Episode 152 is live! This week, we talk with Joe Navaro. Joe is an international bestselling author and body language expert. He spent 25 years at the FBI, working as both an agent and supervisor in the areas of counterintelligence and counter terrorism. Through his work, he was able to study, refine, and apply the science of non-verbal communications. Joe is the author of numerous books and articles on body language, including: What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People.
On today’s episode, Joe shares:
- What is non-verbal communication
- Which parts of the body are most important when it comes to sending the right signals
- The body language advice you should ignore
- How to tell if the hiring manager likes you during a job interview
Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
Episode 151 is live! This week, we talk with Kwame Christian in Columbus, Ohio. Kwame is an attorney who focuses on conflict resolution and contract negotiation. He is also a negotiation consultant, negotiation trainer, and host of the Negotiate Anything podcast.
On today’s episode, Kwame shares:
- Why salary negotiation is important
- How to reduce your stress and anxiety while negotiating
- When the salary negotiation begins
- How to negotiate up your salary
Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
Copeland Coaching Podcast | Episode 151 | Salary Negotiation – Kwame Christian, American Negotiation Institute
Airdate: November 21, 2017
ANGELA COPELAND: Welcome to the Copeland Coaching podcast. Live on the phone with me today I have Kwame Christian in Columbus, Ohio. Kwame is an attorney who focuses on conflict resolution and contract negotiation. He’s also a negotiation consultant, negotiation trainer, and host of the negotiate anything podcast. Kwame, thank you for joining me today.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Hey Angela, thanks for having me.
ANGELA COPELAND: Well I am so excited. We met a few months ago at Podcast Movement, and you teach people how to do what I think is the most important part of getting a job, which is salary negotiations. I am so excited.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah, I’m excited to talk about it. This is going to be a fun one.
ANGELA COPELAND: Well, so the very first, most basic thing is I’m always trying to convince people that salary negotiation is important, that they need to do it. And tell me, why is it important to you? Why should we do it?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: It’s important for a number of ways. I think the obvious one is the money. Studies have shown that if you don’t take the time to negotiate, you could over the course of your lifetime miss out on over $500,000 on the low end, and if you are one of those higher trajectory type of professionals, well over a million easily, when you consider the compound effect of the money that’s lost and the investment opportunities that you’ve missed, the opportunity cost of losing that money. Another missed opportunity that comes when people don’t take the time to negotiate is the opportunity to get respect. I remember hearing the story of somebody who was a consultant, I believe it was at a managing consulting firm. And they lost a lot of respect for the candidate because she didn’t negotiate. They thought potentially if it was a mistake because they were wondering if she would be able to negotiate and advocate on behalf of the company if she wasn’t able to negotiate on behalf of herself. And so when it comes to this, it’s not just the amount of financial value that you can gain from that interaction. It’s also the opportunity to display your negotiation and dispute resolution skills, because as we move forward in this world, those are going to be the types of skills that really set people apart, the ability to connect and persuade.
ANGELA COPELAND: Wow, you put that really well, and I love the fact that you mention the company expected her to negotiate and they lost respect when she didn’t.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Mmhmm.
ANGELA COPELAND: So for a lot of us, the reason that we’re not negotiating, part of it is that we’ve never done it before, and it makes us uncomfortable, and not only does it make us uncomfortable, it’s stressful, it causes anxiety. It just causes us to feel bad. And I know you’ve got to work with your clients on this. How do you get people to try to reduce the stress and anxiety that it causes when they’re actually having that negotiation?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah, and this question is really close to my heart, because this is something that I struggled with. I was a kind of guy who was afraid of public speaking. I was afraid of conflict or any kind of difficult conversation. I used to shy away from that. This is very much learned, and so if I can get to where I am doing what I’m doing with this skill, anybody can, really. And one of the best ways to address this type of fear when it comes to the anxiety that you feel with these types of social interactions, and you could actually extrapolate to this similar fears like fear of speaking, is we need to re-conceptualize the way that we think about the physiological experience of anxiety. And so my background is psychology. That was my first academic love. And so when it comes to our appraisal of emotions, it’s really limited. As humans, we only have a small array of feelings that we can feel. So for example, if you go to a movie, and it’s a scary movie, your heart rate will elevate, you might perspire a little bit, and you might experience a shortness of breath. If you have a crush on someone and that dreamy person happens to walk into the room and looks into your eyes and says, “Hey, what’s up” in that really dreamy way, you know, we will experience shortness of breath, a little bit of perspiration, and our heart rate will elevate. Those are the exact same things. The only thing that differs is our appraisal, our interpretation of what we are feeling. And so now when I go into a conflict, if I’m negotiating, or if I’m public speaking, I still have those exact same feelings that I did back when I was afraid. The only thing that’s changed is my appraisal of that feeling. So now when I go into those conversations and I feel that physiological response, I interpret it as excitement. I am excited because this means that I am in a situation where I have an opportunity to move my career forward. This is an opportunity. This is an exciting thing. One of my favorite athletes, Billie Jean King, would say, “Pressure is a privilege, not something to shy away from.” If you are feeling that, that means you are in a position that matters. And so I wouldn’t endorse doing something and saying something to try and reduce that, because studies have shown the intent to try to reduce those feelings often causes the opposite effect, where we get more stressed out by it. Walk right into it, embrace it, and recognize that this pressure is a privilege, and reinterpret it as excitement and enthusiasm instead of fear.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, I like that. So it’s interesting that you mention that even you initially even avoided the conflict that came with negotiation. I know for me, I came from a family that told me, do not negotiate, and they were very judgmental about the idea of negotiation, and so my very first job I did not negotiate. Where did your avoiding conflict come from? Was it also, did you have that since you were a kid?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah, I’m laughing now, because before the conversation Angela and I were talking about my TEDTalk that’s coming up, and this is something that I talk about verbatim in it, because I had to do a lot of introspection to figure out where that fear came from. So I grew up in a really small town. I was in the Midwest. My family is from the Caribbean, so I had a really strong Caribbean accent growing up, and I was one of the few minorities in the town. So I would say that the only black people in the city were me, my mom, my dad, and my brother. And so we looked different, we sounded different, we stood out. And so what I realized is, I became really friendly. I recognized I had to make the first move to make people feel comfortable with my presence, and because of that, I became really hesitant when it came to engaging in any kind of conflict and confrontation. Even if I knew I was in the right, I wouldn’t do that because I didn’t want to jeopardize those relationships that I worked so hard to create. And that type of people-pleasing mentality permeated my mind through college, through law school, until I came to a point where I decided I needed to make a change if I wanted to be the professional I knew I could be. You can’t be a walkover lawyer. That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not very valuable. So using my background in psychology, I recognized that one of the best ways to get over phobias is through something called flooding, and that’s where you hyper-expose yourself to the scary stimulus. And so what I engaged in was what I called rejection therapy, because what I was afraid of was social rejection. So I intentionally created these experiences where I would put myself in a position where it would be likely for me to get rejected. It would be like me going to a coffee shop, and let’s say it was my birthday, and I was mentoring a young college student at the time, and so they said, “Hey, we see it’s your birthday on your card. Happy birthday. Here’s a free pastry.” And I’m like, “Oh, well thank you. Well, my mentee is here. Can he have a free pastry too?” Now we had no right, no right to get a pastry. I am doing this with the hope and expectation of getting rejected. But I got it. I got it. Which is cool. But there a lot of times when I get engaged in this practice, and I still do it, and I get rejected. And there are two benefits. If I get rejected, that shows me hey, you got rejected, you didn’t die, everything’s fine, and so that makes me more likely to stand up for myself and ask for what I want boldly when it matters, because I’m familiar with operating through that fear. And then on the other hand, it works and I get what I want. So it’s a win-win situation. And what’s interesting is as you start to engage in rejection therapy, you want to start to ask yourself, how many of these things have I been needlessly holding back fro myself, simply because I didn’t ask? And that’s one of the most beautiful things about negotiation, because a negotiation is a conversation where somebody in the conversation wants something. And so when you take that really broad definition, you realize that we’re really negotiating all the time. And this increases your negotiation awareness. you realize that we’re negotiating all the time. And now this increases your negotiation awareness. By engaging in rejection therapy, it increases your willingness to act and take action in those situations. So you’re just creating new opportunities to negotiate and get more for yourself in all facets of your life every day, both at home and at work.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, I love that, and I can’t wait to watch your TEDTalk about it.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah, thank you! Thank you, thank you.
ANGELA COPELAND: That is excellent. Well, so, I want to jump back to, stay on the topic for a second of fear. One of the biggest fears that people always express to me is, they are afraid that if they do try to negotiate, if they do try to push through the fear, that the company is going to take away the offer. And I always like to ask people if they’ve ever seen this, because I have never seen this. I have never had this happen to me. I think probably for me, the worst thing I’ve had is maybe the company said, well, we’re offering you the most we can offer, we can’t go any higher. But I’ve never had a company say, “Never mind, we’re taking the offer back.” Have you ever seen that happen?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yes.
ANGELA COPELAND: You have!
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yes, and I’m glad that I have. Here’s why. So as you know, I consult with people who want to get more out of their salaries. That’s one of the things that I offer. And so there was one person I was working with, and she gave a reasonable counter, and the people rescinded the offer. And before she did this, at the time I felt really guilty, because before she did this, I was like, “It is so unlikely. I’ve never seen a rescinded offer.” And then the offer got rescinded. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I did this to this young woman. What have I done?” But I said this, I said this at the time. That is unreasonable. It is very rare that that happens. The fact that they rescinded the offer is most likely indicative of something you want to avoid in that workplace. And so I met with her for coffee about three months ago. That was about a year after the offer was rescinded. And she said, “Hey, Kwame, so guess what? Since they rescinded my offer, they’ve gone through four directors at that place, and they came back and offered me exactly what I was asking for.” And I said, “No, because there’s clearly something broken in your organization that you’ve gone through four people in less than a year. That’s insane.” And so if you get somebody who rescinds your offer, that is a great thing, because you probably are dodging a bullet, because that is not a good sign when it comes to an organization. If you open dialogue about your compensation and they shut it down immediately, it’s probably indicative a larger issue within that organization.
