3 Things Not To Do When Job Searching

elephantsOne of the most difficult periods a person can go through is being unemployed.  Being underemployed ranks right up there to, however searching for a job can be depressing, humiliating and downright frustrating.


That is if you let it.


It can also be a time of renewal, evaluation and opportunity.


The choice is yours and it all begins with your mindset.  It isn’t easy to maintain a positive attitude when you are job searching.  Heck, if being positive were easy the world would be a much different place, now wouldn’t it?


Think about it – who would you rather be around positive or negative people? If you chose negative I am not sure why you are reading my blog – I’m all about the happy so you must have gotten lost somewhere in cyber world.


People are attracted to and respond to positive.  Period.


That is why it is critical that you not do the following three things when you are job searching:



A lot of us have been there, done that in the job searching.  We can sympathize and maybe even commiserate with you, however that does not do you any good.  It just reinforces the negative aspects of the situation.


Complaining about your situation may garner a little sympathy but what you need now is assistance, not sympathy.  Having a positive outlook invites people to want to help you because as a positive person you are more likely to take action on leads they give you and be appreciative of the help.


Complaining also tells the listeners that perhaps this is a constant state of mind for you.  What if they do assist you in landing a job – are you going to complain about that job too?



No one wins at the blame game.  When it is all said and done the truth of the matter is you are where you are and it doesn’t matter how you got there because it is over, put it behind you and move on.  You may absolutely be in the right if you were let go unjustly, but honestly, no one really cares.


They care about what you can do going forward.


Utilize the events as experience.  Try to be impartial when evaluating the past – what did you contribute, what did you not contribute and how can you improve on a situation like that in the future or prevent it?  Learn from these lessons, find the positive and utilize that to propel yourself forward.


Life is best lived learning, not repeating.



Retreating into yourself and refraining from interactions and life will propel you down the rabbit hole of the dark side.  Now is the time that you need to reach out and communicate with people.  Not everyone you interact with will be able to assist you in your job searching, nor should you look at them that way.


One of the best ways to brighten your day and improve your situation is to stop focusing on yourself and help someone else.  When you are networking make sure to listen to other people and see how you can help them.


Volunteer – hey, you have some extra time now so why not?  It may not lead to a job but it will absolutely do some great goods for others.  When you give of yourself you allow others to see you as a whole person focused on more in this world than just you.


Give yourself permission to learn something new: a new skill, a new art even the art of relaxing.  Take the opportunity to evaluate everything that has lead to this point and realize there is more to life than where you were.  There are new people to meet, new experiences to be had and more mistakes to make – and learn from.


You can’t do that hiding away in front of the computer waiting for that perfect job to pop up on a job board.  Get out there and start interacting with people.  You might find by sheer dumb luck a whole new opportunity you never dreamed of just because you were open to new things.



It takes continually effort to stop yourself from complaining, refraining and blaming and there are times that you just need to get it out.  Vent it out to your best friend, your spouse or your coach – but that is it.


The rest of the world needs to see the positive aspects of this new adventure so they know you are welcoming them to ride along with you as you soar to new hights.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



Is The Next Thing Really The Best Thing?

I work with people on both extremes in the job market: from unemployed looking for an opportunity to those who are currently employed and looking for a new opportunity.  Individuals in both these categories can get a case of “the grass is greener” syndrome.


The Currently Employed


The boss is a jerk, the co-workers are uncooperative and the raises have diminished.  The happy, shiny has worn off to expose the cold hard steel of the framework of the job.  It isn’t fun any more or maybe not fulfilling.


So the thought of a new job where you will be appreciated, better pay and be a part of a collaborative environment sounds like the right fix.  But is it real?


Things always look better from the outside.  Oh sure, it may stink where you are, but is it really that bad or are perhaps you the one stinking up the place?  Maybe your attitude has affected how others around you are treating you.  Remember, when you point that finger there are three more pointing right back at you.


Leaving a position isn’t always the best fix.  It is a band-aid and a way to avoid any real issues.


When I worked in the financial industry I remember several times having the thoughts of wanting to get the hell out of dodge from one of my employers.  It was normally at a particularly bad point whether it was a couple days or week but I had had enough.


Then I would take some time to play devil’s advocate.  I loved the people I worked with and I loved the job that I did.  But people got on my nerves, my boss was extremely demanding.


