More New Content!

You would think that with every artist and writer locked up at home, alone, that there would have been some really cool masterpieces created. Right? New award winning grammy songs, new plays, and of course, new books from your favorite authors. Don’t look at me, I update the blog WEEKLY. Some writers haven’t written a tweet, let alone an actual blog. Although, I think that more celebrities and authors SHOULD write more. I think reading the thoughts, hopes and dreams of some well known stars would be fun. If you can talk, you can write. While some authors may not be the best at writing, at least they were trying. Some people write differently than how they talk. As I have instructed many aspiring writers, … are you “telling” me what happened, or am I experiencing it using all my senses? Do I “feel” what you feel? Can you smell the fresh baked bread in gramma’s kitchen as the amber sunlight slowly creeps in her flower box window? So I am taking a short break from the job search blogs, today. Yes I know they are entertaining and informative, but they are actually really boring for me. My days were filled with looking at bad resumes from students for years. I could quickly scan a resume and find at least one error … every time. But it takes a trained eye. Some HR recruiters might not even notice some errors. I think I covered most of the bases. Y’all should be able to get a job on your own now.

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So let’s flip over to talking about social media training. I know there are thousands of readers that would love to have a huge social media following. First ask yourself, why do you want that following? Maybe it is so you can build a platform so you can get publishers to notice you and print/publish your book? Your ability to prove to a publisher that you will sell future books is monumental. They claim it costs a lot to print books. Wrong. It costs a lot to print unsellable books. Just think how many stores Barnes & Nobles has, and how many books have to stock each store. Some readers want a following so they can monetize their content. Right. So if you get enough views on YouTube, then advertisers will pay money to put their stupid ad on your video. But you get paid. You might have a big “voice” that other people want to hear. Maybe you have a different take or perspective on a particular issue, and your platform shares those concerns? If you are in the spotlight, your personal lifestyle choices might be “reviewed” and if not deemed appropriate, YouTube can/will demonetize your channel and you get paid nothing. I can think of a certain individual who not only got banned but also lost monetary abilities.

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So if you own a website it may or may not have a blog incorporated into it. Believe it or not, that is something that is extra. If it is a WordPress website it is super simple to use the blog feature. If you didn’t know, WordPress allows additional software, called plugins to be installed to enhance your website. I think this is what has made their platform so successful. One thing that I would encourage website owners (you) to do, is use the Jetpack plugin which has all kind of cool features. If you have subscribed to the site, then you know you don’t have to visit it daily to check if a new blog has been posted. Super convenient for you, and also gives the site a rest from getting too many hits. That is a Jetpack feature. I don’t own my server, so if it gets overloaded, it causes it to stall or get a 503 error. You refresh and it is fixed. But imagine if you were say, Lady Gaga, who has millions of fans. Everyone’s website is different and has different reasons/usage. Some sites actually sell products, and when they launch a new product, … it crashes.

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So if you are a normal person, you probably won’t get millions of hits. But when you do, you can upgrade your site with your hosting server. Just so you know, there will be fans that love you so much they will actually set your website as one of their start up tabs. From the back-end you will know this happens as the same IP address is registering daily in your logs. Everyone has some interesting “hobby” that they are sort of an expert. You can write about it, or YouTube about it, and someone will like it and be a new fan. If you create interesting, new, fun content then you will start your social media following. What are you known for? Then brand yourself that way. Or what do you WANT to be known for? If you knew you were going to die next year, what do you want your legacy to be known for? Or do you have a secret recipe that you really should share with the world? Pin it. Instagram it. Write about it. Do all of the above.

 

Maybe you don’t want a huge social media fan base, but you can still start a free blog and document/write your thoughts that you want shared to your family and friends one day. I know you’re just bored, so do it out of sheer boredom. Writing out your thoughts can really help your mental health.

June. Teenth. What a stupid name for a federal holiday. Wow congress really has their priorities don’t they? May 4th should be a federal star wars holiday. I am sure there are lot of other “groups” that say “Where’s my fucking holiday?” Just saying, since no one else will. Evil is now streaming on the Paramount app instead of CBS. It is like $5 a month. So $1.25 an episode as they launch now every Sunday. I saw it, and it’s worth it. You do get a free trial.

 

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Just Another Bad Situation

So, let’s pretend your work/life situation is not to your liking. It happens. There might be a coworker, a customer, or even a manager that you just absolutely despise. In some businesses, you might see that problem customer, over and over again, month after month. If it is a supervisor or manager, then you might be faced with making a difficult decision. Do you make that conscious decision to actively start looking for a new job, secretly, or do you suck it up and make the best of a shitty situation? Well, it really depends on how much you really hate that individual.

