A traveler was walking through a medieval town and saw three stone masons working on a stone wall. He asked the first what he was doing. The first mason spat back, “cutting stones.” Still curious about what they were actually constructing, he asked the next stone mason, who replied “building a wall,” before going back to work.
Let me just put this out there: Career fairs are the worst. They’re loud, packed with people, and most of the time is spent standing around waiting for your chance to do a little song and dance for some recruiter.
Or at least that’s what I used to think.
Career fairs are an excellent opportunity for you (and your resume) to get in front of the right people. Most companies at a career fair are there because they are hiring right now. Also, a career fair can be an efficient use of your time. How else are you going to have the chance to talk with 20 companies on the same day about job opportunities?
Knowing why you didn’t get an offer can sometimes be difficult. Did you say something wrong? Were your examples not strong enough?
Were you too good looking?
A recent study found out that being too good looking can affect your chances of getting hired.
From the article:
“Researchers at University College London’s School of Management and the University of Maryland in the US carried out four experiments in offices.
They found that when men were hiring other men to work with them, their decision was affected by the attractiveness of the candidate and the type of job.”
When I was in college I routinely lived on 4hrs of sleep. Who has time for sleep when there are all these video games to play?
Back then, we didn’t have the extensive selection of energy beverages we have now. If you didn’t like coffee, then you could try this new thing called Red Bull. I specifically remember that Red Bull sponsored a 10PM event at my university during finals week in the Fall of 1999. I liked how it tasted but it didn’t really work for me (it didn’t give me energy, it just didn’t let me sleep) and besides, I didn’t need it.
If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that my approach for interviewing is very different from what you’ve probably done before.
I don’t think you should go into an interview with hat in hand asking for a job. I think you should approach it as a conversation. Instead of sitting down and just answering questions, you should engage in a conversation and ask questions yourself.
I know I’m probably jumping the gun here but I’m going to show you how to solve a problem you will soon have: having too many job offers. Yes, it’s true. Believe it or not, whether you’re on the autism spectrum or not, there will be a point (soon I promise) where you’ll get not one, but two and maybe even three job offers.
When it rains, it pours
I always like to tell the students of my coaching program that when it rains, it pours. I’ve seen it over and over again to where people get two job offers in the same week whereas before they started working with me they had gone 6 months without even getting an interview. When you start getting job offers, they come at you hard and fast.
Did you hear about the girl who had received and accepted a coveted NASA internship only to have it taken away after she posted it on Twitter? She and her friends cussed out a member of the National Space Council and obviously someone at NASA didn’t like it and rescinded her internship offer. You can read the article here if you haven’t yet: https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/nasa-intern-homer-hickam-naomi-h-profane-tweet-twitter-internship.html
That’s why, whenever I start working with someone on career coaching the very first thing I do is do a deep search into their social media. I go through every post and every picture to make sure there isn’t anything that can be seen as offensive.
The next step is to set all those accounts to private. Despite what you think, no one really cares about what you think.
No, really. No one cares. I can assure you that your twitter jokes aren’t original or very funny. You’re the 27th person today who’s sent me that meme. And I hate to break it to you, the rest of the world doesn’t care. So instead of having a public profile, keep it private. Besides, you should spend less time online and more time experiencing the real world.
If for some reason you feel like you have to post something online, here are 3 of my favorite quotes to read before you post.
“Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”
― Lou Holtz
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”
― Maurice Switzer
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
― Ambrose Bierce
PS: I hope you have a good Labor Day weekend. On September 15th I’ll be traveling to the Rochester Institute of Technology for my 2nd annual Dream Coop Workshop.
Have you been in a situation where you mean to get something done but as more and more time passes, the harder it seems to get it done? I have not written in about 2 months (maybe more) because I wanted to make sure that what I wrote was perfect. I have several topics in mind like the best time to find a job (spoiler alert: it's when you already have a job), a salary negotiation book recommendation, and how to ask for help. Don't worry, I'll make sure to send them to you soon.
I've done at least 3 drafts for each one, reworded, edited, looked for the perfect picture, and edited some more. Every single time I thought I was finished a new thing would pop up and so would another reason why it wasn't ready to be sent out. All of this to say that another week went by without me publishing an article
I was planning on writing you again until next week however I wanted to make sure I sent this out now since you may be struggling with this problem.
I go to the gym on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and since they’re small classes, I usually get to overhear what other people are saying during the workout.
One of the exercises we do is to put a resistance band (basically a giant rubber band) right above our knees and move around.
There is a secret process to putting them on. If you hold the band from the sides to stretch it out and then pull it up like you’re putting on a pair of underwear, the band doesn’t roll up and it doesn’t dig into the side of your knees. However, if you roll it up your legs when you put it on, it (surprise!) rolls up and becomes uncomfortable (in my case it also yanks off a bunch of leg hair.)