However, the flip side to that was I am sure I got on their nerves too and I was even more demanding of myself than he could have ever been.  I set the bar high so it basically allowed him to challenge me to be more, do better and excel.  And I did.


So after the initial desire to run subsided I would look around and appreciate where I was and what I was doing.  It was the best job in the industry I ever had.


Before you completely bail on a job, think about the positives and make sure that there is nothing that you could do yourself before you try to job hop.  Because you might just be leaving the best thing you ever had.


The Unemployed


Sometimes those looking for their next opportunity are actually afraid of the right job.  They are afraid of the green grass.  They are afraid that since they have been out of commission for a bit they may not measure up.  When this happens oftentimes they might look for a sub par position because it feels safer.  They would rather stay in the dilapidated field because it is what they know.


Safe is comfortable and secure; growth is scary and challenging.  Choose growth.


I have had clients that have gone from one disastrous position to another because they are afraid to commit to a position which utilizes their fullest potential.  All the positions end badly but they have no battle scars because they were never truly invested.


You need to invest in yourself and the company – that’s when a real fulfillment can be obtained.  You may feel as though you are not good enough for that job or that company.  If you don’t even try then you are failing yourself.


If you do apply for a position, gotten a call back and still feel that way then it is your own insecurity.  If they have spoken to you or want to speak with you then obviously you are the only one seeing things in that manner.


Everyone has insecurities but growth helps you overcome them to reach the level where you need to be; where you can reach your fullest potential, help your clients the most and give the most value to your teammates.


The next safe thing might not be the right thing; perhaps a current or past opportunity was really the best thing.  Stop running and stop fighting it.  If you keep going after the unfulfilling, mediocre positions than you will always feel less than truly happy.


No one is born a leader of a company.  It takes trial, error, failure, attempt, success, fear and just plain guts.  If you don’t try you won’t know.  Do not assume that the grass is too green for you, take a chance, throw off your shoes and go walk around awhile in the field – that grass feels pretty good under your feet.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Half Full, Half Empty or Room For More Juice?

I saw a blurb for a story on a ticker today that said something about better job news for the President but unemployment is sill rising.  So, good for the President but not the unemployed?  So is it a glass half full, half empty or just room for more juice type situation?


So often in job searching people can get really run down by hearing all the bad news and pessimistic outlooks.  In watching the news, reading the paper or online things can just look overwhelmingly depressing.  This then begins to permeate their attitude and attitude dictates action.




I’m not saying to completely stop watching the news, although it might be an interesting experiment to do so for a short period of time.  It is amazing how much your mood improves without all that negativity.


Stop giving it so much credence.  Remember two things about the news:  bad is good and general stories are like horoscopes.


Bad news is good profits.  Rarely do we see happy, shiny stories on the front page and every page thereafter because bad news sells and makes more money.  Oh every once in a while we will see heartwarming stories in the news; unfortunately more often than not the stories are negative.


Seriously, look at who the media are now vaulting into celebrity status.  Many of these people if I saw them on the street and they asked to pet my dogs I would respectfully decline.  Ok, not nice but you get my point.


The other factor to consider is general news stories are like horoscopes.  Do you realize that your horoscope is applicable to every single person under your sign – not just in your town, city, state but the country – heck the world.


My horoscope today said: “You have found meaning in some new aspect of your work or personal life, and it’s driving you toward even greater success. Use today’s wild energy to take a risk and go for even more!”


So all the Virgos in the world have wild energy and should go for more and are now inspired.  Interesting.  Apparently my dogs are not Virgos because they are all sleeping and are completely uninspired.


My point is this: it is fine to hear the news and naysayers but don’t listen to them.  Choose to be positive, choose to believe the right job is out there for you and you are taking the right steps to make that connection.  Choose your attitude which will drive your actions which will result in your successes.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



Just Because You Have Always Done It Doesn’t Mean It Works For You

Ruts – we all get stuck in them.  Whether it be personal habits, jobs, career paths or ways of thinking – we can all easily get stuck in a rut.


Very often when working with clients an overwhelming theme is, “This is what I have always done.”


At some point I ask them, “But what do you want to do?”


That is a stumper.


Because we all get stuck in our rut and it becomes comfortable we forget that not only did we get ourselves there but we can get ourselves out, too.


