Friday, December 30, 2011

A Unique Perspective

Judi provides a unique perspective on job seeking.  Her advice incorporates the possible viewpoints of employers/HR departments as well as the job seeker’s personal and professional goals.   Most career coaches have a canned approach and try to fit any client into that formula without actually listening to determine each person’s unique situation.  
----Pauline S., MA

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Cheer or Holiday Sneer?

“ #*&$^@*”  Is this you this season?  Your guests are still visiting or you’re due to travel home, presents need to be exchanged, family patterns are taking their toll, holiday madness in the airport….
Look around you.  What do you see?  Harried clerks, irritated shoppers, grumpy travelers, crowded parking lots, people with headaches.  Are you one of them?
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day life and its problems.  Your Christmas platter broke, everyone wants something from you, your sister didn’t give you a gift list and hates the sweater you gave her.  You just want the holidays to be over.
Why are you behaving like this?  Is it making your life easier? Is it helping those around you?  Why are you perpetuating the problem?
Life moves in cycles.  The only constant is change.  Today’s craziness is tomorrow’s tranquility.  When you’re in the middle of today’s craziness,   you can’t always change things and make them un-crazy.  But you can change your attitude, and remember that this, too, shall pass.
Moods are contagious, mostly because we forget that our mood is our choice.  Other people don’t put us in a bad mood; we allowed their bad mood to affect us.
Whether you’re standing in after-Christmas lines impatient to make an exchange and slamming your credit card on the counter, blaring your horn in the parking lot, or heaving heavy sighs at your spouse, remember that “catching” someone else’s bad mood means your grumpiness may now be passed to the next person with whom you interact.
We aren’t separate from each other.  We’re all part of the universe, like a bucket of water taken from the ocean is still part of the ocean.  Energy travels.  We pick up the moods of those around us, unless we choose not to or choose to be a change agent.
The remainder of this season, let’s do something different.  When we get grumpy, stop, stand up straight, and breathe.  If you’re in a store, be patient.  Bring a book and read while you wait.
Others are also shopping after-Christmas sales and the clerk may be harried too.  Before you grumble about a distant parking space, notice you now have the opportunity for some exercise.
In fact, let’s go one step further.  If you see an irritated mother whose child just spilled her coke, step in with a napkin.   Smile at the person walking by you or the salesperson in the store.   Look people directly in the eye, and mean it when you say, “Have a great day!” Ask your family for help with a big hug and kiss instead of sounding annoyed. 
Did we forget that although it’s after Christmas, this is still a time of joy?  A time to be gracious and conscious of those around us?  To savor the moments instead of counting the days until it’s over?
I’m no different.  I see my parents once each year, and while my relationship with them has greatly improved from when I was in high school, we still have our moments. 
In their desire to protect me from failure and disappointment, they have a tendency to squash my ideas and willingness to take risks.  If I absorb that, eventually it will erode my confidence and I forget that their intentions are good.  Soon I’m past the point of no return and might say things I regret.  
Stressful times are testing.  But the more you are tested, the more you can practice not letting it affect you.  And the more you practice, the easier it becomes.  After all, it’s your choice how you respond to others and what message you convey. 
This season, let’s focus on “spread tidings of comfort and joy,”  send “joy to the world,” and remember “tis the season to be jolly” by not twisting off when others are crazy, and by sending love back instead of more craziness.
POLL: What's the favorite gift you have GIVEN this holiday? 
visit: - and leave a comment! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cease and Desist


The other day I was forwarded a press release put out by a reference checking firm.  The title was  ”Cease & Desist: Your Weapon Against Negative Job References.”  The subtitle was “Letters Can Put A Stop To Career-Damaging Feedback.”

I think not.  More like “Letters can make a bad situation worse.”

Let’s first look at how references are done.  Formally, one HR person calls another HR person, checks dates of employment and eligibitlity for rehire.  For legal reasons, you can’t do much more than that.  So it’s not going to help much there.  Eligibility for rehire?  “No.” That’s about it.  Cease and Desist won’t change much there.

On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of informal reference checking that takes place and this is where the cease and desist is applicable and counter productive.    If you’re looking in the same industry or geographical area, there’s the possiblity that the company doing the reference knows the company where you worked.  It goes like this:

Hey Joe, this is Sam over at Magnificent Magic Marbles.  There’s a guy named William Williams applying here for a Director position.  Off the record, what’s the scoop on him?”

Sales and construction are two industries where more than previous employers, you’re looking at informal reference checks with clients and subcontractors.  It’s a network.  People know each other.  As a recruiter, I did it all the time, because I knew people who knew people.

What do you do instead?  A scarier but far more productive method is to heal it.  Remember this is a blog post, so it’s just an overview of what to do. 

I used to sometimes get great references on people who were fired.  But I knew how to do a reference.  Most people don’t.  I also know people, psychology, and am adept at balancing things like that out.  What I did with the reference and what I told the client depended on the bad part of the reference. That’s not human nature.  Human nature wants to avoid mistakes and is going to hear the bad, not the good.  And jettison any possibility for problems.

How do you heal it and effectively temper the problem?  You call the person up and you ask why they’re giving you a bad reference.  And then you work through it until you come to some understanding of what will be said in the future, and how you’ll both present that.

There are other ways to handle a bad reference, and in fact, handle references in general, but this post is specifically in reference to the “cease and desist.”

