It’s OK to be a good employee, but are you?

My boss and I were talking about possible topics for a Lunch and Learn program we are starting this year.  He brought up a topic that I have a passion about… Many people do not know what it takes to be a good employee AND it is OK to be good, you don’t have to be the best.

What’s next?

It seems we are all looking at what is next.  Some interviewers even ask about this.  Where do you want to be in five years?  What are you goals?  I don’t think goals are bad but many times they are not where we NEED to be, there are where we THINK we WANT to be.  Many times goals are are like that person you always wanted to go out with.  Only, once you are engaged, you realize that they are a self-absorbed muggle.

What if we stopped looking at CONTENTMENT as a bad word?  Sure, if we were all content the economy would come to a screetching halt but I am not worried about that.  There are enough of the self-absorbed Jones-chasing people out there to keep up demand.  I know because I use to be one.  Even now I struggle to not be one.

I want to be good at my job, enjoy what I do, the people I work with and  I want to be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work.

Most people would scoff at those statements.  All the books and self-help stuff tells you to be the best.  You need to climb the ladder and move up.  You need to fight THE MAN till you become the man.  But to what end?  Most of this is just chasing after the wind.  You move up to make more but with that usually comes more responsibility and more stress.  Do you really want to be the person that realizes later on that you missed your kid’s childhood?

Let me be the first person to tell you that good is good enough.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t grow and want to get better but you don’t always need to be looking to move up.  There is a great peace that comes with contentment.  I want to be content with what I have but ready to take advantage of any opportunities that come my way.  I am always looking for better ways to do things but not to beat others and not for the financial rewards.

Who doesn’t want to make a little (or a lot) more money?   But in the words of Ferris Bueller “I said it before and I’ll say it again. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  No matter what you think happens after this life, you only get one shot at this one and you don’t want to miss it.

The question isn’t what are we going to do. The question is what aren’t we going to do.
Ferris Bueller

2 attributes you must have in your job search

First, I fully admit that I have a lot of skin in this game.  I am not only a corporate recruiter, I am also an employee and soon to be co-worker.  I want us to hire people I want to work with.  Who do I want to work with?  The people I like working with the most have two main attributes…

Self Awareness

This may seem trivial but if it does, you probably don’t have much of it.  I was speaking with a co-worker about this the other day and it seems that very few people can get out of their own skin.  They see everything through a myopic point of view.  They are just in their here and now.  There is no thought given to how others will see things or how their actions will affect the future.

I confess, I sometimes have this same issue but I work to seek others’ input and get their points of view.  Yes, sometimes it hurts.  Sometimes I feel like yelling “But you just don’t understand!  You are being selfish!”  Newsflash… we are all selfish.  This started in a garden long, long ago and it is still true today.

We all need to take time to reflect.  Try to see your own perspective from outside.  What if someone else said what you just said?  What if you received an email like that?  As my Mom says “If the problem is not with me, I can’t fix it.”


Guess what?  Crap happens and it happens often.  Let’s look at my own life… One of your kid’s goes deaf in one ear, your family takes a 60% pay-cut, you get Cancer… life happens.  You CAN build resiliency.  It is like a muscle that needs to be exercised.  Don’t believe me?  Just Google it!  There is TONS of advice available from organizations like the American Psychological Association and the Mayo Clinic.

Just like in exercise and sports we all have God-given abilities to start with and some have been given more than others.  For some of us resiliency comes more easily while others must constantly work at it.  Resiliency is not ignoring the feelings and thoughts that created by adversity.  It is feeling them, acknowledging them and then making the conscious decision to set them aside.  The Black Knight is not resilient, he is ignorant.

From there are a few main keys to building resilience….

  1. Get enough sleep and exercise, and learn to manage stress.
  2. Practice thought awareness.
  3. Practice Cognitive Restructuring to change the way that you think about negative situations and bad events.
  4. Learn from your mistakes and failures.
  5. Choose your response.

Want to know the SECRET to interviewing?  Demonstrate these two things in your resume and your interviews.  Sure, there are a lot of other things you need to have and demonstrate to be the best match for a company.  But in my mind, these two are non-starters.

I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.
George S Patton Jr.


There is no ONE right way to interview

Sorry to burst your bubble but everyone looks for something different.  I know this makes the job search infuriating but do you want the truth or do you want a nice story full of lies.  The truth is that there is no one short, easy way to get every job.

