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18 Good Reasons You’re Still Unemployed!   Leave a comment

18 Good Reasons You’re Still Unemployed

“Why am I still unemployed?”

This plaintive question is one I’m asked a great deal. I’d like to give a few brief reasons you’re still unemployed.

1. You aren’t networking enough.

Almost all jobs these days are found through networking. If you’re applying through job boards, searching the internet, counting on recruiters or responding to want ads…you’re not doing enough. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, your resume is almost useless.

2. You interview poorly.

We have interviewed a few people for a job we have open (office assistant). While this is, admittedly, a lower-level position, I’m surprised and shocked at how poorly people interview. Chewing gum, not dressing for the interview, arguing, and saying what you will and won’t do are all interview killers.

3. You’re pierced.

Take out those facial piercings! Younger generation workers — this really turns off old farts like me. I won’t hire someone with a facial piercing or visible tattoo. It is unprofessional.

4. You didn’t shave.

Don’t go in with one of those “stubble beards.” Either actually have a beard or be clean-shaven. The people who are probably making the hiring decision really, really hate the three day stubble beards that are the norm among younger men.

5. You’re asking too much money.

Look, there is a “great reset” going on. Salaries are lower these days. We interviewed one person for a $30K job who had been making $70K. Frankly, we’re not going to hire someone with that huge of a salary gap. It isn’t the problem of employers you have lived beyond your means. Everyone is tight these days. Don’t go asking for a large salary and tons of perks. You might well have to bite the bullet and take much less to get off of the unemployment rolls.

6. You’re very overqualified.

Realistically, I’m not going to hire someone with 10+ years of experience with a great deal of responsibility in their last job for an entry-level job. Entry-level jobs will be filled by entry-level people. All you do when you apply for these things is annoy the employer. I know you might be desperate. But it is better to consult or start your own business, than to apply for entry-level jobs. When I see someone with extensive experience applying for an intern job, I’m not even going to interview them. I know that they’ll be gone in a heartbeat if something in their field comes along, and that they won’t stay and grow with my company. I also know they’re going to second guess me, not be coachable and generally be a pain in the neck. Don’t bother to apply for these jobs.

7. You’re “shotgun” applying.

I made the mistake of running an ad on one of the major job boards one time. BIG mistake. Everyone and their sibling applied, even with 0% of the qualifications. The rule of thumb is — if you don’t have at least 60% of the qualifications called for, don’t apply. You’re wasting your time.

8. You smoke.

Many of us won’t hire smokers. The smell on their clothes drives off customers. They get sick more often. They take excessive breaks. And, frankly, it’s a filthy and disgusting habit. Quit and quit now. Your career future, not to mention your life and your health, may depend on it.

9. Your job title has disappeared (or is endangered).

You’re probably not going to find much in real-estate or housing now. And while Defense is currently a good industry, it is going to be cut by the current Congress, though I suspect there will always be a market for things that kill and maim. But many job titles and industries have disappeared. Some jobs are being done by robots. Others are being done by people already in the company. It might be time to go back to school or change industries.

10. Your attitude stinks.

You might be coming across as having an arrogant or generally bad attitude. If someone is not upbeat and positive, I will rapidly end the interview.

11. You’re depressed.

Many people who have been laid off and can’t find work in a hurry need anti-depressants. Get on them if you need them. Just be careful which ones you use.

Some depression is normal during a time when you’ve lost your job. But if you’re always in a dark mood, crying, unmotivated and not sleeping, see your family doctor at once.

12. You’re angry.

Your anger is not hurting the “jerks” who fired you or laid you off. It is, however, killing you physically and killing your career. Get over it. Realistically, if you were fired, you most likely deserved it. If you were laid off, it was nothing personal…just a business decision. Deal with your anger before interviewing.

13. You didn’t follow the directions in the posting.

In our last job posting, we asked for a brief statement with a resume telling us why, after looking at our website, the candidate would like to work for us. Only two people even came close to following the directions! Do what you’re asked to do in the job posting or by the hiring authority. If you’re not going to do what your potential boss asks you to, you’re not going to do what he or she asks you to when you’re employed, now, are you?

14. You missed an important piece of the interviewing process.

We asked a candidate we liked to come to one of our events and meet our clients. She wrote us an e-mail and said she couldn’t make it, but wanted to continue to the next phase of interviewing. Well, that was the next phase of interviewing! This woman had posted she had been unemployed for two years. No wonder.

