Do You Smell of Febreze?

My friends know I hate Febreze. Why? Because the minute I smell it I know there is something lurking underneath that scent no one wants me to know about. You might as well hang a sign warning me as your guest something in your house is a bio-hazard. Unlike the actors in the commercial, I don’t inhale deeply and smile. To the contrary, I limit the breaths I take, all systems go on alert and I attempt to identify the problem so I can decide how much distance I need to keep.  In the times when no obvious problem could be identified, I was left to wonder if the the homeowner simply preferred the couch smelling like spring on steroids.

Job seekers need to be careful about the Febreze effect. I’m not just talking about those who literally spray themselves with the stuff. Oh yeah, there are some. I’m referring to those who get so fancy with their presentation, wording and explanations the hiring manager is left to wonder if they are being distracted from problems. Of course job seekers want to draw attention to their relevant skills and bragging points in a professional and memorable way. Hiring managers understand this and expect candidates to make a targeted case for why they are a fit for an opening. There’s a difference between laying out one’s information in a targeted way and speaking in vague terms, leaving dates entirely out of the picture and giving disjointed explanations for confusing gaps.

When I encounter candidates who give me the Febreze feeling, it’s usually one of two things going on. One, they’ve been hit with William Shakespeare syndrome, where every wordeth they writeth is completely unnatural to them. Two, they really are hiding what they view to be problems and are hoping no one notices. For the Shakespeare folks, they simply need to find their normal voice and tone the dramatics down a bit. Those with past problems need to face the music. There comes a time when the best course of action is to clean up versus cover up a problem. Few people, guests or potential employers, appreciate being intentionally left out of the loop of problems that may have an adverse effect on them. For me, I’d much rather know what I’m dealing with and be part of a plan to improve the situation in the future.

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