What do companies look for in a candidate?

Interviewing and the job search is a lot like dating and courtship.  Companies, and hopefully the candidates, are looking for a long term match.  Keep in mind this does not count for contract positions or gigs but there are still a lot of old fashioned companies looking for people to stay with them.

Do you think that there is just one right way to act with every person on a date? Sure, you know there is one right way to act on a date with you… but what about everyone else?  It works the same way with companies.  Each company and each hiring manager I have worked for, to some degree, have their own definition of “the right way.”

It really helps if you can read people and mirror them.  If someone is joking around a little then maybe you should too.  But not too much.  If someone is more terse and to the point then they may not appreciate your sarcasm as much as your current boss.  You can figure this out, you just need to pay attention.

Boy, you’re just full of good news for my job search!

Right about now you may be thinking “How in the hell do I get a job if everyone is looking for something different?”  First, you need to READ the job description.  I don’t just mean to read over it but be sure you understand what they want in a candidate.  If they look for years of experience you need to figure out what skills they want from those years of experience.  Personally I think strictly defining years of experience that are required is stupid.

Sure, there are some basics that companies look for but I will save that for the next posts…  But in general you need to address what they say they are looking for.  This goes first for your resume.  Remember, the resume gets you the interview.  The interviews get you the job.

Dating is about finding out who you are and who others are. If you show up in a masquerade outfit, neither is going to happen.
Henry Cloud

What is on your NOT to do list?

Tim Ferriss @tferriss brought up a great point in his podcast… Why is it, that all this professional development stuff adds to our to-do list but rarely takes things away?  We need to start a NOT to do list!


Start by listing out all the things you do… from the time you wake up till you go to sleep.  Next try to figure out what is productive (brings life) and what is NOT productive (brings death.)  How about all that TV you watch?  What about the hour(s) you spend on social media?  Are those REALLY bringing you life?  Do they have a positive impact on you and those around you?

Hell  Yes

Remember that one way to cut back on your to-dos is to only say yes to things where it is a “HELL-yes!”  If it is not hell yes, then it should probably be no.  I understand that this runs counter to “Year of Yes” but if you are already stretched thin or there is more you need to get done (a job search) then it is not time for a year of yes… yet.


It might be time to say goodbye to some of the energy vampires in your life.  Don’t get me wrong.  We are all called to minister to people but not to ALL people all the time.  Sometimes you will need to start moving away from people.  If you decide to do this there are two main approaches.

  1. Tell them.  I don’t mean that you need to tell them “how it is.”  You can be honest with them without being mean and hurtful.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt them, or you.
  2. Stop being around them.  This may mean that you need to stop going to some groups you are a part of.  Or maybe you need to change to the early church service.  Who knows what awaits you when you get out of your comfort zone!

So start making your list and start checking them off!

The More you love what you are doing, the more successful it will be for your.
Jerry Gillies

Want to improve your job search? Listen to a Monk.

Joe Desena on the Spartan Up Podcast @SpartanUpPod interviewed a Monk, Dandapani @DandapaniLLC.  He had some great tips on how to achieve your goals.

Happiness is not a goal

Dandapani talks about how you must know where you going or you won’t get there.  He says that happiness is a byproduct of achieving your goals.  I agree that happiness is not a goal that one can achieve by external means.  If you try it will only lead to frustration.  Don’t believe me?  Check out Shawn Achor’s TED Talk.  You will always push happiness over the cognitive horizon.

Do an energy audit

You need to learn how to manage your energy.  The first step is to figure out where, or more likely who, is sucking the energy out of you.  Dandapani goes on to say that the people in our life consume a huge amount of our energy.  People also give us energy.  The trick is to figure out who takes without giving.  Those are the people you want to separate from.

I don’t know if you have figured this out or not but a job search requires a HUGE amount of energy.  You need to identify what Dandapani calls energy vampires.  These are often times not only people but what about your favorite TV show?  Or how about music, books, blogs or heaven forbid… social media!  You need to be intentional where you spend your energy.

Preparation is key

Dandapani talks about how his Guru said that preparation is the key.  Of course his Guru was talking about meditation but this is also true in your job search.  If you do not prepare before applying for a position then you will not have a targeted resume.  If you do not prepare for the company to call you, they can catch you off guard and it might not go well.  If you do not prepare for the interview, you won’t have good answers or questions.  You MUST prepare.  If you prepare then the WORK of the job search is EASY.  As Joe Desena says, “if you are not prepared then you are just reacting.”


