Friday, May 15, 2009

Mommy Really Shouldn't Be A Reference

If I had a nickel for every time a candidate's references ended up being a family member or close friend I'd be bathing in the sun on some exotic Caribbean island. Okay, so I'm exaggerating. Considering it takes 100 nickels to make 5 bucks, I'd probably have enough for a super sized fast food meal. Still, it happened too often for my taste.

I know providing references can be difficult. If you've lost track of former supervisors, have worked in a family business, are new to the working world, have a bad experience you'd prefer to steer clear of or have a previous employer with a policy against giving references it's tough. That said, there are ways to address the problem of providing references without coming off as if you are trying to pull the wool over a prospective employer's eyes.

Keep in mind what potential employers hope to gain from references. References aren't just a name and phone number to cross off the list. At least they shouldn't be. Most potential employers are looking for objective feedback on an individual's ability to perform tasks relevant to the job and his overall attitude and commitment in a work environment. In addition, they are hoping to verify the job descriptions, titles and compensation details the candidate provided are indeed true. When it comes to the latter, every company should be able to provide job titles, dates and descriptions when contacted by a other companies. Especially if the request for information comes with a signed release from the candidate. Some companies do draw the line at offering up comments relating to performance. Most potential employers realize the potential to hit a brick wall with those types of questions. That doesn't stop them from wanting a chance to ask though.

When you know you are in a situation where providing a relevant reference is hard, you have to first do what you can on your own to correct that problem. If you've lost touch with former employers, you must make an effort to reconnect. You can accomplish a lot with Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, emails and the phone book. If the problem is having a negative experience with a former employer, you can't run from that. In fact, doing so makes your contribution to the problem more suspect. Sometimes things just don't work out. Preparing a potential employer in a professional way for the possibility a reference may not be your biggest fan goes a long way. More people than not have had at least one person in their professional life they haven't seen eye to eye with. How people handle those situations and more forward is the telling part. If the issue lies more with not having the right kind of reference contacts, then you have to be honest with a prospective employer about your relationship to the references you've provided. If you are new to the working world or come from a family business, it is best to ask the company what types of references they would find beneficial to them. Would customer or vendor testimonials be helpful? Perhaps using teachers or advisors would work?

Bottom line, don't waste a hiring manager's time by having them ask dear old mom to categorize your strengths and weaknesses. It's a lame thing to do and leaves both mom and the hiring manager feeling dumb. Also, if the only people you can come up with to provide testimony to your abilities are friends and family members, it is cause for alarm bells to ring in a potential employer's ears. Alarm bells are best avoided.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Actually, It Is Fair...

This blog is about being uncensored so I'm going to take advantage of that and share a pet peeve of mine. To do that, I need to tell you the story of Alice. At least I think her name was Alice. It's been a while and my brain is dusty.

Alice was a thirty something woman trapped in an 5 year old's mentality. Not a very nice thing to say, I know. I'm not trying to be mean. There is a point to be made. Her knee jerk response to most things in life was "that's not fair!" It's something I've heard my nieces and nephews rattle off frequently. Fortunately my kids are still too young to grace me with that verdict. Alice, on the other hand, was too old to be getting hung up on what didn't appear to be fair. Alice didn't like the fact other people seemed to have 'it', whatever 'it' was, easier than her. She gobbled up way too much of my time pointing out life's injustices.

I have a gigantic issue with the "that's not fair" argument. In my time on this fine planet I've come to realize few things happen in life just because. What may appear on the surface to be better results with less effort is often quite the opposite. Alice was quick to brand those who seemed to have opportunities fall in their laps as lucky and having it easier than her. It's true they may have had it easier than her at that moment, but how did their efforts in the days, months and years leading up to their success compare with Alice's? It was a question Alice wasn't interested in pondering. She wanted to measure fairness in the here and now versus over the course of time.

