Why bother with my job search in December?

December is not a big hiring month, and I’m busy getting ready for the holidays. I won’t get any interviews, and I certainly won’t have any offers so why bother? Everyone else is probably thinking about the holidays.

Job seekers who put the search on hold until the first of the year are missing a HUGE opportunity. In part because so few people keep up the intensity, and also in part because December is the month that hiring managers are finalizing their 2018 budgets together and looking at where they need to fill slots.

Now is the time to go back and connect to all the contacts you made this year. You know those “this is what happened to our family this year” letters people send with their Christmas cards? Why not send out a BRIEF “these are the exciting things happening in my professional life” email. Take no more than two paragraphs with two or three sentences each to…

Re-introduce yourself to casual / “orphan” contacts.

Remind your audience what you can do for them.

Tell them what targets are on your 2018 radar.

Ask how you can help them over the holidays.

Want a Sample?

Hi …..

We (met / talked / messaged, etc.) earlier this year. I hope you have had a great year and are excited for what the holiday and New Year has in store for you. I simply wanted to reconnect today to see if you or anyone you know would be looking for a high-performance recruiting & sales leader who can help them drive business for 2018.

I’m very interested in connections at (give SPECIFIC company targets.) If you know of any connections I should make let me know. Also, please let me know what I can do to help you get connected that will help you achieve your goals in the New Year.

Happy Holidays!

……

Keep it short, to the point, and focused on the other person, not yourself.

Don’t take your foot off the job search throttle! Get your decorating, shopping, and holiday preparations done on evenings and weekends.

Thanksgiving

That time of year again – feast, football, and family. We spend time thinking about the things in life for which we’re grateful and I’m not afraid to admit I’ve hit the lottery in the gratitude department.

Today is my wonderful wife’s birthday and I celebrate the life we’ve built together over the past thirty plus years. I have two amazing boys who are healthy, happy, and pursuing their dreams. I have healthy parents and an amazing extended family that I can’t wait to see next week. I’ve had normal, healthy relationships throughout my life with my entire family. My cup certainly overflows.

My gratitude goes well beyond the people in my life. I’ve been blessed with a growing relationship with my Creator and Savior, a great career, a roof over my head that most people on this planet would consider the height of wealth and luxury (and they’d be right,) musical talents, and so, so much more.

Even when life is kicking me around (and it does kick me around) I am grateful. Losing Kelli’s mom nearly fifteen years ago and our friend Jeff last year was devastating. Life has not been the same since. But we persevere with a thankful heart and hope in the future eternal reunion. It’s not all little stuff, but when you look at things from an eternal perspective the big stuff gets a lot smaller.

Thank you one and all for being a part of my life. For reading my ramblings, and for being you. A Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Purpose Before Profits

I’m currently reading Clean Slate by nationally syndicated author and all-around good guy Sean Stormes. I admit a bit of bias with regards to Sean, I was introduced to him more years ago than I care to admit and am honored to call him a friend. But my bias doesn’t mean that what Sean believes isn’t of tremendous value to business – he most certainly is.

Without going into the details (you can buy the book and get those) I wanted to expand on something Sean said to me at a recent lunch. As business people we have to put purpose before profits. In one form or another I’ve been in sales my entire life, and certainly my entire career has been selling product or services. My mantra for many of those years has been “if you take care of the people the money takes care of itself.”

It boils down to having an answer to two big questions: Why am I here? and What difference do I want to make? When you have the answer to those questions you have your purpose.

Like it or not, if you are in a career transition you are now in the sales business. Your product is you and your customer is your future employer. Your purpose needs to be front and center in your search.

When you’re putting together your resume.

When you’re going through the arduous task of finding and applying to online jobs

While attending networking events.

Sitting across the table from a potential employer in an interview.

Why are you here and what difference do you want to make in the other person’s life? After talking about your background, have a meaningful conversation about what you can do for the other person. Servant leadership isn’t just for leaders. It’s for everyone. Find a way to help and you will find someone that needs your help.

To My Friend Jeff, his Family, and his countless Friends.

Nov 10, 2016 was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining bright, the trees were in their full colorful fall glory. The glory of God was on full display. Earlier that morning we lost a husband, a son, father, uncle, friend. It still doesn’t seem real. I am thankful for the years we had and it was a privilege to be a guide on his journey.  Shortly after his passing Annie asked me to speak at his Memorial Service. It was an unexpected honor that I will always cherish.

We can all learn from Jeff’s story, and today, on the one-year anniversary of his passing, I want to share the words I wrote one more time.


Annie asked me to talk about Jeff as a father and his journey as a son of our heavenly father. As I wrote these words, I saw so many parallels between Jeff’s relationship with his kids and God’s relationship not only with Jeff, but with all of us.

