An interview with the author
Some straight talk with one of America’s leading authors on job hunting. Over the last 30 years, Bob Gerberg has authored dozens of publications on job hunting. Recently he pioneered a new concept... authoring over 60 executive briefings on the new job market for Job Hunting SuperSearch. In this frank discussion, Paul Marshall, a former top HR executive with a Fortune 1000 firm, questions Bob about the job market today... new style resumes and more. The questions he addresses are listed below.
What is your background? And, how did you get into the job hunting field?
How did The Professional Job Changing System sell?
As a publisher, what got you into consulting on job hunting?
Can people at all incomes benefit from professional job hunting advice? And how many people would you say have used your ideas?
Have you changed your philosophy in recent years? Why did you create your briefings?
How has the job market changed?
How long has Job Hunting SuperSearch been in business?
What specific changes have affected job hunters?
What are your greatest concerns about ‘job hunting’?
What other issues concern you today?
But, unemployment statistics tell us the market is good. Do you agree?
In what fields is the market slow?
What is the most difficult job hunting situation people encounter?
What types of people can your briefings help? Just what do they do for people?
Are there any other publishing of career firms doing something similar?
How do your briefings help with “the hard work” of job hunting?
What makes job hunting ‘easier’ with your briefings?
What makes job hunting ‘faster’ with your briefings?
Can’t people get new jobs without any help?
Can you explain how the job market works?
How are private jobs filled?
How do your briefings help people go after the “private” jobs?
From a job hunter’s point of view, what do you mean by “leads?”
Do your briefings help job hunters get more connections?
Are venture capitalists play a growing role in recruiting?
What’s the difference between an average vs. a great resume?
What is a new style resume?
Why do you believe certain people do best with several resumes?
What does a “biography“ look like?
Why are excellent letters so critically important?
How do people build appeal beyond their actual credentials?
Why do so many people do poorly at answering ads?
What are the main things job hunters do wrong?
How many interviews should most people shoot for?
Why would anyone need 20 to 25 interviews?
Can a person’s skill at interviewing really be improved?
Why are negotiations so important?
Could you explain some of your negotiation advice ?
Can people with special challenges be helped?
Which of your briefings are most valuable?
What percentage of those who use your briefings get jobs?
Is there a guarantee for those who purchase your briefings?
What would you advise someone entering today’s job market?
Would you say your philosophy about job hunting is aggressive?
If you had to choose one way to get interviews, what would be the fastest way?
One last question Bob... Do you see job hunting becoming very different in the future?
(Paul) What is your background? And, how did you get into the job hunting field?
(Bob) I was raised in New York and New Jersey, worked briefly with GE and served as an Air Force Officer. Then I got an MBA. My career in marketing was with Honeywell, a major supermarket chain and PepsiCo. Then, when I was with PepsiCo, I got interested in writing a book that used the Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo marketing approaches applied to job hunting. Several board members set me up with venture capital that financed a book called “The Professional Job Changing System.”
(Paul) How did The Professional Job Changing System sell?
(Bob) Paul, while I went on with my corporate career, my wife ran a small publishing company in Verona, New Jersey. It was called Performance Dynamics. We ran regular ads for the book in 75 major newspapers and 100 national magazines. After Business Week and a number of other reviewers gave it a good mention, sales took off and we eventually sold 1.5 million copies.
(Paul) As a publisher, what got you into consulting on job hunting?
(Bob) The book sales resulted in our getting about 3,000 letters each month asking for some help. And that led to my working with job hunters. With the help of some great people that worked with me, we turned out new books every couple of years and developed a system for job hunting. That system was licensed to other firms in the 1980s and 1990s. Those arrangements also led to a lot outplacement work... including major downsizings at Bethlehem Steel, General Motors, Chase Bank and hundreds of others. We also helped the Pentagon, The US Marine Corps and other government organizations.
(Paul) Can people at all incomes benefit from professional job hunting advice? And how many people would you say have used your ideas?
