead of applying to 10 jobs a day until he got a call back, he was able to more effectively use his time and apply to the companies he sincerely wanted to work at.  Focusing his time and energy allowed him to spend the extra time needed on his applications to make sure they were producing the results we wanted (interviews).  

This strategy paid off: Soon after, my client was able to get 3 interviews and two job offers including one as a software engineer at a Fortune 500 company.  Not only that, but by identifying his “nice to haves” from the beginning, his top choice was a company that was 30 mins from his parents’ home and in an area where he was familiar with the support systems available to him.  It was far enough away from home where he could ease himself into living in an apartment on his own but close enough to home in case he needed extra help.

Understand the “Why” behind the “What”

Another thing that helps those with high functioning autism or asperger’s syndrome when preparing for job interviews, is not only practicing interview questions but rather understanding the “why” behind those questions.  Those who are neuroatypical may think that questions like “Tell me about yourself” or even “What kind of salary range are you looking at?” are useless and may answer them abruptly or worse yet, not at all.

This can be done in two ways: First, create an Interview Theme.  Similar to an avatar, an Interview Theme helps during preparation by allowing you to create the type of persona you want to project during the interview.  You determine the theme by figuring out what the employer is looking for and how you want to present yourself.

If you want to be seen as the software developer who is a self starter, we want the Interview Theme to touch on the summer project you did on your own.  If you want to be seen as the software developer that works great on teams, then we have to make sure we talk about your experiences working with teams and how you influenced and helped the team reach its goals.  

By knowing what the employer is looking for (based on your research) and creating the Interview Theme, you’ll have an easier time coming up with answers to any question you get asked.

The second part is understanding why these questions are being asked.  

Your job during the job interview is to answer questions in a way that sells your skills and abilities and makes you look like the most likeable person out of all the candidates.  

For example, when you get asked “Tell me about yourself” they’re not really interested in a complete run-down of your resume.  They’re asking this question because they want to get a better feel of how you interact with people and if you can be concise with your answer.

Another typical question “What’s your biggest weakness?”  The real reason behind this question is to find out if you are  self-aware and if you work towards correcting those weaknesses. Imagine how you would look if you said you didn’t have any weaknesses or that you haven’t taken steps to correct those weaknesses.  Saying you don’t have any weaknesses makes you sound egotistical and saying what your weaknesses are without presenting a plan to correct them makes you sound aloof.

Instead bring out a weakness, how you identified it and then the steps you’ve taken to correct it.

Pre-interview the interviewer

When meeting someone new, I always recommend everyone,particularly those that have high functioning autism or asperger's to research the people who will be interviewing them.  Doing this research helps you be prepared by knowing more about the other person. Although using LinkedIn is a good start you can take your research deeper by reviewing their social media accounts and using google to find out more about them.

Knowing more about the interviewer also helps reduce some of the anxiety that often occurs when meeting someone you don’t know.

Jon, a client of mine, used this strategy and found out that the assigned interviewer liked trail running, a pastime that my client also enjoyed. By bringing that topic into the conversation, Jon was able to establish and build rapport with his interviewer. The last 20 minutes of a 60 minute interview were spent talking about the different trails near the office. Jon knew the interview went well when his interviewer told him as he finished their conversation, “I can’t wait for you to start so we can go on some trail runs!”  Less than a week later he was offered a position at the company.

By breaking down the process, those with ASD or Asperger’s can make the job search process less daunting and more fruitful.  Remember that this is a skill that you can develop. The more you practice and implement it, the better your results will be.


Be Bold!

Ramon

How to answer interview questions like Steve Jobs

I came across this the other day and I thought it was interesting.  It talks about how Steve Jobs (founder of Apple), handled an insult wrapped around a question during one of his famous keynotes.

You can see the video here: Steve Jobs Response

Aside from masterfully handling the question, the key to his answer was that he took time to think about his answer.  Many times when we’re in an interview or other high stress setting, we feel like we have to say something, anything, otherwise we might look like we don’t know what we’re talking about.  

Part of having a successful interview is being able to manage it.  A good way to manage an interview is to make sure you control the speed.  If you ever feel like you don’t know an answer or don’t know how to articulate something, don’t be afraid to say so.  

Just like Steve Jobs, don’t be afraid to slow it down and pause in order to gather your thoughts during the interview.  Not only does it show that you are human, but also that you are thoughtful about how you come across and what you say.

Below are two ways to handle this:

Situation 1: They asked you something you haven’t considered before and just need a little more time to think about it.

How to handle it: “I’ve never considered that before.  Can you give me a minute to think about it?”  

Use this time to figure out the answer to the question.  I’ve even gone as far as writing on my note pad some points I want to make sure I cover.  You would usually use this when you know an answer but you want to make sure you are concise and not ramble.

