Career Coach Office Hours: September 20 2022

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
I answered questions about job search, hiring staff, management, career transition, as well as workplace issues. Join me at 1 PM Eastern on Tuesdays and Fridays on LinkedIn or YouTube ( channel). You can also message me on Linkedin before the show and I will answer it, too.

What is The Best Way to Start a Cover Letter?


What is your personal favorite question to ask your interviewer at the end of a professional interview? The last question I have people ask when I coach them is, is there anything that you’ve heard or not heard that gives you reason to question whether I’m qualified to do this job? Now the reason I have people ask that question is really very simple. Number one is most interviewers are not trained so they sometimes ask things amateurishly. Thus, the result winds up being that they get an answer different than what they were looking for, because it wasn’t phrased  correctly. So what I encourage people to do is to ask that question at the end, because in this way, it gives them a chance to say ‘I really didn’t hear a lot about your experience with such and such.’ ‘Oh, you asked that question about this, you want me to talk about that. And I spoke about this other thing. Would you like to know about my background with that?’ And what that allows you to do is make sure that you’re covering any questionable area that came about as a result of them not being sure. And if they say something along the lines of that’s right, you can acknowledge it. ‘Yeah, I don’t have a lot of experience with that. What I’ve done is this. And if you’re looking for something more than that, that’s not me. You’re absolutely right to your assessment.’ And thus, it gives you one last chance to clarify a misimpression that someone has about what you’re capable of doing and what your experience is. Now, of course, they can lie. They can say ‘no,’ or ‘you did a great job.’ But there are always those people who will tell you the truth. So ask that question at the end. Is there anything that you’ve heard or not heard that gives you reasons to question whether I’m qualified?’ Nationally not says a new era in my life? Fabulous, congratulations, I hope is a successful period of time. And my phone tuned out, sorry. Well, welcome to technology it happens to and I’ll just simply say, if anyone has a question, or a comment, just put it into the chat, I’d be very happy to acknowledge you answer your question. That’d be great. Okay, so next question is,



As a manager, what are some hints an employee is lying about why they took time off? So the first question I have to ask is, ‘Why does it matter if they’re not being truthful with you about why they took our time off? Is it because they don’t trust you that they felt compelled to lie to you? So I have to always start with the environment that someone works in, as to whether or not something that you as a manager do causes someone to want to lie to you, believe they have to lie to you about why they took off. Maybe they just they’re burned out. They just need an extra day. Maybe they’re on an interview. Maybe that’s the reason why they’re taking time off and they won’t tell you. Whatever it is, it always starts with you, not with them. They’re lying because they don’t believe that they can trust you. Now, how can you recognize it? You know, the person. You know how they reveal things to you through what they say and what they do? And of course, you can follow up the next day by asking them, ‘Hi, how is such and such? How was your day yesterday? And thus learn through their manner what they were doing and whether they were being truthful? It’s not the words that matter. It’s the behavior and that’s true of you as well. What are you doing to cause problems that cause an employee to need to lie to you, to want to lie to you about why they took time off?



Is it right to seek feedback from an interview you were promised feedback from three weeks ago? Three weeks have gone by? Absolutely. Absolutely! One of the things I encourage people to ask during an interview as one of their final questions, like their next to the last question, is they ask ‘When might I hear from you about next steps?’ ‘Oh, expect early part of next week?’ Or let’s say in your case that two weeks time. ‘So if I haven’t heard from you (and I give like two weeks and two days), it’s if I haven’t heard from you in like two and a half weeks will it be okay if I follow it up?’ ‘Sure! Or “wait.’ They say wait, you know, they don’t want to be contacted. Now here. You’re trying to figure out after three weeks, whether you should contact them for feedback. Absolutely. And I would just message them or text them depending upon how you’ve been communicating with them .simply say to them, ‘You know, I interviewed on such and such date and time I haven’t heard anything back. Have I been rejected or are you still interviewing people? I”d be that direct with them. Now perhaps culturally I would want to make sure that they hadn’t forgotten. So I’d be specific and pointed to them. If they said, ‘Yes, you were rejected,’ say ‘thanks, I appreciate the direct communication. Anything I should know, that prompted you to choose someone else? Or haven’t you chosen anyone else? Why was I turned down? I’m not here to argue. I just want to understand and learn.’ And you may get a vague answer because the person you’re communicating with may not really know. But ask and see if they’ll inform you about why you were turned down. Or they may respond by saying, ‘Oh, we just have two more people the interview, they had to reschedule, we should be finished by such and such date.’ Great!” But what you’ve done is communicate your interest by letting them know that you are following up and asking for feedback. So you’ve indicated interest, and that you’re also still available. So by all means, ask. It doesn’t hurt. And if it does hurt, why? Why would they be troubled by the fact that you’re trying to find out? Whether you’re still under consideration or whether you were rejected? Seriously? Why would it be a problem? So by all means, let them know. Ask for feedback. It’s been three weeks, if they’re still interviewing, great. Keep trying to get other jobs. I’ll just sit around waiting for this one. Okay.

