Project Planning Your Job Search |

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Too many people go into a job search or career transition without a clear plan. My guest, Paul Cecala and I discuss how to plan and organize your search to streamline your efforts and get results faster.

Stupid Resume Mistakes: A Few Doozies!

Jeff Altman  [00:04]

So my guest today is Paul Cecala. Paul is a certified global career development facilitator (Boy is that a long term), known as a project planning career coach, which he is known as that. He provides no nonsense, practical, pragmatic and actionable steps for your work search (but not no BS). With more than 23 years experience and over 1000 clients successfully placed, he gets the job done. And his clients say that he has strong active listening skills and is easy to work with. So with your guidance, is individually customized. Paul, thanks for making time today. Hope you’re well and pleasure. Let’s have fun today. Okay.


Paul Cecala  [00:49]

Sounds good.


Jeff Altman  [00:50]

Great. So, project planning career coach. How do you project plan a job search?


Paul Cecala  [00:59]

You know, so many people get flustered by not really knowing what to do and how to do it. The truth is, if you think about any project that you’ve ever accomplished, the same steps apply for job search, right? So we need to using Project Management terminology, we need to scope out our project, what is our goal? And how are we going to get there, right? Then we need to define first, what is. I like to call the Japanese term, our ikigai. What is our purpose, our focus in life and how does that relate to being a job? Right? From there, we can then target our job search to the specific organizations that actually hire people to do what we want,  research those organizations. And each of these steps are considered milestones, again, in that project planning process, right? Once we’ve researched them, now we can create all of our marketing materials and our brand. And then we go out network. And we’ll talk about two different types of networking, followed by interviewing. Right, so those are the steps in project planning your job search. When I also talked about I had an eight step or eighth milestone, which is, how do we actually measure our success? Because most people think about success in a job search as I gotta get a job. Right? And if that’s your only measure of success, you’re failing every day. So I don’t want to fail, I want to be successful. And if we measure other things, we can be more successful. So that in a nutshell, is the project planning process.


Jeff Altman  [02:45]

I’m going to leap in here and simply say, a lot of people who know this terminology will go ‘Can we make it agile? Can we make it lean?


Paul Cecala  [02:57]

And you know what, you probably can Alright, I’ve been told I’m more of a waterfall, kind of a project plan or project manager, but I’m sure we can Agile it up if we want. And just like in Agile, where you would have a daily stand up five minute meeting with your team to say, where are we at and what are we going to accomplish today? I advocate actually, that you do the same thing with a job search buddy, somebody that you can talk to on a daily basis and motivate each other and be a sounding board to each other, and hold each other accountable to today’s goals. So it’s all there.


Jeff Altman  [03:40]

Excellent. And I know from my own experience, when people have support, someone to check in with whether it’s a friend, former colleague, someone that they’ve met professionally, or a coach, who they’re able to check in with, the accountability, just seeing that you have to call this person or contact this person every day. And you don’t want to say, ‘I didn’t do it.’ and whine to them about why you didn’t do it, it has an impact. It really does.


Paul Cecala  [04:14]

It absolutely does. In fact, I actually wrote a small book on the topic of finding and working with a work search buddy to be your accountability buddy in your job search. And so that’s a topic for another day, because we can talk about that for two hours, too.


Jeff Altman  [04:29]

And we’ll do that another time. And maybe bring it down to 30 minutes, but that’s a different topic. step number one in the project plan. Could you go through that with folks?


Paul Cecala  [04:39]

Yes. So identifying your ikigai, right? What is it that you want to do? What is it that the world needs done? What is it that you can get paid doing? And what is it that the world is willing to pay to get done? Right> So essentially you ask yourself those four questions, answer them. However, the answers come out. And where those answers all overlap and intersect and I can show you a Venn diagram of that if you really wanted, then that is your ikigai. That is your purpose, your focus in life. And when we find that we found our passion, we found the thing that we most love to do today, which, by the way, I think and you tell me differently from your experience, but I think we need to ask ourselves that question, what do we want to be when we grow up every five years, and it’s going to change. It may not change much, right? But that path that we take is going to wind and maybe come to a Y in the road and go in a slightly different direction about every five years. So you want to ask yourself that question, come up with the answer. And then you can say now, am I in the right role or do I need to change roles? It’s funny when you start with that question, when I coach institutions around hiring, that’s the question I sat them started off with when you were when you were little. Why don’t you want to be when you were growing up? Yeah. And I’m, there’s nothing wrong with any answer that’s given. It’s just to be clear. Just want to know what it was. And then the curiosity that gets people off the script is, so how did you wind up? From there to here? Yeah, exactly.