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Like I said before, people don’t leave jobs because of the nature of work, they leave because of conflicts with managers. That “manager” might be the owner of the company so there may not BE any workable solution other than leaving. I worked for the owner of a 3 person company and he said to me “My company. My rules.” He was a financial planner and unethically told all his clients to sell a particular fund against his own prior advisement. Then he insinuated he had “secret” insider information (hush hush don’t tell your friends). Also illegal. He is long dead now, so no repercussions to him.  Well, if you didn’t know, there is a fee associated with selling and when you have hundreds of clients all selling and then buying, that broker gets paid. It’s a really shitty way to rip off your customers so you can make more money off of them. Most people pay a professional to make smart decisions for them so they make money, not so they can keep paying stupid fees.

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So with any relationship situation, it is best to start the list. You know, the pros and cons of that relationship. This applies to dating as well as work. What do you like? Why is it beneficial for you? Are you paying your dues? Is the person who is making life difficult really a secret mentor in disguise? Are you supposed to learn something from this person or teach something to this person? In many years to come you will look back and understand the “why” behind your reason for being there.  Now ask yourself, do you REALLY want to start all over in a new environment? Bottom guy on the totem pole? Starting all over again sucks. Making new friends (if applicable). For some people the thought and idea of getting out is a fresh of breath air. Others are in their comfort zone and will continue to tolerate the shit. When you tell your employer all your life stories, they got you. You’re trapped. You just bought a new car. You have kids. You have a mortgage. You aren’t going anywhere. They will work you to death and you are just an employee number to them. Seriously at the end of the day, unless you are married to the owner or his/her kid, they don’t really give a hoot about you. If you leave, so what. There are a dozen struggling, unemployed people out there someone will happily take your job and laugh at why you quit. Your new job might be worse off than the one you are in now. So you hate ____ about your job. Everyone hates something about their job.

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Artists who become self employed realize they have to collect on accounts and those types of conversations might not be so fun for them. Most small business owners find themselves in a boatload of administrative HR stuff, along with accounting. Hate it, but have to do it. So think carefully before you leave that cushy job in the nice cool air conditioning. What if that problem person just went away instead? Now there is an idea. Can you outlast that person? I worked retail for a really, really long time. I know that most hourly retail workers don’t have more than a year in them before they burn out. Sometimes you can just wait until they leave on their own, … or get enough bad surveys. Hmm, could your friends be that person’s customer and then they give him a shitty survey score constantly to get him/her fired? Yes. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and the only one who is looking out for you (other than me) is YOU. At the end of the day, you got bills to pay and responsibilities.

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So I know that some of my readers are EXACTLY is this situation right now. My advice, if you are going to start looking for a job, tell your network. Let one of your contacts be your champion and get you that interview. Did you know you have been considered for positions before, but the hiring manager thought you were happy and would never leave your job? Oops. Always open to new opportunities and challenges. Actively seeking new projects/clients/1099’s. We never know what tomorrow holds, unless we are dealing the cards. So deal a wild card today. Did you write your items for your dream job? Who knows, it might be in your near future.

 

 

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Employee Referrals

Have you ever gotten a job interview/offer because someone you knew, recommended you? A friend, relative, prior co-worker, classmate, … someone who likes you, and wants to put their reputation out on the line for you? Having that employee recommendation, even if they don’t know your work performance, is key to getting great jobs. I am sure you have heard the phrase “It’s all who you know.” And this is true in any situation. An employer would rather hire someone with a little bit of background history that can be verified, rather than none at all. As I have mentioned in the past, some of those letters of reference or actual phone calls, might not be as truthful as employers would like them to be. Some of them all sound the same.  ______ (insert name) is hard working, loyal, dedicated, trustworthy, oh and an Eagle Scout! He coaches little league and is an outstanding choir member in the church. <rolls eyes> Gosh, that sounds just perfect. When can you start? No. Those letters are so fake it’s not even funny. I think it is expected that every employee act like a boy/girl scout. Strong work ethics, team player, gets along well with others. And if you’re not, then you need to start acting like it. We all know, not all employees are model employees. I can think of a few I’d fire in a heartbeat. IF you are giving that recommendation, please do not tell anyone that candidate is going through a divorce, a bankruptcy, or anything that might accidentally hurt his/her chances. Employers hear those things and they cringe.

