References and Recommendations Archives

Hey, It’s November . . . It’s Time to Gather “Value Proven” Letters

Published on October 1st, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

“Heroes must see to their own fame.
No one else will.”

– Gore Vidal

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES: Each and every day, many thousands of people seek new jobs. Some get them, many don’t. Each and every day, thousands of people are contacted by recruiters to fill open positions. Some are successful when interviewed; many are not. What makes the difference? Often, it’s a bit of self-promotion.

It is during the interview process – those critical “give and take” discussions – that your potential value to your prospective boss and to the prospective employer is assessed. “What and how much can he or she do for us?” is the 800-pound question in the mind of interviewers.

In recent years it has become increasingly common in the interview process for job candidates to present what I call “Value Proven” letters – “mini-testimonials of value” – to their interviewers. They are brief notes, letters and memos from clients, customers and colleagues attesting to their sense that you are a significant contributor of value. Value Proven Letters are a part of the necessary “self-promotion” that can enhance the “value assessment” aspect of the interview process.

By the way, Value Proven Letters can also be used “internally,” that is, to support a request to your present employer for a raise, promotion or assignment to a different division.

Imagine that you are one of three candidates being interviewed to fill an open position as Nuclear Power Engineer for a large power plant builder.

Imagine, also, that, in your second interview with your prospective manager, you presented her with three letters, one each from (a) a former Nuclear Power Plant Construction Manager, (b) an industrial vendor whose cooperation is critical to large-scale construction, and (c) a former Nuclear Safety Inspector who is tops in his field, all attesting to their view that you are a very significant contributor to success.

Could they help your chances of getting hired? You bet. Worth the time and effort to assemble some “Value Proven” letters? Without question. Do competitive times call for competitive efforts? Of course.

LESSON TO LEARN: No matter how smart you think you are. No matter how hard you work. No matter how loyal an employee you are. No matter what you have done in the past. If you don’t “toot your horn” no one will know you have one.

You never know when a great opportunity is going to be offered to you. And you never know when, unexpectedly, you will need to develop career opportunities. So, think ahead, and get ready for whatever comes your way.

There are several different things you can do to elevate your chance of landing a new and better job. One of those ways is to assemble some really effective “Value Proven Letters.”

We define “Job Security” as confidence that (ii) your present job will end only on your timing, and (iii) if not, within a reasonable period of time (iv) you will have a new and appropriate job. These sure can help.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Upon completion of a large client project, upon the retirement of a manager, and even the departure of a subordinate from your company, you might consider seeking a “Value Proven” letter to assist you when the right time comes upon you. Here are some tips:
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“I previously sued an employer. How can I explain that on my resume and interview?”

Published on June 17th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: More than ten years ago, I was fired by an employer. I believe it was a truly discriminatory act, I was much aggrieved, and I sued, though I ultimately lost the case.

I was fortunate to have found a second job that lasted seven years before being laid off again. And, too, I am fortunate that my special area of expertise is very much in demand.

I am back on the job market, and it seems that the Court information on the internet is preventing me from getting a new job. Can you offer any help in how to handle this on my resume or on an interview?

Cozad, Nebraska

Answer: Dear Tabatha: It took me a long time to answer your question because it took me a long time to think about it. It’s a tough situation you face. While I don’t know all of your facts and circumstances, I do have some thoughts on the matter to share.

Before I do, though, I want to share with you that I have been an employer for over 30 years, and in that time I have come across job candidates that I knew, one way or another, had sued a former employer. In each instance, it didn’t faze me at all, and in several of those instances I hired the candidate. I just accepted the fact that some “marriages” end in “divorce,” and some divorces require Judges to intervene. And, I also know that many divorced people remarry, and have long-term and happy second (or even third) marriages. While I am not the average hiring manager at a good-sized company, I don’t want you to feel too defensive about your Court matter.

That said, these are the thoughts I have come up with; I hope they are of some help to you, and to others in your situation:
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“After severance, what you CAN and CANNOT say”

Published on January 13th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: I was laid off a few months ago in what they called a “position elimination.” While I disagreed that is why I was chosen, I did, with your blog help, get a better package. Thank you!!

Actually, it came at a good time in my life, as my husband was ill and it gave me an opportunity to take care of him. I signed a severance agreement in order to get my severance monies. Now that my husband is better, I am free to go back to work. I am now looking for a new job.

What can I say, and what can’t I say, about why I left?

Name Withheld
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Answer: Dear Blog Visitor: The first item you should carefully review to determine what you can say, and what you cannot say, is your severance agreement. That said, almost all severance agreement express – or imply – what you can and what you cannot say, about your experience on the job, and why you left. Here are ten things you CAN say, and CANNOT say, about leaving your last job:
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The “Seeking a New Job Letter” – Often Overlooked, but Highly Effective

Published on November 7th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

“There is no shame in hitting the canvas seven times,
so long as you stand back up more than six.”   