Jeff Altman  [06:29]

It’s funny when you start with that question, when I coach institutions around hiring, that’s the question I have them started off with. When you were little, what did you want to be when you were growing up? Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with any answer that’s given. It’s just to be clear. Just want to know what it was. And then the curiosity that gets people off the script is, so how did you wind up  from there to here? Baseball player or ballerina? Great, and now you’re doing business analysis work? How did that work for you?

From Paycheck to Purpose

Paul Cecala  [06:35]

I know, I went to high school or coming out of high school, I went to college, wanting to be a shuttle astronaut, . Yyou know, it was the early 80s, when I was doing this, and the shuttle program was brand new. And I love aviation. I wanted to go into space, and I wanted to be the guy in the front seat piloting that shuttle, right. Two years into college, came time to transfer from the aviation program I was in to a high end aerospace engineering hard science program. And I’m listening to my friends talk about things like fluid dynamics, and differential equations. I’m saying what the hell is that crap? No way, do I want to be doing that? And all of a sudden, I pivoted? What did I end up graduating with a bachelor’s in psychology? Did I go into social service or psychology? No, I went into aviation sales for 15 years. So now I took the best of my aviation love and the best of my human services and wanting to help each other, or help other people, put it together in aviation sales, did that for 15 years, had a great career, and then said, enough of this crap, I want to go teach. And instead of teaching, I ended up in career services, and have loved what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years now, more than anything I’ve ever done in my life.


Jeff Altman  [08:02]

And wh,ere we got to this, folks, is Paul recommending that we all do this every five years to ask, what do we want to be when we grow up? It’s a great reminder. Now, I’m going to use vulgar language here for a moment, please don’t throw things at the screen. But, you know, the reality is, there’s a certain amount of privilege that comes with that, being able to ask that, and if you can afford to make changes, because there’s always compromises with change, you do it. I know, in my case, I was 50. I wanted to be a therapist in private practice. I went to grad school, and I had the good fortune to meet my wife there. Doing that, you know, I’m 50 years old at that point. And we decided to do the house, the kid and all the other stuff. And I put my own aspirations on hold, because I knew I was the one making money in the house, no criticism any part of that decision. But, you know, I recognized I had to defer what served me best and stick with my existing career. Make conscious choices out of all of this, because that’s what you can do.


Paul Cecala  [09:13]



Jeff Altman  [09:15]

And we’ve now started with ikigai, and what’s the next step?


Jeff Altman  [09:19]

So once you know what you want to do, now, we need to find out the needs of the organization who hire people to do that, that job, right. So we’re going to do the research we need to identify our target markets. And I define a target market as three variables, location, industry, role or function. And anytime you change one of those three things, you have created a new target market. So let me quick using myself as an example. Right. I want to be in higher education, primarily in northern New Jersey. I’ll do remote, but I really want to work within about 10 or 15 miles from home. So there’s my first location– 10 or 15 miles from home. Second location would be northern New Jersey. If you think of New Jersey in thirds, the top third of New Jersey. And then the third location would be eastern Pennsylvania because I want to cross the river but not the Hudson, I want to cross the Delaware. Okay, so, so there’s my three locations. Now, when we look at higher education, you can break that down into a couple of different industries as well. You know, there’s the for profit schools, like the Devries, the Lincoln Tech’s those kinds of, I don’t want to work for those for profit schools. So I’m going to try to take them out of the equation completely. But there is a difference between working for a four year public university versus a four year private university. And we can also look at two year community colleges. Each one is a separate identity identity in and of itself, right. So it’s a separate industry. So now I’ve got three locations, three industries, multiply that together, I’ve got nine different markets. I want to be the Career Services Advisor or representative. I’ve been the manager Been there; done that; don’t want that responsibility anymore. So I only have the one role or function, which leads me now with nine target markets. And from a networking perspective, if you can now break down your target markets into that level of detail. And then if you were to ask me, who are the organizations in my number one target market, four year public universities within a 15 mile radius of my home, I can name all 14 of those organizations. How many of you have defined your target markets so well, that you can do that? And, you know, we can talk a little bit later on in terms of networking? That’s amazingly powerful. Because then when I’m saying, ‘Hey, Jeff, I need help with a job search. Who do you know, that works in one of the four year public universities in northern New Jersey? By the way, that would be you Rutgers, Montclair State, Ramapo, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? How much easier is it for you to help me? Because now you can go through your mental Rolodex and figure out who do you know at those specific organizations to recommend that I talk to.


