Thought for the day: Day 19

“Use your fear as fuel.”

Thought for the day: Day 13

“Tough times never last.  Tough people do!”

Life is nothing but cycles.  Good flows in, good flows out. Difficulty flows in, difficulty flows out.  Regardless of what is going on in your life right now I promise, it will change. Given enough time, it will change.  I wrote about this topic previously.  You can read that post here: http://wp.me/p3nLpj-e4

Thought for the day . . .

Years ago I started the practice of writing motivational quotes on a note card and carrying the card with me.  Several times throughout the day I would take out the card and read it.  That practice kept me focused.  When I started to feel down or was getting knocked off track I would pull out the card and reflect on it.  The topics of the cards ranged widely.  That’s what made it so fun and easy to do.

I want to share this daily practice with you.  Over the next sixty days I will be posting a motivation.  While they won’t be listed in a specific order, they will fall roughly into the following categories:

1) Taking Stock 2) Facing Your Fears 3) Being Courageous/Taking Risks 4) Taking Action.

My desire with this daily exercise is that you will reflect on the words and what they mean to you.  If a particular quote strikes you and you want to comment, please do.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  If the quote makes you think about something new or about something in a different way, that’s great.

The quotes come from a variety of places.  Many are from books I’ve read, some are from famous people, some are from speakers at conferences I have attended through the years.  When I know the source, I will cite it.

See you tomorrow.

Confront the obstacles

“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.  And you don’t do that by sitting around.” – Katherine Hepburn

Conducting a job search is hard.  Candidates face a multitude of issues and obstacles that make it more difficult.  There are gaps in employment, age bias (whether real or perceived), too much experience, too little experience, not the right kind of experience, you live too far away, salary disparity.  All of these issues (and many more) are significant obstacles to finding your next opportunity.

I believe the first step in beginning to confront, then overcome, these issues is to control the things you can control.  No sense wasting your precious resources (time, energy, mental outlook and attitude) on things you have no hope of impacting.  Instead, put your valuable resources to work for you.

Did you have an in-person interview with a company and you have not received feedback?

Did you get the feeling you are being ignored or ruled out because of your age?

Did they tell you that you don’t have the right industry experience?

Did they tell you anything at all?

Don’t wait around.  Follow up professionally once a week for three or four weeks and move on.

The best way to overcome all of these obstacles is to take Katherine’s advice and not sit around.  Action.  It’s the cure you’re looking for.

Focus your energy and talents on the next opportunity.  Focus your energy on making new contacts each week no matter where they are located or what industry they are in.  Focus your energy on sharpening your interviewing skills.  Focus your energy on learning new skills.  Focus your energy on how you will overcome the interviewer’s objection of your lack of or too much experience.  Focus your energy on uncovering new and better opportunities.  Focus your energy on what it is going to feel like when you get the offer of your dreams.  Focus your energy on all the blessings in your life.  There are infinitely more than you are aware.  Focus your energy in thoughtful, deliberate, daily prayer because you know everything begins and ends with Him.  Focus on those things and your attitude will take care of itself.

Happy hunting!

A heart filled with gratitude….

I have had a remarkable year.  As it winds down I can’t help but continue to feel incredibly blessed and humbled for all that I have.  And today, as I prepare to spend the day with my extended family and eat an incredible meal, I want to share a few thoughts with you.   Thank you so much for being a part of my life and helping me on my journey.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

“Be on the lookout for mercies.  The more we look for them, the more of them we will see…Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles.” – Maltbie D. Babcock

“Every dog has its day, but it’s not every dog that knows when he’s having it.” – Winifred Gordon

“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.” – Elizabeth Aquith Bibesco

“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not.” – Charles Kingsley

“When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world I thank God I am alive.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Most of my major disappointments have turned out to be blessings in disguise.  So whenever anything bad does happen to me I kind of sit back and feel, well, if I give this enough time it will turn out that this was good, so I shan’t worry about it too much.” – William Gaines

“You will never be the person you can be if pressure, tension and discipline are taken out of your life.” – Dr. James G. Bilkey

“God brings men into deep waters not to drown them but to cleanse them.” – Aughey

“Failure changes for the better, success for the worse.” – Marcus Annaeus Seneca

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they are expecting gold.” – Maurice Setter

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.” – Henry Van Dyke

“Thank God for dirty dishes; they have a tale to tell.  While other folks go hungry, we’re eating pretty well.  With home and health and happiness, we shouldn’t want to fuss; For by this stack of evidence, God’s very good to us.” – Anonymous

 

