Category Archives: References

Is an SND keeping you from getting a job?

They certainly give very strange names to diseases.  (Plato)

Social Network Diseases

I’m watching you.  I’m not trying to, but I am.

Are you having trouble getting taken seriously?  You may have a social network disease (SND).  One salesman with an SND can ruin sales by the whole team.  A couple of years ago you may have put some entries in Facebook that you shouldn’t have. Then you forgot about the account.

I can find most social networks you belong to.  When I put your name and email address into my new database, it magically looks you up.  It downloads the information from a few social networks, and gives me links to the rest.

I didn’t even remember some of the networks I found out I belong to.

Everybody has access to the same tool.  It may not be tightly integrated into their CRM like mine is, but it is there. 

Worried?  You should be.  This information hangs around for a long time in databases like mine.  If I don’t touch your record for a year, that year old information is still in my database.  It could be very embarrassing.

Now it is time to do something about it.  Clean up the ones you know about.

Hallowe’en and your job search, really.

I know it is not Hallowe’en.  Humor me.

Tips for job seekers and Halloween trick or treaters are just about the same.  Think about how each of these directly applies to looking for a job.

  1. If you are scared, get your dad (a coach) to help on a few doors.
  2. Dress for success.  Look the part from your hair to your shoes, bag and greeting.
  3. The neighborhood you call on defines the size of the treats you get.
  4. Not everyone is giving out one pound candy bars, but they are all worth visiting.
  5. The more houses you call on, the more likely you will get a one pound candy bar.
  6. Go BACK to the biggest house with the best candy later.
  7. The most successful trick or treaters plan their routes and run from door to door.
  8. If you don’t knock, they won’t answer.
  9. If the porch light is out, you won’t get any candy, but you may get advice.
  10. Some of the scariest houses give the best treats.
  11. You get more treats if you start early and work late.
  12. Asking for candy in the traditional way works, ingenuity may get you more.
  13. Helping a little kid can double your take.
  14. Always say thank you.
  15. Sometimes they just ran out of treats, sorry.
  16. Going with friends (groups and social media) can make a scary neighborhood safer.
  17. It is a night of cold calling, even if you know the people.
  18. Trade candy (leads) afterwards to get what you really want.
  19. If you go to a party instead, and complain, you won’t get a big bag of candy.
  20. Don’t blow out the candle in the pumpkin.
  21. Do it again next year, only better, now that you have experience.

Wow!  I could write 21 articles based on those points.  Let me make a few quick points instead.

  1. Planning and preparation.  If you want the best chance of quick success, take 15 minutes each day and an additional 4 hours each week to review results, make lists, THINK, and plan for the coming week.  And make sure you have resumes that are attractive and get people to call you.
  2. Work hard and fast.  Actually do what you plan.  Make calls and contacts daily.  It is amazing how often luck follows hard work.
  3. Go back again.  You should be talking to your best prospects at least monthly.  If you spend 15 minutes thinking and looking for a reason to call, you can usually come up with a helpful reason to call almost anyone.
  4. Work together.  Share leads.  Offer to critique other’s resumes.  Suggest websites, books, and other job search ideas.  A lot of people find the perfect job in the castoffs and contacts from someone else’s search. Go to someone else’s house and both of you make calls at the same time.
  5. Be polite. Just because they say “No” doesn’t mean they hate you.  Say thank you and contact them again if it is a company you really want to join.  Never burn bridges or “blow out the candle” with anyone.

Have a great Halloween, and an even better job search.  Good luck finding that one pound candy bar!

What to do about serial disasters in your job search

I lived a couple of summers on a dairy and hog farm.  There were only two things to do with manure, put it on the fields or in the creek.  Yes, once it went into the creek. The manure that went on the fields helped grow more corn and alfalfa.  The manure that went into the creek was a shame, dangerous, and very easy to get rid of. Dumping in the creek eventually became illegal.  It’s a good thing.  That was a bad choice.

The difference between fertilizer and pollution was not the ingredients, it was what we chose to do with our time and resources.

When you spend your time job hunting poorly, you flush your work down the creek.

You can be getting killed before you are interviewed, after the first interview, or when references are checked.