Situation 2: They asked you something you have no idea about.  It can be something technical or maybe a weird interview question.  You’re pretty sure you don’t know how to answer this one.

How to handle it: “Can we skip this one for now?  I’m not really sure how to answer this”  You can also say “I’m not sure about this.  How would you solve/answer it?” If you aren’t able to answer the question later on in the interview when they ask you again you can always tell them that you’ll think about it some more.  Once you get home, send them what you think your answer should be in the Thank You email.

I’ve used all of these during interviews that lead to job offers.  Interviewers know that sometimes you may get caught off guard by some question.  They realize that you’re human so they’ll cut you some slack. Now if they ask you something  that will be expected like “What’s your biggest weakness?” and you don’t know your answer, then maybe you won’t make the great impression you’re looking for.  

Have you had an interview question you weren’t able to answer?  What was the question and how did you handle it? What was the result?

You can read a detailed run-down of the video here: Steve Jobs answers questions with grace


How realizing your value can turn into a promotion and a 7% raise

I love my dad.  I'm proud of my dad.  My dad is one of the smartest men I know.  The more I grow as a person, especially now as a father myself, the more I understand him and realize how awesome he is.  My dad can do everything.

Except negotiate.  He sucks at negotiating things.  

I remember one time when I was 14 and we went to the flea market (aka Farmers' Market for the fancy people out there) and  looking to buy a lawnmower. My parents had just bought a house so money was tight and he needed to get a good deal.

We walked around for a while until he found one he liked.  It wasn't pretty but it would do the job.

My dad walks to the guy selling it and starts his "deal making":

My dad: "How much for the lawnmower?

Lawnmower Guy: "$25"

My dad (acting like he's pondering some Shark Tank deal): "Can you give me a better price?

Third guy that shows up out of nowhere: "I'll give you $15 for it"

Lawnmower Guy (directly to 3rd guy and completely looking past my dad): "It's yours.”

Not only did someone literally bought a good priced lawnmower from under his nose, we ended up buying a crappier looking one for $25.

So even though my dad can do anything, I never had someone to show me how to negotiate anything.  I went through life accepting what I was given and hoping someone would notice and give me a little more (spoiler alert: no one did).

It's been a long time since that failed lawnmower negotiation.  At some point I realized that negotiating is a lot more than haggling some $25 purchase.  Negotiating is about realizing your worth to yourself and to the person at the negotiation table.

Obviously since then I've gotten better at negotiating.  Much better.

Just this year, through my interview and negotiation coaching programs,  I've coached 35+ people get dream jobs and helped them negotiate their salaries.  

Earlier this year I received this email from someone that gets my newsletter that I want to share with you.

A promotion AND a 7% salary raise

A promotion AND a 7% salary raise

Several things that are interesting in this email:

  • She never went and gave them an ultimatum ("Give me a raise or I leave!").  She instead made a business case for that 7% raise.

  • This wasn't about the money.  It was about her realizing her value to the company.

  • She went in looking for a raise and walked out with a 7% raise and an upcoming promotion.  Coincidence? Probably not. Sometimes employers consider you for better roles only after you show them how you contribute.

Learning about these types of successes from my clients as well as the subscribers to my newsletter make me very happy.  Has my newsletter helped you out with your interviewing or salary negotiation?  Let me know.  I would love to hear your story.

Be Bold!

Ramon



Interview Advice for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome looking for Fortune 500 jobs

Interviewing can be a stressful situation for anyone especially for those in the Autism Spectrum. However it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some tips, which I call the 3 P’s of Interviewing, you can use when preparing for your next interview.

Prepare

Most people don’t prepare for an interview.  Preparing for an interview means figuring out the logistics before the day of the interview.  As soon as I find out the details like time, date, location, and person I’ll be meeting with, I start preparing.  I make sure I clear out my calendar a couple of hours before and after so I won’t be rushed, I figure out how I will be getting to the interview (uber, drive myself, get a ride, or take bus), the best routes to get there, and start doing research on the job, company, AND the person I’ll be meeting with.  Many people forget that you need to build rapport with the interviewer so having a good idea of who they are, how long they’ve worked at their current company, and their career history (all things easily found on LinkedIn) can mean the difference between an offer letter or a rejection email.

Which brings me to...

Practice

A quick Google search can help you find interview questions that you can use to practice.  All you have to do is search “Interview Questions” + “Name of Company” and you’ll find the most common interview questions asked by that company.  

The next step is to write out your answers.  Most people “practice” interview questions in their heads, however they never develop the answer.  This gets them in trouble during the interview because all they practice were the high points and not the details that make up a good answer.

Once you’ve written out your answers, practice out loud with a partner.  This can help you figure out if your answer makes sense and if it gets the point across.  Your interview partner can also give you feedback on your body language and tone of voice.  

Don’t worry about memorizing a “script”.  You should focus on making sure your answers portray the real you and match up to the job description.