There is an old proverb that says a father holds their children’s hands for just a little while, but they hold their hearts forever.

Madeline, Danielle, & Sean were blessed to have Jeff as a dad. When Josie & Clara joined the family I remember Jeff telling me how excited he was to have two little girls in the house to dote on again. Words can’t describe how much love his kids had for him, and how much love he had for them in return.

Jeff was always there for you kids. Anytime you came up on his caller ID business took a back seat and he took the call. Even when those calls were to deliver bad news you still picked up the phone – you knew your dad would give you grace, take it in stride and make everything okay.

He had unconditional love for you all. He kept you safe and went out of his way to make sure you knew you were loved. He went to your games, took you to the dances, and took you fishing. Being present in your lives was his #1 priority.

Danielle said something to me last week that I want you remember. She said even though it’s going to be different, your dad will still be there. There will be signs he’s still present, protecting you, and making everything okay.

At the Hospice House shortly after Jeff passed, Sean & his friends were outside and saw two A-10 Warthogs flying in low formation towards them on the horizon. As the planes approached it became apparent that they were going to do a very close fly-by. Several of us inside saw the planes as they passed. Leave it to Jeff to arrange an Air Force fly-by for his best friend and his football players.

Jeff’s love extended beyond his kids – look at how many of us have gathered to honor his memory. Jeff cared about everyone. You kids probably remember a time when a car went into the ditch in front of you on 435. Jeff stopped his car and everyone made sure these complete strangers were okay. That was Jeff. He didn’t care who you were, he would go out of his way to help when you needed it. Each one of you will carry the compassion he had for others the rest of your lives.

I worked with Jeff for six years, and we talked nearly every day. Of all those countless conversations the most meaningful began on a business trip to Oklahoma when we talked about God, salvation, and spiritual journeys.

At some point many people (myself included) look at this broken world and have doubt about God. That’s where Jeff was that day which opened the door to our first conversation about my experience as a Christ follower.

I asked Jeff why he was on the fence about God. Much if it had to do with religion and hypocrisy so we talked about “quote” religious people who say one thing and do another. We talked about people throughout history using religion to excuse their hate. I told him Jesus condemned the religious of His day for their hypocrisy.

I told him the unconditional love he has for his kids is how God feels about us. Nothing we can do will make Him love us less. He loved us so much he sent His Son Jesus Christ because He wants a right relationship with us.

I know Jeff took a step on his spiritual journey that day because after that trip it seems I was his “Bible answer man.” We continued discussions about what scripture says and what a relationship Jesus Christ means.

When Jeff was diagnosed with cancer he got to witness our Father in action.

Scripture says that WE are the hands and feet of Jesus. For nine months Jeff and the entire family got to see God flood a house on 95th with love, prayers, well-wishes, food, cards, flowers, books, people, and encouragement. A football team cleaned up the yard. A little girl with a small angel and big blessings came to visit.

You cannot witness that kind of outpouring of love and sit on the fence with regards to God’s presence. Jeff saw God’s work, said it was good, and was assured that a house with many rooms held a room for him.

Several weeks ago I went to visit Jeff with a plan to say everything I wanted to say – how much I enjoyed working with him – how thankful I was to be his friend.

I rehearsed the conversation in my head over and over but when I sat down next to him something else happened. I was speechless. Those of you who know me probably think I’m lying, but I literally didn’t know how to start the conversation. I think that’s because God had other plans that morning – Jeff needed reassurance, not reminiscing.

Molly Morrison Britt was also there that morning and after a while the conversation turned to near death experiences. Molly works with Traumatic Brain Injury patients who have shared many near death experiences with her, all with universal themes, the most important being they all experienced something.

Each person remembered light unlike any light they’d seen before. A sense of calm and love they could not describe. People who had gone before them were there. None of them wanted to come back.

When Molly finished, Jeff looked right at me and asked “Do you believe that?” Without hesitating I answered “without a doubt – everything she just described is described in scripture.”

In Revelation John says heaven “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light.” In Corinthians Paul had a vision of a man who “was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things”

Paul knew suffering. He had “had been in prison and flogged, exposed to death again and again” yet wrote to the church in Rome “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Jeff heard that and I saw peace because He believed. Today Jeff knows this is true. Heaven is a real place. Jeff knows Jesus and has seen Him face to face.

Abraham believed and it was counted to him as righteousness. Jeff believed when we were hopeful for a cure. Jeff believed when he knew the end was near. I am confident that Jeff is in that place with inexpressible things and that our Father’s light shines on his path.