This girl next to me (let’s call her Stacy) rolls it up and noticing it’s digging into the side of her knees says “This is uncomfortable. It’s because my thighs are too fat.”
I found this interesting because I am a good 10 inches taller with thicker thighs and yet, I didn’t have the same problem.
The reason I’m telling you this is because through my coaching practice and my day to day I consistently see candidates, and particularly women, personally blaming themselves for their failures when in reality, it’s not them who failed, but rather the process.
Stacy thought her “fat thighs” was the problem when really it was the way she put on the resistance band that was wrong. Think about how those are two very different problems. One can be fixed in 5 seconds and the other would take months as well as a lot of mental energy and self-awareness to achieve.
Same applies to your job search. Did you not get the interview because you were deficient or was it your resume that wasn’t up to par? Did they give someone else the job because you don’t have enough experience or because your Interview Theme wasn’t developed?
Let’s look at “Stacy” again.
Stacy probably thought this:
“This is uncomfortable because my thighs are too fat” = “It’s my fault I’m fat and it will be very hard and months of work to get thin thighs for this to work the way I want it to be”
When really it should have been this:
“This is uncomfortable because the process I’m using isn’t correct” = Fix process in less than 5 seconds, gets a great workout.
You’re probably doing the same in your career.
Instead of thinking this:
“I didn’t get the job because I don’t have enough experience” = “I’m personally deficient and will take years to get that type of experience so I may as well just give up”
Replace it with this:
“I didn’t get that job because my Interview Theme wasn’t the right one” = Takes about 90mins to develop an Interview Theme, gets awesome job.
Next time you hit a roadblock, before you start thinking that things didn’t work out because YOU are too dumb/fat/skinny/tall/short/broken/deficient/etc, take a step back and first consider that maybe, just maybe, the process you used wasn’t the right one.
PS: Next week I will be in Houston for the World Autism Organisation's 5th Annual International Congress as a speaker discussing techniques job candidates who are on the Autism Spectrum can obtain white collar jobs at Fortune 500 companies. I was selected based on my work and success rate I've had helping candidates start their careers. If you will be in attendance, feel free to reach out
I love it when you guys send me questions. Just this week I received the following email from one of my readers asking about what he should include as his LinkedIn Headline.
“What’s a LinkedIn Headline?” It’s the little title you can give yourself (refer to the red arrow below)
I'd like your opinion on a dilemma regarding the LinkedIn headline.
There seem to be two schools of thought and both sides are adamant with their advice:
1) NEVER put "Seeking opportunities". It screams "desperate loser" and recruiters are only interested in employed prospects.
2) ALWAYS put "Seeking opportunities". Otherwise, recruiters will often just move on to a less ambiguous prospect to save time.
Any advice from your perspective is greatly appreciated.”
I would say C. none of the above. LinkedIn is a tool you can use to help you find a job however you shouldn't rely solely on it to get your next opportunity. The only way a recruiter will find you on linkedin is if they're looking for you as an almost exact match for the job they're trying to fill. This means that unless they are looking for someone with your exact profile, chances are they're not going to look at your profile.
Now to your question. A recruiter who sees "Seeking New Opportunities" has only 1-3 seconds before they make a decision. Although some may think it makes you sound desperate, I think most recruiters see that and immediately think "he was fired. he was bad at his job otherwise he wouldn't have been fired/laid off/voted off the island" and move on to the next candidate. Is this right/wrong? That's not really the issue here. It's an efficient way of determining if you’re good at your job and much easier than trying to figure out what the situation was. It’s easier to just move on to the next candidate who has a job.
Instead of putting on your profile that you're looking for new opportunities, I would suggest you put "Consultant". This makes you sound like you're still active in the workforce (which you should either by doing some freelancing or maintaining your technical abilities through self study). A way to tell a recruiter that you're interested in opportunities, is by choosing the option on LinkedIn that let's recruiters you're open. You can change this by going to Your Account, Privacy, then scroll down to Job Seeking Preferences and change "Let recruiters know you're open to opportunities". Most recruiters start their candidate search by looking first at those willing to change jobs then by qualifications than the other way around.
Let me know if that helps. If you need more in-depth advice, let me know and we can schedule a one-on-one session.
To clarify, if you’re a student, I recommend you put “Student” as your headline. If you have a job, put your current job title.
What’s on your headline? Do you think it makes a difference? Let me know.
