What are you feeding your brain and your soul?

Media1I feel that you can learn a lot about people by finding out what they listen to and read. The other night at a company dinner I overheard our CEO mention he listens to podcasts during his morning workout. I asked him what his favorite podcasts are. I have now added Spartan Up! and The Unconventionals to my list of podcasts.

What we take in affects what we do, how we view things and how we view ourselves.  How others view you starts with how you view yourself.  I don’t mean that people love someone who is a narcissist but if you do not believe in yourself , why should others?  This is especially true in the interview process.  An interviewer is not going to tell you how great you are.

Think of the media we consume as brain and soul food. Many of us are concerned with what goes in our mouths but why do we take the same care with the media we devour each day? We must become intentional with what we feed our minds. If you don’t pay attention to what you fuel your mind with it will be bound up by the garbage we have fed it.  Just like if you eat junk food then need to run a race, no bueno.

Take a minute and list out all the stuff you read or listen to on a daily basis.  Then next to it put a plus if it helps you, gives you productive ideas and is uplifting or positive.  Put a negative sign if it gets you down or makes you doubt yourself.  Make an effort to do more of the pluses and less of the negatives, you’ll thank me for it.


The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

What do we owe others?

I just listened to the latest episode of the Freakanomics podcast which asks “Should kids payback their parents for raising them?” This is an interesting question in an of its self but what about the people who have helped shape you professionally?  Don’t we owe them something?

What about the company that took a chance on us when others wouldn’t?  Or that Manager that stuck with us when other managers had written us off?

You do owe them something… respect.  That means if you decide to pursue another opportunity then you should tell them, face to face if possible, and definitely give them at least a two-week notice.

People can forgive a lot if you “own” your decision and handle things professionally.  If you just stop calling or returning calls…. well, that is what H. S. students do.


Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.
Julius Irving

Preparing for an interview – company research

researchI have said it before and I will say it again… I am amazed at how many people do not even take the time to look at a company’s website.  I am not talking about people I cold-call.  These are not even people who just take the time to apply.   These are people who apply AND schedule a day and time to talk with me so there is no surprise factor at all!  Add to that, I email them a multi-page job information document on the position.  What do I get… blank stares.  Well, they are blank stares over the phone but I can hear them!

So, step 1 is… look at the freakin’ website!  You will be amazed at the information on company websites.

2. Glassdoor.  They are the place to look up companies.  Keep in mind that people usually only post when they have an axe to grind.  But a company should be responding to posts.  If you have half a brain you can see through the employee whining and get to the real issues.

3. Look at the job description again.  Do they mention other parts of the company like “builds cross-functional strategies with marketing” or another department?  If so, look up marketing and the other parts of the company.

4. Research other openings.  A good question can come from other openings.  “I saw that you also have a bottle opener position, how does that interact with this position as a bottle emptier?”

5. Google.  This sounds like a no-brainer but believe me, there are a lot of people with no brains.

6. Set up a Google alert.  This is also a great way to stay up on industry news and job openings.

7. Social Media.  You want to look up @company and #company.

8. Competition.  Also do some of the same searches on the company’s competitors.

If you even do one of these it puts you in the top ten to twenty percent.  But remember… there is usually only one opening.  You don’t want to be the first looser, do you?


If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.

Wilson Mizner

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

What is your pitch?

Elevator-Pitch1Second only to a resume in your job search is your pitch or what is called your elevator speech.  It should last about as long as an elevator ride, 20-30 seconds.  You need a few of them handy but the two biggest one is the answer to “Tell me about yourself.”

What it is NOT is your biography.  I hear people a lot start wandering down the “what makes me, me” path:

  • “I am an only child”
  • “I have been married for 20 years”
  • “I have five years of experience with…”
  • or my favorite of the Ricky Bobby responses… “What do you want to know.”

This is where your research can shine.  You want to tell them why they want to hire you.  How about these responses:

  • “I am a recruiter that believes in attracting and connecting with candidates through honest and refreshing dialogue. “
  • “I enjoy being part of a team that challenges me and allows me to find creative solutions to problems. “
  • “I do not like the answer ‘because we have always done it that way’ to the question of why do we do it that way.  I am always looking for a better way to do things.”