15. Ya yack too much!

More extroverts talk themselves out of jobs than into them. Shut the blank up, for crying out loud! 

16. You’re evasive.

If you’re asked a question, answer it. Don’t beat around the bush, and don’t give stupid canned answers. A clear example of this is the number of people who say, when asked about a weakness, “I guess I’m just too much of a self-motivated, self-starter who is too hard on himself.” Stupid answer.

17. You can’t communicate.

Don’t make the interviewer crowbar information out of you. If you can’t communicate well, you won’t get employed. If you do happen, by some miracle, to get employed, you won’t last long.

18. You’re unprepared.

I’ll be very clear. If you go up against one of my highly prepared candidates, you’re going to lose and lose big. Don’t be cheap! Hire someone to help you with interviewing, networking and finding the hidden jobs. If you’re an executive in Denver Metro, talk to us about hiring us. If you’re elsewhere, find a good, honest career coach. But be careful.

While some people are long-term unemployed for no reason, we can usually see a reason when someone can’t seem to find a job. Those who have a great attitude and have been able to overcome depression, anger and unrealistic expectations, will usually land in a hurry. Good luck!

Watch for tomorrow’s blog to see how Jackson Career & Life Coaching can help you take hold of your life so that you create the experience you want, not just acept what you get!

Job Search Strategy: Marketing yourself in a job hunt |   Leave a comment

Job Search Strategy: Marketing yourself in a job hunt |


How to Bring Up SALARY on a Job Interview

July 31, 2013 

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I wrote this story about how to deal with lowball salary offers, and as usual when I write about sticky human topics, my inbox got slammed. People love to share their job search horror stories and I don’t blame them, because a job search is nothing if not a daily accumulation of epic ups and downs, a soap opera that surpasses anything on TV.

At times on a job search, you feel like you’re slogging through mud up to your knees. Every inch of ground you gain represents a heroic effort. When the wind shifts and things start to go your way job-search-wise, your heart is light. You laugh at your friends’ bad jokes, you’re so happy. Life is grand, so why not spread the good stuff around?

A job search is Mood Swing Central. That’s hard on your body. It’s exhausting. It makes sense that when you have an opportunity on the line, you’d be hesitant to say or do anything that might feel forward or pushy. You don’t want to knock yourself out of the running by being overly demanding.

What job-seekers don’t realize is that things work in just the opposite way. The more you stand for yourself in the job search process, the more employers will respect and value you. I’m referring, of course, to employers with spark and mojo themselves – the only kind of employers who deserve you. Fearful managers prefer to hire docile, sheeplike employees. Life is too short, as you know, to work among people like that. If you do, you might become one.

After that lowball-salary-offer story, a few people wrote to me to say “In some cases, you can’t bring up salary during the interview process. There was nothing I could do. I had to wait and see what kind of offer I got. In the end, the offer sucked monetarily and I was devastated.”

I feel so sorry for a person in that situation. I can imagine how crushing it would be to see your hopes for an awesome new job melt suddenly into a disappointing, confidence-bruising waste of time.

At the same time I have to gently call bullshit on the assertion that we are ever prevented from talking about salary on a job interview. It is suspicious to me that the awful, conventional wisdom “Don’t mention salary – let the employer bring it up first. Whoever speaks first, loses” fits so nicely with many job-seekers’ natural aversion to broaching sticky topics like money.

That advice is repeated everywhere, and it couldn’t be more mistaken. In a job search, you have to price yourself like a house. You have to let employers know what it will take you get you on board. If you wait for the job offer to finally learn what an organization is planning to pay you, you’re in the world’s worst negotiating position.

After all, it was your obligation to show (not tell) these folks what you’re worth, during the interview process. If you’ve been through two or three interviews with a gang of people and they subsequently decide collectively — maybe delusionally as well, but that’s a different topic — that you are worth $X, then in their eyes you are worth $X, and you’ve already missed your prime opportunity to show them differently.

If someone is going to scoff, bristle or get apoplectic hearing your perfectly reasonable salary expectation, you want them to do it early. Let them fall down on the floor convulsing when you name the figure. Good! They need to do that. You are just an outlet for their fearful reactions. Blessings to them on their path. You couldn’t care less what they think, right?

You are not here to please people. If you’ve researched your salary (I will tell you how in a second) and know your number is realistic, it is good for you to get a range of reactions to your number. Don’t be swayed by those. There will always be disconnected-from-reality people who will try to convince you that you should work for peanuts and be grateful for the offer. Ignore them.

