Ask the Headhunter: Go to the city where you want a job

Don't job hunt long distance. If you want a new job in a new place, you've got to pound the pavement of the city where you want to work. Photo by Flickr user Matt E.

Don’t job hunt long distance. If you want a new job in a new place, you’ve got to pound the pavement of the city where you want to work. Photo by Flickr user Matt E.

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

On Feb. 11, I did an Ask Me Anything (AMA) chat on Reddit. Thanks to all who joined me! Your questions were smart and challenging. Some were so good that I think it’s worth publishing the best in this week’s column.

Question: Hi Nick, big fan. As a 43-year-old completely unfulfilled professional, I’m feeling the urge not only to leave my current position, but to move to another metro area in the U.S. The problem I’m having is landing an interview once a recruiter/hiring manager realizes I’m across the country. Any advice on long-distance job hunting for the aged?

Nick Corcodilos: There are some good ways to job hunt long-distance, but you’re not going to like my answer: Go to the city where you want the job. This article offers some ways to make the move pay off better than if you just show up.

(I love it when 60-year-olds, 40-year-olds and 25-year-olds all tell me they’re being discriminated against for their age!)

Question: I’m having a devil of a time getting past the HR phone screen and on to the interview with the hiring manager. What can I do to wow them?

Nick Corcodilos: Don’t wow them. Go around HR entirely. When you apply the traditional way, HR gets its talons into you and won’t let go. This is because you’re approaching the company through the channel HR set up — the cattle herding maze. If you start there, you have no control or degrees of freedom. Check out The Headhunter’s Basics.

Question: I have a recent master’s degree, but the jobs I now seek (not managerial, and jobs where I can wear many hats and work in the trenches) tend not to require that degree. Should I leave it off the resume or include and explain it in the cover letter?

Nick Corcodilos: Commit “Resume Blasphemy”: Don’t send one. The magic words are not on the resume, and there are better ways to get an interview.

Do you know how the reader of the resume will react, one way or the other? If not, why would you dare send it? If you must send one, here’s how to make it highly effective.

Don’t get seduced by the “mass recruiting” methods HR uses. You’ll get screwed, and they won’t care.

Question: How do you handle those inane questions — “what’s your biggest weakness?”; “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”; “Why do you want to work here?” — that HR people seemingly have branded onto their brains?

Nick Corcodilos: Try this: “I’d be happy to answer the ‘classic’ interview questions, but with your permission, I’d also like to actually show you how I’d do this job for you profitably. Would you please lay out a live problem or task — something you’d want me to do if you hired me — so I can show you how I’d go about it? If I can’t show you how my approach would make your department more successful/profitable, then you shouldn’t hire me.”

If the manager can’t handle that, ask yourself what you’re doing there. (Of course, if you can’t do that, you don’t really have any business in that interview.) Don’t worry about your answers to those top 10, though; just do your best, and get him or her to move on to what matters.

Question: How do employers view leaving the workforce and returning after a while (six to eight months) in order to accomplish elder care/family care transitions? Family always trumps work in my book, but do companies or industries view these responsibilities as liabilities?

Nick Corcodilos: I think there are lots of managers out there who have been out of work for one reason or another. I think it’s important to be candid but brief. The point in any interview is to show the manager that you’re there to help his or her business — get the interview on that track quickly, and you may find the manager is more concerned with your work attitude than with where you’ve been for a few months (or even longer).

That said, some employers are very stupidly biased against people who are or have been unemployed. Then they cry there’s a talent shortage. There is no talent shortage — there are over 20 million Americans, some with phenomenal skills, job hunting through no fault of their own. It’s a great time for smart employers to pick up talent that would otherwise not be available.

Are there any employers listening to this? Think. And stop waiting for some silly “resume database” to deliver “the perfect hire”!

Thanks again to all who joined us on the Reddit AMA!

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.