• I don’t want to admit how hard this is

    You just can’t believe it.

    After the years of studying, and paying your dues, and working your way up the corporate totem pole, you’ve decided that’s it’s time to find new horizons, a new environment, a new place where you can spread your wings and fly… a new gig.

    I mean, it’s been years and years of working and who knows how many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ve already put into your career. In some sense, it’s the most important investment you’ve ever made — that investment in yourself to become one of the top professionals in America. When you’re making over $100,000 per year, you’re in the top 10% of the American workforce, and it sure feels like it has been a slog to get here. So you can’t admit to yourself how hard this job change thing is.

    It’s simply unfathomable that your experience, your insights and background and connections, have led you to this: the job hunt that you can’t figure out.

    You’re supposed to be the bread-winner of the family, or at least a big contributor. Your spouse, your kids, your dog… it’s just assumed by everybody (including you) that you’ll take care of them.

    And so now that you’re supposed to have it all together and calm and cool and in the bag and you don’t, what are you supposed to do? With this job search stuff, how are you supposed to know? With your career and your sanity in the balance, how are you supposed to find your next job?

    It’s difficult to admit to yourself how hard this is.

    You know, doing something new in any other aspect of your life is pretty straightforward.

    You want to learn golf, you take a few lessons and hit the links. You want to install a garage door, you surf the net and follow the instructions.

    But now that you’re faced with finding a new livelihood… it seems like there’s nothing to help.

    So, look, Readers, there are only two ways through this thing: hard work and a plan to get smarter and smarter about what it takes to succeed in the job hunt.

    For the hard work, I’m going to have to count on you to put in the hours and the effort to get there.

    For the smarts that you need to succeed, we can help. We’ve hired the best writers here at TheLadders to craft for you literally hundreds of articles on almost every facet of the job search.

    So I thought I’d pull fifty of the best articles we’ve written recently and share them with you in order to get your 2011 job search off on the right foot. Don’t try to read them all at once — just pick one article per day and before long, you’ll feel much more comfortable, secure and smart in your high-end job hunt…

    OK, folks, good luck with getting smarter and getting motivated this week in your job search!

  • Job boards are broken

    If you’ve been looking for a job recently, you’ve discovered the ugly truth: job boards are broken.

    They don’t work, they don’t help, and they aren’t getting you where you need to go. Sure it sounds nice in theory — making it so easy to apply to jobs for anybody from anywhere at any time.

    But the truth is that the Internet has made it too easy for anybody to apply to any job.

    So what happens? Everybody applies.

    The typical job posting on Monster or CareerBuilder can get hundreds of applications, which means talented professionals like you can’t stand out from the crowd of student drivers, stand-up comics, and late-night janitors who have also lobbed in an application.

    And recruiters and hiring managers have discovered it as well. Job boards are broken for them because when they have an important position to fill, and only a little bit of time to do it, they don’t have hours and hours and hours to sort through all the inappropriate applications that come to them over the internet.

    I mean, c’mon, how many folks do you know in HR with tons of extra time on their hands these days? With all of the budget cuts over the past few years, they have less time than ever for each job they’re working on.

    Job boards are broken… and that’s why we do things differently here at TheLadders.

    I’ve been in this business for over a decade and have crisscrossed the country speaking with job seekers like you. Just like the snowflakes, each one of us is unique — we’ve got special backgrounds, a twist on our experience, or insights that nobody else has. It’s this special background, after all, that makes you so valuable to employers.

    So my colleagues here at TheLadders and I want to make your job search strategy as attractive as you are as a professional. We want to help you emphasize what makes you a better person for the position than all the other applicants — your search should be as special as you are.

    Are you doing the most to make yourself stand out? Are you taking the right steps to make yourself more attractive?

    Is your approach on the phone, in email, in person as effective as it could be to make yourself stand apart? Are your marketing materials (your resume, your interview answers, your interview questions) designed to make you irresistible to your future employer?

    If not, if you’re just another form to be processed, another LinkedIn profile to be stacked up, another in the long line of applicants to be weeded out… you’re not making your job search as attractive as you could be.

