• So if not me, who did get the job?

    When two candidates are equally experienced, equally credentialed, and equally capable, who gets the job?

    Well, when two companies have similar products, with similar ratings, and similar prices, which do you pick?

    If you think about it, you might say: “the one that wants my business more.” The saleswoman made an extra effort, or the people at the store went out of their way to be kind, or it’s as simple as they just smiled back and said “we’d like your business.”

    It’s no surprise: we prefer to buy from companies that make us feel like we’re a welcome part of their community.

    And who gets the job if the applicants are equals?

    The candidate with a passion for the business. A zeal for the industry. An excitement. An enthusiasm.  A zest for the art, and the craft, and the science, of what makes a company in the field succeed.

    In today’s economy — a sophisticated economy increasingly based on design, thinking work, proprietary creativity, and the ability to grasp and apply complex intellectual abstractions — the need is greater than ever for those who can… think.

    And thinking work is different from the typical jobs of even a generation or two past. A steel mill manager, a radio set salesman, or a train operator could measure their success in physical quantities: how much steel poured, sets sold, or tons shipped.

    In an information economy, on the other hand, the measures of success are increasingly intangible. The iPod was better than other MP3 players not because it had more, but because it had fewer buttons and features — the right buttons and features for music on the go. A restaurant chain displaces a competitor because it feels more (or less) like home. A shoe company thrives because it gives away half the pairs that you buy. Even vacuum cleaners, cars, and backyard grills are made, marketed and sold in ways that were inconceivable in the last century.

    Producing these products and services, consequently, is less a function of the volume of resources that are put in. In generations past, more raw materials, capital equipment, or men punching your time clock meant more finished products or services coming out the other side. Today, it’s often more important how little you put in, or how artfully you arrange the features.

    Finding people who can make those decisions well, and then execute on those decisions, is difficult for bosses.

    They have to figure out who is going to understand the customer better, the manufacturing process better, the marketing better, the interface better, and so on.

    What’s more, bosses need to determine who’s going to stick with it — there are a lot more forks in the road, and bumps along the way, in this intangible world. Perseverance through the inevitable fumbles and fiascos is needed because without perseverance there are no victories.

    And what bosses have discovered is that somebody who is passionate about the business tends to be a better employee and a better professional to work with.

    Because somebody who is passionate is inherently motivated, and internally driven to succeed, they try harder to find answers. They think up clever stuff on their own. They enjoy the business, and the customers, and the industry so much that they’re always discovering new things or perceiving additional ways that the business could succeed.

    In short, passionate people are better employees because they care more than dispassionate people. Passionate people care more than the average employee, they care more than the average applicant, and they care more than you.

    And that’s why you didn’t get the job.  It’s why you got passed over, turned down, or put in the “nice to have” pile.

    If you truly want success in this modern business world, you need to do what you’re actually passionate about. Otherwise, you’re just unfairly stacking the deck in some other applicant’s favor.

    I’m rooting for you!

    p.s. This guy, for example, is ridiculously passionate about his “special” job.

  • Don’t let a typo stop you from landing a dream job

    Our very popular Resume Reviewer launched for members two weeks ago.  The comments – “amazing”, “nice little tool”, “I wish I saw this before using my resume” and “didn’t find that tool very useful, other than reconfirming what I already knew, that I need a new resume” — were very much appreciated by us and will help us make Resume Reviewer even better.

    What really surprised us was your numerical feedback:

    87% of you said the feedback was helpful, and…

    86% said you were likely to update your resume based on our review…

    Chart showing that 87% of people found this feedback helpful.

    Charge showing that 86% of people would update their resume from this feedback.

    Those numbers are outstanding! And we’ll hope to improve our tool even more in the months ahead.

    One comment in the written feedback caught my eye:

    “What if your job accomplishments do not have quantitative results but rather are dependent on job functions. For example, Event Management is qualitative not quantitative – or at least, how do I reflect this on my resume?”

    My advice is to make your resume quantitative.

    We are paid a quantity of dollars in exchange for working a quantity of hours, or days, or weeks a year.  Our jobs are to utilize or manage a quantity of resources to achieve a quantity of goals, quality level, or customer satisfaction.