The Reactionometer™ at the bottom of this page is a tool for job-seekers. If people don’t get you, they don’t deserve you. The last thing you want to do is spend valuable mojotrons trying to make people like you better or find you more valuable dollars-and-cents-wise. When you get that reaction, move on, brush it off, and go get a gelato.

There is not going to be a time over the course of your relationship with an employer where they value you more than they do at the point just before they make a job offer. If they don’t value you at that moment, things can only get worse over time.

So bring up the salary issue. Here’s how.

Know Your Value

You have to know what you’re worth on the talent marketplace. Salary, Payscale and Glassdoor are three good resources. If you know a local search consultant or two, ping them for a range based on your experience, too. Be ready to supply a number for a full-time salaried gig and a consulting assignment, both. Know what various benefits cost and are worth to you, in case you get into negotiation and need to start talking about the moving parts of your offer.

Not on the First Date

I’m old-school enough to believe that in the white-collar world, you don’t bring up salary on the first interview. You young kids out here today, zooming around on your skateboards past Granny’s knees all the time, you gotta do things your own way and Granny understands that. I’m just sayin. Granny got opera glasses for her ninth birthday and was overjoyed. Different world today. I still recommend that you get home from your first interview and wait to hear the employer say “We’d like to come back in” before your broach the salary topic.

Synch Up

When they call you or write to you to invite you back for Interview Number Two, it’s your move. “Is this a good time, and are you the right person to have a salary-synch-up conversation with?” you will ask. The person on the other end of the line will probably say “What were you earning over at Acme Explosives?” You’ll say “I’m focusing on roles in the $60K range, so that’s a good starting point. Is this role in that range? If so, it makes sense for me to come back for a second interview.”


If you follow this approach, you won’t go on any second interviews unless you and the company HR person or your hiring manager have heard one another say “We are in the same ballpark compensation-wise. It makes sense for us to keep talking.”

Nonetheless, have another conversation with your hiring manager (the guy with the all-important business pain) before you take any other steps to move the process forward. Don’t send your job references over, don’t talk about start dates, and don’t sit down with the company shrink for a psych eval before you and your hiring manager get to the brassiest of brass tacks and lay out what it would take compensation-wise to get you on board.

No Games

There is no need for a job offer negotiation to be a cat-and-mouse game. It doesn’t benefit anyone to go through those machinations, but some people get off on it. If the dickering becomes extreme, that is a sign to hit the Greybound bus station and get out of town. Like I said before, these guys will never love you more than they do right now.

Who Trusts Who?

Sometimes you’ll get hiring managers or HR people saying to you “I’m sorry, we have to do this salary verification and I really apologize, but I have to have your W-2s for the last three years. Sorry.”

Don’t fall for that garbage. Who is supposed to trust whom, in a selection process? You have no idea whether your boss will still be employed tomorrow. The guy could be fired before you show up for your first day of work. One time I worked with a man who ended up in prison. You have no idea what’s going to happen with this organization. The employer isn’t showing you its financial statements. Tell them your financial information is private, your accountant would have a cow if you shared it, and if they aren’t comfortable based on your conversations extending an offer, you totally understand.

Our Role Models

Here’s a trivia question for you: Which group of working people has always gotten a job this way (stepping outside the lines in their approach to hiring managers, their correspondence and their resumes)? Executives have. When’s the last time a C-level officer flung a resume into a corporate Black Hole? The answer is never.

What I am encouraging you guys to do is find your voice, feel your feet under you and job-hunt the way executives have done forever. It’s a matter of mojo. When you know what you bring and don’t feel you have to grovel to get a job, your altitude is higher. You see the pluses and minuses of each situation and see how to navigate. You don’t approach a job search as an exercise in pleasing other people, but in learning what you need and want in your life and going after it. I want that for you, because you deserve it.

As a matter of fact, let’s go whole hog and promote you – there! It’s done. I just flicked my wand at you, between the last sentence and this one. Congratulations! You are now CEO of your own career. Wow, your rise to the top was tumultuous, wasn’t it? But here you are. You’re driving the bus. Where are you going to take it?

Job Seeker and Feeling Burned Out? Join Us Today!   Leave a comment


HELP ME COACH….I Have Job Search Burn-out!
During this hour coaching session Mikal Jackson will discuss ways to get yourself back on track with a polished, professional approach to the challenge of finding a new job!!
Register for a session now by clicking a date below:
Thu, Aug 1, 2013 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT
Thu, Aug 1, 2013 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Once registered you will receive an email confirming your registration with information you need to join the Webinar.
System Requirements PC-based attendees Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mobile attendees Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Job Search Burn Out –   Leave a comment


This may be a heretical thing for a career counselor to say, but I seem to be one of the few professionals in my field who actually doesn’t believe that “looking for a job is a full-time job.”


