It's clear to me that emotional intelligence is the most important skill for success in adult life. And the consummate career application of emotional intelligence is the sales department. So I'm fascinated by sales.

I used to think I'm not that good at sales. For example, I'm an open book—I have very little ability to bluff or play my hand close to my—actually, what is that expression? I don't even know the expression.

But then, when I told one of my mentors that I'm not good at sales, he said, “Of course you're good at sales. You've gotten three companies funded.” He's right. I wanted to take back all the times I said I'm not good at sales. The thing is, I have a specific talent in this department: selling ideas.

I have gotten companies funded when they were still just philosophies about how a market will move, what the trends are, and what ideas will work. I have yet to raise a later round of funding, where the company is selling actual products or services with me raising money to sell them faster.

I'm also great at the consultative sale. I'm great at meeting someone who wants to think in new ways, and tossing some ideas back and forth and then going to lunch, or yoga, or commenting on each others' blogs. I connect easily on ideas, and can close a sale there because the idea exchange is so rewarding. Read more

The market crash is going to mean a new era of banking, but it is also bringing along with it a few new ideas about how to manage one’s career. This is not the first sector to experience catastrophe, but it might be the wealthiest one. And we can all learn a little about managing our careers from watching what happens with the super-rich.

1. Use the downturn to figure out where you stand.
Wall Street ticks with rainmakers and math geniuses. Usually these guys (almost always guys) are tough to come by. Everyone wants them, everyone knows where they are and where they are going, and they are so powerful that they usually come and go in teams. So you can probably guess that recruiting this talent is extremely difficult.

I have a friend who specializes in headhunting finance talent, and he reports that it is unprecedented that these guys would all be fired, flailing individually, and available to the next taker. So in this downswing, where investment banking layoffs are fast and furious, the management at the places that can still hire finance talent (true banks, and other corporations that have so much money that they could be a bank, like GE or Harvard University) are finally enjoying a buyer’s market.

My friend’s phone is ringing all day with hiring managers scared that they’re missing out on a shopping binge, all of them simmering in a sick feeling that their competitors might be getting a good deal this week.

There’s a saying on the trading floor that up or down doesn’t matter, because as long as there is volatility, you can make money. And it turns out that this is true of recruiting, too.

So, if your sector is tanking, test your star power. There will be a feeding frenzy for top-talent. Learn where you stand by calling a headhunter. If he or she will work with you, you have star power, or at least you’re at the top of your game.

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Since today’s job market is employee-driven, many candidates are fielding more than one or two offers at a time, and at this point, maybe it’s the employers who need the advice on how to attract the employees, instead of the other way around.

There is lots of chatter about how resumes are on their way out. There will be blogs, and videos, and LinkedIn profiles and other mechanisms to downplay the concept of a linear career and put upfront the way someone thinks and the ideas he or she has. There should be similar chatter about the near-death of the job listing.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of consulting to companies about how to recruit and retain employees. So I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic, and here are five of my favorite ways companies can hire people without focusing on the job listing itself.

1. Tell people where they’ll go next.
Michael Arrington, co-editor of the popular blog TechCrunch, just lost his right-hand man. What did he do? He wrote a very public thank you for good work done – so that people know how appreciative he is. And he wrote a little side note about how everyone who has left TechCrunch has gone on to amazing jobs.

I was talking with Dylan Tweney, senior editor at Wired, and he was using a similar hiring tactic, showing people how a stint with him at Wired is a stepping stone to places like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

2. Use your public relations team to prop up the manager.
One of the most important aspects of a job is who you are working for. A good manager can help you to get where you want to go next, and a bad manager can be so undermining that the job becomes a blemish on your resume. So it’s odd that companies advertise jobs instead of managers. Instead of publishing a laundry list of dream traits of a dream candidate (usually unreasonable anyway), companies should list the dream traits of the dream manager this job falls under.

