Bohan and Bradstreet

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Five Ways Not to Get an Offer

Monday, April 1, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

On the average, one out of eight job applicants receives an offer. Over 80% of the time, the best candidate for the job does not get the offer because of either poor interviewing habits or lack of proper preparation. As William James once said, “Whenever two people meet there are six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.” So goes interviewing. In today’s world, companies have reasons to hire and not hire. Interviewing is both an art and a game. Art is the style, soft skills and characteristics displayed. The game is to get an offer and winning comes with practice, planning, and strategy. Although some have tried, you can’t accept or turn down an offer unless you get an offer. Here are the five most common ways to not get an offer:


Under-dressing is viewed as disrespectful. Clothes need to be conservative, neat, pressed, and appropriate for business formal even if the setting is business casual. Shoes need to be shined. Make-up minimized; light or no perfume or cologne; hair must be combed and not distracting; minimize jewelry and accessories.


If you are not interested in the opportunity and the company, why are you going on the interview? If you are interested, then show it. Here are the most common ways of displaying lack of interest: Didn’t research the company; failed to ask meaningful questions about the position, company, culture, management style or industry; and provided at best short or vague answers to questions rather than showcasing meaningful knowledge, personality traits, and acquired skills.


Remember the first part of William James quote, “There is each man as he sees himself.” There goes the problem. The interviewee is all about the interviewee. Too much accent on money, title, or other ego-satisfying stimuli. As Ben Franklin said, “He that falls in love with himself, has no rivals.” We too often fail to appreciate that what gives money, perks and title value is that you must exchange work for it.


Consider interviewing as being an invited guest to an event that you want to attend. Bad form is arriving late for an appointment (indicative of poor planning); not fully completing the application (lack of compliance); limp, fishy handshake (lack of professionalism), failure to look at interviewer when conversing (lack of confidence or respect); poor posture (lack of poise or confidence); condemnation of past employers (lack of respect); make too many excuses (may not accept criticism well); provides evasive and/or conflicting information (perception of fabrication); poor manners (lack of courtesy); and doesn’t show appreciation of interviewers' time (lack of tact and professionalism).


Interviewing is an exchange of information. It is an opportunity to exhibit your personality and communicate knowledge and experience that is appropriate to the needs and requirements of the opportunity. All that being said, some people are too forthcoming (treat the interview as a confessional and expose negativity); high-pressure (attempt to close too quickly or force decisions); aggressive (come off as conceited or with a know-it-all complex); verbose (treat interview as a lecture rather than an exchange); opinionated (lack of flexibility or inability to endorse change); and/or demanding (three for me, one for you attitude).

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Bad Boss Blues

Monday, March 25, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

You wake up one day and there is a new boss. It could have been a promotion, transfer, internal organization, external hire or some other fate. Obvious from the get-go, you and the boss are not compatible. It doesn’t matter whether the superior is moody, incompetent, uncommunicative, tyrannical or Machiavellian. Your life will soon be in a rut because you are catching the BAD BOSS BLUES. Let’s describe a few of the distinctive varieties that top everyone’s Most Unwanted list.


Will work you until you drop. Capable of calling on Sundays, insists on arriving and leaving when it is dark out (even in the summer), provides relentless pressure, offers only a nanosecond of appreciation.


Will hide in his or her office.


Dismisses your presence because it is meaningless in the final analysis.


Wants to bully everyone into submission through screaming tirades, shouting at will, making scenes and management by terror philosophy.


Has appreciation for his or her own opinion because there are possible alternatives to anything: their way or the wrong way.


Attracts or creates every cataclysm, disaster and debacle within their warp zone abilities.


Languishes on your knowledge, usurps your wisdom and lays claim to all contributions.


Smothers all attempts of individualism, ingenuity and the pursuit of life with a constant, never-ending, relentless triple-dot-the-“I” review.