Obviously, this cliche is well-intended. It’s used by most career practitioners to motivate people to take the process seriously, get off their butts and work hard at finding their next opportunity. After all, it seems there are still many unemployed people out there who treat job hunting as a bit of an afterthought. One Department of Labor study in 2012 revealed that the average unemployed American spends a mere 18 minutes a day looking for work. And a more recent study, conducted by two university professors, suggests that the real number is more along the lines of 40 minutes per day.

If these statistics can be believed, there’s no question that many job seekers out there need to step it up a notch. But that’s a dead horse, and I’m not going to beat it any further.

Instead, I want to talk about the opposite end of the spectrum. What about those diligent souls who are channeling 40, 50 or 60 hours per week into their re-employment quest? I know several out-of-work professionals who have been hunting at this pace for many months running, and my hat is off to them for their work ethic and persistence.

These are people who truly treat this process as “their next job” until they land a new assignment. In fact, they pride themselves on it. One unemployed manager I know was recently bragging to his former boss (who had also been downsized) that he was diligently putting 40 hours per week into his job-search regimen. His former supervisor’s response: “That’s all?”

But here’s the deal. Is there a point at which you can do too much job hunting? Is there a level at which a dogged job-search regimen becomes counterproductive — and burnout starts to set in?

For most people, I believe there is. I encourage every active job seeker to watch for signs of “hitting the wall” and becoming a bitter, frustrated, burnt-out job-search zombie. If you’re spending your days endlessly worrying about landing your next job — morning, noon and night — you’re not doing yourself, or anybody else around you, any favors. Not only will you alienate a few of your close friends and allies with this all-consuming mindset, but working a double-shift job-search regimen is probably not terribly good for your physical or mental health, as well.

Some things you can do to combat this issue? For starters, despite the fact that money is important, and most of us need to make a living, remind yourself that your life as a whole doesn’t need to come to a complete stop just because you’re between paychecks. Invest some of your available hours tending to other important activities, too.

Build some stress management and professional development outlets into your routine. Get more involved in your community, your church or your hobbies. Go for a hike each day. Catch up with old friends. Read more. And give yourself permission to do all of these things, because they’re important.

As a former colleague of mine used to say: “Very few people are truly unemployable, and once you realize you’re 99 percent likely to work again in the not-so-distant future, what are you going to regret not using this extra time you have to accomplish?”

Another key to time management in a job search is to stop measuring the number of actual hours spent in the process and to start measuring productivity instead. Hands down, the most critical metric in a job hunt is the number of actual people you contact each day in search of opportunities. So if you’re wasting a lot of time on aimless web surfing, constantly tweaking your resume or other unproductive administrivia, cut down and focus on output. Set a goal for how many attempted conversations you’re going to pursue each day, whether this involves responding to want ads or reaching out to your network in search of unpublished openings. And once you’ve hit that goal each day, pat yourself on the back and go do something fun or relaxing.

Age-old cliches and historical career dogma aside, I’d rather see people spending two hours each day doing the right things than eight hours of the wrong things. So try to find the balance that works best for you and keeps you the most focused, productive and energized.

The diehard 40-hour-per-week job hunting approach isn’t the right recipe for everybody





I read a few interesting articles recently and I thought it would be a great blog topic because of how mixed my feelings were toward the subject.  The topic, discrimination against the unemployed, seems to be getting more airtime and more heated in recent months and it’s worth discussing.

Here’s the first article link:  (…).

The article discusses how Maryland was considering a bill that would prevent employers from limiting applications to only those who are currently employed.  This would essentially ban them from advertising “Only employed applicants will be considered” on the job posting.   While most of the article highlights this banning of ‘employment status’ as a screening criteria, putting it in the same category as religion, sex, race, age, etc, it also touches on a movement among employee advocate groups to ban employers from ‘only hiring those who are employed’.

When it comes to advertising ‘only employed applicants will be considered’, I have no problem with legislation.  While I don’t really see legislation as completely necessary, I support the notion that making a sweeping judgment like this is potentially unfair and not something that a prudent company would engage in.   Like any form of prejudice or blanket thought, it’s incredibly unwise because of how unique every person and circumstance is, whether in life or in work status.   I know plenty of stay at home mothers who, if they decided to enter the work force again, would put many employed applicants to shame from a skills and work ethic standpoint.