In any case, rather than go the combatative route, try a little relationship building.  Try more understanding and less assumption.  Move to the positive rather than accentuating – and exacerbating – the negative.  Your job search will be so much better for it, and so will you, especially since it took a lot of guts to make that phone call.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Don’t Rationalize Rude Behavior – (part 1)

In order to get a job, people will rationalize red flags and  fail to make a connection between an isolated event or two and the much larger picture.    I saw this often as a recruiter when I asked candidates questions about their previous jobs.    I see it now with my clients – or people who send me emails – when they are clearly taking something  just to take something,and I counsel them against moving forward in the process and why that is.
These same red flags show up for me too.  That’s because we’re all marketing ourselves in one way or another.    You – the job seekers -  with your resume and cover letter, and me through various means in order to reach more job seekers. 
Although writing and speaking opportunities find me, I also look for them: ezines, newspapers, authors and journalists that might be interested in quoting me or carrying my articles.
One of the reasons I so actively advocate following up is because having been a straight-commission, top-producing sales person who earned my living building relationships with people, I know how important following up is and why it’s necessary.  And I know the frustrations of it, too.  I also know from experience that the red flag is relative to the person, and have nothing to do with me.
When I make a cold call, first I inquire. Then I follow up.  By then, usually I have a dialogue started because the person to whom I’m inquiring gets back with me.  If not, I follow up a third time, and a fourth.   I repeat the reason for calling.  I refresh their memory as to my earlier communications.  I mention that I’ve left a few messages.  I’m always polite.  By the last time, I specifically say I’ve left several messages and would they please take a few minutes to call me back?  So they have to actively and consciously decide not to do that.  It’s not as if they’ve forgotten who I am.
Truthfully, by the fourth time, I’m more interested in just seeing what happens.  I’m not really expecting anything and not sure that if the opportunity presents itself at that point that I even want to pursue it any longer.  The lack of professionalism some people exhibit is astounding.
You have this happen all the time.  You follow up on a resume.  Nothing.  You speak with a recruiter, and then can never get a hold of them again.  They promised to call you about a great opportunity.  Nothing.  You schedule a meeting.  The person doesn’t show up or was called away.  You follow up on an interview.  No return call.
Rude, rude, and rude.  Them, not you.
I don’t care who they are.  I’ve read about singers, movie stars, and even the President, who make a point of answering every letter they receive, although they’re generally form letters sent by people hired to do that.  I’ve called CEOs of large corporations or hospitals, and although I might not speak with them immediately or ever, the admin assistant  phones back.  
The point is that the contact was acknowledged.  Who has such a big ego, or is so busy that they can’t take a minute to even delegate that task to someone?  It leaves me shaking my head in wonder.
Let’s put this statement “them, not you” into perspective.  When I’m selling various newspapers around the U.S. on carrying my column, I share that I was syndicated for 2 years in over 300 major metropolitan markets until they changed their format.  I mention I’ve been a Sunday columnist for the New Haven (CT) Register for four years, and that I’ve written over 50 articles for a trade magazine with which I used to be associated. 
Generally, I’m received enthusiastically and so newspapers around the US are carrying my columns for free in return for my ability to reach more job seekers.  (With newspapers having trouble, they often assign an editor or a reporter to do their columns, so asking for payment would be pointless). 
Yet, with my local paper, a small weekly one, the editor had to talk to the board, and the board, which convenes once per month, would have to vote on it.  The editor forgot to bring it up and after several conversations, it wasn’t worth it.  They’ve gone through several editors since then.  Gee – what  surprise.
Keep an eye out for - Part 2!! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Not to Write A Resume:

Does your resume profile read something like this?
Pro-active and solution-oriented person with proven ability to think outside the box and build collaborative relationships by engaging internal and external stakeholders while working in a cross- functional matrix environment.    Critical thinker with exceptional track record of identifying win-win strategies, building consensus, and implementing change for bottom-line results. 
It does?  Then you sound like everyone else who’s looking for a job.  Not only does it fail to actually convey who you are because the phrases are so generic, but it’s resume speak.  It’s the same as saying blah blah blah.  
By the way,  I hope you didn’t pay someone to write that for you, because numerous professional writers, after they collect your money, are opening books they bought or checked out from the library.  Others have professional designations that they hope to impress you with, but they don’t impress me.  Having seen over half million resumes in my career, I remain unimpressed at most professionally written resumes I’ve seen.  In fact, I’ve redone a bunch of them.
Before you write your resume, or have someone else do it, think about who you are, what you’re good at, and why.  A resume isn’t a list of bland job description and gobbledy gook, generic, overly used phrases – it’s a document that tells your story and conveys who you  are as an individual.  It illustrates how you think, how your career has progressed, why, your degree of motivation, how you make decisions, what you do better than others who have the same skills, and how you’ve benefitted your employers. 
And it’s not just numbers and percentages about how you increased sales, increased production, reduced staff, bam bam bam, hardcore, cold statistics either.
Ask yourself these questions:
  1. What are the top 5 skills that have contributed to your success?
  2. What are the top 5 personality traits that have contributed to your success?
  3. What makes you good at what you do?
  4. What makes you different from the person that held your job before you, or the person who will hold it after you, or the person who has the same title working for the same kind of company down the street?
Now you’re starting to get the idea.
Here are pieces from several client profiles that will give you an idea of what you’re shooting for:
  1. Effective and innovative training professional adept at creating and delivering courses in multiple modes that bring enthusiasm for change and result in new user proficiency.  Extremely skilled at learning, analyzing and understanding new or upgraded software programs, breaking them down and putting together course materials based on audience needs and level of understanding. 
  2. Operationally focused and mathematically inclined corporate finance professional, able to synthesize seemingly disparate pieces into an integrated solution. 
  3. Skilled, forward thinking professional who pragmatically identifies opportunities to reduce expenses and scrutinizes financial records to pinpoint and correct errors. Precise, solutions oriented, and trustworthy, with an exceptional amount of common sense, and a positive “can do” attitude. 
  4. Recognized and published expert in human resource management with extremely effective listening and interpersonal skills, adept at identifying the real problem. 
Do you get a sense of something about that person that makes them unique?   And every bullet on your resume should illustrate the statements in your profile by showing what you did, the results and the benefit.
A resume that has a generic profile followed by a gloppy paragraph of keywords followed by bullets that say things like….
  1. Performed thorough and timely reference checking.
  2. Acted as a liaison between the embassy and the international media, students and other private sector partners.
  3. Led daily meetings with Oracle to define tasks, outline responsibilities, and form weekly agendas
  4. Managed procurement of desktop hardware, software and contractor services with vendors
  5. Involved in setting up customer’s project portfolio management system.
…….is not a resume.   The above are job descriptions, not bullets.  They go in a short paragraph by your job title, not bulleted under it.
Product brochures- cars, dishwashers, cameras, televisions –  make sure to differentiate their product from the competition.  You’re selling a product and the product is you.  When your resume is your brochure, it should accomplish the same purpose.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Job Interview KILLERS!


