The Science of the Job Search


My wife is a science teacher and she is always teaching / reminding me about how God made the world.  Usually when we think of momentum we think of the locomotive pulling all of those train cars and how difficult it would be to stop them or when you are moving you have momentum.  But did you realize that momentum also KEEPS you from moving.

Newton's First Law of Motion: I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Law of Inertia

So if you are not DOING anything then you are in a uniform state of motion.  What is going to be the inertia that you apply to change your current state?  If you are in a job search are YOU doing anything to affect change?  What is force that you are going to apply to change things.

Newton talks about external force because he applied his “laws” to inanimate objects.  What about you?  Are the only forces that come to bear external?  A friend of me starts many of his prayers with “Jesus in me…”  God is in us, how will we allow him to move us?

James 1:6 ...the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 3:4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

Start today, do you want to be a wave on the sea or a ship? CHOOSE to move.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.
Dalai Lama


Don’t be a donkey in your job search

I about fell out when I heard someone ask “What are you guys doing?  You’re just donkeying around over here.”  I asked “we are doing what?!”  He said “you all are just hee-hawing over here and you ain’t getting jack-$#!+ done.”  I died laughing, then I got to work.

Don’t be a donkey

If I am real honest with myself I am sometimes a donkey.  I don’t mean I am being an ass (although I have been told I do that too) but how many times do I talk big only to not follow through on things.  More times than I like to admit.  So how do you stop all this hee-hawing?


If I do not work at it I will be busy all day and not get anything done.  Usually it is because I lack focus.  Sure I make a list of things I want to accomplish but do I check back with the list or do I let the day run me?


I have written about journaling before.  It is not the dear diary that I use to think of but rather mindfulness.  It helps me set my priorities for the day and week.  It also helps me focus on what is important.  I took the lead from the five minute journal the Tim Ferriss talks about and I have added some God stuff 🙂  I also took an idea from QOD, I take time at the end of each day to write down ideas.

Do at least one thing…

That gets you excited!  It may be listening to music, watching funny AFV clips, playing a video game, reading your kid a story, whatever it takes to make you smile.  Let’s admit it, looking for a job sucks.  It is like asking a bunch of people out on dates only to have most of them totally ignore you.

Small bites

Break those big goals down!  If you keep thinking “I’ve got to find a job” you are going to psych yourself out.  If you feel overwhelmed pick a place and get started.  Start building some momentum.  If you feel out of control start by picking something you can control. The main thing is to start by doing something!

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
Francis of Assisi

Job search Journal

I mentioned Tuesday that journaling can keep you focused, track wins and help you in your job search.  The idea came from Tim Ferriss @tferriss and the Five Minute Journal.

A Journal <> Diary

When I first heard the word “journaling” I had images of the little diaries that kids had in the 1900’s with a little lock on them.  Journaling is different… it is for grown ups 🙂  But seriously, it is different in some ways and the same in others.  Journaling enables requires you to focus on what you want to do and what you have done.  Very rarely these days do we take the time to plan what we want to do, celebrate the wins or learn from our misses.

I am working on a job search journal that will be downloadable for free from my website that should launch in February:

Large dark logo desk

Here are the areas I think a job seeker needs to journal about and focus on:

  • Goals for the week; Jobs applied for, New contacts, Follow ups, Power-Ups and New prospects.
  • Today I want to…
  • What would make today great?
  • What could I have done better in my job search today?
  • What did I do well in my job search today?
  • Ideas from today
  • Three new things I learned today.

I am also throwing some personal and spiritual things in as a job search is about you as a whole person, not just the poser that you are at work.  Journaling should help you focus in the morning and then review your day at night.

If you are reading this and you have some other ideas on what to journal about, let me know.  Just keep in mind, it should take less than 10 minutes.

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
Winston Churchill

Are you playing offense or defense in your job search?

I am in the middle of listening to a follow up podcast from Chris Sacca on the Tim Ferriss podcast.  Chris @sacca talks about “getting down to business” at the 14 minute mark.  This also rings true in the job search.  Caution for those with sensitive ears, there is some big boy language.  How often do you get sidetracked or distracted from your job search?  I bet a lot.