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As a recruiter, we are looking for “talent”. There is a show called “America’s Got Talent”. If you haven’t seen an episode, you should check it out. Look at what those people can do and compare your own skill/talent. See there difference? Some things like typing super fast is a skill. Gotta say, going through hundreds and hundreds of resumes for ONE position, and you quickly start screening candidates out very quickly. Impressive skills and talent is what we are looking for in these marketing brochures of candidates. HOWEVER if just one of those resumes comes from a well liked employee, say manager or above, that resume will get more than a 10-20 second review. If there are gaps, or questions, those are sometimes overlooked. Why? Employee referral. And as I have mentioned in the past, when you get someone hired, you are the current employee, will get a monetary bonus added to your check, usually after 90 days. I can attest that I have received thousands in employee referrals. I would find an candidate at Best Buy and then I would tell them to put my name on the application, and I would spell it correctly, and tell them they would have a much better chance of getting hired if they say they knew me. Okay. Cool. So they just met me. They still knew me. 😉 And when they were asked HOW they met/knew me, they always said, “Mutual friends”. I could always say, “He seemed like a good guy.” You can’t place negligent hiring practices on someone who just said “He seemed like a good guy”. If HR didn’t ask the right questions, or do a drug test, that’s on them, not you. So, do you have a buddy or friend who you just LOVED working with daily? Yeah, me too. Go find him/her and see if he/she can get you a better job.

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If you have started your LinkedIn.com profile, you can start connecting with those professionals you have met in past positions and see what they are up to now. Whom have you kept in touch with from college or grad school? All the people I kept in touch with are in very different fields/industries. Terrific, if you got a job there you wouldn’t be in the same department, but you’d be great lunch buddies. I will do another article/blog on LinkedIn.com. Until that time, do NOT use that profile to apply for jobs … yet. Your employment profile is like building a house. You achievements and skills are the foundation, since that is what is important. Can you do the job and how fast can you do it? If you are still working on them, think to yourself, “Is that impressive?” Fluent in 4 languages. Yes, impressive. You have a social media following already? Impressive.

 

For those of you who are students, I always loved asking what the candidate’s G.P.A. was in high school and college if applicable. And then I would ask WHY. Verifiable. Don’t lie. If you are a nerdy brainy bookworm like me, … now is the time to brag about it. If they ask you to sell something, think about the strategy you are using, and don’t use price. I can sell it cheaper. No. It might be a luxury item they want you to sell, like cruises or diamonds. “I have a large network of professionals who are friends who I know will support my endeavors with a new company.”  You’re hired.

 

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Tell Me About A Time …

Okay boys and girls, it is story time, and I am not talking your magical fairy tale. I am talking about the interview question that forces you to find a concrete example to demonstrate whatever skills they are seeking. Your answers should detail your thought process, perhaps your decision making abilities, and of course, the actual question is looking at how fast you problem solve. Now if it something they are seeking that you don’t have, then it is going to be hard to fake. Okay for some old timers, like me, there was a movie back in the 80’s, called “Working Girl”. Loved it. Melanie and Sigourney Weaver starred in it, and one of the characters stole the idea/concept from the other. So, when confronted, the “idea” needed to be outlined, just to prove that it was HER idea. Oops.

If you headed up a project, an event, or something really big, you can easily talk about the process, the project time line, the critical path, the point of no return, … all those fun little challenges you were faced and overcame. If you had control over money, like say a budget, or fundraising, you should also bring this up in your answer. Why? You are there to prove what you did was beneficial for the company, and you can easily do it again. So if I can get $5k in sponsorships from local businesses for an event, chances are I can do even more for the next event.

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Many times you can outline your thoughts and ideas in an effective manner so they produce profits, simply by implementing a program awareness event. Okay back to my Walmart days, when I was a lowly hourly cashier I wanted to be part of the management team. When I applied someone else always got it. My store director said in order to be a manager, you need to be a leader. Not all managers are leaders, but I ONLY promote leaders to managers. I felt like I was sitting at the sphinx with some unsolvable riddle. I happened to be in a management course in college at the time, and using some of the things I learned, I started a stakeholders committee and recruited a few managers and friends to join. We/I found ways to save money, make money and increase store traffic with a meager $100 monthly budget. Eventually I did get promoted.