The fact of the matter is those who put more time into building a network of contacts, strengthening those relationships, enhancing their skills and touting their abilities are going to have an easier time generating positive results when they are looking to do things like land a job or gain a promotion than those who haven't invested the same effort. That doesn't mean they've had an easier road to travel in life. To the contrary, they've actively been stacking the deck in their favor for a while. Perhaps it was intentional. Perhaps it was simply a product of their natural inclinations. It doesn't really matter. The end result was the same. They found themselves better positioned to make things happen for them in the future. Hats off to them.

Those who find themselves pulling an Alice and becoming consumed by how unfair something seems would be better served finding out what the other person did differently than them. More than likely there is something to be learned. I dare say it's impossible that individual's habits, efforts and abilities were identical to the person feeling slighted. Just as with most things in life, when something appears easy to another that person has likely logged a lot of hours to create that illusion. When it comes to job seekers, those who are starting from scratch every time they need to go looking for a job, as was the case with Alice, are inevitably going to find themselves trailing those who found a way to keep themselves visible and in the loop whether they were looking or not.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Job Hunting Is Like Dating

Job hunting is like dating. Don't believe me? In both situations there is a lot of worry over how well you're liked, how to show the right level of interest without coming off aloof or desperate, when to call after contact, how much to share right off the bat and how many other people may also be of interest to the other party. Couple that with nerves and the tendency to say what the other person wants to hear versus what you know to be your honest truth and it sounds a lot like the world of dating I remember. No wonder it can feel like torture at times.

When considering the similarities between dating and job seeking, it makes it easier to see how some take years to find the right long term fit. There are so many options in life and if you can't make short work of figuring out what you really want and what truly interests you it is easy to end up with a string of former relationships in your past. When we are talking business relationships, that can be devastating to one's efforts to find true happiness. Those who can learn from each endeavor and find a positive spin to tie where they've been to where they are going fare much better than those who end up weighed down with regret, bitterness or confusion. Still, it's wise to get it together and do what you can to optimize your job hunting practices so you have the best chance of getting into a business relationship that is more likely to be a fit and go the distance. Being able to put a positive spin on missteps comes in second to avoiding missteps whenever possible.

So what is a job seeker to do? You can start by setting the ego aside and taking stock of how honest you've been with yourself and with others. What can you really do? What do you really like? Why did things really not work out in the past? Second, find a balance between focusing on you and being mindful of the other party. Both companies and job seekers and needs, wants, faults, talents and goals. Ensuring a two-way exchange that promotes the sharing of relevant information necessary for both parties to make a good decision is crucial. Third, when possible, ask questions capable of taking the other party's temperature so you know how interested they are, if others are appealing to them, what you could do to be more of a fit and how/when they'd like to hear from you again. Taking the guess work out and incorporating meaningful and relevant dialogue into the process helps to make it less random and more likely to deliver a positive outcome.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Business of Interviews

What makes for a successful interview? Isn't that the million dollar question. There are plenty of resources for job seekers these days outlining how to look and what to say to increase the odds of a positive outcome. I agree with much of the advice, however, much of it stops short of driving home the most important concept when it comes to interviews.

Before I reveal what is being overlooked, I'm going to clarify what a successful interview is in my mind. Most job seekers would say a successful interview is one where you are eventually invited back or offered a job. True, but it's more than that. A successful interview is one where both parties have learned enough about one another to make a good decision. So, what is this earth shattering nugget of knowledge job seekers are missing? Prepare yourself. Job interviews are a business meeting. It's as simple as that. You knew that already, right? What have you done with that knowledge?

Over the years very few of the interviews I've conducted have felt like business meetings. That's not to say they weren't professional or productive. More what I mean is that they were one sided. I was clearly the one doing the evaluating. I was the one asking the questions, taking notes and gauging how good of a choice the person being interviewed would turn out to be. Most candidates didn't seem to be in the mindset to ask questions of me that would help them better understand the strength of the company, the leadership style of the manager, what events influenced the demands of the position, why people haven't worked out previously and how the company was hoping the person they ended up hiring would contribute to the company in the present and future. When candidates did have questions they were more along the lines of what the benefits or hours would be. There wasn't a lot of meat to what they wanted to know.