3. Get some respect for speciality recruiters.
It used to be that companies owned the employee’s loyalty. But today, with employees changing jobs every two or three years, they are more likely to be loyal to the recruiters who placed them than with the companies they work for. Especially when that recruiter is there to place the candidate again and again.

Art Papas knows a bit about recruiters. He is the chief executive of Bullhorn, which makes staffing and recruitment software. Bullhorn is a testament to the fact that both candidates and employers are relying increasingly on the recruiting industry for help. Bullhorn has more than 12,000 users and the company grew by 70 percent in the last year.

Most recruiters are running their own business in one way or another, and Papas points out why recruiters are poised to take on an increasingly important role in the employee-driven market: “Generally speaking, recruiters are high energy, good with people, and they are incredibly tenacious and persistent.”

4. Advertise in niche communities.
Joel Spolsky is chief executive of a midsized firm, Fog Creek Software, and he spends a lot of time blogging, at Joel on Software. Spolsky makes it clear he’s blogging to make himself part of a community of smart, curious, high-performing engineers who become Spolsky’s employee pool.

Here’s another example: Lots of companies talk about the importance of catching women re-entering the workforce after they have children, but it’s hard to get those women. One way is to be a part of their communities. Websites that focus on women and careers like WorkIt Mom are places where you can become a part of the social fabric of the community you want to hire from.

Bonus idea: Make it part of someone’s job description in your company to truly become part of the community, and swoop in to scoop up promising candidates for interviews. It’s so tough to get A players to interview today that people are actually charging companies for an interview at But coming from a trusted friend, an invitation to interview is hard to turn down, even if you’re not looking.

5. Leverage social media.
Why don’t companies use social media tools to attract candidates? It’s already a proven recruiting method for young people.

The Center for Market Research at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth reports that, “Colleges are adopting Internet technologies such as podcasts, message boards, blogs, and social networks faster than Fortune 500 companies. The explosion of social media, higher education specialists say, is revolutionizing the college search process and the way colleges and prospective students interact.”

Standout Jobs is a new site that provides easy-to-use social media recruiting tools for small companies and then aggregates them into a sort of recruiting network. This is a great on-ramp for companies with trepidations about social media

My dad is a lawyer-turned-history-teacher who wants to go back to being a lawyer. His career change has been tumultuous, and at this point, he is distressed that his Harvard law degree doesn’t open doors like it used to. Forty years ago. So he did what everyone in my family does when there’s a career problem: He called me.

And I called Stephen Seckler, who is a recruiter for attorneys at BCG. I only know Stephen from his blog, Counsel to Counsel, which I really like, and from post he wrote here at Brazen Careerist titled 5 Myths About Going to Law School. I like Stephen because he understands that the legal profession is limited in terms of flexibility, but he has a lot of ideas for how to make that mesh with personal growth and common core values.

I explained to Stephen that my dad is really lost and needs someone to help him understand what his options are. I was nervous to have my dad talk with someone I knew only professionally. What if my dad sounded like a nutcase or something? (And speaking of nutcases, I reminded my dad ten times that on this phone call he must refer to me as Penelope.)

Stephen was so helpful to my dad. He showed my dad his strengths for the marketplace, he showed my dad alternative opportunities that most people wouldn’t think of for lawyers, and, most of all, he made my dad feel a little more in control of his destiny, and I think, in the end, that’s what we all want from our career plans.

Stephen is a very practical guy, and he’s great at seeing ways around problems that other people don’t see. For example, I once asked him how lawyers can get out of working long hours. He had five good ideas, but one of them really resonated because I can use it in my own life, right now – it’s the idea that the most exciting, in-the-fray work is usually also the most demanding of all your time, and we need to be conscious of that when we’re picking our specialty

So, this is a taste of the kind of advice Stephen gives. He is a legal recruiter, but in the past he has also been a career coach, and that combination makes him a uniquely useful resource.