    *Everybody’s* job is quantitative.

    In the case of event management, you managed a greater number of events this year than last year, you earned more dollars from those events, or spent fewer dollars while generating the same level of customer satisfaction.  You attracted more people, or persuaded more celebrities to attend, or lured more sponsors, or got more press, at your events this year compared to last.

    There is *no* job on the planet that is not quantitative.  Even the pope and Bono have their annual goals.

    More importantly, if your competition refuses to use quantitative measures in their resumes, and you do, you’ll be way ahead.  And that’s because you will be communicating with your future boss in a language that she understands: dollar and cents, personnel and resources, customers and market share.

    Use our Resume Reviewer to find your blind spots and get ahead in the search this week!

  • I took myself out of the running

    Two of the joys of being in the career advice business are:

    1) Career advice is usually just “time spent in the field” meets “common sense.”  You know… the type of stuff your grandma would’ve told if you’d just taken the time to listen more carefully.

    2) It’s usually pretty easy to put the advice in play right away.

    So it was a familiar situation when an audience member approached me the other night to tell me he didn’t think he should go through with his interviews.

    After our conversation, it was great to receive his email the next week….

    We met briefly at last Wednesday’s Yale Tech meetup.  I was the one non-Yalie in the room, so nervous about a Friday interview that I was considering taking myself out of the running.


    Nerves notwithstanding, on your encouragement and the encouragement of many others, I studied my ass off and headed in for a full day of interviews on Friday. Long story short, I came home to find an offer in my email!  It’s a huge step forward in my career and is honestly more than I’d hoped for when I started looking around.


    So, I just want to say thank you very much for the helpful words.  They made a difference, and I’m going to be feeling that difference for years to come.



    One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself this holiday season, Readers, is to not take yourself out of the running!

    You may have very elaborate and seemingly powerful explanations for why it’s not actually going to work out, and why it’s much better for you to just quit now.

    Those explanations are usually just the normal anxiety of the job search getting the best of you. Ignore them, and keep on truckin’ ahead.

  • Check your resume for common mistakes with this fast tool…

    With our new Resume Reviewer, we can tell you in about 35 seconds where you’re getting it right and wrong with your resume…

    Get your free resume review in less than a minute here.

    Writing a resume can be confusing, but our new tool helps you understand how to think about marketing yourself, not just listing your biographical facts.

    It’s the difference between a billboard ad for the iPad:

    iPad billboard showing user with the iPad interface.
    And the 169-page (no joke) product manual for the iPad:

    Thick iPad user guide.
    Sure, they’re both about the same product, but one shows the benefits of the iPad…
    …and the other bores you in excruciating detail with every last fact there is.

    Same thing with your resume.

    Instead of trying to squeeze in every last detail, and responsibility, and result… think about how you can show the value that your experience will bring to your future boss.

    So please use our new Resume Reviewer to improve your chances of success and let us know how it goes!

  • Employers hiring in November 2015

    We have tens of thousands of employers looking for new employees on TheLadders in November and we could use your help.

    If you, or your friends or colleagues, could fit the bill for one of the below-listed jobs, please let us know by clicking through and applying.

    Wayne Cozad
    Wayne Cozad
    CEO at Cube Management
    Industrial – Aftermarket Sales Manager – LNG Pumps/Expanders – San Francisco, CA
    Industrial – Aftermarket Sales Manager – LNG Pumps/Expanders – Las Vegas, NV
    Industrial – Aftermarket Sales Manager – LNG Pumps/Expanders – Houston, TX

    Frank Merritt
    Frank Merritt
    CRMS, CITC, Senior Recruiter at Harvard Risk Management Corporation
    Professional Benefits Sales Consultant – Visalia, CA
    Professional Benefits Sales Consultant – Thousand Oaks, CA
    Professional Benefits Sales Consultant – Simi Valley, CA

    Crissy Camerota
    Crissy Camerota
    Corporate Recruiter at Pegasystems
    Lead Software Architect – Manufacturing – Cambridge, MA
    Lead Software Architect – Manufacturing – Bedford, NH
    Lead Software Architect – Manufacturing – Boston, MA