On the other hand, I think it’s equally imprudent to force businesses to hire based on a criteria alone – it’s the same thing in reverse.   Now, I don’t think this article goes that far, but here is an article that talks about a more aggressive move by state legislatures to prevent any type of screening that involves employment status or length of unemployment.

It’s a slippery slope because, as the article mentions “hiring is an art, not a science”.   In some cases, ruling someone out because of a long stint without employment is a sound business decision.   In certain industries, the dearth of talent can make not having work essentially a choice that you can make one way or the other.  In other instances, entire counties were seemingly laid off at the same time and unemployment rates were in the 12-15% range.

As a recruiter, I am paid to have sound judgment (if not, I don’t get paid J).  I am evaluating dozens of criteria when looking at a resume (industry, education, duration, career progression, etc) and even more when talking / interviewing.   It’s almost never just about skills.  Culture and fit are so much more important once skills are a reasonable match, that most of my job is assessing candidates psychologically, not matching words.      Therefore, I feel very strongly about retaining the right to make my own hiring decisions.

The bigger issue no one is talking about is how this legislation may actually hurt the cause of the unemployed.  Let me explain through several scenarios:

Example 1:  I am recruiting for a specialized engineer that can come into a situation and hit the ground running and I talk to someone who worked in the industry several years ago but has been unemployed for 18 months, I am going to first address that gap.   If their response is “I was relaxing and drawing unemployment” – I am going to rule that candidate out.   The narrative in the Business Week article tells me I could be breaking the law by using that as a criteria, if certain states and advocates get their way.

Example 2:    Same situation as above.  This time I pass over the resume and don’t make the phone call to learn more because I want to limit my exposure to potentially breaking the law.  No one will ever find out about the calls I don’t make.

I realize we don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes laws are needed to push people out of their biases and thought processes.   History has shown this to be an effective way of generating change.  However, the ultimate success of eliminating discrimination usually comes from smart people seeing past biases and making choices based on getting to know if individuals can help their specific situation.   Those slower to change are penalized through falling behind in their industry and ultimately being less successful.

I will always look at each situation as unique and interpret accordingly.   If you are not, don’t be

10 Things You Need To Do While You’re Unemployed   1 comment

If you’re unemployed and worried that employers will turn you down for taking on unimpressive work during the recession or for the large employment gaps on your résumé—you needn’t panic.  A new survey just released by the careers website reveals that the vast majority of employers are sympathetic to such circumstances.

The nationwide survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive, on behalf of CareerBuilder, among 3,023 hiring managers and human resource professionals between November 9 and December 5, 2011. Not only does it offer unemployed job seekers some hope, but it also provides tips to help them land a new position.

Eighty-five percent of those surveyed employed reported that they are more understanding of employment gaps post-recession. Ninety-four percent said they wouldn’t have a lower opinion of a candidate who took on a position during the recession that was at a lower level than the one he or she had held previously.

But this doesn’t mean you can sit around and wait for a sympathetic employer to offer you work. “The worry is that employers may think job seekers are losing some of their skills because they haven’t been utilizing them. By volunteering, taking temporary work, or signing up for a class that develops your professional tool kit, you show employers that you’ve made the most of your time and will be ready on day one,” Haefner says.

Employers and CareerBuilder experts recommended a variety of activities you should engage in to build, expand, and strengthen your skills during period of unemployment, in order to increase your marketability.

Take a temporary or contract assignment.

Seventy-nine percent would recommend doing this. Why? “The key is to get people to see your work and to see what you’re capable of doing,” says Andy Teach, the author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time. “If you do a great job, even if it’s for a temporary job, whoever hired you is more likely to recommend you for a permanent position.”

Take a class.

Sixty-one percent of the hiring managers surveyed recommended taking a class during a period of unemployment. “You never stop learning in your career, so the more technical competence you have, the better,” Teach says. “When you take a class in your field, you are also showing that you are serious about your work and that you take initiative.” Another advantage to taking a class: It’s a great networking opportunity.


Sixty percent of the hiring managers said volunteer work makes you more marketable. “When you volunteer for something, you are telling potential employers something about you as a person,” Teach says. It shows that you are passionate about something and care about helping others—and it demonstrates that money isn’t the most important thing to you, he adds. “When companies are hiring, they are looking not only for people who can get the job done but also for people with character and integrity.”