Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Is Being Laid Off The Same Thing As Being Fired?

There is no shame anymore in being fired.   

It has happened to almost every executive I know.  Accounts get lost, business turns down, and there are mergers or other changes in management which often result in you being the person who finds yourself redundant.  It is nothing to be ashamed of.

The irony is that almost no one gets fired any more.  They get laid off.

I think that people who are terminated believe that being laid off is a much more acceptable term than being fired. It is somehow less harsh. But being laid off or fired are two sides of the same coin.

Once upon a time in advertising and other businesses, being fired carried a negative stigma.  It more than likely meant you were not performing well.  But starting in the 1980’s, as the holding companies started buying and merging agencies, many people became victims of this environment as multiple people could not have the same job. At one point in the late eighties, advertising unemployment was about 25%.  So there was no shame in being out of work.

Unfortunately, there are still a few people in the business who look down their noses at people who are out of work.  They should only realize that it a matter of time before they are laid off or fired.   

So be it.

Somehow companies would rather say that an employee being terminated is actually laid off.
But a lay off carries the connotation that if the situation changes or improves, the laid off candidate will be rehired.  Sadly this rarely happens. 

When I am interviewing candidates who are out of work, I always ask what caused that situation.  In over thirty years of recruiting, very few candidates have admitted that they screwed up.  Most tell me that there was a company cut back so they were laid off even if they were the only person to be let go. It is really easy to determine the truth. 

At any rate, these days in advertising, where clients pay fees which cover the employees who work on their business, clients have the ability to pick and choose the people who work on their account.  And, of course, if the client changes agencies, almost everyone who spent a majority of their time on a particular piece of business can expect to be laid off no matter how well they have contributed or performed.   I have written about high performing people who are let go rather than being rotated on to another piece of business – it is simply easier to terminate rather than manage the complicated process of moving someone on to another account.  

Being laid off is wishful thinking.  Being fired is more difficult. But they mean the same thing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Career Advice For Everyone From Recent Graduates To CEO’s

1.    Try to plan your career
A career plan is like a road map to get from here to there.  You can make stops and detours and even change your mind about the destination.  But if you don’t know where you are going, it is very hard to get there.  If you know where you want to go, even vaguely, you can determine the experiences you want and think you will need in order to succeed.  That will guide you on a job change. 

2.    Look at each job as the portal to your next job
If you love or hate your job, it is incumbent on you to continue to do your job to the best of your ability.  If you do well, you will feel better about yourself.  Your positive attitude will help you get your next move.  No one likes a whiner, so keep your complaints to yourself.

3.    Use your current job to assess your likes and dislikes as well as your strengths and weaknesses
Working should be a learning process.  Even negative experiences can provide excellent direction for the future.  But understanding what works for you and what does not, should help you from making wrong choices.  As you build your career, it is important to self-assess to determine what you did well and what issues came up for you.

4.    Trust your instincts while interviewing
If a job doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.  If you have questions about the people you meet, trust yourself.  Don’t take a job just to get a job; people who are out of work tend to do this, but it could be career suicide.

5.    Try to find a mentor
Almost all successful people have a senior who believes in them.  A mentor is a senior person who is in a position to influence other senior executives.  They can push you ahead and look out for your career. Those people not only are good for networking, but if they trust you to succeed, they can provide important opportunities for you. It is hard to find a mentor.  Look at the senior people in your company who you admire, then try to get to know them.

6.    Volunteer for extra duty
Get involved in new business, international or things which will give you exposure to management and other senior people – one of whom could turn out to be your mentor.

7.    Don’t change jobs too often if you can help it
Companies are skittish about hiring someone who takes a new job every year or eighteen months.  They equate your job changes with instability and are afraid you will leave them, too.  Sometimes the change is necessary, but often people move prematurely.  You must learn to assess the pros and cons of a job change.

8.    Never move just for money
Money can lead you in the wrong direction.  While taking another job for a huge salary increase is tempting, the expectations the company may have for you could be above your capabilities. Or it could be outside your current experience.  

9.    Ask Yourself how any job will contribute to your career path
All jobs should add to your career plan. Before accepting a job, ask yourself  if and how it contributes to your goals. it.  Although it may seem strange to ask yourself what the job will lead to if it fails, it is a very important issue to think about right from the time you start interviewing in earnest.

10.   Only take jobs you can succeed in
This may seem obvious, but it isn’t.  Use interviews to gather information about the company.  Finding out the resources and support you will have to do the job.  Some companies have systemic problems which you may or may not be able to solve or work with issues you uncover while interviewing..  If you are lucky enough to be offered multiple jobs, determine which one will allow you succeed the most.  This is true at every level of the business, from entry to chairman.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A Résumé By Itself Has No Meaning

There are many reasons why electronic recruiting doesn’t work efficiently.  Electronic recruiting means sending (or receiving) a résumé via email or text or a recruitment web site.  It does not work well because a résumé needs to be seen in context.  Let me explain.

I once bought the recruitment practice from a consulting firm; I was really interested in the 5,000 or so senior résumés that they had.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work and was an expensive mistake. Here is how I learned a valuable lesson which should be understood by all job hunters as well as anyone screening résumés.

What I got when I bought this firm’s records, was about 5,000 résumés of top advertising executives.  In addition to paying a lot for them, I also had to have a trucker bring them all to me.

When they arrived in several file boxes, I quickly became overwhelmed.  I decided to put each résumé into one of several piles: people I already knew, people whose names I recognized and wanted to meet and, finally, the largest pile, people I did not know. I then divided the did not know pile into two piles – people whose background was of interest and people whose backgrounds held no interest for me. I threw out those I had no interest in – which was the bulk of the files.

I quickly realized an important fact of recruiting.  Résumés are merely a piece of paper with some ink on them.  If I have interviewed someone, even if it was years ago, when I look at  their résumé it conjures up something, a sense of who they are.  If I have not met them, the résumé is merely words on a piece of paper and mean nothing, conjure nothing.  This is especially true if I have no idea of the salary of the person.  There is just no context.

I always made my notes on the back of résumés – salary, observations, thoughts about the candidate.  If I look at a CV where I have written notes, it has meaning.  I use those notes when introducing a candidate to a client.  But a résumé without notes is just a blank piece of paper.  And computers make it worse.  They are just words for me to look at.  And that is why electronic recruiting doesn’t work efficiently.  CV's received electronically can only be looked at as key words.  Sure, you can form an opinion based on where someone has worked and what they have accomplished (if it is on the résumé) but a résumé cannot tell you if someone is analytical, smart, has leadership skills or is exciting or boring. 

I receive many complaints from CEO’s and other senior company officers that they are not happy either with the people they are seeing or are actually hired.  The problem is that their companies are only doing online recruiting to avoid paying recruitment fees.  They may be saving money but they are probably not seeing the best candidates.

With few exceptions, the best candidates are probably not using the internet to search for job.
Creative Commons License