First, the reasons behind it…  I have not met anyone that likes the process of looking for a job.  It is like cold calling for sales people or looking for a first date with someone.  Yes, sometimes the hunt can be fun but that is once you find the tracks or you find the person you want to ask out.  Looking for the tracks or looking for that person, not so much.

Secondly, it does not feel productive.  You are probably looking at the entire elephant that you need to eat.  AKA finding THE JOB.  Notice I say, THE job not A job.  If you only have the job offer as your only goal that finish line may be weeks or months off and makes the day to day toil of the job search tough to endure.  You need to knock that goal into smaller pieces.  You need to start doing a job search journal to track your goals.  More on that later this week.

Thirdly, we are wired for distraction these days.  You need to figure out how you work and focus best.  Some people need a quite place.  You may need noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs.  Or as Chris Sacca does, play one song on repeat to help you focus on your task at hand.

On to the solutions…

Create digital space

You need to turn off all digital distractions.  Chris Sacca @sacca suggests a software solution: Rescue Time @rescuetime.  It helps by not only preventing some distractions but it helps by tracking where your time is spent so you know where to INVEST your time.  Chris goes on to say that you need to turn off the notifications on your phone and other devices while you focus.

Are you on offense or defense?

Offense is when you are doing things that you assign yourself.  Defense is when you are doing things to please others.  Offense is what you GET to do and defense is what you HAVE to do.  It may just be as simple as making that mental shift from what you MUST do to what you CAN do.  Who is writing your to-do list?  Yes, it is a good idea to check the job boards but all the signs point to the fact that job boards may be one of the least effective uses of your time.  That is not to say don’t use them, just plan your time and set a limit.

Playing offense is tougher.

You can’t win by just playing defense, you must get some points on the board.  But guess what?  Offense it tougher and takes more planning.  Defense is primarily reactionary.  You need to not only plan and set your goals but you need to plan the execution.  HOW are you going to get it done?  What are your priorities?  Are you waiting on jobs to come open or are you seeking out opportunities?  What are you doing to make things happen?

So take a few minutes today and ask yourself… “am I playing defense or offense in my job search?”

Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Why are you SO busy?

If you are like me there is not enough time in the day to get it all done. I have often times said “if there were 36 hour days and 9 day weeks I could get it all done AND have 3 day weekends!”  But I recently realized that the problem is with me, not the clock or the calendar.  Let me explain.

This goes back to one of my favorite quick reads for teams from over a decade ago: “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.”  This is a favorite of mine for a few reasons.  The first of which is that “monkey” is the funniest word in the English language.  My boss in Seattle shared this fact with me.  He then proceeded to explain the extensive research he and some other VPs at the company had done to come to this conclusion.  Needless to say this “research” was done in Las Vegas, but I admit it is hard to say “monkey” without at least a little  smirk.  Back to the content of the book.  It explains how tasks, projects and to-do’s are monkeys that end up on someone’s back.  It turns out that some of us are habitual monkey pickeruppers.  We might also be known as people pleasers, multi-taskers or go-getters.

It is either HELL YES or it is no.

Guess what? If you are always busy then you don’t have time to do the things you REALLY want to do when they come along.  At 57minutes into his interview, Derek Sivers tells Tim Ferriss his views on being busy including how he decides what to say yes to. Caution to those of you with sensitive ears, there is some big boy language in the podcast. Derek boils it down to that one statement, if you have an opportunity and you don’t think to yourself “Hell Yes!” then you should say no.  We need to get busy deciding what we WANT to do or what we GET to do rather than what we HAVE to do.

Telling someone you are too busy means that you do not have control of your life and you have unclear priorities. But I get it.  If you are like me you are working for The Man.  You nor I get to decide what we do at work or when we do it.  Or do we?  If you are like me, work is not an 8am to 5pm work day with a nice little lunch break in the middle.  I have a choice.

If the problem is not me then I cannot fix it.

I say this to myself a lot and if you follow me you read it a lot. I write it and say it a lot because it is TRUE.  You are busy because of you, NOT because of others.  How about the friends who want to go to lunch each day?  Could you maybe get involved in that cool leadership project if you ate a quick PB&J at your desk and spent that hour researching leadership development programs?   Or maybe you get to work at 8am because you sleep till 6am due to the fact that you were binge-watching Arrow or you just had to see THAT game?  If you had gotten up at 5am you would have made it to work at 6:45 (your commute is a lot shorter without traffic) you would have time to watch some of those Lynda courses your mentor recommended.  We all have choices.

