Ask The Headhunter Home Page
Ask The Headhunter Home Page
More about Nick's book...
Go to Menu Ask The Headhunter
On Yahoo!
Chat Transcript

Check out Yahoo! Careers Nick Corcodilos appeared on the
Yahoo! Career Channel. This is the transcript.

Yahoomc: Alright folks -- Here he is, Nick Corcodilos -- It's time to 'Ask the Headhunter'!
Nick: Greetings, All. Welcome to Ask The Headhunter LIVE!

dongs1_76 asks: I am a recent graduate with a BS in Biology looking for a job in an internet company or finance. How do I prepare myself?
Nick: First, you've got to "qualify" yourself by researching the Internet industry -- are you really ready for a job there? Second, start selecting specific companies you'd like to work for. Just looking for job listings doesn't cut it. That puts you in automatic competition with hordes of job hunters. Take 4-5 of those companies, and research the heck out of them. Your goal is to actually talk to people who know a company or work there. Employees, customers, vendors. This is how you build your knowledge, and it also gives you the insider contacts you'll need. The key is not to ask for a job, but to get to know people on the inside who can introduce you. That's the best way to run a job search.

voodootwang asks: I've had no luck with headhunters, i'm a design engineer, solid modeling want to get into digital animation, I find headhunters are not up to date on current technologies, is this the case? what am i doing wrong, i havent had one reply from any.
Nick: Remember that headhunters aren't in business to help you find a job. Their job is to fill positions for their clients. They're very busy doing that. That's why they don't return your calls. If you happen to fit an assignment they're on, they might call. The best headhunters aren't experts in the fields they recruit in, but they're very knowledgable My advice: you don't really need a headhunter. You need to learn to think like one. On the ATH web site, please check The Basics, How To Find A Good Headhunter, and Computer Graphics & Animation.

SymboliQ asks: nick, i recently left my job after personality conflicts with manager. how do i approach this subject in interviews ?
: Don't approach it at all. If the employer asks why you left, all you need say is that you want to work for his company. The key to success in an interview is to CONTROL it without appearing arrogant. Do that by keeping the focus on the work. Answer all other Q's very briefly, and then say something like, "What sort of challenges will the person you hire face? Can you give me an example of... a problem you'd want me to tackle if you hire me? I'd like to show you how I'd approach it." That keeps the discussion on what matters. Try it -- it works!

blues_before_sunrise_99 asks: My husband has been with the same company for tens years and is a computer production manager/scheduler. He'd like to leave the company but the pay is no where near to what he's making. Any suggestions?
: Most career changes involve a cut in pay. But you can't look at it as a loss. It's an investment. (Sorry if that sounds corny.) The key is to assess what the growth curve at the new job will be. It's perfectly acceptable to ask an employer about that in an interview. But you also have to accept that you may have to take a cut in pay to make the shift. Will the new job bring you back up the pay scale in a reasonable period of time? If it will, it's probably worth the investment.

misspeach_99 asks: When job seeking, and you're going into a male dominated area, should your dress be more femine or just regular business dress.
: Never let the men dictate how you should dress. As long as your demeanor is professional, you should wear what you want. Do not wear "more feminine" clothes because you think it will "help". What matters most is how good your work is and how people regard you. Clothing is a part of that, so use your judgment. If it seems wrong to you, or makes you uncomfortable, then don't wear it. You might want to check the Women's Edge section of Ask The Headhunter.

nary_a_clue asks: I have been working contract for several months. The client company offered to hire me directly, but with a pay cut. They say the benifits are worth more than the difference in pay. I disagree. What is your take on this?
: You should run the numbers before you conclude you are right. An employer's "overhead" on you may run anywhere from 25-50%. It's a big mistake to think that as an employee you should be able to earn what you do as a contractor. One big issue: security. If you lose a contracting job, you have to market yourself and possibly take time off to do so. A FT job doesn't require that. (At least if you don't get laid off!) Please run the numbers -- I think you'll find that the employer is right, but I can't tell you by how much. Check the Consulting Jobs Primer for more.

ghw4 asks: I'm a 37m middle manager who's been with the same company for 15 yrs. The company is good. We're an ESOP, but I'm not going anywhere. Should I stay or go?
: It's important to carefully evaluate the criteria that you base your decision on Today's "job market" is "hot". That leads people to think they should consider changing jobs. That's not necessarily true. You may be able to find a better job in your own company. (See my articles The Job Search Starts At Home and The Wall Says It's Time To Go... it's about this very decision.

arymayv asks: I have been working at the same company for 10yrs, and was able to make a career change within the company. However, now that I have 5yrs experience, and have been downsized, I've found that my salary is $15 to $20K less than the market. Any suggestions as to how to handle the salary history questions?
: Yep. Decline to divulge your salary history. This is very controversial, and it has generated more postings and email than any other topic on Ask The Headhunter. I don't believe your salary history is anyone's business, especially an interviewer's. As soon as you divulge your salary, you kill your negotiating edge. Yet people answer the Q all the time. I wrote a whole article about this, Keep Your Salary Under Wraps. In the article I explain that you can tell the employer your last salary is confidential because the company's employee policy makes it confidential. In many cases this is true. Check your employee manual. It likely says that anything between you and the company is confidential. Your salary included. More and more of my readers on ATH have taken the position that their salary is confidential, and employers are backing off.