    Sundar wesley
    Sundar wesley
    HR Recruiter at Roljobs Technologies Services Pvt. Ltd.
    Manager of Human Resources – Biscoe, NC
    Human Resources, Manager – Biscoe, NC
    Sales Financial Analyst – Melville, NY

    Mritunjay MJ
    Mritunjay MJ
    Recruitment Specialist at Talent Hound Solutions
    Senior UI Developer – Raleigh, NC
    Senior UI Developer – Durham, NC
    Cloud DevOps Senior Manager – Cloud Foundry – Raleigh, NC

    David Molnar
    David Molnar
    President at National Register–USA

    Kim Fowler
    Kim Fowler
    Recruiter at Fowler Placement Services, Inc.
    Account Executive – Minneapolis, MN
    Account Executive – Irvine, CA
    Account Executive – Kansas City, MO

    Marilyn DiSalvo
    Marilyn DiSalvo
    Head of Recruiting at DiSalvo LLC
    Sales Representative – Englewood, CO
    Sales Representative – Centennial, CO
    Sales Representative – Littleton, CO

    Nancy Diner
    Nancy Diner
    Management Recruiter, CEO at Global Recruiting LLC
    EHS Subject Matter Expert w / SAP ( LLS ) – Chicago, IL
    EHS Subject Matter Expert w / SAP ( LLS ) – Houston, TX
    Smart Grid Practice – Manager, Utilities ( SLPA ) – Washington, DC

    Next Step Systems
    Next Step Systems
    President at Next Step Systems
    Full Stack Engineer – New York City, NY
    Database Engineer – New York City, NY
    Senior Engineer (Consultant) – Jersey City, NJ

    Have a great week in your search!

  • It’s not about me, it’s about you… the 21 questions you need to ask in a job interview

    It’s time for my twice-a-year update of the best questions for you to ask in an interview.

    I’ve put this list together because so often we can forget what an interview’s all about.  It sure feels like it’s about you, but it’s really not.

    An interview is actually about how you can help your future boss and future employer succeed.  It’s about finding out what their requirements and hopes are and matching up your background and experience with what they need.

    Overlooking these basic facts about the interview is easy. There’s so much else going on in your work, your life, and in your job search, that you can forget to look at the interview from the interviewer’s point of view. And that’s a shame, because you need the interviewer to walk away from the interview thoroughly impressed.

    When I ran these questions previously, commenter “spiderji” wrote in and said:

    Marc, I used some of your questions in a job interview today. When I asked how to get a “gold star” on the evaluation, the interviewers faces lit up!” I contrast today’s interview with others I’ve been on where I didn’t have any meaningful questions at the end. This one was electric! I won’t know the results for a couple of days, but if they hire me I’ll owe you a drink! Thank you!

    And reader “LBRZ” shared:

    I have to thank you!  I had an interview yesterday and it went great.  When I asked about his leadership style and reward system his face lit up like a christmas tree.

    After he answered the question “how can I help you receive your next promotion?”, he began to give me advice on how I should negotiate for a higher starting salary.

    And that’s exactly the point, Readers. By asking these questions, which focus on the needs, traits, and preferences of your future boss and future employer, you’re demonstrating that you are somebody who is genuinely interested in their well-being.  And the more interest we show in others, the more commitment they show to aiding our cause.

    With that in mind, here’s the twice-a-year update to my collection of “best interview questions” below. My aim here is to arm you with easy-to-ask, revealing-to-answer questions for you to take with you to an interview:

    1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like things are getting better in the economy and for your business?

    2. If I get the job, how do I earn a “gold star” on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

    3. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?

    4. About which competitor are you most worried?

    5. How does sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you’re interviewing for.)

    6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

    7. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?

    8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

    9. What are your group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company? What are the pain points you have to deal with day-to-day?

    10. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?

    11. What’s the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

    12. The economy has been getting better, and there’s a lot of hiring going on.  Why did you decide to prioritize this position instead of the many others you could have hired for?