Jeff Altman  [12:40]

You self employed individuals who may stumble into this, while you’ve decided that maybe it’s time to bail on my business? This is really powerful, because you’re recognized or some of you will recognize this as almost like a BNI model. BNI, people will stand up and present every week and talk about who they want to be introduced to. And in effect, what Paul has done is help you see how you can take that same approach and apply it to your unfortunately, you have to kill your business. How you apply it to a job search at this, yes, yes, this is good to go.


Paul Cecala  [13:20]

Now, now that we know who our target markets are, now we need to research them, we need to know as much about them as we can. So that when I come to you, Jeff and say who do you know, and you say ‘Oh my G-d, Paul, I know the Director of Career Services at  ehigh Valley University. Cool. I need to know enough about Lehigh that when you make that introduction, I can speak to that person from a place of knowledge. So if I’ve not done my homework and done my research on all of those organizations, I’m not ready to do the networking.

Video Interview Mistakes

Jeff Altman  [13:56]

So I’m gonna interrupt you here, because this is perfect. So how would someone actually do it? Yes, they can do a Google search. Yes, they can go on to LinkedIn. But that just gives them the fluff, where can they get to the meaty stuff?


Paul Cecala  [14:10]

Right? And you know, it’s a matter of how deep do you dive on LinkedIn? It’s or Google, or even, you know, the reviews that you can get off of Glassdoor, Indeed.  I love to look at annual reports from  organizations. I love if it’s a public organization to sit in on an SEC earnings call. Because man the information you can learn about what’s going on in a public company when you sit in on that quarterly call of theirs. And anybody can do it. You know, the call is open to the public. You don’t have to be a stockholder even. You can just log into those calls, and you’ll learn so much about what’s happening. I love to talk to customers if I can find some of them. At this point, I really don’t want to talk to employees yet because I’m still learning about the organization. And it’s okay, Jeff, if you’re getting just the fluff, because it’s giving you just enough information that you can then say, ‘Okay, what questions do I want to ask these people that I’ll now be networking with within the organization?’ For example, you know, you see something in the news, or a recent news article about an organization. Now you can come back to the person that you’re networking with and say, ‘Hey, I just read this article. How does that impact on your role in the organization? What does that mean to what’s happening for you, right? Also, you’re going to research the industry. So I love going to industry and professional association meetings. Not only am I going to get to meet people who are employed in the industry that I want to work in, but I’ll also probably learn about organizations I otherwise hadn’t found. So now I can increase my target market, some. And I can also keep current, too. What’s most important going on in that industry today. Right. So these are all places where you’re going to do that basic research, get that essential knowledge, especially if you’re making a career pivot, when you don’t know about the industry. These are the places where you can get that kind of information to prepare you for going out and networking.


Jeff Altman  [16:29]

And thus, once you’ve done this research, is networking the next step?


Paul Cecala  [16:33]

No, we’ve not yet created, we’ve not yet created our personal brand, right? Because we need everything that the public sees and knows about us to be a consistent message. You know, if you saw a little swoop with the words, just do it, what do you immediately think of?


Jeff Altman  [17:01]

I think we both know. NIKE!


Paul Cecala  [17:05]

Of course, you know, I’m trying to think of some of the others that– Where’s the beef? Do you remember that commercial? Right? Where’s the beef? Wendy’s, right? But everything about their brands spoke to those specific things. What is your branding message and is that prevalent in all your social media, in all your marketing materials. And by marketing materials, we’re talking your resume, your personal business card, which I strongly still recommend you have, because there’s going to be situations where you’re not going to be able to use an electronic device, hand someone a piece of paper, and frankly, today, that’s so unusual that it makes you now stand out if you’re using a business card. Right? So what are your marketing materials, and the one that I think is most important, is your marketing plan. Now, the marketing plan differs from a resume. Your resume is backwards looking, tells me what was I doing in the past. But I want a marketing plan that says, ‘here’s what I want to do next. Here’s why I’m good at it. Here’s the value I’m going to bring to you, the employer. And here are all the organizations that I want to do that with. So now when you and I, Jeff are sitting down to coffee and having a networking conversation, and you say ‘So Paul, how can I help you?’ I can whip this piece of paper out, not my resume, the marketing plan, and say, ‘Jeff, here’s everything you need to know to help me with my job search. It’s telling you exactly what I want to do. It’s exactly exactly why I’m good at it. And here’s a list of the places that I am looking to work for. In fact, if you look at these five organizations, those are the ones I’m targeting right now this week. Who do you know, in any of those places.

