Time to Reconsider?

If you lost your job in the last 30-60 days, this may not be the post for you. About 30 years ago, my outplacement counselor gave me this rule of thumb and even as the economy has gone up and down, it still holds true. If you’re looking for a job, you should plan for your job search to take about 30 days for every $10,000 you want to earn in annual salary. If you want a $40,000 job, plan to look for 4 months – $60k = 6 months. That isn’t a law, it’s just an average and I’ve seen it repeat over and over. If you have an active network, it can go faster. If you’re starting from scratch or if you are in a particularly competitive field, maybe it will take longer. As I’ve said before, I’ve done this 7 times and it’s taken between 2 weeks and 13 months.

This post is directed to those in who are approaching or have passed that average. If you’ve been looking for months and months and are not having much luck, maybe you need to reconsider a few things. The popular press suggests that kids coming out of college today will change jobs every few years and will change careers 4-5 times before they retire. Those of us old enough to have children who are out of college find that hard to comprehend. I’ve been an HR guy for 30 years and I really can’t imagine doing anything else, but if I’m out of work for more than 6 months again, you can bet I will be thinking of what else I could be doing.

In the midst of an extended search is a great opportunity to be introspective. Who are you, and whom do you want to be when you grow up? Is there a passion in your life that is not being met? Is there an area where you can serve that will bring out something different in you? Would a little schooling help you to find a new spark and a new direction?

I’m not suggesting you abandon all hope and take a leap of faith into a new field, but I am suggesting that you open your mind to it. Network in a new direction. Volunteer where you can learn or use a different skill. Take a part time job that lets you explore a new industry.

You may find that you know who you are and you need to keep your career search on your original track. You may also discover a new energy, passion, and direction. Be open-minded. Let the search take you where it takes you. You just never know what you might find – or what might find you.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.

Take a Break

If you’ve been reading this blog, this advice may sound a bit out of character for me. You’ve heard me advocate that if you are out of work, you need to make finding a job your new full time job. You need to spend just as many hours each week looking for a job as your plan to spend working at your new job. Being unemployed is not an opportunity to catch up on your reading, make some house repairs, or get back up to speed on The Young and the Restless. Being unemployed is your opportunity to dramatically expand your network, to overhaul your resume, to practice your elevator speech, and to stop being unemployed. That is the advice you should be used to (and that you’ll hear again).

But, you also have to recognize that you cannot work that hard continuously. Most employers offer you paid holidays and vacations. Maybe not a whole lot, but some, and you need to treat your job search like a job. That means that every once in a while, you need to take a break. Step away from the keyboard, turn off your phone, and relax.

There are amazing benefits to rest, recreation, and recuperation. I know, you’re unemployed and don’t have any extra money to take a vacation. That’s okay. For two or three days, just don’t go “to work.” Hang around the house, putter in the yard, go to the park, visit the zoo, watch a movie, read that book, whatever. Let your mind and body relax and decompress.

After your break, you’ll have more energy, be more creative and be ready to get back to work. Make sure to take day or two off every month. The job search can be a long and difficult process. If you don’t take care of yourself and let being unemployed beat you down, it will make the process longer and harder.

Step back, take a short break, relax, rejuvenate, and then get back to it. We need to get you back to work!

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.

The Importance of Politeness

In my quiet time, I worry about odd things, and one of those is that the English language may lose three important words due to lack of use. Unfortunately, these are words that we all know, and could, and should, use them every day; but somehow we’ve stopped. Those words? “Please” and “you’re welcome.” (Okay – one of those words is really two words, but give me some literary license, please.

Let’s take these on one at a time. I’ll bet that when you were a toddler, your parents told you multiple times every day to say please and thank you. Somewhere around the teenage years you probably started dropping the please – and maybe the thank you. As I interact with business professionals all day, many of them make requests of me. They ask for information, for assistance, to be hired for a job, etc. I could probably count on one hand the number of times someone included “please” in that request so far this month. While please may still be common for toddlers, it seems to be slipping from the business vernacular.

As a side-note, “thank you” is not endangered – at least not from usage. I hear “thank you” and “thanks” all day long. Granted, some of them are perfunctory or insincere, but the word lives on. I am concerned that all too often its use is insincere. What bothers me most is when someone writes or types “Thx.” Really? You want to show your appreciation, but you don’t have enough time to use three more letters? And how about saying the full “thank you” once in a while? Wouldn’t that be nice to hear?