Positive (as in “Stay Positive”)

A “No” doesn’t mean “Never”.  It just means “Not right now.”  Use this opportunity to reach out and ask for feedback from the interviewer to learn where you can improve.  Most companies will provide feedback if you use the template below:

Send it directly to the people who you met with.

I've used this same exact email several years ago and I still think this last interaction with them made such a good impression that they called me back to offer me a new position literally 30 days later.   

You can use that feedback when you prepare for your next interview.  When you receive the response, a simple "Thank you for the feedback. I'll take this into account as I prepare for my other interviews." shows that you appreciate their input and that there aren't any hard feelings further cementing in their brains that you're a great candidate.

“Thank you once again for taking the time to meet with me yesterday.  It looks like I was passed up for the NAME OF ROLE at NAME OF COMPANY, which is unfortunate but there is always a way to make a situation into a learning experience.  As such, I would please ask that you provide me with any feedback you may have regarding our meeting and how I can improve in order to make a better impact either with NAME OF COMPANY or any other company I interview with in the future.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME”

When they respond, reply with this:

“Thank you for the feedback.  I'll take this into account as I prepare for my other interviews

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME”

Remember, finding a job you love is making sure you find something that fits your needs as much as them finding someone that fits theirs.  Make sure to test different approaches to find the one that best fits your skills and abilities.


Be Bold!

Ramon

How to create a resume when you don't have any experience and have ASD

This was a guest post I wrote for the AutismMom.com website where I walk you through the steps to creating the perfect resume for someone who is on the spectrum and is looking for a job.  I hope you enjoy it!


Many times those on the autism spectrum may not have much “official” work experience. This lack of work history can seem challenging when preparing a resume. However, there are several ways to turn your autistic youth’s unique experiences into a resume that will get an employer’s attention.

Focus on the Content

For starters, if the youth is applying for an entry level position or if your youth doesn’t have much experience, the format of the resume will be straightforward. You can see the image below for an idea of what it should look like.

Autism Resume.png



I won’t go into details since the format is self-explanatory. What we want to focus is on the content. The content, not the format, is what will get you the interview and soon after, the job offer.

Create a Deck of Accomplishments

The best way to start is by creating a “Deck of Accomplishments.” This is a list of any projects, accomplishments, recognitions, awards, scholarships, presentations, or experiences they’re proud of. At this point just create a list. You will pare it down and develop the ideas later on in the process.

Here is a sample Deck of Accomplishments

Sample Deck of Accomplishments.png

For this particular student, creating his Deck of Accomplishments lead us to find out that he had several interesting things he had done even though he had not officially held a job before. These included things like scholarships and honors, activities and interests related to his degree, school projects, and personal projects.

Sometime people have a hard time coming up with their accomplishments because they feel like they’re bragging. Don’t fall into this trap! Even small projects that may seem inconsequential can make a big impact on a resume.

Segmenting your Deck of Accomplishments

For things that are straightforward (i.e., scholarships), put them under the “Scholarship” section which is usually towards the bottom. However, instead of just putting the name of the scholarship, feel free to add some details.

For example, you can put how many people applied, the amount, how many times you’ve received it, and any requirements to apply like a minimum GPA. You want to add meat to your resume to make it attractive to employers.

Volunteer experience can also be attractive to employers. Again, focus on the work done and any transferable skills that another employer would find useful. Was the youth responsible for a certain task or area of a project? Were there any amazing results that came from their time spent there? Make sure you write them down.

Next up, things like personal projects can be a gold mine. Many times youth on the autism spectrum have personal or school projects they’ve worked on that they have spent many hours on.

The job now is to find the real lessons learned from the projects.

In the example above, one of the personal projects was creating a website where he took a deep dive into side-scroller video games, one of his personal passions.

Although an employer may not care too much about video games, they do care about being a self-starter, creating a plan, and seeing something completed to fruition.

Another of his personal projects was creating an app for his mom’s medical clinic. This is something definitely considered an asset since it aligned exactly with the type of experience potential employers would look for.

Even though he wasn’t considered an employee, based on the work done, responsibilities, and the deliverable, we decided to go ahead and put this and a volunteer role of “Website Manager” under “Work Experience.” Both of these projects aligned exactly with what future employers would look for since he was looking for software engineering positions.

Developing the Story

Turning bullet points on a resume into a story is my favorite part of creating. Remember how I mentioned earlier of thinking about the lessons learned when creating your Deck of Accomplishments? This is where you’re going to get into high gear.

For example, when creating the resume above, I learned about the app this student created for his mom’s autism focused clinic. He didn’t think it was worth mentioning it since it was work he did for his mom.

After we discussed it, we were able to present it as a long-term project, that he planned, directed, and delivered all of which were true statements. Also, these are all code words for “self-starter, “highly motivated”, and “detail oriented” all of which are skills highly desired by hiring managers.