Video Interview Myths

Jeff Altman  [19:01]

But Paul, this sounds like it’s gonna be a lot of time, a lot of work


Paul Cecala  [19:10]

Get over it. Nobody ever said a job search was easy, right? It’s not. It is a lot of work. However, if you follow my methodology, I can have you ready within four weeks to be starting to do the really hard work of job search, which is the networking. So if we take one month and think about it this way, right? Those first four milestones, those first four steps that’s your foundation, no building survives if it’s got a poor foundation, your job search will be worthless if you don’t have a strong foundation. So let’s take one month, put all of these pieces together. Get that foundation firmed up. Know real clearly what it is I want to do, be able to articulate that in your 30-second. Introduction, your 90 second introduction, right? And now know who the organizations are you want to do it for, so that you can then much more easily go out and talk about it with people.


Jeff Altman  [20:17]

Thank you for swatting that one away so gracefully. Because folks, it’s true. You cannot, you can either do it in a structured way, or you could thrash around and still at the end of the month be nowhere closer to getting clear.


Paul Cecala  [20:33]

Yes. And I can I can tell you, I’m sorry, he’s just got to say this to you, Jeff, I can tell you that I have clients who have started their job search with me in this methodology. And within three to four months, they’re working. I have clients who have gone six months, or a year or sometimes longer without doing the methodology. And when they start from scratch and use this process, within three or four months, they’re working, yet they’ve already wasted 6, 9, 12, 18 months, because they’ve not done it right. They’ve either done a scatter shoot, or worse. All they’ve done is an online search, looking for the job openings, which by the way are already filled by the time they get online. So why are you wasting your time? So take the time to do this foundation? And then do the networking. Sorry.


Jeff Altman  [21:27]

That’s okay. And with regard to the online job, some of you are going to say ‘No, they’re not. Some are!’ And the answer is, but you’re competing with all the other fish in the pond to get on that one hook.


Paul Cecala  [21:39]

That’s right.


Jeff Altman  [21:39]

That’s because the hardest part of this, all of you are trying to jump on, and only one of us is gonna get there. And you put a lot of anguish and energy into that one hook. And there’s more.


Paul Cecala  [21:52]

Well, and when we think about the hidden job market, and I know we sound like broken records when we talk about these things as career coaches, but it’s just the truth. Right? The hidden job market is where it’s at. Because how many times all of you who are hiring managers out there, I want you to be honest with me and tell me, how many times have you already determined who you want to hire before the job was posted publicly. And then when it was publicly posted, you went through the motions of interviewing two or three people, hell, I’ve even just gone through the motions of evaluating 15 appropriate resumes and saying to HR, ‘none of them are as good as this client or this candidate. I want to interview this person’ and hired them without even interviewing anyone else. It happens all the time.


Jeff Altman  [22:50]

And all the hidden job market means is it’s not listed somewhere that you can find readily. It’s no big deal. You know, not everyone wants to spend money on advertising. They’re using social proof. They’re using connections. They’re using referrals from people to find someone. And since networking, which I believe up to was our next step. Yeah, it’s the way, I think the original statistic I saw was 70% of positions of those as a result of networking. LinkedIn now says it’s 80 to 85%, let’s say between the two.


