Why do people lie on their resumes? As a recruiter, it makes no sense to me. More and more we are noticing people who “inflate” their skills, add a fake degree and/or increase their length of time at their last employer on their resume. The sad thing is, for the most part, they don’t have to go to such extreme lengths to get hired. Many times, these job seekers would be hired based on their real skill set or resume, if only they wouldn’t lie.
Have you ever listened to what people say? I mean, really listened? Over the last few years I have begun to pay attention to the language that people use in their job hunt and how it directly correlates to their effectiveness or lack of effectiveness in finding a job.
In my last article Proactive vs. Reactive interviewing, we discussed the difference between a proactive and a reactive interview. In this article, I wanted to give you an additional way that you can proactively approach your next interview.
What is the difference between a proactive vs. a reactive interview?
A majority of the job seekers in today’s market are passive interviewees who wait for questions to be asked of them (reactive). The difficulty with this style of interviewing is that you are waiting to be asked the “right” questions so that you can give the “right” answers. This style of interviewing is not bad or wrong, but it does make it more challenging to make your case on why they should hire you to the person who you are interviewing with. When you are interviewing from the “reactive” approach, you have little to no control over how the interview will go. It is also much more boring and tedious for the person interviewing you when they have to pull information out of you one question at a time.
A proactive interview, on the other hand, is one where the interviewee has talking points prepared about what makes them suitable for the position and finds ways to incorporate these points into the interview (see my earlier article on “Blocking and Bridging“). A proactive interviewee will also anticipate any possible concerns that the employer may have about their background such as lack of skills, movement on their resume etc…and will proactively address these concerns throughout the interview before the interviewer even has to bring them up. The great thing about this style of interviewing is that the interviewee will not have to be on the defensive when a touchy point is brought up because it has already been handled proactively by the interviewee. When you proactively interview, it makes the interviewer’s life easier because the interview flows more comfortably and it makes your life easier because you can more readily address the points you want to make the strongest case for why they should want to hire you.
Candidate “A” has a good resume, but recent movement on their resume.
The employer asks Candidate “A”:”Tell me about yourself?”:
“I have been in my field over 10 years and am good at what I do.”
“I have been in my field over 10 years and love what I do. One thing that has me stand out from others in my field is XYZ (talking point #1). Additionally, I wanted to point out that I do realize that I have moved around quite a bit recently and wanted to go through my history with you so that you can have a better picture as to why I have made some of these moves.” Candidate “A” then proceeds to clearly paint a picture that depicts their reasons for leaving (RFL), anticipating the employer’s potential concern about their movement (proactively addressing a potential concern AND saving the employer from painstakingly having to go through each RFL one by one).
As my examples above illustrate, proactive interviewing skills can easily enhance your effectiveness in your next interview and get you one step closer to that job offer that you want.
Reactive interviewing can put you on the defensive and have you miss key opportunities to strengthen your case for why they should hire you.
A few months back, right before the holidays, I had received a call from a job seeker who was referred to me. She was rather distraught that she had just been laid off right before Thanksgiving. She had a great resume with good stability and I told her not to worry, that I would do whatever I could to help her.
The next day, we met for coffee in at a Starbucks in downtown. She proceeded to explain that she had never been laid off before and didn’t know how to handle it. She went on to tell me that she was the breadwinner in her family, and expressed that this was extra difficult, with it being around the holidays and having two children to take care of.
Does this story sound familiar? It is a story that many a
job seeker I have met with has faced. I see it all too often where an
intelligent, capable employee is laid off or let go for some reason or another
and it proceeds to break their bank and their spirit. When someone is laid off
around the holidays, it can occur as even more challenging for that job seeker.
So how is this story any different than all the others out
there about unemployed job seekers who are despondent and do not see any access
to having their old career or any career back? This story is about perspective.
It is about how one’s perspective can shift the way a circumstance occurs and
in turn, shift the outcome of that person’s future.
That day, I sat there and listed empathetically to the story
I had heard all too many times before, but on this very special day, I decided
to offer some coaching that I don’t always offer. I asked her how that
perspective was working out for.
She replied “What perspective?”
I responded “The perspective that your circumstances are
outside of your control and that your holidays are going to be miserable, you
are bad and/or wrong for having been laid off and that you will never find
another job or at least not as good or well paying of a job.”
She laughed nervously, and then took a moment to think
about. “I guess it kind of sucks.”
“Yes,” I concurred, “It does, doesn’t it?” I continued on,
“Are you open to looking at this situation from a different perspective that
could give you access to having one of the best holidays of your life.”
She looked at me incredulously but answered with a slight
I went on to discuss with her how her thoughts and her words
were going to create exactly what she feared most: no job and no money for her
family. The only thing we have in life is our thoughts and what we say about
them. In her case, she was saying what many unemployed people say: “It’s hard,”
“I won’t find a job,” “I cannot find a job,” “I am not as young as I used to
What happens when we use this language and think these
disempowering thoughts, I explained, is that we begin to create that
disempowering reality as the truth. Most people sit around hoping for a miracle
or some even go out and aggressively look for a job “hoping” that something good
will turn out for them, but the language they use and the thoughts they think
are counter productive to their intended outcome: getting a job.
“So what do I do?” she asked. Well that is the question,
isn’t it? What can you do to alter the way you think, act and speak so that
your thoughts and words align with your intention?
“What would it be like,” I asked “If you shifted your
perspective and saw this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle?”
“I am not sure I understand,” she replied confused.
“When was the last time you had a month or more off around
the holidays with your husband and children where you got to enjoy every moment
“I cannot remember,” she responded.
“What if…you were to look at this lay off as a gift. A
chance to spend a month off with your family and to cherish every moment you
have with them and know without a shadow of a doubt that you will have an even
better job come the new year?”
“That would be a miracle!” She exclaimed. “How would I
possibly do that?”
We sat down and went through how to put together an
intentional action plan, including a statement of intent and a daily
declaration. That day, we created a statement of intent and a daily
declaration for Jane. By the time we completed our interview, she had access to a new perspective on
her job search and a new action plan on how to be effective in achieving her
was Jane. She was in tears. At first, I was worried that something had happened,
but through her tears she managed to get out “Jennifer, I want you to know,
that these are not tears of sadness, rather, they are tears of joy. Thanks to
your coaching and feedback I have had the most amazing last few weeks
celebrating the holidays with my family and that wouldn’t have been possible if
you had not helped me shift my perspective. I also want you to know that I have
not found a job yet, but it does not event concern me. I have been doing my
daily declaration and focusing on my statement of intent every day and there is
not a question in my mind that I will have a job come the New Year. Thank you
for what you taught me.”
Less than two weeks later, I got a call a few days after the
New Year and it was Jane, “Jennifer, I want you to know that I got a job, and
not only that, it is closer to home and pays me more money. Thank you for what
you taught me. I will always remember you.”
This story is an example of what you can get if you are willing to shift your perspective and is the opening story of my upcoming book “Stop Hoping…Start Hunting!” Stay tuned, as the book should be widely available by the end of this year.