Good interview etiquette dictates potential employers be given more opportunity to evaluate than those being interviewed. A candidate taking over the interview and grilling the interviewer would be a bad move. The best approach is to insert a few strategic questions throughout the interview or at its close. Craft the questions around the points made above in a polite and professional way. Listen to and note the answers. Not only will the answers shed light on the job, they will reveal additional opportunities to reinforce to an employer why you'd be the best choice for the job. If the interviewer shares previous employees didn't work out because they weren't able to manage the overtime, you have a chance to reassure the person they would not have that issue with you. If overtime is something you really can't do, then you put that bit of knowledge in the con column for the job and take it into consideration if an offer is made.

Getting into the habit of making the interview as two-sided as possible is crucial. It solves several problems for the job seeker. First, it gets you more engaged in the process. Employers notice and appreciate the applicant who is doing his homework in a thoughtful and professional way. They have a vested interest in you making sure the job is a fit on your end and knowing you are doing your part to make the decision a good one is reassuring. Turnover hurts companies. Second, just as turnover hurts companies, it hurts job seekers too. Explaining a trail of jobs is difficult. Why not do what you can to reduce the potential for surprise developments in a job? Asking better questions prior to taking a job could very well help applicants avoid opportunities they'd eventually be fired from or would want to quit. Third, it gives the job seeker more to weigh when a job offer comes in. It's not uncommon to hear candidates say they don't know what to do once an offer is made. That is usually a result of not having enough information to consider. How can one know if the compensation is fair or how good of an opportunity the job will be in the long term without fully understanding the responsibilities, culture and future potential?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Let's Talk About Portfolios

About 5 years ago there seemed to be a dramatic increase in the number of candidates bringing portfolios to interviews. What had been a practice primarily for marketing and creative types became more frequent across other professional lines. At least that was my experience. More individuals began to see the benefit of having samples of their work with them as proof of their abilities. Portfolios contained all sorts of samples of the candidate's work: letters, reports, art work, database screen shots, spreadsheet formats, event invitations, articles, newsletters.

Providing potential employers with an opportunity to see first hand the work you've done has its advantages. It can be reassuring to have more than an applicant's word, or the word of a reference, to consider. That said, those choosing to share a portfolio should take a few points to heart before doing so.

The first thing to consider is how much content to provide. If it makes an audible thump as it hits the interviewer's desk, it's probably overkill. Portfolios should be a sampling, not all, of your previous work. You want to give the person a general idea of your abilities without committing them to hours of reading your autobiography.

Second, be aware of what content is relevant to the job you are applying for. Showing off samples of work unlikely to be associated with the position is wasting time and risks sending the message functions other than those offered are of greater interest to you.

Third, be mindful of confidentiality. If the samples provided contain sensitive information it could lead the interviewer to conclude you lack judgment in protecting a company's privacy. It is safe to assume samples from your next employer will end up in your portfolio. Few companies are going to be comfortable with the idea of former employees floating around internal documents, competitive information or financial details.

Fourth, any work represented as yours absolutely must be. Getting caught lying about what you've done is disastrous and embarrassing. As with any aspect of your job search, keeping it honest is the best choice. Honesty and integrity are still of great value to employers. Employers are open to training employees on the things they don't know. They aren't open to reforming liars.

Finally, your portfolio should highlight your abilities without revealing all of your ideas for ingenuity. You want to hold enough back so the company has incentive to hire you versus simply taking your ideas and implementing them without you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finding Your Value

We all have value. When enduring a job search, it's easy to lose sight of that and struggle with a positive attitude. The process of losing a job and finding a new one is riddled with bullets of rejection. What's worse, sometimes you don't even get rejected. You get nothing. Your efforts and actions aren't even acknowledged. What's a job seeker to do?