So you can get 90 free minutes with Stephen. You can use it to make yourself more appealing as a candidate in the legal field, you can use it to get advice on how to slow down or ramp up. This is a good opportunity for a lawyer who needs to fine tune how things are going, or for someone who is trying to figure out if law school is a good decision.

Please send three sentences about how you’d like Stephen to help you, and he’ll pick someone to work with. Deadline is Sunday, July 22.

Need help realizing your career goals? Want to talk to Penelope directly? Penelope now offers 1 on 1 career coaching and can help you take the right path.

A lot of readers ask me how to find a recruiter to help them find a job. In general, my answer is: Forget it. Headhunters don’t work for people who need jobs. Headhunters work for people who have jobs to fill.

The way this works is the hiring manager has a specific type of person he needs to hire, and that person is hard to find. The hiring manager cannot spend all the time it will take to locate this person, so the hiring manager pays a recruiter to find this special person.

“Few headhunters are in the talent management business,” says Terry Gallagher, of the search firm Battalia Winston International. “Most executive search firms only represent their client’s interests and executive staffing needs.” This means, recruiters start with a specific position to fill, not a specific candidate to employ.

Recruiters are expensive. Often 20% of someone’s starting salary. This is not peanuts. So you can be sure that companies do not hire recruiters to find people with general qualifications. General qualifications are easy to fill. If you are a generalist, there are lots of people like you.

So look, if you are entry level or you are changing careers, you are not going to be attractive to a recruiter. Entry level people do not have any special skill that would make them fit a job that retained recruiters get hired to fill. And people changing careers do not have specific skills in their new career, they have specific skills (at best) in their old career.

Headhunters don’t work with career changers. Headhunters work with superstars. And maybe not always superstars, but the less star power you have, the more of a specialty you have to have. Are you the only person in the world who knows how to build an inventory system like Wal-Mart has? Call a recruiter. Are you the number-one salesperson in all of Yahoo? Call a recruiter.

But the thing is that those people don’t need to call recruiters. Recruiters call them all the time. Recruiters know who the amazingly talented are. It is no mystery. So if you want to get on recruiter radar, you need to focus on making yourself look amazingly talented — in a proven-track-record way, not in a my-mom-says-so way.

If you think you are at place in your career where a recruiter would be interested, Michael Keleman at Recruiting Animal says, “Do a search of recruiters on LinkedIn. There are zillions of them there and some might indicate that they are in your area. Contact them and ask if they work with candidates like you. You don’t have to contact them through LinkedIn, just call.”

If you’ve got great experience, you might get special treatment from the recruiter. Recruiter David Perry, for example, has been known to represent candidates like they are movie stars. But most of the time, Keleman says, “You resume will go into a database until a company hires the recruiter for a seach you’re suited for.”

So go ahead and try getting a recruiter’s attention. But focus more on networking on your own, and doing great work, because those are the keys to getting good job opportunities.

Who makes the best salesperson? A cheerleader.

The drug industry is so systematic about recruiting cheerleaders that the New York Times writer Stephanie Saul wrote a feature about it, spotlighting women like Onya: “On Sundays she works the sidelines for the Washington Redskins. But weekdays find her urging gynecologists to prescribe a treatment for vaginal yeast infection.”

There are some suggestions that the cheerleaders became the substitute for the now-illegal freebies that drug companies used to give doctors (like trips to Tahiti). Now drug companies persuade doctors to prescribe drugs by lending them the presence of a hot salesgirl.

Lynn Williamson, the cheerleading coach at the Univeristy of Kentucky, says that it’s not just that the woman are dreamy. Williams thinks that cheerleading talent does, in fact, correleate with talent for sales: “Exaggerated motions, exaggerated smiles, exaggerated enthusiasm – they learn those things, and they can get people to do what they want.”

Williamson is not alone. Spirited Sales is a recruiting firm that specializes in cheerleaders. Here’s a quote from their web site: “Spirited Sales Leaders has a database of thousands of self-confident, outgoing, responsible and enthusiastic young men and women from around the United States with varying levels of B2B sales experience.”