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Here is another secret in your interviewing arsenal. The more stories and examples you tell in your interview, the more likely you are going to be remembered. Some people try to use humor in the interview. Don’t. You are not applying to be a stand up comedian. Your sense of humor may mistakenly be misinterpreted. Impress that person with what you have done, can do, and will do. If that person is impressed, he/she will move you forward in the interviewing process quickly. Mostly likely there are dozens if not hundreds of jobs/interviews to complete. Think how many positions are open at Amazon. Wow. Hundreds, if not thousands worldwide. I always tell candidates that they need to tell the employer “Hire me. I want to work here. I see myself growing with this company. I want this job.”

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And as always, the job you are applying for RIGHT NOW, as you talk to that interviewer, IS your dream job. For now, all you can do is dream about being employed, and this might be it. So act like it, show enthusiasm, and ask for the job. And remember, 20k more boomers retired this weekend. Go get their job!

 

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Leaving the Job Market

So if you are are IN the job market, meaning you are actively working, you get a paycheck and you probably report to someone. As I was talking with a client yesterday I had to remind him that in addition to the thousands of people dying from COVID there is also that nasty little fact that every day over 10,000+ boomers are retiring and leaving the job market forever. That is a fact that has been happening for quite awhile, and you are already starting to feel the impact of that. PLUS there are a TON of “housewives” who are done working and want to go home and stay home. Thousands of nurses, cops, teachers, first responders who all said enough is enough. And as strange as it sounds, there is an entire generation that just wants a sugar daddy or sugar mommy. Who would have imagined that would be someone’s “career plan”? I personally can attest to the corporate bullshit you have to deal with on a daily basis. I left big business to work for a small company, of 4 employees, and sure decisions were made quickly, but laws were broken ALL THE TIME. Just so you know, it is ILLEGAL to pay someone in cash and not report it on your taxes. You may think you are doing your employee a favor, but it’s illegal. Oh sure I LOVED getting envelopes stuffed with cash. Who wouldn’t? Sometimes, many times it is a “I won’t tell if you won’t tell” situation. HR knows ALL the dirty secrets. Sometimes they play along, sometimes they act like the good cop.

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True story, I was hired once as a “temp”, meaning no benefits. I was told I was exempt, so they worked me to death. Until they found out I had kept track of every hour worked overtime, and was planning on using it as my own comp time for vacation since I had no benefits. OMG, do you KNOW how much trouble they would have been in if the DOL found out what was going on? Being “exempt” has special rules, and you can’t use a temp as exempt. They paid me the actual overtime rate, and then later terminated me as a “corporate downsizing”. Hey it wasn’t my fault. They lied to me and told me I was exempt. I wasn’t. I was an hourly employee, lied to, and ultimately lost. If I knew back then, all the HR laws that I know today, I would have sued them, AND Walmart, and I would have won. But I didn’t because I didn’t know my rights were violated. Being part of a “group”, in my case Asian American, I also have rights that potentially could hinder/help an employer. If you are not being “fair” and only hiring, say, Caucasian male workers, and have no colored people, you could find yourself in an affirmative action lawsuit. So, point of the story, chances are you are being abused by your employer and you don’t even know it. If you are clocked out then you can’t take back a return to your department on your way out, help a customer or answer a phone. Only the manager can work off the clock.

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It is a known fact that people leave jobs because of bad managers. Some of them leave and never come back. Some get early retirement. Others marry rich or find a sugar daddy/mommy. If you are unemployed, looking for a better tomorrow, there is hope. Millions of people don’t want to work, prove that you aren’t one of them. Millions are in retirement, so can you find an opportunity that will cater to that market? Travel and entertainment will always be an area of opportunity, if you can find a product/service in that market. Did you see AMC stock shot back up? It has a low of a $1.91 a share and then went as high as $72. Can you imagine if you bought say, 5000 shares when they tanked? You’d be well off now. Car rentals and hotel rooms are at a premium, so can you rent your car or extra spare room? Turo and air b&b have a booming business model. As a writer I always teach that people, with some skill, can write something; an article, a review, a blog, a book, a speech/presentation. If you write it, they will read it. You can publish your autobiography and publish it as an eBook and people will buy it if it is somewhat interesting and inexpensive. Your family and relation might be interested in your life from your perspective.

 

If you are working on your career plan, you actually have almost all the things you need to be successful. Be sure you check out LinkedIn.com and create a profile for recruiters to view. Sell your skills. Sell your talents. Join groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your career. Remember that job data sheet you were supposed to create?