XxXGrinspoonXxX asks: Are G.E.D.'s looked down on by Employers?
: Personally, I admire anyone who gets a GED. Don't apologize for it or act like you're a "second class academic citizen" for it. Be proud of it. I don't think you'll face a problem. Just remember: Keep the interview focused on how you're going to make the employer more profitable if they hire you. That's what counts. That's what the entire Ask The Headhunter site tries to teach people: How to win the job by showing -- in the interview -- that you can DO the job and do it profitably. If you don't believe me, check the collection of readers' success stories.

Basketball_grl_99 asks: I already have a professionally done resume, I have been searching for jobs but most of them I am too young for even though I am very capable of the job, what can I do??
: Throw out the resume. Resumes are the absolure WORST way to land a job. I discuss this at length in Resume Blasphemy. Resumes encourage people to go after too many jobs at once. Here's the key: Stop looking for jobs. Stop sending out resumes. Stop reading want ads. Instead, pick out the companies you'd love to work for. Get to know them. Meet people who work there or who work with the company in some capacity. (Vendor, customer, etc.) You can prepare for your approach to the company by creating what is essentially a "non-resume". I discuss it in the aforementioned article. To produce that resume, you have to get to know the company and meet the people. And it's the people who get you in the door. Relying on resumes makes people lazy about job hunting. Imagine if companies hired only people from whom they got a resume. Most companies I've ever known hire most people through their personal contacts. Try it -- it's a lot of work, but so's that great job you want, right??

vose5 asks: I'm a poet, former hospital secretary, and stringer for a newspaper. I'm interested in looking into writing on for a web company. What is out there and how do I train for it?
: Writing for the web is not much different from the regular print world. I know lots of people who have made the transition. For example, Sam Meddis, who writes the excellent Technology section of USA TODAY started as a lowly reporter for a regional NJ newspaper. Start by finding some relatively local publications that also have web editions. Approach them and offer to write some web columns. You may work for little or no $$ to start. But that will build your skills and credibility. What matters most is your ability as a writer -- if you're good, they'll love you. Look at me: I started the ATH site 5 years ago, with NO experience online. I learned by doing and by making lots of mistakes. If the writing is good, and you know your subject, word gets around.

helplz asks: How do you handle the lack of referances..been contractor for to many years and committed the fatal didn't keep contact
: Ah, that's a no-no :-) It's absolutely critical to stay in touch with people you work with. References don't have to be past bosses. They can be customers, vendors, co-workers or anyone who knows the quality of your work. I'd take some time and try to track down at least 2-3 of these kinds of folks. You can't just say you have no references... it's very suspect. If you're desperate, you might be able to get around this by putting together something that shows examples of the quality of your work.

Migrainer asks: If interviewers want a recommendation from your current boss, but the current boss is a raging psycho, is there an alternative way of providing a recommendation?
: No one in their right mind expects a job candidate to provide a current boss as a reference. Never offer that. Always explain that your current boss is off limits because if he knew you were looking, it could cost you your job. (In rare situations, your boss could be a reference, of course.) Just tell the employer that you have other great references... even some co-workers who could talk about you, but not your boss. Any reasonable employer would accept that.

Sweetd_45 asks: How marketable is a woman of 53 who has 30 years of full charge bookkeeping experience with expertise in job costing in the construction industry?
: If you're good at what you do, you can win a great job. PLEASE, don't get hung up on your age. Yes, some employers will discriminate, but in my experience most won't. Here's the key: your attitude. I've met some very talented older workers who are so concerned about their age that they project that fear, and employers smell it. It suggests to them that you'll carry it into the job, and that it will cause problems with younger workers. Act like a pro who isn't concerned about age, and I think you'll do great. For more on this, check my article Too Old To Rock & Roll? in The HH Articles section of Ask The Headhunter.

rglovepup asks: How do you know when it is time to move on......I feel I have been passed over twice. But company says I am still inline. How do I call the bluff?
: Never bluff or mess around with bluffs. The best thing to do is put yourself on the block and find out what you're worth, both in terms of $$ and in terms of the kinds of jobs you could win. THEN go to your employer and tell them that if they don't give you one of several jobs you've got your eye on, you may have to consider other options. However, NEVER threaten to leave or take another job. That doesn't work. Approach this professionally and diplomatically, and ONLY when you have some other solid opportunities ready to go. The article The Wall Says It's Time To Go on the ATH site will help you with this.