ANGELA COPELAND: I tend to agree. I’ve always told people I’ve never seen it happen, but if it does, maybe that’s not the right company, because it’s just so unusual, and it’s really unreasonable. I mean, you kind of used that language when you started. She gave a reasonable counter, and then to have this happen, that’s just nuts. Wow.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: It is, and one thing I’ll say, following up on what you said, is sometimes they say, this is the most we could possibly do. That’s good. There’s a strong camp in negotiation theory that says we need to go for no, and actually it’s funny that I say the word camp, because the author of the book is Jim Camp, and the book is called “Go For No.” Because if you don’t catch the boundaries of the deal, then we really don’t know how far we’ve gone, whether or not we’ve been able to maximize value. Think about it more in a philosophical way with regard to your life. If you don’t test the boundaries of your life, you’ll never know how high you can fly because you’ve never tried. And so when it comes to these types of negotiations, don’t be afraid to push until they say no, because then you know you’ve reached your boundaries. And then when it comes to salary negotiations, the big thing that we’re focusing on is the number, the ultimate number for the compensation, but with the negotiation, what you want to do, especially in salary negotiations, is once we feel as though we have maximized the value of compensation with regard to the salary, that’s when we shift the negotiation to non-monetary issues. Because we want to get the most we can with that big number, and now, I’ve accomplished that goal, let me see what I can do with vacations, let me see what I can do with bonuses, sick days, etc.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, I mean, where do you typically start after salary? Do you usually go to vacation?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Well, it depends on the client. It depends on what their interests are. And that’s why, whenever it comes to negotiation, we need to take the time to prepare, not just with regard to our strategy and tactics, but with an internal audit of what we really want. Like, the podcast episode I’m posting today talks about five sources of wealth, and I’m going to look bad now because I can only remember a few of them, but it’s money, it’s time, it’s relationships, and some other things, but the thing is, if we are somebody who really values relationships, like our relationship with our family, that’s going to be strongly correlated with time, and if we focus so much on maximizing value in the salary to the detriment of our time, we might end up with a net negative on this deal, because we focused so much on what we thought we should, what society says we should focus on, to the detriment of what we really do care about. So there needs to be an internal audit to see what’s important. Most people, next comes vacation or benefits. If it’s somebody with a family, it’s often benefits. But for me, I kind of look at it differently. I would go for vacation time next, or maybe flex time.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, yeah. I think for my last two full-time jobs, I negotiated for four weeks of vacation each time, and when I talk to people about that, they get really surprised, because they say, “Well, I thought the company policy was two weeks.” And it’s like, “Well it is until you ask for more than two weeks.”
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Exactly. Exactly.
ANGELA COPELAND: But we’re talking a lot about sort of what happens at the end of the whole job interview process. In my view, negotiation actually really starts with the very first phone call and the very first conversation, which is often with a human resources person and they call you and they’re pretty chill and they say, like, “Oh, I got your resume, it looks really nice. what does your calendar look like to meet with the hiring manager?” And you’re having a normal conversation, and all of a sudden, they’ll say something like, “Oh by the way, how much do you make?” And that’s to me where it really begins. And I’m curious how do you advise your clients to answer this question how much do you make?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Right. And before I answer that, I want to address something earlier which was brilliant. The negotiation starts well before the time that we think it does. If there’s one thing I really want everybody to get in addition to enhancing your recognition of opportunities to negotiate, it’s also acknowledging the fact that there is no real beginning and end to a negotiation. There is no proverbial negotiation table that signifies when the negotiation starts and ends. We’re constantly positioning ourselves to be in the best persuasive position as possible, and so this dovetails exactly, like, perfectly into what you were talking about now with regards to addressing our previous salaries. Now best case scenario, they don’t ask that, but hoping that somebody doesn’t ask is not a strategy. So let’s not even talk about that. What we need to do here is, we want to avoid anchoring ourselves downward, and so anchoring is a psychological principle whereby the first number that is discussed is going to have a disproportionate amount of persuasive value with regard to the rest of the conversation. And so when it comes to our previous compensation, let’s say we’re trying to get over that six figure hump, and our previous salary was 80,000, the 80,000 almost becomes a reference point for the remainder of the negotiation. So we don’t want that to be there. So we have two options. Either we make sure that it is not used a reference point, or if it is shared, we obliterate it and make it seem illegitimate. So how do we do that? So if they ask for the salary, what I would say is something to the effect of, let’s say you’re the HR person that I’m talk to you. “Angela, I think I can definitely appreciate why that would be important, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing my salary with you and here’s why. I want to make sure that for this new opportunity that I’m compensated in accordance to the metrics that would make my salary commensurate with the going rate on the market and something that’s commensurate with the amount of experience that I have in the industry. So I want those to be the metrics that we use to determine my future salary.” And just kind of leave it at that. And what I would say is, with regard to these questions that are difficult that we know are coming, we should have our response down, nice and crisp, two to three sentences, and know exactly what we want to say. I’m not somebody who typically advocates for pre-rehearsed lines, like zingers or something like that, but in these difficult situations, where we know there is a potentially serious question coming up that could have a deleterious effect on the rest of the negotiation, we need to be ready for it. And especially in these situations where we’re stressed out, the stress hormone of cortisol is permeating through our veins, which actually inhibits clarity of thought, we can’t just leave that up to chance to freestyle it. Now, oftentimes it is unavoidable, and we don’t want to be weird or rude. We don’t want either of those things to be true for us. So if they push and say, sorry we need to have it down, then go ahead and share it. But if that is brought up later, what I would say is, “Without being disrespectful to my previous employer, I do believe that I was under-compensated for this job because of xyz reason.” And then what I would do is bring in legitimate criteria to justify what you believe you’re worth right now, based on a market analysis and a consideration of what you have brought to the table as far as your experience. Now, in this conversation, we’re kind of coming close to offers, and when it comes to offering, the rule of thumb in negotiation is, whenever you have more information, you make the first offer, and whenever they have the more information, they make the first offer. And so in this situation, they know the market better than you, most likely, but they definitely know their finances better than you do, so you need to sit back, see what their offer is, and then they can counter with what you brought to the table with your objective criteria, your evidence.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think that’s all excellent advice. You know, I think also you kind of mention being ready for their response, so you can be prepared. And I know for me, like, the most extreme example I had, I was interviewing for a job in New York, and the human resources person was very aggressive, very direct, and I was trying various ways to get around giving my number, and she just said, “Angela, if you don’t give me a number right now, we’re going to end this call.” And I just really calmly said, “I totally understand. Thank you for your time. It was great to meet you. I hope you have a great day.” And I think that just really stopped this person in their tracks, because I wasn’t afraid of that, and I knew there was some reason that if I had shared my number, I would have lost out. I was in such a different place financially that I wouldn’t have been considered. And in that case, they happened to make an exception. She called me the next day and said, “We’re going to keep interviewing you.” She clearly had a bit of a grudge about it. But I think you have to be ready, because this is a really uncomfortable situation for both you and for either that either hiring manager or the HR person, and they may not handle it super-smoothly either, and you just have to be ready either to kind of roll with it and think of, how do I want to respond to that other person’s, whatever they say.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Absolutely, and I think that was a brilliant response, by the way.
ANGELA COPELAND: Well, I mean, if I had needed that job, or I—I really felt like I would have no shot in that situation, so there was a really good reason why I was protecting the number in that moment. So sometimes it does make sense to reveal the number and explain it, but I was not fortunate enough to be in that type of situation at that time. But you just never know what they may say back to you. So anyway, I like the fact also you mentioned sort of who has the most information. So I assume, based on kind of what you said also, is that if we don’t have to bring this up, we should not bring this up, I’m assuming.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Oh yes, I’m assuming, unless they give you an offer that is less than your previous salary or equal to. Then we can say, well I might as well just stay at that point. That’s when I would bring it up. And in one of my recent negotiations working with an executive who was switching jobs, that’s what happened to him. They were offering less than what he was currently making. And it was tough because he was laid off at the time, and he was trying to get back to the industry, but that served as a strong anchor, because he knew what was he worth in the market. He wasn’t fired for poor behavior. They just had rounds of layoffs, and he happened to be one of the casualties. But it worked. We were able to get his salary up probably $20-30,000 from what they were initially offering, which is substantial. So if it works for you, use it.
ANGELA COPELAND: Well, I think it’s really important to think about that. You said $20 or $30,000. I’ve helped clients to do similar things, and I think it’s a really compelling number, when you think about, you know, I’m avoiding this because it’s really stressful, this negotiation, I’m avoiding it because it causes me anxiety. And I always say, you know, if I told you for a little bit of stress, like, a little bit, you could make $20 or $30,000, would you do it? And the answer is usually yes. And I just think if you can put that into perspective, that little bit of stress or little bit of anxiety is worth it.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Absolutely, and the thing is, the negotiation provides you with the opportunity to have the highest value conversations that you could possibly have, because when else in your life will you be operating at an hourly rate of tens of thousands of dollars per hour? That’s an unprecedented opportunity, and so thinking about it that way kind of gives you a little bit more of an impetus to have these conversations, because the value is worth it.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, that’s when you’ve got to do it. You can’t go take a job and think you’re going to get your foot in the door and then negotiate in like a year, because that’s not going to happen. It’s now.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah, because you’re setting a precedent. If you’re setting a precedent of not negotiating, they’re going to be less likely to negotiate with you down the road.