Killed before you are interviewed

If you make one poor resume and send it out 500 times in a year with no interviews, you are polluting, not fertilizing.  That resume goes on file at many companies and keeps you from being hired for job after job.  If you are getting no response, either:

  1. you are not qualified for the jobs
  2. the resume is not working
  3. you have a bad reputation

In any one of these cases, you need to change what you are doing.

If you are not qualified, get experience and certifications, or lower your sights to the jobs you really are qualified for.  If the resume is not working, you need to fix it.  Go to to get the best resume book ever written. If your reputation stinks, you may have to move or try a new field of work.

Stopped after your first interview

If you are getting interviews every week, but never being called back for a second set of interviews, you are polluting.  The companies you are interviewing with are putting you on their “Not Good Enough” list for some reason. You need to do some practice interviews on camera, and practice with managers who can’t hire you but will critique you. You need interview help. You also need to get back with every interviewer you can find and beg them for honest feedback.  If they consider you a really bad match, they will often hide that for fear of angering you.  When you ask for feedback, listen meekly and probe.

Ruined by your references

Does your job search fall apart every time it gets to the reference check phase?  Someone or something in your background is killing you.  You may have a reference who is polluting your job search.  It could be a lukewarm or hostile person who smiles at you and moans during a reference check.  Some people are just negative.  They hedge and hold back and wouldn’t give Superman a good reference because of his “Kryptonite problem.”   If you know a credit check or criminal background check is stopping you, you may have to back down your job aspirations or get to know which companies will hire you anyway. Sometimes an industry change is necessary.  Changing states may help.


If your job search is not working, there is always a reason.  Always.  Where your search is falling apart may tell you what the problem is and how to fix it.  Getting to the same place over and over only to lose out because of YOUR problem pollutes the job market against you. Find out if you have a problem.  Honestly work to correct that problem and you’ll find a job.

Something to do today

Keep track of where your job search is falling apart.  Figure out if it is your resume, interviews, or reference checks that are killing you.  Now, start researching ways to overcome that problem.  Work at it.

How 2100 hirers say you should use social media

More and more companies are using social media to find and vet job candidates, and more and more often, social media is giving these companies reasons to not hire a candidate.

A survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder found that two in five companies…Click here to read more about the survey of 2100 hirers.

Eagles are loyal, but what if your boss is horrible?

Lee’s boss yelled at him, changed project specs constantly, did not give him a raise in 3 years of outstanding service, was occasionally late with paychecks, and was basically the boss from …. you know where.

I found out about the 3 years of no raises in our first interview.  When I asked why, Lee said, “The company never did take off financially, so they couldn’t give me a raise.”  Then he refused to talk about it more.  No gossip. No backbiting.  Nothing.  Lee was loyal to him.

I liked Lee.  He had great skills and had just finished an MS in his field.  I wanted to find him a new job. I needed to call his references.  He wouldn’t let me talk to his boss, but I did talk with his coworkers. Stellar references came in.

I got a job offer contingent on a reference from his boss.  Reluctantly Lee told me about the skeletons in his boss’s closet.  The boss would give a horrible reference.  Lee gave notice to his company and I called his boss.  It was a massacre.  The boss was totally unreasonable.  Lee only gave 3 weeks notice so Lee was a traitor.  I listened to a 15 minute tirade.  Then I asked, “But how was Lee’s performance?”  I got another tirade that I interrupted with, “Fine, but you kept him 3 years.  Was he any good at his job?”  The boss slowly let me pull a very positive reference out of him.  Lee was a great worker.  His boss was terrible.

Lee was loyal.  His boss was not.  Because of Lee’s loyalty I never knew how bad his boss was until I absolutely had to know.  Lee got that new job.  And just for the record, he got a 50% pay raise at his new job.

It is easy to be loyal to great people.  Learn to be loyal even to rotten bosses you were associated with.  Don’t dump every bad thing there is to know about him and the company. Give the necessary information and stop.  Long explanations come across as gossip.

Loyalty is an important trait you can show by NOT telling everything.

