EXCERPT: 'The Trump Card'

For the most part, it'll fall to you to go looking for that unlikely job—which just might turn out to be the career you were meant to have all along. But you'll never know it unless you're able to build a persuasive argument in favor of your being hired. That takes some doing. Over the years, I've had several opportunities to interview candidates who had been highly recommended by trusted friends and associates, who nevertheless turned up at my office with no set of qualifications matched to the position I was trying to fill. I see it more and more as the job market tightens and so many experienced people are out of work. But I take this as a positive, as far as management is concerned—an opportunity to discover a wellspring of talent from outside the usual real estate development circles. It's not a deal breaker for me if a candidate hasn't worked in real estate, because I believe in hiring people with diverse professional backgrounds and giving them a chance to prove themselves. What will sink a candidate's chances, however, is when she doesn't make any effort to create a bridge between what she's done and how that experience might benefit the Trump organization. If she leaves it up to me to connect the dots for her, she's a nonstarter.

I once interviewed a candidate with a strong background in telecommunications. A friend I respected had called to recommend that I meet with this person about an opening. The candidate was extremely articulate and had worked on some important projects at his old firm. His résumé was impressive. Yet as we spoke, I couldn't figure out why he was applying for a job with the Trump organization. Our core business didn't seem to match any of his experiences or his interests. I'd known as much going into our meeting, of course, but I'd thought our conversation might give this guy a chance to connect some of the dots for me and illustrate a real passion and zeal for the work being done at my company.

I finally said, "I don't doubt you're a highly intelligent, highly capable person, but how do you see yourself fitting in here?"

"Well," the candidate said, "what I'm looking for is a new opportunity more than anything else."

It might have been an honest answer, but it was vague and open-ended. And it certainly didn't do the trick. I heard the candidate's response as a lack of vision, an inability or unwillingness to articulate how his particular areas of expertise or aspects of character might turn out to be assets for our company. It signaled that he hadn't taken the time to research the opportunities at the Trump organization and indicated a general laziness on his part. Basically, he just wanted a job— any job—and ultimately the negative impression he made with that one answer outweighed all the positive ones he had made up to that point. In the end, I had to tell him that I couldn't see the correlation between his interests and the kind of work we were doing.

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