Easier said than done, I know.  Trust me, I know.


The first time I had a little wake up call on a rut was from my mom.  In my family we like to add a little bit of humor, ok – sarcasm – to our life teachings.  Many moons ago after my divorce we were talking about dating and I said something about having never gone out with someone under six foot tall.  She didn’t miss a beat and deadpanned, “How’s that working out for you.”


I say that a lot now – to myself.  I also encourage others to do the same.


Are you unfulfilled with your career, personal relationships or any area within your life yet you keep repeating the same patterns yet expecting different results?  How is that working for you?


If something is not working for you take the time to look at your intentions and goals then compare them to your actions.  Do your actions support your goals?  Does your message support your goals?


Take a look at your resume and the jobs for which you are applying.  Does your resume speak to what you want to do rather than what you did?  Do you keep going after the same type of job?  How is that working out for you?


Think of it this way, if you keep going after dead-end jobs and using the exact same resume for each position it is like saying you want to be in a healthy, committed relationship but yet you keep asking out the crazy emotionally-stunted opposite sex out.


Revise your resume to write toward the position that you really want, network with people in the industry or field to get a better understanding of the requirements and how to penetrate the market, and take actionable steps to reach one goal at a time.


It took time to get in that rut so give yourself a healthy start in getting out by making a plan or changes in small increments.  One step at a time, even if it is a step backward, leads you to your goal much more than standing still.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Time Just Keeps Dragging On

Sometimes finding that right next job takes a little, or a lot, longer than you anticipate. Often I hear from people, “It used to be so easy, just submit a resume or fill out an application and you got a job – it’s a lot harder now!” Yes, it is.

Days turn to weeks, weeks can turn into months. It is frustrating and humbling. It is not like you want to sit around and eat bon-bons all day – you want to work but the work is hard to find. So how do you communicate the fact that even though the time period has been long you really do want a job?

1. Make sure you are participating in activities that are geared toward employment. Volunteering, taking classes, networking – anything that is expanding your contacts or giving you additional skills. Sitting at home in your sweats perusing the online want ads is not a plan. It can be a piece of your overall plan, but not the sum of the whole.

2. Know what type of job you want. When someone tells me they just want a job they do not realize it but it makes them unforgettable. No one will take just any job. You want the job of the guy that scrapes road-kill off the road? How about a cow enema specialist? You can be looking for different jobs – but at least know what they are.

3. Adapt to your audience. Not everyone knows what you do or did or how well you did it. This is why you need to adapt to your audience. If you are speaking to people from your industry then you can use the key words and phrases that you both understand. If you are talking to someone who is unfamiliar with what you do then you will need to adapt your communication in a manner in which they will understand your message clearly.

4. Give your value not your title. Another sure fire way to be unforgettable is to tell people that you are a specific title or you are looking for a specific job title. Manager, Director, Supplier, Banker, Driver – these are all vague and, well, forgettable. It is not just your value, but who is your audience, who do you serve, how do you help and how have you succeeded in the past that are important aspects to delivering the right message.

5. Look for the link. Do not be afraid to ask people if they might know someone in the transportation, health care, financial or whatever your field happens to be. People will want to help; sometimes you just need to provide a little push to get them to see how they can.

What is you are in an interview and the question comes up why you have been looking for so long. Although this is a humiliating question and can naturally put you on the defense – don’t. One thing you can say in response is, “Just as you are looking for the right candidate I am looking for the right company. I have been interviewing several to ensure I find the right fit.” Then be prepared to explain what you have been doing in the meantime and what your qualifications are for that right company.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other and don’t give up. With every step you take remember to think about how this can help you, how you can turn it into a positive for a prospective networking opportunity or how you can use as an example in an interview. It is not just that first step that begins the journey of a thousand miles; it is all the little steps after the initial one that make a difference.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

It’s Just Not Fair

We are used to hearing that from little ones about their older brother or sister getting to do something that they are not or not being allowed to stay up a moment past their bedtimes. Even from our teens in not being allowed to go have the freedoms of an adult without the mentality of one. But as adults, we sometimes find ourselves saying that as well. And you know what; it is okay. It is justified when we are upset about a slighting of our children or loved ones. I find that I say it more in my “momma bear” mode for my kids than I do for myself. After all, I am a grown up, I know the motto suck it up, but when it involves ones we love, well then, the rules change.