When I was in middle school, I was part of the Gifted & Talented program also known as the GT program. Basically they grouped all the nerds and put them in all the same classes that were more advanced. In those classes, one of my friends, let’s call him John, was at the top of the class in the grade rankings. He was the school valedictorian if there is such a thing for a middle school.
Problem was, taking a test was a big deal for him. He would get so nervous that he would literally vomit before a test. On more than one occasion I saw him get beet red, sweating profusely, shivering like he was in the middle of a snow storm, and cry his way through a pop quiz.
A similar situation happens to many people during interviews. Even though everyone gets a certain level of nervousness, a portion of the population suffers from severe episodes of nervousness.
I decided to write down the 6 step process I recommend people follow to help them control and reduce the way nervousness affects them during interviews.
Fail to plan, plan to fail. Planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Instead of thinking of all the things you have to do, focus instead on the process. Just like a cake recipe, you go from one step to the next which leads you to the end result. Consider the planning phase the read through of the recipe.
Something I have found very useful to calm my nerves before interviews is to remove all the uncertainty from the situation. Many people get nervous because they’re afraid of what the other person may think of them. These thoughts run through their heads until all we imagine them yelling “Get out!” in the middle of the interview.
What if instead of wondering what they may think, we do some research to get to know them better?
Looking through their LinkedIn profile will give you some excellent clues on how they think and what they may ask you. Write down what schools they went to, the companies they’ve worked at and things you find interesting. For example, if they got a degree in engineering but are now doing accounting, that career change may be something you can write down as interesting and ask them about. Length of time at jobs, similar companies you’ve worked at and anything you think you two have in common. These are always good points to bring up during the interview.
You can also look at their facebook and other social media profiles to get a better idea of who they are. I like to do a general google search and see what else there is about them online.
I’ve done this with all my other clients and it’s always amazing what we’re able to find. One time we found a company newsletter that had a full article on the hiring manager and his how he did beekeeping as a hobby. My client brought this up during the interview which immediately turned the interview into a conversation. Obviously the hiring manager was excited to talk about beekeeping as well as impressed that someone took the time to really prepare for the interview.
Now instead of meeting a stranger, you’re meeting someone you kinda know. This makes the whole interview a less daunting event.
Obviously practicing is important however there is a difference between practicing and rehearsing. I don’t want you to memorize answers. I don’t think memorizing helps calm nerves because you might then worry about messing up your script. Instead, create your Interview Theme which is how you want the interviewer to see you and practice the answers you think those answers would be to the questions.
Aside from our practices, you should practice on your own whenever you have some free time. You can record yourself, do it in front of the mirror, with someone else as long as you’re able to practice out loud.
You can use this free copy of my book to learn the framework to answering the most common interview questions.
You want to practice so much, you’ll be able to improvise.
Visualization is something I feel strongly about. I consider it part of your preparation since you are mentally practicing several scenarios in your head. If any of those scenarios or even some you haven’t thought of, come up, you’ll be able to react accordingly because you’ve “been there before”.
Below is an excerpt from the book The Power of Habit which has that story I use often during my one-on-one coaching sessions about Michael Phelps and how he thought about his perfect swim every day since he was a teenager until he won 23 Olympic gold medals.
“When Phelps was a teenager, for instance, at the end of each practice, Bowman would tell him to go home and "watch the videotape. Watch it before you go to sleep and when you wake up."
The videotape wasn't real. Rather, it was a mental visualization of the perfect race. Each night before falling asleep and each morning after waking up, Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. He would visualize his strokes, the walls of the pool, his turns, and the finish. He would imagine the wake behind his body, the water dripping off his lips as his mouth cleared the surface, what it would feel like to rip off his cap at the end. He would lie in bed with his eyes shut and watch the entire competition, the smallest details, again and again, until he knew each second by heart.
During practices, when Bowman ordered Phelps to swim at race speed, he would shout, "Put in the videotape!" and Phelps would push himself, as hard as he could. It almost felt anticlimactic as he cut through the water. He had done this so many times in his head that, by now, it felt rote. But it worked. He got faster and faster. Eventually, all Bowman had to do before a race was whisper, "Get the videotape ready," and Phelps would settle down and crush the competition.”
This is something I also feel strongly about. There is research that shows Power posing has immediate effects on your testosterone levels. Just 2-5 mins of power posing can help you raise your testosterone (which helps you with focus and quick thinking).
“High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.”
There are several moves you can try and the easiest is the superman/wonder woman pose. This is where you stand up straight, shoulders back, eyes forward, feet shoulder width apart and hands on your hips (see wonder woman pic below). Your head should be straight almost like if you had a string attached to the crown of your head that someone is pulling up.
Breathe either with your eyes open or closed in this pose. I like to do it with my eyes closed and visualize but you can also just stare at your reflection or just straight ahead.