If you want to do something well, you need to focus.  Multitasking is a farce.  Multitasking just means you are doing several things poorly at the same time.  This goes back to where you are spending your energy.  When you are in your job search, focus on that.  That will free you up to have time OFF from your job search, which is very important.

This is especially true when it comes to interpersonal skills.  When you are talking with someone you need to FOCUS on them.  Turn off your endorphin device (aka your phone) when networking or interviewing.  How many times has someone introduced themselves and immediately after you do not remember their name?  It is like they said in Karate Kid… “Your focus needs more focus.”


Dandapani has affirmations and mantras that he uses ever day to shape his subconscious.  You need to use positive action phrases.  The words “want” or “like” do not belong here.  Think of Yoda or the Karate Kid.  There is no “try” or “want”.  Use words like “will.”  “I WILL find an HR position that I will love.”

If you want to be successful you need to surround yourself with like-minded people.  First, don’t forget to define success!  You must feel what it will be like when you achieve your goal.  Use the energy of your emotions.  Ever had an awesome interview?  Remember what that feels like?  THAT is what you want to harness.

Be sure you know what the end will look like.  In your job search it could the offer you receive, the first day at work, the first paycheck, etc… That can be and SHOULD be motivating stuff!  AWESOME!

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.
Hanh Nhat Thich, Being Peace 

Job search advice from Shaun White

OK, first I need to make a confession,  @shaunwhite did NOT actually give any job search advice on the @tferriss podcast but he DID talk about what has made him successful and guess what?  It CAN work for you too!

Visualize it

Just like how Shaun visualizes every part of his jump, trick, take-off and landing you need to visualize the different parts of your job search.  What will it be like when the company calls you (phone interview) to talk about the job?  How will it feel when you go to their office for the interview?

Think about:

  • How will it feel
  • What will you say
  • What will they say
  • How will you carry yourself
  • What will you bring

Pick a Battle

You need to have someone to beat.  Shaun talked about a sweet kid who rode for Birdhouse Skateboards who he wanted to destroy.  And this was before Shaun was ten years old!  Anyone want to guess who got that spot on the Birdhouse team?

I don’t know about you but when I have someone to beat I always drive harder.  Would the 1980 US Hockey Team have been as great without the Russians?  Nope.  Would Agassi or Sampras have been as good without each other to battle? Doubt it!  There is a reason that rivalries bring out the best in us.  We are made with the desire for a battle to fight.

It does not matter whether or not the other party knows about this battle but you need to pick a battle.  Who are you going to measure yourself against?  Now go get’m.

Do the Uncomfortable Until it is Comfortable

Shaun confessed that he did not like and was not good at snowboarding switch.  He always wanted to ride with his left foot down hill.  So Shaun committed himself to this challenge.  He rode the opposite way till he was comfortable doing it.

What are the things you need to do or could do in your job search that you find uncomfortable?  Networking? Calling to follow up?  Stop fretting about it and just do it already!

Failures are Opportunities

Shaun looks at his failures as opportunities.  He talks about how many times his new tricks would come from trying a trick and it failing.  You need to become a recycler and re-purposer when things go wrong.

When you don’t get an interview or don’t get the offer, what can you learn from it.  True, maybe it is that the company does not see all the potential that you see but maybe, just maybe you could have done something different.

You Need Someone to be Honest With You

Shaun says that EVERYONE needs at least one person in their life to be honest with them.  For Shaun it is his brother.  That person can push you when you need to be pushed and be there with you when you need support.  But YOU must give them permission to and allow them to be honest with you.

To me, what matters most is where their heart is.  Someone can be honest and even rebuke from a place of love (think Jesus) or from positioning themselves an an authority (think Trump.)

If you are like most people in the world then you lack a degree of self-awareness.  Some lack more than others but we all have a blind spot when it comes to self-awareness.  Because of that we need that person to be honest with us.  It can be everything from “this needs to be the last time you wear that” to “how many potential employers did you talk to this week?”  Being held to account is not always a bad thing.

You take a crash, you get back up and next time you succeed and that’s a great feeling.
Shaun White