Get ready folks, football season has started and there will be a lot of analogies coming your way. This is my son’s Senior Year in High School. Big time! The season has not started and already I am biting my tongue enough where I think it will come off at any moment. First let me explain, my son is a chip off both blocks. Between his father and I – the kid is kind of ruined in terms of stubbornness, attitude and strong desire to express our opinions (in an appropriate way) when we see things that are not just. And, well, there is the attitude. He is 17, and a boy, and plays lots of sports, and has inherited his mother’s attitude. People have told me they can just look at me and know immediately if it is really a wise idea to challenge me on something at that moment. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeves. My son has also inherited my naive firm belief that things should be just, right and fair. Decisions made on the basis of merit, ethics and all the proper values. What I have seen in less than a week is testing what we are made of; but, as his father pointed out, it is just a matter of proving yourself once again and it will happen. But as a mother, it is hard. It is hard to sit back and watch helplessly while these things transpire. I want to DO something, I want to be able to make something happen, I want to make it better.

Last week I talked to a woman who is helping her husband with his resume. He is in an incredible funk and this sweet woman is carrying that burden along with the stress of trying to continually build him up and look at the bright side of things. It is killing her watching the effect the transition is having on her husband. She wants to do something, she wants to make things happen, she wants to make it better.

Another client freely admits that he is driving his wife insane because he is looking for work and is being a complete (and not my words) “nutcase” about it. He said his wife has asked how she can help (my assumption: she wants to do something, she wants to make things happen, she wants to make it better) and he tells her he does not know what she can do.

You see, the stress of transition falls not only to those that are in transition, but to everyone around them. Men, and yes I am generalizing here so forgive me, tend to merge who they are with what they do and how they can provide. When there is a chink in their armor, it drives straight to the heart. Women, again I am generalizing, want to do something for them, to make it better. It is a tough world to live in and sometimes we just do not see beyond our own frustrations.

Great, you may be thinking, you have wonderful insight to what is going on in my home but how do we make it GO AWAY??? I wish I had the magic answer to that. It simply does not go away, it eats and tears at us. Personally, I try to take a philosophical approach. This is a time that nerves are raw and we really see the ties that bind. This is the opportunity for very open communication and a chance to become stronger, even if it is not at this moment, but in time. It is also a time to make plans (a primary and back up or two), have a purpose, and go after that primary plan. And if it just so happens that it is not working out the way you want, after you have put everything you have into it, then you already have your back up ready to implement. Take control of what you can and do the best with what you have, this is no time for excuses. Now is the time to give it everything you have no matter what.

For the woman and her husband, I told her to blame me for the following: she was to go home and tell him that I would be glad to speak to him at one of my classes; however, before doing so he must come up with 25 positive things about himself. Only after I see this list would I be able to help him with his resume. I told her the point in this is to force him to see the good in himself in what he can offer not only in a job, but in other ways. It is a difficult assignment; however one which I think will be very valuable. I image that he will want to ask her for advice on the list and possibly he will get some glimpse of insight as to how much good she sees in him.

For my client, I told him he must tell his wife that he knows he is being a donkey’s rear end and he appreciates the fact that she has not smothered him in his sleep. He is not intentionally shutting her out but he honestly does not know what she can do to help him. And I told him he should tell her that as well then ask her opinion. Once he has asked for her opinion, he must shut up and listen. Not knock any suggestion that she gives but be appreciative that she gives it. And he should allow her the opportunity to tell him he’s been the rear end and offer a diversion, do something outside of transition world, even if it is a walk around the block.

For me, well, I am going to focus on the positive that my son has incredible athletic ability (this is not momma bear bragging, I have had several coaches tell me he is one of the most athletic kids in the high school) and is a strong young man able to stand up for himself and what he believes is just and right in a moral sense and not in a self-centered-the-world-revolves-around-me-teenage-entitlement sense. Yes, he knows the difference, I have seen it in action and it is those moments that my breath catches in my throat because there is an adult in there wanting to come out! Although, sometimes he just chooses to ignore it. I have to believe that when all is said and done he will be on that field kicking butt and (from my keyboard to the greater power’s ears) some college will want him to come play for them. Just on a side note, I also have game film of him, just in case any school is interested in seeing just how this kid tackles so hard he gives concussions and has hands that the ball just seems to find…