You now need to add 3-5 good references with their information so it will be ready when you are offered that dream job. Those references can be former supervisors, committee members, coworkers, customers/clients, vendors, owner of the company, … the list can go on and on. People who can speak to your work ethic, personality, attendance, are going to be advantageous. If you are a reference, do not lie for that person. Tell the truth. I had a “friend” ask me to be a reference and I said, “Well, I have never worked with you, but I can say you are always late, you never pay the bill, you sometimes call in sick when you aren’t and you stole a laptop from your past employer.” He said “Thanks, no thanks.” So, moral of the story, your “friend” might not be willing to lie for you. I adhere to the SHRM (Society Human Resource Management) code of ethics, so I will always tell the truth.

 

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Money Talks …

Alrighty, let’s talk about money. We ALL want it. That is what drives us to get up every day and do the same boring/challenging tasks in our “career”. Is it satisfying? Sometimes. But at the end of the day it all comes down to money. You are there to make it, earn it, save it, spend it. Money is the one thing that you are always told not to talk about in the interview, UNTIL it is the right time. Now I do understand that there are HR people/hiring managers that do not always follow this protocol. Sometimes the employer just wants to screen OUT anyone who shouldn’t be there and they do that by asking your current salary and your requirements. If you are applying for a job that pays $80k a year but you only made $40k, then you might not be quite ready for job of such magnitude. Some might say, you are in over your head.

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Now I am going to have the conversation with you that is totally going to blow your mind away. YOU think you are worth X amount of money per hour, or per year. How did you come up with that number? Someone told you. Probably a salary report or maybe Google, or maybe it was Glassdoors.com that actually gives you real salary information as employees can post that information. Oh how cool is THAT? So, before you even decide you want to work there you can determine if it is going to meet your salary expectations. If you didn’t know, there are 2080 working hours in the year. Take that times your hourly rate and you get your annual salary. Some people think weekly, others bi weekly, and some even monthly. i.e. I get paid $5000 a month, or roughly $60k a year. 5×12=60. $60k divided by 2080 = $28.85 an hour. Can you live on that amount of money? Employers will sometimes try to trick you into thinking your salary is more than it really is by using big numbers. Don’t be fooled. Also keep in mind that Uncle Sam is going to take a minimum of 28% for federal, state, and FICA (social security) and any local taxes. So your big salary all of the sudden isn’t so big. $5k a month, after taxes actually is only a little over $3k a month, and that really isn’t a huge amount. The more you make the more the government takes. Things like an IRA are ways that you can reduce your taxable income. Knowing your take home amount is also really important.

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So knowing your value is extremely important. So, you take a kid who is 18, making minimum wage flipping burgers, who by many employers isn’t worth a very high salary right? I take him under my wing and mentor him for 6 weeks and train him how to build a WordPress website in a day and create a Facebook business page using Ad Manager and all of the sudden this “kid” is also worth $60k a year. He doesn’t have a tech degree, and barely if at all, a high school diploma. Now, how do you justify this guy’s $60k salary? Because he can now go out, market himself as a designer, and charge the same hourly rates as the professionals, just like me. Boom. Mic drop. Just because you DIDN’T make that much before, does NOT mean you are not worth it now.

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So you’ve made it to the final interview. Flew past HR no problem, clicked with the hiring manager and now the key decision maker is in your face. He/she might be an executive, the owner, a managing director, … someone who has monetary authority for the company. If you get to this person right away, like at a picnic, bbq, wedding, you will have a lot more bargaining power. HR people and hiring managers usually do not have any power over salary. When the offer is presented, HR simply is the middle man. If the offer is not what is stated with the key, then you need to get him/her on the horn and start barking. Every job has a range. You are usually given/offered the bottom lower end of that range, UNLESS you can prove you are worth more. This is where your negotiation skills are instrumental in your higher paid salary. I have negotiated 90 day raises after performance has been evaluated and an increase in new business has been demonstrated. If I do ______, then you will reward me with compensation of _______. Yes, this really does happen. If you are THE final candidate, then they want you. They want you really bad. AND they are willing to pay for it. They will never retract the opening offer. You need to think of it as as an opening big on a house. They start, you counter. You come to a happy middle somewhere. This is where you get your extra personal day. Flexible schedule, working from home, company laptop/smartphone/iPad, expense account, … you get the idea. When I negotiated my low salary at the Bar Association, I managed to start my 403(b) retirement immediately, rather than waiting a year. Who knew you could bypass that rule? Me. It came to over 3k in “benefits” not paid by the payroll. The 2nd largest office next to the emergency exit was also a nice perk. If you have to pay for parking, will the company pick that up? Again, not paid from payroll, but a different expense account. Just like in the real estate industry, you can implement the “Is this your best and final offer?” and see what they say. Most of the time they will say “No, that is not the best and final, what did you have in mind?” Before you go into any interview negotiation, you need to practice. Sell something to a friend and start arguing/debating price. This is how it works. You have to be confident in your abilities and skills. Employees who make money or save money are going to get better salaries than those who can’t detail why they are worth more money.

