EP 2155 Recruiters. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them, My guest today, Ben Passaman, is a veteran recruiter and the host of the “A Peek Behind the Curtain” podcast as we talk about how he thinks and operates. And you know I did search for more than 40 years so it is a blunt conversation.
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So, my guest today is Kruian Tharakan. He's the founder of sales and marketing strategy, firm strategy, peak sales and marketing advisors, a 27 year veteran of the industry, where he's consulted the companies in many sectors. He's also the author of the Amazon bestseller, the seven essential stories charismatic leaders tells which details how anyone can move mountains, so, it is a power of story. Sir, how are you?
Thanks for having me on Jeff. This is going to be a treat.
I hope it's going to be a treat. After all, it may not be Halloween, but we don't want to do tricks yet. So, with that being the case and we're talking about story, bringing this into the job search experience. I know you got seven stories in the book. So, why is your story so important?
Stories are the way we humans relate to our world. In fact, the only way you can convey meaning and understanding to anything, let alone convey that to people, convey that to yourself is through the stories we tell. So, a bland set of facts are just facts. But the meaning is imparted by the story we tell ourselves and other people. That's why it's so important to be good at storytelling.
For job hunters, obviously, they're places in the interview, where they can tell stories. Is there a typical construct to the story or a formula to storytelling?
There are several formulas to storytelling. If you put storytelling formula into Google, you're going to come up with a bunch of them. That's probably not the most important part though. Because the simplest thing is the beginning, middle and well, that doesn't really help you that much, then you go to a Pixar formula and it would be something as simple as everything was fine, then something happened. I was sent on a journey, a whole bunch of models happened. Then I found Nemo, and we all lived happily ever.
Thank goodness, we don't want anything happening to Nemo.
Don't let anything happen to Nemo. Then of course, you can go into the big myths out of Greece, Rome and Asia, and they would all follow the storytelling process. It's called the hero's journey. You'll see that in things like Star Wars. George Lucas consulted with Joseph Campbell heavily on the construction of myth before he started writing Star Wars. So, you're going to see that deeply embedded that whole monomyth Hero's Journey format in there, it is very complex, but we don't need to get that complex, you just need to tell. It's more important to understand the stories to tell, especially stories that won't bore people, but that'll keep their attention, increase their intrigue, and provoke their curiosity.
How's this one? Was that a nice setup for you? For example, okay, well, let's relate it back to a job searcher's process. So, let's say, you're right up at the interview, and right at that point in time, you've got past the initial gate, you're in front up perhaps one of the decision makers, if it's only the HR team, maybe it's not the eventual boss, but you need to have something that stands out beyond your resume. Now, the resume got you in the door, but it will not keep you in the process. Because one of the things they're testing for at that point is whether the resume matches up with the expectations in the mind to what you are presenting. Now, you can just do that and by itself, you can just do that. You have fulfilled the expectations that you are the same person that the resume says you are or you can make it come alive.
Now what do we say? How do we make things come alive? Facts are what are on a resume; meaning is delivered by the story. In the book, we have the books, a leadership book, and in fact, if you're ever going to rise in the company, you should have some aspect of leadership skills, if only to lead yourself into getting the projects done. You're dependable that you have insight to the project, those kinds of things. So, the book is about leadership. The same principles apply to any kind of situation where leadership skills are a requirement. So, you can use one of the clearest stories that I asked people to use this story number five, and story five is all about the mighty wind. Now what is a mighty wind? All businesses, I say are like sail boats, the sail ships. Sailing has been around for millennia.
Almost every culture in the world has contributed to the advance of sailing technology, because it's such a vital means of transportation was for millennia. So, sailboats, though, require one critical thing, wind. Now the problem is that most companies get started without any real assertion as to ascertainment as to what's the direction of the wind, the power of the wind, the availability of the wind and the ship is being built. Well, why don't you find the wind first and then build a sailboat to take advantage of direction power availability, that's the way to really do it. Now, here's how you apply that in a job searching standpoint, in that kind of viewpoint. These winds, as I talked about, they're all about macro trends in the marketplace and the trends, the big ones, the state, the winds of power, the sailboats sales are things like societal winds, technological winds, economic, environmental, political and legislative, six big macro winds. Those winds can either power for the ship, not powered at all refuse to build those sails or capsize the boat. So, it creates tsunamis of opportunities and tidal waves of destruction in its wake. There's a variety of different stories you can tell. For example, did you know that there were almost 4000 car manufacturers that have existed in the United States, since the 1880's 1890's.
Thousands of manufacturers which have all come together now, in about four companies, you have Thor, you have General Motors, you have Chrysler, some of these big guys from overseas and things like that, Daimler- Benz, but all of these companies, or 1000, companies, whittle down to now these big players. Now, what's happened in the meantime, though, that process of building cars in the US, and then making the cars affordable, which allowed things like urbanization to take place, which allowed things like homeownership and middle classes to arise, and make the home affordable, the whole fast food craze was started as a result of the availability of the car. No one came up to the McDonald's in the horse drawn carriage. What's going on is you take a look at this entire tidal wave of opportunities that have come about.
In fact, with that tidal wave opportunity was also tsunamis of destruction. The major means of transport prior to the 1890's, 1910's was the horse. With that, you have to go through all these kinds of things and take a look at what industries are being destroyed. The horse industry is not as prolific as he used to be. The car industry is way up and all the sub industries around that, if you as a job search applicant, have those deep insights as to the macro trends that are powering your industries, your markets, the competition, you completely stand out in front in my mind, as somebody being different than any other just simple job search applicant.
