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How to Beat 8 Job-Search Time-Wasters

Learn to identify your biggest time-wasters, you can turn those minutes and hours into productivity.

If you’re looking for work, you’re likely wasting time in one way or another. After years of working in a structured environment, you’re now your own boss in the job-search world, which has few clear guidelines.


But if you learn to identify your biggest time-wasters, you can turn those minutes and hours into productivity. Here are eight common job-search time-wasters and how you can beat them:

  1. Applying for everything.

You’re doing such a good job applying for jobs that you stop reading the job descriptions. If it’s within your function or industry, you let the application fly. It’s so inexpensive and so easy to shoot off a resume. Why wouldn’t you apply to one more?

Because you’re wasting your time and the time of the hiring company. Rather than applying for every job that even remotely fits your qualifications, clarify your specific job-search objectives and apply for jobs that fit what you’re looking for. Sending out fewer applications will allow you to spend more time on choosing jobs that are right for you and put more effort into those applications.

  1. Reconstructing your resume—again and again.

How many versions of your resume are on your computer? Do you even know?

Your resume should be used to entice employers. It’s a marketing tool to attract a call or e-mail from the hiring manager. While it makes sense to emphasize different aspects of your background, stop creating entirely new resumes for every job posting. Instead, have a few versions you can use again and again, depending on which job you’re applying for. While you’re at it, stop relying on your resume to land interviews. A far better strategy is networking.

  1. Falling into a cover letter craze.

Like with your resume, your cover letter is a document that takes way too much time to write as a custom document. Put effort into it, but don’t spend hours crafting the perfect pitch. Instead of starting a new cover letter from scratch every time you apply for a job, create a good cover letter template that you can tweak quickly—preferably in 15 minutes—for each job. Then move onto your next task.


  1. Bugging recruiters.

Recruiters are eager to play their role in the job market—helping their clients (companies) find qualified candidates. You’re either qualified for an opening or you’re not.

Multiple e-mails and phone calls will not make you appear more qualified. Instead, it may make you appear desperate. Follow-up with a recruiter, but don’t bug or annoy them, or they may not come to you the next time they have an opportunity.

  1. Becoming addicted to digital.

While spending time on the Internet can help your job search, it is possible to spend too much time on the Web, especially if you’re easily distracted by social media, online shopping or other Internet evils.

To avoid letting your digital addiction render you unproductive, create time windows when you work on your computer, smart phone or iPad. Then put the electronics down, and find other ways to boost your job search, like in-person networking, reading books about your industry or taking time off to recharge.

  1. Networking blind.

There’s a difference between networking and socializing. If you spend a week at various events simply re-connecting with your job search crew, you’re socializing. Blind networking, or collecting business cards and lunching with anyone and everyone who wants to meet with you, isn’t productive either.

Instead, network with a purpose. Decide who you want to know, and figure out how to meet those people on your target list. Communicate your specific job-search objectives. Ask a friend to introduce you to someone at one of your target companies. Rather than networking blind, build your network with your eyes wide open.

  1. Sucking on social networks.

Some job seekers have their mouths over the online fire hose and still feel thirsty; they’re signed up for every possible social media network. After all, if you have extra time and little structure in your life, why not? Isn’t this period without a job a good time to catch up with friends and family?

Sure—but only until it becomes a time-waster. Make sure you’re using social tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to deliver needed outcomes in your job search. Use them strategically, not wastefully.

  1. Hyper-focusing on one job.

Do you feel you’re uniquely qualified for one specific job? Then create a plan to find warm entry points via your network. Follow application directions, and get a strong resume in the right person’s hands.

But if you don’t hear back in a week or two, don’t let that stop you from continuing the job search. Rather than thinking about that perfect job, focus on finding other perfect jobs. That way, if the first perfect job pans out, you’ll have the power of multiple options, which will help you interview and negotiate with confidence.

Posted September 3, 2014 by mikaljackson in Uncategorized

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Have you ever been so afraid of failing at something that you decided not to try it at all? Or has a fear of failure meant that, subconsciously, you undermined your own efforts to avoid the possibility of a larger failure?

Many of us have probably experienced this at one time or another. The fear of failing can be immobilizing – it can cause us to do nothing, and therefore resist moving forward. But when we allow fear to stop our forward progress in life, we’re likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.

In this article, we’ll examine fear of failure: what it means, what causes it, and how to overcome it to enjoy true success in work, and in life.