–       Muhammad Ali  

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES”: For over 30 years, we have assisted employees in their job transitions, and that means employees who are losing or leaving their jobs. For the vast majority, that transition is a transition to a new job. So, how do you find a new job? 

There are more ways to find a job than you can count, including internet postings, recruiters, social media, help-wanted ads, networking, college placement offices, networking circles, and too, your Uncle Harry. You never know where your next job will come from. 

One simple, efficient and highly effective tool to help you find a new potential position is the distribution of a “Seeking a New Job Letter” to everyone you have ever met, and others who you have never even heard of. It is simple, direct, rather easy and more effective than you might imagine – provided you do it correctly. 

A few years ago I received a mass-distributed email that expressed something like the following: “I NEED A JOB!!!!!!” To be frank with you, neither I nor anyone else I know who received it felt motivated in any way to assist its sender. It seemed desperate, self-centered, and almost like a demand or entitlement. It worked in reverse. 

Effective “I seek a job” letters are (a) short and to the point, (b) positive in outlook, (c) informative regarding the type(s) of position(s) sought, and (d) express flexibility and gratitude. With these elements in place, a “Seeking a New Job” letter often works, and is highly likely to fulfill its purpose: getting you a new job. 

Effective “Seeking a New Job” letters also embody a sense of self-reliance, a positive human quality in almost every endeavor, for it simply brings out the best in you. 

Should you rely entirely on a “Seeking a New Job Letter” to get you a new job? Surely not. But you would likely be foolish not to make it a significant component – if not a pillar – of your overall “re-employment plan.” 

LESSON TO LEARN: Whenever you do anything of importance, to ensure your success you should first create a plan. We highly recommend creation of a “Re-Employment Plan” for anyone seeking a new job, whether out of work, soon to be out of work, or just seeking greener pastures. A “Re-Employment Plan” should include: (i) a clearly defined “best job” and alternatives to that “best job”; (ii) effective steps designed to help you reach your “best job”; (iii) a reasonable timetable for each step; (iv) a realistic budget for each step; (v) a list of potential sources of support; and (vi) regular progress reviews and, if necessary, adaptation to the plan to continually “steer” you in the right direction.  

Among the most effective steps to gain re-employment – but, sadly, often overlooked – is what we call a “Seeking a New Job Letter.” In its essence, this is intended to let each person you know, have ever known, and even some people you have never known that (a) you seek a new job, (b) what that new job is, (c) alternative jobs you would accept, and (d) that you would appreciate them keeping you in mind. Nothing formal, nothing complicated, straightforward and simple. 

It is inexpensive. It is unlimited in its potential assistance. It is direct. It is far-reaching, indeed, worldwide. It is efficient. It is proactive. It applies to every stage in life: youth, middle age, and “more experienced.” And – most of all – it is effective. Don’t overlook using a “Seeking a New Job Letter” when you are “seeking a new job.” You likely will be pleasantly surprised.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  Here are 10 good guidelines for your own “Seeking a New Job Letter”:        

1. Create an email distribution list containing every person you ever met, and even others you have never met. Newspapers, magazines, TV shows and blogs don’t worry about who reads them, and your “Seeking a New Job Letter” should not either. Get the word out, and get it out as widely as possible. You just never know whose brother, neighbor, camp counselor, plumber, daughter, college roommate or distant relative will have the exact job opening you seek.  

2. Do not send a large “email blast,” but instead one email at a time. For a whole variety of reasons, it is best not to send out one large “email blast.” Instead, send out one email at a time. People do not like their email addresses given out to others. Also, a “personal” touch, even to people you do not know, is preferable. Human nature is such that direct contact always makes the recipient feel the most connected with the sender.      

3. Email is not the only means of communication: you might use social media, and other means of digital transmission, as well. While email is our transmission method of choice, don’t hesitate to use social media of all sorts to distribute your “Seeking a New Job Letter.” We do, though, prefer digital transmission for its ease, speed, low cost and ease of response.  

4. Be brief, concise and to the point: one page is best. Want to write a whole book or booklet extolling your virtues, your grades in middle school, your nickname and your favorite hobbies? Fuhgeddaboudit!  That said, if you are fluent in Arabic and are seeking a job in which that would be relevant, by all means mention it. Use a simple and easy-to-read and understand format that is easy on the eyes and easy on the brain. No long paragraphs on your personal philosophy; just what job you seek and why you should be hired. We do NOT recommend using the standard resume format or resume professionals for this effort.   