So, the next time you have an “opportunity” to do something or to pick up another monkey ask yourself… are you thinking HELL YES! or should it be a no?

Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to.
Rob Bell

How to be patiently persistent in your job search

I have said it before and I will say it again… the job search is often times like dating.  It is this crazy stupid game that you must play to get what you want.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

I could write about how you SHOULD be patiently persistent or what MIGHT work but I would rather tell you a story about someone that did an AWESOME job of being patiently persistent in their job search…

I appreciate you following up with me but…

I was over Washington State recruiting for the largest recruiter of recent college grads in the US.  One big issue was that a lot of people moved to Seattle for one rainy season and then they would leave.  It only rains 10 months a year!  So we very wary of transplants.  The positions in question were heavy in sales and customer service.  One applicant was currently living in Chicago and had never worked in sales or customer service, so I shot them down based on their resume/application without ever talking to them.  Side note… I have always done my best to respond to EVERY applicant.

The candidate emails me back a day later thanking me for letting them know that I was no longer pursuing them as a candidate.  They then laid out why they wanted to work for us and asked if I would consider them again.  The email was well thought out.  It also showed they had done their research on the position and the company.  So I set up a phone interview.

They were nice and seemed very interested in the position, career path and the company.  But still… no customer service, no sales and they were moving to Seattle.  No go.  I once again notified the candidate that we were not pursuing them further.  Once again, they followed up.  This time by phone.

They let me know that they would be in Seattle for a week, looking for a place to live.  The applicant asked if I would meet with them for a face to face interview while they were in town.  They said they understood my concern about their lack of experience but that they really did want the position and they would be successful in our environment.  I acquiesced.

At the end of the face to face the candidate asked the question I love… “Do you feel I am a good match for the position and the company?  Also, do you feel the position and the company are a good match for me?”  I was honest with them.  I told them that I did not feel they would be successful since they had never worked with customers and did not have prior sales experience.  But they persisted.  The applicant was professionally persistent.  I told them that I would send them on to the next interviews (two more) but I doubted they would be hired.

I was wrong.  We hired them and they were right, they did a great job.  Without their patient professional persistence we would have missed out on a great employee and they would have missed out on what became the beginning to a fantastic career.

It is up to you, not the recruiter.

As a recruiter it is my job to attract and screen potential candidates.  Did you notice that I used both the word applicant and candidate in the story?  An applicant is someone who applies, a candidate is being considered for the position.  Are you going to be an applicant or a candidate?


A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.
Jim Watkins

How to stand out as a candidate

I talk to a lot of candidates and I hear their frustration.  I know it sucks looking for a job.  Guess what?  It sucks looking for employees too.  For those of us that are in recruiting for the right reasons it is painful.  I truly want to find someone for each position that will be happy and successful in that position.  I want each employee to be excited about coming to work AND I want them to positively impact our customers, their coworkers and our bottom line.  But sometimes I need some convincing that you will do that.

Knowledge, skill and ability tells me you CAN do it.  Drive tells me you WILL do it.

Looking at a resume primarily tells me about your KSAs; knowledge, skills and abilities.  Remember, that is CAN you do the job.  Yes, it can also tell me a little bit more but primarily it just tells me what you have done in the past.  A resume SUCKS at telling me about your potential.  I think your PASSION and DRIVE tell me about your potential.  Sure, your resume can TELL me what you are passionate about, but guess what?  Some people lie on their resume.  I know, I know, not you… it is those OTHER people ruining it for you.  I need you to SHOW me your passion and drive.

It is notable to mention that without a good resume you often times do not get a chance to show your passion and drive so don’t skip the basics.  Your resume, Facebook page, website or tweets ARE you until we meet you, so be sure they ALL reflect the best you.

You talk the talk but do you walk the walk?

So, what do I mean when I say passion and drive?  I want a candidate that WANTS the position.  I often ask candidates “Why do you want this position and to work for us?”  One of my biggest turn-offs in is when they answer “I have done it before” or “I know I can do it” or “I like your benefits package.”  You may be thinking “What’s wrong with those answers?”  Let’s change your perspective…

What if someone asks you out on a date and you ask them “Why do you want to go out with me?”  To which they answer one of the following:

  1. I like girls and you are a girl.
  2. I need to take a date to a wedding and I figured you would say yes.
  3. I know you make a lot of money and I like money.