The web site also talks about how cheerleaders have a track record of leadership and success. This actually rings true to me. I mean, athletes are coveted by many recruiters because athletes do better in business than non-athletes. And cheerleaders are, in many aspects, just like these athletes; but cheerleaders, unlike athletes, are consistently outgoing and good-looking. And good looks give people an edge in business, as well.

So who’s the smartest hire you can make for your sales team? A cheerleader. As long as she can meet the demands of the job.

And what happens when the best girl for the job goes to work every day? She gets hit on. Constantly. And even when it’s not a direct hit, it’s a guy who is married and bored and not bored enough to cheat, but definitely bored enough to take too much face time from the salesperson while he’s making a purchasing decision.

Not convinced? According to the Times article, an informal survey showed that 12 of 13 medical saleswomen said they had been sexually harassed by physicians. And if you think it’s only physicians, you’re wrong. It’s even Hewlett-Packard board members.

So here is advice to women in sales:

1. It’s not your fault.
It is totally common to get hit on at work, especially if you are a cheerleader type. You are not provoking this behavior. You are being you, and men like you. Do not feel bad about this. And, definitely don’t wear dowdy clothes just becuase the men are hitting on you. Anyway, women who totally downplay their sexuality are seen as less competent.

2. Use it to your advantage.
Men who are attracted to you are more likely to buy from you. So what? Men who like to play golf are more likely to do business with other men who play golf. People have been given unfair preferences forever. Be glad you are the recipient of some of this. If the guy wants to talk with you for too long, fine, as long as he buys something. That’s what salespeople get paid to do: Connect with the customer and talk until they buy.

3. Don’t date someone who is married.
The truth is that the guys who will be most interested in you are the ones who are married. They are not going to leave their wife and kids. They just want something a little more interesting for a little bit. This is a waste of your time. This person is not emotionally available and he is a sponge for the fun, exciting, full-of-possibilities stage of life you are in. Don’t let him ruin it. Sell him something and leave.

4. Dating good dating material is fine.
If you are selling to a really good guy, and he’s single, dating him is fine. But then try to give his account to someone else on your team. Otherwise things get too messy.

5. Don’t put yourself in danger – from the guy or from human resources.
If the guy touches you and you don’t want it, tell him a clear no right away. Don’t worry about losing the sale. If, after you tell him no, he touches you again, leave and don’t go back. Ever. Do not tell human resources if you can help it. The job of human resources is to protect the company, not you, and when you have a harassment complaint, you are a problem to the company. This is not good news. I hate to have to tell it to you, but it’s true. Here are some ideas for what to do instead.

The good news, though, is that outgoing, good-looking women can have great careers in sales — or anywhere else they want to go. So go into the workforce with talent and ambition and create the life you want. Really.

HT: Ben and Dennis

By Jason Warner — There has been a lot of press regarding the implications for job seeker of Those Photos on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites. You know the pictures I’m referring to…

Most of the discussions I’ve heard on the topic are cautionary, as in, “Beware! What you post or say on the Internet could be online for a Very Long Time!”

As the leader of large corporate recruiting organizations (now Google, and before that at Starbucks) I have a different perspective.

We are in a new and unprecedented time with regard to the level of transparency the Internet creates between jobseekers and employers. More than ever before, jobseekers today know way more about the companies they might work for (and the people inside those companies, if you check OfficeBallot and Vault, for example), and employers know more about the candidates they might want to hire.

But here are five reasons that employers are not going to spend their time worrying about your unfortunate online photos – and other embarrassing antics from earlier years.

1. There is nothing any of us can do to change the behavior of college students.
From what I can tell, these, er…, activities have been happening in one form or another for as long as there have been colleges. Which is a very long time indeed. Our parents just didn’t mention it.