Causes of Fear of Failure

To find the causes of fear of failure, we first need to understand what “failure” actually means.

We all have different definitions of failure, simply because we all have different benchmarks, values, and belief systems. A failure to one person might simply be a great learning experience for someone else.

Many of us are afraid of failing, at least some of the time. But fear of failure (also called “atychiphobia”) is when we allow that fear to stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals.

Fear of failure can be linked to many causes. For instance, having critical or unsupportive parents is a cause for some people. Because they were routinely undermined or humiliated in childhood, they carry those negative feelings into adulthood.

Experiencing a traumatic event at some point in your life can also be a cause. For example, say that several years ago you gave an important presentation in front of a large group, and you did very poorly. The experience might have been so terrible that you developed a fear of failure about other things. And you carry that fear even now, years later.

Signs of Fear of Failure

You might experience some of these symptoms if you have a fear of failure:

  • A reluctance to try new things or get involved in challenging projects.
  • Self-sabotage   – for example, procrastination, excessive anxiety, or a failure to follow through with goals.
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence   – Commonly using negative statements such as “I’ll never be good enough to get that promotion,” or “I’m not smart enough to get on that team.”
  • Perfectionism – A willingness to try only those things that you know you’ll finish perfectly and successfully.

“Failure” – A Matter of Perspective

It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. People who do so probably live so cautiously that they go nowhere. Put simply, they’re not really living at all.

The wonderful thing about failure is that it’s entirely up to us to decide how to look at it.

We can choose to see failure as “the end of the world,” or as proof of just how inadequate we are. Or, we can look at failure as the incredible learning experience that it often is. Every time we fail at something, we can choose to look for the lesson we’re meant to learn. These lessons are very important; they’re how we grow, and how we keep from making that same mistake again. Failures stop us only if we let them.

It’s easy to find successful people who have experienced failure. For example:

  • Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And yet, he was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skill.
  • Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University.
  • Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, is a high school dropout.

Most of us will stumble and fall in life. Doors will get slammed in our faces, and we might make some bad decisions. But imagine if Michael Jordan had given up on his dream to play basketball when he was cut from that team. Imagine if Richard Branson had listened to the people who told him he’d never do anything worthwhile without a high school diploma.

Think of the opportunities you’ll miss if you let your failures stop you.

Failure can also teach us things about ourselves that we would never have learned otherwise. For instance, failure can help you discover how strong a person you are. Failing at something can help you discover your truest friends, or help you find unexpected motivation to succeed.

Often, valuable insights come only after a failure. Accepting and learning from those insights is key to succeeding in life.

Overcoming a Fear of Failure

It’s important to realize that in everything we do, there’s always a chance that we’ll fail. Facing that chance, and embracing it, is not only courageous – it also gives us a fuller, more rewarding life.

However, here are a few ways to reduce the fear of failing:

  • Analyze all potential outcomes – Many people experience fear of failure because they fear the unknown. Remove that fear by considering all of the potential outcomes of your decision. Our article Decision Trees   will teach you how to map possible outcomes visually.
  • Learn to think more positively – Positive thinking is an incredibly powerful way to build self-confidence and neutralize self-sabotage. Our articleThought Awareness, Rational Thinking, and Positive Thinking   is a comprehensive resource for learning how to change your thoughts.
  • Look at the worse-case scenario – In some cases, the worst case scenario may be genuinely disastrous, and it may be perfectly rational to fear failure. In other cases, however, this worst case may actually not be that bad, and recognizing this can help.
  • Have a contingency plan   – If you’re afraid of failing at something, having a “Plan B” in place can help you feel more confident about moving forward.

Using Goal Setting

If you have a fear of failure, you might be uncomfortable setting goals  . But goals help us define where we want to go in life. Without goals, we have no sure destination.

Many experts recommend visualization   as a powerful tool for goal setting. Imagining how life will be after you’ve reached your goal is a great motivator to keep you moving forward.

However, visualization might produce the opposite results in people who have a fear of failure. In the article “Tantalizing Fantasies: Positive Imagery Induces Negative Mood in Individuals High in Fear of Failure” (published in the journal Imagination, Cognition and Personality, Vol. 21, No. 4), researcher Thomas Langens showed that people who have a fear of failure were often left in a strong negative mood after being asked to visualize goals and goal attainment.

So, what can you do instead?