I admit I have some trouble occasionally finding articles to share.  Many of the articles give poor advice or don’t provide anything but lame, general, obvious (or what should be obvious) advice that you can find anywhere and everywhere.

But I like this one.  They have some unique points that many people don’t discuss and some of the ones they do are discussed in a rather different way.

I continue to say that because of poor job finding strategies, generic cover letters, really bad resumes and lack of interviewing skills, most candidates are operating at less than 70% if not even as low as 15%.

This particular article only drives home that so many things occur that the individual has no idea are improper behavior for a job interview, thus probably continue to do them, and wonder why they remain unemployed.

It’s from the Wall Street Journal:  November 14

Job and Career Advice? (Part 2 of Interview Question)


I’d like  to name this person who gives job and career advice because this person is perceived and put forth as a career expert, and because of where she “resides,” her career information is supposedly trustworthy. 

She’s  dispensing career information on resumes, interviews, and all things related to finding a job, but to name her would be unprofessional.  

I noticed that for writing a resume, she advocates using an objective .  They are SO dead for lack of information, specifics, and insight into the individual.  Furthermore, the ones she provides will get you nowhere because your resume got tossed into the trash.  A quick run through other parts of her career advice to job seekers wasn’t any more reassuring.

So just because someone is out there as an career coach and expert, doesn’t mean they are.   And if you have no idea who I am and have never worked with me, that means me too.  The best way is look for free career advice information – subscribe to the person’s newsletter, see if they offer free reports, find articles they may have written on how to find a job and all the issues that entails.  

And it goes without saying that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the career newsletters either.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview Question: No, No and No! (Part 1)

I read this today in a career newsletter that those who are finding a job assume has expert and therefore correct, job advice.  This newsletter has  a HUGE circulation.  This entry goes with the one on my Facebook fan page ( that starts out HEINOUS!  In fact, maybe I’ll just start a HEINOUS! category.

I’m not naming the career ”expert” who posted this – the name is irrelvant anyway - but they’re a recruiter and they should know better.  
Here’s their advice:

Toward the end of an interview the interviewer will typically turn to you and ask “do you have any questions?” It is always good to be prepared for this question and to have good thought out questions to respond with. Things that are always good to ask about are company benefits, pay day schedule, management set-up, what does a typical day in this job look like? – those kinds of questions keep the conversation going and show your interest in the position.

Aye carumba!  Can anyone spot the NO NO NO part?  Yes, it’s the “company benefits, pay day schedule” part. A little psychological insight into why I’m so emphatic.

The money/benefits/vacation part is a game, but it’s not really a game.  Some people make money the priority in their job search,  but that’s putting the cart before the horse.  First, if you focus on money to the exclusion of the people with whom you’ll be working, the philosophy and culture of the company, whether the new job has the components that motivate you and make you happy to be there (and about ten other things I’m not going to go into now because it’s off the topic of this post),  you might very well be unhappy in your new job at this company.

Sell yourself to the highest bidder without regard for all the other factors and if you’re unhappy, eventually the money you’re making isn’t going to be enough to compensate you for work ingat a place you hate.  And once the relief of your new job wears off and reality sets in, that’s what you could very well discover.

That’s why salary doesn’t get talked about first (it does with companies, but again, that’s a whole separate topic and post).  Because the point of an interview is to find out if they’re who you want and you’re who they want.  Additionally, it’s ridiculous to talk about money when neither side has attached value to the other.

If you’re going to buy a car for $30K and you won’t go over that price, and someone calls you up and says “Hey I have this cherry red convertible that runs like a dream; cream leather seats and brand new stereo – it’s $37K – you want it?” You’ll be like, “no, too expensive.”  So say – just say – you decide to go look at it.  And you fall in love with the color and you drive it and feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face and maybe you begin to rationalize why $37K is okay.

The point here isn’t actually about going higher or lower than your salary, as much as it is about value.  Once you get to know something – or someone – and decide you want it – or them – then you look at how you can make it work.  So salary up front, and making a decision on that, might eliminate getting the information you need.

This isn’t to say money is unimportant.  One of my clients right now has an offer on the table with a company who has offered her $74.  In her previous job, in a slightly different capacity, she was making over $90K.  She really likes the place and wants the job.  Every single other one of the 8 points I put so much emphasis on is ranking very high.  There are some other issues we’re discussing that aren’t relevant to this blog post, but what is relevant is that the difference is enough that it poses a serious problem, not the least of which might be compromising her salary in future positions.  She was willing to bottom line at $80K.  So we’re embarking on a negotiation strategy.

Had the salary been discussed up front, she’d have walked away and never learned that she really wants to work here.  Perhaps we can work it out, perhaps not.

From the company’s side, it’s a huge turn off.  Yes, I know they violate that by asking you up front, but like I said, that’s a different circumstance and for another time.  At the point they’ve decided to bring you in, your asking about salary at the beginning of the interview communicates that that’s all you care about.  It tells them that your head is in the wrong place for all the reasons stated earlier.  A company wants someone who wants them for who they are, not someone who is all about the paycheck.  Ask those two questions ever, much less in the first interview, and you’ll be dropped from consideration.

In fact, don’t ever, ever bring up the topic.  Period.