Think about the skills that jobs like babysitting or lawn care create. Babysitting teaches responsibility, flexibility, and trustworthiness. You wouldn’t have much of a babysitting business if people didn’t trust you with their kids.

Even maintaining your own yard requires you to be detail oriented and consistent.

Remember, this is an exercise in “spin.” You don’t want to lie, however you also don’t want to sell yourself short. Even the smallest projects can deliver a powerful message. You just have to take the time to develop the story.

Conclusion

Creating a resume for someone who doesn’t have much work experience isn’t hard. It just requires time and some imagination. Remember, employers don’t expect an entry-level employee to know everything.

All they want is to hire someone who is hard-working, dedicated, and a self-starter. Focus on those transferable skills when helping your autistic youth create their resume.


This originally appeared on the AutismMom.com website

From C Student to the C Suite: A Book Review

I’ve read my fair share of “career experts” and “job gurus” who give advice that sounds good on paper.  Problem is, sometimes what sounds cool in theory doesn't work in "our" real world.

I remember this one book in college that was part novel,part career guide.  The book was how this fictional character overcomes the trials and tribulations of being a student who is trying to find his first accounting job.

Ideally you would read the book and then follow the steps the main character did and you would end up with a job.

This is a summary of that book:

1. Call your dad and have him introduce you to his friends, one of which is probably a partner at an accounting firm.  Why? Well because your dad is a partner at a law firm so he should know other professionals high up in their organizations.

2. Meet that partner at a country club where you both have been members for many years.  That will show him that you are part of the community.

3. Focus 100% on your job search.  If needed, take less classes on your last semester.  (No mention of what to do if you have a job while you're in school.  You don't need a job if your rich dad is paying for your college. See #1 above).

I'm sure this advice would work fine for some people.  

But what about the rest of us whose fathers aren't partners at their law firm, who don't have connections, and who have to work to survive, much less to be able to attend school?

And that's why I loved "From C Student to the C Suite" written by Tami Holzman.  Her no bs approach to succeeding in your career really resonated with the rebel in me.  

I want to share some great insights from the book that will help you get ahead even if you didn't get a fancy Ivy League degree.

1. Value Emotional Quotient (EQ) over Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Tami explains in great detail how even though intelligence is great, you do business with people so being able to connect with them is more important that trying to be smarter than everyone else.  

You've probably seen it in action where the people who aren't necessarily the brightest, somehow always know who to get in touch to help them out with a problem.  Strive to connect with people first before you wow them with your brain power.

2. Your past doesn’t define your future

She technically didn’t graduate from any of the four colleges she attended (she needed 3 more math credits) and still was able to deliver success to her employers and clients.

Many times we impose self limiting beliefs on ourselves because of what we have or haven't done in the past.  No degree?

No problem.  If you can deliver value to your clients, they really won't (or shouldn't) care where you got your education from.  The higher you go up in your career, the more you'll notice this to be true.

The book keeps it simple to where you don’t have to read some study to figure out what it means.  She lays it out in plain English so you don’t have to wonder what she meant. She talks about how she made a BFF (Business Friends Forever) over a bra mishap.

3. Ask for the sale

I love her approach for asking for the sale.  Just like interviewing, most people go into a meeting, spill their guts out and then just walk out without having asked for the job or the business.

You haven't done your job right if you don't ask for the sale/job before you leave the meeting.  

4. “Be Present: aka put your f*cking phone away”

The chapter title pretty much gives it away.  

By the way, this isn’t one of those theoretical, I’ve never tried it but it sounds good on paper books.  Tami is pretty straightforward with how she dishes out her advice and she doesn’t mince words.

This respectful, but candid way of writing is part of what makes this book endearing and useful.  There were times where I felt like Tami was sitting me down and just telling it to me straight on how to improve my career and life, f-bombs and all.

Do you want proof of how much I love this book?

This is the actual Amazon review I gave it:

Perfect book for anyone who wants to succeed without being put into a "box"

I recommend this book for anyone who:

A. wants to succeed despite not having the "perfect" grades/degree/experience (she doesn't even have a degree)

B. women who want to learn how to better sell themselves and reach the C suite (she uses all the tools at her disposal to move up while staying true to herself)

C. people who want to learn how to connect with others at networking events (great tips on how to start talking to people)

D. All of the above

As an interview coach that works with MBAs, this book will be recommended to all my clients, particularly the females. It's just an awesome example of how you are "enough" just by being yourself.

Also, the design was very cool. I would buy the book just to look at the "Tam-isms".

Get the book by clicking here!

As a side note, I reached out to Tami just to tell her that I love her book and she responded!  It’s always good to know that the truly successful people don’t just talk the talk, but they always walk the walk (in Jimmy Choo’s).