Start by setting a few small goals. These should be goals that are slightly, but not overwhelmingly, challenging. Think of these goals as “early wins” that are designed to help boost your confidence.

For example, if you’ve been too afraid to talk to the new department head (who has the power to give you the promotion you want), then make that your first goal. Plan to stop by her office during the next week to introduce yourself.

Or, imagine that you’ve dreamed of returning to school to get your MBA, but you’re convinced that you’re not smart enough to be accepted into business school. Set a goal to talk with a school counselor or admissions officer to see what’s required for admission.

Try to make your goals tiny steps on the route to much bigger goals. Don’t focus on the end picture: getting the promotion, or graduating with an MBA. Just focus on the next step: introducing yourself to the department head, and talking to an admissions officer. That’s it.

Taking one small step at a time will help build your confidence, keep you moving forward, and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with visions of your final goal.


Sometimes, fear of failure can be a symptom of a more serious mental health condition. If fear of failure affects your day-to-day life, it’s important to speak with your doctor to get advice.

Key Points

Many of us sometimes experience a fear of failure, but we mustn’t let that fear to stop us from moving forward.

Fear of failure can have several causes: from childhood events to mistakes we’ve made in our adult lives. It’s important to realize that we always have a choice: we can choose to be afraid, or we can choose not to be.

Start by setting small goals that will help build your confidence. Learn how to explore and evaluate all possible outcomes rationally and develop contingency plans; and practice thinking positively. By moving forward slowly but steadily, you’ll begin to overcome your fear of failure.

Posted June 6, 2014 by mikaljackson in Uncategorized

The Dash Movie   Leave a comment

Life works in strange ways. Joseph Epstein once said, “We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents, or the country of birth. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live.”

via The Dash Movie.

Posted February 8, 2014 by mikaljackson in Uncategorized

How To Handle An Inverted Job Market   Leave a comment

Networking 2.0: Penetrating the Job Market

Networking has become the career buzz-term of the decade. It is everywhere; and Lord knows we business faculty pound it into the heads of our students on a daily basis. We tell them to use LinkedIn, make calls, rehearse elevator speeches, collect cards, do informational meetings, send out hand written cards, never eat alone, consider it a full-time job, and never ever stop doing it. But the truth of the matter is that most of us do not do it very well. If we can get off the dime at all, it is usually when we are losing our job. Then we say, “Uh oh, I better start networking!” Sales people are good at it, and consultants better be good at it, or the distinction between consultant and unemployment quickly evaporates.

And even when we do network, it may have a directionless, organic feel to it. We call someone we know, meet with them and see what happens. If we do enough of this we believe that the numbers alone will drive some good things to us, but we probably wasted a lot of time doing it. This lack of planning is a little like having a new product to sell and wandering around the street trying to figure out who might like to buy it. What company or brand manager would ever launch a product that way? And here we are launching the most important product of our lives that way. It’s amazing.

So beyond just brow beating us all about networking: What else can be done? First, we can start thinking of ourselves as brands that we are launching or relaunching. After we have defined our brand (a subject for another column) we need to do two things: 1) Decide what segment of the market we are aiming at, and 2) build a strategy to penetrate it. The first of these is probably the simplest, but it is also passed over by many of us.

This brings us to penetration strategy—really the point of this column. Most of us understand that we need to think of networking as information and contact gathering, and not job requests. We understand that all networking conversations should end with the name of the next person to call. But what we may not understand is that we should be thinking of each contact from a target marketing point of view. The value and opportunity that each network contact presents varies widely. The challenges and goals of a conversation with a friend of a friend needs to be thought of very differently from a conversation with a senior vice president that we have never met before. And the payout from these different “markets” is also very different.

The table below provides an interesting way to understand network target markets. It does this by using two contact variables (level of influence and level of contact). Each of these cells represents a different micro market with different advantages. The goal for each is to go after what they have to offer with a clear strategy.


Cells 2 and 3 are the ones that we are likely to have the clearest opinion of. Cell 2 is made up of influential people whom we know and who know us. They are our “rich uncles” because they are the ones who are the most likely to have the ability and interest in finding us jobs. But the truth of the matter is that most of us do not have a network heavily stocked with rich uncles. If you have rich uncles, they should be carefully maintained, because clearly they are the most likely to help you find the best opportunity.