A new day

Self Employment Tax Form - Schedule SE

Self Employment Tax Form – Schedule SE (Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT)

“Not to dream boldly may turn out to be simply irresponsible.” – George Leonard

Changing the wallpaper.  That’s how I used to describe the job changes I’ve had over my career.  I would start a new position being very excited about the possibilities and before too long, the old way of thinking would creep in.  Just like changing the wallpaper in your home, at the beginning of a new job, it’s exciting and different.  But over time, you begin to realize it’s still the same room in the same house in the same neighborhood in the same town.  Before I knew it I was out looking at samples again.  I was changing the wallpaper hoping for a different outcome but I was neglecting the structure I was living in.  The very foundation of my career is what needed to change.  I thought another new position would be enough.  But it was never enough.  It was only enough to quiet the yearning in my heart for a year or two or three.  No matter how long it took, that little voice in the back of my head would start whispering again.

And in moments when I was truly honest with myself, it wasn’t merely a little voice whispering in the back of my head.  It was what God had written on my heart that was speaking.  How long did I want to continue to go through life ignoring what God has written for my life?  Not much longer than I already have.

So I took a few small steps that have changed everything.

When I was unemployed earlier this year (fortunately only the months of March and April) I attended several networking groups regularly.  During one meeting, one of the facilitators was speaking and he said something to the effect of “You are all here looking for a job.  Many of you have gifts that can be used in other ways.  Maybe it’s time you stopped looking for a job and you BECAME the job.”  For those of us in attendance with a certain mind-set or inclination, we knew he was talking to the aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners; those wanting to step out on our own.

The seed that had been planted in my heart long ago had just been fertilized.  And that seed sprouted.  Over the next several months that sprout continued to grow almost to the point it became a weed.  I couldn’t stop it from growing and sprawling.  I knew well enough I wasn’t going to pull it or cut it back.  I was going to let it grow.  And before too long I had created a LLC for my own company.  I was talking to attorneys and accountants and health insurance brokers and I was out looking for clients, building a web site and creating marketing materials.  Most importantly, I submitted my resignation.  That small act was actually huge and incredibly significant.  I am no longer an employee.  What I am now is a free agent and business owner.

All the fears I had carried through the years about being my own boss held me down.  They prevented me from acting.  They prevented me from liberating my gifts and sharing them with the world.  Taxes?  Healthcare?  Insurance?  Company-formation documents?  In a previous life all those factors tied me down.  All it took was a few phone calls and asking a few questions of people I already had in my life and trusted.  You would be surprised what it takes to start a company.  The short answer is not that much.

My 7-year old son asked me several weeks ago as I was tucking him into bed “is your company going to be a big building?”  I love the perspective kids can provide.  His question brought me into his world and how he sees it.  I value that perspective.  I told him a company isn’t necessarily a big building.  A company is simply a few signed pieces of paper sitting in a file folder in some office somewhere.  The reason there are big buildings is that some companies have lots of employees and they all need somewhere to work.  I won’t have lots of employees so I won’t need a big building.

The person I am today is not the same person I was even 4 weeks ago.  The switch that gets flipped in your brain when you make the decision and change from employee to business owner creates a whole new paradigm.  The changes I have gone through have been profound.  The way I view and think about things are what have changed the most.  How I view myself has changed.  I’ve had to get comfortable and re-acquainted with who I am in my new role.

Up until several weeks ago my wife and I were talking about how difficult Christmas was going to be.  Money has been very tight and two of our kids have December birthdays.  We were wondering where the money was going to come from.

What a difference a few weeks and a little preparation make.  Now, we’re having discussions on how we’re going to get Gustafson Power Recruiting, LLC to be a $500,000 company.  When we get that figured out and reach that goal, the next step is a $1,000,000 company.  With a company like that I can bless many people in many ways I could never dream of in my previous life.

Being an employee with an employee mindset was restrictive.  Now, the possibilities are limitless.  Now, I get to spend time thinking about the person I must become to create a million dollar business.  I like that thought.  I like the idea of the person I will be when that day arrives.  Clearly, the person I am today is not the same person I will be years from now.

I walked through my fear.  I let it fool me almost my entire life up to this point.  Shame on me.  Now I know better.  Fear is a vapor.

I’m under no illusions there won’t be storms and rough water in the days and years ahead.  But I’m prepared.  Louisa May Alcott said it best: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Be abundantly blessed!

And please let me know how I can help you on your journey.

