Category Archives: Job Search Blog

… Spiritual virtues in your job search

No matter what anybody ever tells you there is a spiritual side to our job search. There’s a spiritual side to every human endeavor but the job search is often so traumatic that it’s important for us to “feed” our spirit while we are searching for a job. Along with the emotional ups and downs of a job search, a person’s spirit is affected by the difficulties the body and mind go through. In speaking about feeding our spirit it’s really important to be reminded of  the four cardinal virtues.

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and choose the right means of achieving it. No matter how difficult the job search can become with phenomenal instances of rejection and refusal, we have to be convinced that good will come of it. That’s really easy for someone else to say about our personal circumstances. When a person’s been out of work for six months or so and just can’t seem to get a break in finding a job, trying to find the “good” in their experience is hard to justify. But it is there. Even if for no other reason than to keep us humble there can be good in the experience.

Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of good. This is one of the most important virtues the job seeker has to pray for and practice. The firmness in difficulties… the difficulties of either being out of work or having to find a job when you already have one… the difficulties of being rejected so many times that you can’t count them… the difficulties of doubt, uncertainty and fear… and still have the firmness to continue on looking for the good.

Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. In the job search it is temperance that keeps us from going to play golf when the weather is nice when we know we should be on the phone trying to get an interview. It is temperance that keeps us on track with our routines daily to ensure we do all of the things we should be doing to get a job. Its temperance that keeps our ego and anger in check when things don’t go our way.

Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will give due to God. This is a really hard virtue to come to grips with, especially when you’re looking for a job and it’s been a long hard road. For some reason, we all expect justice and fairness on this earth. Life isn’t fair nor is it Just. Justice is in God’s hands. Searching for fairness and justice in this life, especially regarding a job search is futile. Understanding that releases us emotionally from the emotional drain of the rhetorical question of “why isn’t life fair?”

Seeking to practice these virtues in our hearts and minds makes our job search… and life.. a little easier.



Have No Expectations About Outcomes

One of the most discouraging aspects of a job search is for job seekers to continually get disappointed about the unsuccessful outcomes of their activities. When they don’t get an interview they get frustrated. When they do get an interview and don’t do well on it and get rejected, they get frustrated. When they are told that they are a great candidate or when they come in “second” and are chosen, they can get downright mad. In fact this may be one of the biggest reasons people stopped looking for work. They are so frustrated at the outcomes that didn’t live up to their expectations, they quit.

We should look to the example of elite athletes to find that they have no expectations for outcomes. They do, and I repeat, do have expectations for their own performance, but they do not have expectations for the outcomes. A batter doesn’t go to the plate thinking about winning the game. An elite basketball player doesn’t shoot the ball worried about winning the game. They focus on their own expectation of themselves doing their best and letting the score, the result, take care of itself.

Job seekers would have a lot less emotional strain if they had no expectations about outcomes. They should have expectations of their own ability to get a lot of interviews. They should have expectations about their ability to perform really well in initial interviews, but no expectations about moving beyond the initial interview. They should have high expectations of themselves to perform well on secondary interviews, but no expectations about why they did or didn’t go beyond the secondary interviews. They should have high expectations of themselves being able to negotiate a job offer, but no expectations about getting the job offer. If jobseekers have expectations about outcomes, they will spend most of their time being emotionally flattened.

Maximizing expectations of ourselves and minimizing the expectations of the results allows us to channel our emotions toward what we can control and not lose energy over what we can’t control.




Spiritual Beings Acting Human

Let me share with you a practical way of “giving”…and the wonderful return.

It was Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit philosopher who wrote: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” In the everyday world, our human experience and being human seems to grossly overshadow our desire to reach the higher level of spirituality. In fact, people are a pain in the butt… and so are you!

Unfortunately, most people in a job search are going to painfully “experience” the human side of lots of people…the pain in the butt side. And that human side ranges anywhere from insensitive to downright rude. These are the people, hiring authorities, interviewing authorities, even friends of yours…anyone you encounter in the job search, who don’t return your calls, leave you hanging with the statement, “We’ll get back to you” and never do, or tell you what they think at the moment that turns out to not be the truth…(lie!), like, “You’re perfect for this job…” and then after the interview, perpetual silence.

