Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. -Helen Keller

From the beginning we were wired to be together. Adam & Eve were told to go forth and multiply. We are told we are all brothers & sisters. No one aspires to die alone. Living your life in a vacuum simply isn’t an option.

Our society has never been more connected. In the 140 years since Bell said “Come quickly Watson, I need you” we’ve seen our society has become completely globalized. With a click of a mouse we can get up-to-the-minute news from anywhere. Social media has reintroduced us to our childhood friends and gives us access to connections across the globe.

You need to Connect.

If you’re in between jobs you need to connect. If you are underemployed or unhappy at work you need to connect. If you are in your dream job YOU NEED TO CONNECT.

My action item for connecting in 2014 is not related to LinkedIn, Networking, or any other business criteria. I’m a busy guy, very busy – especially during basketball season. I leave the house at 8 am and get home at 8 pm or after 5 days a week from November through April. Saturday usually is another 5-8 hours away from home. My action item is to connect with my wife. That means date night no less than once a month. Put all the ‘stuff’ aside and make time for us a few hours a week.


“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Ben Franklin

You don’t know it all. Learn should be a word you should focus on this year. I’ve been a technical recruiter and recruiting manager for thirteen years. I know my job well, and part of knowing that job well means I know I need to learn. Technology changes. Success approaching and engaging top shelf talent changes. Client expectations change. Staying on top of changes requires research. You need to follow thought leader’s blogs. Read industry articles.

As important as industry specific learning is, reading outside your industry is more important. Industries tend to attract like-minded people with similar ideas. A big part of learning for the “Outliers” is to infuse fresh ideas from others outside their area of expertise. Outliers implement and experiment with ideas that come from a variety of sources. They understand that failure is a part of success.

My action items for learning in 2014 fall into two categories, one industry specific and the other non-industry specific.

Industry: I receive at least 5 emails a day with links to IT / Staffing / Recruiting relevant information. Each day I will read at least one of those articles in its entirety and look for ways to leverage the knowledge in my business.

Non-Industry: In 2013 I read maybe 10 books all year, mostly biography and fiction. This year I am going to take the 30 minutes in the morning normally devoted to catching up on personal email and surfing Facebook and read a business book. I figure between that and other down times I will be able to get through a book about every 2 weeks. I’m almost finished with Seth Godin’s Linchpin book & have another on deck.

Any recommendations for reading are welcome – fire off an email to


I wrote some words on a whiteboard last night. They’re MY words. Words that I will use to put together my path for 2014. A path that I’m going to share via my blog over the next few weeks. Each word has meaning to me. Some of them will have meaning to you. Feel free to use them – even though I say these are MY words, they can be your words as well.

Each word will have an action plan. Specific things that I’d like to accomplish this year related to that word. I’m posting this to my blog because you should write your goals down. I also hope that it will inspire some of you to action. Or perhaps inspire you to hold me accountable. We all need accountability.

The first word is “ART.” In Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin, Are You Indispensable?” he describes ART as a “personal gift that changes the recipient.” It doesn’t matter if you’re talking business or personal relationships, if you have nothing to give there’s no reason for anyone to interact with you.

Art’s action plan will be each day I am going to share a form of my personal art with someone else and write it down in a journal. At the end of the year I’ll post the results.

Setting Yourself up for Success

New Year is a time for fresh beginnings. The gyms are packed with people who have made a commitment to fitness. Jenny Craig & Weight Watchers have a membership spike. Usually by Valentines Day the gyms are less crowded & weight loss center sales are back to normal levels.

Why don’t we stick with our New Years Resolutions?

The answer is found in attitude and behavior. It’s very easy to change your mind about something. Saying “I need to lose 20 lbs” is easy. Most of us think we should lose a little weight or get in better shape. The answer starts with this simple fact – attitude is easy, behavior is difficult. Long term change only comes when we focus on behavior.