(Bob) High achievers have career challenges themselves. Over the course of my career I’ve consulted to the CEOs of Warner Lambert, Bendix, Ferrari and many others... and also to the top HR executive at City Bank, the son of an American president, an ambassador to the UN, the presidents of several universities, high ranking military officers and other successful people. When it comes to a job change, their concerns are no different than many others. As for your second question Paul, for people at all levels, we put out so many paperbacks that I’d guess over ten million used our concepts. We also put hundreds of thousands of people through outplacement seminars alone.
(Paul) Have you changed your philosophy in recent years? Why did you create your briefings?
(Bob) You have to adjust to new realities, particularly since the great recession began in 2008. My latest briefings incorporate dozens of new ideas that can give people a competitive advantage. Paul, in answer to your second question, in the Internet era people want their information fast. By covering all major job hunting topics in 60 briefings... and having them available through the worldwide web, people can get to want they want very quickly. Things have been heading this way for some time. Years ago I read the popular book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Patrick Johnson... and like his other books it took about 45 minutes. That book sold over 25 million copies in 40 languages. Another successful series he co-authored was “The One Minute Manager Series.” The key to those books was the author didn’t write books he wanted to write... but instead what people wanted to read... at the length they wanted to read. Our briefings can be read in 10 minutes... and they provide what people want to learn more about.
(Paul) How has the job market changed?
(Bob) Since the great recession, the way employers recruit has undergone an immense change. So today, when people look for new jobs, they need to look at the market in a different manner. Many fail to realize it and just do the same things they did in the past. That’s why so many struggle.
(Paul) How long has Job Hunting SuperSearch been in business?
(Bob) Job Hunting SuperSearch has existed since just before the year 2,000, but it was entirely different at that time. It used to primarily be a job market research firm. At the same time it was a licensing firm... selling under brands used by other career and outplacement firms. Only recently did we begin our new direction.
(Paul) What specific changes have affected job hunters?
(Bob) Paul, the Internet is essentially the market of advertised or published openings. Newspaper and trade magazines now carry very few ads. Recruiter and employer websites and resume scanning has led to database driven recruiting and it’s growing very fast. And social networking sites such as LinkedIn are playing a vital role. The types of resumes that work best today need to be remarkably different as well.
(Paul) What are your greatest concerns about ‘job hunting’?
(Bob) Paul, one of biggest challenges has to do with getting recent college graduates and even those getting out of law school and MBA programs... the right jobs. There are over 3,000,000 graduates turned out every year. The average graduate who takes on student loans now starts out with debt approaching $30,000. And, of course, many take out loans that go from $40,000 to even $100,000 and more. The stress begins when many students graduate... as they are not really prepared to market themselves.
(Paul) What other issues concern you today?
(Bob) Paul, another area affecting millions of people has to do with mid-level professionals who lose good jobs in their 40s and 50s. In many cases the industries they specialized in were changed or eliminated by the growth of new technology. A best selling book, “Thank You for Being Late” by Thomas Friedman... a well-known New York Times columnist, explained this very well. He called this “The Age of Accelerations.” The bottom line is that it is no longer unusual for talented people to find themselves forced to look for jobs. And most have little experience when it comes to marketing themselves at the income levels they’ve attained. The result is that job hunting can sometimes become a long and emotionally depressing experience.
(Paul) But, unemployment statistics tell us the market is good. Do you agree?
(Bob) Paul, unemployment statistics from the government are not an accurate gauge as to what is really going on in certain areas. In some important respects, low unemployment rates are grossly understated. Technology is creating new industries and eliminating old ones at an amazing pace. And, employers are constantly finding new ways to use technology to eliminate jobs at all incomes. There are few employers who wouldn’t want to save money by lowering labor costs if possible.
(Paul) In what fields is the market slow?
(Bob) Industry sources claim that over 1.5 million jobs in IT are going unfilled, and the market for engineers and scientific types has remained strong. But the market for mid-level and senior staff in many mainstream occupations has been slow. In many respects, with the expansion of the Internet, it has actually gotten harder for job hunters to find jobs than 10 years ago. So... many give up when their old approaches don’t work.
(Paul) What is the most difficult job hunting situation people encounter?