ANGELA COPELAND: And when people want to negotiate more money for the same job, it’s like, well, I already pay you let’s say $80,000 a year to do this job. Why would I now a year later pay you $100,000 a year to do the same job? That’s not the time to ask. You’ve already shown that you’ll take that much. Well, so there’s another thing I wanted to kind of touch on, and you talk about this in your podcast, and I do say with regards to this question, how much do you make, on the good news front, I keep seeing that more states and more cities are outlawing this question, or are outlawing that you ask about salary history. So I would definitely check out what’s the law in your local area, but one of the reasons that they are outlawing is it that they feel that it kind of creates discrimination essentially that’s making it so people who have been paid unfairly in the past will be paid unfairly in the future. And you actually have a podcast episode where you talk about negotiating away the wage gap. You know, what advice do you have for us if we feel like this is happening to us, and how can we essentially negotiate it away?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah. It is very tough, and this is the thing, and like you were saying, the previous salary question has a disproportionately negative impact on women and minorities, just because of the biases that are in the workplace. So it’s difficult, and especially when it comes to negotiating while a woman, I have not done this, but I have read many an article, and this is one of my passions, to try and share this particular message, because it’s important, one of the most pressing issues in negotiation that we face in our society today, I think. And so when it comes to these types of situations, you need to have a really strong sense of your value. You need to focus on what it is you are worth to the organization and what it is that your level of experience and your personal attributes can bring to the table. And so a lot of times, when it comes to men in negotiations, competence is assumed, leadership ability, that’s assumed, and so it’s not as difficult for us to make that case, whereas when you are a female trying to make those same types of arguments, you’re going to need to be ready to substantiate those types of claims. That’s one thing. Another thing, another issue that women face, or women and minorities, I’ll say it this way, is the various types of stereotypes that you’ll face. Now for the sake of simplicity we’re going to focus on two types of stereotypes here. You have descriptive stereotypes and prescriptive stereotypes. So a descriptive stereotype describes what somebody in your position or in your group should do. It describes what you are like. So for instance, a descriptive stereotype of a black male is somebody who is aggressive and most likely not as educated. So as a result of me knowing what the descriptive stereotype is for me, I always lead with, whenever I’m introducing myself or sending emails or something like that, I’m a stickler when it comes to adding all of the letters that I’ve earned at the end of my name. So it’s always Kwame Christian, ESQ, MA. So it’s like, oh, he’s a lawyer and he has a masters. That’s impressive. So it’s psychologically overcoming that barrier, this guy is intelligent. And the next step is, being that step who is taking the first step to make people feel comfortable. So I’m very friendly, smile a lot, so I’m trying to overcome those almost invisible negotiations before the conversation even starts. Now, for women, it’s a little bit trickier, because women deal with prescriptive stereotypes. So a prescriptive stereotype prescribes how you should act in a given situation, which I think might be more detrimental when it comes to handling yourself in negotiations. So when a male acts in an assertive way, it’s seen as, oh, you are being a leader. That is what you should do as a male. That is impressive and we respect you for that. Whereas if a woman would say or do the exact same thing, it would be taken in a different way, because it goes against the prescriptive stereotype. And so as a result, what the studies have shown, when it comes to negotiating, through bias as a woman, you almost have to lean into the prescriptive stereotype and couch all of your arguments in terms of collaboration. And so when you’re talking about your leadership abilities, a male might be able to get away with saying, “I was able to accomplish this,” blah blah blah blah blah, focusing on me, me, me, me, me, whereas a woman would need to change what she’s saying a little bit to say, “As our team was able to accomplish xyz while I was at the helm.” So it’s a small, little change in semantics that shows a little bit more collaboration. Then when it comes to asking for more on the salary, the change that I would make is, “I want to make sure that I am properly incentivized to work as hard as I can for this team, because I really respect the organization. The people on the team are great, and I want to have the opportunity to work with it.” And so you’re constantly couching what you’re saying in terms of collaboration. Is it fair? No. Is it effective? Yes. And so when it comes to determining the way you want to handle these negotiations, it really has to come down to your personal philosophy. Do you want to lean into the stereotype in order to get more of what you want, or do you want to make a stand and speak the way that you want to speak and use just standard negotiation techniques. And that’s really a personal decision. I can’t say you should do one thing versus the other. But I think it is important to be aware of the different types of stereotypes that affect you in order for you to create an intelligent strategy around it.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. I mean, I hate that reality, but I think it’s important to be aware of it so you can work with it. Well so, say that we’re ready to actually have that negotiation, and we want to ask for more money. How do you initially begin that conversation?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: In this hypothetical, are we saying that we are currently working in the organization, or we have received an offer for the new organization?
ANGELA COPELAND: New organization. That’s my favorite.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Gotcha. Okay, cool. So here’s one of my favorite techniques. I use it in almost all of my negotiations. I used it this morning. I’m a mediator, too, so I do some mediation too. And so the question I love to ask is, “What flexibility do you have with this offer?” And the thing that I really appreciate about this question is that it’s open-ended, which is my favorite kind of question, and the difference between open-ended and close-ended is that close-ended can be answered in a monosyllabic response, which doesn’t give you much information, but open-ended questions draw out elaboration where you can get more information, and information is the lifeblood of negotiation. That’s the first thing. The second thing is it assumes flexibility. And so we’re not asking, are you able to change this? Can you give me more? Something like that. We’re assuming that there is flexibility, so we want them to search the archives of their mind to see what type of flexibility they have there. So those are the two most powerful elements of that question. And the next one, strategically, is that it gets them to negotiate against themselves. Because remember, since they have more information, we sat back and waited for them to come up with an offer. They’ve made an offer, and they might say, “Hey, we are giving you $120,000 per year, when can you start?” And you say, “What flexibility do you have?” Now like I said, they are negotiating against themselves, so it gives them an opportunity to make a mistake of doing your job for you. And you want them to do that before you even come up with your own counter. So that is the the benefit of that question. So when it comes to salary negotiation, if you get an offer, I think the best way to open up that conversation is by simply inviting them to negotiate against themselves by answering the question, “What flexibility do you have?”
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, I love that. And then say we get to the point where we have agreed upon an offer with the company. We’re on the same page. I know that you recommend getting the offer in writing. Can you share with us why it’s so important to get the offer in writing?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah. As lawyers, we love to create paper trails, especially when they’re positive. So if you get the deal that you want, you want that to be written down as soon as possible for two reasons: deception and forgetfulness. Sometimes if you get a really good deal, they might want to change it by kind of pretending that they’ve made an innocent mistake, and that’s rare. I don’t see that type of malice happening often, but I know it could happen, so you want to make sure that you have it in writing. The next one is forgetfulness. That happens. We’re humans. So we have this conversation, and then a couple of days pass, and they say, “Oh, I forgot to send Angela that email. Let me send her that offer.” And because they were negotiating, the number was different from what they originally had, they might make an honest mistake, and now you have to have another negotiation, or at least a difficult conversation about the number that you already agreed upon. And you have to do more work. And so what I do in these situations, and this is something that you can borrow in any type of situation, in a general business context, I do this with my spouse, via text not via email, but what I do is after I get a deal that I like, like the outlines of a deal that I like, I send the person an email and I say, “Hey, Angela, it was great chatting with you today. I’m really looking forward to working with you at the rest of the team. Just wanted to make sure that we’re on the same page with regards to this agreement. If I got anything wrong, let me know, and we can work that out, but it’s my understand that this salary would be $150,000 a year, four weeks of vacation, and x amount going to my 401k. Is that correct?” So you give them an opportunity to correct you if you’re wrong anywhere. And now, if that same misunderstanding happens down the road, what ends up happening is you can say, “Oh, I’m sorry, based on the email I sent you on October 16, this was my understanding. Is that wrong? Because you didn’t correct me when I sent you that email.” So that’s how you want to at least start to etch that, because they’re always going to be in charge of drafting the contract. That would be really strange if you had your lawyer draft up your own employment contract. That would be weird. But at least you would have the parameters outlined so you lock that in so there wouldn’t be any confusion.
ANGELA COPELAND: That makes total sense. Say that there’s a reason that we want to walk away, and we’ve negotiated what we wanted, and then maybe we got a counteroffer from someone else, like a competitive offer, and we’ve decided, you know what, I want to walk away from this company. How can we turn down the first company without offending them? How can we leave that relationship open?
KWAME CHRISTIAN: So the first thing is I want to try and change people’s mindset with regards to this, because our goal is to not offend them, but we need to control that which we can control, and we can control our behavior and treating people with respect. So with this interaction, our goal is to comport ourselves in the best possible manner. That’s it. That is it. And it’s important, because we cannot take responsibility for the response of others, and if we do that, we’re going to put undue pressure on us, because now we’re trying to control things that we can’t control. So that’s the first thing. So if you handle this perfectly, and they freak out, it’s like, “Whoa, that is your problem. I did my part of the deal.” So I want to introduce the audience to a technique that can be utilized in all situations. And quick pause. This is one of the things I really love about negotiation and conflict resolution, because we can essentially use this salary negotiation as a vignette for the application of general negotiation principles, because every technique that I’ve demonstrated in this call is something that could be used in all sorts of negotiations. So that is why this is so cool. Now back to it, the technique that I’m going to share is called the “no sandwich.” So what we do is we have a no sandwiched between two yes’s. And so what we want to do is we want to find the root of our yes. We can only do one thing well at a time in most cases, and so it’s not that we don’t want to do this, or this thing is bad, in particular this offer, it’s that we found something better. That’s what we’re saying yes to. So the strongest no’s are resting on the foundation of the strongest yes’s. So for instance, you would say, “Angela, I really appreciate the opportunity to interview and your offer. It’s very generous, and at this point in my career, I need to do what is best for me and my family to put my career forward. Considering that I have recently received an offer from an organization that is better suited for my needs at this time, and as a result, unfortunately, I’m going to have to walk away from your offer. However, I still want to have an opportunity to maintain a good, positive, amicable relationship with you, because I would love to have at least the opportunity to continue dialogue with you down the road and maybe we have an opportunity to work together later.” So the first yes is to the new opportunities, the thing that is driving your no. And then the second, the no, is very short and succinct. You want to have an unassailable no. If you make it too long, if you open it up to too many vulnerabilities, and now they try to poke holes through your no. So your no needs to be as short as possible. So as you saw in that example, it was, “And because of that, unfortunately, I have to say no to your offer.” Boom. That’s it. And so then, you follow it up with another yes, which is a yes to the relationship, because you want to make it clear to the other side that you are saying no to their substantive request, not to them as a person. So you’re saying no to the request, but yes to the relationship.
