I remember once, back in the early 90’s, right after I got out of college, my future wife and I got to pre-screen a film. I forget how we ended up getting the invite but as movie buffs we felt pretty lucky to get the chance to see a film well before its release date, and tell the producers our opinions.

The film was The Crow and it starred Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, who had tragically died during the filming, much as his father had 20 years earlier. It lent a certain weight to the whole experience.

To make a long story short, we loved the film, said so, and then watched two months later as the film became a hit. Alas, that was the end of our journey as gurus to the film industry.

The Crow is a very dark story, and fairly violent, but it had a hauntingly beautiful song that played a recurring role, titled ‘It can’t rain all the time.” It served as a reminder to one of the main characters that while things were pretty horrible now, that the sun would eventually come out and things would eventually improve.

It always reminded me of the quote, “This too shall pass.” It is a simple thought, that contains deep reservoirs of meaning and is something I actually bring to mind often.

  • When work is piling on and I can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • When we suffer one home mini disaster after another.
  • When the kids seem to be double-teaming us parents and we’re down to our last frayed nerve.

It’s a useful reminder that no matter how tough life may seem at the moment, that the page will turn and a new season will come. When we are in the middle of a pandemic storm in our lives it is often hard to see that, so we need to be reminded. For me, that reminder comes from a now forgotten action movie’s title song. Maybe for you it is scripture or a saying of a favorite teacher.

Whatever it is, try to make it something you can look to when the going gets tough.

Jobseekers in particular need this kind of reassurance that the struggle they are going through will not last forever, that there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re currently looking for that next step in your career and you are either enduring a dead end job, or are trying to make ends meet while unemployed, just remember it can’t rain all the time.

Eventually the sun will come out for you, too.

 
Ever since I was a kid I have had a fascination with George Washington. If I think back to childhood I think it all started with a humble plaque situated in the center of my home town announcing the passage of Henry Knox through town on his way to General Washington’s encampment. Or maybe it was the fact that the great man himself once spent a night here at one of our old inns. Living in Massachusetts, historical reference points to the Revolutionary War are not in short supply, and of course General Washington is always a highlight.
 
Regardless, my admiration for him has only grown the more I have aged and  read. Washington, A Life by Rod Chernow is probably my favorite biography, and in it he goes into quite a bit of detail into the events surrounding both his relinquishment of power at the end of the war and of his refusal to serve more than two terms as president. 
 
Of course Washington wasn’t the first leader to step away once the need for his leadership had abated. Washington himself was often called a modern-day Cincinatus by his peers. Cincinatus was a Roman statesman whose service as consul in 460 BC and dictator in 458 BC and 439 BC made him a model of civic virtue because he too gave up near-absolute authority with the end of each crisis. In fact he has often been cited as the prime example of outstanding leadership and service to the greater good.
 
This concept of leadership as stewardship, the idea that those in charge have a duty to serve those who follow, is the central premise of a new book by Simon Sinek,  Leaders Eat Last. Sinek makes a powerful case that the Jack Welch-style chasing of short term profits at the expense of long term stability does irreparable harm to those companies. Instead he claims that companies that offer their employees a degree of safety and a sense of purpose are the ones that will win out in the long run.
 
Sinek’s Premise

[W]hen a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.

Sinek structures his book using multiple anecdotes and examples from both the corporate world as well as the military, which seems to represent his ideal in terms of leadership structure. While this tactic does occasionally lead him down rabbit holes that serve to showcase his political leanings, it nonetheless proves an overall effective means to get his message across.

 
Sinek’s Proof
 
Many times throughout Leaders Eat Last Sinek contrasts the definition of managers with that of leaders. In his view our business schools are churning out effective managers, but not true leaders. Managers are concerned with numbers and markers, where as leaders are concerned with people.

According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2013 called “State of the American Workplace,” when our bosses completely ignore us, 40 percent of us actively disengage from our work. If our bosses criticize us on a regular basis, 22 percent of us actively disengage. Meaning, even if we’re getting criticized, we are actually more engaged simply because we feel that at least someone is acknowledging that we exist! And if our bosses recognize just one of our strengths and reward us for doing what we’re good at, only 1 percent of us actively disengage from the work we’re expected to do.

