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The Clueless at The Work Podcast

Anthony Garone talks with several experts in his network about how to navigate the complexities of professional work.

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Episode 4: Being a Great Job Candidate with Allen Plunkett

Allen Plunkett headshot photo

Allen Plunkett has run a successful recruiting and staff augmentation firm for 17 years. He shares some of the most common ways candidates fail to succeed.

Allen Plunkett on LinkedIn

Automated Episode Transcript

Published on: Sun, Dec 08, 2019

[00:00:01] Anthony: all right. Today’s guest with me in the studio is Allen Plunkett. Allen is a very special and dear friend in my life. Allen, thank you so much for coming over to join us.

[00:00:13] Allen: Awesome to be here.

[00:00:14] Anthony: So, um, the reason I wanted Allen to come over is ah, well, clear. A few reasons. First, you’ll notice any reader will notice. He’s the first person thanked in the book, which is cool. And that’s because without Allen, there would be almost none of this content. Um, So, Allen, thank you for that.

[00:00:38] Allen: You are very welcome. And I’m honored

[00:00:40] Anthony: in 2015 January 2015. Allen brought me and my current boss and my boss’s boss together so we could all start trying to change the change. The workforce change the way they think we brought. We came together and made something called kensho education. Allen, you want to just share a couple sentences about that?

[00:01:07] Allen: Sure. Ah, well, just about the introduction itself. I mean, that was Ah, that was probably one of the most exciting introductions ever. Um, getting the three of you who didn’t know each other prior to then together, just based on the fact that I think so. Highly of of you, Cory and Manila. I don’t know. You didn’t mention their names. Am I supposed to?

[00:01:29] Anthony: I did mention them.

[00:01:30] Allen: I did it. I think now you said your boss and your boss’s

[00:01:33] Anthony: Oh, yeah, Yeah. Cory Berg, who’s now my boss. And Danila Arthur Nari, who’s now Cory’s boss.

[00:01:41] Allen: Ah, but yeah, getting getting the four of us together, the three of you, most importantly, because the mind share and the knowledge and the just ability to move, um exists in an overwhelming amount amongst those those individuals. And it is really exciting to me to think that the three of you worked together now in a different capacity. It didn’t work for all four of us to work together, obviously, and Ken Show. But for you and I, it was it was incredible. Yeah, yeah, and you really changed it. You know, you change the conversation because originally it was, Let’s start what everybody else is starting and do a coding camp. And you said I’m no, that’s a horrible idea. Let’s do something completely different and talk about how hard it is to have conversations at work and how hard it is to be riel at work and how hard it is to approach your boss when you’re not enjoying the work.

[00:02:40] Anthony: Well, quite unfortunately, um, it seems people want code camps. They don’t want the ah, the conversation about the awkwardness. They don’t want the difficulty, everything else that has to do with being a successful person in the workplace. They just want here the technical details and I say they want and they don’t want because ah, the market is has clearly shown Very few companies can make it in the soft skill training business. But many can make it or at least appear to make it in the, ah technical skill training business.

[00:03:26] Allen: Lying is interesting. I mean, we didn’t make any sort of promises as to what was going to be an outcome, and that’s, you know, marketing her sales, I guess 101 as I can produce this outcome. And coding camps are very good at saying, if you do six weeks of Java script, you’re gonna leave here making 135 grand a year,

[00:03:49] Anthony: which is absolutely true.

[00:03:51] Allen: Oh, yeah, Every single time, every single time,

[00:03:54] Anthony: the average average salary coming out of that is exactly $135,000.

[00:04:00] Allen: I did my research.

[00:04:02] Anthony: Yeah. So, um, for I think, two years you and I worked on on that first year with Korean Vanilla, maybe two and 1/2 or three years, but, um, yeah, it was incredible. We changed our own lives, and we saw the lives of others changed before our very eyes. One of our success metrics was how many people quit their jobs, which

[00:04:26] Allen: is not a sellable thing. No, we’re having companies pay for it.

[00:04:29] Anthony: Hey, send your employees and they’ll want to quit their job by the time they’re done regardless. Ah. So, Allen, I did want I want this. Since you’re you are a successful entrepreneur here in the Phoenix area. I wanted to get your sense of, um, clueless at the work and how you have seen its content in your daily professional life.

