I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up (still don’t!), so I took the LSATs, went to law school and became an attorney. I quickly realized I would have been a great lawyer if it wasn’t for all that darned fine print!
My goodness! This LinkedIn place is loaded with information that purports to help, inform and guide us hapless hiring managers and job seekers. Many of these articles start with a list that, if followed, is guaranteed to transform our lives:
8 things you should NEVER say on a job interview
12 “tricks” guaranteed to get you in the door
23 styles of neckties designed to give others confidence in you
489 ways. . . WHEW! I’m getting exhausted just writing this article.
Let’s take a deep, collective breath and examine why we might put our precious time to better use. Here are X reasons:
1. These articles contradict each other. Read through enough of them and you realize that every author has his or her own opinions, not necessarily supported by objective research. (There are, of course, scholarly articles based on reams of meticulously analyzed data, but these, like the Mueller report, will present the findings without offering specific conclusions). Example: We all receive unsolicited sales calls. It annoys me when the callers lunge into their pitches, with no regard for my time or interest. Conversely, when I’m asked if I have a moment, I soften up and become more receptive. Recruiters such as myself are also sellers and marketers. When I make a call, I always start out with “May I have a moment?” Sounds reasonable, right? Not to the DTC (direct to consumer) wine sales company I used to work for. They believed that we should not give the prospect even one second to demur. You do what the boss tells you to do. “Hi, this is Dave with (company name redacted) and I have some incredible wines to tell you about.” This approach worked with some people and not others. But then so did “May I have a moment.” Contrary to the title of my article, I’m not really advocating avoiding these postings. I AM saying-read up and then make your OWN decisions! What works for the author may not work for you.
2. Even when every author agrees, things change. Collective common knowledge is never set in stone. Well, maybe not EVERYTHING. It’s always wise to follow up with a thank you note, for example. It’s never a good idea to drink orange juice after brushing your teeth. If all the sources of information are telling you to do the same thing, it’s probably because that thing has been proven to work. Even so, it might not work for you. It’s OK to go against the grain and follow your instincts (and let’s hope you have good instincts!). Painters painted the same way until the Impressionists came along. The history of music is the history of change. Jazz was a major musical innovation. Duke, Basie, Ella, Louie-vibrant, yet also conventionally melodic. Until Charlie Parker and John Gillespie (Bird and Diz) came along, that is. They shook jazz to the core. Listeners became so upset that someone actually threw a cymbal at them while they were playing. Bob Dylan was an acoustic folkie; when he played electric guitar in 1965 he was booed off the stage! Yet now, all of these once earth-shattering events have become conventional. We are, especially these days, in a constant state of flux, with things moving faster all the time. The common wisdom pertaining to hiring and job seeking is bound to change as well. Be informed, be aware of the wisdom of the day, but don’t be afraid to follow your inner voice and do something different, if that’s who you really are. Who knows, your move may be the first move in what becomes the “next big thing.” As Sammy Davis, Jr. sang- “I gotta be me!”
3. These are my opinions. Yours may differ. PUBLISH, PUBLISH, PUBLISH! This seems to be the conventional wisdom today. To be a LinkedIn author is to have an enhanced presence. But that’s not the only reason I write. Writing keeps me engaged in the process and helps in the promotion of new ideas. It makes me think critically about my work and recruiting in general. It also has an unintended benefit: I really enjoy writing and creating. Nevertheless, these thoughts are my opinions. For all I know, you are reading this to understand what NOT to do. Yup, if Dave says go right, I’m going left. If that’s true, and you came to this conclusion thoughtfully, then I applaud you. The author who posts right above me might offer advice that completely contradicts me. That’s a good thing. The more views we are exposed to, the better equipped we are to make our own decisions. In my view, all this available information exists, not so that we blindly follow it to mega-success, but to help us think more freely and clearly.
4. Are we all just pretending to be “thought leaders?” That’s the idea, right? To present ourselves not just as experienced business people, but as trend setters. If you want to think of me that way, I won’t stop you. People will have more respect for my ideas if they believe I am the driver of the discussion and not just some shmoe shooting off his mouth (oh no, you found me out!). I have over twenty years of recruiting experience to draw upon. My articles are based on these experiences. I don’t hold myself out as an expert in the job market because I don’t research, gather, collate, analyze and publish statistics. I don’t have the resources to do all that. I do sometimes read these reports, put out by educational institutions and think tanks, and use their findings to bolster my opinions. If you want the facts and statistics, go and read some of these for yourselves. I’m just a guy who has been in the trenches for a long time, and I may have some useful insights to share. That’s two good reasons to read me!
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