Something to do today

Write down one sentence replies to questions you don’t want to delve into during an interview.  Go over the list an hour or two before the interview.  Right before the interview read the list of things you want to emphasize.  You need to be thinking positively when you go into your interview.


Later: Interview like an Eagle – 4

Start a salary bidding war

Top secret job hunting

Read want ads even if you are NOT job hunting

Free career intelligence

How to turn your dishwasher into a snowplow

4 ways quitting with extreme prejudice hurts careers every day

Jack’s temporary assignment at the salt mine was coming to a close after a great 9 month term. He was only scheduled for 3 months, but he had done so well it was extended several times.  He was getting antsy.  Two days before his scheduled last day, he stalked into his bosses office, threw his ID badge on the desk and said, “Take this job and shove it.  If I’m not appreciated, I’m not going to take your bull**** any more.” He stalked out.

The client called me and told me what happened.  Jack did not return my calls.  Guess what?  Soon I had another assignment.  He would have been able to do it.  It was closer to his home.  I never called him.  He burned a bridge he didn’t need to.

When you build bridges you can keep crossing them. (Rick Pitino)

No matter how much you hate your current situation, quit gracefully.  Burnt bridges only prove that your eyes once watered from the smoke.  You may destroy an opportunity down the road by throwing gasoline and a lighted match at your old boss.  Let me give you some more real life examples.

  • Your old boss gets a job at the same company you went to. He is never again your boss. When they are reviewing internal resumes from several teams for a promotion, he mentions what you did upon leaving your old job. A confidential note is put in your employee file.  For some reason you stop getting pay raises.
  • A coworker who stayed hears about how you yelled at the boss, formatted your had drive and destroyed all your customer entries in the database.  He eventually changes jobs.  You apply for a job where he now works five years later.  He hears about it and warns his company.  You were the top candidate but don’t get the job.
  • You apply for a job.  The new hiring manager worked with your old boss 20 years ago.  Your old boss is not on the reference list, but the hiring manager calls him anyway.  They are friends.  The company policy that they will only disclose your hire date, termination date and salary is ignored.  The hiring manager can’t tell you what really happened because he has to protect his friend. You lose and never know why.
  • The recruiter has a great job.  He is excited to present you. The next day he says, “You just aren’t a fit.”  He won’t elaborate.  You are crestfallen.  You never find out that he placed five people in your old company.  When he was checking references he called someone who wasn’t on your list.  He was warned about you.

You may feel great for few hours when you trash your old boss and company. If you already have a new job, it may even seem perfectly safe.  These things have a way of coming back to haunt you.  When you burn a bridge behind you, you may create a ghost that follows you for years.


Something to do today

Next time you are out with your friends ask them about the most dramatic bridge burning exits they have heard of.



Later: How to quit

The old boy network

Exploit the old boys

The money question

How to make your skills official

You need to make your skills official.  You need to get someone to put their stamp of approval on them.

A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender, therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber stamps.  (H. L. Mencken)

Today I could apply for a job as a writer and have a real chance of getting it. Four years ago it would have been much tougher. I can now prove I am an author, a writer and a man of letters.  My published articles prove it.  One particular article proves that I am an expert at finding IT security folks and possibly an expert at computer security.

In reality I was a writer and a recruiter before the articles were published.  Yet, today I am much more marketable as both.

School did not make it official.  Someone putting their reputation on the line to use my work is what made it official.  Someone with a bit to gain and a lot to lose said, “We’re proud to have him write for us.”

I have seen programmers with 3 months of experience beat out programmers with years of experience.  The reason is that the rookie looked more official.  Someone trusted the rookie with a big role in a major project and he pulled through. He was excited, passionate and had the obvious imprimatur of his boss. The senior programmers who lost were always background support doing 40 hour weeks with no enthusiasm and no risk.

It’s official when you’ve proved it in commercial competition.  Not just when the team gets the job done, but when YOU personally made it happen.

How can you make your accomplishments and knowledge undeniably official?

Something to do today

Send an idea for an article to a publication or website about your field.  Submit it and see what happens.  They may ask you to write it.


Later:             Illegal questions

No BS interviews work

How to quit

The old boy network

Exploit the old boys

The money question

A list to get you great references

This list will help you get great audio and visual references on your resume. It is also a great thing to send to your references right before they are called.