A journey started on an Oklahoma tollway has brought Jeff home. Now our journey continues. Danielle has some new ink that says “Day by Day” and that’s how we move forward. In times of pain remember the promise from our Savior who said “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

It will never be the same, but we can rest assured there will come a day where we all get to put our arms around Jeff again and rejoice in our journey well-traveled.

Let us pray.  Heavenly Father. Continue to bring family, friends and strangers as your hands and feet. May we see the Air Force fly-by’s and countless signs to come as notice that Jeff is still with us. We know the pain of loss will never completely vanish, so I pray with time we find more laughter than tears. That we fond memories become more numerous than painful ones. And may today be the day we call on you to be comforted. Amen.

War Eagle my friend – until we meet again.

Gratitude

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the death of my close friend and colleague Jeff McMahill. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year, and I’m grateful that I can still hear his laugh in my head. I’m especially grateful for the lessons he taught me both before and after he was diagnosed. His wife Annie posted a short video of Randy Pausch talking about the Last Lecture today. I never asked, but I’m pretty sure he read that book while he was sick, because he fought like a champion and when the doctors told him the fight was over he chose to live rather than die, even though he only had a few weeks left.

Jeff. Thank you for being part of my life. Thank you for calling me out. Thank you for making me a better me. I know I’ll see you again. Until then. I love you. I miss you.

If you’ve never seen the lecture, or haven’t read the book, I strongly recommend you take some time to absorb the message of a man who chose to have fun living rather than be bitter about dying.

Nepotism

A caller to a podcast I listen was upset about being passed over for a promotion because the owner of his company hired his nephew and put him in a job that the owner had promised the caller. He said the nephew wasn’t at all qualified for the position and was looking for advice. The host suggested that the caller start looking for a job because if the caller was right about the owner reneging on his promise and hiring an unqualified nephew he has no integrity, and you don’t work for people that don’t have integrity. Sound advice.

Nepotism is favoritism based on relationships (blood or otherwise) and it’s not always an integrity issue. If you feel you’re being passed over because of nepotism you should ask yourself some questions.

If you work in a large company where there’s a ‘good old boy’ network with an accelerated career path based on who drinks beer with whom, and who can kiss more cheek, you probably need to start looking elsewhere. Conversely if you struggle with certain elements of your job, isolate yourself from your team, aren’t growing your capabilities or aren’t adding value to the bottom line you likely are going to be passed over for someone else.

In a smaller company consider relationships of the other individuals involved. In a family-owned business family is commonly “groomed” to take over certain functions within the company. They may not be as qualified as non-family members when the promotion comes, but they are capable and willing to learn. Owners concerned about business continuity may move a less qualified family member ahead of you to ensure the longevity of the organization. I don’t see that as nepotism, and that’s a risk you take working in a small family business. That said, if the individual isn’t capable, or feels entitled due to their family standing and gets the job anyway that’s an integrity issue with the owner(s) and straight up nepotism.

The biggest question you should ask yourself regardless of the size of the company – am I doing what is expected to grow into a new position? Do my background, abilities, passions, and interests align with the job? Am I producing quality work that goes beyond expectations? Do I respect the work of my team? Do my teammates respect my work?

No question there will be times where the “other guy” gets the job and there’s going to be hard feelings. If you’re in an organization that values relationships over abilities when promoting staff you may have to move on. Before making a decision to change, talk to others inside and outside the organization. Listen to their input and make sure you’re controlling the things you can control. Talk to leadership about your objectives & how they align with the company mission.

We all want to work where we feel appreciated and get a fair shake. If nepotism is holding you back it’s time to make a change, just don’t mistake favoritism for a reasonable decision that does not advance your career.

5 Balls Speech

If you’re not familiar with former Coca-Cola CEO Bryan Dyson and his famous “30 second speech” open another browser tab and Google “Five Balls Speech.”

Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Ok, now that you’ve read the speech and understand the difference with the work ball let’s have a serious conversation. Are you really happy with what you do for a living? Is your work fulfilling?

If the answer to those questions is no, then you are damaging the “other balls.” No one has ever gotten to the end of the road and wished they had worked more. Too many people have gotten to the end of the road not doing the work they should have pursued.

There are many excuses to not pursue your “dream job”

  • I don’t want to take a step back.
  • I have too many bills (i.e. debt) to take a paycut.
  • I’m not sure where to start.
  • I don’t have enough time to make a move.
  • My job isn’t so bad on some days.

Change has never been affected by an excuse.

