Thought for the day: Day 46

“I will persist without exception.” This is taken from the book The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews.

Thought for the day: Day 1

What are five recent victories in my life?

The first few days of this exercise are meant to get you thinking in a new way.  Too many of us tend to focus on the negative things.  I am quite certain most of us could rattle off several bad things that have happened to us the past few weeks or months.  To begin to change our mind-set we have to think differently.  So grab a pen and paper (and a chair) and write out your recent victories.  And know you don’t have to stop at five.

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

 

Plant your flag

“A straight path never leads anywhere except to the objective.” – Andre Gide

If you want results in your job search get specific.  I know, I know.  You believe if you cast a wide net you think you will be more likely to land an interview and a new position.  This thinking is wrong and takes you down many paths that lead to nowhere.

The more focused you are the more people will be able to help you.  They can either send you potential opportunities or send you to people with similar backgrounds that can help you network.  If you spread yourself too thin; trying to be a jack-of-all-trades that places you in a position where people feel they can’t help you because you have no concrete target.

Have a concrete target.  It does a couple of things.  First, it gives you focus in your job search.  You know what you want and can articulate it to others.  Secondly, it saves you time and trouble.  Knowing what you are after will save you the headache of chasing opportunities that don’t fit.  You can save time by not responding to job postings that fall outside your scope.

Take a look at the following two examples of objective statements taken directly off of candidates’ resumes.  What do they say?  What do they tell you?

Example #1

To obtain a growth oriented leadership position where I can bring my 12 years of experience managing projects and offering solutions to companies for a reputable company that has a good product.

Example #2

To obtain a challenging position within an organization that will allow me to utilize my management and customer service skills and provide an opportunity for advancement.

After reading those statements do you have a clear idea of what those candidates do?  What industry are they in?  What position are they after?  It would be helpful if they let the reader know.  Why are they using precious real estate on their resume for wasted words that do not get to the heart of things?

If you are going to have an objective statement on your resume make it count.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m from the school that advises not to use an objective statement at all.  I’ll explain why in a future post.

If you feel compelled to use an objective statement use something like this: To apply for the Java Developer position #2013-51674.  At the very least, that objective lets the reader know your background and what you are after.  It also references a specific position.

Imagine taking your objective statement off your resume and instead using it as your elevator speech.  Does that thought scare you?  Does it bring to a clear, sharp focus the purpose of using either the objective statement or the elevator pitch?  I hope so.  In a million years you would never dream of telling someone “I hope to find a challenging position with an organization that will allow me to utilize my management and customer service skills and provide an opportunity for advancement.”  It says nothing and wastes everyone’s time.

If given the opportunity you need to be prepared with something like:

“I design and build web sites for small businesses that don’t have the ability to hire their own staff full-time to do it.”  Or

“I’m a CPA focusing on working for companies in the oil and gas industry.”  Or

“I’m an executive assistant with 10 years of experience supporting senior staff: directors/VP’s/CIO’s in the telecom industry.”

Use those kinds of initial statements and then build on them so you can fill 10, 20, 30 or 60 seconds of time explaining what you do and what you are after.  If you are unable to do that, your search will last much longer than it should.

Happy hunting!

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.

Setting appointments

In an earlier blog post I compared the job search process to the sales process.  One of the steps in the sales process is setting appointments.  I would like to follow-up on that step with some additional information.

I mentioned in the post that there is no direct correlation between setting appointments for a sales executive and a candidate calling into companies and trying to set interviews.  While true, there are some things you can do to help set other types of appointments; namely, informational interviews.

Get your target list of companies together.  Start researching who in the organization would be a good person to talk to.  With a little bit of time and effort you can easily get a good idea of how the organization is laid out and who reports to whom.  Once you have a good list, start calling into that company and ask for the people you have identified.  You can also follow-up by sending them an invitation to connect on Linked In (LI).

I suggest making the call first.  More often than not, you will get voice mail.  Leave a concise, professional message leaving your name and call-back number twice.  Be sure to speak slowly and clearly.  We so often give out our own phone number that we say it very quickly.  If someone is listening to your message and they are trying to write your number down as you say it, if you say it quickly they may miss it.  So say it slowly and repeat it.  I have also written previously on how to leave a message.  You can read that post here: http://wp.me/p3nLpj-2r

After you leave your message, you can then personalize a note in your LI message.  Something like: “Hi Chris, I left you a message but wanted to follow-up this way as well.  I have a couple of questions for you and would appreciate a bit of your time.”

I am a strong proponent of leaving your phone number in every communication: phone, email, LI messages, etc.  You want to be easy to contact.  If someone has to search for your number or listen to a message several times to get your number chances are they will give up trying.  I have long used the practice of giving my phone number in every message I send through LI.  My typical closing in LI looks like this:

Thank you,

Chris

817.300.3081

For every email account I have, I have created a default signature that provides my number, Twitter and blog information.  You want to be easy to contact.

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…

Dream big and keep at it

Have you ever had the experience of reading something or experiencing something that stops you in your tracks because it makes you see something in a new way?  Those moments are called paradigm shifts.  I had one this week and it actually scared me (but in a good way, if that makes sense.)

I subscribe to Jim Rohn’s newsletter.  If you are not familiar with Jim’s work I strongly encourage you to investigate.  A couple of times a week I receive an inspiring and motivational article in my inbox.  As often happens, there are articles included from other motivational speakers.

This week, after I read Jim’s article, The Rose, there was another article by Chris Widener.  The title of Chris’ article was Dare to Dream Again.  And in reading that article I had my paradigm shift.

He started off by recounting how when we’re all young we dream big.  But “Eventually we started to let our dreams die. People began to tell us that we couldn’t do the things we wanted. It was impossible. Responsible people don’t pursue their dreams. Settle down, get a job, be dependable. Take care of business, live the mundane, be content.”

That’s a scary thought but it’s not the one that actually scared me.  Chris then goes on to list several areas where we can begin to dream again and the advantages of doing so.  Dreaming, says Chris, enables us to avoid regret.  Dreaming gives us personal and family fulfillment.  Dreaming makes the world a better place.  True, true and true!

What he had to say about leaving a legacy is what stopped me in my tracks.  This is what he said:  How will your children remember you? As one who sought all that life had to offer, using your gifts and talents to their fullest extent, leading the family with a zest for life, or as an overweight couch potato who could have been? Our children need to see that we dream; that we search for something better. They in turn will do the same!

Wow!  Who in the world wants their kids to remember them as an over-weight couch potato?  Not me.  I’m not over weight but I do have five fantastic kids.  The last thing in the world I want to be remembered by is that I watched a lot of TV.

If they see you setting goals and pursuing dreams, they’ll do the same.  If you are in near-constant motion in pursuit of your dreams they will assume your tempo.  If you tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, they will come to understand and can even help you in ways no one else ever could.  It’s funny.  I’ve learned that the younger they are, the more apt they are to understand.  My 9-year old daughter doesn’t miss a trick.  She doesn’t let anything pass.  Everything has to have an explanation.  I then get to see the world from her perspective.  It is very useful and helpful information.

When it comes down to the choice of how I want my kids to remember me, it won’t be as a couch potato; you can bet your @$$ on that.  It will be as a dreamer and goal-setter.  The one who helped broaden their horizons by not only teaching them how to dream but having them grow up watching me do it.  After all, the best parenting advice I ever read was this: Preach the gospel at all times.  When necessary, use words.

I can live with failure; knowing I tried and didn’t succeed.  I refuse to live with regret.