Paul Cecala  [23:31]

Well, and I can give you specific statistics for the state of New Jersey Department of Labor. They will tell you that less than 10%, about 7% of people who reported finding work in the last five years in New Jersey, found their job through an online job search– 7%. Okay, about eight to 10% found their job by using a recruiter, or in fewer cases going to a career fair of some sort. The remainder found their job either 40% by networking, or 45% by going directly to the employer and asking the employer for a job. Now, let’s take this as different look. If we eliminate those 7% that found their job through an online job search, everyone else who found a job– 93% of the people in New Jersey who found a job in the last five years, found their job because they actually spoke to another human being, not by actually talking or typing on a computer, right? So where do you want to spend your time? Do you want to spend your time on the computer where you have a 7% chance of success? Where do you want to spend your time talking to people? We have a 93% chance of success

Two Final Interview Mistakes That Will Blow the Offer

Paul Cecala  [25:00]

So let’s move on to networking. Since this is the hard one, by your own definition, it is. And it’s hard because especially today, no one wants to talk to each other. Everybody wants to text or email, or do that online job search.


Paul Cecala  [25:19]

But if we actually can get in front of someone and build a relationship with them, right, and people fear networking, because it’s this oh my god, networking, I don’t know what it is or how to do it. Yeah, you do. If you make friends, you know how to network because that’s all you’re doing is creating a relationship. Now, a coach like you are I can help our clients with how do we start that conversation? Right, what are the things we can do, so that we get people interested in talking to us and us talking to them. An Lehigh Valley as the example because I know you’re from Pennsylvania, right? Let’s, let’s say, you know, the career services manager at Lehigh Valley University. So I’m talking to you, and I’m networking, and we’re building our relationship. We’re having a great time just chit chatting like we are today. And eventually you say, ‘So, Paul, you know, what can I do to help you?’ I’m going to say, ‘Jeff, I would really like to meet the career services manager at your alma mater, as well as at Lehigh Valley. Do you know and feel comfortable that you have enough information and knowledge about me that you would be willing to make that introduction? And if the answer is yes, great. Make let’s work out how we’re going to make the introduction? The answer is, well, no, not really, you know, okay, ‘what do you need to know? Let me tell you,’ right, but let’s get to know each other. Then when we have a relationship, and I feel comfortable talking to you, more importantly, you feel comfortable talking to me. Now it’s time for me to make that ask, ‘Can you help me with my job search, introduce me to these people that you know, right? Ultimately, we’re going to work through if I have to go to you to get to, you know, the the professor at the University, and the professor knows the Career Services Manager, then dammit, that’s what I’m going to do. I had a client recently, in fact, just last year, literally went through four steps of introductions. Before he got to the hiring manager. Now, he was working on a position as a CEO, in a North Jersey construction supply company. I knew somebody in construction supply, also C suite, I made that introduction for him. They got to talking. And that person introduced him to another high end salesperson, a VP or something, of sales in the industry. That VP of Sales knew somebody in another company that supplied this wholesaler that he wanted to work for and that person made the introduction to the chairman of the board of the company. Now it took two months of networking conversations to get to that Chairman. And then three weeks to start working.


Jeff Altman  [28:46]

Are you willing to put in the time folks knowing that that’s the result you can get? I think most of you would say yes. But since there are no guarantees, that’s where that voice in your head starts going, ‘Gee, I don’t know. Sounds like a lot of work.’


Paul Cecala  [29:04]

Yeah, it is.


Jeff Altman  [29:05]

So, thrashing around and not getting results is a lot of work. Yeah. And that’s one way of networking. You said, there’s two ways that you talk about,


Paul Cecala  [29:14]

Well, there’s two levels of networking, right. So the first level is, I want to talk to anybody that I know, who hopefully will introduce me or I expect that they can introduce me to that hiring manager. Now, I need to network with that hiring manager, because I don’t want to go after the open positions. Remember, I said already, they’re probably already filled. The hiring manager probably knows who they want to put into that role. So I want to just get to talk to hiring managers and build relationships with those hiring managers, network with them, so that when the next opportunity comes up, I’m the name at the top of mind that they want to go call and talk to you and say ‘come work for me.’ Now, when they market the position, I’m already the inside candidate that’s going to get the job. And they’re doing that to go through the motions, right? Literally the definition of the hidden job market, okay? Now, this is this is a really important, okay? I want to make a distinction– I am not chasing openings. I’m chasing positions. And when we’re doing our targeting, in order to know that we have enough opportunity to get a job, we need to identify between 150 and 250 positions within all of our target markets. That number varies based on what level of position you’re going after, right. And if you’re going after an entry level position, you may only need 30 or 40, maybe even 20 companies that are going to hire 10 people each for that entry level customer service role, right? So you may only need 20 or 30 companies and have access to 200 positions. Guarantee within two months, somebody is going to be needing to hire out of those 200 positions, right. But if we’re going after a C suite, we probably really only need 50 or 75 companies, because how many CEOs or CFOs does a company hire?