Job Search Advice for Students


What are some things that candidates do during interviews, that make recruiters hate them? Funny question. Let’s put aside for a moment the idea that recruiters can be having a bad day, and that the fact that you’re breathing troubles them on that particular day. So let’s just put that aside for a moment. Okay? What do they do that makes recruiters hate them? They’re not clear. They are caught in lies. And, you know, once you’ve done recruiting for a period of time, you can smell bull, you can smell the BS that people are dishing out. They’re inconsistent in their answer. So for example, in one conversation, they talk about looking for such and such salary and in the next one, they talk about a different amount that’s even higher. And thus, recruiters talk to their clients and talk about how much a person is looking for. And suddenly you’re coming in with a higher number. When they get to the point where it’s time to schedule the interview. And you at the interview, tell their client that you’re looking for more, you’re making them look bad. So things that make recruiters look bad in front of their clients …They hate you for that and that one and deservedly so. So I’ll just simply say inconsistency, being unsure and not being able to back up what you say in the interview, are all things that make them hate you. Hate is a strong term. But I’m going to stick with your question.



An interviewer asks, what engages you at work? How should I answer this? What does the interviewer seek by asking this? Great question. And what they’re trying to do is to see if you’re Dead from the neck up your human corpse, whether you still have life in you, because they want to see if you have passion still, or whether you’re burned out and tired. So the first thing you need to do is become animated. Put a smile on your face, light up your eyes, and be excited and say, you know, there’s so much about what I love about my job. So what engages me at work? I love a difficult challenge. I’m making this up. You, you do what? What makes sense for you. But remember, it’s not just what you say that matters. It’s how you say it, the counts. So yeah, I love solving complicated problems. I love working with other people to solve problems. I love learning a lot. And if you’re asking me about what engages me at work, working with an end user to solve what their needs are, and seeing the successful delivery of (fill in the blank) that allows them to feel well cared for, solves their problem, be attended to, I just really, I get so excited about that. And  look excited, look excited, because that’s really what makes the difference is looking excited. Okay, if you sound dull and bored, and it’s basically flat effect, they don’t see you as being engaged. They see you as being a tired has been. And that’s never the way you want to join an organization is to be seen as being burned out and tired, do you?



Managers, would you terminate an employee who’s getting a written warning, but happens to check the box that says they don’t agree with the warning? If yes, why? There are a lot of behavioral issues that show up. Would I do it on the spot? No. I’d listen to them to try and learn from them. What their side of this is if I didn’t know it. So, the first thing I would say is, ‘it’s interesting. Tell me why you disagree with this appraisal.’ And then I would gently but respectfully and directly make it very clear that I see it very differently and that my goal isn’t to get you into trouble, I just want to get results so I’d rather keep you on board. But if you’re right and I’m wrong, then you’re just going to prove it to me over the next month. That’s normally a 30-day written warning, where you have to improve your performance. So, I wouldn’t terminate them on the spot and listen to what they had to say, of course. And then from there, talk with them about what I expect of them over the next 30 days so that in this way, it’s not a false exercise. It’s a legitimate one, in trying to help someone improve their performance, so I can keep them because replacing people is far more expensive. It is very expensive to replace productive employees. Now, again, sometimes, and excuse me for bringing this kind of stuff up. It’s the times that we live in. There’s sexual harassment that can occur. We associate that with men to women, but I’ve had cases where it’s been women to men, and it can be man to man or woman to woman. So this is not purely a heterosexual issue. But there can be harassment that takes place. There can be racism, sexism, homophobia, there can be ageism, that occurs. And I would just simply say these are unacceptable in the workplace. And you want to make sure that you are clear about what the issues are so that In this way, you don’t have headaches going forward.