Behavior change comes from a road map. Road maps are made up of smaller goals that will get you to your big goal. Get up at 6 am and go to the gym 21 days in a row. Don’t miss a single day. See how you feel at the end of the 21 days. You’ve achieved a goal. Get up on day 22 and go to the gym and keep it up for 20 more days. Now you’ve been to the gym every single day for 6 weeks. It’s becoming a habit.

Attitude changes can happen in an instant. Behavior changes take time.

Ugly Christmas

Christmas should be a joyous time of year. Festive decor and music rings from offices and stores to homes and streets. This is a traditional time to gather with friends and family and share in the abundance of the season. But what if there isn’t abundance?

What if Christmas is a time of dread? What if Christmas is ugly?

This year I have a friend who will be spending his first Christmas without his wife who he lost less than 2 weeks ago. Certainly there are people and families who lost their house to foreclosure this year and are spending Christmas in an apartment. Plenty of unemployed people are looking for ways to give gifts to their children. Someone lost a child this year and the presents under the tree are simply a source of pain and anguish.

Christmas doesn’t go well with brokenness. It gets ugly. If you are struggling this holiday season I’d like to share some thoughts with you that were the topic of our sermon Sunday.

The birth of Christ wasn’t all bright stars and wise men with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Our savior was born into a lot of ugliness.

Let’s start with Mary, an unmarried teenage girl who becomes pregnant. The angel Gabriel told her of the significance of the child, but even her own fiance Joseph was ready to put her out until he was also visited by an angel. What do you think the community at large thought of Mary? Being unwed and pregnant in that time in history was a source of great shame. I’m quite certain this ugliness followed Joseph, Mary & Jesus the rest of their lives. People talking under their breath. Looking at the family with disdain.

No room at the inn. Maybe there actually was room, but the shame of the unwed mother preceded Mary & Joseph. Regardless, Christ was born in a manger. More accurately a stable. Stables are where the animals live. Even today stables are not the picture of sanitation. They are where animals do their business. Sometimes that business doesn’t get cleaned up as frequently as it should. Imagine a 1st century stable. They smelled bad. Really bad. They were infested with flies. Not just common house flies, these would have been big flies. Big flies bite. This is the context of the birth of Christ – a smelly stable filled with camel dung and horse flies.

Herod. A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. (Matt 2-16) Herod is a part of the Christmas story. Remember what he did when he found out he was outwitted by the Magi? His part in the Christmas story is the death of a generation of boys in Bethlehem and surrounding areas. Imagine the government coming in and killing all the boys under the age of 2 in Overland Park, KS. This is well beyond ugly. It is unimaginable. Yet it is part of Christmas. Rachel weeping, refusing to be comforted for her children because they are no more. (Jer 31:15)

Christmas did little to comfort these families. To the contrary, it was the source of their pain. That’s the Christmas we don’t think about. The Christmas we don’t celebrate. The Christmas we shouldn’t celebrate.

If you are struggling this season don’t be too hard on yourself for not being in the “Christmas Spirit.” Peace cannot be found in the turmoil of a broken world. A world that cause the first Christmas to be pretty ugly.

The good news of Christmas is that into all this ugliness a Savior was born.

A Wonderful Counselor. A Prince of Peace.

True peace comes from knowing Christ. That is where you will find the joy in an Ugly Christmas.

May the Peace of Christ find you this Christmas.

2014 & Beyond Economic Outlook

Last week I attended a technical staffing conference and one of the more interesting keynotes was from economist Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics. If you’ve heard an economist speak you know they like to use charts & graphs and usually leave you wondering if you should prepare your doomsday castle. The good news Alan had for us was technology is going to continue to be an industry with high growth and high demand for the foreseeable future. He pointed to several factors to remain optimistic about our economy overall:

  • Leading indicators are pointing up.
  • The government & Fed continues their stimulative monetary policy.
  • Employment is rising (companies right‐sized).
  • Banks are lending.
  • Retail Sales are rising.
  • Construction is improving.
  • Deficit spending continues.