That advice, and HEINOUS #1, just underlines that just because an expert is out there, doesn’t mean they’re an expert.  There are some good career people and columns out there though that offer excellent career advice, and I’ll be bringing those up too.  It’s not all about ME!  LOL

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to handle your layoff explanation on a job interview

Here’s a good article titled “The do’s and don’ts of explaining your recession lay-off.”  This is a thorny problem that leaves a lot of people feeling defensive, even if they’re one of millions of layoffs contributing to the 10% unemployment rate. That’s because it’s hard not to take it personally, especially when there are others who weren’t laid off. 
Most of the time you were just in the wrong position or the wrong department at the wrong time and thus became a statistic.  So in line with this excellent article, I’m going to take each point and in some cases, add some psychological insight and additional information as to why the author is making the points she is, because frequently that brings greater understanding. 
DO be the first one to address your layoff - In my opinion, regardless of who brings it up, you still get to frame it in your own terms, so in the case of this tip, there’s much more t.  The reason you want to bring it up is because it lessens the impact.  If you bring it up, it doesn’t appear that you’re trying to hide anything, which is what most job seekers do.  And by the way, know how you’re going to present it, and practice it in the mirror with a pleasant face and confident, comfortable tone of voice before you go on the interview.
DON’T weave a complex story - As Shakespeare said, “Methinks you doth protest too much.”  So sidestep Shakespeare by following that guy on Dragnet, Joe Friday, who said “Just the facts, ma’am.”  The more you talk, the more you sound defensive,  as if you’re trying to convince yourself that what you’re saying is true.  
DO mention if it’s a recession-related layoff - You’re one of millions.  There’s safety in numbers.  People default to the negative in order to find and avoid problems. Without inserting this point, you leave the interviewer the option of assuming “laid off” is a euphamism for “fired,”  thus concluding you’re a problem employee.  Control your spin!
DON’T speak poorly of your last employer - Besides what the author says, it’s immature.  If you make an immature decision in this area, what other immature behaviors will you bring to the company if you were to work there?  Additionally, it smacks of a victim mindset, rather than one who takes responsiblity.
DO mention if you were involved in a mass layoff - She covers this nicely.  Plus, see the “recession layoff” point above.
DON’T be afraid to say you’re not comfortable answering - Again, she handles this well and I’m glad she brought this up because so many forget that it’s a two-way street and hand every ounce of power over to the interviewer.  They’re afraid that if they don’t answer the question, if they don’t behave, they won’t be liked and they won’t get the job.  You’re not a 5-year old at dinner with your parents.  You can go against the grain.  Be respectful, and be polite and don’t give a whole paragraph on why you don’t want to answer the question.
DO discuss how you’ve filled your time - This, too, is covered well.  Especially the point about being honest. 
Preparation is key to knowing what you’re going to say and pulling it off poised and confidently.  Winging it isn’t a smart strategy.  When I was a recruiter, it was amusing to listen to how many canddiates who were actively looking would say after about the third interview,  “This is getting easier!”  So why not get some of those awkward answers you regret out of the way by shaping what you plan to say before you arrive?

Looking for a Qualified Career Coach...

I had been looking for a qualified career / job coach for sometime. I belong to several networking groups although I am not a strong networker because I am an introvert. Even though I think the people I talked to about career coaches are sincere when looking at their credentials they just didn't have what I was looking for.

I started looking around on the web and found your name and looked at your web site. At first I was skeptical because you said a whole lot of things on your web site but I did not see any tangible proof that I could analyze and take time to consider. I had gotten burned by two other supposed career coaches and felt a little uneasy going through spending money then finding out what they told me was worthless. What clinched it for me was the first two times I talked to you, you were patient answered my questions and didn't push your services on me. I didn't cut you any slack and asked real tough questions, which you satisfactorily  answered. 

I finally got lucky with you, fortunately for me you listened and asked a lot of questions in order to get a true picture of what I wanted and needed to do to become successful.  You literally put your whole heart, soul and self into working with me and the other people you work with. I could tell by the way you handled the webinar's.

Another thing great about you is you tell it like it is. (You are a straight shooter) You don't sugar coat it, you explain why you take the position with examples that I can relate to. And will listen to challenges which I have done more than once and will really consider what I say.With this in mind I feel stronger about being back in the market place when my resume and the other classes are done. I have enjoyed some of the more vocal emails between us and have learned from them. 

I look forward to working with you in the completion of my career project and feel it will be a success. Thanks you for all your help and continued success helping others.
---Mike. W., South River, NJ

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Will Protection Help?.....Or Not?

It was about two years ago when I began learning from  emailers and clients and job seekers in general that unemployed job seekers were being discriminated against.  It’s great to see an issue getting national exposure that we in the career niche have known about for awhile.

Obama’s proposed bill prevents companies with 15 people or more from not hiring someone who is unemployed.  Cheers, right?  Advocates of job seekers have applauded the proposed measure.  But others say it fosters discrimination in favor of the unemployed and may well result in unnecessary litigation. 
According to Wikipedia:  “Unemployment (or joblessness), as defined by the International Labour Organization, ocurrs when people are without jobs and they have actively looked for work within the past four weeks.”  Not hiring the unemployed goes back further than you might expect.

Wikipedia also says that in the 1576 Act each town was required to provide work for the unemployed. The Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601, one of the world’s first government-sponsored welfare programs, made a clear distinction between those who were unable to work and those able-bodied people who refused employment.

I googled various phrases to see what’s happened in the past, but didn’t find much.  In 2006, Gary Aguirre was hired by the SEC, but sued them for not hiring him when he earlier applied for the job.  In 2010, a job applicant asked on a Colorado website if he could sue a company for not hiring him when they required a degree, hired someone who didn’t have one, and he didn’t have one either.  In 2004 a male wanted to sue Hooters for not hiring him as a waiter.
In a 2007 blogpost, one executive advises HR people on how to “delicately” handle the subject of why someone wasn’t hired by issuing any number of vague phrases – none of which are new to so many of todays job seekers.   I can’t count the number of times job seekers have asked me what to do when they have the qualifications, are ignored, and see the job ad remain or even be reposted on a job board.

Personally, I can argue both sides of this.  In deference to the job seekers, I’ve written several articles about the stupidity of companies not hiring the unemployed (here’s the most recent:   In deference to employers, I know from having been a recruiter and now from working with my clients there are an awful lot of job seekers who think they are qualified….and aren’t. 
Companies who don’t hire the unemployed are discounting a valuable resource.  After all, it’s not as if it’s a candidates’ market and thus those who are unemployed are, generally, not the cream of the crop.  These days, there are a lot of very good people who were  let go individually or as a group for reasons having nothing to do with their performance. 

