Also in this compendium: The Ivy Lee productivity method, and what to do when office nicknames sting
Gerald Walsh, a Halifax-based executive recruitment specialist, says there are three reasons an employer won't hire you: pay, experience, and fit. He calls those hiring objections and compares them to the objections a salesperson meets on a sales call. If you can respond effectively, demonstrating you can meet the company's needs and solve their problems, you can win the sale or, in this case, the job.
"There are many aspects to a successful sales call. But one of the key things is to anticipate possible buying objections and then work to overcome them," he writes on his blog.
Here's how to answer them:
– We can't pay you what you want: He says this can be an understandable objection and dealing with it can be tricky, as you don't want to be drawn into an early salary negotiation. Instead, try to deflect it so the hiring process continues and you have a chance to establish that you're worth more than the salary range. Possible wording:
"I am really interested in this job and the opportunity it offers for growth. I do recognize that salary is only one part of the total compensation package and I am willing to look at other areas of compensation, like benefits, vacation, performance bonuses and professional development that may offset a lower salary than I had hoped for."
Later in the process, you might offer to work for less than your desired salary with the promise of a six-month salary review. If your performance is satisfactory, it will be bumped up to the amount you're seeking.
– You don't have enough experience: Don't be afraid to apply for a job where you lack the required years of experience, since sometimes employers wrongly equate time at the job with experience. If the interviewer does object, state your measurable accomplishments and responsibilities in the past and perhaps suggest the employer contact your references, who can vouch for your skills.
At the same time, he warns: "If you do not have the skills to do the job, do not minimize the importance of them by saying something like: 'I am a quick learner and I am sure I will be able to pick up those skills quickly.' While that statement may be true, it tends to highlight your shortcomings more."
– I am not sure you will fit with the team: Your initial response should be to clarify the concern by asking, "How would you describe the culture of your current team, and what is your initial impression of me?" The answer will help you deal with the objection. Keep in mind, he stresses, that the fact you are being interviewed suggests you are close enough to what they want. "However, if something has been overlooked and it becomes clear that their objection is valid, don't make stuff up. Don't lie or embellish your experience. It's far better to acknowledge that you lack a particular quality than to fabricate a story. It will always come back to haunt you," he says.
2. The Ivy Lee productivity method
In 1918, productivity consultant Ivy Lee promised to improve performance at Bethlehem Steel Corp. by spending 15 minutes with each executive, sharing his formula. He told the company's president there was no need to pay him in advance. If his method worked, the company could send him a cheque for whatever it felt the advice was worth. In the end, payment was the equivalent of $400,000 in today's money.
1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write more than six tasks.
2. Prioritize those six items in order of importance.
3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second.
4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
5. Repeat this process every working day.
Mr. Clear says the Ivy Lea method is effective because it's simple, it forces you to make tough decisions about priorities, it removes the friction of getting started by dictating what you should be doing, and forces you to 'single task' rather than multitask. "Do the most important thing first every day. It's the only productivity trick you need," he concludes.
3. What to do about the nickname that wounds
As office disagreements go, it's a doozy – seemingly minor, but deeply divisive. An employee with a common, easy-to-pronounce Indian name was given a Westernized nickname she disliked, and mentioned to her new boss she wished people would use her real name. But when the manager quietly asked those colleagues to use her actual name, they refused.
If you were the boss, what would you do?
Here's some advice from Alison Green, who shared the story on her Ask a Manager blog:
Don't look for a compromise. You need to put a stop immediately to something deeply offensive and racist: "You don't need to talk anyone into behaving respectfully; you need to tell them that it's not optional."
Talk with each of the offenders individually, reminding them you had talked about this before and you erred in not being clear enough: "Parvati's name isn't Polly; it's Parvati. She's asked that we use her correct name, and that's what you need to call her going forward. I need you to be vigilant about respecting that request and calling her Parvati from now on."
If somebody says that they won't change unless asked by their colleague – who hasn't wanted to be rude and call them on it – be insistent: "No. I'm telling you clearly right now that she has asked to be called Parvati, and that I expect you to do that – and I expect you to do that without giving her any trouble about it. Can you agree to do that?" Don't let them wiggle out of answering your last question. You need to settle it now.
4. Quick hits
– Slackers? Not! New research suggests millennials are actually workaholics. It's based on self-reports, not the most accurate method, but still suggestive: They are actually more likely to see themselves as work martyrs than older workers and less likely to use all their vacation time, Harvard Business Review reports.
– But millennials are old news. Generation Z, their younger siblings, are starting to edge into the work force and, according to Dan Black, head of recruiting at Ernst & Young, they want to know how your company's efforts help the larger world; they want benefits they can use now, not down the road like pensions; and customized career paths.
– As retail store traffic declines but sales rise, advertising consultant Roy H. Williams says that's a sign people are researching online and then visiting only the outlet that tops their list. "You've got to become the company people think of immediately and feel the best about," he advises.
– Talent acquisition technology is too complicated, a report by Aptitude Research Partners says. Only 3 per cent of firms are getting the most out of their system because they don't know everything it can do or don't understand how to use it. But in paring back, make sure the system can manage interview scheduling. That's basic but a surprising number of systems can't.
– One cause of air travel fatigue is constant loud noise, consultant Randall Craig says.(http://www.randallcraig.com/11-travel-hacks/). Use Bose noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music, to reduce the impact. On longer flights, try ear plugs at the same time.
Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. E-mail Harvey Schachter