While you can argue continued deficit spending is just kicking the can down the road, it does provide reasons for short-term optimism. Other positive indicators in the marketplace included dropping delinquency on consumer debt, rising manufacturing, and an abundance of natural resources (especially natural gas) within our borders. However, as all economists tend to do, he gave us the good news first. He feels there is cause for concern in 2014 because of • Stagnant wage growth and ongoing high unemployment.

  • Food, fuel and rent inflation.
  • Higher payroll and Affordable Care Act taxes.
  • An unclear deficit reduction plan.
  • A looming bond and stock bubble.

The ACA is a hot button with a lot of people, and there’s no doubt it’s going to result in higher taxes, but when you look at the increase vs. the GDP there’s been many other pieces of legislation with greater impact including the “Read my Lips, No New Taxes” Bush increase in 1990 and the Clinton increase in 1993. Even Reagan’s increase in 1982 was a higher percentage of GDP than ACA.

The take-away was that 2014 is going to be a year where we’ll see little growth, with the possibility that there will be a small set-back as people and companies adjust to the new healthcare law. Overall he was optimistic about things over the next 15 years. Which is good news for everyone.

National Career Summit Nov 4th – 15th

There’s a two week online job seeker program chock-full of great speakers and topics. Rather than put these events in the calendar I am going to put them in this blog post and keep it active through the 15th.

Full Details can be found at THIS LINK.  Daily topics include:

Monday, Nov 4th
Resume Writing
Personal Branding
Negotiating: Get More Money in Your Next Job in Any Economy (Or a Raise in Your Current Job)

Tues, Nov 5th
Tapping into the Hidden Job Market
Choosing a Professional Resume Writer
Setting Career Goals and Planning Your Career Path

Wed, Nov 6th
The #1 Formula to Win in a Difficult Job Market
Developing a Professional Network
Staying Motivated and Avoiding Depression During Times of Unemployment

Thurs, Nov 7th
What’s New Hot and Hidden on LinkedIn
Interviewing Skills 101
What NOT to Wear on a Job Interview.

Friday, Nov 8th
New Trends in Resume Writing
Getting Yourself in Front of the Right People with LinkedIn
Climbing the Corporate Ladder (Growing in your Current Organization)

Sun, Nov 10th (Bonus Day)
Break all the Rules and Get that Dream Job!

Mon, Nov 11th
How to Navigate Applicant Tracking Systems
The Importance of Securing a Professional Internship
Earn What You’re Really Worth

Tues, Nov 12th
Build Your Online Reputation: How to Create the Right Digital Dirt
Discovering and Removing Obstacles in Your Job Search
How to Find a Career that Excites You

Wed, Nov 13th
Preparing Veterans and Others for Federal Employment
How to Communicate for Success in your Job Search
Entrepreneurship: Creating a Business Plan

Thurs, Nov 14th
Great Jobs for Everyone 50+
Networking (On and Off line)
Twitter and Facebook For Job Seekers

Fri, Nov 15th
How to do Research to Find the Job You Want
The Art of Self Promotion
Why Cover Letters Are Dead

What an outstanding opportunity to learn from experts across the country.

Wearing a Mask?

Halloween is a great holiday. The kids get to dress up as their favorite super hero, or a princess and run around the neighborhood to collect candy. It’s also a chance for adults to pretend to be someone else, and escape from who they are for a night. Unfortunately there are people who wear a mask on days other than Halloween.

As a recruiter I have seen my share of “masked” resumes. From blatant dishonesty & stretching the truth to simply fudged dates, some people feel they need to hide or gloss over something. Others feel the need to put on a mask in an interview so they stand out as the best person for the job, even if the job is not a good fit or they’re not interested. We’ve all worked with someone who said one thing, and did another – arguably the worst kind of mask has two faces.