GroovyMango asks: Have you found that the job websites (Monster Board, Hot Jobs, etc.) have had a big effect on your business?
: Oh, absolutely! My clients call me more often with more assignments. The job sites have created an interesting phenomenon: they have devalued the resume to the point where it's worth almost nothing. Think about it: if there are 20 million resumes available for free on the Net, the value of any one resume approaches zero. Who can dig through all that stuff? One of my clients ran ads on several major career sites. They got 7,000 applicants. The company had to hire 2 temps to sort the resumes. They interviewed 7. Hired none. They called me with the assignment. There are several articles related to this on the ATH site. In The HH Articles, see Job Netting. In Guest Voices, see Mining The Net For Candidates for an employer's interesting perspective. She explains how she does NOT use the career sites. She uses the newsgroups to recruit from. In a nutshell, the job sites create more work and confusion for employers. Every good headhunter I know is swamped with work right now.

arymayv asks: I have passed up a trying for a number of opportunities because the commute would be too long and unpredictable. I would consider a much larger geographical area if telecommuting was an option 2 or more days a week. I haven't tried to sell the idea yet. Any suggestions?
: Telecommuting became a good idea years ago when AT&T championed it. (Any wonder??) Then AT&T backed away from telecommuting for its own employees. It's simply too hard to manage most people that way. Some companies are making good efforts, but such jobs are very hard to find. Most telecommuting jobs are given to people who have a solid track record at a company. They can be trusted to follow through. The best telecommuting jobs today are those where you run your own business. You're the boss. It's not easy to start such a business, though. Wish I could give you a more hopeful response, but it's a tough gig.

id1_1234 asks: I was recently hired for a wonderful job opportunity, but my backround check came up with a bizarre warrant for my arrest from Florida. It was on a Florida drivers license, which I have never had, and from a time I was never in Florida. I am really embarrassed, although it wasn't me. I am spending over four thousand on an attorney, but, I feel I lost the job. How can I revive this position?
: Ouch. All you can do is hand the employer a court document that explains it wasn't you. Do this with the hiring manager, not the HR dept. You need to appeal on a personal level. If you don't get much of a response, move on to the next employer. I'm sorry to hear you had this experience.

dongs1_76 asks: I just had a job interview for a company that deals primarily with bank loans and to be honest, I did very poorly on the interview. I felt like I knew very little about the industry I was looking in. Can you suggest any tips?
: Yep: research the heck out of an industry before you interview with any company in it. Don't feel too bad, though. Most people are sort of brainwashed... they go interview with any company that wants to talk to them, just because they were invited. This is the single biggest cause of bad hires and bad jobs, in my opinion. Think about it: America's employment system encourages people to apply for jobs with companies they don't know and to interview with people who don't know THEM. It's like blind dating. It doesn't work well. Please learn something from this. If a company isn't worth researching in excruciating detail, it isn't worth interviewing with. And if you're not willing to do all that work in advance, you don't deserve the job. Please check some of the articles on the ATH site. They'll teach you how to job hunt intelligently. Don't feel bad: this is a problem most people face. Just do something about it. I wish you the best.

TooEdu asks: What would you recommend for a Canadian who wants to work in the States. My education is mostly American and I have 2 Masters degrees (MBA & CIS) I also have extensive managerial, accounting and computers.
: I'll be honest with you, I don't know what the work restrictions are on Canadians in the US. My best advice is to not job hunt blindly via ads. Pick the companies that interest you, read about them, and call the people in those companies who are mentioned in the articles. (This is a very powerful technique in any situation.) Call them and ask their advice. If you're honest and straightforward, I'll bet you'll get some good help.

jenandjazz asks: What resources do you recommend to do research on specific companies?
: Your local library, even more than the Net. Of course, you should use the Net: the SEC's EDGAR data base, Hoover's, and Yahoo! But I'll take one good reference librarian at my local library over the next ten search engines. Start with your reference librarian. You'll be surprised how much help he or she can be, and it's free!

helplz asks: I need to explore your site in more detail - will you do another chat in the future
: Sure, we'll be doing more Ask The Headhunter chats on Yahoo! Meanwhile, you'll find lots of resources on the ATH site. ATH is not a traditional careers site -- it's pure advice. No job or resume postings. You should also get a copy of my book -- at the bookstore or library -- you'll find it helpful. Thanks to all for coming today! Hope to see you again at the next ATH/Yahoo Chat!

Yahoomc: Thanks Nick and thanks to all of you for your great questions! Be sure to check out Nick's site at for a bunch of great info! Good night!

More Headhunter Articles


The contents of this site are Copyright (c) 1995-2015 North Bridge Group LLC.
All rights reserved. This material is for personal use only. Republication and redissemination, including posting to news groups, is expressly prohibited without prior written consent. Ask The Headhunter, Fearless Job Hunting, the ATH logo and other ATH titles are trademarks or registered trademarks of North Bridge Group LLC and Nick A. Corcodilos.

User agreement, legal information and disclaimer.

Visit the Ask The Headhunter Blog and sign up for your free subscription to the weekly Ask The Headhunter Newsletter.

We welcome comments and
suggestions. Please email to
Ask The Headhunter.