Always Assume Positive Intent

You’ve been there.  You know what it’s like to interview for a position several times over the course of a few weeks.  The interviews seem to be going well.  Why else would they have you back time and again to talk to yet other person if the interviews weren’t going well?  At each stage of the interview process you find yourself inching up the food chain; first it was the recruiter you spoke to.  Then it was the hiring manager, then their boss, then their boss.  And just for good measure they have you talk to another high-level individual in the company for another perspective.

During the process you’re minding your P’s and Q’s, sending thank-you notes and asking questions about next steps.  You are doing what you should to stay on their radar.  But after that last interview, much to your dismay, the lines of communication have been cut off and you don’t know why.  You are not getting any feedback or responses of any kind.  That’s odd because all through the process they had been fairly quick to respond.  The fact you are not getting communication from them is uncharacteristic of the process to date.

So, it’s been several days since the last time they communicated with you.  Everything had been going very well.  You have every reason to believe you are (or were) a top candidate.  What do you do?  The short answer is: keep communicating with them.  You have no idea why you haven’t heard from them and you have no way of knowing what is going on on their side.  So until you hear otherwise, assume things are still on track and move forward accordingly.

People get sick.  Their kids get sick.  Decision makers go on vacation.  Offer-letter approvers are out for a few days.   Maybe the position hasn’t even been approved yet and they are frantically working to get the position approved in order to move forward.  I know it would be nice if they let you know that but they haven’t.

Until they tell you “no”, you are still in contention.  So send them a professional, polite note once a week.  And let them know that’s what you are going to do.  Let them know they will continue to hear from you until you hear from them.

I don’t know why we are wired the way we are.  Humans too easily gravitate to the negative.  “They didn’t like me after all.  I haven’t heard from them in so long. I know I didn’t get that job.”  We start to assume the worst, second guess and start spiraling.  I’m as guilty of that as the next person.

A great piece of advice I received from a former boss told me “always assume positive intent.”  Until you have reason to believe otherwise, believe in the positive.  Maybe they did go ahead and hire somebody and didn’t have the decency to let you know.  It happens.  Keep communicating with them and make them tell you no.

I once interviewed for a position where I was communicating with the hiring manager several times a week.  It was a position I really wanted.  Then all of a sudden, there was nothing.  It got to the point I put a note on my calendar a couple of weeks out to remind me to send one final email.  Three days before that reminder was to pop up and remind me I received a message from the hiring manager.  She asked if I was still interested.

I was certain the position went to another candidate and they didn’t have the decency to let me know after all the time I invested in the process.  But it only proves my point you never know what’s going on on their end.  There are all kinds of stumbling blocks that can get in the way.  When I finally connected with the hiring manager she offered me the position.  Her reasoning for the delay made sense but it would have been nice if she sent a quick email at any point along the way to let me know.  It wouldn’t take much.  But if I hadn’t stayed positive in the emails I kept sending her, if my weekly emails had grown more testy and snarky, I have no doubt they would have moved on to another candidate.  That’s why you should always remain positive.

And I might add this; as a recruiter, I don’t do this and never have, but I am convinced some companies go silent on purpose.  They are gauging your interest level and evaluating how you handle it.  So handle it professionally and always assume positive intent.

Happy hunting

Who are you going to bless today?

Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones come daily.  – Ivy Baker Priest

The purpose of RecruitingShingle is to help those in the job-search process.  Being unemployed or in the wrong position can be stressful.  I know firsthand.  I’ve been unemployed a few times in my career.  I thought I might be able to help people in that situation by leveraging my years of corporate recruiting experience.  It’s not flashy but the right kind, helpful or supportive word, the right assistance to the right person at the right time can be profound.

For the past several months (it could even be a year or more) I have driven through a particular part of town where I live and have seen an elderly gentleman on the sidewalk holding a sign.  He is not there every day or even every weekend.  But when he is there he is always wearing slacks, a nice white dress shirt and white athletic socks on each hand.  His sign reads “I need a job please.”  Time and time again I have driven by, seen him and wondered what his story is.  Several times I have been with my entire family and we ask ourselves the same questions about him.

This past Sunday, September 15 I was driving by and he was there in his usual spot.  This time I decided it was time to stop wondering and find out.  I was with my nine-year old daughter and I said, “I’m a recruiter.  I help people find opportunities.  Maybe I can help him too.”  We found a spot in a nearby parking lot and walked up to him and started a conversation.

I introduced myself and my daughter and started to ask him questions.  What’s your background?  What type of position are you looking for?  What is your educational background?  Those types of things.  It didn’t take long to determine he was a bit slow.  Whether it was due to age or mental capacity I couldn’t determine.