    And that’s why job boards are broken… by shoe-horning you into the same cattle chute as all the other applicants, job boards fail at the essential task of highlighting your special experience and background.

    That’s why we take a different approach to connecting job-seekers and opportunities.

    We have at least two human beings screen every job before we let it onto our site to ensure it pays over $100,000 per year in salary and bonus. And we have a team of people that reviews every job-seeker, every company, and every recruiter to ensure they are appropriate for our $100K+ community before they are allowed onto our site.

    That’s why we focus on making your job search more effective through articles and advice tailored to the $100K+ job search, professional resume writers who know how to make you stand out, and a personal Job Search Advisor to help you get the most out of our site.

    Folks, we all know job boards are broken. Let’s start fixing your job search today in order to make 2011 a great year for you and your family.

    I’ll certainly be rooting for you!

  • Be more attractive

    ** From my weekly newsletter to TheLadders.com subscribers **

    We’ve dug ourselves out of last week’s “Snowmageddon” here at TheLadders’ Manhattan headquarters…with the streets cleared and another year behind us, we are ready for a great 2011!

    And I’ve got great news for you. Starting this January, when you upgrade to Premium with TheLadders, you’ll be assigned your own Job Search Advisor. Their goal? To help you make yourself more attractive to $100K+ employers.

    You see, when you’re approved to join TheLadders.com, that already means you’re in the top 10% of professionals in the United States. And many of you have unique backgrounds that require a customized and effective job search to take full advantage of the skills and experiences that you offer to employers.

    And as we’ve mentioned in our best-selling book “You’re Better Than Your Job Search”, you may know all about your profession, your industry, and your job, but the typical professional in the United States doesn’t have much experience in the 21st century job hunt.

    That’s why we’re putting people back into the job search, and that’s where your Job Search Advisor comes in…

    Your welcome call. Your Job Search Advisor will give you a call when it’s most convenient for you, confirm the type of position you’re looking for, and give you a walk-through of the site to set up your account!

    Setting up saved searches. It takes a bit of expertise to get your saved searches to produce exactly the types of positions you’re looking for. Even if you’re a technical whiz who regularly writes your own Boolean search strings with multiple dependent logical operators, the specific word choices that make the most sense for your job search are dependent on the types of words that recruiters and HR managers use to describe their positions. Your Job Search Advisor will help get you the best fit for your type of position.

    Follow recruiter. Do you wish you could find out immediately when recruiters that you are interested in have new jobs? Well, “Follow Recruiter“, our social-media feature here at TheLadders, lets you do just that. Your Job Search Advisor will help get you started with getting instant updates from recruiters that have jobs for professionals like you.

    Educate yourself. We’ve written over one thousand articles on the $100K+ job search in just the past two years. Your Job Search Advisor will help you find the articles in our Career Advice section that you need in order to educate yourself on your specific job search.

    Available to you. After your initial call, your Job Search Advisor remains with you for the rest of your stay with TheLadders. If you have any questions about the site, how to use the product, or where to get the best information for your specific job search, please feel free to reach out to your Job Search Advisor — their picture, phone number and email are right on your homepage.

    All of our Job Search Advisors are located right here at our New York City offices — that makes it easiest for us to share best practices, and diagnose the best fixes for your job search. We’re putting people back into the job search because the process has gotten to be a black hole.

    OK, Readers, here’s looking forward to a wonderful year for you!

  • What’s a Twitter for?

    ** From my weekly newsletter to TheLadders.com subscribers **

    Twitter has been in the news this month for raising money at a $3.7 billion valuation — a number that clearly shows its backers think Twitter has a bright and important future ahead of it.

    One year ago, during this sleepy week between Christmas and New Years, I told you that I was signing up for Twitter and would see how much of a help it could be in the job search.

    If you check out my Twitter profile, you’ll see I’ve tweeted 1,380 times this year, attracted over 10,000 followers, and have had a great time learning about this new tool.