The most important thing a job seeker can do is to find their value and pass it on to others. You can't sell your value to potential employers if you lose the ability to see it yourself. In fact, that is likely why it gets more difficult to find a job as time goes on. The job seeker, who is the head salesperson assigned to the task of marketing himself, has lost faith in the product. A sales effort absent enthusiasm and confidence rarely delivers results.

Everyone has something to contribute to society and it is important to get your mind around your talents and abilities. Be honest with what you bring to the table. Selling yourself in an untruthful or unrealistic way doesn't work. Focus on what is real and turn that into opportunity. Whether it's brain, brawn, imagination or passion, there is likely a buyer out there interested in what you have to sell so long as you've packaged the product in an appealing way and conveyed your value effectively. Rejection doesn't erase your true value. It simply shows as a salesperson you've failed to find and connect with the right buyer. Avoid changing your view of yourself and opt for changing your strategy for identifying and reaching out to prospective employers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Tests You Didn't Know About

If you ask job seekers if they've ever been tested when applying for a job you usually hear 'yes.' Potential employers are using all sorts of tools to measure and evaluate candidates. Personality assessments, typing tests, software proficiency applications, grammar/spelling/math quizzes and the list goes on. These are the tests candidates are aware of. Are they the only tests though? Maybe. Maybe not.

With so many candidates to consider for job openings, recruiters and hiring managers often build their own private tests into the hiring process to help weed out prospects. Maybe they are noting arrival times to an interview, typos in a resume/cover letter, how the candidate behaves while in the lobby awaiting their interview, an individual's timeliness with follow-up requested in an interview and such. Reviewing candidates this way can heavily influence the opinion of a hiring manager. Passing a test you know you are taking is one thing. It's more impressive to pass those unknown to you.

I'll tell you about my secret test. If every candidate I've ever interviewed got together to compare notes on their experiences with me they would notice one thing they all have in common. I found fault with each and every one of them. No matter how fabulous I felt candidates were in skill set or presentation, I intentionally criticized something about them and noted what happened. Why would I do that? I'll tell you. My experience as a manager convinced me one of the biggest obstacles to growing people in their jobs and having a successful environment was an employee's inability to take constructive criticism. I wasn't expecting candidates to cave and agree with my take. Not at all. In fact, several times I wouldn't have agreed with it either. I just wanted to see how they handled themselves when their work, opinion, demeanor and attitude were challenged. Those who were able to respect my logic or counter my opinion in a professional and open minded way passed. Those who got defensive or combative failed. It was that simple. If I felt the person would learn from the experience, I'd let them in on the test they just failed. There were some who were so indignant I didn't even bother.

For those who may be wondering how to tell when you are being tested, I would encourage you to assume you are and always do your best to be accurate, open minded, timely and professional with your job search and with your careers. It should be the goal whether you know you are being tested or not.

Monday, May 4, 2009

If You Don't Know, I Don't Know

Through the course of my career I've frequently encountered the job seeker who doesn't know what he wants to do professionally. "What do you think I should do?" That is the question inevitably tossed my way. Lovely. What do I think a relative stranger who I've known a grand total of an hour or two should do professionally? What's going to bring them satisfaction? What's going to be in line with their skills and challenge them to grow? What's going to meet their financial needs and better position them for the next path they'd like to take in life? The answers to these questions are the same. I haven't a clue. Not a one. I could guess, just as the candidate could guess. Who is more likely to have the better guess, the recruiter or the job seeker? I'd say the job seeker.

There are a number of reasons why people find themselves with no clear idea of where they should go in their job search. Below are the most common offenders.

Just Graduated: Those entering the working world at a professional level are often trying to figure out how to use the brand spanking new degree they paid so much money for. They either have a background they don't know how to translate into a job or they've made the unfortunate discovery the degree they poured so much of themselves into doesn't really interest them or go along with a job they'd like to do. It's unfortunate, but it happens.

