Category Archives: Finding jobs

Don’t lose a job over one email 

Dan had the perfect first interview. I debriefed the hiring manager. Dan was a sharp leader with experience and corporate savvy. The pay would be $175,000 per year. Dan drafted a thank you email and sent it off to the hiring manager. 

The next afternoon I called the hiring manager to set up an interview. It was not going to happen. Instead of the short “thank you” I recommended, Dan sent a two page email. Not a problem, usually. Then the email was forwarded to me. Dan had sent a lethal email. 

There were two problems:

1. Dan wrote about the wrong things

2. The grammar, spelling and layout were terrible

The wrong things

A thank you email is not a good place to bring up problems with your last boss, the other reasons you quit that job, or that you are tired of working long hours. You don’t set salary, vacation and relocation demands in a thank you email either. You just say, “Thank you.”

Grammar, spelling and layout

Dan was in the running for a job as leader, manager, communicator and chief computer dude for a multi-national company. He would be giving direction and building coalitions. His technical expertise was essential. But, Dan didn’t use the computer to check his spelling or grammar. It was bad. Just plain bad. He also wandered from subject to subject in the middle of paragraphs and sentences.  The email did not hang together. 

Make it very short, or get it proofread

A short thank you is best.

If you are writing more than 3 sentences, wait an hour and re-read it before you send it. The idea of informal and off-the-cuff email is sweet, but wrong. You will be judged by what you send. If your email is over 3 lines, at least proofread it yourself. Better yet, have someone else who is a good writer look it over and make suggestions. And please learn how to use a spelling and grammar checker.

Make sure your thank you gets you closer to the job, not shut out.

Something to do today

Go to your email outbox. How many of those should have been more formal?

“Lone Eagles” join flocks, too

I used to believe that eagles don’t flock. I’d seen flocks of geese, starlings, and turkeys. Never a flock of eagles. For some reason, I believed the best people didn’t flock either. After all, my employer used it as a recruiting slogan. You have to find the great people one-by-one.

8 years into EDS, I worked with a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist. On her wall she had the Sierra club calendar. There was a picture of a dozen eagles all sitting in the bare branches of an Alaskan tree. I commented on the incongruity of all those eagles flocking together. She said, “My husband and I were in Alaska when we took that picture. It really isn’t that uncommon of a sight where there are a lot of eagles.” 

Close Photography of Bald Eagle

Looking for flocks of eagles became a hobby of mine, particularly since my employer’s recruiting slogan denied that eagles flock. I found that there really are a lot of lone eagles. They are islands of expertise and productivity in an ocean of mediocrity. My current profession is to find those eagles and move them into flocks. 

There are a few flocks of eagles in every industry and city. Places where eagles are naturally attracted. Once you know where those places are, it is pretty easy to get an eagle to move to that flock. Some choose to remain the lone eagle among sparrows. I can’t blame them. Besides, they can move to a flock anytime they want.

Just being around eagles makes you grow. You can’t help but want to be like them even if you are just a sparrow. Somehow, you absorb their attitude and habits. Even if you don’t really want to become an eagle, being around them is exhilarating.

So keep your eyes open for flocks of eagles and individual eagles. Find a way to work closely with them. You’ll learn and grow. You’ll find your career is enhanced and your outlook improves whether or not you ever want to become an eagle yourself. 

Something to do today

Ask around. Where is the flock of eagles you would like to work with? Where are the lone eagles?

9 reasons it’s time to leave your job

Other than money, most people have to leave a job because of a major problem. It can be like an arrow wound for some people. This is called a job wound. Money can be the arrow, but it has to be a major problem, not just wanting to leave for 5% higher pay. 

Common job wound in a person’s job search are 

  1. being passed over for promotion, 
  2. a boring job, 
  3. a horrible boss, 
  4. dishonesty around you, 
  5. an abusive environment, 
  6. the company is failing, 
  7. long hours for months on end, 
  8. too much travel, 
  9. or lack of personal growth. 

A job wound is a serious problem. One that can’t be overcome by doing your work a little better. I will always try to find your job wound before I try to place you.  That’s because you are likely to spend a lot of time job hunting, only to stay where you are if you don’t have a painful enough job wound.

Many people will live with a severe job wound for years. A good spouse, friend, or recruiter won’t let you live with a bad job wound. We poke our fingers into the wound to see how deep it is. I use a little rubbing alcohol to help clean it out because it really stings. Then after I know how deep the wound is, I’ll pour in a little salt occasionally. I want someone who is thinking of changing jobs to hurt so bad that they don’t make the same mistake again.

Sometimes you need someone with a vested interest in change to get you to do something about your problems. If you have a severe job wound, it is time for major surgery. You need a job-ectomy.

Something to do today

Show this article to someone who is willing to do some surgery. Ask them to help you probe the size of your job wound. Write down all the details and emotions you bring to the surface. 

Look for a job while still employed

It is absolutely legal and a good idea to look for a new job while you are still employed.  It can also be theft, treason and absolutely illegal.  It depends on how you do it.

There was a running joke at one place I worked.  