Recruiters Are Not Your Friends


I had to withdraw from school for two years and return and graduated. Because my, but my GPA was low. How do I explain this to a recruiter? Real simple, you tell them the truth, but with some texture. ‘Now, when I got into university, when I got into college, I was 18, 19 years old and not as mature as I am now. So my first two semesters, I did terribly, because my head wasn’t in it.’ Or ‘I had a grandparent who was in the process of dying. And my heart wasn’t into school, and I wanted to spend time with he or she,’ or a parent that was dying, or whatever it is, you can tell them as long as it’s not a stupid reason. But if you (and I’m not going to go into what stupid reasons are, you’re mature and adult. You know what these kinds of things are). So I’d just simply say, you know, I left school because my heart wasn’t there. My head wasn’t there, I just wasn’t performing. So I went home. A salve was with my family during this terrible time, return to school, but the damage was already done. Because I dropped down. Toward the end of the second semester, my grades were terrible. During the first two, from a GPA standpoint, I could never recover. However, if you look at my transcripts, I’m happy to provide them, what you’ll see is, once I returned to school, I had three fives, three sixes, whatever it was, but when you have zeros or zero point fives, it’s kind of hard to have a productive grade because the first year of your schooling was terrible. So I’ll just simply say, explain it with sincerity. Sounds sincere, don’t sound like you’re reciting facts. Sound like a human being trying to talk to another human being. Make a connection. It will make a difference in how the information is received.



What do mediocre employees do that the best employees don’t do? Well, I would start off by saying one of the things that they do is they don’t care about doing great work. So they do good enough work, average work, mediocre work. What does mediocre mean? Average. Ordinary. And thus, the best employees do better work. They seem to care. Outcomes matter to them. And the result winds up being when you’re mediocre, it shows. So the best employees care about doing world-class work. That’s what they strive for. And for those of you who follow me on LinkedIn, you’ll see that I often use the hashtag, #begreat, because I don’t like when people ask you to act, average, mediocre, take it easy, and do things that basically say good enough is, and, and hurt themselves. They’re not giving best effort. So everything you do, start getting into the habit of doing it world-class. Put in best effort. Other people will start to notice it. You may inspire others to step up. And then there are people who are going to call you names. They don’t matter. Because they don’t care about doing good work. They will make fun of you in the US. One of the pieces of slang that’s used is to call someone a brown nose because your nose is up the butt of your manager. Who cares. You care about excellence. And if you care about excellence and can deliver on it, you have an opportunity to stand out from the mediocrities that you’re working with. And if your manager doesn’t appreciate that, well, maybe you need to find a different manager a diffe,rent job. And in terms of stepping into other organizations, or other parts of the organization when they interview you, ‘why do you want to move on?’ ‘I really liked Jeff as a manager. I like him personally. The problem I have is, frankly, he accepts mediocrity and that’s not me. I care about doing great work. It matters to me. And it doesn’t seem to be that way with him anymore. I assume he was that way at one point. But these days, he seems to be a different man. She seems to be a different manager than when she first started.’ So what do they do differently? They care. They care. It shows that they care. They’re willing to put in the effort, whereas mediocre employees accept good enough, and good enough, rarely is.

From Paycheck to Purpose


How long can you search for another job before your employer finds out? What would happen if your employer found out you were looking for another job? So I’m going to cover this in two parts. The first thought is ‘How long can you search for another job before your employer finds out? As long as necessary. And if you’re stupid, you know, you’ll get caught. One of the stupid things is taking off too much time from work in obvious ways. So, for example, you go into the break room to field calls all the time,. Your phone is ringing incessantly with recruiters contacting you,. You’re not batching your callbacks so that you’re able to handle a bunch of things at once. You’re just taking them on the fly. And the result winds up being someone hears it and you get caught. Normally, that’s not an issue. You take time off for interviews much too much and it gets noticed and thus your work suffers. So that’s how you get caught? What would happen if you were found out? Well, you know, any number of things could happen. Your manager could sit down with you and say, ‘What’s wrong? Are you looking?’ And just simply follow up by saying, ‘What gives you the idea I’m looking for something?’ And they’ll answer the question,. You can either be truthful or not as you see fit. So I’ll just simply say, they’re not going to fire you unless your performance is terrible, because they need you. And as a result, put yourself in their shoes. You can say, ‘you know, I’m doing the same work now, for the last five years. I’d like to do something different. You can piece out the parts of the job that you don’t care for anymore. And see if they will outsource it to someone else who could do it so that you are not doing it. Find a way to make it work for now once you’ve been exposed. And if you don’t care anymore, if it’s about money, you can simply say, ‘you know, I’m underpaid by market standards. And I’m sure to know that by now. Maybe you’re underpaid. And you know that too, but you’re putting up with it. I can’t afford to be working at such and such salary level. If you can solve that for me, that’d be great  because I am talking with other firms and they do seem to be willing to pay me x plus y. So if I was happy, I’m happy with the work, but I’m not happy with the money. So I’ll just say Don’t lie to them. But just ask them, ‘What gives you the idea that I’m looking,’ so you can listen to what their interpretation is, and figure out whether it makes sense.