I may be biased, but those sure do sound a lot more interesting to a recruiter.  One thing that your elevator speech MUST be is true to you.  You need to believe what you are saying.  Not sure?  Act like you believe it.  We all question ourselves or have self-doubt but you don’t want to lead with that.

So be sure to practice your pitch.  Record it, listen to it, ask others to listen to it, work on it and repeat the process.  You should be able to own it, not just know it.


The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.
Vince Lombardi

Making a hit list for your job search

targetsAnother quote that rings true in your job search is from Jim Key: “You’ll only hit the targets at which you aim.”  If you are applying for EVERYTHING you will probably end up with NOTHING.  This is why a lot of people get frustrated in their job search.  They apply for hundreds of jobs and never hear anything or they get a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” email.

At the beginning of any job search you need to start a list of industries, companies and positions you are targeting.  You will add to this list as you go through your job search.  I recommend using a spreadsheet but it is up to you.  If you use a spreadsheet you can cut, paste, insert, sort and filter your data.  This can also turn into your tracking spreadsheet, which I will discuss in a later post.

Your first four columns should be Industry, Profession, Company and Position.

Job search spreadsheet

Now start listing them.  Each row does not have to have all three columns filled yet but you want to list out what you think are good matches for your background AND what you want to do.  You may find that somethings you CAN do you don’t WANT to do and some things you WANT to do you CAN’T, at least not yet.  To find more information on bridging the gap between what you want to do and what you can do look up Informational Interviews, they are awesome!

For instance, for me, my list would start like this:

Job search spreadsheet 1

If you want to look for more ideas on occupations check out O*NET Online.  You can look up occupations by name or look up occupations by abilities, interests, knowledge, skills and much more.  This step is important because what if you want to get into recruiting but you don’t look up “talent acquisition?”  You could miss a lot.

This step should not stop you from applying for positions or looking for work but it will assist you in focusing your efforts.  In my opinion there is only one thing you should do before applying for any job, have a good resume.  I did not say great or perfect, a good one will do to start.

As you go through your job search you will add to this list and I encourage you to change it into your tracking spread sheet.  Call it a very basic JSM (Job Search Management) tool.


Be sure you positively identify your target before you pull the trigger.
Tom Flynn

How to work a job fair – game day

In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, photo, job seekers line up to meet prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. The government issues the January jobs report on Friday, Feb. 7. 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, photo, job seekers line up to meet prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

So, you have done all your research on the companies.  You have your hit-list for the job fair.  You are smiling and ready to be nice to everyone.  Now what?

This might seem silly but few people do it.  Usually you want to go to your hit-list companies that don’t have a line first.  But be sure to pay attention to the companies around them.  Is there a competitor there?  As a recruiter at a job fair I would try to keep an eye on my competitors and I would want to talk to the people they seem interested in or that look like good candidates in their line.  Keep that in mind when working the fair.  You don’t want to play them off one another but it is OK to let one company know that their competitor is interested in you, just do it tactfully.

So you ask “what does a good candidate look like?”  The short answer is “it depends.”  Generally I would look for someone who seems to have their crap together.  This is where body language really comes into play.

  • Wear clothes that look professional and fit you well.  Fit is more important that the cost of the clothes.  Don’t try to be too trendy, unless that fits with the company’s culture.  You want to be comfortable in them.
  • Try to just have one binder or some type of pad-folio.  You don’t want to have to fumble around for a resume.  Also, try to just take in one car key.  You do not need to take your janitor-worthy key chain with you.
  • Look professional, not like you are going out.  Also, be sure to shave guys or at least trim up the facial hair.  Ladies, keep the make-up minimalistic.   No strong perfume or cologne and please for the love of everyone no patwoe oil.  Yes, I know it is spelled patchouli but saying pa-two-E sounds more like the smell.  🙂
  • If you have dress shoes on, shine them.  Yes, we notice these things.
  • Also, be sure to have a pen with you.

Be sure you have your elevator speech ready.  What type of position are you interested in and why?  What do you know about the company?  What is your background? Be ready for some of the questions you get when talk to the company reps.

Try to get their contact information (business card) or at least their name.  It is a great idea to write thank you emails after the job fair.  I, personally, also like it when people stop back by as they are leaving to say thanks and they look forward to hearing from us.

ALWAYS ask what the next step is.


