I Smell Blood!

October 11th, 2006

You know as you move along in your career you develop some incredible relationships… I have such a relationship with Ces, a senior HR manager at a huge company where I started my IT career. Ces was one of my “customers” and I met frequently with him on projects for him or his team – I have had a great deal of admiration and respect for him since the day I met him.

When I was laid off I called him to ask for advice. I’m sure I didn’t even know what I was asking – maybe I was looking for sympathy, or to see if he knew anyone in my area that might be able to help me out. I wasn’t interested in moving to where his company might have a job, so I know wasn’t asking him for a job.

Towards the end of the call he said something that really struck me, and made me think about how I communicate with people. He said: “Jason, you have to remember one thing. HR can smell blood from a mile away.” I took that to mean that my demeanor was too down. I was a wounded animal, and it was obvious. No one wants to hire a wounded animal – they want to hire a competent, capable person! Even though I considered this to be a conversation between buddies I realized that anytime I talked with anyone during my job search I could not let them “smell blood.”

I’ve been networking a lot since that phone call, and I’ve met a lot of folks that are in-between jobs. And you know what? I’m not HR, and I’m not a recruiter, but I can sure smell blood. There are folks that have allowed themselves to get so depressed about their situation that they reek of this “blood.”

I am not a shrink (although I should have gone to one!) and admittedly don’t know all the ins-and-outs of depression – maybe it is a lot more complex than what I’m saying here (ie, maybe you don’t have as much control over it as I think). But in your NEW JOB (which is finding a job), make sure that you maintain your dignity and have a proper attitude. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna but don’t come across as Eeyore either.

I KNOW it sucks – there are no two ways around it. You have been working your tail off and then you get the proverbial pink slip… and now what do you do?? There are bills to pay, mouths to feed. You aren’t Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so with the corner office anymore. Your cheese has been moved. And it isn’t fun. But please, please take one thing away from this post: They (everyone) can smell blood from a mile away. Do what you can or need to do to not be hurt, pick up the pieces, and move forward with a strong and successful job search campaign. Your job IS out there!

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23 Responses to “I Smell Blood!”

  1. [...] The next time I saw those friends, almost every single one of them, they treated me differently. The common reaction was “hey, I want you to meet my boss (or pres. of the company)” or “hey, you need to meet my friend that works at xyz company” What changed? Not my resume. Not my skillset. I’m sure my demeanor changed (there’s an important post I wrote on not letting others smell blood that definitely came into play)… but the most significant thing was that I had substantiated who I was. Instead of people asking “what do you do” or “what are you looking for” they were able to see the website and guess that I was involved in very cool web applications, leading edge stuff (design, functionality, marketing, etc.). [...]

  2. Dan J says:

    I love this post!

  3. [...] I knew what he was saying. I was in a pathetic place and I’m sure I was smelling wounded, the kind of wounded that recruiters and hiring managers stay away from. It inspired me to write a post, which is one of my favorites. [...]

  4. [...] perfect post to read with regard to your attitude is also one of my favorites: I Smell Blood is where I share a time when I had a bad attitude and an HR exec called me on it.  Favorite [...]

  5. [...] their contact. The perfect post to read with regard to your attitude is also one of my favorites: I Smell Blood is where I share a time when I had a bad attitude and an HR exec called me on it. Favorite line? [...]

  6. [...] a great article from Jason Alba, founder of JibberJobber regarding just this topic and how smelling blood can be [...]

  7. This post and the “Substantiate Yourself” one that is related to it have resonated with me a lot over the past three or so years since I’ve been reading your blog.

    We job seekers cannot let our being in transition be the most interesting thing about us when we talk to others. As you’ve said in the other post, we need something we’re working on to substantiate ourselves.

    That has been some of the most helpful advice I’ve received over the years.

  8. Paul S says:

    This is a great point and I appreciate having been referred to this blog entry. Keep up the great work Jason. …And Thanks Jason and All.

  9. [...] do (from time management to networking and interviewing).  I wrote a popular post on this titled I Smell Blood! Ignore much of the crappy advice.  Understand the principle-based advice.  And move on.  People [...]

  10. [...] In fact, he told me something, somewhat tactfully, that made me realize how glum I had sounded… read the post here: I smell blood! [...]

  11. Judah Flum says:

    Friday is…
    – no better time to start something new, so you’re already in the motion for Monday.
    – the best time to be looking at job posts and following up as people have either packed it in for the weekend or spent from the week’s search.
    – an important day to be positive, because you’ll see people who may change your life this weekend and you should want them to see you in your best light!

    -Judah Flum
    http://gettoknowjudahflum.emurse.com/

  12. [...] his recent post I Smell Blood, career expert Jason Alba spoke to the importance of not letting anyone we talk with during our job [...]

  13. [...] Don’t talk badly about your former employer. Agreed… read the post about not letting HR or a hiring manager “smell blood.” [...]

  14. [...] Don’t talk badly about your former employer. Agreed… read the post about not letting HR or a hiring manager “smell blood.” [...]

  15. [...] I know the job search stinks.  Check out this post I wrote a few years ago, though, on what and how to communicate as a job seeker: I Smell Blood! [...]

  16. [...] Rejection Scenarios In his recent post I Smell Blood, career expert Jason Alba spoke to the importance of not letting anyone we talk with during our job [...]

  17. [...] can see the original post here: I smell blood! I liked it so much it because one of the first Favorite Friday posts I did, [...]

  18. [...] I thought that would make a good post for job seekers, especially since many job seekers give off a feeling of poor confidence that affects their success. [...]

  19. [...] I know the job search sucks.  I know, from personal experience, that toxic attitudes can seep in by surprise, and can sour your effectiveness.  Read how I learned the hard way: I Smell Blood [...]

  20. Joey says:

    Woke up ANGRY this morning about my situation and completed a google search containing job search AND depression and a related article came up, this really hit home. So many times I have “helped” and continue to help others, volunteer, and try to give back and play it forward…however after 8+months no luck! I started going back to church several months ago which has helped and continued working out as jobs for someone with my experience is slim in and near my sleepy little town. My marriage is also taking a toll even though I try to do as much as possible to handle all household duties. Not really sure what to do next or were to turn. My pastor said that having and keeping HOPE means that your best days are ahead of you (I have to remind myself daily). He also mentioned that new starts begin with new thinking. As I continue my search for what on earth to do next while attempting to keep it all together…I dearly appreciate this forum as well as any wisdom that can be shared. Thank you!

  21. […] I will want to be invisible.  And I’ll probably be jaded enough that I’m not going to have the right conversations which could lead to introductions.  People will smell blood. […]

  22. […] Job Search Depression, Job Search and Your Marriage, Job Search and Religion… And Simple Discouragement in a Long-Term Job Search. Jason Alba answers a question in a comment on one of his favorite (and relevant) blog posts: I Smell Blood. […]

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