ANGELA COPELAND: I like it. Well Kwame, this has been excellent. If we’re listening today, where can we go to learn more about you and more about your work.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Yeah, so first thing, I have a freebie for the audience. It is a 19-page negotiation guide that will help you be more confident in your most difficult conversations, and it has a salary negotiation guide that you can use to walk through step-by-step what you need to do to prepare for your next salary negotiation, and it also talks about how you can handle conflicts and prepare for general negotiations and everything. So if you want that, you can go to www.americannegotiationinstitute.com/guide. That’s g-u-i-d-e. And I’ll send you the link so you can put it in the show notes. And the other places is, the podcast is called Negotiate Anything. You can find it on any podcast app you have there. And check out the TEDTalk when it comes out. I’m presenting it on October 20, 2017, so it should be out, well, I don’t want to make any predictions. It will be out at some point in the future.
ANGELA COPELAND: It’ll be out soon! We’re so excited to see it. Well Kwame, thank you for joining me. This has been great.
KWAME CHRISTIAN: Thank you. You know, this was a lot of fun.
ANGELA COPELAND: And thanks everyone for listening. Thanks to those of you who sent me questions. You can send me your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach, and on Facebook, I’m “Copeland Coaching.” Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review.
Episode 150 is live! This week, we talk with Jennifer Shappley in Nashville, Tennessee. I met up with Jennifer during the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference. LinkedIn hosted over 4K recruiters from over 2K companies from around the world.
Jennifer is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn in San Francisco, California. She has a long history in talent acquisition, with experience in both healthcare and financial services.
On today’s episode, Jennifer shares:
- Why having a LinkedIn account will help you with your job search
- Tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile
- How recruiters use LinkedIn when they’re looking for candidates
- Mistakes job seekers make on LinkedIn and how to avoid them
Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
Copeland Coaching Podcast | Episode 150 | Effectively Using LinkedIn – Jennifer Shappley, LinkedIn
Airdate: October 17, 2017
Welcome to the Copeland Coaching podcast. I’m your host, Angela Copeland. Here today with me in Nashville is Jennifer Shappley. Jennifer is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn in San Francisco. She has a long history in talent acquisition with experience in both health care and financial services. Jennifer, thanks for joining me today.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Thanks for having me, Angela.
ANGELA COPELAND: So it’s so nice to meet you. I happened to look at your LinkedIn profile before we got started, and I suspect that you may have also lived in Memphis before.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I did. Yes. So coming back to Nashville is almost like coming home for me.
ANGELA COPELAND: So I live in Memphis. We didn’t chat very much before we got started.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: No, amazing, wow.
ANGELA COPELAND: And we have a bunch of common contacts, and I want to jump into the questions, but I’m curious, were you in Impact Memphis when you were in Memphis?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I was. I was a really early member of Impact Memphis and I actually led what was then called the Promote Memphis pillar. So there were all these early pillars, and so I co-led that for several years.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s cool. So I lived there from 2001-2004 and I left until 2006 and I think we maybe missed each other.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: We may have just—You were 2001-2004?
ANGELA COPELAND: And I came back in 2006.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. That’s amazing. That creates some connections actually. I may remember your name.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think we may have worked at the same company but at different times.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: What a small world. I love to meet people from Memphis. That’s amazing, especially that worked with Impact.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, so we’re here at LinkedIn Connect, which is an annual LinkedIn event, and I’m really excited to talk to someone who does recruiting for LinkedIn and to talk to you about LinkedIn. So I cover from the job seeker side, and I’m curious, this is like such a given, but do you use LinkedIn for your recruiting at LinkedIn?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Surprisingly, we do, yes, so very heavy users of LinkedIn within the organization.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s great. So one of the top questions I get from job seekers all the time, like, every day, is do I need to have a LinkedIn account? And I’d love to hear your perspective on that and why it’s so important.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I get that question often from people too. Sometimes I take for granted, being such an active LinkedIn user, that some people still aren’t quite sure how it could benefit them. And I would encourage people to use it, no matter what industry they’re in. So I think sometimes people think, “I’m not in a corporate role. Is LinkedIn really the right place for me?” And while LinkedIn is an amazing platform for finding jobs and finding that career opportunity, it’s also an amazing place just to network and maintain those relationships. And so I feel like that’s important no matter what job you’re in. So when people are unsure about getting on the platform, I’m like, absolutely, get on there, network, engage. You’ll strengthen the relationships you have and you’ll build new ones.
ANGELA COPELAND: Totally. Well so another question specifically around the network portion that I get literally every day is, should I connect to strangers? Is it a bad thing if I connect to strangers? I can see both sides. What’s your perspective on that?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think that’s a personal preference for people. My take on it is, like, I will connect of course with people that I know personally, and I’ll connect with people where we have, maybe we don’t know each other, but we’ve got shared interests. Maybe it’s somebody that I feel like I could help because they’re in the HR recruiting field and they’re interested in learning more, or perhaps it’s somebody I think I could learn from. So I think there are reasons you might want to connect with people that you don’t personally know, but it’s everyone’s personal preference. Some people want to keep that network really small. The benefit of expanding your network and connecting with people that you maybe don’t even have that personal relationships is you start to magnify the power of being on LinkedIn. The broader your network, the broader your second and third degree network. There’s a lot of benefit that comes from that.
ANGELA COPELAND: I totally agree. I often tell people, if you want to meet new people, you have to connect to new people.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Absolutely. And where the platform has gone, it’s so much about digesting information. And so if you got more people in your network, you’re seeing more updates, you’re seeing what they’re sharing, and so it’s an opportunity for you to digest information that you might not otherwise have seen.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well, so, when it comes to our profiles, say we’ve decided we’re going to get a LinkedIn account, we’re going to set it up. From the job seeker’s side, what are some of the things that it would be important for us to do that would help you on the recruiting side?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So I think first and foremost is make sure you’ve got a built-out profile, and we’ve got built in to the platform now tips on what you need to fill out, so it’s going to prompt you. You don’t have a summary. Would you like us to help you write one? And so I encourage people to not let it just be this empty shell. If you’re going to be on there, put information about what it is that you’ve done, what your skills and interests are. Help people help you. If you’re putting on your profile what you’re interested in doing, whether it’s doing pro bono work or getting involved in a board or looking for a new job opportunity, the more information that you have on your profile, the better that your network can help you and the more likely you’re going to be found by that person who can either help you find that next job or connect you with an opportunity.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well so, sometimes job seekers ask me, “Is it okay if I paste some things from my resume, if I say on the experience section underneath the description of what I did, would it be okay if I pasted in from my resume?” Do you have a perspective on that at all?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think absolutely it makes sense to paste stuff in from your resume. I think you might not want to bring everything over. I think, put it in bullet points, summarize, make it easy to digest, think about the format and how it’s going to look in that medium on your profile, but absolutely carry information over from your resume. If you’ve got a really strong resume that’s highlighting the skills that you have and the accomplishments that you’ve made, then don’t reinvent the wheel. Bring that information over into your profile.
ANGELA COPELAND: That makes me feel better. I like that perspective a lot, actually, because I think that if you’re delaying on a LinkedIn profile, it’s better to copy and paste than feel like you need to make something completely custom and then delay yourself doing it at all.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: .Exactly. It’s like, remove that barrier. If that is something that’s keeping you from creating a LinkedIn profile, because you’re like, “I didn’t really enjoy creating my resume the first time. I definitely don’t want to have to recreate something,” than import that over. Bring that information. For many people that’s where it starts. It’s just a way to digitize that static resume that’s sitting on your desktop somewhere and put it into your profile so that others can see it.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. So I understand that a lot of your LinkedIn profile is searchable on the recruiter side. Are you searching for things like our headline? Are you aware of what particular components matter the most within the profile?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, like what’s being indexed or searched. So when I or a recruiter are searching, we’re not necessarily saying, ooh, looking to pul it from this specific piece, but we’re searching on certain words or phrases that we’re interested in. It could be a skill set. It could be a job title. Where it jobs from, whether it comes from that title field or it comes from a reference in the summary you put in there, doesn’t matter as much. It just matters that you get found. And so I think being thoughtful about the words you use, don’t use just filler words, don’t use generic buzzwords. We see those everywhere. But really articulate what are the things that you have accomplished. Think about the information that you’re putting out there and put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes too. If I were hiring someone like me, what would I be looking for? And make sure those things are highlighted on your profile. That’s going to help you get found.
ANGELA COPELAND: Well so from the recruiter side, how do you decide when you’re helping a hiring manager to fill a certain position, and you go into LinkedIn, how do you decide what you’re going to search for, what you’re going to look for? As a recruiter, how do you know?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So you think back to the old job description. We’re thinking through, like, what are the skills that are required or preferred? What is the experience that’s needed? Those are things that go into a search filter that a recruiter is using. So if I talk to a hiring manager and they say I need this person to have so many years of this kind of experience, then that’s what the recruiter is going to look for. There are other things like, if I’m sitting down with a hiring manager, yep, I’ve got this job description here, I understand what the basic requirements are, but I might also be interested in knowing who on your team is doing really well. Who have you hired that has really excelled in this job? Go to that person’s profile. I’m going to now look and see what was on their profile that I can use as a recruiter to help find somebody else like them? I also have tools where you can within a recruiter look and see, find more people like this. So in addition to creating searches off of the experience, skills that we’re looking for, there are also ways where we can say this profile was really successful. Maybe I want to find more people like that.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s such an interesting point because as a job seeker I can go and look at profiles of other people, maybe who look on that team where I’m applying to work and maybe kind of see, are there any kind of factors? Do these people have certain things in their profile that I might want to pay attention to? If I have those skills, maybe I should hire those skills. That’s interesting. I also get a lot of questions, I have to say, over whether we should have a photo in our profile. And I have my own opinion, but should we have a photo in our profile?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: You absolutely should have a photo. One of the things that I find is, people have a photo, but then people want to know, like, does it need to be a professional headshot? How casual can it be? And they want to know, what is an appropriate photo? So first and foremost, you know, it’s something you’re comfortable putting your image out there, I recommend putting a photo out there. Then as far as does it need to be a corporate headshot or not, I encourage people to showcase the personality. I would keep it professional, but I see great shots of somebody, like, smiling, laughing, maybe it’s more of a side profile, and it really shows their personality and it showcases who they are. I think what type of photo you use these days, there’s a lot of variety in there.