So, when I coach people, I'm aware that there's a limited attention span that listeners have, unless you grip them early, and demonstrate to the audience because I do think of it as like theatre. I talk about the theatre of interviewing as part of a way I coach. So, if someone is answering a question, I try to get them down to about 15 minutes where they have to hit certain points, and then ask for permission to go deeper with the answer because I'm always concerned that the audience tuning people out. So, in a typical story, like Amazon uses a star framework, that's what they want to hear other people normally at a manager level and above all suggest soar, which is situation objective action result, with a metric being the result and then for C suite, it becomes problem action result. Now, I'll start off with people trying to hit the markers. The classic example of a story is I took over a project and it was at the time I took over at my predecessor left on short notice. When I took it over, we were three weeks behind. It had to be done with him and had to be done. So, that becomes a situation they step into. What the objective is there has to be done by water. Now, I'm doing cowboy movies here, I'm writing it on the horse to save the day. You've got the bounce going, that's good. I like that. Absolutely, I have to be, this is theatre, and you have to entertain. So, what I did was, I met with users, but that person understood from my team that I was taking over what the issues were, it's going to get late, got their buy in, and their commitment that we're going to deliver this. We did complete three days early. As it happens in most stories, we lived happily ever after.
Nemo, Finding Nemo, you found Nemo!
From there, I also realized I can go more in detail about how I did some of these things which sounds like a perfect saga way in to some of the texture you are talking about. The texture is really important and I also know some people don�t want to hear it.
You want me to comment on the fact that I find those are much commoditized ingredients because at that point in time, you're just trying to qualify the candidate in or out. But if you really want to work for somebody, and they really want to work for you, you have to get to know their world view. You got to get to know their lens of how they see things. The only way you're going to be able to do that is through the stories you tell each other. Let�s you tap the heart and heartfelt stories, you tap the heart, tap your soul, tap your vision, when it comes to you the way you see the world from a viewpoint, brain wise, there's a lot of things.
So, in using the example of big wind, that kind of a story! So, as we're now heading on to the first piece, now the one that basically says, okay, you want to hear the facts, let me tell you the facts. So, this is where I was when we started, blah, blah, blah and we all lived happily ever after and the client was happy. They wrote letters of recommendation, got a spot bonus for it wonderful and we delivered three days early, helped the client make X number of dollars, saved y number of dollars, whatever it is, or a certain percentage improvement.
I can go into more detail about how we did that.
Sure. Okay! Then we construct the follow up story which has more texture. If you could offer an example of one, I know you know how to make up stuff on this by your sales and marketing guide.
I'm going to try, so, here's an example. So, let's see if we can do this. I was actually in a recent situation. So, I'm going to be pretending that I'm going to interview for a job as a senior manager at someplace and I'm going to defuse and tell you a story about how I defuse the conflict between two of my employees. Okay, how does that sound? Okay, what I realized when I went into that particular situation, and although conflicts didn't happen much of my team, I think it's an inevitability that teams do have conflicts from time to time. So, I sat down with both my guys. So, I had Don on one side and Tom on the other. I asked them to tell me what was going on. But then I did something a little different. I asked Don to tell me what Tom's viewpoint was.
Then I asked Tom whether he agreed with Don's assessment, whether he got that record, then I reversed it, Tom, you tell me what Don is talking about and they went back and forth on that. When they were actually enunciating each other's viewpoints, they actually saw each other's viewpoints. Although it wasn't a perfect resolution at the end of it, what both of them realized is that the situation was based on facts, but it's ultimately rooted in feelings and those feelings are something that you have to bring out. So, before conflict can be resolved, it can't just be a facts, you have to get to the underlying context of the emotions that are driving the conflict and that was one of the ways that I did it. So, that's a great little example of using this is, tell me what the other person's viewpoint is all about.
Some special notice that he did was, number one, he was concise. So, his description was not this 10 minute monologue that's going to put people to sleep, but it was text. So, you can understand what the situation was, and how we approached it. Now, I want to distinguish between the story that I told, which was, tell me about a time where you have accomplished something in particular, versus this is a different type of behavioral interview question, which, in the case that you added with problem between two co-workers. How do you resolve that? I tend to view the moral emotion connecting stories with this kind of behavioral interview question. Because everyone's been there, everyone's had to deal with conflict between subordinates; everyone's had to deal with the problem customer.
I think one of the first sales training stories was about the rookie salesperson that�s being sent across the street, no one's ever sold this guy. Actually, they're selling them to the easy one, to have them to a win. He's all pumped, he's got his training techniques, and he's learned his thing, he comes back with the order and the sales manager looks at and goes, that is the mean guy. How did you do it because no one's been able to do it, because they're all psyched out by the guy and he got the point? There are levels, the behavioral interview stories, in terms of where you go with this stuff and where you can create that kind of connection. Now, I did the abridged version of that because, again, this is a three minute story.
Yeah, be concise, but get the point across, but with enough intrigue to it that keeps people's attention.
One of the things I noticed is when you told a story, you had animation in your face. I did the same thing on my site. So, there's an energy that should communicate when you tell the stories that demonstrates pride in what you did.
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, 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 more than 2100 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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