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Landing a Job in a Competitive Market: Tony Beshara of Babich and Associates

Expert Interview Series

Tony Beshara

President, Babich & Associates

Tony Beshara is the president of Babich and Associates, Texas' oldest placement and recruitment firm, and is recognized as the nation's top professional placement recruitment specialist. We recently sat down with Tony to pick his brain about interviewing tips, personal branding, and separating yourself from the rest of the job candidates.

Tell us a bit about your background. Why are you so passionate about finding employment for job seekers and helping companies fill their open positions?

I've been in this profession since 1973. I've personally helped more than 11,000 people find a job on a one-on-one basis by interviewing, assessing their skills, and then placing them with client companies. I'm passionate about this process for both individuals seeking a job as well as companies trying to find good employees because both candidates and employers have such a difficult time doing it on their own. The interviewing and hiring process is one of the most challenging endeavors people encounter. Next to the death of a loved one or a divorce, the most emotionally difficult event in people's lives is to look for a job. Hiring people is just as emotionally difficult. My practice, over the years, has helped people manage both of these events.

Finish this sentence: "In the 65 years Babich & Associates has been around, the biggest aspect of the job search process that has not changed is…" 

The fact that individuals looking for a job still have to sell themselves to prospective employers in the same way they did in 1952. Candidates have to realize that they are selling to prospective employers what they can do for them over and above the other candidates who are going to interview for the position. It's simply selling features, advantages, and benefits. 

Candidates have to realize that they are selling to prospective employers what they can do for them over and above the other candidates who are going to interview for the position.

What are some of the most common questions or issues that you're hearing about today from new college graduates?

"I didn't realize that finding a job was going to be this hard."

If a soon-to-be college graduate asked you, "I've never thought about partnering with a placement agency or recruiting service. Would they even give me the time of day? What do I have to offer them?" how might you respond?

There is a tendency to think that a placement service's clients would not pay a fee for recruiting a relatively entry-level candidate.  But often, our clients are looking for entry level candidates with lots of potential. As a company, we know our clients' needs and know the kind of candidate they would hire.

How can young adults call upon their personal stories and branding to aid in their job search – even if they don't have much of an employment history?

Personal stories of success, even outside of a work environment, are wonderful. I remember years ago placing an engineer fresh out of Texas A&M University. We got the kid a number of interviews primarily because he was born and raised on a chicken farm. He would tell the story of how much hard work it was to help his family manage a chicken farm. When one of our clients hired him, they told us that what separated him from all of the other candidates was that he demonstrated a hard work ethic by being born and raised on a chicken farm. Stories sell! Personal stories about growing up, overcoming adversity, etc., even if they aren't business-related, will get you hired.

Which do you think can help a job candidate stand out from the crowd more effectively: their resume, or their cover letter? 

Frankly, neither one. People put way too much emphasis on a resume (although you do need a good resume) and a cover letter. The "key" to getting a good job is to get a decent interview. On average, the person you are sending your resume and cover letter to is getting 180 of them for every job posting. The key is to pick up the phone and actually call a hiring authority. That's how you are going to get an interview.

Between the resume and the cover letter, the resume is vastly more important. We did a study a number of years ago with about 1600 of our clients, and 50% said they never even read a cover letter. The other 50% said that they only read the cover letter if the resume looked interesting. A job candidate certainly needs a good resume, and a cover letter that says "Here's why you should interview me" can't hurt. But having said all that, spend your time calling potential employers rather than writing and rewriting your resume and your cover letter.

What kinds of insights do you try to offer job applicants with regard to the actual employer interviews?

Oh my, I wrote a whole book about this. But the most important thing is to remember that you are selling yourself to an employer. You are selling them on the idea that they should hire you over and above all of the other candidates that they are interviewing. If you give them plenty of good reasons why they should hire you, they will give you plenty of good reasons why you ought to work there. Once you get to the point where someone wants to hire you, then it can become a two-way interaction of what you can do for them along with what they can do for you. If you remember this primary principle, everything else will take care of itself.

Based on the trends you're seeing, what do you foresee for the future of the entire job search process, especially as it pertains to newly-graduated young adults?

Fortunately, the economy is getting better, so employers are going to have more opportunities; and therefore, it's going to be easier to get an interview and a job. My sense is, however, that the economy is going to grow slowly. Having said that, it's still going to be a very competitive market and job candidates need to prepare for a very challenging experience.

Ready to dive into the job search pool? Sign up for Vocate today!

Zack Andresen

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