How to calm your nerves during an interview if you have ASD

When I was in middle school, I was part of the Gifted & Talented program also known as the GT program.  Basically they grouped all the nerds and put them in all the same classes that were more advanced. In those classes, one of my friends, let’s call him John, was at the top of the class in the grade rankings.  He was the school valedictorian if there is such a thing for a middle school.


Problem was, taking a test was a big deal for him.  He would get so nervous that he would literally vomit before a test.  On more than one occasion I saw him get beet red, sweating profusely, shivering like he was in the middle of a snow storm, and cry his way through a pop quiz.  


A similar situation happens to many people during interviews.  Even though everyone gets a certain level of nervousness, a portion of the population suffers from severe episodes of nervousness.

I decided to write down the 6 step process I recommend people follow to help them control and reduce the way nervousness affects them during interviews.  

Plan

Fail to plan, plan to fail.  Planning doesn’t have to be stressful.  Instead of thinking of all the things you have to do, focus instead on the process.  Just like a cake recipe, you go from one step to the next which leads you to the end result.  Consider the planning phase the read through of the recipe.

Research

Something I have found very useful to calm my nerves before interviews is to remove all the uncertainty from the situation.  Many people get nervous because they’re afraid of what the other person may think of them. These thoughts run through their heads until all we imagine them yelling “Get out!” in the middle of the interview.

What if instead of wondering what they may think, we do some research to get to know them better?  

Looking through their LinkedIn profile will give you some excellent clues on how they think and what they may ask you.  Write down what schools they went to, the companies they’ve worked at and things you find interesting. For example, if they got a degree in engineering but are now doing accounting, that career change may be something you can write down as interesting and ask them about.  Length of time at jobs, similar companies you’ve worked at and anything you think you two have in common. These are always good points to bring up during the interview.

You can also look at their facebook and other social media profiles to get a better idea of who they are.  I like to do a general google search and see what else there is about them online.

I’ve done this with all my other clients and it’s always amazing what we’re able to find.  One time we found a company newsletter that had a full article on the hiring manager and his how he did beekeeping as a hobby.  My client brought this up during the interview which immediately turned the interview into a conversation. Obviously the hiring manager was excited to talk about beekeeping as well as impressed that someone took the time to really prepare for the interview.  

Now instead of meeting a stranger, you’re meeting someone you kinda know.  This makes the whole interview a less daunting event.

Practice

Obviously practicing is important however there is a difference between practicing and rehearsing.  I don’t want you to memorize answers. I don’t think memorizing helps calm nerves because you might then worry about messing up your script.  Instead, create your Interview Theme which is how you want the interviewer to see you and practice the answers you think those answers would be to the questions.

Aside from our practices, you should practice on your own whenever you have some free time.  You can record yourself, do it in front of the mirror, with someone else as long as you’re able to practice out loud.  

You can use this free copy of my book to learn the framework to answering the most common interview questions.  

You want to practice so much, you’ll be able to improvise.  

Visualize

Visualization is something I feel strongly about.  I consider it part of your preparation since you are mentally practicing several scenarios in your head.  If any of those scenarios or even some you haven’t thought of, come up, you’ll be able to react accordingly because you’ve “been there before”.  

Below is an excerpt from the book The Power of Habit which has that story I use often during my one-on-one coaching sessions  about Michael Phelps and how he thought about his perfect swim every day since he was a teenager until he won 23 Olympic gold medals.  


“When Phelps was a teenager, for instance, at the end of each practice, Bowman would tell him to go home and "watch the videotape. Watch it before you go to sleep and when you wake up."

The videotape wasn't real. Rather, it was a mental visualization of the perfect race. Each night before falling asleep and each morning after waking up, Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. He would visualize his strokes, the walls of the pool, his turns, and the finish. He would imagine the wake behind his body, the water dripping off his lips as his mouth cleared the surface, what it would feel like to rip off his cap at the end. He would lie in bed with his eyes shut and watch the entire competition, the smallest details, again and again, until he knew each second by heart.

During practices, when Bowman ordered Phelps to swim at race speed, he would shout, "Put in the videotape!" and Phelps would push himself, as hard as he could. It almost felt anticlimactic as he cut through the water. He had done this so many times in his head that, by now, it felt rote. But it worked. He got faster and faster. Eventually, all Bowman had to do before a race was whisper, "Get the videotape ready," and Phelps would settle down and crush the competition.”

From The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg


Power Pose:  

This is something I also feel strongly about.  There is research that shows Power posing has immediate effects on your testosterone levels.  Just 2-5 mins of power posing can help you raise your testosterone (which helps you with focus and quick thinking).

From the Association for Psychological Science findings:

“High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.”

There are several moves you can try and the easiest is the superman/wonder woman pose.  This is where you stand up straight, shoulders back, eyes forward, feet shoulder width apart and hands on your hips (see wonder woman pic below).  Your head should be straight almost like if you had a string attached to the crown of your head that someone is pulling up.