Money is a huge motivator for everyone. As a client once told me, “I have the TMAI philosophy.” Throw money at it. The more you throw, the more likely the problem will just magically solve itself or go away. Sales are down? Throw cash bonuses as floor sales day prizes. People will respond positively. Ask if there are bonuses. No? Then let’s start one now.

And my favorite quote from Jerry McGuire … “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

 

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Real Life Networking

Hey it is the holiday weekend in the USA, and many people will be venturing out for some good ole Memorial Day bbq’s. So this weekend instead of being the social butterfly and talking to everyone, why don’t you listen to other people introduce themselves? What do their 30 second commercials sound like? If you want to use it as a chance to practice your own introduction that’s cool, but just remember, every person knows someone who might be able to hire you. In between projects. Don’t forget it. While you are at it, talk about your future plans/goals. If you are planting a seed, then reaffirm your commitment, creativity, loyalty, … all those little things they want out of that preferred candidate. You can even use my blog as a talking point. “Hey I have been working on my career plan getting some awesome advice and wisdom from a former HR professor.” And you can take it from there. Who knows you might find a new friend that also needs help in the career arena? You could quickly go from student to teacher as you simply relay what you’ve learned.

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If you have a master’s degree, don’t forget to let people know. Hey, not everyone goes around saying I have a master’s in something. I’ll admit, the first time I saw MBA after a person’s name on a business card, … I was impressed. If you are chasing your dream, … that has goals attached, your enthusiasm and energy will definitely show. Although, keep in mind, many people go to social functions and hardly ever talk about their job. Some of them really try to get away from it because they hate it so much. Now if you are not a social butterfly and you actually get anxious from these types of situations, I get you. I mean, how many crappy weddings have you been forced to go that you only knew the unattainable bride or groom? Exactly.

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If you have to make the best of it, you should always have a few ice breakers in your back pocket. Again, do not talk politics or anything that will get things in a heated discussion. I like to use movies. Everyone watches movies. Everyone has something to say about the ones they like. Television shows are also great talking points. Haven’t you had a favorite television show you liked so much you just wanted to talk about it, but none of your friends watched it? Yeah, me too. There are groups on Facebook that all they do is talk about the show. Crazy right? Fanatics is what I like to call it.

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Remember, the more you have in common with whoever that person is, the more likely they are going to remember you, like you, and be willing to recommend you for a foot in the door in their company. So don’t be stupid and get drunk and make an idiot of yourself … if you are looking for a better tomorrow.

And if you have Disney+, Cruella is a cute little fun movie in the fashion world. Look out Miranda Priestly, this one is to die for. Remember Cruella is the villain in the Disney world.

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One Word.

If there was just ONE word that best describes you, what would that one word be? This used to be one of my favorite questions, as it really gets people to think, fast, and try to be creative. I will let you in on a little secret. If you choose “nice” as your word you just eliminated yourself. The English language is comprised of thousands of words. Pick one that makes you stand out. There really isn’t any “wrong” words you can pick, but remember if you are being asked these questions, then so is everyone else. Does the manager want to hire a nice team member or a … dynamic, sensational, altruistic, … you see the difference? At the end of the day when all the applications are being reviewed again, along with the telephone notes, there are certainly going to be candidates that shine. Usually what happens is after you give that magical word, the interviewer is going to ask “why?”. So start selling “nice” against your competition.

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Also a word of advice, do not swear in an interview. I know you think you and your new HR BFF get along SO well, but … you’re wrong. He/she is not your BFF and once you drop that F bomb, you just eliminated yourself. Yes, candidates have done this, still do this, and will continue to do this. Don’t do it. I’m pretty sure in every single HR book I have ever read, they never tell you to not swear. I swear too, just never in an interview. Not everyone was trained/educated the same. Okay, I am sure that there are some small businesses with 3 employees that talk however they want, but you are not applying for those jobs. So now that you have your word, your goal is to go to 10 people who know you and ask them to give you 10 words. You will be really surprised what they say. Your spouse/SO will have some choice words. Put all the words on one sheet and see which ones come up a lot. Why? Which ones are not so great words? Those are your weaknesses. You will be asked that question too. You also now have 100 words that you can use to incorporate into your action statements. What words describe you? Your personality? Your work ethic? The whole “word” thing was an actual assignment I made my students complete and then write an essay about it. The whole point was that your perception of who you are as a worker, is not always the same as those around you.