On the flip side, there are going to be job seekers who have a history of not accepting responsibility for their actions and aren’t going to change that if this law goes into effect.  In a world where people sue for spilling hot coffee on their lap, for getting cancer from cigarettes and equally absurd reasons that spend taxpayer dollars and tie up the courts, this attempt at fairness will most definitely have its boundaries tested.
It may well be that a few cases have to be litigated in order to set some sort of a precedent, with or without EEOC guidelines.  This issue isn’t really anything new – it just has a different shape to it. So, whether it’s enacted or not is a moot point, really.  Only in an ideal world will companies consider candidates based solely on their capabilities and credentials, and will job seekers take responsiblity for their decisions and actions and not look for the easy way out.
I’m just wondering………so you sue a company for not being hired and then… get lots of money for not being hired which underlines your lack of interest in conducting  a  productive job search in the first place (and shows what type of person you really are) or you get to work there after all.  You lose either way , no?  
Or you can look at it this way – if they don’t want to hire you because you’re unemployed, it’s not likely to be a place you want to work anyway.  Then you’re at a meet up group and run into the hiring manager who put you in the “no” stack because you were unemployed, you can quietly hope he’s learned something from his earlier decision.

looking for the right answers to the wrong questions?

A  job  seeker sought me out for a consultation last week.  She was feeling lost (not uncommon) about what direction she should go in.  She’d not had any luck turning anything up; her resume hadn’t gotten her any response and she was wondering if she should get another degree or a certification in something and if that would help.  She wanted feedback on her resume.
No response to the resume is a common problem  But the solution isn’t the same from person to person -  aside from probably needing their resume fixed.  Fortunately for her she sought some answers to her questions instead of just running pell mell off into some solution that seemed sensible. to her
The first problem was her resume (which she’d had done professionally.) And after all my questions, part of my solution to her was to refer her to the two people I consider very good at what they do (and I endorse very few professional resume writers).  Despite having seen over half a million of them and the results people have achieved with ones I’ve done, I’ve chosen to no longer do them. 
Her resume was functional rather than chronological – a good choice for her though it was poorly done.  It was hard to read.  The bullet points had no bullets.  They were job description statements instead of ones that really highlighted what she could do and had achieved.  Her jobs were concurrent but only the years were listed, not the months.
She had a hodge podge of job titles, although a steady employment record, and an advanced degree and the result was that you couldn’t tell what she’d done, you couldn’t tell what she wanted, and the degree said “expensive” so the result was that after about 3 seconds, her resume went in the “no” pile.
It was clear to me that her strengths were leading things behind the scenes; making sense out of chaos; pulling a hodgepodge of details together into one organized, cohesive grouping and establishing a prioritized timeline; talking to the different parties and making sure that all groups were represented in a manner that was equitable, agreeable, and satisfying to those involved, etc.
The resume conveyed none of that.  Nada. Zip. Zilch.  So my first piece of advice was to tell her to make sure the new resume writer knew that’s what needed to be conveyed on her resume.  So that handled the resume problem for now.
But an extra degree or certification, such as a PMP, wasn’t necessary – at least not now.  She was more a project manager in theory rather than in an industry requiring that certification and using that title, and not every industry does.  Sometimes project manager is a functional part of another title rather than a formal title and formal job description.   People with this skill (and I’m not one of them) are always in demand – but you have to know that it’s your “thing” and be able to convey that.
So rather than running off to school, I counseled her on how to use for research to pull things up to research titles, industries, requirements etc in searching for opportunities that had those skills as the essence, but in which the industry or company or context varied.  That’s considered looking horizontally rather than vertically.
The purpose of this exercise was to see what the varied titles were – and as I was doing this on Indeed while talking with her, the titles varied greatly – and if there were any trends.
Project Management positions that require PMP certifications are usually vertical – IT; setting up a complex, company-wide safety program (usually manufacturing, nuclear technology, oil & gas, etc); things like that vs a more horizontal focus, that is, companies looking for someone with project manager skills – event planning, marketing communications liason, student development coordinator – all of which pulled up and necessitated a closer look.
I showed her what steps to take, how to asses each result, etc.  Based on her results, then she’d know if she needed to go back to school and  she could decide if she wanted to do that. 
As for the advanced degree and the random assortment of companies and titles – that was easy to pull into one coherent sentence for her to utilize by means of an explanation, but it put a great deal of emphasis on the cover letter, which is where it needs to be handled, and not through a generic one.
I see this problem with so many job seekers and I’m always thankful that the ones who seek me out for a consultation do so.  I applaud them for it too because it means they’re thinking things through clearly enough to not just run knee jerk into the night in some random – but seemingly plausible – way to solve whatever they perceive to be the problem.
But if all she’d done was had her resume redone, her strengths still might not have been uncovered and highlighted.  Or if she’d gone and gotten a degree or certification in something, it could have been unnecessary – especially as she didn’t even know what she wanted to do in the first place. 
If she’d done that and started all over again, she still wouldn’t have had the primary questions resolved and furthermore, the hiring authorities would still be rejecting her resume, not the least because of the advanced degree and how it was interfering with their perception of her because she wasn’t shaping the perception she wanted them to have.
Finding a new job is a skill – and it’s really not a skill many job seekers have, which is why so many of them are operating at about 25%.  Issues they think are one problem are actually an entirely different problem.  If you haven’t properly defined the issue, whatever action you take isn’t going to provide a satisfying resolution or put you any closer to your goal.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let the Beauty of What you Love be What you Do:

Friday night Steve and I went to a great little venue in Pawling, NY, called The Towne Crier Cafe.  It’s an intimate little place with tables up front where you can get a superb dinner and a separate small section in the back if you’re just coming for the show.  They’ve got musical acts there – mostly ones that are on the upward or downward trajectory as the place seats only about 100 people.

We saw Joe Louis Walker - serious rocking blues guy who’s played with Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Muddy Waters, etc – and Murali Coryell (son of fusion guitarist Larry Coryell), and the rest of the band that travel with Joe Louis Walker.
Which brings me to my point.  Friday night, they’d just returned from 6 weeks in Europe.  Saturday morning they were leaving NY to head to Florida for 6 shows on successive nights. Then back north for 1 show in PA, then 4 shows in New York City, then back again to Florida for another 8 shows.    By January 20, 2012.