More:

It is not the demands of the job that cause the most stress, but the degree of control workers feel they have throughout their day. The studies also found that the effort required by a job is not in itself stressful, but rather the imbalance between the effort we give and the reward we feel. Put simply: less control, more stress.

Clearly, employees want a relationship with their leadership. Time and time again he gives proof showing that companies that buck the management trend, and instead trust employees and essentially provide them cover to experiment,succeed to a greater degree over the long term.

Sinek spends a lot of time on this idea of leaders as protectors, keeping their employees safe.

Truly human leadership protects an organization from the internal rivalries that can shatter a culture. When we have to protect ourselves from each other, the whole organization suffers. But when trust and cooperation thrive internally, we pull together and the organization grows stronger as a result.

More:

When the people have to manage dangers from inside the organization, the organization itself becomes less able to face the dangers from outside.

This of course makes complete sense and it is a wonder that more companies do not follow this model. When employees have to spend their entire careers watching their backs, hoping to make it through the next set of layoffs (that are only made to satisfy the short term needs of investors, not the long term health of the company) it is no wonder that toxic and unproductive work environments abound.

Finally, Sinek drives home the point that those who lead well, lead not for privilege, but to serve. He relates the story of an Under Secretary of Defense who spoke at a large conference and revealed that the previous year, when he was still an under secretary, he was flown to the conference in business class, escorted to his hotel room, and treated to a cup of coffee in a ceramic mug.  Now, as a civilian, he flew coach, drove himself , and poured himself coffee into a styrofoam cup.

‘It occurs to me,’ he continued, ‘the ceramic cup they gave me last year…it was never meant for me at all. It was meant for the position I held. I deserve a styrofoam cup. This is the most important lesson I can impart to all of you,’ he offered. ‘All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren’t meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you leave your role, which you eventually will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a styrofoam cup.

This is a point in which both George Washington and the famed Cincinatus would wholeheartedly agree. If you are a CEO, mid-level manager, or a simple shift supervisor, you could do worse than incorporate some of the ethos of  Leaders Eat Last into your leadership style.
 
*****

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Part 2 of a 4 part series. Part 1 here.

So how do you tap into the hidden job market? By having the right key. Because opportunities are filled both through employee referrals and recruiting, you will want to cover both bases.

Accessing the hidden job market works best when you have a clear target in mind — either a specific job title or, even better, a specific list of companies you’d like to work for.

There are basically three ways, or keys, to access the hidden job market:

•     Connect with someone at the company through your network (either an employee who can refer you or a hiring manager or a recruiter who works for the company).

•     Contact the company directly about exploring unadvertised opportunities.

•     Be visible enough in your industry or field to be contacted by a prospective employer.

Here are some specific tips for jobseekers looking to tap into the hidden job market:

•     Let your network know you are looking for a new position. While this can be difficult if you are conducting a confidential job search, it’s important that the people you know think of you when an opening comes up.

•     Following the advice of author Harvey Mackey, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.” Having a large network of contacts pays off when it’s time to look for a new job — particularly when you want to tap into the hidden job market. Keep in touch with your former colleagues and bosses. Build your LinkedIn network by connecting with people in your field — but also by adding folks you know from everyday life — the other parents you sit with at your child’s karate dojo, the members of your recreational softball team, your neighbors, etc. All of these can potentially help you tap into the hidden job market.

•     Help others. “Give to get.” Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Keep your ears open about unadvertised openings and help connect those in your network to these opportunities. This type of assistance is often reciprocated. Cultivate relationships with peers in the industry. These connections at other companies can pay off.

•     If there is a particular employer you are interested in working for, consider approaching the company directly. When approaching a target employer directly, research the hiring manager and see if there is a mutual connection you can approach to make the introduction. Focus on expanding your network until you connect with someone who works there. Ask him or her to keep you in mind for unadvertised opportunities — or even pass along your resume right away, even if there isn’t currently an opening.

Part I of a 4-part series.

You may have heard the term “the hidden job market.” What is it, and how do jobseekers get access to it?

