„… and the curtain goes up”
von Alexandra Lauff und Heike Jüds
Ausgehend davon, dass der Arbeitsmarkt eine große Bühne ist, hat Martin John Yate, Autor des Ratgebers „Knock ‘em Dead“, zu deutsch: „Das erfolgreiche Bewerbungsgespräch“, zahlreiche Bewerbungstipps entwickelt. In seiner Muttersprache beschreibt Yate der karriereführer-Redaktion seine Bewerbungsphilosophie und wie er zum Karriere-Experten wurde.
In your book „Knock ´em dead“ you paraphrase Shakespeare by saying „All the employment world is a stage…“ Why do you compare a job-interview with theatre?
They are both performances. In pursuing a professional career we all develop new behaviours and ways of dealing with people and situations. Remember the first day on your first job you go to get coffee and there’s a sign behind the machine „Your mother doesn’t work here, clean up after yourself.“ We all had this or a similar experience that led us to an awareness of the need to develop a professional behaviour profile.
In the book I talk extensively about these professional behaviours that all employers seek and how to recognize and package them. It is necessary in a job hunt to identify what the buyer is going to want to buy and to package what we have to offer appropriately. Once readers discover what it is that employers want to hear about they usually realise they have plenty of good things to say without telling untruths. Or is it rather a boxing match?
No. The job hunting and interview process is not about confrontation and conflict, it is about building bridges of communication between people and establishing common ground.
In the first section of your book the advises you give (e.g. clothing, appearance or posture) do have quite a satirical touch. What was your intention by doing so?
I assume everyone who reads my work is an intelligent professional wanting to get ahead. They have come to me because I have special knowledge for a special situation. The subject matter of career management is normally something barely fun to read. Consequently I let my 28 years in the US combine with growing up for 22 in the UK. The result is a somewhat dry sense of humor. I like the thought of my readers getting a chuckle every few pages. I’m really happy to hear that some of the humour is coming through in translation, this is exciting.
What are rather „shy“ people supposed to do in an interview to have a chance for getting the job at all?
We are all nervous about interviews because we feel ourselves to be on trial, and it is easy to interpret the lack of a job offer as a rejection of ourselves as people. But we probably just didn’t package those professional aspects of ourselves in ways that the interviewers could understand. Understanding the professional behaviours that all employers desire and coming up with illustrations of us using these behaviours at work, allows just about anyone to show themselves in a good light without sounding like a ’snake oil salesman.“
Job interviews in Germany are not yet as tough as the ones in the US. Have you meant to set an international trend with your book?
I was raised in UK to age of 23 and then have spent the last 27 years in US. I came to US as an outsider and had to deconstruct their entire approach to life before I could make sense of it and have any hope of prospering. What I discovered was a completely open, direct and practical approach to life, very different from the old Europe. I combined this with – I dare to say – the superior communication skills and manners we have in Europe.I wrote the first draft of „Knock ´em Dead“ on the basis of increasing globalisation of business that affects professional people everywhere. My work therefore doesn’t so much aim to set an international trend as to reflect an international need. Employers, whether they be in Bonn, London, New York, Sydney or Bangkok are all looking for conscientious professional employees. My work shows people what it is that employers want, so when they apply my advice they not only land jobs but have a great many new ways of getting ahead with their new employer.
Do you think your instructions will still be valid in about five years?
The advice has worked in many countries around the world for 17 years. I update the books every year in America, and foreign publishers are also able to update the work as often as they wish. The books work because the advice is practical and implementable. It will be valid five years and twenty five years from now, because my work is an ongoing process that responds to changes in the workplace. And as only the good die young I expect both me and the books to around for a good many years to come.
Which negative issues have you personally experienced in interviews?
I’ve experienced it all either personally or observed it from ringside seats. You don’t like everyone you meet, and neither do employers. That you weren’t hired for a particular job might be because of your accent or the way you comb your hair, but more often than not it is because someone else was better prepared and possibly also more qualified for that particular position.
Have positive experiences from interviews considerably contributed to your career?
We learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. Identify the weakness and turn it into a strength.
In your opinion, what exactly characterises you as career expert?
I have an unusually comprehensive understanding of the job hunting and career management world, afterall it has been my career for almost thirty years. I was a world class executive recruiter, a trainer of headhunters on an international basis, head of personnel for a major technology company, head of training for a huge employment company. I am active in my professional community and a member of numerous professional associations (as everyone should be In order to keep oneself connected professionally). Apart form this and my ten books on career management issues I also consult with senior level executives in transition and Interestingly recently helped an executive based in Düsseldorf, organise and execute two simultaneous job hunts, one in Germany and one in North Eastern US.After so many years I know a lot of people in the career related professions around the world, many colleagues and many friends. This is what I do, this is what I think about because this has become the way I can best make a difference with my presence on this earth.