Job Search: Don’t Get Hung Up On The Phone Screen

Phone InterviewCountless times, I’ve heard clients say to me “It’s just a phone interview.” Just a phone interview! Like it’s no big deal. Well it is a big deal, because if you don’t make it through what’s also known as the phone screen, you don’t get the face to face interview, which means  you also don’t get the job.

The phone screen has become a rite of passage for someone making a career transition. Before a recruiter decides to advance your resume to his or her client, before an HR professional sends you to the hiring manager, before a hiring manager takes the time to meet with you in person, there has to be a phone interview.

In today’s competitive market, the phone screen is necessary to whittle down the pool of candidates. Without some sort of screening mechanism, no work would be done, there would just be interviewing. That means the phone screen is not to be taken lightly.

A common mistake made by job seekers is not taking the phone interview seriously enough. How do you prep for a phone interview? The same way you would get ready for a face to face encounter. Research the company, prepare to answer questions about your background complete with anecdotes, and have questions ready for the interviewer.

The disadvantage of a phone interview is you don’t have the visual cues like body language to see how your answers are going over. But there are some benefits. You can have notes in front of you that highlight your successes and why you’re a perfect fit for the position. In addition you can have your own questions written out so you don’t forget to cover everything.

Another thing you can do on a phone interview that you can’t do in person, without looking mildly insane, is to smile and stand up while you’re speaking. Smiling and standing dramatically improve your delivery. Smiling adds a positive energy to your voice while standing adds more power. They’re two simple tricks, but if you’re doing them and your competition isn’t you’ll be the stand out candidate.


The Truth About Job Hunting

We had an inquiry recently from a potential client who said that he wanted to hire someone who would do EVERYTHING for him and find him a new job. Of course my response to him was that no one, other than he himself, can actually land his next position and here’s precisely why.

While a top notch professional resume, bio and career coach can help you reach your career goals faster and with less stress, the bottom line is that once you have the tools and knowledge, finding a new position is primarily determined by your own motivation. As Zig Ziglar puts it, “your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

This is paramount to understand when undertaking a job search because a successful transition  requires a disruption to most peoples’ comfort zone. There is no magic bullet or secret technology that can just make it happen regardless of what some in the career services industry are selling.

You should be wary of any organization or individual claiming they will do the work for you. Often times organizations will say that they will place your resume in front of targeted decision makers from their network. This is when you should delve deeper and start asking questions. Find out if they personally know these decision makers, or if they’re just pulling executive names from a database to which they have access. Also, ask about how they will be delivering your resume. Will it involve a personal introduction or are they planning on distributing your resume en mass? We all know how well those bulk mailings, e-mailings or faxings work – NOT, especially at the executive level.

There is a group in the career industry who will represent you, legitimate recruiters will present you to a decision maker if they’re running a search for a position for which you’re well qualified. You can judge the authenticity of a recruiter by the way they’re paid. True recruiters will not charge the job candidate a fee for services because the company that the recruiter is working for will be footing the bill. But a recruiter is only interested in you if you’re a perfect fit for a position they’re trying to fill. To get the most exposure, you’ll need to work with several recruiters as well as on your own behalf.

As is often said, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Remember no one has more incentive to find you your next position than you do and while working with an expert in career transition can absolutely make you more effective in achieving that goal, you’re still going to have to do the leg work. As essayist John Burroughs said “For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work . . .”


Answering The Salary Question

“How do I answer the salary question?” From seasoned executives to professionals just beginning their climb up the career ladder, that is the number one most dreaded question and the one most frequently asked of me by my clients.

When it comes to our salaries and compensation packages, even the fiercest negotiator who is comfortable navigating through multi-million dollar deals, turns from a lion to a lamb when the transaction they’re negotiating involves their own livelihood.

What makes it such a difficult question? Well, first of all, it involves each of us personally and directly (there’s some ego attached as well). Secondly, most of us are not comfortable talking about how much we make. But thirdly and perhaps the most prevalent reason is the fear that we’ll come in too low and leave money on the table or come in too high and lose the opportunity all together.

The answer oftentimes depends on how the question is framed. If the hiring manager asks you, “What have you been making?” that’s easy, tell them. The company can always ask to see your  previous W2 forms anyway. Once you have the offer, it’s reasonable to request an increase by explaining that one of your goals with this career move is to improve on your previous compensation.

The harder question is, “What are you interested in making?” Before answering this question, you should do some research on the position, location and industry, using such tools as or In this way, you can get a general idea of what the market is paying for the type of position for which you’re applying, thus enabling you to develop a reasonable answer to the question.

There’s a saying that he who gives the first number loses. However, when you’re working with a recruiter, the salary question is what determines if you’re playing in the same ball park or in an entirely different league. When speaking with a recruiter, tell them what you’re looking for so you don’t waste each others time.

If you’re talking directly to a hiring manager (rather than a recruiter), sometimes you can put off answering the salary question by suggesting you need to know more about the position and duties before you’d be able to answer the salary question intelligently. But if that doesn’t work and you’re forced to name a figure, giving a range is also an acceptable option. Just make sure the low end of the range is a figure that’s palatable to you, because that may be the figure you see when you receive the offer from your prospective employer.