2. As time goes on, more and more detail about all of us will be found online.
Instead of a snippet or an indiscrete photo, there will be entire personal and professional “dossiers” about all of us and that information will be far more influential than a few unfortunate and unfocused pictures. For example, a blog is an excellent example of the sort of information that might be relevant to employers, if only to get a sense of how a potential hire communicates in writing. Half-naked underwear shots through a tequila-stained lens…not so valuable.

3. Searching for Those Photos won’t be worth our time.
As the velocity of job changes continues to move along at a rapid pace, and talent moves into and out of organizations more frequently than ever before. Most studies indicate that corporate recruiting departments are continuing to be strained to do more with less. So recruiters won’t have time to go hunting for Those Photos when there’s not much return on that investment.

4. The information isn’t relevant anyway.
Those Photos are representative of behaviors that many young candidates experience, and don’t likely correlate to on the job performance. If we have the bravery to get real about the topic, we all recognize that there a lot of things we do in private that we wouldn’t shared in public. Given the reach and permanence, the Internet just provides a smaller margin of error for revealing these natural human slips.

5. Its a slippery slope that could be bad for employers.
Today there is a fuzzy but growing distinction that companies will continue to draw between candidate professional experiences, competencies, and capabilities and their private lives and outside behaviors. It’s a line we don’t likely want to cross, because if we cross it for candidates, we may cross it for employees, and that compounds the problem to a monumentally greater degree.

In most cases, Those Photos will become a non-issue as this phase of the Internet Age plays itself out. Indeed, the leading companies in talent acquisition will continue to refine their hiring processes to become more and more scientific over time, because we now have much more data and tools to quantify what drives performance inside our companies.

However, the vast majority of selection processes at companies aren’t based on data-driven analysis as much as on interview processes that are far from scientific. So, there certainly is risk in posting Those Photos online. But that risk should diminish over time.

Today Jason Warner starts guest-blogging on Brazen Careerist as Google Guy.

I met Jason when he was the head of North American Recruiting for Starbucks, and he launched a blog Then I followed his switch from Starbucks to Google and we’ve been friends ever since.

I’m really excited that he’s blogging here because I have learned so much from conversations with him. Sometimes he’s a recruiter/philosophizer, and sometimes he’s a recruiter/comedian and sometimes he’s just the guy with the inside scoop. All versions of Jason are fun and interesting, and I’m sure you’ll like him as much as I do.

Recruiting practices are changing at a break-neck pace as new technology emerges, and many recruiters are software savvy and focused on innovation. (In fact so many recruiters are blogging that this week is the annual best recruiting blog contest.) These changes in recruiting cause fundamental changes in job hunting. Two months ago, I listed ten job hunt tactics you might not know. Here are six more to consider:

1. Use your blog as a resume.
Yes, that time has officially arrived: In some cases, “you can stop with the resume and just use a blog,” says Jason Warner, head of North America recruiting for Starbucks and author of the blog “I could send you my resume. But do you really care what I did at Starbucks, or do you care how I’ll solve problems at your company and what’s important to me?”

Also, the presumption is on your side if you let a recruiter know you have a blog: “Blogging has given me an outlet to think about things differently,” says Warner, “and I am convinced that blogging makes people smarter.”

2. Find a blogger you want to work for.
Your chances of landing a job are much better if you know the person you will be working for, so find a blogger you’d like to work for, and start posting comments.

Most companies have at least one employee, or even a CEO, who is a dedicated blogger. Large companies, like Sun, have hundreds of serious bloggers. And most blogs have very small communities — one blogger and about twenty people who post intelligent comments on a regular basis. Make yourself one of those regulars over the span of a couple of months, and the blogger will appreciate you enough to do an informational interview. And then you’ll be at the top of his mind when he has a job opening.

Bonus: A blog is revealing of the writer, so you’ll have a good sense what you’re getting into when you go to work for a blogger.