There are numerous other personalities that can erode one’s ego and career. Always assess the situation to ensure that you haven’t overreacted to a momentary flaw (e.g., stress, illness). Examine opportunities to alter the environment by making positive suggestions or transferring to another department. If the scene remains untenable and internal change is not possible, then consider leaving. Your career and self-esteem are important. As Walter Winchell once said, “He didn’t carve his career, he chiseled it.” If life deals you a bad hand, then either fold, re-deal or change the rules.

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Win, Place & Show in Workforce Management

Monday, March 18, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

There is a new strategy when valuing management. Traditionally, companies have ranked management with an A, B and C grading and the philosophy that the more “A” management, the better the company’s potential. It is impractical that companies can afford “A” players in all management positions. The challenge is to attract and retain ”A” talent in key management positions. The difficulty is that not all management position are valued equally and the same positions in two different business models will have dramatically different significance to the success of the organization.

First, there are many business models, however, the two most prominent are the customized solutions that are targeted to a specific audience and the other is the standardized product or service that is sold to the mass markets. If one was to rank management positions by “A” (strategic), “B” (support), or “C” (surplus) in these two business models, would sales or supply chain management be graded equally? Obviously not.

In the customized solutions model, successful sales management needs to identify the unique customer need, understand the solutions development expertise of their business, and strategically (A) orchestrate the customization and delivery of the solution. In the standardized model the sales manager is more of a support (B) relationship or account manager who responds to the needs of the customer through on-time deliveries, service, and pricing. Although both roles are important, there is a higher probability that the sales management role would be ranked higher in the customized solution model.

On the other hand, the supply chain manager in the customized solution model tends to support (B) the delivery of the solution. In this case, timing and delivery is important but not as critical as in the standardized product. When servicing mass markets, the supply chain manager must be very strategic (A) and ensure on-time delivery of often large and complex finished goods to customers. The differentiator for the customized solution model is unique design, solution development and quality of product or implementation while in the standardized business model it is availability, service, and price.

The important message is to first place a value on all management roles within your business model. For those positions that have a strategic impact on the success of the company should be ranked “A” because the role can either increase revenues opportunities or reduce operating costs and expenses. “A” management roles are critical to the performance of the company and usually have autonomous decision-making authority. Calibrate compensate for strategic roles at a different level than support positions because the value to the corporation is greater.

“B” positions support value-adding “A” roles and minimize any downsize risk. These are important roles that follow specific processes and practices to ensure predictable results. “C” positions have little economic impact on the company, however, may be a necessity for the company to function. In most companies, “B” and “C” positions are the most common role in the organization. Aligning “A” quality talent in “A” designated roles is the key.

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Interview Miscues

Monday, March 11, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

There is a distinct advantage to networking into a company. The best reason is not the most obvious. Being known increases the probability of an offer and shortcuts a lot of pitfalls that swallow the unknown candidate. Identifying a better company and/or role is both a science and an art form. It requires time, strategy, research, and practice. Too often the best candidate that is available and aware of a specific vacancy does not get hired or even personally interviewed. Here are two of the more common miscues that job applicants make:

Under-Performing Resume

Here is the logic: A company is looking externally because the solution is not available internally. The opening occurs because there are needs, pain, and/or changes impacting the company. It could be leadership, external customers, productivity, acquisitions, profitability, or a host of other challenges that need to be conquered. So what happens 85+% of the time is the unknown candidate submits a traditional chronological resume that explains their employment history, lists some skills and possibly some results, describes education and training, and often throws in addendums like interests, activities, and stale events. Boring!

There are two types of readers: decision makers and, as the book Selling to VITO suggests, “Seymours” – because they always want to “see more.” When decision makers are looking at a candidate’s paperwork, they want to find the “aspirin” for their pain. They want headlines, solutions, and successes. Decision makers do not want boring. Most resumes are written for the writer rather than the reader. Think marketing proposal rather than resume.

If you want to impress the reader and you have the appropriate expertise and know-how, then...

  • Lead the reader's eye and provide clear-cut illustrations that demonstrate your ability to lead, implement change, improve productivity, and so on.
  • Your presentation should be electronically scanable and include strengths and contributions that are appropriate to your audience. Decision makers don't like resume templates, tables or graphs.
  • 95+% of all resumes lack personality, so start with a professional summary that can include adjectives that describe your personality and major strengths that a reader can preview.
  • Use action verbs in your resume and describe accomplishments in a STAR format (Situation-Task-Action-Result).