    In relation to your job search and how you can use Twitter, here’s what I’ve found:

    * Job listings and recruiters actively looking for somebody like you are relatively rare on Twitter. So it’s not going to be the place where you score a hot lead on a new job. (For that, you’ll need to use our “Follow Recruiter” feature on TheLadders.)

    * Thought leaders from a wide variety of industries and fields are common. And they’re active in sharing little bits of information and insights on Twitter. Following the prominent people in your field is a really fantastic way to keep abreast of industry developments and information.

    * It’s very easy to get the attention of important people on Twitter — if you have something to say. I’ve seen my Twitter friends pick up on new people and new voices very quickly — provided that their insights are interesting or noteworthy. For those who find “networking” at cocktail parties daunting, Twitter can prove to be a fantastic way to get your name out there and make interesting connections without leaving home.

    * While I’ve helped out on a dozen or so customer service matters over the past year, in general, it’s much faster to go direct! E-mailing “help@theladders” or calling us is the quickest way to get the help you need.

    So, overall, I would say that Twitter is an interesting tool for people looking to raise their exposure or stay on top of their industry. As a job tool, it’s part of the slow, dedicated work of building your personal brand, not a quick fix to get your search jump started.

    OK, Readers, just a few days left to get rested up for the new year! From what we’re hearing from our corporate customers, it is going to be a big one!

  • I think a recruiter is reaching out to you

    ** From my weekly newsletter to TheLadders.com subscribers **

    We’ve added a great new feature to TheLadders.com web site this week. We’ve heard from you that you’d like to hear more from recruiters and, with this new feature, connecting with recruiters becomes a whole lot easier. Now, each time a recruiter finds your resume on TheLadders and wants to reach out they’ll send you a Connection Request. This Connection Request comes to you in your email. The email will be addressed from TheLadders so make sure to keep an eye out for it.

    Once you open the email you will be able to quickly see which recruiter contacted you and whether or not they had a specific job in mind for you. From there you’ll be able to respond directly to that recruiter simply by clicking the Reply button in the message itself. Clicking Reply will take you to TheLadders.com and your Inbox.

    You’ll have the choice of telling the recruiter whether you are interested in hearing from them or if you’d prefer not to connect at this time. If you tell the recruiter you’re interested you’ll also be able to tell them the best way to contact you — phone or email. If you’re not interested, we’ll ask you to tell the recruiter why you don’t think this is the right time to connect. By providing this feedback to recruiters they will be able to understand your needs better and contact you with more appropriate jobs in the future.

    And going forward, your Inbox is now always available on the homepage of TheLadders.com. It will contain any Connection Requests recruiters send you as well as invitations from recruiters to follow them. In addition, communications from your resume critiquer and writer will also be available in your Inbox. In other words, all communications from TheLadders.com regarding your job search will now be found on your homepage. A counter on the Home tab always tells you how many messages are awaiting your review.

    It’s important to note that when recruiters are reaching out to candidates like you for their open positions, they’re often looking to fill the role very quickly. Make sure you’re checking your email and TheLadders.com Inbox on a regular basis so that you don’t miss these important communications. As always, your Job Search Advisor is ready to assist if you have any questions or concerns. You’ll find their name and contact information immediately under their photo on the homepage.

    Our team here at TheLadders has been working hard all through this fall to get these new features available to you for the new year. Please join me in thanking Jeff Gothelf, Sherry Li, Adrian Jank, Greg Jones, Jeegar Maru, Gustavo Medina, Susanne Abdelrahman and Dustin Lucien for their excellent work on making it easier to connect you with the recruiters looking to hire professionals like you!

  • How I hire

    I sat down recently with Adam Bryant of The New York Times, who writes the “Corner Office” feature, to discuss management and hiring. I thought I’d share a bit of the article below, and you can see the entire interview at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/business/12corner.html (registration required).

    Q. What was your approach when you started TheLadders seven years ago?

    A. It became a matter of figuring out how to build a team and share with them what inspired me to start the company. There’s a quote from the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that really spoke to me. It says, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

    So the management style that I have is first, share your passion. Explain to people why it’s an exciting idea and how they can be involved in it. In an entrepreneurial business, the most important thing, the thing that creates the most excitement and value and interest in the business, is the big picture — where are we going. You can destroy little bits of it by all these little errors that you make. But if you fix all of them and you don’t have the big picture, then you’re never going to get there. Really engaging people in that big picture is way more important, I think, to success.