I asked him if he had any computer skills and he lifted up a sock-covered hand and moved it up and down indicating the hunt and peck method.  I asked him if he had any kind of resume and he said “No.  I haven’t had a phone for a while now.”  He said he liked administrative work and filing.  I asked him if he were given an opportunity if he would be able to get to work.  He said he could.  At that I told him about the Southlake Focus Group; a networking group I have written about previously.

I went back to my car with my daughter and wrote down the details for the meeting.  As I was writing, another vehicle pulled up and a gentleman got out and approached the job-seeker.  I saw he gave him a business card and he turned and left.  Before I got back out of my car I looked at my daughter and asked: “Do you think he could use this?” as I pulled out a $20 bill from my wallet.  I rarely carry cash but happened to go to the ATM that morning.  My daughter got a big grin on her face and agreed he could probably use it.  So I told her, “then let’s bless him with it.”

We got out of the car and went back to him.  I went through the notes I wrote and told him they meet every Thursday morning.  As he took the sheet of paper from my one hand, I took the money in the other and slipped it in his shirt pocket.

As we drove away, my daughter was filled with questions: “I wonder if he has a family?  I wonder if he’ll be ok?  I wonder if he has enough food?  I wonder why he wears socks on his hands?”  She even had the thought to make him a new sign because the one he had was ripped and coming apart.  I told her those were good questions and maybe one day we’ll find out but at the very least there are places he could go for help in getting food.  I told her “he has a car and that he is able to wear nice clothes so maybe his situation is not so bad.  But we stopped and offered help; we blessed him – together.

I’m quite certain that five-minute exchange with the job-seeking stranger had a huge impact on my daughter.  That thought was confirmed a few days later; the following Thursday morning (the day of the networking meeting) before she left for school.  She came up to me while I was sitting at my desk in my home office and wondered out loud: “I wonder if he is able to get to the meeting you told him about.”  My response was straight forward and honest: “If for whatever reason he couldn’t make it today, maybe he’ll make it some other week.”

In the weeks and months to come, I’m going to make it a point to stop and chat as often as I can.  I hope over time I will learn more about him and move him closer to a job.  Our first exchange lasted only a few minutes but I know it will have a lasting impact on me, my daughter and him.

To be continued…

A recruiter’s job

I was talking with a friend the other day and our conversation reminded me of an experience I had while working at a job fair.

It was several years ago (maybe 2002 or 2003) and I had signed up to attend a career fair for the company I was working for at the time.  It had been a long day as I was the only recruiter there so I talked to EVERYBODY that came by.  During a lull in the crowd this gentleman stopped by and started a conversation.  He had a technical background and I was there recruiting for sales people – I’m a sales recruiter, that’s what I do.

I told him I was not aware of any specific technical positions at our company because I had a different focus.  I told him I could take his resume, share it with the other recruiters on the team and that he could also apply on-line directly to any specific position that interested him.  Judging by his reaction, you would have thought I threatened his life and the lives of each of his family members.  He  instantly started wagging a finger at me yelling about the ‘black hole’ and how it was my job to find him a job.

For those of you that know me, when I say that I am a really easy-going, laid-back kinda guy, it wouldn’t be a shock to you.  That’s the way I like to live my life.  But when necessary, all that can go away.  And it did, considering the way he reacted to my comments.  He had clearly fallen prey to a serious misconception that I now felt was my duty to cure him of – and quickly.

I told him as much as he may want to belive it, my company does not (did not) pay me to find him a job.  I had a long list of positions I was tasked with filling and THAT was my job.  I also told him it was not my job to find any single individual a job.  My job was and is to find the best possible candidate I could find to fill the positions I was responsible for.

That’s the message I want to share with you today.  When you are in the midst of your job search, remember that it is not the responsibility of the recruiter to find you a job.  They are responsible for evaluating as much talent as they can find and making selections based on that pool.  It’s also important to remember that no matter what news you’re hearing, you must always stay professional.  The gentleman in this example lost any and all opportunity to find a position with my company because of his behaviour.  True to my word, I did go back and share his resume with my team.  But it came with a  warning to stay away from him.  He was far too volatile to consider.

And just so you know, there are people out there that will be more than happy to take your money, leading you to believe they will guarantee they will find you a job.  It is my strong recommendation you tell those kinds of people what they can do with their offer.  They are about getting your money not finding you a job.

In your job search, stay positive and work with trustworthy people.  How do you know if they’re trustworthy?  Ask lots of questions and trust your gut.

Happy hunting!