Need a Career Change: Others have established careers but they have a desire to try something new. The 'new something' is a mystery. They know more what they don't want to do than the contrary. This is a tricky bunch because they often get caught up in the negatives of where they've been and why they don't want to go that route again. Disappointments and frustrations tend to dominate the conversation. This isn't always the case, but it happens enough it is worth a mention. If they don't have a good edit button or an awareness when the conversation has slanted too far to the' why my former employer was an idiot' column, they end up being the people you can't wait to break free from. Their lack of direction coupled with their negative disposition drain you down to the very last drop. It breaks my heart at times because I know there isn't an intention to be toxic. They are simply so lost in their situation they haven't a clue they are emitting so much ick.

I'll Take Anything: Bringing up the rear are those whose uncertainty of what to do next stems more from a desire to please and appear flexible than indecision. This would be the "I'll take anything" crowd. I love the eager attitude and opened mindedness, but it does come off more as unfocused than flexible. It also puts those on the sidelines who are trying to give direction the impossible task of pointing the way to some unknown destination. Never mind that it's not exactly true, either. I'm pretty sure I could list a few 'anythings' that would be a no-go. Just a hunch. The "I'll take anything" angle is just as much of an extreme as the person who outlines what they are looking for to the extent they've limited their options to about .05% of the jobs that exist on the planet. Extremes are best avoided in the job hunting process. Landing squarely in the middle is ideal.

How do those who struggle with what to do next find an answer? The best way to solve the mystery is to stop trying to come up with a job title and focus more on what functions, conditions and responsibilities are bell ringers. Dedicate less time to outlining what you don't want. Instead, cling to the things that appeal and see where they take you. Start broad and narrow down. Do you want to be in front of customers or behind the scenes? Are you an idea person or an implementer? Is leading your passion or would you prefer to support another? Are you technical or do you lean more to the creative side? Do you want a lot of responsibility or would you prefer something where you simply show up, work and go home with out much to worry about? When candidates answer some of these basic questions it helps them narrow the playing feel and it allows them the ability to paint a better picture of what they are looking for to others without having to go into what they don't like. It shows a better sense of what they want and what they are prepared to do, even if they can't specifically commit to a job title.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

About Compensation

As I mentioned in an earlier post, compensation should be tied to the level of work an individual is doing for a company. What value does the company gain from that function? How does that role or that person's skills affect the bottom line? What is the street value for that person's abilities? How much would it cost to replace the person?

Compensation shouldn't be a number picked out of the clouds. If companies are smart, they are considering all of the above when preparing to make an offer to a candidate. It isn't uncommon for companies to set a range at the beginning of the hiring process that they'd like to stay within. Budgets matter. The range doesn't have to be set in stone, however. If you are a candidate who finds himself at the top of that range, or even above it, you aren't necessarily out of luck. You simply have the challenge of illustrating how your specific skills and abilities will have a greater return for the company than those of less expensive candidates. If your experience makes you better able to gain/retain/recapture business, you can positively affect that company's bottom line. If your capabilities are broader, perhaps you can take on more functions. Perhaps you have a knack for streamlining processes, negotiating more favorable business contracts and identifying wasteful spending within an organization. Highlighting all of the ways spending more money on hiring you will net them more money in the long run definitely perks the ears of decision makers who are smart enough to think big picture.

I can't stress enough the importance of keeping any discussions on compensation focused on your abilities and the financial impact you can have on the bottom line. It should never be about your bills and the financial obligations you have to meet. Yes, it may be about that in your head, but it can't be about that between you and an potential employer. "I need to make X amount because of my mortgage and car note" is your business only. You wouldn't expect a company to pay you less if you had fewer financial obligations, right? Can you imagine? "Since your house and car are paid off we're going to offer you $10,000 less." That would be insane. It's just as ridiculous for a candidate to justify their salary requirements with a detailed account of their debt. Keep it about the position. Keep it about the bottom line.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How Much Are You Looking To Make?

