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 

I’m thankful but I want just a little more…

morecowbellI heard a definition of success the other day that I really like… “Success happens when you realize that you have more than others.”  Now I know that we ALWAYS want more and THAT is the problem.  I read Ecclesiastes and I think “Sure, sure… having everything doesn’t help fill that hole I have in me.  Easy for you to say.”  But I want to try it for myself.

This affects our job search in ways that we do not realize.  I heard an interview with a career coach that discussed how many of us are constantly looking at on-line job boards, even if we are happy in our current role, which many of us are not.  Why?  Because we all want a little more.  My neighbor has a boat and a lake house.  A friend got a Jeep for Father’s day.  It would be EASY to strive for more and I do, but the reason is what matters.

If we strive for more just to buy more junk then it will lead to death.  Sure, you can work more to make more money, but your family might fall apart.  Just ask Jay Grinney, CEO of HealthSouth.  In an interview with Jeremy Carter on the Bold Future Podcast he says that he regrets all the time he spent working and how it cost him his family.  Or how about the relationships you lose or your heath that deteriorates?

We may be looking for the wrong things in our job search.  We may also be asking the wrong questions in the interview process.  I am not saying you want to jump right in and ask questions without regard for how they come across but you CAN find out the IMPORTANT stuff without being direct.

Time off:  If this is not important to you (and it may not be) then I hope you are single.  Many times you can find this on the company website.

Work schedule: Hopefully they list the work schedule or refer to it in the job posting.  If not look on Glassdoor.com.  You may reach out to someone who is currently in that role at the company.

Benefits:  Again, check the website first.

Pay:  Check out Glassdoor.com or ask people that work there what the “pay range” is for the position.  I would NOT ask someone who is currently in that role but maybe someone who has previously been in that position.

Culture:  This is a BIG one.  Check out their website, Glassdoor, employees on Facebook and LinkedIn.  Look for pictures and comments.

In the end, as with most things, your NETWORK can answer a lot of these questions and help you decide what positions / companies are a good match for you.


Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
George Bernard Shaw

Be authentic in your interviews

authenticOne thing that I have heard a lot about lately is authenticity. We want people to be authentic.  The interview process is no different.  To put it another way, you need others to perceive you as genuine.

As an employer we want people to be authentic, but in a good way.  If you are not a nice person then you could justify being mean as “I’m just being authentic.”  No bueno.  You don’t just want to be yourself,  you want to be the best part of yourself.  I have rarely met people who do not have a “good side” they could show others, if they choose to.  Even Merle Dixon had a good side.

So you ask “how can I do all of the things you talk about in a job search and be authentic?”  Fake it till you make it.  You can tell when actors seem authentic in a role and you know when they don’t.  Think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away vs. The DaVinci Code.

To be authentic you must believe in yourself.  I am not trying to get all warm and fuzzy on you but if you don’t believe in yourself why should anyone else?  I just read a blog post from Lori Deschene at Tiny Buddha about How to Love Your Authentic Self.  The title sounds all tree hugger, otter scrubbing, PETA loving but it has some very good tips:

You are not your mistakes.  I have heard “everything happens for a reason.”  I believe the follow-up to that… “sometimes the reason bad things happen is that you are stupid and you make bad decisions.”  I know I have!  In God’s economy nothing is wasted.

You have nothing to prove.  This comes into play when people ask about weaknesses or mistakes you have made.  You need to own them, tell them what you learned and what you have done and / or are doing to make sure they don’t happen again.

The dark is valuable.  You must have the attitude that Spartan Up! does… you either win or you learn.  You don’t lose.

You matter.  There is a Ted Talk that speaks to this: Our loss of wisdom by Barry Schwartz.  He talks about how janitors at hospitals see their value in their jobs.  Everyone matters, even you.

Positive feelings and actions breed more.  To help yourself, help someone else.  It is a scientifically proven fact that if you help someone else it helps you.  Often times it helps the giver much more than receiver.  You don’t even need to include someone else if you don’t want to.  David Steindl-Rast says “Want to be happy? Be grateful.”  Many of our problems are 1st world problems.

Get out there and meet the you that you want to introduce to others.


Don’t waste a minute not being happy. If one window closes, run to the next window- or break down a door.
Brooke Shields

P.S.  I never thought I would be quoting Brooke Shields 🙂

Professional communications, are times changing?

smileyLee Desser recently wrote a blog post:  Are Happy Faces in Professional Communication So Bad?  Lee brings up a good point… know your audience.

Places a 🙂 would be no bueno

Cover Letter: You want to be professional.  It is much better to be a little too formal with someone than too informal.  I find it better if someone says “you can call me Al” (yes, I have heard that song) vs. “I would prefer it if you would call me Mr. Pollard.”  It is always easier to become more casual.

Resume: You are stating facts, not getting cute.  Be sure you are putting your best foot forward.  You never know who is looking at your resume.  Better safe than sorry.