“Hidden job market” is a phrase that describes job openings that are not publicly advertised.

There are a variety of reasons why a company would not publicly post a job opening.

•     The cost of advertising an open position can be substantial.

•     They don’t want to be overwhelmed with applications.

•     A new role is being created and they are unsure of the qualifications of the ideal employee.

•     They are replacing an existing employee (who doesn’t know they are being replaced).

Most of these job opportunities are accessed through referrals from current employees of the company. It’s estimated that 60-80 percent of jobs are found through networking. While not all of the jobs found through networking are accessing the hidden job market (after all, your friends/family/acquaintance network can help you access interviews for advertised opportunities too), almost all candidates who get interviews for unadvertised jobs do so through networking.

Current employees can be an excellent source of candidates. Particularly if the company has a strong workplace culture, having existing employees identify prospective candidates can help ensure solid candidates are encouraged to apply. Some companies even reward employees — with cash or gift cards — for recommending a candidate who is eventually hired.

Employee referrals provide an advantage for the jobseeker too. Employee recommendations can carry great weight. Plus, there is less competition for job opportunities accessed through the hidden job market than for openly advertised opportunities.

Being referred by a current employee may also mean that your application is set apart from the typical internal processes that most jobseekers have to navigate — such as an applicant tracking system for online applications.

Recruiters are another source of unadvertised positions. An employer may choose to work with a recruiter to fill a job rather than advertise it publicly. The recruiter sources job candidates, screens prospective hires, and sends the hiring manager a handful of handpicked candidates. This saves the company time and money. In many cases, when working with a third-party recruiter, the company only pays the recruiter if a candidate is hired, and only if he or she stays for a specified period of time (say, six months).

A three part blog chain on what should and shouldn’t be included on your resume. Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Remember, your resume is not an obituary that lists every job you’ve ever held. Instead, it’s a marketing document whose content should support the job target you’re seeking.

Consequently, you may choose to only include the most recent 10-15 years of work experience on your resume. Not only can this help reduce the likelihood of age discrimination, but in a world where things change at a rapid pace, your older experience may no longer be relevant. You likely have newer skills, experience, and projects that better reflect where you are going, not where you have been.

However, you should not leave a job off your resume that you held for six months or more just because you were fired, and you don’t want to talk about it. Instead, be prepared to address the reason for your departure, including taking responsibility for performance shortcomings, being able to describe how you took corrective action to ensure the situation doesn’t happen again.

For example, if you are sales professional who was let go because you missed two consecutive quarters of sales quotas, you might include the role on your resume, especially if you were selling a desirable product or working with high-profile clients, but be ready to explain that you didn’t have the depth of product knowledge that you should have had in order to be successful in that position. This is a particularly effective strategy if you have been successful in previous sales roles, but just not in this one.

Determining what to include — and what to exclude — on your resume to maximize your chances of getting an interview is one of the important functions a professional resume writer can assist you with. Having the guidance and experience of a professional to help you navigate your job search can save you time and money, landing you that dream job faster, and potentially even at a higher salary than you were expecting.

One important thing to note: If you are asked to complete a job application that requires you to list all positions you’ve held, you should include each and every role — no matter how short — particularly if you’re required to sign the application, and, therefore, attest to the truthfulness of the information included.

A three part blog chain on what should and shouldn’t be included on your resume. Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Next, consider whether this role is your only work experience relevant to your target job. For example, if you are a recent graduate but were “first in and first out” at your first job, consider including it if you were on the job more than 90 days. (Often the most recent person hired is the first person let go, and most hiring managers recognize this.) Having some experience — even short-term experience — is better than having no experience.

And remember, if you were laid off because of the economy, loss of a key company customer, or another reason unrelated to your performance, include that in the resume (and possibly also the cover letter).

If, on the other hand, the role doesn’t fit in the narrative of where you’ve been in your career — and, more importantly, where you’re going — consider omitting it. Sometimes you take a job because you think it will open doors or lead you to a new path, and it doesn’t end up that way. If including the job will raise more questions than it will answer, consider leaving it off. Especially if omitting it wouldn’t cause a significant time gap on the resume.