Breathe either with your eyes open or closed in this pose.  I like to do it with my eyes closed and visualize but you can also just stare at your reflection or just straight ahead.

Power Pose.jpg

Breathe

Look at this video ( It’s only like 10 mins long.):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sgb2cUqFiY

It has a great presentation on how to correctly breathe. Practice this in the days leading up to your interview as well as the day of.

Be Bold!

Ramon

Companies that hire ASD candidates

Three weeks ago, I made my first ever trip to Columbus, Ohio to attend OCALICON (“The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference”).  I met great people and learned more about the challenges those with ASD face during their job search and about resources available to them.  

One question I heard throughout the conference to which no one seemed to have an answer was where to find white collar opportunities for those that fall within the Autism Spectrum.  I googled, emailed people, googled again and I couldn’t find anything that had all the resources in one place.

So, I decided to create my own!

Below, you’ll find a list of the companies that have dedicated programs for ASD hires.  I also include a job search site that compiles white-collar opportunities available for those with high functioning autism.

Although there are several companies that hire those with Autism, I focus on companies that: 1) offer opportunities specifically for those with high functioning autism, and 2) have traditionally “white collar” jobs available (think software engineers, data analysts co-ops, research internships, etc.).  I want to make sure that these jobs will lead to an actual career and not just a part-time opportunity.

The list includes the company name, a short description of their initiative, a direct link to their website, and a sampling of the opportunities offered (if available).

Feel free to click through the list to find the opportunities that most make sense for you.  If you know of a company I missed or if your company has a neurodiversity hiring initiative, send me a message to add yourself to the list (Ramon (at) PersuasiveInterview.com)

Company: Microsoft

Name of Initiative/Website: disAbility

Types of Opportunities available: Software Engineer, Compliance & Controls Analyst, Senior Designer - Skype


Company: AT&T

Name of Initiative/Website: Autism Internship

Types of Opportunities available: Pilot program with 3 spots in their Dallas HR Department

Company: SAP

Name of Initiative/Website: Autism at Work

Types of Opportunities available: Once on the website, you have to send them an email to find out about the opportunities.  I sent one about a week ago and have yet to get a response. I have already sent a follow up and will update this when I get a response.

Company: Hewlett Packard Enterprises (Australia)

Name of Initiative/Website: The Dandelion Program

Types of Opportunities Available: Currently a Pilot Program

Company: Ford

Name of Initiative/Website: FordInclusiveWorks

Types of Opportunities Available: Currently a Pilot Program

Company: JP Morgan-Chase

Name of Initiative/Website:

Types of Opportunities Available: Technology Analyst Program - Internship

Company: Google

Name of Initiative/Website: Google Inclusion

Types of Opportunities Available: Software Engineer, University Graduate, Data Scientist/Quantitative Analyst, Engineering, University Graduate

The Spectrum Careers:

This was an interesting website that I came across while doing research.  It has opportunities from tons of companies including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and many other household names.  The opportunities looked like they were only available for 2-3 days so if you see something, you should apply immediately.

https://www.thespectrumcareers.com/


Looking for a job outside of your comfort zone

Last week I was talking to a coaching client from RIT who was wondering if he should expand his coop search beyond his home state.  He feared that he would leave behind his support net from current family and friends if he went out of state.

Unfortunately, jobs aren’t always where you want them to be.  I was recently reading about plant closures and it is always interesting to read what those involved think is the best solution.  

From the article (emphasis mine):

Many Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have voiced their opposition to the plant closures and some lawmakers have insisted that GM find a new product to place in the factories it plans to shut down.

Sometimes jobs aren’t available where you live and that’s just life.  Instead of waiting for a job to open up where you live, you may just have to go find a job somewhere else.  The entire North American continent was populated because the predecessors to the Native Americans had to go where the food was. I bet they would have loved to stay in one single place forever, however that wasn’t an option so they moved to where the opportunities were.  

Although I didn’t have any connections, terrible grades, and didn’t have the right major, I was still able to get an internship with one of the top accounting firms in the world during a recession beating 300+ candidates who were better qualified than me (on paper) for that internship.  One of the reasons why I got it was because I was flexible in location. Instead of expecting or demanding that they give me an internship in Dallas or Houston (which would have been convenient since it was closer to school), I told them I would be willing to move to where the opportunities were.  They sent me to El Paso, Texas, literally 10 hours across the state from where school was and even further from my hometown.

Also, moving out of your comfort zone (or comfort area code) is a perfect opportunity to test your assumptions of what you like and don’t like.  

Your college years are probably one of the best times to venture out into the world and try new places, people, and opportunities.  You have to remember that a coop isn’t just about you getting work experience, it is also an opportunity for you to figure out if that’s what you want to do for possibly the rest of your working life.  I have known people who after finishing their internship, changed majors to completely different industries (think mechanical engineering to fashion) since they realized that although they liked the idea of what they did, they found out there was something else that they LOVED.  