Artists are driven by what they do.  Musicians, writers, painters – creators.  They can’t not do it.   So what’s the deal with so many other people?  Many of whom don’t see themselves as creators and thus are creating by default?
BusinessWeek ran an article a few months ago that said according to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey, 80% of people hate their jobs.  The article’s question was “Passion or Paycheck?”   I want to know – why do you have to choose?  Because I don’t believe you do.  My clients who do the work aren’t – they’re finding both.

Part of it is the questions you – and I say “you” because I do love what I do, and firmly believe it’s my life’s purpose – part of it is the questions you ask yourself and the beliefs you hold: 

  1. “How can I make money?” ….rather than “What do I love? And how can I make that work for me?”

  2. Flinging yourself at any job ads that look remotely viable and collecting possibilities like marbles, clutching on to them…rather than “What would be my perfect job?  What would it look like?”

  3. “That won’t work.  I can’t do that.  This is the real world.”….rather than “How can I make that happen?”

  4. Limited thinking……..rather than expansive thinking.

  5. Fear.  Job seekers are full of fear.  The way conventional wisdom is advising job seekers these days hugely perpetuates that……rather than self empowerment, being yourself, letting the process taking care of itself, not jumping through hiring companies’ hoops, and realizing you don’t have to sit at the table like a 12 year old who’s been told to eat all your vegetables! or you can’t get up from the table.

When you love what you do and you have your heart and passion in it, the stress isn’t so stressful.  You find ways to create solutions and feel in control of your life and decisions, rather than feeling as if you’re at the mercy of a job that robs you of something….your time, your health, your soul.
It’s no accident that my company and URL is Find the Perfect Job.  I know it’s possible.  I see people who are doing it – like Joe Louis Walker and his group.  I’ve guided job seekers to achieve it.  I’m doing it… and guess again if you think the road has been easy from the moment I chose it.  More like….it chose me and I said “YES!”

There’s more that factors in to being happy, identifying what you love and moving into it.  There’s mindfulness as well.   No matter what you are doing and whether or not you love it, be mindful of the time spent doing it.  Whether you’re looking for another job or just looking, your attitude, attention, and focus contribute to your results.
Whatever you’re doing at that moment, whether you like it or not, choose to do it with love, care, and attentiveness.   This leaves the door open for new ideas and possibilities you might otherwise miss.  It fosters blooming, if you will.  Grumbling shuts things down.  Choose to be involved and connected with what you’re doing, even if you don’t – at that moment – like it.  Sure, when you love what you do it’s easier and more natural, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only time to practice it.

Back to Joe Louis Walker.  I was fascinated watching Murali Coryell play guitar.  After the show I told him it was amazing to watch how clearly he connected with his playing and how that contributed to the music.   He said a lot of people think he’s tuning out the audience. ” Totally not,” I said.  “You’re tuning in the music precisely so you don’t miss connecting with the audience.”   (He closes his eyes and practically goes into a trance)
Am I perfect? Do I do this mindfulness / gratefulness / choice / deliberate-creation-of-my-life thing all the time?  No.  But thankfully, I get a little bit better at it every day in all areas of my life.   When you love what you do, it facilitates that.  So don’t make the recession an excuse.  You’re creating your life.  Doing what you love is possible.  All you have to do is choose to make it happen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When is an Offer Not an Offer?

I received an email from a woman who was “elated about an offer for employment for a long awaited job opportunity.”  She’d been looking for a while and hadn’t been having much luck.  Despite her elation, she went with her instinct and turned down the offer.  
They’d been “sweating” her about coming in for training while she was working notice on her current job.  She felt she needed to have fully resigned one job before she began another.  They countered with they needed to train her before she started with them. 
She wrote, because she wasn’t sure she’d made the right decision.  I told her she absolutely had made the right decision and applauded her for making it.  It takes guts to turn down an offer when you want a new job badly, even if you’re employed. 
That wasn’t a job offer.  It was “sort of” an offer.  It was a dangling carrot.  “Don’t quit your job yet because we want to see if we actually like you before you start, and if we don’t, then you won’t actually be starting, and you’ll still have a job.”
Later she emailed me again.  They’d been calling and “pestering” her.  She wanted to know how to handle it.  Not coincidentally, in this email she wrote  “this company is also known for its high turnover due to its unpleasant working environment.”  So perhaps they didn’t want her to quit because they realized she might quit them first, rather than what I’d initially surmised.
No matter.  Either way, it would have been a losing proposition for her to accept it.  Even if she’d made it through the transition she’d have been there just a few months, and having left her current job…where would she be? Nowhere.
So in answer to the pestering lady question, here’s what I advised:
Don’t give in or second guess yourself- stick with your original decision!  Just say “Thank you very much but I’ve decided to withdraw myself from consideration.  I’m no longer interested.”

If she calls again, repeat the message, but start with “As I said last time we spoke (etc)…”

And if she calls a third time, then it’s time to get a little….not rude or nasty, but certainly emphatically insistent.  “As I’ve told you twice, I am no longer interested in working with your company.  My decision is final.  Please do not call me again as I will not ever change my mind.”
Gotta be FIRM.  Not apologetic, not “nice.”  Just firm.  It’s a FIRM statement.  No room for debate.  As far as I’m concerned, if she calls a fourth time, just hang up on her! 
My point being, that at the point, the one who wasn’t getting it was the pestering lady and her invasive behavior.  If she hadn’t understood and respected the message by then, she probably wasn’t going to.  So why not save your breath and your energy?  
For those of you who might not have gone that route and worried about who knows you and who they know and if it would affect a job somewhere else and what about references and will it have an adverse effect, save your worrying.  The possibility of that is slim.  And quite frankly, anyone that knows this company and is worth working for (small things telling!), would probably call you precisely because you handled it as you did.

Friday, November 11, 2011

You don't really want to find a new job.....Do you?!?

Much of what I teach isn’t just technique, it’s the psychology of the strategy and behavior.  I like to help people see what’s going on with them that they don’t realize.  I also like to give insight into why certain behaviors, actions, and strategies work or don’t work, by showing how hiring authorities and others might interpret or react.