ANGELA COPELAND: I totally agree. I think it’s really important. I get a lot of questions. People don’t want to put photos. They’re really uncomfortable, or occasionally I’ll see photos where the person has a friend in the photo with them or maybe they’re in like a prom dress looking kind of outfit at a party, or I’ve even seen people who use cartoons, and maybe the cartoon is a little more passable, I’m not sure. I just prefer a straight-on photo of your face, smiling, no one else.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Agreed. I think it’s best when it’s just you. What you’re portraying or putting out there for future employers or your network is yourself, so I would keep it as just you. I’ve had people ask about, like, pets and stuff, and I’m like, you know, if you work at Petco or something, there are companies that that’s part of your brand, and that might be something. Generally speaking, I would stick with make it of yourself, but depending on who you want to work for, who you are, what you’re aspiring to be, there’s opportunity for variety in there.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think that’s a very smart way to put it because it depends on what your target market it is.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. Exactly.
ANGELA COPELAND: The likelihood that you are going to be working for a pet company like Petco is fairly small, but if you are—
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: If you are, if you’re a dog trainer, I mean, we have people with a variety of different backgrounds on LinkedIn, and so maybe you’re a dog sitter, and that makes sense, put it out there. So it’s just thinking about understanding your own personal brand, what you’re wanting to put out there, what you’re trying to attract, and doing something that’s authentic.
ANGELA COPELAND: As a job seeker, are there certain things that we could do on LinkedIn that would really impress you as a recruiter? Like, are there things that would make us stand out from other candidates that you can think of?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think people think a lot about their profile and building it out, and that is important, but what I love to see is people who are really thought leaders in their space, people who are just posting through updates or maybe publishing interesting insights into the field that they’re in. That is a great way to stand out, and so I know for a lot of people the shortform and longform publishing post is intimidating, worried about writing. That’s fine. Updates. Just posting information, sharing an article with a quick insight, those things can absolutely make you stand out. It shows that you’re engaged with your industry or with whatever you’re focusing on, and it allows you to show your thought leadership in a space. I think people, don’t underestimate the importance of that.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well so as a job seeker I’m wondering if maybe on the flipside there are some things we should avoid that would sort of turn you off or just recruiters in general that would make the recruiter say, “Eh, I should pass on this person.” Are there certain things that we as job seekers are sharing that we should consider not sharing?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I feel like times are changing and there’s not a hard line necessarily on what should be shared and what shouldn’t. In general, I would say stay away from saying negative things about your current employer or past employers, similar to the advice we might give someone going into an interview. Don’t get into a new interview and bash your past employers or anything like that. Focus on yourself and your own accomplishments, so I would avoid that. I think, like I said, there’s not a hard line. Don’t forget that you are, what you’re putting out there, whether it be on our platform or any platform, is available for, depending on your privacy settings, anybody to see, and certainly for future employers to see or future people that you connect with. And so again, just really think about what is the brand that you’re wanting to put out there. Is it something that you would feel comfortable with future employers seeing? And think about that before you post. But be open, be authentic. Don’t be afraid to have a healthy debate on the platform. I think there’s plenty of room for that. I would just primarily encourage people to think through, am I okay with somebody in the future seeing this if I maybe want to go work at their company?
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. I think of it a lot of times like not sharing something you might not want to share at a dinner party when you meet someone new, especially with, like, our tricky political environment right now. You might just want to keep that to yourself, or keep it on Facebook with some good privacy settings, but you just have to remember that you will be judged for what you say, and it’s important to know that, and it’s one thing if, say, you’re going to work for, like, a political organization or an organization that has to do with religion, then maybe you align yourself to that group, like the dog photo.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. Yeah. It’s all about I think remembering that everything you put out there becomes a part of your brand, and what do you want your brand to be. And I think if you just think about that before you put that information out there, that’s probably the best advice I could give you.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, absolutely. Well so one thing too that is interesting with LinkedIn and with the internet in general is that you can search for jobs in different cities. So another question I get pretty often, and I’ll just tell you kind of what I think, is, people will ask me, “Well, if I want to move to Dallas, could I just put that as my city?” I generally think that’s bad. I think you should be as honest as you can be, like if you don’t live in Dallas in that scenario. But as a recruiter, would you take note of that if someone had, like, the wrong city or the wrong location? Would it pop up for you?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So we actually have made some changes recently that really help with this. Because I’ll have to share this podcast with a former coworker, because I remember a few years ago, prior to being at LinkedIn, people knew that I was an avid LinkedIn user, and so I would often get questions, and one of them was at the time, her son was interested in moving to a new city, and he wasn’t sure how to showcase that. So now, you don’t have to necessarily showcase this directly on your externally facing profile, but with our Open Candidates feature, you can indicate if you’re open to relocation, and you can share that so that recruiters can find it, which didn’t use to be possible. Now also, you can put it in your profile as well, so if you’re interested and want to put that out there, then I encourage people to do that, but for people who don’t want to broadcast to the world, you can indicate this now through Open Candidates.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s interesting. So another scenario that comes up pretty often, right, is, LinkedIn is great in terms of finding the hiring manager. Honestly, one of the jobs that I had in Memphis, I found the Vice President of Digital Marketing. I was working in digital marketing, and I contacted him and asked him to have lunch with me, and eventually it led to a job offer. But I’m curious from sort of the recruiting perspective, how does the recruiting team in general typically feel when you have a candidate that kind of goes around your process and goes straight to the hiring manager directly? Does that make sense?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So like does the recruiter feel bypassed?
ANGELA COPELAND: Is that a problem?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Generally speaking, certainly at LinkedIn, it’s not a problem. Organizations have probably different cultures and perspectives on things, so it’s hard to speak for all companies, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think our platform is about encouraging and building relationships and connections, and so if somebody already has a connection with a hiring manager or has an intro, a reason they want to reach out to them, I mean honestly, I think done right, that can be helpful in the process.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s a good perspective. That’s nice feedback. If we do that, if we plan to do that, would you also encourage us to apply online as well and go through the normal process?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yes, absolutely, because at some point, you’re need to go through the application process, so likely if you reach out to a hiring manager, they’re going to one, maybe talk to you, but likely put you back into the process, put you in connection with the recruiter or send you a link to apply. You’re going to still need to go through that process. So honestly, if you’re the hiring manager, Angela, most likely what I’m going to do is I’ll go ahead and apply online and then say. “I just applied for this job. I also wanted to reach out,” maybe mention a shared connection or some piece of information that connects the both of us, but just wanted to let you know that I applied and I’m really looking forward to hearing back.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s great. That’s really good.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Because by doing that you’ve taken action yourself, you’ve made it easy for, if that hiring manager doesn’t even respond, they’ve seen that likely and they’re going to remember you, and they don’t have to come back and be like, “Can you please go through the application process?” You’ve done the action. You’ve taken the work on yourself, and you’ve just reached out and maybe put a little bit more recognition to your name. That’s the way I would approach it, and I think most people would not be bothered by that extra step at all.
ANGELA COPELAND: I love that, and a lot of candidates are afraid they’re going to offend someone, and so that’s really nice feedback, and I’m sure that it doesn’t always apply with every company, but it’s just helpful to know that it’s a possibility.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, and I mean, obviously, recruiters are like anybody else. They want to be respected in the process. But that’s not bypassing anybody. That’s, look, I applied, I went through this process, but I just wanted to let you know how interested I am and I’m looking forward to talking to you. I think that’s very unlikely to ruffle any feathers.
ANGELA COPELAND: Is there anything—I guess this will probably be my last question—is there anything that we as job seekers could do to make your life easier, or is there anything we’re doing that makes your life harder? What should we keep in mind? Because if we’ve never worked in HR, recruiting, it’s hard to picture what we could do better as job seekers
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: The more information that you can provide, either on your profile or let’s jump to a phone screen interview when you’re talking to the recruiter, share as much as you can. Be able to articulate what are the accomplishments that you’ve made, what value you can add. Be the best advocate for yourself. The more you can share and help the recruiter understand why you are qualified and the best candidate for the role, helps the recruiter advocate for you further down the process. So don’t just come into an interview passive, waiting to see what the questions are. Think ahead in how you’re going to respond, what information you want to share. Again, think about branding. what is is that you want the recruiter to understand about you after this conversation? And come in prepared to share that. With that, listen. Don’t talk to the whole time. Sometimes people get so excited to talk, it’s hard for the recruiter to get their questions in. You get to the end of the interview, and the recruiter is like, “I only got through one of my five questions,” or whatever it is. And that’s not helpful, because the recruiter hasn’t been able to get all the information from you that they need. So I would be thoughtful ahead of time about what you want to get across, but make sure you’re listening and watching for cues from the recruiter so you’re giving them an opportunity to ask everything that they need in order to further advocate for you.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, that’s a great, great point. I get questions a lot about, “Well, gosh, they already have my information in my resume. Why do I have to retell them?” And I’m like, “Well, they talk to a lot of people.” Also it’s important I think to talk about things in plain language, because you may be talking to someone who does a certain type of software development, and if they can’t explain what they do in a way that’s understandable and general, how are you supposed to help them? But that’s just my personal take on it.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Absolutely. I think back to doing public speaking workshops and stuff. The burden is not on the audience, it’s on you, as the communicator. So it’s not on the audience to decipher and make sense of what you’re telling them. It’s on you to communicate clearly in a way that they can understand, and so I think that applies really well to an interview too. The burden’s not on the recruiter to understand what it is that you’ve done and how this jargon applies to their role. It’s on you, the communicator, the candidate in this situation, to explain that in a way that they can understand.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. So I think this question is obvious but I have to ask it: where can we go to learn more about you and your work?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So, LinkedIn profile is a great place. So in addition to just the history and my work experience, I’ve also got there links to past presentations and other things that I’ve done, which is another thing I encourage your listeners to do. If you’ve spoken in the past, or you’ve got presentations, put those on your profile. It’s a great way to share more about yourself. But that’s the best place to go to learn a little bit more about me.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s perfect. Well Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been so helpful. It’s been great to meet you.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Thank you Angela.