(Bob) Paul, the main one is people who lose their job, but are not prepared for it. More than one in two people will be unemployed at least once during their career. As a group, some get reemployed quickly, while others struggle, or settle for poor positions. The emotional impact of losing a job can be devastating. Our briefings can be a great help to people who experience unemployment.
(Paul) What types of people can your briefings help? Just what do they do for people?
(Bob) We’ve designed our briefings to be helpful to all levels of professionals, managers and executives... seeking from $50,000 to $500,000+. And, I’ve had the help and advice from a number of very knowledgeable people. We focus on putting out briefings that educate people about how to make job hunting easier and faster. And they can also help people avoid the stress that job hunting can involve.
(Paul) Are there any other publishing or career firms doing something similar?
(Bob) I don’t think so. Our briefings give people in published form... all key factors we know of... that can benefit them today. That information is state-of-the art and low in cost, available on the Internet worldwide and regularly updated. Many have said our briefings really help with the hard work of job hunting.
(Paul) How do your briefings help with “the hard work” of job hunting?
(Bob) Paul, well for one... some people spend months trying to create great resumes and letters. We provide outstanding samples that worked for others for job hunters to copy, and many briefings on how to connect with openings, leads and contacts, competitive interviewing, negotiating and more. This can save people a lot of time.
(Paul) What makes job hunting ‘easier’ with your briefings?
(Bob) First, with our 60 short briefings, everything people need in a search is right at their fingertips...advice on 60 topics from ‘networking’ to ‘negotiations.’ Second, they can copy from some of the world’s best new style resumes and power letters... materials that can bring up to 10 times more activity. Third, they get over 20 ways to get interviews... and new ideas that have been cut job hunting time by up to 80%. Fourth, they can quickly set up their own step-by-step marketing action plan for getting interviews. It’s simple and straight forward. Fifth, and most importantly, with this service, people gain a lot of confidence.
(Paul) What makes job hunting ‘faster’ with your briefings?
(Bob) If people rely on old methods in today’s job market... job hunting can be a long journey. Too many people answer ads for months, network and scatter resumes... and never achieve their potential. Now with our briefings to choose from... they can eliminate trial and error and search quickly. What’s more, their competitive interviewing skills can be lifted, and they’ll find our soft sell negotiating system easy to use. For the first time, right at their finger tips they have sources for finding contacts and a wealth of proven concepts. These concepts have been used to speed the success of thousands of people at all incomes and in all fields.
(Paul) Can’t people get new jobs without any help?
(Bob) Paul, the answer is yes. But they don’t have the competitive advantage our briefings can provide. And what kind of job do they get? How long does it take them? And, is it right financially with the right future? And some can look for 1 or 2 years and never connect.
(Paul) Can you explain how the job market works?
(Bob) The market consists of jobs that are advertised or appear online... and those that are not. The first is called the “published job market.” The ones that fill their jobs privately represents the larger market, and is often called the “unpublished market” or the “private market.” Most people don’t know how to insert themselves into this part of the market.
(Paul) How are jobs that are private jobs filled?
(Bob) Organizations hire privately from within and from people who send their executives resumes at the right time. They also recruit from competitors. And many hire through referrals their employees suggest. Many also scan top resumes they regularly receive and then hire later from their recruiting database.
(Paul) How do your briefings help people go after the “private” jobs?
(Bob) Few know how to really do this on a large scale. We show job hunters how to go direct to employers by phone or direct mail, how to uncover leads to private jobs, how to do new types of easier networking, how to get the most out of LinkedIn and much more. When they find they can access private jobs they quickly realize there is also a lot less competition.
(Paul) From a job hunter’s point of view, what do you mean by “leads?”
(Bob) Leads are ‘hot tips’ about openings... generally private openings. One of our briefings shows how to uncover expansions, firms raising capital, companies getting new contracts or doing relocations. These events are signals that indicate private hiring in many areas.
(Paul) Do your briefings help job hunters get more connections?
(Bob) Yes. We show them ways sources for uncovering names of people to contact. We also show them how to access more openings, leads and connections. One of our briefings also includes most of the top recruiters, venture capitalists, private equity firms and more.