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So just for fun, since I am writing about jobs and giving advice, I decided to activate a couple of job profiles on some websites. I used LinkedIn.com and Indeed.com, just to see what is out there, what kind of jobs need filled and with LinkedIn you can also see how many people have applied, which tells you a lot about the job. Again, not really looking for a job, and I already have had 4 employers contact me and someone in my personal network who thought of me for a job. So if you didn’t know, LinkedIn is the new Monster.com. In the 90’s and 2000’s everyone used monster. I used it. It was great. I can think of lots of interviews and job offers I received all using monster. But things have changed and now you can put so much more in your profile, including your picture and even testimonials saying how great you are. Your memberships and group affiliations also tell a lot about a candidate, which is something you typically don’t have on a resume. With LinkedIn all you have to do is click a setting that you are open/looking for a new job and all of the sudden you are showing up in employers search results. Your keywords in your profiles/past jobs are going to be instrumental in your success. Depending on how quickly you want to get hired, you might be interested in their pay version, called premium. I think there is a trial version, so you should definitely do it for free while you can.

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Unlike my students who I could strike the fear of failure if they didn’t do the exercises, your only motivation is limited to your own personal reality, and hopes of improving it. Believe it or not, but people actually do these things, talk to people and find new jobs/opportunities every single day. Regardless the company, or the situation, employers are always looking for really good people to join them as team members. Have you ever been at a company and someone from the “outside” got hired for a new position and is paid some stupid ridiculous highly paid salary? What about when your company then recruits all his/her buddies from past companies? And then pays them employee referrals? Yeah, it just keeps getting worse,… for you. So why can’t YOU be that person that gets recruited? Oh, you didn’t tell your network you were looking. Okay. Fair enough. Go do it. Today. No one is forcing you to stay in a bad situation, … except you. Got that one word yet?

 

 

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In Between Projects

Don’t you just love it when you are in a social setting and that inevitable question comes up, “So, what you do for a living? Where do you work?” You may not recognize it at first, but it is also the “Tell me about yourself” opening statement in every single interview. I have also used this as the “So, who exactly IS (insert your name)? Sometimes someone will give you a brief introduction. Many times they are not actually prepared and just ramble on about their last job. Now if you are unemployed, like millions of people right now, you might have a hard time identifying with your job. Some people can’t remove themselves from their job and even when it doesn’t matter they tell you they are a ______ (lawyer, doctor, cop, etc.). You can also say you are an aspiring ____(YouTuber, influencer, artist, actor, singer, … you get the idea).

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So rather than telling new people you aren’t working, let people know you are “open to new clients/opportunities”. Ah, such a classy way to say that you are an independent kick ass sales person. I have also found that people who just choose not to work find all kinds of ways to identify themselves. Now you can come up with as many impressive titles, companies, or whatever you like to make yourself feel good about yourself. Most of the time, people are just looking for something interesting to talk about and to find some sort of a connection. This is true in social settings and true in work place hiring. Just remember, when you are in a social setting you might accidentally be talking to someone who is looking to hire someone … just like you. I can think of dozens of times where someone met someone’s friend, … or spouse, and the next thing you know they are working at the same company or as a vendor for that company. Dude, life is all about who you know, who likes you and who is willing to recommend you. That goes for working relationships and future business. You might be that self-employed ________ that is going to come to the rescue. When I was actively soliciting new website customers I would build the website that I was selling on one of my servers and present it to the prospect. For some reason people like to see what they are getting before they give you any money. Funny right? So sometimes when you say you are in between projects, that will open the door of conversation for you to actually talk about what those projects are/were. Projects like something that require a project manager, such as hosting a big event can leave you talking for days. Other projects like organizing your garage also count. They show hard work, organization … the list goes on. You should be able to think of the ways you have positively influenced the corporate objectives of the jobs you have held. Lots of things can never really be proven, but if you can discuss some of the highlights and details that your role had, that is all it takes to convince the interviewer.

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Your goal today is to get your notebook and fill it full of projects that you want to talk about in interviews, and in social settings. Talk casually but also discuss things like metrics. Employers want to hire people that are going to make positive contributions to the overall success of the organization.