ANGELA COPELAND: And thanks everyone for listening. Thanks to those of you who sent me questions. You can send me your questions at email@example.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach, and on Facebook, I’m “Copeland Coaching.” Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review.
Episode 149 is live! This week, we talk with Joelle Pittman in Memphis, Tennessee.
Joelle is the Vice President of digital marketing agency Neon Canvas. Previously, Joelle was a Community and Marketing Director at Yelp. And, she was a participant in a program called Remote Year.
On today’s episode, Joelle shares:
- What is Remote Year, and what are other similar programs
- The pros and cons of remote work
- The types of jobs that are a great fit for remote work
- Suggestions for transitioning to remote work
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
Episode 148 is live! This week, we talk to John Tarnoff in Los Angeles, CA.
John is a reinvention career coach who works with baby boomer and late career professionals looking to defy ageism, ignore retirement, and pivot to a new job or new business as a second-act or encore career. He is the author of “Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50.” John also gave a TEDx Talk titled, “The Kids Are Still Alright.”
On today’s episode, John shares:
- What’s happened that’s impacting baby boomers negatively in the job market, and why it’s so difficult
- The first step we should take when we’re trying to reinvent ourselves
- How to reframe a firing and move past it
- What we should be doing differently when we’re looking for a job
- What to do if we’re receiving feedback we’re over qualified
- How to overcome ageism
- The biggest mistake Baby Boomers are making when job searching, and what they can do to fix it
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
Copeland Coaching Podcast | Episode 148 | Boomer Career Reinvention – John Tarnoff, Reinvention Group
Airdate: October 17, 2017
Welcome to the Copeland Coaching podcast. I’m your host, Angela Copeland. On the phone with me, I have John Tarnoff in Los Angeles, CA. John is a reinvention career coach who works with baby boomer and late career professionals looking to defy ageism, ignore retirement, and pivot to a new job or new business as a second act or encore career. He is the offer of “Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Job Over 50.” He also gave a TEDx talk called, “The Kids are Still Alright.” John, thanks for joining me today.
Well I’m so excited. I mentioned before we got started, I think this topic is going to be incredibly relevant to our listeners, and so I’m just super-excited about it. Well, so from your perspective, what has happened that’s actually impacting baby boomers in a negative way in terms of their jobs?
JOHN TARNOFF: Well there are three factors that I kind of grudgingly like to call this the boomer trifecta, and really, this just no longer applies to boomers, because GenXers, the oldest GenXers are now over 50. So this really applies to anyone today who is moving into their late career. And the three problems are this. One is longevity. You know, we’re all living and going to be living even longer, certainly, than our parents did, and the advances are so rapid. I mean, according to the Census Bureau, if you hit 65 today, you have a 25 percent chance of living past 90, and the longer you live, the longer you’re going to live. So that’s one factor. So we’ve got a lot more time on our hands. The second factor is low savings. I don’t think the boomers are the only generation walking around now that has under-saved for retirement, particularly considering the first factor. We’ve got to make that savings last a long longer than our parents did. And we don’t have a lot of money in the bank, and there are very few institutional opportunities to really build wealth for the average person. And then the third problem really is job discrimination, and on the one hand, you can look at it and say, there are insufficient jobs for older workers, but at the same time there’s a tremendous amount of ageism, and there’s a real disconnect between our understanding of what older workers can do and our appreciation of keeping them in the job force and what they represent.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think you’re right. I really like the point that you made about savings and money. I actually saw something recently that talked about sort of the transition from having a pension to having to save on your own, sort of like in your own 401k, and what I was reading mentioned that Generation X in particular is very under-saved, I guess you could say, because we had to proactively do it, and a lot of companies saw that and they’re starting to automatically enroll millennials in savings plans, which is kind of helping to correct the issue, but that’s really interesting.
JOHN TARNOFF: We all need a lot of help, and thinking about all the generations now that are in the workforce, the problem that certainly GenX has to a degree and millennials to a staggering degree is school debt. So this is something that the boomers didn’t have, and I’m a big promoter of cross-generational, multi-generational support. So I believe that contrary to the views that a lot of boomers have about millennials, I think the millennials are a sensational generation and have a lot on their plate to handle that makes their lives quite a bit more challenging professionally than what we had when we were coming up.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, I totally agree. I think it’s a very complex issue. Well so, as we’re going through this change, it’s incredibly painful, it’s difficult. Why do you think that is? Why is it so difficult for us, and kind of what can we do to cope?
JOHN TARNOFF: Right. Well, I think we’re in the midst of a social-cultural revolution in terms of our attitudes about life and about life stages. I think certainly when my generation was coming up and perhaps to a certain extent your generation, the paradigm was, you get into education, you get a good job and you’re entitled to a good career because you have a good education, and if you kind of fly right and keep your nose clean, that entitles you to essentially work for 40 years and then you get to retire. And as we know, that is gone. That whole idea is gone. So there’s a shift that I think we all have to make towards a very different sense of what the life stages are. And the first thing is that education is lifelong. Right? You can’t coast on your degree or your diploma through life. You have to constantly be reeducating and continuing to educate and to build skills and build awareness and stay up to date. So the first stage is not so much about education to me. It’s about self-awareness. You have to know who you are, what you like to do, what you want to do, what’s going to sustain you, what’s going to really fulfill your sense of values and purpose. And I think the millennials are actually doing a pretty good job of making that job one. And then instead of this idea of the career, where you’re kind of punching and showing up to work every day, you really have to challenge yourself to be generating value. So it’s this generative period of your life. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the psychologist Erik Erikson, but he talks about this period of generativity, usually kind of middle age, where you’re really kind of at the top of your game, you know what you’re about, you’re delivering great value across every aspect of your life, and that really is the challenge for all of us, kind of getting right out of the blocks and sustaining our careers. And then the third stage is not retirement anymore. The third stage, I believe, is giving back. It’s about service. It’s about taking everything you’ve learned and you’ve done over your career, your lifespan, this generativity period, and giving it back, and spending the rest of your life imparting the wisdom and the value that you’ve learned to the next generation.
ANGELA COPELAND: I love that.
JOHN TARNOFF: So that’s the real shift that we’re dealing with, and I think change is always difficult. We aspire to change, but at the same time it’s scary. So I think perhaps the idea that there is a way forward and that we can pivot, that we can learn, and the work that you’re doing, that I’m doing, with the clients that we work with and vehicles like this podcast, I think are helping to encourage people and reassure people that change is possible.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think you’re right. I think it’s such an important message. I could not agree with you more, honestly. I think one thing that’s tough at times is for somebody who is realizing that this change is happening and accepting it, but occasionally you’re getting pushback from your older relatives who don’t agree with the idea that maybe you should work multiple jobs or have multiple careers. So that’s kind of a separate issue, but it’s—
JOHN TARNOFF: I think there’s a lot of fear out there, and that’s kind of a human trait as well, this kind of fight or flight response. And I think you’ve just got to be strong, you’ve got to do your research, you’ve got to present your case, and you have to believe in yourself at the ned of the day and be able to understand and communicate the idea that times have changed, and as much as it would be great to go back to the way things were, and I don’t want to get into a political conversation, but I think we have to be future-focused.
ANGELA COPELAND: Right. That’s just where it’s at. You know, I watched your TEDx talk, and it was excellent, and you joked about making it into a lifestyle, like transitioning different jobs. I think you’d said that you’d had 18 jobs, and I was looking through—You’ve worked with some really incredible companies, like MGM, Orion Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Dreamworks Animation. And you mention in your talk that you really struggled to see this as a positive thing until somebody else pointed it out to you. And I’m curious kind of what happened that changed your perspective.
JOHN TARNOFF: Well I joke in that talk about the fact that in doing the math on my 18 jobs in 35 years in the entertainment business that I was fired 39 percent of the time. And I joke about that, and it always gets a laugh, because who does that? Who calculates the amount of times you’ve been fired in your life. It’s something that you think about it being shameful. And my kind of self-mission and part of the larger mission is to really turn that idea around, that getting fired today is not shameful. It really is not necessarily about your performance or about who you are as a person. It’s about fit, and things are changing so fast, if you think that getting fired is a traumatic experience, and it is, and it is up there with death and divorce, but you also have to look at it from the corporate perspective. Companies are fighting for their lives, they are being disrupted out of business, the economy is in turmoil in many, many ways, and the most secure brand names are in danger of going out of business. So if you look at the Dow Companies today on the stock exchange, they’re very different companies from the companies that were there 20 years ago. So I think that you have to be able to reframe these limiting beliefs about who you are and what you can do and what your career is about and be willing to look at the lessons and the positive way of interpreting your history and your experiences. I mean, at the end of the day, what choice do you have if you’re going to keep going but to figure out how to positively assess it and learn the lesson that’s going to help you go forward, as opposed to continuing to complain or bemoan your fate? That’s not getting you anywhere.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well you work with clients, I know, on this exact issue. How long does it take us, usually, to move through that emotional piece? Is it a few months? A few years? Like, what seems normal to you in terms of how long it takes?
JOHN TARNOFF: You know, it really depends on the individual, and I think that, you know, unfortunately, for many people who have been in jobs for 10 or more years have such an identity with the job that they worked in, the company, the mission, and particularly the people and the social aspects of the work, that it becomes a devastating loss, I mean very, very much like a death or a divorce, where you really feel alone. You feel rudderless. You don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going when you wake up in the morning. So it really does differ from client to client, and it could be a period of three months. It could be a period of six months, a year. Some people kind of make it to a certain point where they can function, but they continue to harbor resentments or a sense of humiliation or shame that can persist for years. And one of the things that I try to work on with many clients who are in this situation where they’re doing kind of okay, they’re kind of halfway there, but there’s still stuff holding them back that they don’t really want to reexamine or think about is to go back, particularly after many years, and look at those obstacles that are still standing in their way, this sense that we all have baggage. And particularly I think older workers, because you’ve been around a long period of time, there is likely going to be some experience or set of experiences that you don’t want to think about but they really need to be resolved if you’re going to move forward.