I don’t want to get married, but my job is too hectic. I mean it am I on the right path? I don’t know. I would just simply say at the time, certain types of IT work is hectic. You know there are times during implementation when it’s very hectic. Or if you’re in testing, where, you know, it’s trying to get a system into production and have to test. So, those are obviously hectic times. But I’ll just simply say, you know, every job has tension to it. And you may not respond to the pressure. Well, that’s not about the job that’s more about you and whether you would feel it hectic with more demands placed upon you in a different type of job. You can tell your manager  I’m feeling overwhelmed. and I need some help prioritizing because it just seems like there’s too much’ ‘Well, you have to get it done.’ ‘I’m telling you, I need some help prioritizing, and what can you do to help me with that? Which is the most important of these tasks?’ So I’m wondering if your first question is actually that you want to get married, and your job is too hectic. If that’s the case, just say yes, in the comments area. This way, I know I’m shifting gears correctly. And you can then say, you know, I’m getting married in two months. I’m going to take some time off at that point because we’re going on a honeymoon. And the result will wind up being I’m gonna take some time off, and I can’t work 90 hours a week. It’s just too much. I want to have a family and my husband or my wife, and I am speaking in general terms, regardless of gender, but if we’re wanting to have a family, I plan on continuing to work. And I want to be in a situation where I’m not going to kill myself to help our company make 50 cents a share more than it’s doing right now. I was right about it. You are getting married. And thank you. So I’ll just simply say it’s too much. Tech can be hectic at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So in getting married, you can say ‘hey, look, I’m not here to dedicate my life to the company. I have a husband, partner, whomever it is, that I’m getting married to and, you know, I’m not going to work 90 hours a week. It’s really that simple. So it has to scale back. You have to give me the most important things you want me to do and reassign the work. So, I would just say in IT at times it can be hectic, and that other times it can be more normal. See if you can find a more normal group that doesn’t deal with this kind of chaos that you’re dealing with so that in this way you could have a personal life, too. I hope it’s a long-lasting marriage and if the plans are to have a family, your children give you great joy.

Finding The Career That Fits You


Is it common for employers to expect questions from interviewees? Yes, it shows interest. Now, they can’t be stupid questions like, tell me about the benefits. Tell me about the help. Tell me about benefits. How big will my raises be? It can’t be things like that I have to think about the work and what it would take to be successful. So you might ask them about their expectations over the first 30,60, 90 days after you join, and what success might look like after a year’s time when it comes time for review. I have a way of phrasing those two questions that are really superior in my video course, The Ultimate Job Interview Framework that’s available through my website, You can go to the site, there’s a courses drop-down. You can rent the course, you can buy the course, however you do it, it will help you interview much better. So yes, there are questions that they expect. I have five questions that I have people ask at the end of the interviews. One is optional. And that’s the first one, but two through five will help you stand out in a good way. And I must say as someone said to me yesterday who I was briefing before an interview, it’s really the course that I was briefing them on, the questions that I teach people to ask on interviews, and how I teach people to answer questions like tell me about yourself, it’s a superior way than what most people do when they answer questions when they’re interviewing. 



Sri says this is what I need help in prioritizing so that I feel I’m getting my work done. Yeah. And if you’re working for someone prioritizing is important. and knowing where in the world you are and what kind of reporting you need in order to maintain case files, in order to file insurance claims, it’s important that you do things that bring in the money. doing good work with patients is important. There’s a marketing component to what you do. That’s important. You can have administrative support, help with the marketing if you teach them what it is that you want them to do, and then monitor how they’re doing it so that they help you build your practice. So sorry, I hope that brief comment was helpful.

Interviewing for Young Adults/Recent Grads


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2400 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? People hire me to provide No BS career advice whether that is about a job search, hiring better, leadership, management or support with a workplace issue. Schedule a discovery call at my website, 

My courses are available on my The courses include ones about Informational InterviewsInterviewing, final interview preparation, salary negotiation mistakes to avoidthe top 10 questions to prepare for on any job interview, and starting a new job.

I do a livestream on LinkedIn, YouTube (on the account) and on Facebook (on the Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter page) Tuesdays and Fridays at 1 PM Eastern. You can send your questions about job search, hiring better, management, leadership or to get advice about a workplace issue to me via messaging on LinkedIn or in chat during the approximately 30 minute show.

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