Introduction Correspondence: If you are reaching out to someone for the first time, start off more formal.  Don’t assume a connection between you two that is not there yet.

Places a 🙂 may be OK or even help

Only someone with whom you have a relationship.  But keep in mind, that relationship must be felt by the person on the receiving end.  It can especially be helpful in continuing a more casual conversational tone.

Let’s say that during your on-site interviews a manager that you seemed to hit it off with jokes that he takes the closest parking spot because he is first in the office.  When you write the thank you email to that manager you could say something like “I hope to have the chance to work with you.  Don’t worry, I’ll still let you have the closest spot if I get there first :)”

But use a 🙂 incorrectly and it can be no bueno for you.  Personally I would avoid them unless you are 100% sure it will work.  It is like sarcasm… when it works, it really works.  But when it doesn’t, it pisses everyone off 🙂


Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Peter Drucker

Do you have access to your resume… Right now!

cloud storageNetworking should be an ongoing process.  Because of that you should keep your resume handy.  We are lucky.  Not that many years ago that would mean carrying around a hard copy with you.  Today you just need access to your Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc…  That is IF your resume is there AND it is up to date.

Keep it up to date.  Recently I have interviewed several candidates with outdated resumes.  I usually start off the phone interview going over their resume with them.  I even tell candidates my first two questions ahead of time!  It is not uncommon for the most recent part of their resume to be a little out of date.  I hear “Oh, I am no longer there” a lot.  I can handle that, although for many employers that is a BIG RED FLAG.  But, like I have said before, I am flexible.

What is less excusable is two weeks and two interviews later when we have our final interview, the exact same resume is provided with the same incorrect information.  I tell candidates to bring an updated version of their resume with them to the interview.  About 60% of the people who come to the final interview bring their resume with them.  Of those, about 50% of them have changed their resume.

Your resume should be a living thing.  You should update it regularly just as you do your LinkedIn profile.  You should also be able to access it and send it to someone when you need to.  Come to think of it, mine needs a little more work, if I can find it. 🙂


I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.  
Mohandas Gandhi

Think like a recruiter

recruiterOne of the tips I give people in their job search is that if they want a recruiter to find them, they need to think like a recruiter.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to participate in some of the free webinars that are offered online.  Many companies including LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Electronic Recruiting Exchange and Social-Hire.com offer periodic webinars to help recruiters source candidates.

You can also go on Twitter and other social media sites to follow these companies and learn from the tips they give recruiters.  Google searches are also helpful with things like “How to recruit Java programmers.”  Think to yourself “if I were a recruiter and I wanted to find candidates for the position I want to have, where and how would I look?  Also look up recruiter events and organizations.  Follow them on Twitter and other social media to see what people learned at these events.

All of this is also a great way to find out who the recruiters are in specific industries and companies.

Just remember, you just need one job and the next one you apply for might be the one.


People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.
John C. Maxwell

What’s in a name?

hello my name is dog“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” does not apply to your job search.  Unfortunately your name does matter.  I have said this before and I will say it again; do not lie on your resume.  That being said, you get to choose the name on your resume.  When I first graduated from college I put my FULL name on my resume.  Never mind that it in no way resembles the name I go by.

There have been studies done that show your name actually does matter when looking for a job.  This may be a conscious decision or an unconscious bias on the part of the recruiter but as a candidate you need to keep this in mind.

I encourage people to use the name they go by in everyday professional settings.  But if you go by “Dog” do not put that on your resume.  Yes, I have seen it. Remember, the resume is not some legal document.  So if your name is Elanor April Downing but you go by Eady (for the initials E.A.D.) then I would say put Eady Downing on your resume.  It is also less confusing when I call and get your voicemail when the outgoing message says “Eady” and I was calling Elanor.

This also goes for email addresses, Twitter handles, etc…  Fartboy420 might be funny when you are a freshman but when you apply to a company the laughing stops.  Up to 93% of recruiters use social media in their search for candidates and guess what, yep, it matters.  Companies are more conscious of their corporate brand than ever!  Just ask Carly McKinney, the people involved in the PyCon public shaming or Mike Bacsik.  All of them lost their jobs because of social media.  Sometimes it was just one Tweet!  That sucks!

All I am saying is that branding is VERY important and you need to worry about your personal brand, starting with your name.


A professional headshot in front of a bookshelf says you’re an intellectual. A professional headshot peeking though a bookshelf says you’re probably under a restraining order.
Ryan Lilly

Adding connections on LinkedIn

One thing that I suggest doing at this point is to turn off notifications to your network.  You may want to turn it back on in the future but you will be changing a lot of stuff on LinkedIn and you don’t want to be the LinkedIn profile that cried wolf by updates going out multiple times a day for new connections, groups you added, etc…  You change this from your edit profile page.  It should be in the bottom right of the first screen with no scrolling.