ANGELA COPELAND: I like the fact that you mentioned that it’s really our identity, in a way, because I think a lot of times when we go into work, maybe we tell ourselves, you know, “I have a family, I have hobbies. This isn’t my identity. This isn’t my life.” And then when you do get laid off, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, this was my identity.” And I’ve at least observed in a lot of people all those negative feelings that they have, they almost try to not deal with it because they don’t want to think about it or they feel like they shouldn’t feel bad. And I feel like it takes even longer to get over it if you don’t sort of get mad in the beginning. If you’re putting it off, putting it off, it’s like, it’s just, you’re carrying it around in some way if you don’t kind of process it.
JOHN TARNOFF: Well I think that’s right, and I think there are techniques that you can work to help overcome these lingering feelings and these limiting beliefs that you have about your identity. One thing which I think is really important: our language tends to be a real indicator and an affirmation of what our belief system is. So you’re at a cocktail party and someone says, “What do you do?” and you say, “I am a.” You know, accountant, lawyer, whatever. You’re not saying, “I work as.” You’re saying, “I am.” So those subtle language habits that we have reinforce this identity problem that we face. And the minute I think we start to understand how we are the agents of our own imprisonment in that limiting belief, it becomes easier to detach from it and to go, “Oh, okay, I have a choice here. I have a choice between characterizing myself as that job and understanding that I just worked at that job.” And these subtle shifts in point of view can represent enormous opportunities to move forward and to change.
ANGELA COPELAND: Gosh, that’s an incredibly good point, you know, just even how you talk about it, and I think speaking of how we talk about ourselves, one of the times that we end up having to talk about what happened is when we’re in a job interview and we’re asked, you know, why we left our last job and we have to kind of face it. I mean, what tips do you have for us on how to talk about this issue when we’re in a job interview? What can we say?
JOHN TARNOFF: Well, the overall thing you have to do is you have to be really, really prepared for this question. You have to be prepared to talk about and anticipate all of the uncomfortable things that the recruiter or hiring manager is going to throw at you. So you’ve got to look through that resume, you’ve got to look at all of the jobs. You’ve got to be able to talk about why you left each one of those jobs, and the ones that you left on your own, those are going to be the easy ones. The ones where you were negotiated out or laid off or fired, those are the challenging ones, and you have to be able to be open, vulnerable, self-deprecating about it, and have a little bit of a sense of humor, because guess what? This is a drill. The person who is asking you that question may be uncomfortable about their own career and in their own career the times where they were fired. And look, they may be fired tomorrow. You just never know what’s going on. Right? And they never know what’s going on. So to have that understanding that this is not someone you’re talking to who is a kind of invulnerable authority, but just someone like you who is in a job who is just trying to get a sense of who you are and how your mind works and how resilient are you and how self-aware are you, how emotionally intelligent are you. Those are the factors that will I think help you to go, well, as you can see, it was not of my own choosing to leave that job. Ha ha. But here’s what happened: this was a political situation, or we had a difference of agreement, or someone came in who had a different personality from me, and we tried to work it out, but I have to confess, I may have made some mistakes. And I think a mistake I made was to do this. Don’t belabor it, don’t kind of go into a sob story about it, but just show that you have learned from that experience, and figure out a way to show how the lesson that you learned through that challenging experience makes you a stronger candidate for the job you’re interviewing for.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s really good advice. You know, I’ve also heard the advice of, when someone asks what happened, that you might say, “The company and I mutually agreed that this was not a good fit,” and you kind of avoid the word, like, “fired,” or anything. I kind of have mixed feelings about that. I’m curious: what do you think about saying it was mutual?
JOHN TARNOFF: Well, if it was mutual, then say it was mutual. If it wasn’t mutual, they’re going to know you’re lying. They’re going to tell, right, because that’s their job. Their job is to know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not, because they do this for a living. Every day they’re meeting dozens of people. So if there’s anything that doesn’t sit right that you don’t feel completely, 100,000% strong about in that interview, they’re going to pick up on it, and they’re going to go back and they’re going to be sitting around the conference table reviewing the candidates, and it’s going to come to you, and they’re going to say, “You know, they were fine. I don’t know, there was just something about them that didn’t feel quite right. I didn’t feel like I was getting the full story.”
ANGELA COPELAND: Right. I totally agree. I think a lot of decisions in an interview are made based on things that are a little bit less tangible, like how someone feels about you, or that kind of thing.
JOHN TARNOFF: Absolutely. It’s all about gut. It’s all about gut. Because at the end of the day, you’re going in there, skills are great, but I think as we get older, skills are less important, the hard skills are less important than the soft skills, because the soft skills, and that goes to leadership as well, are what makes us want to go into work with someone in the day. Right? And we are working in so much more of a team-oriented environment, where teams have so much more autonomy and independence to work together, where they are jointly responsible for the outcome of the projects that they are working on, that if you’re not a good fit for that team, you may absolutely the best skill set ever, but they’re not going to hire you because they don’t want to work with you every day. They would rather find someone who may not have the skills and maybe they can teach them the skills or they believe you have the wherewithal to jump in and apply yourself and learn the skills, but they really want to work with you because you’re a leader, you’re self-aware, again, emotionally intelligent, you know, you’ve got a sense of humor about yourself, you’ve got an ability to lead people, to work together, all that stuff.
ANGELA COPELAND: I totally agree. I totally agree. Well let me slip in one more real-life example and just get your take on it. I recently met someone who is a C-level executive, and the person had been just a fantastic employee. They actually went from, let’s say, Company A to Company B with the same CEO. So the CEO left Company A, went to Company B, hired them, brought them along, and they had been working with that person for maybe 15, 20 years, a really long time. It had been a great relationship. And eventually this CEO retired, and a new CEO came in, and within a week of that CEO coming in, they cleaned house, and this person was one of the people who was let go. And it wasn’t performance-based. It just happened. Right? So for somebody like that, how would they explain it in a job interview?
JOHN TARNOFF: I think pretty much just the way you explained it.
ANGELA COPELAND: Okay!
JOHN TARNOFF: In a funny way, those are easier conversations to have, because if you were part of a sweep, then it’s really clear that it wasn’t just you, it was the entire management team. And even if it wasn’t. Even if it was just you, I think in that instance, what you’re talking about, and it’s interesting, I have a profile in my boomer reinvention book about a guy who was in a similar kind of a situation, and he had worked for a long time with this company because he was protected, in a way, by the EVP who ran his division, and as the company began to go through changes and challenges, and there was a lot of instability, the EVP left. He quit because he had had enough, and he went to his report, this executive that I profile in the book, and said, “Look, I’m leaving. I wish I could protect you, but I don’t think I’ll be able to protect you.” And sure enough, within about a year, they let the other guy go.
ANGELA COPELAND: Wow.
JOHN TARNOFF: And in those kinds of situations where there is a a really close relationship between a supervisor and a report, I also think that’s a pretty, it’s not an easy conversation, but it’s a pretty understandable conversation to have, to be able to say, “Look, I worked with this guy for 20 years or 10 years,” or however long it was, “and we had a really close relationship, we worked really well together. The new team came in, had a very different management approach.” And talk about it in the sentence, you know, what they did versus what we did. “And so it was clear to me that we were not a good fit for one another. And I think they probably felt that, from a loyalty perspective, that I would want to try to continue to implement a lot of the policies and ideas and philosophies of the guy who was fired, so it kind of makes sense that they would let me go.”
ANGELA COPELAND: I love that. It’s so clear.
JOHN TARNOFF: Right? And the bonus is, “And here are the philosophies that I really believe in that I feel can be of value to your company.” Right? So you turn it around and take what was possibly perceived as a negative or question mark or some kind of red flag and say, “No, no, no, no, it’s actually to your advantage that I’m sitting here. It’s a good thing they fired me because now you’re going to get to pick me up and we’re going to get to do great work together.”
ANGELA COPELAND: Ooh, I like that. That’s a great way to turn it around. That’s a great way to turn it around.
JOHN TARNOFF: So so much of this, and you had asked me this before we got on the call, about what’s the first step to turning your career around, and it is, as we’ve talked about a lot in this conversation, all about reframing, the idea that you take a situation that you think is a negative situation and you figure out a way to turn it around. And it’s not about embellishing it. It’s not about BSing. It’s really about drilling down to the essence of what that is about, that situation, and from your own heart and soul, coming up with the strength that’s inside you to reframe it into a positive.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. I like that a lot. Well so let’s switch gears a little bit. I want to touch on something else that you mentioned in both in your TEDTalk and your book which I really love and really agree with. You said, your resume won’t get you hired.
JOHN TARNOFF: Right. Right. Well, welcome to the electronic world. Right? And I think this is, you know, well, look, here’s the deal. You need a resume. You need a good resume. And particularly I think when you’re younger and you are still in a period where your skills are what people are really looking for, you need to have that resume really tight. You need to have your keywords all lined up, because that resume is going to get ingested, it’s going to get scanned, and hopefully your keywords and your layout are going to get you to the next level. But ultimately, at any level of employment these days, 85 percent, something like that, 85 percent of jobs are filled through referrals. And I just really know that when I was in my entertainment career, when I was in the position to hire someone, I would seldom expect that I was going to fill that job through HR, through posting the job and getting resumes. I would always pick up the phone and say, “Look, we have an opening. Who have you got? Who do you know?” And I would always network to the candidates that my network felt were the most trusted and appropriate for that position. And I would say, you know, probably in the same ratio, about 80 percent of the time, I would hire from that pool. So the strategy is, you want to be in that network that’s going to refer you, so that the phone call comes to you as opposed to you having to knock down the door and get through all of those obstacles and those anonymous email addresses that you’re submitting to to find a person at the end of the phone who is actually the recruiter or the hiring manager for that position. That’s hard work, and that’s difficult work, and that requires a lot of cold-calling fortitude to be able to knock down those doors. Much better to develop the relationships.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, absolutely. I think the thing that doesn’t help us in this whole situation is that the HR team of a lot of companies give the message to job seekers which is, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we will call you.” And somehow we’ve learned to kind of believe that in a way, and you know, I meet job seekers often who have applied to, like, a hundred jobs online, and they just can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong.