“Hey, Jim, this is the fourth day this month you’ve worn a suit.  Are you going to see the dentist again?”

It was obvious when people were interviewing for a new job. None of us minded as long as the person didn’t slack off. 

The principles are simple:

  • Honestly keep earning your income at your current job
  • Don’t give away any company secrets

Here are some things I have noticed about job hunters that I respect:

  • They interview at lunch or during a normal job downtime.
  • They use their own email address or know the company policy on using their work email for personal use.
  • They are careful about who can hear them when talking on the phone.
  • You can’t pry confidential company information out of them.
  • Getting their work done despite looking for a new job is important to them.
  • Sabotaging workplace morale is out of character.

It is pretty simple.  Treat your job, boss and coworkers how you would like to be treated.  Be worth every penny you have been paid and will be paid.  Switching jobs is not a crime unless you make it one.  

Something to do today

Decide what ethical job hunting really is.  Write down some rules.  Live by them.

Choosing when to relocate

It was a drop in total pay, but for a $125,000 dollar base salary, my candidate moved to another state. Two years later the company was sold and he pocketed an additional half million in cash. That was a financially successful relocation. The opportunity had been even better than expected.

But they had to deal with finding a new house, moving the girls into a new school, finding a new church and new social group. The first 3 months were very painful. The financial reward was great, but they questioned the decision to move as they tried to settle in. They eventually found a school, neighborhood and social group that was even better than the one they left. At work and at home it was an improvement because there was opportunity for a positive change combined with strength and preparation.

One year he made $500,000 in base salary and commissions. The next year he moved again, to another company….for less money. He moved for opportunity.

What if the money is NOT that good?

Opportunity is what is important in considering whether to move or not. More money alone is not that great of a reason to uproot yourself. The opportunity to live near family or to get away from a disruptive family member is a good reason. It may be worth moving just to be where the economy is more vibrant or stable. Getting into a company with a technical or managerial career ladder that suits you is a great reason to relocate to another state. A lot of people move here to Harrisburg because it is a smaller town with shorter commutes, and there are a lot of outdoor activities 15 minutes away.

You need to figure out the opportunities that are most important for you and your family. Talk about it. For the right opportunity, those high school students may even want to move.  

When to delay a move

Running from a problem may be necessary. If possible, take a little while to fix the underlying cause first, then move. Otherwise you merely take your problems to a new location and they reappear like weeds in a garden.

That may mean admitting you need more training, a better attitude at work, better work habits or to build a stronger family. When you are on the road to fixing underlying problems, then a move can give you a clean slate to start over with. 

Relocate for opportunity. That means YOU need to be ready, really ready, to grow. 

Something to do today

This is a good time to talk to your family or a good friend about what is holding you back. Do you need to have more opportunities for work, your family, or both?

Job search scams to watch out for

A banking jobs website salesman called my partner one day. They have the best, the greatest, the most useful banking jobs website ever. They want us to have all of our candidates put their resumes up on their website. Then any employer can pay a fee, find the resumes, and hire the candidates. There are a whopping 175 resumes in the database. It is useless for anyone to go there. Don’t waste your time putting your resume on that website.

  1. Wasting your time online is the biggest internet job site scam. Many sites sell hope, and not results, ever.

You need to talk to people. Your resume only has one purpose, to get you an interview. If you can call up a company and talk to a real person who might tell you to come in for an interview, that’s the best use of your time.

  1. One other job site scam is the high fee “We’ll help you find a job” website. I have nothing against legitimate resume preparation companies. Someone who helps you prepare for interviews for a fee is fine. Resume rabbit will post your resume on 75 websites for a small fee. Companies that send your resume to 10,000 companies do a service, even if it is mostly useless. The problem is with companies that will charge you $5,000 or $20,000 for those services. Sorry, that’s where I draw the line. So, let me give you some guidelines on top fees you should pay. Paying a fraction of these fees for great service is common. This is the MOST you should pay, ever.
  • Resume preparation: $800
  • Resume posting to job sites $150
  • Interview coaching: $150 per hour
  • Mass resume blasts to employers: a few hundred dollars

Consider the internet a helper in your job search. Your goal is to talk to people who can hire you.

Something to do today

Call a potential employer or recruiter today. Talk to someone. 

What does the internet say about you?

You can ruin your career and job opportunities at the speed of light.  It can take anywhere from a few months to years to clear up the problem.  Google is the problem.

More bosses and companies Google their employees and candidates now. Before they give someone a promotion, raise in salary or a brand new job, they Google them.   It is an instant reference check. Your boss may Google himself to find out what the world knows about him. He will try to figure out who is slandering  him behind the online name “maddog231”.  If he figures out it was you, that can be a problem.

Worse, go to Google and you’ll notice a little link by every entry that says “cached.”   Cached means stored.  Even if your comment is pulled off the internet, Google is going to keep it for a while. If someone cuts and pastes your comment onto their website, that comment could be around for 20 years.  There may be no quick fix for the havoc you wreak on yourself by being sharp-tongued online.