[00:04:54] Allen: Nature? Well, I there’s so much content in the book. There’s so much content in the curriculum that you put together four can show that it, you know, as one of our I guess colleagues who went through the program said it provides you the cheat codes, Um, for life essentially. And I it really it it really does. I mean, as you’ve said multiple times, we were standing on the shoulders of giants. This was not put together in a vacuum. We did not reinvent or create anything. All we did was condensed out of material that’s available to everyone in a way that you can apply immediately. And you did it in such a way such a conversational and easy to consume way that as you read through this book, you’re going to instantly be able to apply it to your work day. Or or just life in general is not about transparency. It’s not about mindset. It’s not about, you know, cultural fit or anything like that. It’s about all of those together and how they interact and intertwine and relate to one another every single day of your life. And recognizing that and being able to use it to your advantage into other’s advantage.

[00:06:19] Anthony: Yeah, yeah, well, thank you for your kind words. For listeners who haven’t read the book, kensho education ended up being kind of like a soft skill night school. And we ran several cohorts, um, once a week programs were, I think, 15 weeks long and Ah, and then I was running cohorts at my day job and Mel Media and basically a walked them through what ended up becoming the book. But we had five modules. It was like, know yourself. Know your company? No, you’re appears no, your manager and then the alliance, which is about changing the relationship between employers and employees. And, um, all of those those big ideas came from other books, but really any original content? The only original content was the gap filler stuff that you and Corey and Anila and I put together toe to bridge. You know, the content between the books Tell us a little about, um, the alliance. I know it’s had a big impact on you, and it has a lot to do with clueless employers and employees.

[00:07:39] Allen: It does. Yeah, I think. Uh, so Reed Hoffman, Ben Casanova, Chrissy A wrote a book called The Alliance, and they essentially tell tell stories of starting When Reed Hoffman started linked in that he would have conversations with people in the very beginning of their work life there that would essentially start with a tour of duty so saying you’re not gonna be here forever. I know you’re not gonna be here forever. You know you’re not gonna be here forever. But while you are here, these are the expectations I have of you and tell me if I’m wrong. But these are the expectations that you should have of me. So starting a conversation that way, as an employer to an employee is not only extraordinarily unique, but incredibly beneficial to both parties. Because we know that especially today, employees don’t stay. But while they are there while they are working for you trying to move the needle at your company, if you can set the terms of that tour of duty, so to speak on the front end, how much more value are you going to get out of that relationship for the time that they are there? And that just resonated with me? Know I recently I spoke to a very good friend of mine. Hoo ah debated a little bit on the don’t treat your employees his family. Which is certainly one thing that they say in that book to not do. Do not treat your employees his family and ah, he wholeheartedly disagreed with that, and and I understand that, and I that also resonates with me. That’s one point that they bring up in the book is you know, you can’t fire Uncle Bob, right? But my my friend said, You know, if Uncle Bob shows up Thanksgiving dinner every year and he happens to have a really bad habit that you don’t want around your kids, then you do fire Uncle Bob. Yeah, that’s a That’s a solid point. Um, but there there’s a lot of useful information in the alliance in it. And it did. Ah, it did set us up well, very, very well for that conversation with people about how to establish those kinds of conversations with their own floors.

[00:09:56] Anthony: I think my favorite part about the whole book is the idea that you as a manager, should tell your employees. Look, you’re not going to retire here, and neither am I. You know, we’re just people working, you know, unless you’re the owner, you’re probably not gonna be retiring at your company. So And what? Most people are not owners. So most people would be saying I’m not gonna retire here, and neither will you. So What do we do to get you ready for your next job? And, um, this forward thinking idea of helping your employees along the way to become something greater is the true mission of a good manager. And the qualifier at the end of that is your next job. Maybe here at this company or it may be somewhere else, but we want you to leave here on good terms and talking highly of your experience here. It’s outboard marketing, you know, our outbound marketing, whatever off boarding, regardless, Ah, the views. Yeah, all of those things. But the idea is like, cos air clueless because they think human beings that apply for their jobs are there solely for the paycheck. And life is a lot easier when you believe in that. But that’s not reality. And I think managers who have a clue are the ones that say, Yeah, you’re gonna be looking for statistically, just the numbers show. In two years, you’ll be looking for another job. Now you are a professional recruiter. That’s what you’ve been doing for 17 19 years, right? Something like

[00:11:47] Allen: that’s 20 years. This year,

[00:11:49] Anthony: 20 years. Congratulations. Thank you. And ah, you see this all the time. Wire people leaving their jobs.