Not getting the warm fuzzies?  Neither is the recruiter or hiring manager.  We want to hear your passion is for what the position entails.  I want to hear your desire for the position.  If you are applying for a position in customer service tell me about how you like the challenge of defusing an upset customer.  Or if the position is in management that you like finding out what makes your people tick and how to help them realize their potential.

But what about before you even talk to someone?  How do you get their attention?  How do you SHOW them your drive and passion?  I will talk about this on Wednesday…

You must be patiently persistent.


Ambition is the path to success.  Persistence is the vehicle your arrive in.
Bill Bradley

When you shouldn’t update your resume…

Never!  You should always update your resume.

As a recruiter I find it frustrating when I call someone that has applied for an opening only to find out that their resume is not updated.  I could understand if I am cold calling them out of the blue or off some old resume I found online but they contacted me!  They took the time to upload or paste their resume but they did not take the time to update it.  They are either currently at a job that is not on their resume or they already left that job.

First, I get it… No really, I do.  Everyone says it is easier to find a job when you are still working and it is.  If a recruiter sees that you are out of work they oftentimes wonder why so you just “forget” to update your resume.

I am a forgiving person so if someone sounds like they may be a good match I am willing to allow them one pass.  So I ask them to update their resume and to bring an updated one to the face to face interviews.  Guess what?  They usually don’t, they just bring the old out of date one!

You so idiot!

At this point you will not pass go no matter how great I think you could be in the position.  Want to know why?  Because you cannot follow directions.  I mean, this is the one that matters most, right?  Looking for a job is bigger than making a deal, bigger than making a sale, it is bigger than filling out that form correctly for the government that could lose us $1m in sales.  So if you won’t take the interview process seriously then why in blue blazes would I let you near my business?

I know you think this is petty but you will until someone at your job affects your paycheck because they forgot to do that thing that you keep telling them to do.


It’s the details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen.
John Wooden

Maybe you shouldn’t start looking for another job

I was reading a LinkedIn article by J. T. O’Donnell and some stats she quoted jumped out at me:

72% of workers would rather work for themselves

86% plan to actively look for a new job this year

Here is a tip… it you want to work for yourself you won’t find THAT in a job search.  I have often times to people with a BS in Entrepreneurship that they didn’t need a degree to be an entrepreneur.  Why do we always think that happiness will come when we are running things or with that next promotion, relationship, or job?  I will tell you why… because happiness happens TO us.  That’s right.  I will be happy when…  relies on someone or something else.

If the problem is not me, I can’t fix it.

When we realize that no one owes us anything then we are on the right track.  I have found that if I am not happy, I am probably not fulfilling my intended purpose in life.  Talking to people about their purpose is like talking about past lives.  Ever notice that people who believe they have lived past lives have usually been someone important?  I have never heard anyone say “yeah, in my past life I worked in a coal mine and before that I was an indentured servant.” Coincidence?  Same goes with purpose.  I don’t hear people say their purpose in life is to encourage others, unless they are a motivational speaker and they get paid for it.  Ever thought that you can fulfill your purpose in spite of your job?  Many people do but most do not.  We let our work define us rather than our purpose.

Nice to meet you, what do you do?

If you keep looking for happiness you will find it, only to lose it again.  But joy can be maintained.  To me happiness is caused by external forces but joy comes from within.  Dan Gilbert talks about happiness in his TED Talk.  Dan shows that happiness consistently wears off.  So what are we to do about this?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

You could continue changing jobs ever two to three years chasing the RIGHT position.  Or you could start your own business and let it own you.  But I think God wants us to figure out what brings us joy then get busy doing THAT!  We don’t have to do the thing that brings us joy all day every day.  We don’t even have to get paid for it.  If you don’t know where to start and you want to feel joy, help someone else.  Making someone HAPPY will bring you JOY.

So before you start your 2016 off by looking for another job take a minute and reflect… where is the problem?


2016 New Year Resolution #1:  Be more awesome than last year