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The Language of Career Search

By on June 24, 2014

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Does your job search feel like it’s happening in a different language?

Every field of endeavor has its own unique language, or jargon. The business of career search is no different, especially when certain information is conveyed by company representatives.

The Language of the Career Search

Let’s first examine the anatomy of the interview process itself. For example, the word interview, in my opinion, has dual meaning. It may be the interviewer’s intent to conduct a fair and impartial fact-finding meeting, but the interviewee should realize that it is actually a sales presentation. You are the product and the mission is to get the prospective employer to buy! I have long advocated this approach and Jeffrey Fox, the best selling author of the re-titled “How to Land Your Dream Job” concurs. Mr. Fox extols the virtues of this technique and believes strongly that all that applies to a sales call for a professional salesperson can be translated to the career seeker attempting to gain the favor of a Hiring Executive.

The sales professional will routinely present the features and benefits of a particular product and then try and close the sale. Beginning with your resume, the process of securing the interview, subsequently scoring the offer, and negotiating for the desired compensation arrangement is similar.

I recommend phoning Hiring Executives directly using a feature, accomplishment and benefit (FAB) presentation including a brief introduction and ending with a trial close. You will inevitably meet with the challenge of trying to get through to the person who can pull the trigger on a hiring decision. That’s right, the dreaded voice mail! By the way does anyone really believe that when the message finishes with the words “and I will return the call as soon as possible” that it is the intention of the deliverer to actually do it? Perhaps it’s just a force of habit, or worse, just empty rhetoric.

In career search terminology, features are defined as where you have been and which positions you have held, nothing more. Accomplishments must articulate your successes and triumphs in bottom line dollars. And the benefits need to relate specifically to how your previous achievements can improve the company’s business outlook. Note: depending on the manager’s specific needs, you may also appeal to the individual wants of the boss. For example; reducing the stress in one’s life, helping to get one promoted or affecting one’s compensation scenario can be reasons to hire also.

While closing for an interview you will undoubtedly encounter opposition with statements such as “send a resume” or “why don’t you call Human Resources”? What do they really mean? Rarely, if ever, are they meant to encourage you. And as Mr. Fox states so eloquently in his book, certainly do not waste your time and actually send your resume. If you believe a Hiring Executive instructs you to call HR with the intention of scheduling a meeting, I have some swamp land in Florida I’d like to sell you. Have you heard “but, we have no openings?” I submit this translates to “you haven’t convinced me I should see you” and probably that you need to do a better job of portraying how exactly it is you can help.

How about on your resume where it says Summary or Objective? If they don’t, I suggest what they should mean is “the next paragraph describes why exactly you should hire me” or at the very least “this is what I can do for you.”

Have you heard the title HR Recruiter? With respect, this is a conflict of terms. Human Resource professionals deal with employee relations or organizational development and possibly compensation or benefits. They are not trained professional recruiters. Their mission is to interview and screen out candidates. They are gatekeepers. A recruiter directly sources talent.

Often times you’ll hear an HR representative say they “hired” someone. Translation; they interviewed and forwarded the information to the hiring manager and maybe did the paperwork. A recruiter will sometimes say they “hired” someone. Translation; they sourced the person, closed the manager on scheduling the interview and that person did the hiring.

“Hiring Manager” could mean that they really are, or that the decision will be made by committee. In larger corporations with their many layers this is often the reality. Be innately aware of who actually makes the call.

During the “close” portion of the interview and after you’ve summarized your accomplishments and made your case for how the company will benefit by hiring you, you shake the hand of the interviewer. You may hear “we’ll get back to you.” I’m not sure you should hold your breath. It likely didn’t go all that well.

If someone does call back with a turn-down, you may hear that “your just not a fit” for this particular position. I’m not really sure exactly what this means. However most likely it refers to your being too old, too strong; in other words more competent than the interviewer or that your style won’t work there. That could be the fact!

One of my favorites is the often used “overqualified.” What business professional wouldn’t hire someone more qualified than the job specifications require? Assuming the candidate understands the compensation level of the position and pursues the opportunity aggressively, I contend overqualified is significantly better than under qualified and certainly more desired than minimally qualified. Read between the lines. Overqualified means either too old, you’re making too much money or you’re a threat to the boss. Sure signs of a weak manager, one who is afraid of the consequences of hiring a star or lacks self confidence.

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