[00:11:57] Allen: Yeah, I mean, it’s It’s certainly a combination of things, but it’s typically not to pay. Um, you know, it’s Ah, it’s usually because their leadership is not good or it’s a better opportunity or any number of things that doesn’t always translate to my income is not as good as I wanted to be. So, to your point, that’s not the number one reason. And there’s a lot of times, unfortunately, in an ordinance amount of times where people are leaving and either one or the other party is surprised by the departure. I don’t like surprises, and I am very infrequently surprised by departures. And ah, it’s because we’ve at least on a smaller scale. I wouldn’t say to the degree that I want to implement the alliance. I’m not there yet, but I’m pretty close and I highly recommend others do it, too, because when you can have a conversation with somebody three months ahead of them leaving and saying I’m gonna help you leave, that whole dynamic changes. I mean, you’re still friends with that former like the alliance calls him your alumni. You’re still friends with them. You know, I’ve had trust me. I’ve had a multitude of negative departures, but there’s an overwhelming amount of people. One of the phone calls I had this morning was with a former employee who is now hiring the energy or the company that we work with and Austin, Texas. That doesn’t happen by accident, right? Um, and it’s because of that book because of constructs like that that you can you can make that happen.

[00:13:36] Anthony: And the power of your network is so undervalued by so many people, they don’t see that. Oh, if I if I actually help my employees to leave well and on good terms, he or she may be able to help me out in the future. It’s It’s not a one time transaction, especially in an area. I mean, we always say Phoenix is big, but Phoenix is so small. I mean, how many times do you run across that kind of situation where people who know each other are re encountering one another?

[00:14:13] Allen: Well, yeah, all day,

[00:14:15] Anthony: all day, every day. Tell us a little about how, um, like the best types of candidates you see in your recruitment business and the worst.

[00:14:28] Allen: So I would say the ones that I am drawn to are are those who can have these kinds of conversations. So I am personally. Anyway, this is not true of my entire team. But I am personally drawn to people who would say Who will say if I’m unhappy where I am, I will have a conversation with my boss and see if I can change that unhappiness.

[00:14:56] Anthony: And why does that make them?

[00:14:58] Allen: Because they’re there, they’re more malleable, You know, there were more. I think you’re more coachable when you’re willing to have those kinds of conversations. I don’t know if that’s inherently the case, but you strike me as being more coachable. You know, we’ve had to Very similar identical scenario was really one in our Las Vegas office and one in our Phoenix office where the candidate who we put to work within those environments wanted to resign. And fortunately, they both called us. In one scenario, I said, Okay, now your next step is to go to your boss because prior to us doing anything, they need to know that you’re looking to leave. And we had that conversation with both of those candidates. One said, Oh, hell, no. That sounds like an awful idea. And I’m probably gonna get fired as a result of that. And I said, No, you won’t. You know, these are conversations that I know people are going to be accepting of. The other one said, Okay, now person number two. I got a call from their boss pretty immediately, saying, What are you trying to d’oh? I said, I’m trying to foster conference. I’m trying to encourage conversation. Apparently, he had the conversation with you and he said, Oh, yeah, he did. And why would you do this? And I said he’s going to find another job or you’re going to make the job. He’s currently and better for him so that he no longer wants to find another job. And he said, Okay, so he started to come around, and actually, he’s been on my podcast. He and I are really good friends. Candidate number two ended up resigning because of an opportunity that they found and then accepted a counter offer. Um, long story short, I had already called his boss to let him know that we were involved in that transaction. That relationship is now sour. So not irreparable, but certainly not awesome.

[00:16:54] Anthony: It’s not free. No, there is. There is a cost on the risk to those types of discussions. But

[00:17:03] Allen: I think, uh, I don’t remember the original question. I think

[00:17:07] Anthony: the best and worst candidate.

[00:17:09] Allen: Yeah, it’s just, you know, I think it’s Ah, I think it’s candor, You know, I really I like the way. And I I told you this when you sent me the original, I guess, unedited version or transcript of the book. Um, the way you speak and the way you spoke to the students in kensho and just the way you naturally are, it’s very candidates very open. It’s very I wouldn’t say it’s unfiltered in any way, but it comes across as this is my advice and it’s probably going to help you. Whether you take it or not is up to you because it’s hard stuff. And those are my favorite people to hang out with, talk to and put to work right people that just no, you have to have real conversations, and that’s how you get the work done.

