Pro Tips from a Terrible Job-Seeker

Recently, a friend of mine asked if I had any tips as she thought about her next role. She knew that I had been through a similar situation about a year ago and wanted to know what wisdom I had learned from the experience.

I also laugh a little to myself when I get these requests. I think it’s fun that people think I know what I’m doing as a job-seeker. As a recruiter, not a problem – I can give advice and suggestions all day long about how to recruit, as well as share what recruiters and hiring managers are thinking. It’s different when it’s personal. I often describe my career as “Forrest Gump-ing my way through life” because I wasn’t always the most thoughtful in my approach. I would work somewhere for awhile, decide it was time to leave, then find something else without a lot of planning. It typically worked out, but not always. And while I learned something from every job, I feel like I could have avoided some of the pain along the way if I had been smarter about it.

Thankfully, I was a LOT more thoughtful about my last move. As a result, I’m in a job I love doing incredibly interesting work with incredibly smart people. Finally.

So, to help you NOT be me, here are some of the tips I shared with my friend:

  1. Don’t search scared: If you still have a job while you’re searching, this is a little easier. If you don’t have a job, it can be hard to be patient and not panic about money. Hopefully you have a nice buffer and can feel okay taking the right amount of time to find what you want. This isn’t always possible, so if you need to take a contract position while you look for your permanent home, that’s okay.
  2. Know (generally) what you want: Just blindly looking for something that looks interesting is exhausting and makes it harder for people to help you network. There are some good free tools out there to help you narrow your focus. Or splurge for a session with a coach or super smart friend. Whatever you do, narrowing down your want list is necessary.
  3. Find like-minded people: I’m not talking culture fit. Find people who will appreciate you for YOU. I’m at the point in my career where I will not suffer fools for immediate coworkers, so I consider long and hard who I will be interacting with, whether I’ll learn anything from them, and whether they will get my sense of humor (and that list is shorter than you think).
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: As shared earlier, I suck at finding jobs for myself, but I love helping other people find jobs (I’m so weird like that). Chances are, you have an AMAZING network of people who love you and want to help you find your dream job. Use it.
  5. Treat Yo’Self!: Yes, you’ll want to be smart about money until you’ve got your next gig figured out, but don’t begrudge yourself a pedicure. Or a trip, if it’s booked. Or a hair appointment. Or that damn cup of fancy coffee. You still need to love you.

So there you have it. Hopefully this helps you as you contemplate that next job search. It’s not an exact science. Everyone’s search is a little different, so grant yourself a little grace along the way.

If you have any advice to share, please do! And good luck to those who are looking for their next job. We’ve got your back.

Are You Engaged? (special guest post!!)

Fret not.  I’ll be posting an article of my own shortly.  I thought this (engagement and finding your happy place) was a good topic for those of you out there trying to survive leadership in one way or another.

Today’s post is brought to you by Dr. Daniel Crosby (@suitedjobs), creator of  Suited is an easy-to-use online tool that provides “fit scores” for folks who are curious about their company culture and/or job, and it provides suggestions for work that might better suit them. Give it a try!  (And if you don’t know Dr. Daniel Crosby, you really should.  He’s smart and stuff.)

Take it away, Dr. Crosby!


Those who came to this post expecting to see pictures of cakes, gowns, and tuxedos, keep surfing. For the rest of you…get back to work!

Sadly, if you do not find work to be engaging, involving, and satisfying, you are among the majority. According to the Gallup Organization, less than 30 percent of working Americans are fully engaged at work. As it turns out, your employer isn’t the only one who loses. In this case, being a part of the majority isn’t such a great thing. Employees who are not engaged not only perform worse, but are less satisfied in their work.


Effectively managing your level of engagement on the job starts before you even receive a job offer.

Setting aside your own self-interest is easy when work is interesting and rewarding. Far too many of us justify our investment to a job with the “It pays the bills” attitude. Determining whether your own values and interests align with those of an organization is an integral step in ensuring your own capacity for engagement.

1.       Know your own values.
If the ghost of your job history’s past kidnapped you in the middle of the night, what would you see? Try it out! Imagine yourself at every job you’ve ever had. Yes, every job – even the ones you deleted from your resume years ago. Which job made you feel the most meaningful? Involved? Satisfied? Energized? Counted on? Brainstorm what it was about the job which made you feel a particular way when you worked.

Keep in mind that the job market today is not always conducive to helping job seekers get in touch with their own values. How many times have you squeezed buzz words into your resume or cover letter to try to catch the eye of a prospective employer? Don’t get me wrong: strategically couching your experience can be very important to help a company see the value you could add. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of your sense of self.

2.       Know the company of interest.
Do your homework on a prospective employer to get a feel for the culture. Browsing a company’s website is not enough to learn what you need to know. A website may help you know about the image the company is trying to portray, but it may tell you little about what it would be like to be a part of the organization.

Identify individuals who currently work for the company of interest. If possible, find employees in a similar role and in the office that you would potentially be working in. Then ask away! If you have already done your homework, employment interviews offer you a chance to supplement what you already know. Capitalize on opportunities to ask questions in interviews to learn more about the organizational culture.

As you can see, setting yourself up to be engaged in your work takes a lot of work itself.

Speaking of work…break’s over!  Get back to it!


Got some thoughts on Dr. Crosby’s point of view?  Think he’s on to something?  Do you believe he stole my writing style?  Leave a comment, give him a shout-out on Twitter (@suitedjobs), or shoot me a note and I’ll pass it along!