If you continuously compete with others you become BITTER.  But if you continuously compete with yourself you become BETTER.

How to work a job fair part deux

job_fair_prod_imgOnce you know who you want to talk to at the job fair then the real work begins.  You want to do more than just look at their website.  Keep in mind that even looking at their website puts you ahead of most people in the job search.  Many times when I ask people what they know about the company I am working with they barely know anything.  That is not to say this is a time to slack.  Remember, you only need one job and you might be up against several people for that one job.  You want to put them under the table.

When you are researching the company be sure to take notes so you can remember things about the company and the position(s).  Research to find out who the leaders are at the company.  Look them up on LinkedIn.  Do they tweet?  If so, follow them.  Try to find the HR and Talent Acquisition employees.  Do the same for them.  This may seem like a lot and if you are happy being un or underemployed then nah, you don’t have to do all this.  Heck, you may even get the job you want without it.  But would you rather over prepare or wish you had done more after getting the phone call letting you know they offered the job to someone else?

When you head to the job fair it’s game-time from the moment you leave your front door.  Put your game-face on.  Everyone is a potential hiring manager or recruiter.  You do have a good handshake, don’t you?  How about eye contact?  Ask a few friends what are some of the nonverbals you do that are distracting.  Oh wait, did that hurt your feelings?  Suck it up buttercup, do you want a job or a handout?

Tomorrow we hit the field at the job fair.


Don’t worry about those who talk behind your back.  They’re behind you for a reason.

How to work a job fair

Plan_Your_Work_and_Work_Your_Plan_1“Plan your work and work you plan” is a very common phrase in business, especially in sales, for one reason… it works!  You should take the same approach to your job search.  Do a lot of people find jobs at a job fair?  No.  But do some?  Yes.  Remember, you only need ONE job!

It is always a good idea to go to a job fair if you are looking for work or plan to be looking in the near future. Why?  Because you get to actually talk to a live person from that company.  Candidates are all the time saying “if you could just meet me you would see…”  Well, at the job fair you get to meet them!

Most job fairs will publish a list of companies that will be in attendance.  You want to create a hit list of the top companies you want to meet.  Go online and look at what jobs they have posted and research the company.  It is a really good idea to have a resume geared specifically towards each of the companies on your hit list.  One thing to keep in mind… when the recruiter asks “what type of position are you interested in?” don’t say “anything.”  What if someone asked “what are you looking for in a significant other?” and you answer “anything, I’m not that picky.”

Be sure to also take extra generic resumes.  After you talk to everyone on your hit list it is always a good idea to talk to the other employers.  You are building your network, right?

More to come on job fairs tomorrow.



When a recruiter calls

I am constantly flummoxed by people and how they handle phone calls.  I am not sure their handling of phone calls is due to not being self-aware, more communication being by text, or if they are just as think as I dumb they are.  There are a few different calls that people get from recruiters or hiring managers:

Cold call.  This is when a recruiter, usually an agency recruiter, calls you looking for referrals (leads) or they hope to get you interested in a position they are filling.  These are bounty hunters.  They have a profile they are going after and some of them (not all) will kick down doors, pick locks and do whatever it takes to find the person they are after.

Warm call.  These are also usually agency recruiters but they tell you they have been referred by someone.  If they tell you the person’s name that referral is a little more legit.  I am not saying they/we lie but if you are told “I have been referred to you by someone on a confidential basis” it may or may not be true.  I’m just saying.

Candidate initiated.  This is after the candidate has shown interest in the position.  They may have contacted the recruiter via social media, via the phone or by jumping through the hoops to apply through their ATS (applicant tracking system.)

Process calls.  These calls may be from a hiring manager, recruiter or someone else at the company or agency while you are in the interviewing process.  They may be to schedule an interview (phone, in person or Skype), to arrange travel, or to update you on your status.

Breaking up.  My rule of thumb is that if you are on your 2nd or 3rd round of interviews I usually call you to tell you that we are not going to be offering you the position.  BTW, these calls suck for us too.  Sometimes I think you could be great in the position but I am not the one making the decision.

Offer.  Just what the title says, we are calling to offer you the job.  These also may be calls negotiating the terms of the offer.

Over the next week I will address each type of call and look at it from the candidate perspective and they recruiter or hiring manager perspective.


The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.
Fran Lebowitz