    So I’ve learned to do the big-picture stuff, and I can be really great at the analytics — sitting down and running the numbers. What I’ve had to learn over time is the middle part about, O.K., how do you build a team? How do you assign a team to do something? How do you give them enough rope to be successful, and when do you take it back? The middle part has been trial and error for me.

    Q. Talk more about that.

    A. At 30 employees, you can kind of still be an entrepreneur and see everybody and bark out orders. Beyond that you really can’t, so you have to decide, “Hey, is this what I want to do?” There are many serial entrepreneurs and they go on to the next thing and that’s great. For me, this is something I want to be involved with for my life. And if I’m going to be the manager, I ought to learn more about managing.

    Q. How did you learn to do it?

    A. Getting a coach is the best thing that you can do. I’ve done four years with two different coaches, and it is just fantastic. There’s what you say and there’s what people hear, and the gap between those two is sometimes enormous. What really matters is what people hear, not what you say.

    Being a manager also isn’t about trying to become perfect. You’re not going to stop making errors. But it’s about having a mature appreciation for the fact that you’re a flawed human being. Probably everyone around you is a flawed human being. What are your flaws and how are you going to manage around them? What are your strengths? How are you going to optimize those?

    I also learned a good trick, which is to ask somebody, “How are you doing?” They’ll usually say, “Good.” And I’ll say, “No, no, really. How are you doing?” And they’ll answer, “Good.” But then I’ll say, “Tell me what would you say if you weren’t doing good? How would you express that to me?” And then they tell you things. It’s partly little tactics, but the more important part is making it clear that you want to hear what they have to say.

    Q. How do you hire?

    A. We use the “topgrading” system by Geoff Smart. It says that the “How are you doing?” interview has about a 50 percent chance of success. That kind of interview is just a social call, right? You’re not actually seeking to find out anything about somebody’s performance. All you’re talking about is vague generalities.

    In this method, the structure is more, “What have you done in the past relative to what this job needs?” So if I’m hiring a direct report, we’ll have four people plus one person from H.R. in the interview committee. We’ll sit down first and say, there are 51 different areas that could be important that we’re looking for in somebody — a good coach, analyst, public speaker, all these different areas that could be important. We have to pick six, and it’s really interesting to have these discussions with your colleagues. In some cases it turns out that everybody’s got a different six, and that’s a problem.

    Once you decide on the six characteristics that are most important for the particular job you’re trying to fill, then there’s a series of questions for each one, always focused on past performance. It’s no guarantee of future performance, but it’s the best predictor.

    Q. What’s an effective question that you use in most interviews?

    A. What’s the best and worst career advice you’ve been given in your career? That gets to the underlying point about what people think is important. The best career advice part gets to what they think is important; worst career advice kind of tells you whether the person is trying to snow you. I want to know if you’re trying to snow me under the stress of the interview and trying to tell me things that you know aren’t true — that you don’t make bad decisions, that you haven’t gotten any bad career advice, that type of stuff.

    The point is that the interview is uncomfortable, but so are budget review meetings and so are a lot of meetings in day-to-day life. We’re not a bunch of perfect people who work together. We’re all people with flaws. I want to know if you’re somebody who feels comfortable enough to talk about dumb things that you’ve done or dumb advice that you’ve taken. Phrasing it in the form of, “Hey, what’s the worst advice you got?” at least gives you a half-step of distance from it. It tells you something about the character of the person.

    Q. What’s the best question people should ask in an interview?

    A. When they ask you, “Hey, do you have any more questions?” ask them, “How do I help you get a gold star in your review next year?” The person who’s interviewing you had to go through a lot of effort to get this opening, particularly in this economy. Be empathetic and realize that they are hoping that this position is going to make their life better. Ask them how you can be a part of that.