Cell 3 is the other obvious cell because we are most likely to view it as valueless—so we ignore it. But these people are not valueless. They are the thin edge of the wedge of your network. They have the least influence, but they are the people who can introduce us to one of the most valuable groups—their ground floor friends. You never know who they know.

Cell 3, the “ground floor friends,” may be the most important group. They can do several things for you; most importantly they can tell you about their company. This information includes where the opportunities are, who the decision makers are, what the culture is like, and how the hiring process works. In essence, they can be your internal information network (spies)—and there is no other cell that will provide this for you. They are also relatively easy to reach. So the thinnest edge of the wedge can quickly get you to this most important cell.

The challenge with Cell 1 (Distant Moguls) is that you don’t know them, and they do not know you. Getting to see them will require a bridge from another network member—most likely a rich uncle. These people owe you nothing and they are doing someone else a favor just to see you. Once you get in front of them your job is to quickly find a way to make some sort of personal connection and then make a clear and brief presentation of your brand. You will need to leave them with a memory, so that they will be able to say: “Oh I remember Mueller, he was the guy who…”

So building and using a robust network means doing several things:

  • Focus on the segment of the market that you want to work in;
  • If you have a rich uncle, cultivate the relationship further;
  • Work from the thin side of the wedge by cultivating your internal informers; and if you get to a mogul,
  • Be prepared with a clear brand description and a memorable personal connection.

This micro analysis will take the randomness out of your network building and lead you more quickly to your next career opportunity.

Posted January 23, 2014 by mikaljackson in Uncategorized

YOUR LIFE…Why it is the way it is and what you can do about it NOW~   Leave a comment


What will your 2014 choices be my friend?

As most of you know, I am not one who is attracted to the latest trends or culturally “in” thought processes!  I am a realist, who delivers my words from a deep conviction and demands that those I serve do just the same.
What I do know is this, each of us make choices, and those choices effect our success.  Coaches are not critics of your choices, but the effective coach is a supporter of your choices, and helps you look at the risks associated with your thinking.  With so many people around us with agendas that serve their interests it sometimes can be difficult to know what “noise” to blend with your own thinking – right?   
On January 15 at 12 noon EST I will be conducting a free webinar titled “Your Life….Why it is the way it is and what you can do about it now!”  In the past 6 years I have helped hundreds of people change their focus and change their lives.  Most of them made a decision to attend a free webinar, and from there they started to construct some new thinking which resulted in hopeful futures!  
So I am inviting you personally to attend this one hour session. What will YOUR choice be?  It costs you nothing but an hour of your time and the results could be life changing.  What choice will you make? I hope to see you in the webinar, that choice may be just the jump start you needed!  
Yes Mikal, I am signing up right now…”To Live Is To Adapt”
I look forward to seeing you on January 15 at 12 noon EST.  
 V. Mikal Jackson CPC
on your mobile device:
IFPC isma

Posted January 13, 2014 by mikaljackson in Uncategorized

20 Tips For A Positive New Year In 2014!   Leave a comment



1. Stay Positive. You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can trust that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.

2. Take a morning walk of gratitude. I call it a “Thank You Walk.” It will create a fertile mind ready for success.

3. Make your first meal the biggest and your last meal the smallest. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid.

4. Zoom Focus. Each day when you wake up in the morning ask: “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?” Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.

5. Talk to yourself instead of listen to yourself. Instead of listening to your complaints, fears and doubts, talk to yourself and feed your mind with the words and encouragement you need to keep moving forward.

6. Remember that adversity is not a dead-end but a detour to a better outcome.

7. Don’t chase dollars or success. Decide to make a difference and build meaningful relationships and success will find you.

8. Get more sleep. You can’t replace sleep with a double latte.

9. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in your purpose, people and the positive present moment.

10. Mentor someone and be mentored by someone.

11. Live with the 3 E’s. Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.

12. Remember there’s no such thing as an overnight success. There’s no substitute for hard work.

13. Believe that everything happens for a reason and expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.

14. Implement the No Complaining Rule. Remember that if you are complaining, you’re not leading.

15. Read more books than you did in 2013.

16. Don’t seek happiness. Instead decide to live with passion and purpose and happiness will find you.

17. Focus on “Get to” vs “Have to.” Each day focus on what you get to do, not what you have to do. Life is a gift not an obligation.

18. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:

I am thankful for __________.
Today I accomplished____________.

19. Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.

20. Enjoy the ride. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy it.

– See more at:

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!