    13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / “attaboy!”-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

    14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an “open book” shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

    15. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2016, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 14 months to make it successful? How does this position help achieve those goals? (This question helps show your ability to look beyond today’s duties to the future more than a year away.)

    16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for the company?

    17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

    18. What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the “perfect” candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see?

    19. What is your (or my future boss’) hiring philosophy? Is it “hire the attitude / teach the skills” or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise first and foremost?

    20. In my career, I’ve primarily enjoyed working with big / small / growing / independent / private / public / family-run companies. If that’s the case, how successful will I be at your firm?

    21. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I’m considering whether or not I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

    I hope you find these questions useful in your interviews, Readers!

    p.s. Do you have a favorite “must-ask” question? I’d love to hear from you… leave a comment below with your favorite question to ask during job interviews.

  • Why we let employers hire you without a fee

    Why do the top hiring professionals in the country choose to work with TheLadders? That’s easy:

    1. It’s free. It’s always free to post your jobs and search our resume database here at TheLadders, if you’re a hiring manager, HR person or recruiter.

    2. We’re a membership-based community. And that means we’re much better behaved than the average internet hangout. No spam invitations or weird requests to get in the way of their hiring you.

    3. It’s divided by pay-grade. Applicants can’t apply to jobs inappropriately, so there’s no big pile of spam applications for hiring managers or recruiters to go through. In fact, the typical job at TheLadders gets just 14 well-focused applicants.

    And that’s why the best corporate recruitment professionals and executive recruiters in the country use TheLadders for their hiring needs.

  • Please review the other applicants for this job first.

    Would you like to see the name, title, compensation, work history and educational background of each person applying to the same jobs you’re applying to here at TheLadders?

    Well, I can’t show you name, and sometimes I need to truncate the title in order to preserve anonymity, but our popular feature “Scout” shows you the compensation, skills, title, work and educational background as well as overall years of experience for each applicant to the jobs posted directly here on TheLadders.

    For obvious reasons, we can’t show you personally identifiable information like current employer.

    But for understanding how realistic your prospects are, and how stiff the competition is, there’s no better insight on the web. (Or mobile.)

    For example, here’s a closeup of the two parts of an applicant for a Director of Strategic Planning job:

    This person’s current title is Vice President of Marketing, their compensation is around $160K, and they have over 15 years experience.

    The other half of the graphic shows you the salaries, years of experience, and education level of all the applicants to the job, and where “you” place. (When you log-in to your account the “you” arrows will accurately reflect the information you’ve given us, so you can compare easily.)

    Here’s an applicant for a VP Technology job, with a degree from Cal and over 15 years experience:

    Or a candidate for a Regional Vice President, Sales job:

    Or a Director, Human Resources position:

    This information is helpful to you, because it allows you to understand the type of experience and background that others are bringing to their applications for the job, and the landscape of available options as the employer or recruiter may see it.

    From this, you’re better able to determine when you’d be a top prospect for a position, or, alternatively, when you’re kidding yourself about your suitability for a job. When every other applicant is much more experienced or at a higher pay-grade than you, it’s best for you to save your clicks for another day.

    And that lets you spend your time more wisely.

    Make sure you get all the advantages you need to get to the finish line in the job search by using “Scout” this Fall!

  • Yogi Berra gives career advice

    Yankee great Yogi Berra passed last week; if you’d have asked him, here’s the career advice he’d give you…

    “It ain’t over till it’s over”

    We get excited at the prospect of a new job — interviews have been going great, your future boss is a charm, and the commute is even five minutes shorter! What a perfect opportunity!

    But don’t take your eye off the ball until you’ve got the offer signed and accepted.

    Too often, I’ve seen professionals declare victory prematurely, let their other interviews slip, and wind up with an unpleasant surprise when their favorite job goes to someone else.

    “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

    It’s important to know where you want to go in your career and what your trade-offs are: are you more focused on broad exposure or narrow specialist experience? Do you want to manage or be a subject matter expert? Work at an agency or at a company? Value scale over a family feel?

    Many opportunities will present themselves to you over your career, and it’s easy to get distracted by the momentary glitter and flash of something new and exciting.