[00:18:03] Anthony: I was, as I was reading. The audio book came across the list from Mother Teresa about humility. Wow, that’s some tough stuff. I mean, I’m just gonna read through the list, speak as little as possible about yourself. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others. Avoid curiosity and a gossipy way. Do not interfere in the affairs of others except small irritations with good humor. Do not dwell on the faults of others except centers. Even if unmerited give in to the will of others. Accept insults and injuries except contempt. Being for gotten and disregarded. Be courteous and delicate, even when provoked by someone. Do not seek to be admired and loved. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity. Give in in discussions even when you were right and choose always the more difficult task. None of these have to do with Catholicism’s or spiritually belief or anything like that. These were just really hard things to do that make people humble, and I think the people who choose the difficult task are the ones who I wanna hang out with. And it’s not because the hard task is always the right thing or something like that, but to me, there’s when you’re given the choice between something easy and something hard. It could be so tempting to do the easy thing. And sometimes easy thing is the right thing. But like if you’re never willing t choose the hard thing like Go tell your boss that you’re thinking of leaving or if you’re a recruiter and you say to the candidate before I help you, you need to go talk to your boss like that’s just a game changer for me. And those are the people that I think see life differently because we live in a society where comfort is so appealing and it’s like calories, you know, there it’s all around you. Comfort is all around you, and discomfort is really the way to go,

[00:20:20] Allen: right? No, I think that’s a That’s a much better way to say what I was trying to say. I would. I would rather work with a person who says, Don’t put me an environment where all I’m doing is maintaining what currently exists, right, sustaining success. That’s not fun, right? No, I don’t. I don’t want that kind of environment, and I don’t necessarily want to put people to work who want that kind of environment.

[00:20:46] Anthony: But those people and those environments can be great

[00:20:52] Allen: and they’re necessary.

[00:20:53] Anthony: They’re necessary. But yeah, the more compelling at least the personalities that I find more compelling are the ones who are like, you know, we could we could redo this and do it right, Or we can fix this. And it’s gonna be a lot of work, right? Like you. So what makes what What makes candidates clueless to you When you know you you encounter dozens a day. What makes them clueless?

[00:21:24] Allen: Well, I think

[00:21:25] Anthony: let’s ah, let’s move your mike

[00:21:27] Allen: which way I like it. Yeah, um, I think the well, the first thing is not taking not being open to advice. You know, whether it’s, you know, we’ve had we’ve had candidates. Historically, when we try to prepare them for interviews, basically disregard the preparation that we that we give them. Like what? Ah, like you should have You should come in with if let’s say you’re interviewing with six different people. We’ve had this very recently. You’re gonna interview with six different people. We want you to right now on the list of questions that you’re going tohave do some research on those people. So we call it a Canada preparation. And I know there’s there’s certainly plenty of our competitors that do it, and there’s plenty of our competitors that don’t I think it’s a joy, enormous, miss, if they don’t do this, Um, But if a candidate doesn’t go in with questions for all six people that are slightly different for all six people, chances are pretty good. They’re not gonna get that job. Yeah, and we’ve had people very recently say no, I think I’m good. I you know, I I know how to interview. I’ve been doing the same time executive. I’ve been doing this a long time, and then they walk out and not get the job because they thought they were going to remember the questions that they wanted to ask. But because I didn’t write them down, they forgot the questions that they want to ask, which inherently happens, and that’s in our prep docks. It will inherently happen that you will forget the questions that you thought you wanted to ask. So write them down.

[00:23:03] Anthony: Isn’t it great how there are so many people who interview other people and then they go for a job interview in there like I got this. I do this all the time. It’s like, No, you don’t. You’re not in the hot seat every day. That’s why I recommend recreational interviewing. But, yeah, some of some of the worst candidates I’ve interviewed are the most senior people. Yet for that very reason they’re completely uninterested in. They think I’ve already got it all. I’ve got all the knowledge, all the experience. Why wouldn’t they hire me? Whoever those people are.

[00:23:39] Allen: And I say this one all the time, too. I mean, when you apply to a job and you say it looks like you wrote that job while looking at my resume, that’s a clueless thing to say. No one did that.

[00:23:52] Anthony: Yeah, it’s so obvious

[00:23:54] Allen: that no one had your resume and then wrote the job description for your resume. It just didn’t happen. So for you to say that just number one sounds a little egotistical. Yeah, I don’t think it’s intended to be, but it comes across that way, right, and secondly, it’s It’s frivolous. It’s It’s like a lot of you know what, what you and I have talked about many, many times. If if in your job description, all you’re doing is cutting and pasting somebody else’s job description. Why would I apply? This is not something that is interesting about something that is unique. You’re not telling me anything new and different. So to say your resume looks exactly like their job description is not a good ploy. Is not is not a good marketing tactic.

[00:24:44] Anthony: My resume looks just like the job description you copied and pasted from your competitors. Lips. What else makes candidates clueless?