 When I took retained clients, and even still in consultations, so many clients find a lightbulb going off.  Major epiphanies.  It’s great – because they’re reaching out for help, looking to define a problem, and when they’re open to a solution, the wall breaks and information flows through.

Here are some examples of people I haven’t worked with.  They’re just behaviors I’ve observed and noted within the course of doing what I do.


One of the emails I received today was from some one I didn’t know.  It didn’t have a subject line.  I open them – and always check my spam folder – because I don’t want to miss anything legit and I know from experience many people don’t give much thought to the subject line.  Or in this case – any thought.  It was a resume!  It was cut and pasted into the message form.  There was no introduction, no note, no information, no nothing.  


People comment and ask questions on this blog, my facebook community fan page (, and another blog on which I post (  I often comment back and do my best to answer their questions.  Often however, I need more information, and I offer them the opportunity to send me an email with whatever information I request and sometimes their resume.
 Most of them don’t.  Jeff LeFevre, who runs Job Advice Blog, notices the same thing.  When someone offers free help, and is there to answer your question, why aren’t you jumping on that?


I do free Q & A sessions every other Tuesday (  See above post.  Same thing


When I was taking retained clients, and even now on a smaller a la carte or consultation basis, I have people come to me for help.  Most of them are serious about doing what they need to do to get where they want to go.  It wasn’t an easy program.  But there were some who I began to call “Magic Bullet” people.

Usually they were at the mercy of whatever anyone happened to tell them at the time.  Frequently they’d come back to me and challenge what I’d said, and when I shared with them why whatever it was they were asking about didn’t make sense, they said “Oh, I get it.”  Then did the same thing again shortly after that.

They were kind of running around in circles, looking for the easiest way or the perfect way or the “thing” of the moment.  Changing with the wind – every 15 minutes.  They each did one month with me.

Guess what – I’m not naming any names but  all 3 of them are still unemployed over 1 year later.  By contrast, the ones who hung in there with me for 2 months or 3 and stuck with it, became employed.

 My point isn’t that I’m great.  I am great – and I bring results, but I’m not the only coach who does that.  At a certain point – it’s up to you.  So my point is that whatever coach you choose, give it a chance.  There is no magic bullet.   Subscribe to their newsletter, read it a while, and if you like one of them, lock in and follow the program instead of looking for problems and hats with rabbits.


You know the defniition of insanity, right?  I see a lot of that.  Here’s an example: one lady wanted a resume done because she wasn’t getting any results.  But she couldn’t afford my price.  So I gave her some lower costoptions that would help, all the way down to the special report I have on resumes, which is $10.00.  I urged her to do something, if not through me, then somewhere, somehow.

I followed up with her a few months later.  She hadn’t bought anything, done anything or changed her resume.  And she still wasn’t getting any results.  I wonder why?

You get the picture.  Self sabotage.  Unwillingness to chase it down.  Kidding oneself.  Making excuses.  Unrealistic expectations.  Discomfort with change.  Hoping for magic.  Lack of self confidence that continues on a downward spiral.

There’s lots of help out here.  When you’re ready to get serious, face your fears and demons, and make something happen, we’re here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Job Advice: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

ONE – ugly
I’m working on a national publicity campaign, and I was talking with a guy who runs multiple national trade shows.  We were talking about some of the books he receives that people want him to promote.  He said (more or less), “Most aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.  What makes some speaker think they know about how to get a job, I don’t know.  They’re only capitalizing on the market needs.”  Caveat emptor, you know?

 Here’s a good example.  This guy has authored over 55 books.  He’s a national motivational speaker. He’s an exec on a major pro sports team.  All good stuff – and definitely credible.  He’s written a book called “Nail It! Top Ten Secrets for Winning the Job Interview.”  A few of his secrets:

Being prepared.  Exuding self confidence. Display professionalism.  Radiate energy and enthusiasm. Reveal your creativity.  Did anyone not know these types of things were important?  No  word on what types of questions you’ll be asked, what they mean, or what they’re looking for or any insight into the psychological or sales aspects of addressing them.  Caveat emptor!

 TWO – bad

A job seeker in one of the LinkedIn groups responded to the this question: what do I put in the online applications that ask me for my desired salary?

“Just put $1 if ‘Negotiable’ isn’t available. It will be an item on their ‘To Ask’ list and hopefully you can get a better understanding of what they are looking for from your conversation if they don’t offer a salary range.”

Don’t do that.  They’re not going to ask you because they’re not going to bring you in.  You’re going to be jettisoned for being flip.   Assuming you’re interviewing in the same line as what you’ve been doing, then the salary range is roughly in the same area as what you’ve been making.  Put what you’re making now.

THREE – good
 Ten Commandments for Better Networking – an article written by Dr. Ivan Misner, who is the founder and chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization.  His latest book, Networking Like A Pro, is probably very good because….it’s something he knows and it’s what he does.  The article offers very good advice in brief, digestible paragraphs.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving: The Power of Choice

Unemployment is at an all-time high, and here come the holidays, which means stretching money to buy gifts and answering questions from family and relatives about why you aren’t employed yet and what you plan to do about it.           

Those of you who are familiar with me know that while I provide specific direction and advice, I also believe that what you think is what you create.           

Everything is always in a state of flux, constantly changing into new forms depending on the force of whatever causal elements are focused on them. All objects are made up of atoms, which have energy, and are constantly moving.  Atoms, manifested, become substance.           

Simply put, substance is held in place by the power of your attention until – or unless – you create a new thought or desire. An inhabited house retains its essence much longer when lived in, while a deserted one falls apart much faster. Curse your car everyday, and it will give you problems just as surely as plants respond better to loving attention.           

Recognizing that manifestation is an end-product, be aware of what you give your mental and emotional attention to.  But let me be clear: it’s a conscious choice, which is why I talk about knowing specifically what you want in your job. Focus your desire on achieving it. Know what it must be composed of and what it looks like. We are in complete control of the quality of our experience, and to a large extent, the characteristics of it.  

Your situation is what it is. If you don’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude, because you have the power to make that choice. Happiness breeds happiness, sorrow breeds sorrow, and conflict breeds more conflict.

