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As the movie ended, the Devil, played by Al Pacino, stated, “Vanity is my favorite sin.” The wicked smile and stare rang true because most of us know that vanity and ego can corrupt us all. Human frailties can easily be seen in others. Although, when we look inward, vanity can be difficult to expose. There are many types of vanities. Let’s examine just one, career vanity.

Career vanity can appear as early as college successes. A high GPA, athletic scholarship, or being a big person on campus. With every success, the vanity factor can become more dangerous to your career. Here’s a checklist to determine if you have this career sin and how to cure it.

“I did a really great job on this one” or, “I worked so hard, I really deserve the success.” Change the ‘me’ to ‘we’ and you will have more support from the people reporting to you.

“Without my effort, this project would have failed.” Happily proclaim the project’s success as a fusion of many skills. Every person’s contribution was vital and needed for success.

You rarely notice and thank the ‘little people’ that make success happen. Every accomplishment is a team effort. Seek out the not-so-obvious contributors and thank them publicly.

Tremendous success can be attained by becoming a right-minded leader. Leadership is best developed by under-stating your position and giving credit to your team. Talk less about yourself and more about the team effort. Less is more because others will happily share in your achievements.


The current job market is tight for job seekers. The companies have a distinct advantage in the hiring process because there are so many possible candidates for each job opening.

In the past, if you lived within driving distance of the company, you would get an in-person interview if they liked your resume. Today, phone screen interviews are much more commonly used to reduce the number of candidates for in-person interviews.

There are two types of phone interviews. The first kind is from a human resource (HR) person. The mission of HR is to screen-out candidates that don’t fit. The second is from a hiring manager, who is looking to screen-in candidates that fit. HR will verify employment dates, education, income, why are you interviewing, etc. If HR likes your answers, they’ll pass your resume to the hiring manager for review and a possible in-person interview or a second phone interview. The phone call from the hiring manager is different in respect to questions about your actual job skills, results, accomplishments, etc…

Hiring managers want to be sold that you are a match for the opening. One of our company’s slogans is "Never play poker with an HR manager" because even if they think you’re a perfect fit for the job, they rarely indicate that. The hiring manager is more likely to express positive interest and give you some buying signs.

Here are three tips to help you succeed in your next phone interview.

Always have a copy of your resume in front of you during the interview. That will help you verify your work history dates and job titles. If you are fuzzy or hesitant on your background, the interview may be over before it even starts.

Always be more energetic than normal. Enthusiasm is the magic ingredient in all interviews. Your energy level is even more critical on the phone because you don’t have the benefit of eye contact and body language to help you communicate. During an in-person interview, body language is 65% of the communication. It’s difficult to see a smile by telephone! An employer will gauge your genuine interest in the company by your verbal energy and intensity.

You must ask for the order. At the end of the conversation the employer will ask, “Do you have any final questions?” That is your opening to say, in your own words, “I want this job.” You must tell the employer that you want to take the next step. “Is there anything standing in my way for an in-person interview?”

In conclusion, think of a phone interview as a pre-blind date conversation. Before you would go on a blind date, it would be nice to talk to the other person by phone to see if you have common interests. That way, if the phone call is a disaster, you can cancel the date. The company looks good to you. Your resume looks good to the company. The interest level is positive from both sides. The only way to see if there’s a match is to meet in person. Good luck on you next phone interview.

Dear Headhunter,
Recently, I gave my employer a week’s notice that I would be leaving. On the last day, I told my employer that I would like to leave early because I still had to go to work at my new job. My employer told me that if that was the case then we should call it a day and told me I should leave. I was fine with that, but he told me that he would mail me my paycheck because it wasn’t the normal time he paid. Is this correct? Thanks, V.B.

Dear V.B.,
Your employer seems to be in the right. The law, most often, is that if you quit, you will receive your pay by the next scheduled payday. If you are fired, you should be paid that day. The law varies state by state, so check your states labor laws.

Dear Headhunter,
I work for CPA’s as a bookkeeper, obviously during tax season there is a lot of overtime to be worked. When I was paid during tax season, my regular hours and overtime were paid at the same rate. When I asked my employers about this, one told me that they don’t pay overtime and another told me that I was salaried and therefore wasn’t eligible for overtime. Although, if I missed time during that pay cycle, I would not be paid for those missing hours, unless I use sick or vacation time. Any advice would be helpful, B.M.

Dear B.M.,
You work for a CPA and don’t know the answer, that is troublesome in itself. First, every employer is obligated to pay overtime to an hourly employee, regardless of the season. Second, just look at your paycheck stub. If your compensation is computed at an hourly rate, you get overtime pay. If you are salaried, no overtime compensation is due. Bottom line: Check your states labor laws and you may be eligible for back pay. Based on what you stated, the CPA’s are really doing it to you. Start your job search at once!

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.