For example, Ted left the military after a career in naval intelligence and took a job at a startup software company, working in their security department. After being on the job for a few weeks, he decided that the laid-back company culture wasn’t suited to his personality and he left the role. Instead, he went to work for a defense contractor, and has been there for two years and has now decided to look for a new job. Ted may choose to omit the position at the startup from his resume.

A three part blog chain on what should and shouldn’t be included on your resume. Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Dear Steve,

I hate my new job. I worked at my old company for 12 years but was let go in a major restructuring. I found a new job, and I’ve been here for four months, but I hate it, and I’m going to quit.

My question is: Should I include this job on my resume?

— Wondering

This is a common question — but there’s no one simple answer. As with many job search-related issues, the answer is: it depends.

The first thing to think about when deciding whether or not to include a short-term position on your resume is whether it was planned as a short-term position, or if it simply ended up that way.

If the job was a contract position, the usual answer is: Yes, include it. Make sure to describe it as such: “Hired for temporary, three-month role during maternity leave of key staffer.”

Hiring managers are often sympathetic to short-term engagements when the circumstances are explained.

On the other hand, if the position wasn’t meant to be short-term, it may be wise to find a way to make it seem like it wasn’t as short. You could include it on the resume but list your experience by year, instead of month/year to month/year. (Which you should already be doing anyway.)

For example, list the experience as ABC Incorporated (2019) vs. ABC Incorporated (March 2019 – August 2019).

Also consider whether you can “group” the role with other positions. For example, if you had several short-term roles — even if they were not technically temporary jobs — think about whether you can combine them into a single description.

For example, if you had a sales role with company ABC for 8 months but left for a better opportunity with company XYZ — but only worked there for a year — consider listing the positions jointly as “Sales Representative, ABC/XYZ” with the inclusive dates. This only works, however, if the titles and work responsibilities are nearly identical.

If the job wasn’t intended to be short-term — but ended up that way because you were fired, or you quit because you didn’t like the job/company/people, consider leaving it off. But even in this situation, there are exceptions.

For example, did you learn any new skills in this role, or use any skills that aren’t described elsewhere on your resume? If so, you may want to include the position so that you can showcase those skills.

Did you work for a name-brand company (for example, a well-known startup or Fortune 500 company) or did you work with a name-brand client in the scope of your work in that role? You may want to include the position on the resume to increase the search engine optimization (SEO) of the resume for applicant tracking systems — or simply to impress a hiring manager.

Will having this position on your resume help position you for a career change? Even if your time in the position wasn’t long, if having that experience helps you bridge the transition from one career to the next, consider including it.

For Part II click here.

The people you know can be the best way for you to find your next job. The “tried and true” path of networking is still the most successful way to find your next position.

According to a recent surveys person-to-person networking is the single most effective way to find a new job, with 70% of jobseekers identifying networking as the reason they found their most recent job.

Research consistently identifies networking as an important job search tool — anywhere from 40-80% of job placements are attributed to networking. Networking can also be a way to identify unadvertised job opportunities — accessing the “hidden job market.” (The “hidden job market” refers to jobs that are not advertised publicly. These positions may be filled through employee referrals, recruiters, or direct contact with hiring managers through networking.)

It happens all the time. Someone in your network says, “You know what? You should talk to John Jones at the XYZ Company. They’re hiring.”

This guide will help you identify who is in your network and how to use these connections to find your next job.

Build Your Network Before You Need It

The single biggest mistake most job searchers make is not asking for help from their network. People want to help you — so let them! But don’t wait until you’re out of work to start developing relationships with your network.

As author Harvey Mackey says, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Develop your contacts, be willing to help these folks with their needs, and they will be there when you need them!

The more people who know you are looking for a job, the more eyes and ears that will be available to help. Networking is about getting the people you already know to help connect you to the people who will help you land your next career opportunity.

You can also tap into your network for specific assistance. For example, if you want to work at a particular company, ask people in your network if they know anyone who currently works for — or used to work for — “Company X.” Then contact that person and ask about the company, culture, and hiring practices.

Who Is Your Network?