LinkedIn notify network

The easiest place to start if you are new to LinkedIn is with the connections you already have.  Mouse-over connections and click on “Add Connections.”

LinkedIn connections

If you are willing to share your address book(s) with LinkedIn you can easily find people to add to your LinkedIn Network that you already know.  After you have gotten all the low hanging fruit, it is time to start searching for new connections.  Click on “Advanced” on the top of the page.

LinkedIn Advanced search

This opens the Advanced People Search.  Start looking some people up!

LinkedIn Advanced People Search

When you find someone, do not just hit the connect button in the search.  That is the easiest way, but do you want to do this well or easy?  If you use this option it sends a VERY generic message to the person.  They might accept it but the odds are against it.

LinkedIn connect

Click on the person’s name and then click on connect.  You want to be sure you write a short and unique invitation to connect.  You will need to choose a way you know the person you want to connect with.  This is up to you but, try to connect to people that you actually have a connection with first (worked with, went to school with, etc…) then you can get referrals to connect with other people from there.

LinkedIn Personal Connect


The lesson will always repeat itself, unless you see yourself as the problem–not others.
Shannon L. Alder


Networking with LinkedIn for your job search

This is NOT a long drawn-out detailed tutorial.  What this WILL do for you is get you started on networking with LinkedIn.  This is assuming (yes, I know what that means) that you have already set up your complete profile.  Networking before completing your profile is a little like applying for jobs before you finish your resume… it don’t work so well.

The first thing is to customize your public profile.  This will control how you appear when people search for you.  You need to click on “Edit Profile.”

LinkedIn edit profile

Next you want to click on the cog next to your link that says “Update your public profile settings” under your picture.  You have a professional looking head shot, right?

LinkedIn Public profile settings

I have no idea if this is the only way to access your public profile settings.  If it is the only way then LinkedIn needs some UI/customer experience people, not very intuitive.

Over on the right hand side you can create a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile and you control what is available on your public profile.  The very security-conscious people will not want anything to show but that could make it difficult for others to find you.  Your call.

LinkedIn customize public profile

Next, you want to start adding some connections!  I will cover that tomorrow.


You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
John Bunyan

LinkedIn Profile for your Job search

LinkedInIf you are on social media at all for your job search, the first place you want to start is with LinkedIn.  I recently participated in a webinar hosted by Lisa Rangel of Chameleon Resumes.  I encourage you to participate in one of her free webinars.  If you can afford her paid services they are also probably high quality but she does provide a lot of good information for free.

You will want to have a complete profile.  This is not the time to skimp.  Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find passive and active candidates so you need to put your best foot forward.  This will also be one of the primary places to network.

Name: Please use the name you go by most often.  This is the same with your resume.  You do not have to use the name your Mom calls you.

Headline: You will want to be sure that your headline has keywords that a recruiter might search on.  If I were in the job hunt I would use “HR, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition” and similar keywords.  Don’t worry boss, I’m not looking! Pete Leibman puts it this way: Say what you are, who you help, how you make their life/work better and proof that you are credible.  You get 120 characters, make them count.

Location and Industry: You will want your location to be where you want to work. It is a big turn-off to most recruiters if candidates are not local.  We don’t like paying for relocation and a lot of people are “open” to other locations until the rubber meets the road.

Contact info: You can control who has access to your information but I would encourage you to let your connections have access to a phone number and email address. It is frustrating when people apply for a job posting on LinkedIn and they don’t have any contact information in their profile.  You can also add your Twitter handle, website, blog, RSS feed, etc…

Summary: You have 2000 characters available.  Jenny Foss of JobJenny.com puts it well:  Tell your story.  You want to be engaging and original.  Also, write it in the first person.  It sounds weird otherwise.  Lastly, you can have an actionable item at the end of your summary.  If I am reading your summary should I contact you?  Read your blog?

Summary uploads:  You can upload logos, images, videos, documents or presentations.  Remember, it is better to have a little too much info than not enough.  I said a little too much.

Customize your public profile URL:   It just looks better.  Linda Cheung tells you how.

Experience: This is from your resume.  Be sure it looks good.  How far back you go is up to you but the more recent and relevant the better.

Skills and Endorsements: It is a good idea to ask a few people for endorsements.  I don’t hire people based on endorsements but every bit helps.

Education: Unless you think it is to your advantage, I would leave the dates off.  Also keep in mind relevancy.  You do not have to put down irrelevant education.

Organizations: I would keep them professional and neutral.  Stay away from politics and religion.

Groups: These are a great way to network with people in your profession or with similar interests.  Some are public and some you need to approved to join.

See how easy that was 🙂  I don’t know about you, but this was a multi-day project for me.  I also periodically update my profile.  After writing this I am not happy with mine!  But wait, there’s more!  Now you need to connect with people and post!  More on that soon.


You can observe a lot by just watching.
Yogi Berra