    OK, Readers, I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed having the conversation with Adam Bryant — he’s been doing these “Corner Office” interviews for years, and has a book coming out this spring with lessons learned from all the big honchos he’s spoken with — I’ll make sure to send along the link when it’s published.

    Oh! And one last thing. If you’re looking for a great holiday gift for one of the professionals in your life who needs to change jobs next year, may I be so bold as to suggest my book “You’re Better Than Your Job Search”? My co-author Matthew Rothenberg and I have stuffed it like a stocking hung by the chimney with care: There’s interview advice, resume tips, and job search guidance that make it a great treat for someone who is transitioning in the New Year! You can pick up your copy here and have it in somebody’s hot little hands this week…

    Good luck with your search this week!

  • Don’t ignore the December recruiter

    ** From my weekly newsletter to TheLadders.com subscribers **

    We hear the same complaint every year:

    “I can’t get candidates on the phone. I can’t get candidates in for interviews. I can’t even get a response.”

    We hear it from Fortune 1000 recruiters, HR departments, executive search firms and agencies. We even hear it from our own recruiters at TheLadders!

    And I suppose it’s a very good explanation that, of course, at the end of the year, with all the holiday parties, end-of-the-year budgeting exercises, and vacation planning going on, professionals can find themselves with too much to do and not enough time on their hands to be responsive to the companies looking to hire them.

    But my advice is…

    Don’t let this happen to you.

    Candidates, i.e., your competition, get very distracted during the holidays with all the family and friends and festivities to enjoy.

    Turn this to your advantage.

    Rather than allowing your holiday schedule to get in the way of your search, double down and make an extra effort to be proactive this December.

    You see, for every candidate who misses a phone call, an interview, a job opportunity, there’s a frustrated recruiter on the other side. And if you can be that golden ticket — the responsive candidate who makes life easier for the recruiter or HR department — you’ll be that much more likely to land a gig before the end of the year.

    Companies’ needs for professionals don’t slow down during the holidays. Recruiting budgets don’t shrink in December — if anything, there’s actually a push to get headcount in before the annual budget expires. And HR people and recruiters are still coming to work full-time every day and need to keep performing for their clients and hiring managers.

    Make their lives easy and they’ll make your job search come to an end more quickly. Return their call the same day. Work hard to juggle your schedule to make it convenient for them to interview you. Follow up with your thank you notes the same day.

    If your competition is half as responsive, and you’re doubly as active as normal, you’ll be four times more likely to get the interview, get the offer, get the job!

    I know it’s a challenge during the holiday season, but the best gift you can give yourself and your family is a new position that sees you happy, productive, and content in the New Year.

    Good luck with your search this December, Readers! I’ll be doubling my rooting for you!

  • I took your advice!

    ** From my weekly newsletter to TheLadders.com subscribers **
    Readers, we work awfully hard to get you the advice you need in your job search. We interview hundreds of recruiters, speak with thousands of job-seekers, and underwrite research at a half-dozen universities each year in order to provide you with the best tips, tricks, and insights for your search. I share those insights with you weekly in this Monday newsletter, you can find them on our site here, or you can buy our book “You’re Better Than Your Job Search,” which collects them all in one place for easy reference. Whatever the form, we want to see you successful in your job hunt.

    That’s why we were very gratified at the tremendous response to my newsletter last week: “Twenty Questions to ask in an interview.” Some of you put those pointers into practice right away, with great results! So I thought I’d turn the microphone over to you this week; while we received several hundred replies, I’ll share just a dozen of them with you…

    Marc,

    In an interview yesterday, I asked questions 6 and 13. The answers were enlightening! Just wanted to say thank you.
    -John

    Congratulations, John!

    Marc,

    How did you know I have an interview TODAY? You gave me 6 great, on-point questions I hadn’t thought of. Thanks,

    Steve

    You’re quite welcome, Steve!

    Hey Marc,

    I want to thank you for the emails that you have been generating during my job search. It’s been a tough journey, and this week all the effort and preparation came to fruition. I accepted a job offer and am very grateful and excited about the opportunity. I’ve used your “bonus” question on several interviews and I believe it had a part in me getting the offer I did. Thanks again, and please continue your motivational crusade for those still out there looking. Take care!