Bad Phone Techniques

Increasingly, clients are phone-interviewing a candidate as the first step in the process. This is usually accomplished by a human resources professional and, on occasions, by the hiring authority. If asked to participate in a phone interview, then assume you are on target and have met north of 80% of the hard skills and core requirements. Practice makes perfect and there are a lot of books written that provide examples of questions and illustrations of good and bad answers. Choose a private setting and a hard line for the phone interview. Often the company caller is on a cell phone and cell to cell is not reliable enough. Make sure that you will not be interrupted and there isn't external noise that can override the conversation.

The emphasis will be more on soft skills. This is an opportunity for the company representative to assess the "personality fit." Every search and company is unique; however, the soft skills that all concentrate on are energy and enthusiasm, reasoning, listening abilities, initiative and drive, temperament, and willingness to invest in your future. In addition, research and knowledge of the company history, products/services, organizations, operating results, customers, culture, and so on are all of value.

Here are the common phone interview mistakes:

  1. Cell phone disconnects.
  2. Candidate is driving and does not fully concentrate on the interview.
  3. Applicant turns interview into a confessional and admits flaws in personality.
  4. Candidate openly offers negative comments about current or former employer.
  5. Applicant has not anticipated questions and therefore answers in abbreviated fashion or under sells abilities and knowledge.
  6. Candidate under-values the phone interview and is not considered a serious contender.
  7. Applicant goes off on a tangent.

Companies do not have the luxury to interview all applicants. A well-run search will limit the "in-person" interview to seven or less candidates (in the last year, there was only one candidate presented for 14% of Bohan & Bradstreet's placements). Typical searches may generate 30 to 400+ candidates and although many applicants lack the proper requirements, the vast majority of those that are on target are screened out for under-performing resumes and bad phone techniques.

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Wiser Than the Boss

Thursday, February 14, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

Regardless of size, companies that continue to achieve tactical and strategic goals employ “A” quality talent. These exceptional employees should be in leadership or development roles that yield an impressive ROI to their employer. Typically, most “A” players are exceedingly ambitious, extremely capable, quite creative, and highly intelligent. The challenge for selecting, managing, nurturing, and retaining is as much an art form as a skill.

Most “A” talent are overachievers who have won prizes for their educational accomplishments and are competitive due to the upbringing to secure success. They are often polished, possess a nurtured IQ, are highly competitive, and often a bit insecure around people viewed as equal or more intelligent. Recruiting “A” quality is one challenge, but maximizing the management of “A” talent is critical. Most “A” players are better at strategy than tactical and therefore may lack appreciation of the real world and undervalue the challenge of accomplishing tasks that support stated strategies. Managing people who are more talented and clever than their superior takes smarts. Sound ridiculous? Not really. Clever people do not like to be led. Attracting intelligent and creative talent is difficult enough; effectively managing and mentoring them takes planning and talent.

Here are some facts and suggestions on managing talent that is wiser than the boss:

  • Intelligent and creative people want recognition that their ideas are important and valued. They like and utilize technology. Thinking of better ways to do things and coming up with new ideas is the norm.
  • They know their worth and are very aware of compensation that is attached to their role. They are not traditionally stimulated by fancy titles, but rather by status.
  • Most are politically savvy and have an indifference to bureaucracy.
  • “A” talent is well-connected with a “knowledge” network that can increase their value to the corporation. This is the same network that will constantly introduce new opportunities that will tease their interests.
  • They are restless and easily bored. Clever people need a peer group of talented and intelligent teammates to stimulate them to be their best.
  • “A” players want instant access to their boss or above; otherwise, they feel that their work and contributions are not taken seriously.
  • These highly intelligent contributors rarely say “thank you” to their leaders because they don't want to be led. They prefer that you stay away from their playing field and let them coach.

Managing “A” quality talent isn't easy; however, the alternative could be a company void of strategy and losing value in a competitive economy.

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