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I found a role that I am interested in that I found through a former employee of mine that had re-posted the opportunity on LinkedIn. So, I took action. I contacted the hiring manager on LinkedIn to discuss his role to see if there would be mutual interest. I was hoping that there would be. I needed a job.

Not just any job. You can make money anywhere if you are looking for it.

In the current market with the lowest unemployment rate in the United States in some time, no one should be unemployed. I’m looking for the next long-term match for my career.

I can’t have any more backsliding, missteps, or lateral moves to nowhere. I’m getting to point where I am senior in my career and my family needs stability–especially my rockstar wife who is currently on a stratospheric trajectory because she IS just that excellent at customer and product marketing.

So, the product leader and I schedule a quick 30-minute discussion. You don’t need more than that to feel each other out. It is a “first date” and you are essentially seeing if you could carry on a conversation with each other for more than a few minutes. We did.

I really liked the hiring manager. He was a very sharp guy. He has done a lot of building-out of his team and establishing himself at the company. I can see myself contributing to his team immediately. Not because nationalistically I saw that they need me, but because of my diverse background, skill-sets, and my ability to evolve in roles that have a potential to grow.

He asked me what attracted me to the role. If you are looking for a new role for yourself, you better have a good answer to this question.

Hint: The answer is not…more money, or it’s a promotion for you or anything else that makes you sound like a self-centered jerk.

It can be personal, but it needs to speak to the role itself.

I appreciated the brevity of the job description and how it was clearly defined for what they needed now. I went on to explain how I would address each of the items and tied them to current and past experience in different roles.

He was intrigued and commented that this was not meant to be an interview, but he liked the fact that it progressed quickly from an introduction to figuring out how I would contribute to his team.

Our 30 minutes was up.  I respected his time by watching the clock and sticking to our 30 minutes.

Hint: It is your responsibility to watch the clock on an interview, not the interviewers. It shows that you respect their valuable time and that you know how to manage it wisely while respecting your own valuable time. As a former hiring manager, I love this trait in prospects.

Getting Candid

During our introduction, I mentioned that I had worked with his former co-worker. That evening he reached out to Greg. That is not his real name, but I want to protect everyone’s privacy.

Unbeknownst to me, Greg and Bill had a conversation about me on LinkedIn.

Greg and I had not spoken in years. Staying up with past colleagues and friends is not one of my better traits. It seems like time stood still when we talk again, but usually, there is a significant amount of time that has past.

Be Better: Don’t let years pass with friends and co-workers that you have fought many battles with during your career or in school. It will be much better when you check-in, even if it is just a quick not to say that something made you think about them and you wanted to see how life is going. Be better than me when it comes to this practice. Create a system that reminds you to check-in periodically. It could be quarterly, bi-annually, annually…or whatever works for the relationship.

Greg is pretty active on LinkedIn, so I see a lot of his updates. He has been doing great! We just have not talked.

Below is a snippet of the exchange that he and Bill had about me. I was blown away by the kind words. I had no idea.

These two obviously have a good working relationship. I apologize for the language, but you are getting a real candid look at what this former employee thought about me as a person and Director.

Why can’t I use this kind of candid recommendation for roles rather than a cover letter and resume? Instead, we have to hope an HR talent manager or a hiring manager believes the prose that we write in our cover letters.

The above is real. It is untainted and I was not privy that it was taking place.

When LinkedIn was first introduced to me, this what I thought it would be used for with our careers. Instead, it is just like resumes where people try to paint the best picture of themselves for the world to see. The person with the best grasp of writing or an impressive pedigree gets the HR person’s attention. Or the individual that has the most people that say they are “Skilled” at something.

I’ve had people that I have never worked with that have said that I am skilled at Marketing Strategy or Product Management as an example because LinkedIn prompted them to say something about me. It makes it all garbage.

You can’t trust these types of recommendations any more than you can a desperate resume writer’s because they could solicit or even pay for people to promote skills that they don’t even have.

The work results are what matters in my opinion and the people that you worked with at the time are more valuable than what you say about yourself.

Yes, I know that people can solicit a general recommendation on LinkedIn. They are nice to have, but they only scratch the surface.

Greg and Bill could talk specifically about Bill’s role and the work that I am capable of doing candidly. This might scare some of you to have a candid conversation about your work or leadership performance. It should if you don’t give your best while on the clock.

I would happily trade what my former coworkers and leadership teams have to collectively say about me over what I think an employer wants to hear on my resume or in my cover letter.

It is time to get more candid to find the best people. Let’s open up those LinkedIn profiles and be able to validate and vet a potential employee candidly.

Who is with me?

Brian Stout

What Happened

You probably curious about the rest of the story…

Did I get the job, right?

Sadly, no.

That is okay. It was for the best. I was overqualified (I hate that term) for the role that I was interviewing for with the company. A few years ago I was a senior leader in that organization and I was interviewing for a product marketing manager role–a team I managed at one time for a different division. I would have been very satisfied in that role.

Their team had different idea about what they needed.

They hired someone with a few years of product marketing experience that lived in the city.