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Thursday, November 13, 2014

To Get the Job, You Must Close the Sale!

Augusta National Golf Club is very well known for its exclusivity. Unlike most prestigious clubs, you can pretty much guarantee that you will not be admitted to membership if you even hint that you are interested in joining it. Everything is discreet, and membership is by invitation only. They must invite you…you do not ask to join.
The job and career search process is not at all like how August National operates. In this very strong buyer’s market, if you do not express your interest in joining the organizations where you interview, you can almost assure yourself of not receiving a job offer.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the number one rule of marketing is that when your demand conditions change, you must also change your promotional strategy. In the old seller’s market that existed prior to the economic downturn that began in 2008, there were more great jobs than great candidates to fill them. Companies were competing with each other to attract the best candidates for critical positions, and the best candidates often had multiple job offers. That changed as companies began to downsize, merge with others, or go out of business altogether.
While companies today still want to attract top candidates, for most positions there are more of them to choose from than in the previous market conditions. When a hiring manager has a choice between a great candidate who expresses interest in the job and one who gives no indication either way, the candidate who says that he or she wants the job will stand out more favorably than those who do not express interest.
There are a lot of nuances that can affect whether an interview goes well or not. Body language, eye contact, how you answer questions, and the questions you ask all play a big part in how you are perceived by the interviewer. Remember this: Companies want to hire people who want to work there, but hiring managers are not mind readers. Even if you answer all the questions well, ask good questions of them, smile, and have great body language and eye contact, if you do not let the interviewer know that you want the job, your chances of receiving an moving forward in the process or receiving an offer are slim.
You may be thinking as the interview comes to a close that you have really nailed it and that your performance could not have been better, but if you do not express that you want the job, the interviewer may very well be thinking that you are not interested at all. This applies to every position, but especially so to sales jobs.
In my recruiting business, the first and last counsel I give to every candidate I send to one of my clients is to listen well, ask good questions, and if they want the job, to say so. My clients who often hire sales people will not make an offer to any candidate who does not ask for the job. Their reasoning is that if the candidate will not ask for the job, neither will they close the sale with customers when representing the organization's products and services.
Of all the important steps in the interview process, candidates are typically more reluctant to “close the sale’’ than in any other part of the process. For many, the reason is that they simply do not know how to do it and they feel awkward. So, here is a very easy and effective method of doing it. As the interview is drawing near to a close, the interviewer will typically ask you if you have any questions or would like to add anything to what you have already said. This is your golden opportunity to say something like:
“I appreciate the time we have spent discussing this opportunity with (name of organizations). Based on everything I have learned about the job and the company on my own before today and what I have picked up in our conversation, I think there is a great fit between what I can bring and what you need in this position. I would like to take the next step in the process. How can I make that happen?” Then, do not say another word. Continue to smile at the interviewer. You have asked the closing question, and it is time for you to stop talking and wait for a response.
If you have done as well in the interview as you think, this may be the question the interviewer has been waiting for you to ask, and you will get a favorable response. Even if the interviewer does not give you any definitive answer at that time, you have planted the seed for moving forward. Quite often, in the post-interview discussions and deliberations about you after you leave (and there will be some), the question of whether you asked for the job will likely come up. More often than not, the interview process may involve three or more meetings with various others in the organization. You should “close the sale” in each step.
Interviews for the positions that you really want are not easy to come by in this market. You cannot afford to do less than your best in any of them. I cannot guarantee that you will get the job if you ask for it, but I can promise you that most of the other candidates are not doing it, and when you do, it makes you stand out in a very positive light. All other factors being equal, your odds just went up considerably.
Ken Murdock is the owner of Murdock & Associates Recruiters and New Wave Résumés. He recruits for the manufacturing sector, oil & gas, construction, and the packaging industry. New Wave Résumés offers professional résumés and interview coaching for executives, mid-level professionals, recent graduates, and anyone seeking to take their skills and talents into a new career.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why Your Resume Is Not Getting Results

This is a copy of an article I posted on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago.  If you did not see it there, I think it's worth repeating here...

As a recruiter and resume writer, I see dozens of resumes every day. Many of them are from candidates who want to make a career change and are responding to an inquiry from me about a job I'm trying to fill for one of my clients. Others are from people who want to change their resumes because what they have now is not getting them any results. Most of the resumes I see are not very good and do not meet the standards I have for anything I would send to one of my clients. It's not that they do not have the margins set correctly or the layout is sloppy. It's not even the information they contain that is the problem. The problem is what they do not have in them.

One of the first rules of marketing is that when your demand conditions change, you must also change your promotional strategy. Prior to the economic downturn in 2008, a candidate who had only the basic resume components of name, contact information, experience, and education could get interviews and probably multiple job offers. We were in a strong seller's market at that time and there were more great jobs to be filled than top candidates to fill them. The best candidates often had multiple offers in their field.

However, what worked then does not work now. We are in a very strong buyer's market now, which means that hiring managers can be very selective on who they choose to interview and hire...and they are, simply because there are more great candidates now than great jobs.

Despite this very obvious change in the market, most job seekers and even most universities (who really ought to know better) continue to use the same resume style and format that was effective in the long-gone seller's market. They simply put facts about themselves on the, contact info, education, and where they have worked, and they expect the reader to figure out the benefit that will accrue to them if they talk to and/or hire the candidate. It really doesn't work that way in today's market. If you don't also add information that gives the reader some good information about your "soft" skills, such as problem solving, creativity, tenacity, organization, attention to detail, and several others that may be specific to the job you are seeking, you cannot expect the reader to assume that you have these things going for you.

When we were in the strong seller's market, companies were mainly interested in skills, qualifications, and education. If the candidate happened to be a good fit into the culture of the organization, that was a plus, but the real focus was on whether the candidate could do the job. Today's market is much different. The challenge for recruiters is not in finding skilled, qualified, experienced candidates. There is a wealth of them out there and available. The challenge is finding someone who has all those qualities and who will be a great fit into the organizational culture.
Hiring managers are busy people. Running their businesses is how they make money...not by reading resumes and conducting interviews. Those activities are a necessary, but costly exercise that takes away from what managers normally spend their time doing. So, it only makes sense that for someone to take time to consider a candidate for an interview, that candidate should give them some good reasons for wanting to talk to them.
An effective resume today is one that makes it plain to the reader what benefits will accrue to them by talking to the person that the resume represents. If you cannot make those benefits obvious on the resume, do not expect the reader to realize them from the information you have presented. Adding those benefits is the first change I make to any resume I make for job seekers as well as those resumes I send to my recruiting clients. The results have been significantly better for those candidates whose resumes reflect benefits than for the candidates who focus only on the facts about themselves and expect the hiring manager to read between the lines and recognize the benefits for themselves.


Ken Murdock is an author, speaker, recruiter, and resume writer.  More information is available at and