During my tax internship, I found out that I liked doing tax forms but what I really LOVED was dealing with the people behind the numbers.  That allowed me to focus on that strength and made me realize where I could improve.  I think that realization has helped me guide my career and see where I could be useful to the places where I’ve worked.  

This isn’t to say that moving across the state or country will be the easiest thing ever.  In my particular situation( 18 years ago), after driving 10 hours nonstop, I had to find an apartment on my own (after the HR rep canceled on me) in a city I’ve never been to and in less than 1 day since I had to fly out the next morning to Chicago for New Hire Training.  

What did I do?

I drove to the nearest gas station, bought a paper map (remember those?) and a phone book (do those things still exist?) and started calling apartments close to my internship.  I drove to a couple of places, put a deposit down, unloaded my little truck and got my bags ready for my flight out the next day.

I learned so much about myself that day particularly that I could survive on my own.  If I could do that all on my own 18 years ago, I’m sure you can definitely do it today when your cell phone has maps and the internet.  

Don’t be afraid to look for a job outside of your safety net.  It may lead to great opportunities and to earned confidence.


The best salary negotiation resources you can use to be the best of the best

Several weeks ago I gave a salary negotiation presentation to the SHPE DFW chapter and it was a great turnout.  The group really enjoyed the material and as a bonus, I sent them a list of resources they can use to start developing their negotiation skills.  

Since the material was so good, I figured you would like to get it too.  The link below ncludes the slide deck of the presentation as well as a list of the top negotiation books you can use to get started.  Just this info alone will make you be ahead of your competition and is my gift to you.

You can access the gifts using this link:  SHPE DFW Bonus Gifts

If you have questions on how to approach your next negotiation or starting your job search, feel free to reach out to me.  I’m always happy to help.

Happy negotiating!

Ramon


How to ask for feedback when you don't get the job

 

No matter how much we practice and prepare for the interview, you won’t always get the job offer.  Unfortunately, most times companies let you know by a blanket “It just wasn’t the right fit” to let you know that you didn’t get the job. 

 Maybe it wasn’t the right fit however after 1 or 2 of those same responses we have to determine what we need to do better to actually get a job.  Problem is, most companies don’t give you feedback.

You should always ask for feedback after an interview

You should always ask for feedback after an interview

 Why companies don’t want to tell you how to improve

 The reason most people/hiring managers don't get honest feedback is because they're afraid the recipient will get 1. defensive and/or 2. litigious. 

 Think about it: How do you think someone who desperately needs a job will react when they are told “We don’t think you really told us about your work experience in a concise manner?”  They’re probably going to get defensive and then what was supposed to be a 10-15 min phone call is now an “incident”. 

 Here is another example: If you tell someone that’s older that they have “too much experience” it wouldn’t be hard for some lawyer to argue that they’re discriminating based on age. 

 Also, if you’ve ever been on the other side of the hiring table, you know that some truly terrible and disgusting people apply for jobs.  It would be easier and faster to tell them “It wasn’t the right fit” than spending 15 mins explaining why the VP of Tax who happens to be a female and your future boss, doesn’t like it when a candidate looks her up and down and then decides to act dismissive towards her during the interview (true story from different women and companies).

 So instead of dealing with all this, companies just avoid it by not giving feedback. 

Most people want to know why THEY didn’t get the job.  In reality, they should be asking how THEY can improve. 

 The right way to ask for feedback

 In order to avoid this, I created the email template below that shows that you are disappointed in their decision however, you respect their choice and want to know how you can improve yourself going forward.  Send it straight to the people who you met with and we'll see what they have to say.

 I have used personally as well as with my clients to get feedback after an interview didn't go as expected.  You can copy and paste and just make updates for the names specific to your situation.

 I've used this exact email several years ago and I still think this last interaction with them made such a
good impression that they called me back to offer me a the same position
literally 30 days later.   

 Also, no matter what they respond, take a moment to do a self-assessment and see if the feedback is something that you do need to work on.  Sometimes it’s useful information and sometimes it’s not. 

 For example, one time the feedback was that I didn’t have a specific type of tax experience which was a lie because we had talked about it during the interview and it was plastered all over the resume.  The company had obviously made a mistake.  Did I email them back and tell them so?  No.  I kept my word and replied with a simple "Thank you for the feedback.  I'll take this into account as I prepare for my other interviews."

That’s the same company that called me back to offer me the same job I “didn’t have experience for” 30 days later. 

 I turned them down.

 Have you ever received feedback?  Was it something you were aware of or was it something you’ve never thought you did during an interview?

 Be Bold!

 Ramon


Thank you once again for taking the time to meet with me yesterday.  It looks like I was passed up for the NAME OF ROLE at NAME OF COMPANY, which is unfortunate but there is always a way to make a situation into a learning experience. 