The first step is to identify who is in your network. This can include: friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents and relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, professional association contacts, your community contacts (civic leaders, clergy, etc.), and your doctor, financial advisor, or attorney. Your holiday card list, if you have one, can be a good starting point for identifying who is already in your network.

If you don’t already have a list, start one! Make a list of all of your contacts — past employers, vendors, customers, colleagues, competitors, bankers, and others. You never know who may have a great lead or know of an unadvertised opportunity.

Then, expand that list. Here are some ideas for other people to add to your network.

Personal Contacts:

  • Friends
  • Relatives
  • Parents of children’s friends
  • Parents of your friends
  • Relatives of friends
  • Club members (country club, swim club, sports club)
  • Associations
  • Military service personnel
  • Sorority/fraternity
  • Cousins
  • Neighbors
  • Sports team members

Business Contacts:

  • Current co-workers
  • Previous co-workers
  • Previous managers
  • Consultants
  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Retirees
  • Seminar, conference, and workshop attendees
  • Business owners
  • Competitors
  • Clients/customers
  • Venture capitalists
  • Members of industry associations
  • Contacts you make at conventions and job fairs

Third-Party Contacts:

  • Accountants
  • Doctors
  • Real estate brokers
  • Financial advisors and bankers
  • Attorneys
  • Dentists
  • Mortgage bankers/brokers
  • Insurance agents
  • Travel agents

Educational Contacts:

  • Elementary, middle, and high school friends and teachers
  • College classmates and friends
  • Alumni association contacts
  • Graduate school classmates
  • Other alumni of your schools
  • University career-placement office staff
  • Former professors and advisors

Community Contacts:

  • Civic and political leaders
  • Librarians
  • Clergy/ministers
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Community groups (Kiwanis, Rotary, Scouts)
  • People you meet while volunteering
  • Health club members

Assemble the contact information for these individuals and add them to your list.

You can also brainstorm contacts you need to make. Write your desired job target at the top of a piece of paper. Then, make a list of possible employers on the left side of the page. On the right side of the page, make a list of people you know who can connect you with these companies.

Here are some more opportunities to develop your network:

  • Attend networking events (for example, those hosted by your professional organization, Chamber of Commerce, and tips groups). Attend association meetings and take advantage of educational opportunities.
  • Work as a volunteer. For example, in your industry association, the Membership Committee is a great place to start. The Program Committee (that plans events) or the Finance Committee (that helps line up sponsors) can also be good choices. Getting involved in any organization is beneficial. Volunteering is one of the best ways to network your way to new contacts.
  • Participate in an online community. This can be a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn, an alumni site (like Classmates.com), or your trade association’s website (which might have an elist or message board to connect members).
  • Contact your alumni groups. Your college or university should have an alumni association (often with a directory of members) that can be useful. You can mine the directory for contacts in your field, even if they didn’t graduate in the same year as you. Your alma mater connects you.
  • Read your local business journal to find out about growing companies. Pay particular attention to the “People” section (the section that highlights promotions and new hires at companies) and see if there are any contacts you can make.
  • Reference directories can also lead you to the right people. For example, the Manufacturers’ News (www.mnistore.com) sells databases and print directories of manufacturing businesses and contact information for the decision-makers at these companies.

How to Use Your Network

There are a few ways to use your network to find a new opportunity. The first is to contact specific people in your network — or your entire network — and let them know you are looking for ideas, information, advice, and contacts/referrals. Create a networking cover letter (samples are included in this guide) and send the letter with your résumé to each of the contacts in your network. This is the broadest way to use your network, and can be useful if you are currently unemployed and not worried about jeopardizing your current job by visibly pursuing a new one.

A more effective way to use your network is a more targeted approach. Identify the specific need you have, and then contact people who are in a position to help you reach that specific job goal.

For example, if you see an advertised opening for a position, go through your network and see who might be able to provide you with access to the hiring manager (or someone else who works at the company), information about that specific company (or the company’s position in the industry), or information about the specific position you’re seeking.

You can use your network contact to make an introduction to a hiring manager — either asking them to pass along your résumé to that individual, introducing you directly, or allowing you to use their name when making an initial contact.