(Paul) Are venture capitalists playing a growing role in recruiting?
(Bob) Yes. There are over 2,000 VCs. They are always looking for new creative, leadership and management talent in many areas. People who can help with “turn-arounds” are always in high demand.
(Paul) What’s the difference between an average vs. a great resume?
(Bob) Every day, more than 30 million people have resumes out there. Some say this number is 40 million. Great resumes are like great commercials. The average ones go unnoticed. The great ones get attention. It’s that simple. For specific differences, we provide examples of great resumes that worked for others.
(Paul) What is a new style resume?
(Bob) Paul, new style resumes get your attention... even among a stack of resumes. In short, they do the first thing a resume should do for you... meaning they ‘get noticed.’ Besides being creative in appearance, they succinctly communicate what you can do and your skills and experience factors much more effectively than traditional resumes. Their format is critical and they also play a role as they feature key words for scanning and offer viewers a quick 30 second summary of what’s most marketable about them.
(Paul) Why do you believe certain people do best with several resumes?
(Bob) A single ad doesn’t work for Lexus, Apple, Coca-Cola and it’s the same here. Everyone needs to have a powerful 1-page new style universal resume. But to get maximum results, other resumes can work better for special situations. For example, a quick response resume is designed to get past gatekeepers without a cover letter. It has room for a short handwritten note... and can work very well. And, of course, any top executive needs to have a biography to use at the right time. Our briefings supply real life examples that worked.
(Paul) What does a “biography“ look like?
(Bob) A biography is like an article introducing a key speaker at a major conference. At 3 to 5 pages, they are done in a third-person narrative style... and are commanding and distinctive. No resume is more impressive. They can play a big role for executives in networking and negotiations.
(Paul) Why are excellent letters so critically important?
(Bob) Paul, many people underestimate what a difference impressive letters can make. Great letters can instantly convey a message that you’re simply not like everyone else. So, we supply letter samples that worked for others. The construction of these letters is also important. By that I mean how long your paragraphs should be and things of that nature. Direct marketing copywriters are writing many of the most powerful letters you’ll ever see. Just look in your mail for someone trying to sell you something, and see what the letters are like.
(Paul) How do people build appeal beyond their actual credentials?
(Bob) People who decide they need staff often think in terms of phrases that describe what they like to ideally have in the person they wish to hire. A CEO might think... “I need a turnaround specialist... someone who can cut costs.” So we show how to use phrases describing their skills in their resumes, letters, emails and interviews. It’s what politicians do... and it works. Historical statements of your factual credentials are not enough.
(Paul) Why do so many people do poorly at answering ads?
(Bob) That’s an important question Paul. I think relatively few job hunters understand things from the employer’s side. Over the years I was on the Board of several recruiting firms... and at that time they did a fair amount of advertising. Even though they tried to be specific in describing what they were looking for, from 200 to 600 candidates would respond to their advertisements for a single position. In a nutshell, that’s what makes answering ads for attractive jobs a long shot.
(Paul) What are the main things job hunters do wrong?
(Bob) Paul, many rely on the wrong type of resumes along with average letters. And they just answer ads, register with a few recruiters, and network their friends. Millions do this and think they’ve run a modern job campaign.
(Paul) How many interviews should most people shoot for?
(Bob) Paul, people only need one, if it’s right. We show them how to do a game plan, and we’d like to see their phone ring 20 to 25 times. Ideally, you’d love to create a bidding war. That’s puts the job hunter in control.
(Paul) Why would anyone need 20 to 25 interviews?
(Bob) Most of these interviews today are on the phone and a relatively short screening calls. And chances are you’re not going to turn one interview into the ideal job offer. If you auctioned something off would you rather have 20 bidders... or just one?
(Paul) Can a person’s skill at interviews really be improved?
(Bob) Interviewing is a skill. How good would you be if you played golf once a year. We help build maximum chemistry, supply answers to tough questions, give people a formula for overcoming objections, show them how to tell interviewing stories and more. When it comes to interviewing skills, our goal is to help them be in the top 5% among all job professional seekers.