If you don’t google yourself or be careful on the internet it’s time to start worrying about how you portray yourself in blogs, emails, resumes, comments and anything else you do online.  Google is a powerful tool.  Make sure what you put on the internet helps you instead of hurting you.

Something to do today

Google yourself, your bosses and your company.  Did you find anything interesting?

Don’t let your resume fade away into the background

Some people are remembered because they are sharp, creative, and interesting. Many people are gray and easily forgotten

Call up our office after 6 pm EST. Usually no one is there. Listen to my voicemail message. (800) 239-7037. Bryan Dilts. I change the message fairly often.

You won’t be the first person to call just to hear it. Some of them are great. Some are merely okay. I, personally, think each is funny, motivational or thought provoking. Some other people think my messages are an abomination. Each message is the real me. 

My voicemail is unique. Each person who leaves a message remembers me.

No committee would ever let me have those messages. They would strangle the creativity. I actually had a manager tell me not to be happy when I answer the phone at an old job. That is the kind of thinking that turns you into a gray person that no one will remember.

Little children are great examples for their creativity, and their ability to stay upbeat and happy in many situations. Kids trip over or fall face first into the floor all the time and they get right back up and go back to being happy as ever. They’re wonderful examples of how everyone should act. Having that upbeat and unstoppable attitude is a great way to stand out, not some gloomy gray person that fades away. 

Unlike children where they can be all over the place, in your job search you need to strike a balance. You need to build confidence in the hiring managers. You also need to stand out. If you come up with a great idea, run it past some friends who can help you refine it. Then test it. The key is to refine and improve, not kill the idea. In the end, take responsibility and do something a little different. Your friends are not a committee with a life or death responsibility. They are helpers.

Figure out what will make your resume better and unique. Decide a few things you can answer to the standard questions that make you stand out in 10 seconds of an interview. Find the way to network that will set you apart and make you uniquely worthy of help. Always go for a little better.

Use help to do something better and more unique. Don’t let a committee kill your genius. Be sharp and creative, not just a gray person everyone immediately forgets.

Something to do today

So, what is unique about you? Is it your personality? Your brainpower? Your 10 kids? (I have that many.) Education? Sense of humor? Hard work? Soberness? Reliability?

Figure out a way to emphasize your strengths. Be different.

Look for the right place to cast your resume

When I was a child I tried fishing in a puddle in front of our house. When the sun dried it up I could see there were no fish there.

At college I saw a video of a man fishing in one of the larger fountains there. When people asked how the fishing was, he pulled up a nice string of large trout. That made for interesting conversations, but no one believed him. They could see there were no trout in that clear fountain water.

On a Scout outing John and I were lying on a creek bank and looking down into the water. We could see 3 nice trout in the tree roots. When a fisherman came by we asked how he was doing. Only one fish so far. John told the man to cast his lure at the tree root. In a dozen casts the man caught all three fish.

To catch fish you have to cast your lure where the fish are.

This applies to new jobs and promotions 

A recruiter can be that kid lying on the bank of the creek looking into the water. He says “Cast your resume over here and you’ll get a job.” He knows where the jobs are.

Ask your friends and acquaintances who are hiring. They may have a good idea where to go. Look at the financial news stories and find out what industries are “going public” in the stock market. Ask what companies are growing the fastest and look for a job in that industry.

Your mentor at work will tell you, “Volunteer for that project. It has great visibility. Avoid Jill Montoya, she’s poison.” The mentor knows where the rewards and pitfalls are hidden.

Always be looking to the future. Where are the jobs being created? What do you need to learn to be in a high demand field?

Fish where the fish are. You’ll have better luck.

Something to do today

Ask the people you respect most in your profession where the jobs are and where the industry is going. 

How to get more money in your job

Some people need a new job to get more money. Others just need a new attitude. For more money, often you just have to ask.

I get calls from people with golden handcuffs occasionally. They are paid so well or have such great bonuses that all they can get by switching jobs is a drop in pay. Often they don’t appreciate it. I have to honestly tell them what the job market is like and ask them if they want to earn less at a new job. Only one in twenty says, “Yes, I’ll take a drop in pay.” The others get a quick lesson on either growing where they are at or being content at being overpaid.

Others are underpaid or paid their market value and want to earn more. Changing jobs for a 3% raise usually makes no sense. You could easily get that in the next year just by being patient. Often you could get a raise like that in a few weeks by presenting your case to your boss and their boss. So try that first. Present your accomplishments and a list of things you have done in the last few years. Prove you are worth more and give them 3 months to react.

If you really can get a 10% raise or more by leaving the job, the problem is different. You still need to present your case to your bosses. They may give you the raise and solve the problem. Give them 3 months to work on it after you present an air tight case that includes your specific contributions, not just your responsibilities.

During those 3 months keep your eyes open for a new job. Check out what the market really is like. After 3 months go back to your bosses and ask if you are going to get a raise. This is an important step so that they know you are serious. If they say, “No,” then start looking for a new job.

Some people really do need a new job to get more money.

Something to do today

Thinking about getting a new job? Call a recruiter who specializes in your field or in your geographical area. Ask them what the going rates for someone like you are.