[00:24:55] Allen: Um, you know, to your point, I think the ego thing is is ah is a big Miss. I I think there’s a lot of individuals who don’t think that again. Back to the six interviews which are happening all the time these days, if you’re interviewing with HR and you’re an executive, that’s an important interview. And there’s so many executives, you think well, I don’t really need to impress anybody until I get to my pure group or until I get to the boss. And that’s such a mistake. You know, it’s it’s like that. Ah, it’s like that saying that that goes around on lengthen every 27 seconds, which is treat the janitor in the same way with the CEO. That’s important stuff, you know. And I think you talk about that in Clueless at the work, which is you don’t walk in and think the security guard of the receptionist is an insignificant part of the interview. You have no idea how important that person is

[00:25:54] Anthony: when the the better of the company, the Maur important lower people are, you know, like if there’s anyone to impress, it’s not the executive, it’s the It’s everyone before the executive that, you know the first interview is usually the most relevant person. The 2nd 1 is like Okay, that’s like the second order, you know, of consequences away. And then the last round will be the people who matter the least. And they’re just the gut checks, you know. But people think it’s the other way around. I need to impress the most impressive person instead of the most impressive person, is probably going to go back to the first round and say So what did you think? Did you like him? Was he good?

[00:26:41] Allen: Almost every single time they do that ever was. Were they nice to you? Did they request the bottle of water and a kind way. It’s kind of like, you know, I think, uh, is it, um I don’t remember if it’s Amazon, it’s not Amazon. Maybe it’s, ah, General Motors. They bring. They bring every candidate, the lunch, and they see how the candidate interacts with the wait staff. Uh huh. And that, to me, is huge. You know that That is a big deal, because I have gone to lunch with people that I’ve hired after they’ve been on my team, and I’m cringing at how they’re treating the wait staff. And it’s very frustrating to me because, you know, I didn’t see that coming. Everything else was impressive. And then, as soon as they get to the point where they’re ordering food, they turn into a jerk.

[00:27:31] Anthony: It’s funny. How long’s it take someone to buy a house now? You know, like I don’t mean like, because of technology, right? How many houses do you look at before? You know, you’re gonna put an offer in on one and you spend weeks researching even buying a car, You know, like it’s a $40,000 purchase now average cars What, 35,000 or something? like that. Totally ridiculous. I just bought a car, and I’m reading about all of these people who are like you up for six months. I read up on this in that lake. How long do we spend buying a car? And then how long do we spend pay? Like hiring an employee Who’s gonna have so much more impact? Who’s gonna cost more than the car? You know, like we just have, like, 31 hour conversations. Yeah, sure. I’ll spend 80 grand hiring that person plus benefits, plus the impact of their work and or they’re the problems that they bring into the company, you know?

[00:28:26] Allen: Right well, And it is so frustrating to me because, you know, like you said, you spend six months researching a car, looking at how the stars are rated. And you know what? I don’t know. JD Power and Associates has to say which there’s thousands means about that, but, uh, and then we don’t check references right on candidates. Yeah, and that just totally irritates me. I have so many people on lengthen or elsewhere that say no. I want to check references. You know, I’ve done everything. Ah, that I should do. I’ve run them through the process. Yet you’ll spend six months to buy a car or a drill even,

[00:29:04] Anthony: you know. Yeah, it’s it’s ludicrous. Those mutual connections on Linked in to Me are one of the most important things to look for in a candidate. And it’s not like, Oh, yeah, that person knows who I know it’s more like Oh, great, there’s someone who also knows this person and I can actually ask a real question. Sometimes it’s like, No, you know, I I met that person that, uh, meet up or something. I don’t have a relationship with them, but sometimes it’s, Yeah, that guy, you know, he treats people like crap, and if he’s having a bad day, he just comes in and he yells at people and whatever, like you don’t find that out in the interview process. You find that out when you ask references or a mutual connection or something like that. So if there’s a mutual connection, especially if it’s someone that I know pretty well, I always always ask that mutual connection and I tell the candidate Oh, hey, I saw on linked in You and I are both connected to so and so. And I look for their reaction. Ah, and this actually just worked out. Well, um, like a couple months ago, we hired Ah, an AP I leader at informer, and he knew some people I worked with at Pearson. And in fact, I’m surprised this guy and I didn’t actually work directly together because we had so many mutual connections. But there was one key guy and I was like, Oh, hey, you know Anton and he goes, Oh, yeah, Anton and I go way back. And when I just heard him talking about Anton, I was like, Yeah, he knows Anton, and he’s speaking just the same way as I would about him. And I texted Anton at the table. I’m like, I’m just gonna tell him that you’re here. I was like, Oh, hey, Allen’s over here. Anton’s like, Oh, man, that’s great. Tell him I said hi is like, Okay, I feel so much better about this interview had nothing to do with his work, right? Nothing to do with it. And I know that could be a bias, but like he’s already made it through the door to get to the interview The fact that we know mutual people we have. Ah, and I have a positive interaction with him about another person with whom I have a positive relationship. Makes a huge difference. Because I also could have gotten a text that said, Stay away from that dude. And I have gotten that. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I think you actually did that once you reached out to me, and you’re like, Hey, what about this guy? Was, like, No, do not write. Do not move forward.