5. Mention your “best possible job,” and alternatives, as well. If you know what you’re looking for . . . go for it. Goals that are specific are more likely reached. On the  other hand, to broaden your potential for getting employed, you might put in other types of positions you would happily accept.  

7. Exhibit a mindset that is upbeat, positive, realistic, confident, determined and flexible. No matter how dark, depressed or despondent you may feel “inside,” your “Seeking a New Job Letter” must be positive in all respects on the “outside.” People are attracted to “winners,” and are simply turned away from those who portray themselves as victims. Early impressions are lasting impressions: make yours positive.    

8. Avoid both the words and the “music” of drama. Imagine, for the moment, that you met an old friend who had recently gone through a divorce. You say to your old friend “How are you doing?” to which your old friend responds with a 20-minute tirade about how his or her former spouse was unfair, unfaithful and unforgiving. Who wants to listen to that? Well, the same goes for your efforts to secure a new job: no one wants to hear you “shovel dirt” on your former employer. Cry into your beer, but not in your “Seeking a New Job Letter.” 

9. You might mention “The Golden Rule.” Call me old fashioned, if you want to, but I have never ceased to be amazed at how effective it is if you make a person imagine, just for a moment, if he or she was in your shoes, how much he or she would appreciate a helping hand. Consider mentioning your presumption that your letter’s recipient was once, if not more than once, in “your shoes,” and how you know he or she understands and appreciates your present struggle. 

10. Make it easy for people to contact you in response. It never, ever ceases to amaze me how often people send me messages of various kinds but do not make clear mention of how I can best and most easily reach them in response. Put yourself in the “shoes” of the recipients of your “Seeking a New Job Letter,” who has a good job prospect for you, but simply can’t locate you, or has difficulty doing so. That would be a tragedy, and an easily avoidable one. Provide a telephone number, email address, and if appropriate, a Twitter “handle.”    

11. Plan on sending a follow up letter, in the nature of a “progress report,” once every two or three weeks. If Coca Cola and Apple Computer have to periodically remind people of who they are, and what they offer, so do you. While it is not 100% necessary, it is almost always a wise idea to periodically provide your recipients with a follow up letter to keep yourself on their minds. Just like your original “Seeking a New Job Letter” should be, follow ups should also be brief, to the point and upbeat. So often it is perseverance that makes the simple difference between success and failure.  

We offer a Model Memo entitled “Seeking a New Job Letter” that you can use to get the powerful advantage of having scores, hundreds or even thousands of people helping you get employment. This Model Memo can be adapted to your own facts, events and circumstances. And it includes a second, “Follow Up” memo to keep your contacts fresh. Highly recommended. To obtain a copy, just [click here]. 

These 10 good guidelines for your own “Seeking a New Job Letter” can help you get back into the ranks of the employed, at a faster pace, at lower cost and with greater overall exposure, than many other methods. Being unemployed can surely get you “down,” but that’s no reason to stay “down.” This is a proven way to get you back “up.” This method is something you do for yourself, by yourself, costs nothing, and represents great value at no risk. Isn’t that what business – and Sklover Working Wisdom™ is all about?  

Help Yourself With These and Other
Unique NEW JOB Materials

New Job 3: Confirming Basic Terms of New Job Offer
New Job 5: Model Response to Receiving a New Job Offer
New Job 7: Checklist of New Job Items to Consider Requesting/Negotiating
New Job 13: Six Important Elements to Request Be In Your Expected Job Offer
New Job 15: Model Request for Sign-On Bonus
New Job 16: Two Model Memos to Protect Your Book Of Business ("B.O.B.")
Job Issues 5: Model Response to Request That You Sign a Non-Compete

[ Click Here ] and Go to Section "D"


SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. A “Seeking a New Job Letter” is a perfect embodiment of the spirit and substance of that process. Now the rest is up to you.        

P.S.: Got a Job Offer, and Background Check is about to happen? Use our Model Letter to Your Former HR, Managers and Colleagues to Discourage Bad References. “What to Say, and How to Say It.”™ To obtain your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly! 

Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about. 

*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.     

Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel, and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale. 

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Is it OK to ‘deflate’ my resume?”

Published on May 12th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Hi, Alan, I’m a graduating student with hopes of starting a career. I worked the entire time I was in school in the related field making me appear to be well on my way.

The problem is, my former employer was my former wife and her family. When contacted they are refusing to acknowledge my employment, and even go so far as to tell people I was dishonest about my job title and responsibilities.

How do I go about being up front with this problem when looking for work? Do I simply eliminate it from my resume and attempt to start anew?

Phoenix, Arizona

Answer: Dear Jim: Your predicament is a tough one. I see it as a choice of two paths, and a sort of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” I think that, overall, one of those two paths is preferable.