The first word/phrase I think we might lose is “you’re welcome.” I rarely hear this anymore. Instead I hear no problem, okay, no biggie, any time, and other phrases that suggest that whatever I did for you was insignificant and not worthy of being thanked. In my mind that is plain rude. If someone is going to tell you they appreciate what you’ve done for them – presuming that appreciation is sincere – then the least you can do is acknowledge the receipt of that appreciation by saying “you’re welcome.”

So, the purpose of this manners rant? I wrote a post a while back about the importance of making a good first impression. You can enhance and sustain that impression by being polite. When you ask for an interview, say please. When you get that interview, say thank you. When the interviewer says, “Thanks for coming in today,” say, “You’re welcome, and thank you for the opportunity.”

Incorporating all three words/phrases into your everyday conversations will not only improve the quality of your relationships, you’ll also be saving these words from extinction. Thank you.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.

Should You have a Portfolio?

The portfolio – a collection of your previous work – has been a common practice for artist and writers for some time. The portfolio is a way to prove yourself – rather than simply tell a prospective employer what you have done (or can do) you show them what you have done. So, or an artist, a graphic designer, or a writer – this is pretty straightforward, but what about you?

I thought that portfolios were only for artists until a friend of mine recently told me about his portfolio. He is an IT Project Manager – about as far from begin as an artist as you can get. His portfolio has samples of his work – the tools he uses to track projects, the memos he writes to update his customer, the PERT and GANTT charts he uses to look for critical issues. Not art, but very helpful when goes to an interview.

That conversation got me thinking. What could I put in a portfolio? As an HR professional, could I show a well-written policy? How about a new salary structure? A Job Description? An Open Enrollment announcement or implementation schedule? The more I thought about it the more ideas I had from my history.

I know many people that look at their job a kind of ordinary or humdrum. Accountants make journal entries and reconcile accounts. Recruiters interview candidates. Purchasing folks buy stuff. What is there to show someone? Plenty!

As you think about your portfolio, remember that the people you will be showing it to understand what you do. While an Accountant sharing an example of a difficult reconciliation might not be fun for most of us, it will interest another accountant – especially one who’s trying to evaluate the level of work.

Find those examples of what you’ve done well, and feel free two show them off. Use that portfolio to tell your story with more than just words and you’ll increase your interview success.

For more help with your job search read: I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here to learn how to get your copy.


One huge key to job search success is persistence. Here are two real stories.

One day I was at work, doing normal stuff and my boss, the company president, came in at sat down. He said, “Roger, I’m afraid I have to use one of things you’ve taught me. We’ve decided to eliminate your position and today will be your last day of work.” I was blindsided – I had absolutely no idea that was coming. He went on to tell me about a meager severance package and then I was done. That was in early September. The following May a friend told me about a new company that was just starting – maybe they’d need an HR person. I networked into the President and met him. He felt I would be a good person for that job, but they needed to complete an acquisition first – he’d be in touch. I followed up with him about every 30 days while I continued to look for other opportunities. Finally, in October – 13 months after I’d been fired – I started with this new company. That turned out to be a great job for me.

Here’ another – in 1999 the company I was working for was struggling. The family that had owned the business for 3 generations was trying to turn in around and had brought in a turn-around specialist. Then one day the President gathered the senior team and announced he’d sold the company to our cross-town rival. The new owners would decide if they needed us or not. (In the end, they decided not.) But, during that transition I had an idea. I would take my experiences of finding jobs and write a book. My plan at the time was to be leading edge and publish the book along with a CD-ROM of resources. I wrote that book and then put it in a drawer because by then I had a new job and no time to work on it. Ten years later, I took the manuscript out and brought it up to date. Then I started shopping it to publishers. After three years and over 20 rejections, I found Lighthouse Point Press. There were some other issues and delays, but in August, 2014, I’m Fired?!? was published. My 15-year-old baby was finally born.

My message is that I know being out of work sucks. And I know it is hard to wait and to keep looking and looking. I know what it feels like to be rejected, to have your resume ignored, to be a finalist but not get the job, and to have to come back and try to explain to your kids why you don’t have a job. But I also know that good things come to those who wait. Not wait by sitting on the couch, but wait by working to find those good things. Persistence pays off. Tenacity is an excellent character trait.

Make the plan, work the plan, and keep the faith. The right job for you is out there. If you work for it, you’ll find it. Now, let’s go find that job!

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.