[00:31:35] Allen: That’s happened. It’s definitely happened. Yep.

[00:31:38] Anthony: The network is so powerful. Do you see? Ah, Do you see people who undervalue it like every day?

[00:31:45] Allen: Oh, every single day. Yeah, every single.

[00:31:47] Anthony: What does that look like?

[00:31:49] Allen: Um, well, you know, to that point, I would say, you know, very recently, and we ask this of just about every candidate I ask this of just about every candidate who are the references that you’ve left off your references, you know? Who are those people? What are they gonna say about you? I love that question because it throws people on their heels. And I know I’ve asked people, you know that you are a mutual connection to, you know, if I were to call Anthony, what would he say? You might know one call Anthony. What’s he going to say? You know, that doesn’t eliminate them by Indurain’s, um, but I’m curious, you know. Was it it? Was it a bad Wednesday? And you guys haven’t spoken since? Or was it a bad 2008? You know, um, there’s a big difference. And I think people are just not expecting you to dig. They’re expecting again, back to people. Don’t want the difficult path they want. The easy path and the easy path is too. Yes, call the references on Lee. Follow the script, call the references that I have given you. Those are the ones that are going to say good things. It’s gonna be easier for both of us, right? No.

[00:33:01] Anthony: As though you’ve only ever worked with two people,

[00:33:03] Allen: right? Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s It’s just that easy. It’s that easy path again, and I I’m I’m not a fan of people hiring based on the easy way to hire. I’m also not a fan of of interviewing over several months or several weeks. There is a way to do it. That’s efficient. That gives you the information that you need. Like what you did with the texting. Um, you could have taken that further. You could have said, Well, this is the exact role these air, the responsibilities. Do you have any context for me as it relates to Allen in that way? Yeah. I don’t think he’s gonna be able to do X y Z, but you can teach him. He’s gonna learn it real quick. Huh? Um, that’s the work that I don’t think people want to. D’oh is really digging in and saying this is the role that I’m gonna put them in. They’re gonna have exposure to executives or they’re going to need to work with people that are, you know, in the varying degrees of education, and they’re gonna need to mentor and train people up. Is that a skill set that you’ve ever seen them perform? Or do they do you believe they have the capability to do that? If you’re asking references, softball questions, you’re gonna get softball answers. Yeah, and I think that’s the thing that frustrates me, is you know, in the reference checking process, anyone where China was not your question, but in the reference checking process Back to that, um, you’re going to get, you know? Yes, they worked here. Yes, they did find Yes, I would rehire them if all you’re asking are closed ended questions, right. You have to ask hard questions in order to get to the meat.

[00:34:43] Anthony: I usually ask, What is your team going to say positively about you after you leave your current job? And then what are they going to say? Like finish this sentence? I’m so glad you are gone, because fill in the blank.

[00:35:00] Allen: That’s a great course.

[00:35:00] Anthony: So glad Allen is gone, you know, because he went. And usually the candidates are like, Well, I don’t think anyone’s like gonna be super happy that I go. OK, so then what? What are some of the things that they would be frustrated about? And they usually can come up with some pretty serious answers. Well, you know, I know I can be difficult when it comes to this. Or sometimes I’m pushy or I get real answers, which is good. I know there’s a better way to phrase the question, but I like that. It it kind of puts people off guard. Not that that’s a good thing in an interview, but it makes them think a little differently. Like you said, Who are the people? I shouldn’t be calling and why. Okay. And what about clueless hiring managers? What do you encounter there?

[00:35:51] Allen: Yeah, I would say the same thing. You know, Number one. I think everybody believes that they’re good at interviewing, and the overwhelming majority of people are not good at interviewing Anno overwhelming majority. And I think there’s also Ah, lot of people who will ask somebody else to come in and spend a few minutes with the candidate. You know, we see this all the time where a hiring manager says, Hey, Ted, can you come in and, you know, help interview this Canada that’s applying for a developer roll. Ted’s never interviewed anybody in his life. He has no script, you know. He’s not been trained by HR on what he’s supposed to be looking for. So they shoot the breeze for 15 20 minutes, and he’s like, Yeah, I like him. That’s not an interview, Right? Um, so I think hiring managers make that mistake by not training their people or learning themselves how to do how to conduct a better interview.