JOHN TARNOFF: They don’t get a call back. Well, they’re not doing anything wrong. They’re doing everything right. It’s a numbers game. You know. That’s the problem. The problem is, their resume is either being scanned and rejected, and it’s hard to know what are the criteria that they’re using to scan and reject that resume, because you can’t talk to anyone. And then if it gets through to the next level, who’s looking at the resume? Is it the hiring manager? No. Is it the recruiter themselves? Probably not. It’s probably an assistant, or, worse, an intern, who is given that terribly mind-numbing task of sifting through 150 resumes to come up with 10 candidates. I mean, come on. It’s a thankless job to be in recruiting and HR today, just absolutely thankless. You know? So you’ve got to cover your bases, absolutely, but I would not believe in the possibility of success from that. I would really spend most of your time concentrating on the companies you want to work with, the people that you could meet at those companies, the relationships that you can build in your network with the people who are doing what you’re doing, doing what you would like to be doing, and getting yourself referred.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think that’s great advice. Well, so, as we’re looking and maybe we’re getting these referrals and we’re getting in for interviews, one thing, I was actually talking to someone yesterday who had this issue. Early in her career, she was very, very successful, and now he’s looking at different types of jobs. She’s looking to reinvent herself. And she’s getting a lot of feedback that she’s just over-qualified, and she’s having a hard time moving through the process because of that being over-qualified. What can we do if we receive this feedback on kind of a regular basis that we’re over-qualified?
JOHN TARNOFF: I’m very split about that question, and this comes up a lot, particularly with older workers. You know, on the one hand, that is kind of a dog-whistle for ageism, and they are kind of letting you down easily because they don’t want to hire an older worker, and that’s their own bias. So shifting into the whole age bias situation, again it’s through the network. You’re going to encounter that a lot. I have a bit of a contrarian view about age and about putting your age on your resume or your LinkedIn profile. I believe that you should do it, that you should not hide your age, that you need kind of call out ageism, in a way, because at the end of the day, if you are misrepresenting yourself about how old you are, if you’re taking 10 years off of your resume in order to appear that you’re 40 instead of 50, what signal does that send when they find out who you are and how old you are? Do you think that they’re going to kind of ignore that because now that you’re working there they realize how valuable and good you are? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s a good way of starting a relationship. The other side of that is, do you really want to go work for a company or a team that doesn’t value you for your experience, your wisdom, and what you bring to the table as an older worker? And so that’s one whole side of it. The other side of the coin about the over-qualified question is you actually may be over-qualified. You know, you may be applying to jobs that are more junior than your capability. And I see this a lot. I worked with a client for a long time that was kind of addicted to job boards, and he was applying to—and this is a guy with 15 to 20 years of very intense technical and managerial experience. He had an MBA and an engineering degree, and he was applying to kind of product marketing positions that were looking for five to eight years experience. And I said, “Really? I mean, do you think you’re going to enjoy that job?” He said, “Well, maybe I can grow with it.” I said, “No, no, no.”
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh wow.
JOHN TARNOFF: “No one’s going to hire you for those jobs, because they’re going to look at you’re background, and they’re going to, ‘Oh my God. You know, why would I hire this guy for this job?'” So it becomes more challenging as you get older because those jobs are fewer and farther between, and guess what? Back to the 85 percent question, a lot of times, the jobs that you are going to want as an older, more experienced worker, are jobs that are not posted. These are jobs where they’re sitting around in the conference room going, “You know, wouldn’t it be great if we could find someone with this mix of skills who could help us solve this problem? Like, should we post it?” “Nah. We can’t post for a job like this. Who do we know?” So be the person who knows the person that those guys know, so that you’re one phone call away from an interview, and you go in and you say, “Oh my God, you’re the guy, you’re the woman, you’re going to be able to help us solve this problem. Oh, where have you been all our lives?” So yes, you can be over-qualified, and I think for the person that you’re talking about, this woman, I would advise her to think more entrepreneurially about, what is it that she wants to deliver? What is the value, the product, as it were, that she wants to deliver? And start marketing herself from that perspective to find the client. You know, I like to say that in any position, and I say this to my grad students as well as to my boomer clients. Today you don’t want to think of yourself as an employee taking directions from a supervisor. You want to think of yourself as a consultant providing value to a client.
ANGELA COPELAND: I love that.
JOHN TARNOFF: Right? No matter what you do, whether you’re a 1099 contractor or a W-2 employee, it’s the same deal. And your resume and your LinkedIn particularly should reflect that. So if you have a period of a gap, right, between jobs, what do you do with that gap? Well, you put yourself as a consultant, because in trying to get that next gig, you are representing yourself as someone who is delivering a particular product or service, and you may get some clients, you know, you may get some gigs along the way, and then someone hires you in house. But it’s all about that value and that brand that you’re representing, and that product and service and value that you’re providing.
ANGELA COPELAND: Do you find that many of your baby boomer clients are switching from full-time opportunities to more of like a consulting contract kind of opportunity as they go through this process?
JOHN TARNOFF: Yeah, I am. I would say it’s, you know, probably 50 to 60 percent I would say, and I think that, you know, for some of them it’s a bridge, which is fine, and I think that the good news is that the economy is beginning to appreciate the fact that older employees are not done and don’t need to be kind of shunted off into this retirement backroom, wherever that is that they don’t want to think about, that there actually is value in keeping people on board. And there’s more and more stories about this and about how firms are loosening up these rules and keeping people on part time while they bridge to something else and encouraging people to find new ways of providing value.
ANGELA COPELAND: Totally, totally. Well so, I’m curious: if you had to had to describe the one big mistake that we’re making when we try to reinvent ourselves, what is it?
JOHN TARNOFF: Well, I think, you know, the first thing that I say to older workers is, watch your attitude, because I think there is a certain defensiveness that many people have. And I understand it. It’s a challenging, scary situation out there, and some people will tend to shrink up a little bit and go, “Well, I’ve been working for 30 years, and I shouldn’t have to sell myself,” or, “Why should I have to interview with a 30-year old recruiter?” Attitudes like this, where they feel like they are kind of under scrutiny and being kind of dissected, when they feel entitled to greater respect. And I think that holds a lot of people back, and in fact I think we need to approach this from a beginner’s mind and recognize a lot of the stuff we’ve been talking about in this conversation about how work works today and how employment works, and also to reframe that sense of who we are and what we can do, and open up a little bit, lighten up a little bit, really kind of reach across the desk to build a relationship with someone and find affinity. And so that I think is the icebreaker that I would recommend people start with, is think about your attitude. Think about how open and willing to be an older person in what may be a younger environment, and think about, where would you want to fit in into that space? And also to remember the phrase which we had a phrase, which we had in the ’60s growing up, which was, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Right? That was the ageism that my generation had about older people. And so now that we’re in that position, big time, we don’t want to be ageist. Right? We don’t want to be reverse ageist, and we want to not be those people that we were railing against back then who were kind of closed off and told us to cut our hair and didn’t like our clothes and all that stuff.
ANGELA COPELAND: In terms of attitude, it makes me think of really treating that hiring manager or that HR person like they are the customer, and again, in that entrepreneurial perspective, that you’re there to sell your services, and really treating them with respect as the customer and as you would want to be when you’re the customer.
JOHN TARNOFF: And also to be enthusiastic, to be enthusiastic about what you are there to offer, and to not have a sense of attachment to the job, to the outcome. And I think this is true of any level of interviewing. And I’ll just tell you one story that I always think about that really impressed me. Many, many years ago, I was at a party one night. I was talking to a young woman who was an actress, and I’m not sure if I was trying to pick her up or not, but whatever. We had this great conversation. She was really enthusiastic about the work that she was doing, and I said to her, “Look, I work with actors a lot, but I’ve never really gotten a good answer to this question: how do you deal with a rejection from all of these auditions that you go on? Because you’re going on two, three, four auditions a day, and how many jobs do you get?” And she said, “You know, it’s a really good question. I used to feel really dejected at the end of the day and I felt exhausted by the rejection, and I took it personally. And then, at some point, I don’t know what happened, but I got this epiphany that, regardless of whether they hired me for the role or not, I was helping contribute to their final decision, that I was presenting one way of going, and if they rejected me, I had helped them kind of check that box, and that it was going to help make the final decision work. So I feel, whenever I go in on an audition, regardless of the outcome, I’m making a contribution to that movie or that TV show.”
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s interesting.
JOHN TARNOFF: And I thought, what a great attitude, and I would recommend to everyone to have the same attitude going into a job interview. You are there to contribute what might be a possibility for that position. You’re there to learn about the company, about the person you’re sitting across from. There may be something unexpected that you learn that day from that interview, so ask some good questions, share some fun stuff about yourself, be vulnerable, be transparent, be authentic, be enthusiastic, and be unattached from the outcome.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s such a helpful story, and I know that those listening are definitely going to be interested to learn more about you. John, where can they go to learn more about you and your work?
JOHN TARNOFF: Sure. So it’s really easy. My website is johntarnoff.com, and I’m on Twitter as John Tarnoff, and Facebook, “Boomer Reinvention” is the page on Facebook, and again, the book is “Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50.”
ANGELA COPELAND: Perfect. Well, I will share links to everything in the show notes so it’s easy to get to. John, thank you so much for joining me. This has been excellent.
JOHN TARNOFF: It’s my pleasure.
ANGELA COPELAND: And thanks everyone for listening. Thanks everyone who sent me questions. You can also send me questions. You can send me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach, and on Facebook, I’m “Copeland Coaching.” Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review.