Final Interview Questions to Ask/Confirm With Your Future Boss

Jeff Altman  [31:36]

One. One.


Paul Cecala  [31:41]

So I maybe need more companies to get access to the one that’s going to need to hire me. So there’s a whole formula about those numbers, right, but we’re looking at positions, not openings. And here’s one of the other values of going after positions. The Career Services Manager at Lehigh Valley doesn’t currently have an opening. But he has an underperformer that he’d really like to get rid of. He just can’t afford to lose the downtime, of not having somebody in that role. At this time of year, my God, it’s the middle of graduation season, I need to be working like crazy to get these people jobs. But if he knows he’s got a Class A number one expert, that’s perfect for the role that can step right in and start the ball. You know, from the ground one running and having success. He’ll get rid of that underperformer to bring me in. So I want to be the position that going after those positions, being in front of those hiring managers, so that when they’re ready to make a change on the first person that comes to mind.


Jeff Altman  [32:53]

And as we enter what I suspect is a recessionary time, having worked in search for as long as I did, that used to be one of the ways I would talk to hiring managers about a candidate i had who I thought would serve them well. I would say, ‘when you look at your team, is everyone an A performer or B performer? How about the C’s and D’s? You got a D you wouldn’t mind getting rid or. If this person isn’t superior to them, okay, no problem, you keep that person. But this is an opportunity to upskill your organization with someone who is going to be low maintenance, low worry, and is going to free you up and I filled a lot of positions exactly that way.


Paul Cecala  [33:48]

Absolutely. And if you’re working with a great recruiter, or headhunter, that’s exactly what they’re gonna do. They’re gonna go to their network of organizations and say, ‘I’ve got an amazing candidate. I know you may not have an opening now. But I want you to know who this person is. And you know, you might even want to take the half an hour just to say hello and meet them. Because when you’re ready to hire, this is the guy you’re gonna hire. Let’s set that time up. Right? And didn’t you do that all the time as a recruiter?


Jeff Altman  [34:20]

You betcha. All the time. And, in effect, you’re being your own recruiter, folks.  And as a good recruiter, what you’ll also be able to do is work with the candidate, work with the person, namely yourself to really identify what this person wants and then deliver for them. Recruiters don’t have the time to do that anymore.


Paul Cecala  [34:43]

So our next milestone would be, you know, going on the interview, and we could talk for hours about the interview process. There are I think, two things that I’d love to remind you of related to interviewing. And the first is, and this holds true for your entire job search. It’s not about you. It’s about the hiring manager. So everything you say, everything you do, everything you put in writing has to be done from the perspective of what does this hiring manager need to know? Not what do I want to tell them? What does Jeff as the hiring manager need to know about me? In order to say yes to me? And it’s interesting, I’ll just quick story. I was interviewing for the VP of charter sales for an aviation company. The first interview was with the executive VP, who would be my direct manager. And when I asked him, ‘What are you looking for,’ he said, ‘Paul, it’s all about sales, I need the revenue, drive the sales, nothing else matters.’ So my entire interview with him was all about how I’m going to drive sales and build the sales team to be the best sales team in the nation. Then I went on to the VP of HR, who also served as the Chief Risk Management Officer and his answer to the What are you looking for was, ‘Are you going to keep me from a lawsuit? Are you going to protect me from my customers suing us? Are you going to protect me from employees suing us?’ And so my whole interview with him was all about risk management. Right? The final interview was with the Chairman and CEO. Now at the time, I was like, 30, 35 years old. He was 55, 60. Right? And his friends and our corporate customers were the Fortune 50. So he’s coming to me and saying, Paul, are you going to embarrass me in front of all of my friends, the CEOs, presidents and Chairman of the Fortune 100. So I had to convince him that I could stand up to and be appropriate in the way I manage the customer service to that level of an individual. One, job, three interviews, three completely different foci to those interviews, right. So it’s not about what I want them to know. It’s about what they need to know about me. You need to do the same in your interview process. So that’s the number one thing I want to share. The second thing about interviewing is, it’s all about follow up. And I’ll give you another quick story, and then I’ll shut up and let you talk again. The follow up story goes like this. I had a client who was young man, looking for the job of his dreams. And he knew he wanted to work for this specific organization. And he gave me 100 reasons why this company was the place he needed to work. Great. He got to number two, one of two candidates for a role. It happened to be an executive assistant role. And the other candidate that he was up against was a 45 year old woman with 15 years executive assistant experience. He’s like fresh out of college has no clue. But he impressed the hiring manager to the point that he was one of the two last candidates standing while they hired the 45 year old woman. He built such a relationship with that hiring manager because he was so into this company. Every two or three weeks. He was having another conversation after that he got the thanks but no letter. Every two or three weeks, he’s having another conversation. Hey, just want to update you. Here’s where I stand in my job search. Still looking. But you know, you’re the greatest place. If something else opens up. I want to work for you. Right? Hey, I just saw this article and thought of you and your organization. Here’s how I see it fits with you. What do you think about how this fits with you? He maintained this relationship. Five months. I’m just about to accept an offer. But I really still want to work for you. ‘Please let me know if something changes in six months.’ They decided the woman didn’t work. They fired her. Never interviewed another person, called him up and said ‘We want you to come work for us. He said, Oh crap. I just started this other job. I’ve got to give them two weeks notice. Can you wait that long for me? He gave his two weeks notice that was 13 years ago. He’s been promoted three times in this company and is happier than the biggest pig and the greatest pile you’ve ever seen for working there all this time. Follow up.

