Archive for the ‘Jackson Career/Life Coaching’ Category

12 Things Successful People Do Differently   Leave a comment


I’ve always been fascinated by people who are consistently successful at what they do; especially those who experience repeated success in many areas of their life throughout their lifetime.  In entertainment, I think of Clint Eastwood and Oprah Winfrey.  In business, I think of Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.  We all have our own examples of super successful people like these who we admire.  But how do they do it?

Over the years I’ve studied the lives of numerous successful people.  I’ve read their books, watched their interviews, researched them online, etc.  And I’ve learned that most of them were not born into success; they simply did, and continue to do, things that help them realize their full potential.  Here are twelve things they do differently that the rest of us can easily emulate.

1.  They create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Successful people are objective.  They have realistic targets in mind.  They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it.  Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.  Let’s briefly review each:

  • Specific– A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a related specific goal would be, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week for the next52 weeks.”  A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
  • Measurable– There must be a logical system for measuring the progress of a goal.  To determine if your goal is measurable, ask yourself questions like:  How much time? How many total?  How will I know when the goal is accomplished? etc.  When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued efforts required to reach your goal.
  • Attainable– To be attainable, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.  In other words, the goal must be realistic.  The big question here is:  How can the goal be accomplished?
  • Relevant– Relevance stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter.  For example, an internet entrepreneur’s goal to “Make 75 tuna sandwiches by 2:00PM.” may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Timely, but lacks Relevance to an entrepreneurs overarching objective of building a profitable online business.
  • Timely– A goal must be grounded within a time frame, giving the goal a target date.  A commitment to a deadline helps you focus your efforts on the completion of the goal on or before the due date.  This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by daily distractions.

When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them.  You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills.  You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps.  Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.

2.  They take decisive and immediate action.

Sadly, very few people ever live to become the success story they dream about.  And there’s one simple reason why:

They never take action!

The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing.  Growing happens when what you know changes how you live.   So many people live in a complete daze.  Actually, they don’t ‘live.’  They simply ‘get by’ because they never take the necessary action to make things happen – to seek their dreams.

It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action.  There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it.  Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action.  It’s as simple as that.

Success hinges on the simple act of making a decision to live – to absorb yourself in the process of going after your dreams and goals.  So make that decision.  And take action.  For some practical guidance on taking action I highly recommend Getting Things Done .

3.  They focus on being productive, not being busy.

In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek , Tim Ferris says, “Slow down and remember this:  Most things make no difference.  Being busy is often a form of mental laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”  This is Ferris’ way of saying “work smarter, not harder,” which happens to be one of the most prevalent modern day personal development clichés.  But like most clichés, there’s a great deal of truth to it, and few people actually adhere to it.

Just take a quick look around.  The busy outnumber the productive by a wide margin.

Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time.  They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc.  They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep.  Yet, business emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their daily planner is jammed to the brim with obligations.

Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance.  But it’s all an illusion.  They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.

The solution:  Slow down.  Breathe.  Review your commitments and goals.  Put first things first.  Do one thing at a time.  Start now.  Take a short break in two hours.  Repeat.

And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4.  They make logical, informed decisions.

Sometimes we do things that are permanently foolish simply because we are temporarily upset or excited.

Although emotional ‘gut instincts’ are effective in certain fleeting situations, when it comes to generating long-term, sustained growth in any area of life, emotional decisions often lead a person astray.  Decisions driven by heavy emotion typically contain minimal amounts of conscious thought, and are primarily based on momentary feelings instead of mindful awareness.

The best advice here is simple:  Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence.  Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.

5.  They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.

Many of us are perfectionists in our own right.  I know I am at times.  We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward.  We dedicate copious amounts of time and attention to our work to maintain our high personal standards.  Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting.  And this dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us achieve results…  So long as we don’t get carried away.

But what happens when we do get carried away with perfectionism?

We become disgruntled and discouraged when we fail to meet the (impossibly high) standards we set for ourselves, making us reluctant to take on new challenges or even finish tasks we’ve already started.  Our insistence on dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ breeds inefficiency, causing major delays, stress overload and subpar results.

True perfectionists have a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them, always.  I have a friend who has wanted to start a graphic design business for several years.  But she hasn’t yet.  Why?  When you sift through her extensive list of excuses it comes down to one simple problem:  She is a perfectionist.  Which means she doesn’t, and never will, think she’s good enough at graphic design to own and operate her own graphic design business.

Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists.  It rewards people who get things done.  And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.  Only by wading through years of practice and imperfection can we begin to achieve momentary glimpses of the perfection.  So make a decision.  Take action, learn from the outcome, and repeat this method over and over again in all walks of life.  Also, check out Too Perfect .  It’s an excellent read on conquering perfectionism.