  • Staying where you’re at in a job that’s not fulfilling will never let you step forward. You’re taking more steps back than you think.
  • Everyone has bills and a large majority of Americans have debt. Tighten up your budget & get out of debt. Work like a mad-dog. Quit eating out. Cut up the credit cards. Sell the $30k SUV and get a hooptie. (Can you tell I’m a Dave Ramsey zealot?)
  • If you’re not sure where to start take one step. You’re reading this, right? Now take another step & read as many books on finding fulfilling work as you can. Engage in the process.
  • Don’t have enough time? I would argue your time is running out. Take the first step before it’s too late. (see earlier comment regarding the end of the road.)
  • Your job isn’t so good on most days, otherwise this post is irrelevant & you wouldn’t have read this far. What are you waiting for?

Your work ball bounces. Use that to your advantage and find the work that God intended for you to do.

White Supremacists Need Not Apply

Earlier this month Cole White, an appropriately named white supremacist, traveled across the country and took part in the now infamous rally that resulted in the tragic death of Heather Heyer. Pictures of these bigots flooded social media and someone recognized Mr White and his place of employment – a hot dog stand in Berkeley California.

I’m not sure how quickly this all went down, but I’m speculating that someone walked into the hot dog stand with a picture of Mr White in his full racist regalia and made management / ownership aware that they were employing a white supremacist. Not long after he was either terminated or asked to resign (depending on what news outlet you read.) Either way – he lost his job for being a racist asshole.

Thankfully our government has not passed any laws that protect him from being terminated. Hate speech may be protected, but it never should protect you from the consequences. You’re fired. Good luck and Good riddance.

Many other racists were “outed” via social media, and my hope is more employers recognize that these individuals and their “white nationalist” agenda is an aberration and has no place in our society which includes our workplaces. These vile peoples’ philosophy is so abhorrent that we should not be forced to support them by providing them jobs or any other opportunities.

If you want to run around with a hood on your head or swastika on your arm you certainly have the freedom to do so. Just don’t expect the decent people of this country to support you in any way, shape, or form.

We are a nation of immigrants. A melting pot of people seeking a better life in a country with wonderful opportunities.

Your racist political agenda has been used to justify evil throughout history. It’s caused countless deaths. It’s spawned countless wars.

It has no place in modern America.

 

 

“I Ain’t Serving No Police”

Earlier this week a McDonald’s employee was terminated for refusing to serve a uniformed officer. You can read the story here and while it’s sad that our society has bred this much animosity between groups, I don’t want to make this the theme of this post. I simply am offering an extreme example of being a bad employee so I can write about what you can do to make yourself a valued employee.

McDonald’s is a minimum wage employer. All you need to do to get a job there is fill out an application & fog a mirror. Show up on time & be civil to customers and you’ll keep the job for as long as you’d like. But you’ll never go anywhere. Did you know McDonald’s was the first company to have a Global Training program? Did you also know in some countries getting into that program is more difficult than getting into Harvard. Being in management for McDonald’s is a highly prestigious job in some areas of the globe.

Every employee McDonald’s hires has an opportunity to grow, but they have to do more than phone it in.

This is true in every job you’ll ever hold. If you are really good at hitting all the responsibilities laid out by management you’ll have your job until the next corporate downsizing or management shift. You are paid to do the basics, but if you want to move up you need to go beyond the basics and add value.

How do you add value?

Every manager has expectations of your performance. Look for little things you can do to improve process, save money, or better serve your customers. Sit down with your manager on a regular basis and talk about your ideas. Get their buy-in on your ideas & implement them. Sometimes that means working late. Sometimes that means doing things that aren’t in your job description. It usually means you aren’t going to reap immediate monetary reward. But it does add value, and when it comes time to decide who to promote (or possibly cut) do you think it will be the idea person or the phone it in guy? Don’t answer – that’s a rhetorical question.

Find a way to serve rather than be served. Be generous with your time and talent. Even when you don’t like someone. Rather than refusing service, refuse to be average. Even if you are making $10/hr flipping burgers. Because average doesn’t flip burgers for long.

Excellent Written and Oral Communication Skills!

If you’ve been reading job postings for more than five minutes you’ve probably run across that gem. The 2nd Generation came when “communication skills” morphed into “interpersonal skills” which reads better than writing “oral communication skills,” yet it still rings hollow. Adding the “communication skills” requirement is an all too common relic of job description authors who are firmly planted in a bureaucracy that also thinks adding “must be able to make decisions” and “be able to move about the office” is necessary to attract the right person.

Those last two are real world examples of how ridiculous job description content can get. Would you hire someone that can’t make a decision or find their way from their cube to the break room? I know I wouldn’t.

The ability to effectively relate and communicate with others is ultimately a result of an individual’s character, background, education, emotional intelligence, and a host of other things that make each of us unique.

Trying to fit that on a bullet point in a job description (or a resume for that matter) is difficult, if not impossible. Stop trying. Please.