Look at this video ( It’s only like 10 mins long.):
It has a great presentation on how to correctly breathe. Practice this in the days leading up to your interview as well as the day of.
One question I always get from people is how to stay motivated during a job search. It can be very demoralizing to send out job applications and not even get back a rejection letter. I’ll explain to you how I handle it through a little story.
As the Fall Semester of 2001 was about to start, I was getting a little anxious but also hopeful about my prospects for the remainder of my college career. I was about to become a Junior which meant that I HAD to secure an internship for the Spring of 2002. If I didn’t, I couldn’t graduate and I absolutely, positively had no intention of going back home to South Texas and explain to my parents why I couldn’t graduate.
Even though I didn’t have the highest grades or the connections, I wasn’t too worried about not getting a job. After all, I was enrolled in the #1 Accounting Program in the nation. What could go wrong?
And then it happened.
The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. Aside from the obvious loss of life and impact to our daily lives still felt today, there was also an impact in hiring. Where white collar internships were plenty, literally from one day to the next, employers canceled interviews set up months in advance and did company-wide hiring freezes.
So what’s a college guy like me to do?
Step 1: Identify your real goal
Yes, I could not graduate unless I had a University-vetted internship which meant my goal was clear: get an internship.
Don’t confuse steps for goals
You see, most people make the first mistake when setting goals by confusing steps with goals. One time I was driving a group of coworkers to the grand opening of a Panera Bread close to our office. As we drove into a packed parking lot, there was a guy driving back and forth trying to get a parking space right in front of the restaurant, completely ignoring the other side of the aisle which had 3 open spots. My group of 5 people were able to park, get in, and place our orders before he gave up and ended up parking on an undeveloped, grassy lot next to the restaurant.
He confused a step (get a good parking spot) for the real goal (Go into the restaurant and have lunch).
I see many people do the same thing during their job search. Sometimes they confuse the step (applying for jobs) for the goal (getting a job offer). This is evident when you hear someone say that they’ve applied to 60+ jobs and still haven’t had any interviews.
This leads me to Step #2: Create improvements that matter
I often hear about people who are proud of how efficient their job search has become. When they started they could only apply to 5 jobs a day but now due to efficiencies they created, they’re able to apply to 10 jobs a day!
They may be efficient (applying to 10+ jobs a day) but they’re not effective (getting an interview/job offer).
Improve where it matters
Instead of doing more of the steps, focus on making improvements on the road blocks. If you’re applying to X number of jobs a day and you’re not getting any results, then the problem may be your resume. Making improvements to it will allow you to reduce the number of times you apply and increase your results.
During that Fall of 2001, I think I only applied to 5 jobs total while most of my classmates applied to any job they could. That was the first time I heard about someone applying to 100 jobs. Out of those 5 applications, I got 2 phone interviews and 1 in-person interview. Most of my classmates got 1 or 2 interviews despite applying to 2-3X more companies than I did.
Another more recent example: Less than two months ago I started working with a client and in our second 1-on-1 coaching session he asked me what his target number for jobs applied for day should be. When I explained that our approach should be different, not only did he save himself hours and hours of fruitless work, he started getting results quickly. In the time since, he’s only applied to 3 jobs, received 3 interviews and 2 job offers.
And finally Step 3: If you’ve done your job right, you’ll get results
On October 26th, 2001 I had my one and only in-person interview. There were probably around 65 open positions for one of the Big 4 Accounting firms and about 300+ applicants. While everyone else had better grades, more experience, and were part of the advanced Accounting program, what they didn’t have was the preparation.
Do the work. Get the results.
I researched the company, created the questions I wanted to ask, made sure my clothes were ready, and tried to guess who would be interviewing me. The day of went beautifully and I even remember how relieved I was when I left the interview room. We even went over 15 mins over the allotted time which is always a good sign.
For the next 6 weeks I didn’t hear anything. I finished my finals and the day before I was to leave my apartment for my parents’ house for winter break I got the call.
“We’re excited to offer you an internship position starting January 15th 2002. Sorry it took us so long to get back to you. You haven’t accepted someone else’s offer have you?”
In my excitement to finally hear those words I stuttered something about how had not accepted other offers because I was waiting for theirs. Never mind that I didn’t get any other offers. Lol
Was I sweating bullets because the semester was over and I had yet to get a call? Yes. Did I know I was going to get an internship? Yes. The reason I was so positive I was going to get a job offer was because I had done the work. I worked on my resume making the necessary changes, did deep research on the companies I applied to, and I prepared myself. I did the work so I knew I would get the results
What was your biggest insight from this? Are you feeling ready for the RIT Career Fair tomorrow?