6.  They work outside of their comfort zone.

The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready.  In other words, they feel uncomfortable and believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity.  Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth and success.

The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually.  They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.  And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.

Significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and success will come and go throughout your lifetime.  If you are looking to make positive changes and new breakthroughs in your life, you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.

7.  They keep things simple.

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  Here in the 21st century, where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers.  But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to complication, confusion and inaction.

Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy.  After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices.  If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.  Likewise, if you complicate your life by inundating yourself with too many choices, your subconscious mind will give up.

The solution is to simplify.  If you’re selling a product line, keep it simple.  And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option.  Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot.  If it doesn’t work out, learn what you can from the experience, choose something else and keep pressing forward.

8.  They focus on making small, continuous improvements.

Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small pieces.” The same concept configured as a question:  How do you eat an elephant?  Answer: One bite at a time.  This philosophy holds true for achieving your biggest goals.  Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life and slowly reach the level of success you aspire to.

And if you start small, you don’t need a lot of motivation to get started either.  The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the momentum you need, and soon you’ll find yourself in a positive spiral of changes – one building on the other.  When I started doing this in my life, I was so excited I had to start this blog to share it with the world.

Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise.  For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, come up with a list of healthy snacks you can eat when you get the craving for snacks.  It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier.  And that’s the whole point.  As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.

9.  They measure and track their progress.

Successful people are not only working in their job/business, they are also working on it.  They step back and assess their progress regularly.  They track themselves against their goals and clearly know what needs to be done to excel and accelerate.

You can’t control what you don’t properly measure.  If you track the wrong things you’ll be completely blind to potential opportunities as they appear over the horizon.  Imagine if, while running a small business, you made it a point to keep track of how many pencils and paperclips you used.  Would that make any sense?  No!  Because pencils and paperclips are not a measure of what’s important for a business.  Pencils and paperclips have no bearing on income, customer satisfaction, market growth, etc.

The proper approach is to figure out what your number one goal is and then track the things that directly relate to achieving that goal.  I recommend that you take some time right now to identify your number one goal, identify the most important things for you to keep track of, and then begin tracking them immediately.  On a weekly basis, plug the numbers into a spreadsheet and use the data to create weekly or monthly trend graphs so you can visualize your progress.  Then fine-tune your actions to get those trends to grow in your favor.

10.  They maintain a positive outlook as they learn from their mistakes.

Successful people concentrate on the positives – they look for the silver lining in every situation.  They know that it is their positivity that will take them to greatness.  If you want to be successful, you need to have a positive outlook toward life.  Life will test you again and again.  If you give in to internal negativity, you will never be able to achieve the marks you have targeted.

Remember, every mistake you make is progress.  Mistakes teach you important lessons.  Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal.  The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.

So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself!  Don’t let your own negativity sabotage you.  Learn what you can and press forward.

11.  They spend time with the right people.

Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive.  They socialize with people who create energy when they enter the room versus those who create energy when they leave.  They reach out to connected, influential individuals who are right for their dreams and goals.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with.  If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you.  But if you hang with the right people, you will become far more capable and successful than you ever could have been alone.  Find your tribe and work together to make a difference in all of your lives.  Tribes  by Seth Godin is a great read on this topic.

 12.  They maintain balance in their life.

If you ask most people to summarize what they want out of life they’ll shout out a list of things like: ‘fall in love,’ ‘make money,’ ‘spend time with family,’ ‘find happiness,’ ‘achieve goals,’ etc.  But sadly, a lot of people don’t balance their life properly to achieve these things.  Typically they’ll achieve one or two of them while completely neglecting the rest.  Let me give you two examples:

  • I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Based on the success of her business, every entrepreneur I know looks up to her.  But guess what?  A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed.  Why?  “I’m burnt out and lonely.  I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately, and I feel like something is missing in my life,” she said.  “Wow!” I thought.  “One of the most successful people I know doesn’t feel successful because she isn’t happy with how she has balanced her life.”
  • I also know a surfer who surfs all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego.  He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – usually smiling from ear to ear.  But he sleeps in a rusty van he co-owns with another surfer, and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money.  He has admitted to me that the stress of making enough money to eat often keeps him up at night.  So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy most of the time, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.

These are just two simple examples of imbalanced lifestyles that are holding people back from their full potential.  When you let your work life (or social life, family life, etc.) consume you, and all your energy is focused in that area, it’s extremely easy to lose your balance.  While drive and focus are important, if you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life.  Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term frustration and stress.  For some practical guidance on balancing your life, I recommend Zen and the Art of Happiness .

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
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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