Waiting After the Final Interview

Jeff Altman  [39:46]

As a recruiter, one of the biggest parts of my job was the follow up post interview.


Jeff Altman  [39:54]

The client was always stalling. They want to date other people to use that as a metaphor.


Jeff Altman  [39:59]

I want to date three more people before and make a commitment to your person. Okay? And then how long is that going to take? Two weeks okay, four weeks later, they’re still stalling and my job was always the follow through to just stick my voice, my face in front of them in a non threatening non pushy kind of way. Because I know none of you want to be pushy, right? You don’t want to be one of those people in your mind.


Paul Cecala  [40:29]

But here’s where salesmen fail all the time. They don’t ask for the job. They don’t ask for the sale. Right? How many times have you been to a department store and not been able to find what you want. You ask the salesperson ‘Can you show me where this piece of clothing is?’ They show you. They tell you all about it. And you hem and haw. And they say, ‘Well, let me know when you’re ready. And I’ll be back.’ They disappear. You don’t find them again. And you hemmed and hawed enough that you say you know what, let me go to the other store and see what they have before I buy this one. And they never come back. Whereas if that salesperson said, ‘this is perfect, you seem to like it here. Come with me; take the piece of clothing. Come with me. Let’s go to the register and buy it right now.’ And you would have said, ‘Oh, okay, sure I’ll buyit.’ You have to do the same thing in your job search. It’s going to take you two weeks before you finished your interviews. No problem. How about I give you a call on the day after that in the morning to check in and see how you’re doing. And by the way, if you need any new information about me, you can ask me about it. Does that work for you. I’ll give you a call then. Nine times out of 10, probably 98% of the time, the person is gonna say ‘yes, sure. Give me a call.’ Now, you need to make sure you do it once you make that commitment, but once you do, you’re more likely to get the job.


Jeff Altman  [41:59]

So true. And I know there’s so much more we have to cover. But time is precious. How can people find out more about you, Paul, the other things as part of your project plan and everything? How can they reach out to you?


Paul Cecala  [42:13]

Sure. The easiest way is you can follow me and you’ll, or my email address is my first initial last name at cecalacareers. So that’s And there’s no punctuation except the at sign and the dot before com.


Jeff Altman  [42:13]

Excellent. Paul, this has been great. Thank you. And folks, we’ll be back soon with more. I hope you enjoyed this interview. If you’re watching on YouTube, listen to the podcast, watching on Amazon share, leave a comment do something that lets people know it was worthwhile. I want to remind you, visit my website, There’s a ton on the blog to help you. Plus, you can find out about my courses which you can purchase or rent, you can find out about my books and guides. There’s just a lot of information there to help you. Plus you can schedule time for a free discovery call, schedule time for coaching. Like I said a lot of ways I can help. Lastly, connect with me on Linkedin at Have a terrific day and most importantly, be great. Take care!

5 Deadly Job Interview Mistakes


Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff 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.

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