[00:36:45] Anthony: What are some, Ah, qualities of a good interview?

[00:36:49] Allen: A good interview, I think, would be I mean, you said, Not that that’s the goal, but I do think it is a goal to make somebody think a little bit differently. And I think it is a goal. Certainly, in the interviews that I do to throw them on their heels a little bit to ask him a question. They’re not going to be able to Google, because today there’s so many people that you know I have. We have candidates all the time that they’re professional interviewers and or professional interviewees. I don’t want to talk to a professional interview me, So I will ask questions that I know they weren’t able to find online. Yeah, and and really figure out what their thought processes. How are you gonna answer a question that you’ve never been asked before in your entire life?

[00:37:32] Anthony: Yeah, I hate that response of when you say, Tell me something that and tell me, like some of your weaknesses. And then I get the Well, sometimes I just worked too hard or I care too much and ice. I’ll now say, Tell me about some your weaknesses and you’re not allowed to say I care too much. I work too hard. I spend too much time on the job like those things or not what I’m after. They may be weaknesses, but it’s not what I’m after. So I tried to throw out the default answers that I usually get it right that I care too much like it’s almost a disqualifier. And I’ll tell them that, like I’ll say, You know what? That’s not actually an answer, and I’m gonna need youto try answering that one again. Because I tried too hard is like It’s just that I care so much. It’s like a Miss America answer. You know,

[00:38:31] Allen: same exact people that say this job description was written as you were looking at my resume. Yeah, right. Same person. It’s canned, and that’s what I would say. Those are my least favorite candidates. Are the canned candidates.

[00:38:47] Anthony: What are You’re one of the biggest challenges you face as a as a recruiter

[00:38:52] Allen: finding people number one issue right now. I mean, unemployment is at an all time low. Ah, and just ferreting out where where people are right now. And I would say that probably that is one a one B would be being able to overcome the fact that there’s so many I call them rookie drivers are so many new recruiters in the world right now that make the recruiters that have been around around for as long as I have look horrible, um, and look very commoditized. Um, that is a very challenging thing to overcome. Right now, we are viewed when I first started 20 years ago, you know, it was Ah, it was 2009 and or I’m sorry, 1999. And, uh, it just seems like forever 1999 is When I first started, we were not negatively viewed at all. We were, ah, we were looked at as necessary. And people would say, you know, find a good banker, find a good lawyer and find a good recruiter. I remember that saying, You know, those are the three things that you’ll need in life. And now it’s, you know, we’re used car dealer, and it’s awful. That would be categorized as a used car dealer. You know, it’s just awful. You know our our company mission. And I know there’s countless recruiters out there that have the exact same mission is to help to guide, to offer advice, whether we get a paycheck or not. If we can help you in the process of figuring out how to navigate your career, we’re happy. Um, but there’s so many rookie drivers on the road right now that are only after that paycheck. They’re making bad left turns that are running red lights that are having horrible conversations with people asking awful questions, not checking references and not, you know, not being helpful. And it’s just it’s just bad. So Number one is certainly finding the hard to find talent, But Number two is overcoming that objection of you don’t. Why would I use a recruiter?

[00:41:15] Anthony: And then finally, what would your advice be to, um, people who might be looking for a job right now? You know, they might want to reach out to a recruiter or something. How can they not come across is clueless? Or how can they come across as, um ah, unique and marketable talented person?

[00:41:39] Allen: Well, I’m gonna pitch your book, So read clueless at the work first of all because it is incredibly insightful and highly useful. Thank you. Um, but you know what you want. You know, I When

[00:41:54] Anthony: I think I’m gonna have a section called Know What you want.

[00:41:56] Allen: Do you Really? Yeah. I mean, there’s there’s so much value in in that book, but no knowing what you want. When when you’re talking to a recruiter or somebody who’s trying to help you and you say, Yeah, I’m so good at so many different things that whatever you bring me, let me evaluate. That’s not helpful. You know, that is what I call the sawed off shotgun approach. You know, we need a rifle shot. You need to tell me that you are better in a start up company or you are better in a company that has a global presence. You can’t tell me that you’re as good in one as you are in the other. Totally. You just can’t.

[00:42:34] Anthony: And you need to be able to articulate it. Yeah, you need to know the competition.

[00:42:39] Allen: Right? Um, you need to be able to say these are the things that I’m really good at. And these are the things that I want to become good

[00:42:49] Anthony: at it. Page 206 Know what you want.