Few people prepare their references to talk about them.  Fewer still have their references recorded and included with their resume.  Does it make sense in your job search?

You forget what your kid did yesterday. People forget what you did.  Friends forget how you helped them.  And I guarantee your boss can’t remember everything you did.

Mark Twain said, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”

You can get better “impromptu” references by jogging memories.  There are two ways to do it.  One is to give your references a list of questions they may want to answer.  The second is to send them a list of wonderful things you did that they may want to mention. Anything you send them will probably be read and thrown away, but they may remember one or two points when the call comes from your potential employer.

Here’s a list of questions you may want to send them:

  • What were my biggest accomplishments?
  • How did I make a difference?
  • How did I save money?
  • Was I willing to work extra hours?
  • What projects could not have been finished without me?
  • How well did I handle a particular crisis?
  • What did I suggest that saved time or money?
  • How did I keep customers happy?
  • Why did customers like dealing with me?
  • Which customers only worked with me? Why?
  • How did my teammates feel when I left?
  • Was I loyal?
  • Would you rehire me?  Why?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rank me? Why?

Don’t forget, it may be a good idea to send a few reminders about the answers to the questions.

This list will also be useful if you are using audio references on your resume.

Few people prepare their references to talk about them.  Fewer still have their references recorded and included with their resume.  Does it make sense in your job search?


You can get a free 21 day trial to put the voice of your references on your resume:

Or create your own using your cell phone and YouTube.

Something to do today

Put together a list of questions your references can answer, or accomplishments you hope they mention.  When you know they are about to get called, send them the lists.  It could make a big difference.


Later:             Making dogs dance

How to put great audio references on your resume

Include your boss in your resume.  They can hear him say how well you did.  Your coworker will tell how you helped train him. They can hear the sincerity.  You can control what the references say. It could get you hired.  It will make you unique.  I don’t know if it will work for you, but it makes sense to me.

There is a toll free number your references can call to make a recording for you. You go online and listen to the reference and decide if you want to use it.  Then you press a button.  All that is left is to cut and paste a link into your resume.  You now have an audio reference..

You can try the full audio reference package free for 21 days.  This is a marketing tool that costs $29.95 per month plus some minor fees for the recordings. If you are going to send out 100 resumes, why not send out your references with them? References you are 100% sure of.

You can get a free 21 day trial here:

This is not the only way to get references on your resume.  It is the easiest I know of for your references.  That can be important.  But if you want to use YouTube or just a recorder and a file on your website, you can do that too.  How about an interview format with someone asking questions about you??

Something to do today

Having trouble with your references?  Give this a shot.  You will know exactly what they are going to say.


Later:             Getting better audio references

Audio on your resume

Make an incredible standout resume adding a new reference format

We got a resume that was 30 pages long.  It included a CD with all the documents and even more information.  Karen and I laughed about the ego of the guy who did it.  We looked through it to see why he thought he needed so much information.  We called and talked to him and told him it was too much. In short, it was the perfect resume.

The perfect resume gets read, discussed, carefully checked and finally gets a call to the person who sent it.  It wasn’t until a year later that I realized just how effective that huge resume had been. I had called and discussed a lot of details with the owner. Perfect.

Enterprising job searchers have come up with a lot of ways to set their resumes apart.  Different kinds of paper, a CD, a business card sized CD, audio, video, youtube, a 5 word cover letter, photos, a sculpture included in a box, candy, and a singing delivery person have all been used. The idea is to do something that sets you apart in a positive manner.  It also has to be something that does not diminish your printed out email resume.

Adding audio or video is relatively simple.  My next two letters will detail different ways to add references you can see or hear.  One is using a telephone.  It is extremely easy.  The other requires a recorder, software and a website.  If you want to make a real audio or video production, it is the way to go.

Is audio for you?  Do you want your references to be instantly available to anyone who gets your resume.  Will your own voice get you calls for interviews?  You’ll have to decide.  I’ll show you how to do it.

Something to do today

Are your references willing to be recorded?  Find out.


Later:             The easy way to add audio to your resume