"How much are you looking to make?" It's the question most job seekers dread. Say too much and you might be ruled out. Say too little and you might get stuck earning less than the position had the potential to pay. What is a person to do?

One thing to do is to avoid being too specific with an answer before more is known about the actual job. Often times candidates are being asked up front what their salary requirements are. Considering compensation is supposed to correlate directly to the level of work performed, how on earth can a candidate intelligently answer what he would expect to be paid for a job when he doesn't even have a full understanding of what it involves in the beginning? Quite simply, he can't.

When potential employers ask this question they are essentially trying to gauge if you are even in the ballpark of what they are prepared to offer. Is it worth going through the motions with you or would any effort be for nothing since your expectations are too far off from theirs? There is a solution. You can satisfy their curiosity by letting them know what you've typically made and then suggesting you'd be able to give them a better idea if you would expect more, less or the same for the position once you have a greater understanding of what the job actually entails. Keep it short and sweet. Try not to elaborate too much from that. It tends to paint a picture of uncertainty when confidence is what we are going for. With an answer like that, you've given them a number to chew on, you've avoided committing to a number and you've sent the message you are flexible and fully understand how compensation should be tied to the level of work being done.

Been There...Done That

I've given a number of workshops over the years to job seekers. Topics have typically covered things like resume/interview techniques, networking your way to new opportunities and adding sales strategies to standard job seeking activities. Most of the content has been pretty straight forward. Finding a job isn't rocket science. It's mostly an exercise in creativity, consistency and organization.

It wasn't uncommon to have at least one participant with a furrowed brow and scrunched up face. As ideas were shared you could tell the person wasn't buying it. Some would simply sigh or tap their pen on the table. Others were more vocal. "I've done that before and it doesn't work."

One such participant was Theresa. I could tell at first glance she was carrying around a negative and defeatist attitude. She wore her frustrations with her job search on her sleeve and heaven help anyone who dared to breathe a positive sentence in her direction. Theresa had been out of work for 3 months and had few to no bites on her resume. She'd tried it all. Nothing was working. She was all to happy to point out how flawed my ideas and strategies were at several points in a presentation.

Now, I'm a humble person. If someone thinks I am wrong or an idea I have is bad, I'm okay with them saying so as long as they don't mind backing up their point of view with some information. When I asked Theresa to tell the group about her experiences using these ideas a common theme developed. Theresa had indeed tried just about everything...once. If she tried something and it didn't give her good results she dubbed it a dud and moved on. That strategy is almost always a bad one. When you think of all of the important things we've had to learn to do in our life, few of us experienced success with our maiden effort. If humanity made a habit of scrapping things after one try, we'd still be in caves drawing cute stick figures on walls.

Theresa wasn't lazy. She wasn't mean or hard-headed. She was simply one of many who had found herself adrift in unfamiliar seas. Her fear and uncertainty over her situation made it easy for her to cling to the negative and run away from things that scared her. The biggest fear job seekers often have is of rejection. Something not working on the first try equates to "I tried it and I got rejected and I'm not going to do it again." Part of me understands. Really and truly, I do. I realize, however, the importance of picking yourself up and doing things over and over until it is perfected. The more you do something, the better the statistical probability of a positive outcome.

Job seekers need to make a conscious effort not to fall into the same mental trap Theresa fell into. The biggest obstacles in her job search were her negativity and her willingness to throw in the towel quickly. Not only did they take a lot of steam out of her job search, they carried through to her demeanor and sent a less than glowing message to networking contacts and potential employers.

Harry the Unknowing Thief

I've met many a thief in my life. Most were clueless of their criminal ways. They floated through life robbing others of time and opportunity. It's not that they intended to be thieves. Far from it. They were so wrapped up in themselves, they simply didn't have the awareness of what they were taking from themselves and others. The thief didn't overpower his victim with a gun, knife or blunt object. It was his mouth. Plain and simple, he overwhelmed others with his inability to keep conversations brief and on topic. He monopolized any and all conversation with details upon details of his unfortunate circumstances or vast efforts to find a job.