    Sam

    Well, Sam, that’s exactly what we like to hear! Using the “bonus” question is a great way to stand apart from all those non-TheLadders candidates!

    Marc,

    I want to thank you for your sage advice in getting me to my new position with an established American auto maker. I found myself at the beginning of 2010 in a most unfamiliar role as a statistic in the ranks of the unemployed. Fortunately, I did find employment in my field of expertise in just a little over 4 months. Although the position did not require that I relocate my family, I was not yet satisfied with the whole job situation as I did sacrifice salary for the security of benefits. I then received the call that gave me an opportunity to utilize many of your techniques in an interview that was 30 years in the making. Thanks to you, and those with whom I have been able to acquire immeasurable advice, I was able to ‘knock the ball out of the park.’

    I received a call the very next day from the HR department requesting further information of me and that my interview, (there were 6 managers in the room), was said to have went exceedingly well.

    I originally sent my resume to this company in February of this year, I started my new job last week. Thank you for your support, even though you have no clue who I am, you did make it possible for my career to continue as I had dreamed.

    Thank you Marc, and keep up the good work, there are many of us who appreciate exactly what it is that you are doing.

    Sincerely,

    John

    Well, John, it is wonderful to hear that our techniques worked for you and helped you hit it out of the park. It’s feedback like this “from the field” that helps us direct our research in ever more productive ways each year. And it’s very gratifying!

    Hi Marc,

    This is great food for thought especially on a day when I have to prep for an afternoon interview! Thank you very much for your timely message!

    Regards,

    S.

    Good luck on that interview, S.!

    Marc – Your “Twenty Questions” (11-15-10) came in real handy with my Monday morning interview. Glad I caught them before I went out the door today!

    T.

    That is awesome, T.!

    Marc,

    Thanks again for all your help this morning in helping me prepare for my interview with [Fortune 500 company]. It went well and we are now scheduling a time for me to come in and take a test. I will keep you posted on the outcome and thanks again for all your help and support.

    D.

    D.! That is so good to hear! Good luck with the rest of your interviews!

    Good Morning Marc,

    As typical for the Ladders, your timing is perfect!

    I am headed to a face to face interview at 2 pm this afternoon, following a successful phone interview with my future boss 2 weeks ago. I will be interviewing with 9 (yes 9) [VPs and Directors].

    I am always very good about bringing questions along, and in fact that was a high point during my phone interview.

    These are beautiful however and into my file they are going and up to Los Angeles with me.

    Wish me luck…

    David

    OK, David, I’ll be rooting for you!

    Hi Marc,

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your emails/newsletters.. this was another good one. Yours is one of the few newsletters that I subscribe to that I regularly open. Nice job and thank you!

    Jo

    Thanks for the kind words, Jo!

    Hi Mark,

    Great newsletter, as usual. You chose a very serendipitous topic as I was just updating my list of questions for my upcoming job hunt. You did my work for me and handed it to me on a platter. Thanks!

    Of course every situation is different so my questions will be adapted to the situation. This is a great start, though. Nice work.

    Best regards,

    Dan

    I think Dan’s experience is a relevant one to discuss. If you’ve not been looking for a job for a while, you have to create a list of questions that you want to ask in an interview. But the problem is… you’ve been asking questions in an interview for a while! So you might not know where to start. Our goal here at TheLadders is to save you the time and effort involved in the job search by doing the preparation work and the grunt work for you. Glad we could help, Dan!

    Hi Marc,

    There is so much stuff floating around by self proclaimed experts and advice (opinion) from endless web sites.

    Just to let you know, I think you’re uniquely high quality and add lots of tangible value. Keep it up, many are grateful!

    Warm regards,

    Steve

    It’s great to hear that you find them useful, Steve.

    Hello Marc,

    Extremely helpful!!!! (As most of your emails have been.)

    I’m entering a mtg today trying to decide between two opptys. The answers to my applicable and selected questions will really help me differentiate and make a decision.