Wearing a mask only adds to the anxiety of going through the search process. If you go into an interview trying to be the person you think they want, rather than the person you are, your mask is going to get in the way of finding a great fit. Let them see who you are – warts and all. We all have weaknesses – don’t mask them by saying your weakness is you have a hard time finding work/life balance or you care too much.

It doesn’t matter how much you want to pretend – eventually the real you is going to be doing the work. Take off the mask and let that you shine.

Permanent Positions

Few things in our lives upset the apple cart as much as an unexpected job change. I’ve had the experience of going into work in the morning and walking out with my things in a box before lunch. It’s not fun. If you’re currently on furlough from the government you know the bills don’t stop. Most people don’t like change so we all seek stability in our lives. Which from a career perspective means a permanent position to many people.

But what is a permanent position? Most people would define it as a job where an employer hires you directly to their payroll. In my business that’s called a “direct hire” which is far from a permanent position. My father got his MBA from the University of Iowa and started working for the state of Iowa in 1962. He retired in 1997 and still spends several hours a week consulting to the state writing grants. That’s a permanent job. Unfortunately in today’s marketplace its unheard of that someone works at the same company for 40+ years, even if it’s the government.

We all know someone that took a job directly with an employer and was looking again within months – some within days or weeks. Conversely, I know people who have been with their employer for over a decade after getting their start as a temporary resource (aka contractor). Whether it’s direct to the employer payroll through internal or agency recruiters, or working as a contractor, the mechanism employers use to fill positions in their organization is not always related to the long-term viability of the position.

Permanent positions are a myth in today’s market. In the 1960’s when our parents went to work, career stability came from their employer and it’s pension program. Today career stability comes from your ability to port your talents, ability, and background from one employer to the next. In that sense a consulting career is a great training ground to go in, get the job done, and move on.

I’m not saying ditch all direct to employer opportunities and become a contractor. If you haven’t already, start developing relationships with several recruiters that work in your “space” and listen to what they have to offer from time to time. Not considering contract / contract to hire work means you miss out on pportunities that can build your abilities and increase your future marketability.

The question you ask yourself when a recruiter calls should not be “is this a permanent position?” The question you need to ask is “will this help me grow and position me to get where I want to go?” The best way to answer that question is through the discovery process with the recruiter and their client.

Career Search CPR

Last week I attended a Lees Summit Fire and Rescue “Call and Pump” training program. It was a 2 hour class designed to teach you how to handle a person who has collapsed. The first thing they taught us was to make an assessment of the person which requires asking yourself three questions and making an observation after each question.

Are they moving?
Are they breathing?
Do they have a pulse?

If the answer is no to the first question you move on to the second and third questions. A yes answer at any point means call 911 and continue to observe the person. A no answer to the third question means you need to start CPR.

The hope is by the time the paramedics get there you’ve kept the blood and residual oxygen flowing through the patient’s brain and they have a chance at survival. It was a great session and I feel confident if someone collapsed I would be able to handle the situation until the paramedics arrived.

At this point you might be asking “are you saying my career heartbeat is gone and I now have a 25% chance of survival?” Not at all. There’s lesson is in the training. If you’re struggling with your search you need to ask yourself some questions.

What am I doing?
Why am I doing it?
Is it working?
What else should I be doing?

Unlike the CPR classes, these are not “yes/no” questions. These are questions that require some critical thought. Much like CPR, they work best when you have other people around to help. Once you go through the three CPR questions you don’t just stop observing the person. You’re always looking for signs of life. Same with your search – you need to constantly monitor the situation and ask these questions.

One final lesson. If someone has collapsed and their heart has stopped if you do nothing they are going to die. If you apply these techniques you might crack their ribs or cause some other damage, but any damage you cause can be fixed. You can’t fix dead. Finding the right job can be frustrating. Some people don’t have the patience and fortitude to see it through. When you give up it’s over. You need to keep pumping. Break a few ribs – that stuff can be fixed.

CPR is an important skill. Career CPR may not save a life, but it certainly will make life more meaningful.