“Sam, I absolutely hate my company and hate my job. I can’t wait for some sucker to give me a big package so I can blow this joint and retire early.” January 17, 2011.
These are the words of an acquaintance who hit the jackpot when an upstart company in his industry decided to give him a two-year guarantee for 50% more a year. In the employer’s mind, they think they are getting an experienced person with a great attitude and a long term commitment of building their business for 5+ years. In my acquaintance’s mind, he’s jumping ship because he sees the dollar signs and plans to retire as soon as his two-year contract is over.
HOODWINKING, SOFT LIES, & MISMATCHING MADE PERFECT
After 5-10 years of experience in whatever field you are in, there will inevitably be competing firms who will want to hire you away if you are a good performer. If you are a super high performer you will always have opportunities thrown at you. Your biggest problem is deciding when is the right time to leave for the bigger bucks.
The sad part about the scenario above is that I’ve known the hiring manager for over a decade and think he is a brilliant business builder. Yet, even a brilliant man like him can get hoodwinked by a miserable guy with different intentions. How does this happen? Here’s how.
The dark pieces of you can sometimes shimmer.
Nobody is completely melancholy. We all have things we get excited and happy about. Those specific thoughts are what you have to concentrate on to pass a lie detector test.
Interviews are the only way for an employer to directly ascertain how you are as a person. This is when you need to throw away all your disdain, and less than desirable attributes and start performing. You are the lead actor in a play, and your goal is to make your audience love you. Don’t underestimate the importance of “looking the part”. They do play huge parts in making good impressions.
You must smile and say sweet words of kindness. You must pretend your motivations are pure, and that you are there for the long term. All your intentions seem real, because you are thinking about things that will potentially make you happy if you get this job – a lot of money, an early retirement, and sticking it to your old firm.
Important positions need to be carefully vetted because once someone enters your organization, it is brutally difficult to get them out thanks to employment protection laws. As a result, you will go through multiple interviews over many months to make sure you are the right candidate. You need to keep your game face on and replicate your happy enthusiasm consistently over and over again. You must not break.
Even Ghengis Khan has allies.
The next vital step is having superb references. Even if you are the most evil person on earth, you will at least have a handful of people who will sing your praise. Identify those people and feed them to your perspective employer. Give your references a heads up that you have done so and be extra kind to them for at least a month before the process. Take them out for lunch and help out anyway you can.
Five references is generally enough. A lot of employers stop at three, so if you give them more, you will look like a credible person.
Sugar-coated donuts are unhealthy, but everybody still loves them.
You’ll undoubtedly have some weaknesses which are less than desirable with your prospective employer. No matter, because you are smiling and demonstrating your fantastic fake enthusiasm about the hiring company. You have implanted sugar coated donuts into the hiring manager’s head that you will be the perfect candidate for the job.
The interview process is exactly the time where you can over-promise on what you can do. You make them salivate like Pavlov’s dog. The more you promise them, the more they will want to pay you. Forget the sugar shaker, you bring out the industrial powder sugar machine that rains goodness 10 donuts at a time. You know that once you are in, it’s too late. You’ve got them by the balls because everything is in writing.
The more you think about waterfalls in a crowded place, the more you will need to pee.
People can’t help but follow the herd. As soon as your prospective employer gets a whiff that someone else might be interested in hiring you, your stock will rocket to the top. You need to create that anxiety even if it might not be entirely true. It’s easy to say have been approached by a competing firm, but nothing has transpired yet. Once your prospective employer hears that, they’ll start thinking about Niagara Falls baby!
NOW YOU KNOW WHY UNDERPERFORMERS SURVIVE
You must master your own presence. Like an actor in a big Hollywood movie, you are able to turn on the charm once the cameras start rolling. If you can do that, you will forever be employed because you’ll always be able to jump around. By the time your employer realizes they’ve made a mistake, it won’t matter because you’ve got that fat contract, or you’re already moving on to your next employer!
Readers, any tricks you have for getting hired when you know you don’t deserve the position or have no intention of staying longer than your contract? Why can’t employers see through bad hires more often? Do you know of people who keep landing on their feet, even though they are less-than-optimal performers?
Updated for 2016 and beyond