Harry is a good example of the unknowing thief. He's a lovable guy who has found himself in the uncomfortable position of looking for a job after years of solid employment. Harry knows networking with others is the best way to find opportunities. Harry isn't comfortable with networking though. It scares him to death and his pride is already suffering as a result of losing his job. He sets all that aside and forces himself to get out there when he'd rather be under a rock. Harry definitely deserves a pat on the back for that. Many would have gladly remained hidden, all the while hoping something amazing would drop in their lap.

Where Harry comes up short is in his willingness to take any show of interest or kindness by others as a green light to unload 'the story of Harry' from start to finish. It's an easy thing to do. When you are nervous and find a safe person to interact with so you don't have to feel alone or awkward at a networking event, it is hard to let go of that person. You see their smile and their nods of agreement and fail to notice the frequent watch checks, glances around the room and polite attempts to close the conversation and move on. It's important to keep in mind in networking situations people are interested in making valuable connections with as many people as possible. Getting stuck with one person for 10 minutes, let alone an hour, can be devastating and dramatically reduce the number of leads a person walks away with. Depriving people of the chance to mingle and meet others is robbing them of opportunity. That is hardly the best way to make a good impression. If a person can't wait to get away from you, you can bet they will try to avoid you in the future. In the world of networking, that's a total bomb. Add to the mix for every person whose time Harry is monopolizing he is also robbing himself of the chance to meet and connect with others.

So, how can you avoid being a Harry?
  • First of all, be aware of how much talking you are doing and how much of a person's time you are occupying. If you find yourself monopolizing the conversation, start asking questions and shift the direction of the conversation. Pick questions where the answers will interest you so you are more inclined to listen. It's easy to tell when people are just asking questions for the sake of talking and not paying attention to the answers. People like to talk about themselves and they like to know they are being heard. Everyone needs a chance to be the focus for networking relationships to work.
  • Remember the goal of leaving people wanting more. If you tell them everything in one meeting, there is no reason to connect with you again. The most important things to exchange are how to get in touch with one another and what types of information/situations are beneficial to hear about.
  • Leave any and every 'woe is me' story at home. People need to be able to figure out what they can do for you and you need to figure out what you can do for them. Sharing frustrations or unfortunate experiences accomplishes none of that. It just weighs conversations down and leaves people fantasizing about a stiff drink.
  • If you are hanging on one person because you don't know anyone else or are afraid to approach others, go work the corners of the room. That's where all of the other scared people are hanging out wishing someone would strike up a conversation with them. You can cover a lot of ground and build up confidence doing your best to introduce yourself to corner dwellers at an event. Just be prepared to find a way to move on from the conversations. They are likely thieves as well. Once someone is paying attention to them, they may find it hard to give them up too. Introduce them to the person you met prior to them and move on to the next corner.

Why This Blog

With over 10 years of my professional life spent in the recruiting industry, I've crossed paths with a lot of job seekers. The numbers are easily in the thousands. Over time many of the names and faces have become a blur. The mind can only hold so much. There are standouts though, good and bad. I'm creating this blog to talk about the good, the bad and the blurry.

I thought it might interest people to hear what made people memorable and what made people forgettable. There is a lot to be learned from other people's successes and mistakes. The best way to make sure that happens is to offer my experiences in a candid and respectful way. Some of the stories I have to tell are funny and inspiring. Others are heartbreaking and maddening. Most are ordinary in nature. I personally find the ordinary more interesting and thought provoking than the extreme. It's all good though.

As you read my musings, be prepared to feel offended at times. Though the people I'm writing about are likely not you, they may be you where it counts. Their actions and choices may be yours. Please don't feel judged on these occasions. Lay your defenses down. None of what I share here is done with malice. It's done with a sincere heart in the hopes people can grow and find an easier way to get out of the unemployment line.