3. Negotiate to change your current job.
Smart employers understand that they need to make flexible jobs in order to keep employees. Deloitte says they saved $100 million by creating flexible jobs for people who would otherwise leave. And Warner writes, in a post with one of my favorite titles, Holy Negotiation, BATNA!, that you are often in a more powerful position than you realize when you negotiate with an employer.

4. Build something the employer wants to buy.
It’s hard to stomach the idea of going to a big corporation and being entry level, but it’s also hard to imagine running a startup out of your basement for years and years with no financial stability in sight. A compromise is to build a feature that some company wants to buy for their current product line.

Writely is an example of this tactic — Google bought the company while the software was in beta, and now the Writely team works at Google.

Another example: Netflix is offering $1 million to anyone who can improve their search mechanisms by 10%, and you could either take the money and run, or you could sell what you develop to a company that will take you on board in a salaried position you help create.

5. Find a recruiter to be your agent.
For this, admittedly, you have to be a star performer, but if you are, you can work with someone like David Perry, who has been known to attract the best of the best and then successfully represent those people to companies as if Perry is a Hollywood agent and the candidate is the movie star.

Perry describes this process for a time he represented two marketing geniuses: “I took them as a team. I calculated the return on investment and wrote the value proposition. I researched the market, created a web site and blog for them and built their profile by lining up newspaper interviews and podcasts.”

This is actually a primer for anyone who wants to market themselves. But by hooking up with a recruiter-agent-type like Perry, the results can be dramatic: “In the end,” he says, “the guys received eight offers, and they took five and started their own advertising agency.”

6. Sift through resume piles for possibilities.
If you have ever hired someone, you probably faced the loathsome stack of random resumes. But hold it. Maybe there’s someone there you don’t have a job for but you’d like to meet. The pile can tell you who’s out there. Or maybe there are twelve resumes from the same team at the same company. That’s competitive information. And maybe you can find a job for yourself in that pile; giving career advice must be genetic, because this final tip comes from my mom.

Here’s some career advice I’m sick of reading: “Don’t have typos in your resume.”

If you need to read that advice to know you shouldn’t have typos in your resume then you are unemployable.

My friend Ben pointed out that when Colin Powell resigned, he typed his own letter at his home computer to keep the resignation a secret. But the White House sent the letter back because it had a typo. I wish the lesson here were that you always get a second chance. But no one will give your resume back to you to fix. So instead the lesson is that everyone makes typos. It’s human.

It is near impossible to not have a typo in a resume at some point because we’ve all read our resume five hundred times, and it’s ineffective to proofread something you’ve reread so much. On top of that, job hunting is often a repetitive, boring task, so it’s no surprise that people copy and paste and put the wrong employer name in the salutation all the time.

So there’s nothing you can do to fix a typo if the resume is sent. You look bad resending a resume to a hiring manager and saying “I had a typo in my resume.” Most likely the person won’t notice the typo anyway unless it is in his name. Even if you are applying for a proofreader job, it’s not going to help to resend the resume. The job of a proofreader is to catch the error before he hits send.

A lot of polls say recruiters will dump a resume in the garbage if there’s one typo. I don’t believe it. First, all typos are not equal. But also, a sales person with a typo is different than a technical writer with a typo. While a technical writer should be detail-oriented, the skills that make a good sales person don’t necessarily make a good proofreader.

So if you send a resume with a typo, hope the recruiter doesn’t notice, and try not to do it again. Move on.

But you should consider hiring a resume writing service to write your resume. You can trust a top company to not have a typo. There are a million reasons to hire someone to help you with your resume. It’s a very important document and it’s very hard to write yourself because you’re too close to the information on many levels, not just in terms of spelling.

That said, I hired a top resume writing company and then later made some changes in my resume and, of course, sent it out a couple of times with typos. Maybe it was a good thing, though. Because to be honest, if anyone ever hired me for being detail-oriented, they would be disappointed. It’s important to know your strengths. I know who to hire to compensate for my shortcomings. And now, years later, I know not to mess with what those experts come up with.