    Best regards,

    Gary

    Gary — I love subscribers who love exclamation points as much as I do!!! Good luck on your big decision…

    OK, Readers, good luck with the search this week!

  • Twenty Questions

    As I’ve met with TheLadders subscribers across the country, I’ve heard that the interview questions in this newsletter from February were very useful to you in preparing for interviews, and what you should ask in those interviews.

    And of course, unless your job is to ask questions, it’s no surprise that cooking up good ideas for what to ask might not come completely naturally or easily to you.

    So I thought it would be even more useful to collect my best questions together and update them for you. Here are “Twenty Questions” that you can ask in an interview…

    1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? How has the recession impacted your group?
    2. One year from now, if I get the job, what will earn me a “gold star”? 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 do your sales / marketing / finance / technology / operations work here?
    6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?
    7. What’s one thing that’s key to your 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 best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company?
    10. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry?
    11. What’s the timeline for making a decision? When should I get back in touch with you?
    12. Why is this position open? Who was previously in this role / why did you decide to create it?
    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 is the hoped-for purpose of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and negatives of your reward system, and 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 have a very successful 2011, what would that look like? What will have happened over the next 12 months? How does this position help achieve that?
    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 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, is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week, 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. 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?
    20. What types of attributes are common to the people who are considered heroes at your company? What types of attributes 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 the flame-outs?

      And always remember our favorite “bonus” question: “What can I do to help you (my future boss) get a gold star in the next year?”

      OK, so maybe that’s 45 questions grouped into twenty buckets – I’m all about the extra service!

      Now, what you’re not going to do is go into an interview and read off every one of these questions one after another from a print-out of this newsletter. That would feel unnatural.

      No, instead, find five or six of the questions that really speak to you, that hit at the parts of your next job that you’re most concerned about, and jot those down on a notepad to take with you to the interview. Practice asking them naturally so that you feel comfortable with each of them. And then sit back and really listen to the answers – it’s the best chance you’ll get to find out what a position holds in store for you…

      OK, Readers, I hoped I’ve armed you with sufficient queries for the week.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!

    1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

      ** From my weekly newsletter to TheLadders.com subscribers **

      Yesterday was the New York City Marathon here in TheLadders’ hometown. For anybody who has watched the marathon, you know it is an inspiring glimpse into amazing achievement by ordinary people. Some 45,000 runners make their way through the streets of the five boroughs to the accompanying cheers of strangers.

      Here’s a fairly typical scene from Mile 17 of the crowd yelling, clapping, and cheering on the wave of runners:

      NYC Marathon

      And, you know, there’s a lot of similarity between the real marathon and the marathon that is your job search. They’re both long, exhausting, require you to pace yourself, and ultimately end in your triumph.

      If we could somehow put your friends, family, and colleagues along the race course of your job hunt, they’d be rooting for you just as loudly as the people in the video.

      You see, everybody wants you to succeed. That can be easy to forget when you’re dealing with the pressures and juggling the time commitments that come along with looking for a new position, but you need to remember: everybody wants you to succeed, everybody is rooting for you.

      Your success in your job search isn’t just good for you. It’s good for your family, because you’ll be happier and more productive. It’s good for friends, because we all like to be a part of a community that is successful, growing, and achieving new things. And it’s good for your former colleagues because they like you and want you to continue flourishing in your career (it also means you’re getting to be a more and more valuable contact!)

      Everybody wants you to win because it makes them feel good for you, and it makes them feel good about themselves.

      You might not have thought about it in that way in a while, so I’d like you to make an effort to discover the rooting, cheering fans on your side in the next few weeks.

      Here’s what you’ll do. Ask your friends, family and contacts these two questions:

      “What would you hope for me to get out of this job search?”

      and

      “What do you think would make me happiest as the outcome of this search?”

      With these two questions, you’ll discover, again, how much people care about your success, and how much they want you to win. It’s a very good way for you to remind yourself of all the clapping, cheering supporters you have on your side.

      Good luck in your job search this week, Readers.