As such, I would please ask that you provide me with any feedback you may have regarding
our meeting and how I can improve in order to make a better impact either with
NAME OF COMPANY or any other company I interview with in the future.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

 

When they respond, reply with this:

 

Thank you for the feedback.  I'll take this into account as I prepare for my other interviews

 Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

How to look for a job

Many times people struggle with the looking for the job portion.  Back in the old days, you used to get a newspaper, circle the first “Help Wanted” ad you found (in red marker otherwise it doesn’t count), grabbed your hat and coat as your rushed out the door on your way to the new job.

 

Things are a little different now and your approach should be too.  You’ve probably heard about some job application that went viral resulting in the applicant getting a ton of job offers.  Either they made some YouTube video featuring a flash mob or some equally asinine idea. 

I’m not a big fan of gimmicky job applications.  You may have heard about people sending in a box of donuts with their resume at the bottom or people hanging out at an intersection wearing a bill board looking for a job.  Truth is, most of these people get more attention than job offers.  Also, most of those “job offers” aren’t usually for the jobs they’re looking for and instead are for hourly wage work.   This spray and pray approach leaves too many things out of your control. 

There are better ways to get your resume in front of the right people without having to appear on the 10 o’clock news. 

Here are some better approaches and how you can use them yourself.

Create a resume for a specific job

Instead of standing out on an intersection, you can make your resume stand out.  Nina Mufleh had failed to get any interest from Airbnb so she went back and updated her resume focusing on creating a format similar to what Airbnb’s website was as well as showcasing what she can do for them.  She sent it directly to the CEO of Airbnb who was obviously very impressed and set up an interview.

Why this approach works:

She tailored her resume for a specific company and showed what she can help them achieve.  Many times applicants focus on what they’ve done without considering what the company is looking for.  Yes you should talk about your past experience however you should make sure you correlate that to what the company is looking for.  Also, using the same resume for multiple companies is efficient however it also becomes generic.  You don’t have to do a complete revamp of your resume however taking the extra 10-15mins to align your experience to the job requirements can make the difference between getting a job interview or passing out resumes on the side of the freeway.

 

Getting in touch with the decision makers

Although sending a box of donuts with your resume at the bottom sounds like a foolproof idea, I would recommend against it.  First of all, getting your resume in front of HR isn’t really the point.  The point is for you to get an interview and then a job offer.  I personally don’t eat donuts so a plan of getting a box of them with the hopes that I read a resume that is at the bottom isn’t going to go far.  Second, just because you delivered a resume to HR doesn’t mean they’re going to consider it.  I have talked to enough HR pros who have told me that even though getting a box full of candy, confetti and a resume, donuts with resumes, or even a FedEx box with a shoe and the caption “I’m a shoe in for this job!” (get it?), elicits a chuckle and maybe even a thank you email, they never seriously consider those applicants since it reeks of desperation.  Thirdly, HR and Recruiters are gatekeepers.  They have the power to say “no” however a very limited range of what they say “Yes” to.  If you don’t fit their profile specifically, they can’t risk to make an exception.

Instead, reach out to a decision maker.  A decision maker is someone like a hiring manager who has the power to say “Yes” and make exceptions.  Even though a job description may say 3 years of experience, if a hiring manager feels you can do the job, they’ll make an exception.

The best way to find a decision maker, is to first find them on LinkedIn.  Basically use the job posting, go to LinkedIn, pick the company you are interested in, and figure out who would be your next boss.  Then look at the job description and figure out what the problem they’re trying to solve is.  Do some research online to find how that problem affects the company and would cause them to hire someone for that position.  The next step is to figure out how your skills and experience matches up to those needs.  You can use an email finding website to figure out what their email address is, and send them something like this:

 

Hi NAME OF PERSON,

I recently came across SOME ARTICLES RELATED TO THE JOB OR PROBLEMS FACED BY THE COMPANY.  I would love to set up a time to talk with you and discuss some of my experiences I have solving those same problems.  For example, at PREVIOUS JOB, I GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW YOU SOLVED ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THEY’RE FACING.

I’m available to meet on DAY AND TIME.  If a better time works for you, let me know and we can schedule it.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Why this approach works:

No one hires just to increase headcount.  Companies hire because they have a problem to solve and need someone to help them solve it.  By figuring out what the problem is, you demonstrate to the hiring manager that you “get it” and are already head and shoulders above your competition.  By giving them examples of how you’ve solve that same problem, you show them that you can hit the ground running.  I’ve used this same template to help many of my clients get a response.  My current record between sending an email and getting scheduled for a phone screen is 40mins. 

 

In conclusion, instead of wasting time trying to dream up some outrageous way to “be different” focus on the tried and proven methods of creating a resume that is specific to the job and reaching out the right way to the right people.  I’m sure your odds will be on your side.