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Career Coaching

Have you ever had professional career coaching? I mean, other than me. Sat down with someone and talked about your goals, your background, gotten honest feedback on your resume, cover letter, interviewing skills? Have you ever done a mock interview where an HR person actually gives you feedback on “how you did”? Just so you know, … “most” candidates think they did great in an interview, and they also think they will make it to the next round in the interview process. Sadly many of those candidates are overconfident in their interviewing skills and only 10% move forward. 1 in 10. Most people fall into the 90% disqualified, they don’t get called and they wonder why they can’t get a job.

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I can clue you in on some HR secrets. I have coached thousands of individuals. Real friends have done the same and after listening carefully I can always tell if/when the candidate was eliminated. It’s almost like a game for me. I coached my own mom and told her she wasn’t a candidate anymore for a job she really didn’t even want. She wasn’t happy and like most candidates got defensive. She wanted to know how I knew that she wasn’t moving forward. So I got in her face and asked, “Did she ask what your time table looks like for this week? Or next week? Did she ask who else you’ve talked to in the industry? Who have you been interviewing with? What your salary range is? No. Okay, then she doesn’t care because it’s not going to be you.” Sure it hurts to hear you aren’t going to get the dream job you thought you were perfect for, but the truth is you weren’t a good, great or fantastic, perfect fit for the job. Someone else is, and many times that HR person and the hiring manager is waiting for the perfect person, so they don’t have to train him/her. He/she might be a breath of fresh air with new contacts that will rejuvenate the business and bring in new streams of revenue. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times a manager says he/she will know the right person when they meet him. Like, it’s magic or chemistry. What they really are saying, secretly, is they want to hire someone that is a lot like them. Same background, personality, intelligence, … you get the idea. As much as I hate to say it, many times in the HR department there is all kinds of illegal shop talk that is going on.

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True story, I had a manager said she needed a new ____ and to go onto Monster.com and find some candidates. I asked “What about internal candidates? Any I should review?” and she said no, they were all trash. Nice. And she also said she didn’t want anyone with kids because she just dealt with 2 employees with daycare bullshit issues. Wow. Okay, well, I can certainly find out if candidates have kids. Did you know HR people sometimes use props in their office, like a picture frame of a couple of kids. Yeah, I had one with my nephew. Hey he looks like my kid. I never said he was my kid, but you just volunteered that you have 4 at home, all under the age of 7. And you’re single. Because you told me. Hmm, sounds like a tough decision since the job is a 50+ hour a week job. Next. Hey, that’s how it works sometimes. Is it fair? No. Remember, HR is not your friend, unless you are the owner of the company. They are paid to protect the employer, find talent and prevent employee litigation. Do not tell them personal information, health information, financial issues, religion, and I have to say it, politics. They are NOT your new best friend. They are looking at you like you are a potential problem or an asset. Do not give them a reason to not hire you. Missing work is a big reason. You may be awesome at attendance, but your _______(put any relative here) could be dying and you might be gone because of that. Work doesn’t get completed when employees are missing.

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So where am I going with this blog today? Well, your goal today is to find someone IN your personal network who is a hiring manager. You are going to go to that person and ask for a mock interview. You are going to go through the entire process and he/she will then tell you what you did great, what you need to work on and what you need to leave out of your interview. If you don’t have someone, then go find someone. I am not going to coach you on what you need to say, … in this first round. You need to do your best and then write down the results in your notebook. You know, the one you have been using to do all these exercises. And then later, I am going to write an article on how to make it to the next round, what not to say to accidentally get cut, and how to negotiate a better salary. It is perfectly okay to go into your final interview with a laundry list of things you want in your job/career. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and who knows you might even get some of your wish list. Be prepared and give that person a real job description of a job you want and he/she should be able to look at it and give you a run for your money. This should be the first interview with the hiring manager, not HR and not the key decision maker. So do not ask or talk about salary in this interview. If he/she does ask about your requirements, just smile and say they are negotiable of course. If you appear too interested in money they might not want your sudden enthusiasm. Oh, you’re just here for a paycheck. Uhm, okay. We all are, but we don’t want to appear that is what is driving us.

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And if you need some help with a script, “Hey it’s Aaron. I’m doing an HR project and I need an actual hiring manager to interview me so I can improve my skills for when I have the real thing. Help a brother out?” (Do not give this person your resume … only talk about what is on it in the interview. Only “mock apply” for jobs your are qualified so he/she can ask questions directly from the job description. I have interviewed candidates without their resume, knowing that HR has already screened them to make it to that round.) You are NOT secretly trying to get a job from this person, you only want valuable feedback. And remember, have fun. Use this as an in person opportunity to get together with someone.

 

 

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