[00:42:53] Allen: There you go. Where the stickers or do

[00:42:56] Anthony: you know where the sticker is? I just put a sticker and there’s a bookmark. But yeah, it’s people who say they want to raise and a promotion, and then it’s like, Okay to what? And how much? Well, I’d like 10,000 more. Why? Well, because my friends making that or I just I think that’s my market value. What? Can you prove that to me? Well, you do some work and show me that you’ve researched this. Will you do some work and show me what you’re gonna do That’s that’s going to generate that kind of revenue so that I can pay you more money. You know those kinds of questions? They don’t get it.

[00:43:33] Allen: Yeah, it’s It’s I, uh I bring my son Hey, and I hang out every Saturday morning since he was being carried around in a car seat. One of the things that we do every Saturday. Well, one of things we d’oh on a lot of Saturday’s is go test drive cars. Now when we walk on a lot, I will tell the salesman. The only reason you wanna hang out with us is if you have nothing else going on because we’re not here to buy a car. Let’s start the conversation there if you like test driving these cars as much as we do, hang out with us. We are not buying a car today, and it’s amazing to me how many car sales people will will do that. But we’ve also asked questions about why is this car better than any other car? And there are so many bad car sales people and there’s so many great ones. They’re like, You know, the safety rating is huge. You know, if you were to drive the little guy around in this car, you could always feel comfortable. And then there’s other ones. We went to a Toyota dealership one time we wanted to test drive a Tacoma, and the guy was like, Well, it’s, um it’s a truck and a blank, Really. Let’s first day like there was. There was no there was nothing beyond it’s, you know, it’s a it’s a truck that is not understanding. You know, your customer, your product, and, uh, I don’t think that individual wanted to be a car service person. Yeah, so he did not know what he wanted. Maybe that was just, you know, a rough day. But I do that just to show my kid. Look, I understand why you’re doing what you’re doing to your point earlier. If you think you deserve a $10,000 raise and it’s, you know, I don’t want it to come across. As you know, we’re the experts on this, and I’m certainly not an expert on this, but have make a case, you know, definitely bring a case bringing understanding as to why your value has increased by that amount and why it is, You know, you deserve that promotion. I’ve had those conversations multiple times with my team, and I’ve lost people over it and they’re in better places as a result, I’m sure, but I wasn’t equipped, nor was I ready to make those moves. And if the company that you’re currently working for is in that position as well, be prepared for that answer and be okay with that answer.

[00:46:01] Anthony: And ah, why would someone reach out to a recruiter instead of directly, you know, looking for positions themselves.

[00:46:10] Allen: Why again? I hope it’s because do your research. So I don’t think I fully answered that question.

[00:46:17] Anthony: No, I don’t think so.

[00:46:18] Allen: Yeah. Um, do your research. You know, find recruiters that that care about helping me navigate versus care about collecting a paycheck. There’s probably an equal number of both, but you really need to find one versus the other because we are overrun, probably right now with, uh, the ones that are just collecting a paycheck. They’re loud, and they’re and they’re annoying. Um, so do your research. First and foremost, get recommendations, get referral, check our references, you know, even ask for references. Who else have you put to work over the last 5 10 15 years that you still have a relationship and report with, um, that’s important. You know, if if you’re dealing with somebody who’s been a recruiter for three years and they don’t have a relationship with the people that they put to work three years ago and they can’t give you those people is a reference that’s telling, um, they’re not a recruiter. They’re transactional placement order taker person. So those are important details, and I would say that you know a recruiter who is going to help you is going to broker introductions, is going to invite you to events or recommend events where you can meet people outside of them. Those are also important details. If all they’re looking for is to create a happy hour where if you meet a hiring manager and they want to send that hiring manager an invoice after that happy hour because they hired you, that’s not somebody I would work with.

[00:47:58] Anthony: So a good candidate is someone who I can tell you what they’re looking for. I can tell you sort of their own game plan, and they understand the value of you and your network. And they’ve done research. And they see that you care. Yes. So they have a clue. Clueless Right on. So, uh, thank you so much, Allen. I appreciate you taking the time to join us today. And, ah, for listeners, you condone. We’re talking largely about my book called Clueless at the Work Advice from a corporate tyrant published by Stairway Press, and you can check it out at Clueless at the work dot com. Thanks

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About the Author

Anthony Garone headshot

Anthony Garone is a creative technology leader with a heart for helping people understand who they are, where they excel, and what they can offer the world. He has co-founded and advised several startups, runs Make Weird Music, and leads software and technology teams at an identity theft protection firm, InfoArmor, which was acquired by Allstate in October 2018.

Anthony lives in Mesa, Arizona with his wife and three children.