    But no matter how new and exciting it is, if it’s not a job that lines up with your desires and values, you won’t be happy in it in the long run. Make sure you know where you’re going if you want to get there.

    “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

    And as long as you know where you’re going, you might not need to be so particular about the specific path you take to get there. Yogi was reputed to have uttered this line in reference to directions to his house –either turn on the cul-de-sac led to his home.

    In the same way, if you have a good grounding, and a strong idea of where you’d ultimately like to end up, it might not be as important how and which way you get there.

    Even temporary setbacks, in this view, are just a momentary diversion on the forking, winding path to your ultimate success.

    “Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise, they won’t go to yours.”

    Friendships are mutual; you’ve got to do the unenjoyable favors if you expect others to be there in times of your need.

    Reaching out to the recently axed former colleague, taking coffee with the eager intern from last summer, helping the former boss with the presentation in your area of specialization, all these paybacks ultimately pay off.

    It is these small favors and urgent requests that are the building blocks of a long-standing supportive relationship. Be there for others.

    “You can observe a lot by watching.”

    Put Candy Crush down. Stop reading Twitter. Quit watching the game.

    And just watch the people around you. In the office right now. What are they doing? Where are they going? Are they happy, sad, frightened, victorious, confused, triumphant, uncertain, or bold?

    In meetings, take the time to look up from the agenda and your notes. Take a look at their faces and their expressions. Is there information available there that you can’t find on the printed page or backlit screen.

    You can observe a lot by watching, indeed.

    “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

    This Time magazine cover inspired me to learn coding in 1982:

    Time Magazine, May 3rd 1982

    I’m pretty sure the math adds up, so from my calculations there are more transistors in one new iPhone 6S than were on the entire planet in 1982 when I read this article.

    The pace of our tomorrows have only been accelerating, and the future is getting more and more different than our past. You can be certain of that in your life — how will you plan for it in your career?

    “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

    Dreaming a dream is wonderful. But without putting in the effort, you’ll never get to success.

    Wanting to get to a new place in your career is a job in itself. It’s not fair or fortunate, but the more you realize that sometimes it takes 140% to get there, the sooner you’ll be on your own winning team.

    Have a wonderful week in the search, Readers!

  • My single best tip

    In the decade I’ve been writing this newsletter, the single best tip I’ve given, that has come back to me over, and over, and over again, is this:

    When it gets to that part of the interview with your future boss where they ask, “well, do you have any questions for me?”, say yes, and ask:

    “How do I help you get a gold star on your review next year?”

    This bit of advice has helped more people in more interviews than any other bit of advice I’ve shared in the last decade that I’ve been writing to you.


    Well, the interview process lends itself to self-absorption. We spend so much of the time talking about ourselves that we sound like one of those people who talks only about themselves.

    Or, conversely, we become “job analysis engineers” and ask all sorts of questions about the job and reporting structure and how it fits in with the company’s five-year plan and so on. I love getting questions from candidates in interviews, but I do have to admit I feel that they’re not quite getting the point of a “face-to-face” interview when they pull out six pages of typed, single-spaced questions and promptly bury their nose in their papers without making eye contact.

    We get so obsessed with the details of the job that we forget about the work.

    Working together and being a good addition to the team mean being concerned with how you are making the team successful. And that means being concerned with how much you are helping to make your boss successful.

    Asking this question shows that you have empathy. It shows that you have an interest in your boss’ career and future success. It shows that you are not just a self-absorbed “what’s-in-it-for-me” kind of person. And it shows that you know you are there to “give” as much as you are there to “get”.

    Dozens of subscribers have told me how the interviewer’s face lights up when asked this question. I have heard time and time and time again from our six million subscribers how effective it’s been in interviews.

    (And, remember, you want the vibe to be a cool & relaxed Vince Vaughn, not an obsequious Steve Buscemi.)

    The gold star question is an easy tip to implement in your job search: it’s easy to do, easy to understand, and it’s easy to measure.

    And that makes it my best bit of career advice in over a decade of doling it out.

    So thank you, Dear Readers, for paying attention, trying it out, and letting me know how it goes…