So this holiday season, you can stress out, whine, think about how little money you have, and how everyone else is employed and luckier than you, or you can think about something else – like how much you have instead of how much you don’t have.            

Because no matter what’s going on with you, someone else always has it worse.

Some people who have jobs, hate them and wish they were unemployed, but it’s nice to have a regular paycheck while you’re job hunting, isn’t it?   Others are unemployed and worry about money, but these people have no restrictions on their time.  They can shop in off-peak hours and job hunt full-time.

My point is, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so take whatever it is you don’t like, and choose to find the good in it.

There is something very profound about gratitude – expressing it for the smallest thing and expressing it often. If you think lousy negative thoughts, you have lousy negative things happen to you. If you think thankful positive thoughts, you’ll find little windows of blessings opening all over. Try it if you don’t believe me.

That’s not to say life doesn’t get hard. Be thankful for that too. It’s in times of crisis that we learn who we are, precisely because we have the ability to choose who we want to be in response to the crazy things that are happening to us. Start looking at problems as opportunities. Make that a conscious choice.

Instead of “Why don’t I have a job yet?” say “Hey great! I got an interview!” And it’s not “I can’t believe they didn’t hire me!” but rather “It’s probably a blessing I didn’t get the job anyway. I know the right one is waiting for me!”

Here’s an exercise for everyone – employed or unemployed, happy or unhappy. Pay attention to your speech. Pay attention to your thoughts. Stay conscious in the moment, and see how many times you think or say something negative. When you catch yourself, turn it positive.

Every hour, actively look for things around you for which you can be grateful.  Finish every day by naming five things that happened to you that day for which you are thankful. And yes, I do this too, just before I fall asleep.

It can be as small as discovering you still have strawberries in the refrigerator when you thought they were gone, to suddenly noticing the gracefulness of a bare tree silhouetted against the sky.

Notice what you take for granted: your car starting, having a house when foreclosures are up, having food to eat. You have friends who care, a place to sleep, clothes to wear, and the ability to breathe.  Be thankful, and stop taking these things for granted.

From a child’s simple prayer to exclamations of “Thanks a lot!” the business of being grateful seems like straightforward stuff. Yet recently, research has increasingly studied gratitude and other positive emotions. People who are grateful experience less stress and depression.  They’re less materialistic and more spiritually connected.

A sense of gratitude also has been found to speed healing for people who have experienced loss or trauma. This holiday season, think of all the things you have to be grateful for, and then when the season is over, keep the gratefulness going.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unemployed? Well, now’s not vacation time!

It’s a myth that no one hires during the holidays.  As a recruiter, mid-December through year end was one of my busiest times.  I started doing search in 1985 waaaaaaaaay before cell phones and often spent the day shopping with my sister and running from one pay phone to the next, and on the phone at my parents house at night.

If you think hiring doesn’t happen during the holidays, you’re rationalizing a reason to do nothing.  So another good reason to do something is because most other people aren’t.

Employers often have year-end deadlines, budgets, and tax-write offs that mean they hire you now, but perhaps you begin in January.  One of my clients was offered a job last week.  And today I got this nice email from a guy in Boston named Mike:

Just dropping you a quick note to thank you for the extremely helpful article on Body Language. I received it yesterday in the Net-Temps newsletter which was perfect timing for my second interview at my ideal company. I took your advice, was confident, and visualized success. It was so successful the hiring manager originally was going to get back to me in a few days but I received an offer (and accepted) last night!  So thank you again for your spot-on insight. I know I’m far from alone in whom you’ve helped.

If you must persist in your belief that nothing happens until January 1st at least don’t wait to fine tune or update your resume.  If you consider this to be the calm before the storm, now’s the time to batten down the hatches and prepare.

When January first arrives, every job seeker who has taken a vacation from searching will be fighting for the time of career coaches and resume writers.   Not only will turn around time will be longer than it is now, but in the spirit of economics, prices may be higher as well.

Your resume isn’t something you want to do under duress.  As the primary agent that determines whether you’re contacted by a prospective hiring company or not, it’s not a document that should be slapped together.  

A well done resume tells the story of your unique accomplishments.  It is not simply a list of job descriptions and companies.  It takes time to craft a resume that will bring results to its owner.

Waiting may mean you’ll miss the submission date for the perfect ad you see on January 3rd.  Or it may sour the opinion of a hiring authority referred to you by a networking contact, who wonders why you didn’t update your resume over the holidays while it was quiet.   

While it might seem wise to ask your family’s opinion during the holidays, banish this thought.  Some of the worst resumes I’ve seen have been defended by “I had my friends look at it, and they said it was fine.”  

As a third-part recruiter, I participated in more hirings in six months than most hiring managers did in their entire career.  For the same reason, a professional resume writer, even the bad ones, will generally create a better product than you can.  

How do you know if your resume needs work?  If your ratio of responses to send-outs is more than 1:3, it needs work, and indeed may be only one of several problems contributing to an abysmal ratio.  

To make sure your resume is the best it can be by January 1, send it to several resume writers for a quick critique and a quote.   They’ll always find problems for two reasons.  One, they want your business, and two, there always is at least one problem.  Don’t select by price because you get what you pay for.  Yet some professional writers are exorbitant, which doesn’t imply they know what they’re doing.

Lest you think I’m angling for you to hire me, I don’t do resumes.  I advise, teach, and critique, but I don’t write them.  I can, and have, earlier in my career, and they received praise from hiring authorities, but as a recruiter and now career coach, I’ve seen over 500K resumes in my career.

I do, however, give away a free resume report against which you can measure yours, and see where it falls short – and it will, in at least one, probably more, areas.  Then you can submit yours to various professionals and have a baseline measurement for their responses, gauging if their knowledge justifies their price and works with your budget.

Your resume is the most important document in your job search.  “Good enough” doesn’t suffice.  It’s your brochure against which people measure you, just as you use brochures when you buy a car, select a service, or choose a college for your child.  An excellent resume doesn’t guarantee a “yes,” but a bad one guarantees a “no.”

Get the free report by signing up for my free newsletter – the form is over there on the top right (scroll up)  –>  see?  Easy!

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