(Paul) Why are negotiations so important?
(Bob) Negotiation is like poker.. the employers sit with their cards all in their hands. But, they like to have you put your earnings on the table face up. It’s surprising how much money people leave on the table because they are afraid of losing the offer when they negotiate. Think about this. Between initial signing bonuses and the percentage increase you can get in a good offer... you can actually earn more than your raises will be worth for your first three years.
(Paul) Could you explain some of your negotiation advice?
(Bob) Paul, here a few things. Always be sincere and reasonable… never cold or calculating. And always avoid premature income discussions. When you get an offer never commit right away and when you get back express some vulnerability. By that I mean something like... “John I love this job and the company, but I’ve been told I’m up for a good promotion that could help me pay down my second mortgage.” You might also want to negotiate to expand the job responsibilities, so that the job can be worth more to the company. Of course you also have to express your enthusiasm throughout. There’s a lot more to negotiations, but it’s really about common sense and the art of soft selling.
(Paul) Can people with special challenges be helped?
(Bob) Yes. We have special briefings for... people who are unemployed... those without a degree... those who have age concerns... and many more. Throughout my career I’ve found that quite often some really simple advice can clear the way for people to overcome their concerns.
(Paul) Which of your briefings are most valuable?
(Bob) For some it’s showing them how to get more leads, openings and contacts.. For others it’s the great resumes combined with proven letter samples to copy for any situation you encounter. And for others it is helping them succeed in competitive interviewing. I don’t want to sound evasive... but everything situation is different... so there is no ‘silver bullet.’ What perhaps is most important is that many people have said our briefings are like having a terrific coach with you from start to finish... but a lot less expensive.
(Paul) What percentage of those who use your briefings get jobs?
(Bob) Paul, a lot of people tell us about their results. I wish I could say 100% get new jobs but I’m sure it’s not. Everyone who applies our briefings can generate interviews and a very high percentage get new jobs.
(Paul) Is there a guarantee for those who purchase your briefings?
(Bob) For anyone who is interested, our briefings are always available with money back if not satisfied guarantee... with no questions asked.
(Paul) What would you advise someone entering today’s job market?
(Bob) Paul, the main thing people have to do is open their minds to a new view of job hunting and how the market works. This really builds self confidence and gets people energized. I have seen so many people, some outstanding... and many very average... all get amazing results beyond what they expected. It is very gratifying.
(Paul) Would you say your philosophy about job hunting is aggressive?
(Bob) Paul, I’m not sure the choice of the word ‘aggressive’ is right... but there is no doubt that our briefings reflect a major departure from the ways many people still look for a new job. As we’ve covered today, older or traditional ideas about job hunting simply don’t work very well any more. If people want to be a success and do it more quickly... everything I’ve advocated in our briefings has been tested and proven.
(Paul) If you had to choose one way to get interviews, what would be the fastest way?
(Bob) Paul, I have always been a believer in going direct to employers... which people can do by using the phone or marketing themselves by direct mail. I’ve devoted two briefings to this topic, and they are highly specific about how to do it. To make it work, it has to be done just right.
(Paul) One last question Bob... Do you see job hunting becoming very different in the future?
(Bob) Paul, I think things will go through greater change than ever before. It’s always amazed me that decades ago we could put a man on the moon, but our great tech companies and our federal government have never attempted to solve some of our major employment challenges. For example, I do think we soon could see an effort to have employers register all available professional, managerial and executive positions into in a National Registry. Having that one thing available to job seekers would save job hunting time and speed productivity on a major scale. Obviously the available positions could easily be coded by metro areas, industries, and income levels... and required experience expressed in reasonably concrete terms.
At the same time, hopefully our means of arriving at unemployment rates can be overhauled and yield much more meaningful economic reporting. A national database of candidates where job seekers could register could also yield some interesting efficiencies. In 2017, I was pleased to see that Google announced their entry into the employment marketplace. What they will exactly do remains to be seen, but I think this will attract other great technology firms into the employment space. Regardless of the specifics it should be interesting and have lots of benefits for job seekers.