1. When preparing a resume, I strongly suggest honesty in all respects, with very few exceptions. I believe that “resume dishonesty” can be one of the most foolish things a person can do, because dishonest additions, mischaracterizations and omissions can hurt you for the rest of your life. Just last week, the CEO of Yahoo was in danger of losing his job due to “resume dishonesty” that took place years ago. Resume dishonesty is almost always viewed as “cause” for firing, no matter when it took place, and no matter how minor. All that said, there are times that I believe some degree of “resume dishonesty” is the wisest thing to do, given the circumstances and the options.

2. Personal matters, such as this one, are one of those exceptions. When family, personal or intimate relations are involved in the end of an employment relation, I often suggest a touch of “resume omission.” By that, I mean leaving out details that might be considered “TMI” or “too much information” by some. And sometimes I even suggest omitting the entire relation on a resume, if possible. Other examples of what I view to be permissible “resume omission” are the (i) precise reasons for resignations if the real reason is required to be kept confidential by confidentiality agreement, and (ii) precise reason for employment gaps that happened in order to recuperate from an illness if the nature of the illness may be embarrassing or quite personal. No one wants to hear anyone’s issues, problems or complaints about former spouses, former employers, or former spouses who were former employers, or their issues, problems or complaints about you. Sadly, many people say to themselves “It always takes two to tango,” even if one “side” of a problem is, in fact, entirely right and one “side” of that problem is entirely wrong.

3. I view “deflating” your resume – as opposed to “inflating” it – to be far less objectionable, and sometimes not objectionable at all. To my mind, leaving something off a resume is less objectionable than adding something to a resume that is not correct. I fully acknowledge that others see no difference between “resume inflation” and resume “deflation,” but I would disagree. “Resume inflation” to me connotes the word “dishonest” while “resume deflation” is closer to the word “discrete.” If, for example, you told a prospective employer you were a high school graduate, and you were really a high school graduate and also a college graduate, did you really “pull the wool over the eyes” of that prospective employer? I don’t think so. However, if you claimed to have a college degree and did not in fact have a college degree, I would find that to be clear dishonesty.

4. And, being that you have been in school, dropping your work experience during school is a far easier task. From what you have written, it seems to be the case that the work experience you are considering dropping from your resume took place while you were a student. Thus, if you “drop” it from your resume, you will not have to explain a resume gap. The time in question will be covered by the time you were in school, and studying.

5. It’s just possible that “deflating” your resume may help you in another way, too. I do acknowledge that you may be put at an unfair disadvantage in not being able to put down your relevant experience on your resume. It is a loss; I don’t think it will materially affect your career prospects. In fact, if you’ve ever heard the suggestion “Under-promise and Over-deliver,” you will know that your future employers will be quite surprised – and pleased – that a person with limited experience in your field does such great work. In this way, your inability to put your relevant work experience on your resume may actually end up being a “blessing in disguise.”

6. At the same time, you might consider being entirely “up front” about your experience, and your circumstances, but you will then be asking a prospective employer to take a risk most do not want to take. With all of this in mind, you might also consider the other “path,” that is, complete honesty as to what happened and your present circumstances. However, if you do so, you will be putting your prospective employer in a position to say to himself or herself, “Do I hire a dishonest person?” Gosh, not many people answer that question in the affirmative. It is up front, but I think it is self-defeating, too, and in this circumstance, I do not suggest it.

Jim, the fact that you are approaching this with your “mind wide open,” and considering the alternatives, is a great sign for your success in the future. So much of what we experience each day requires these kinds of analyses, and often in the spur of the moment. I would respect you no matter which “path” you may choose, but I want you to know that I would not at all disrespect you for “resume deflation” if that is the path you end up traveling.

Really good question; I hope the answer is helpful. Thanks for writing in. Please consider mentioning our blogsite to your friends and colleagues

My Very Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Equip yourself with the Best We Offer, our “Ultimate Reference Package,” which contains “Letter to Discourage Negative References, Request of Positive Reference (with Samples) and Request for “Departure Statement” if Downsized or Laid Off. A 28% Savings over buying them separately. To obtain just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly! 

Help Yourself With These and Other
Unique JOB SEARCH Materials

Next Step 1: Letter to Friends, Family: Seeking a New Job
Reference 8: Request for Positive References to Former Managers & Colleagues
New Job 1: Cover Letter Submitting Your Resume
New Job 2: "Thank You" Letter after Job Interview
New Job 8: 50 Good Reasons to Explain Your Last Departure
New Job 10: Model Response to Interview Asking Your Salary Expectations
New Job 21: 163-Point Master Guide and Checklist to Interviews

[ Click Here ] and Go to Sections "A, B and C"


Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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