You know that you are vulnerable; looking for a job is very emotional and difficult…you are sensitive to what people tell you and how they treat you…and often, it just isn’t nice. It’s very hard to deal with and almost impossible to understand from your point of view. You are sensitive, often times, downright afraid. You take it all personally.

By recognizing that these people are spiritual beings acting human, it will be easier for you to be kind, patient, understanding and even forgiving. Your anger and frustration is understandable. Realize that these people are often bumbling through their lives the way many others, including you, are.

By recognizing that they are “acting human” you will feel better. It might make you more sensitive to the times that you are more human and spiritual.



Holy Indifference….a great approach to the job search


…Holy indifference….St. Ignatious of Loyola describes it as

…A complete indifference with regard to all created things, not preferring health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to humiliation, a long life to a short one…

The concept is that one accepts things just the way they are…being respectful, accepting, reverent…yet holy.

It is the spiritual equivalent of being peaceful with what you get rather than seeking happiness in getting what you want…

How does this apply to your  job search…well, it teaches you to accept the rejection, refusal, neglect and disrespect you perceive you are getting from companies and individuals you are trying to go to work for…folks you have interviewed with …who have lied to you about getting back to you…about hiring you…with holy indifference.

You do your best at getting interviews, performing well on them, selling yourself as hard as you can…then accepting the results with grace, and, yes…holy indifference..

It makes looking for a job a lot easier…soon you focus on the process and not the result…you even accept a new job with holy indifference.

… is it best to be first or last in the interviewing process

We had caller on our radio program this week who asked, “Is it best to be the first or last in the interviewing process?” He was referring to the initial interviewing process and went on to add that he wanted to know whether it is best to be first or last in the follow-up interview process, as well. This is a really good question. It’s been my experience in the last 43 years of seeing people get hired:

If you know the initial interviewing process is going to be short, like all in one day and there are going to be no more than four candidates interviewing, it probably doesn’t matter whether you are the first or the last. Some people say that it is best, in this situation to be first because you “set the bar.” Others will say it is best to be last, because of the law of recency that will be discussed in a few minutes. But, my experience has been that even being in the middle is fine because if you interview well enough (and that is a big if for lots of people) and you show yourself to be an excellent candidate, your succession in the intervening chain  won’t matter. The thing to do is, as you set the interview, ask the hiring authority how many people he or she is going to interview and over what period of time. We will discuss this next week, but asking these questions is as important as jockeying for position in a group of interviewees. Most hiring authorities will be more than happy to tell candidates about the  people they have interviewed or plan to interview and a candidate can make his or her decision about asking to be a particular position at that time.

The biggest challenge of being first or last in the initial interviewing process comes when the interviews take place over a longer period of time. I’ve been involved in initial interview processes that take from one day to seven or eight months. If the candidate knows that the initial interview process is going to be greater than any one or two day period of time, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to request being the last one interviewed. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is the law of recency. It simply states that people remember best the most recent candidate they have interviewed. If a candidate interviews reasonably well, he or she is looked upon more favorably than the other candidates. (Candidates who interview poorly will certainly be remembered but that memory won’t be positive.)

The second reason is that as most hiring authorities move through the intervening process they get a better idea of what they are looking for relative to the talent that might be available. They, therefore, are a little more realistic about evaluating candidates and are more likely to be positively impressed with the fourth or fifth candidate over two or three weeks than they would be if the candidate was the first one.

Being the last to be interviewed doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the job. You still have to interview really well and impress on the hiring authority that they ought to hire you. The candidate can certainly try to position themselves to come across in the best light. Only about 30% of the initial interviewing processes that even us, as professional recruiters, participate in, are accomplished in one or two days.

So, if the initial interviewing process you are involved in is no longer than a day or two, try to be first, then maybe last. If you find the initial interviewing process is going to be over a week or two, try to be last.

Next week will discuss the questions a candidate should ask to find out if he should jockey for position or even if he or she can.

(The caller on the radio program revealed that he found out the interviewing process that he was going to be involved in had already been going on for almost three months and  they had already interviewed 18 candidates. It’s obvious that these folks have no idea what they’re looking for. Being first or last won’t matter in this situation. They are still going to be confused.)



Salad Dressing on Your Tie

I know, you are asking yourself, “Why is he writing about that?” Well, it is because at least twice a month one of our candidates loses an opportunity for a job offer because of their manners…mostly table manners.

Just this week…the reason I’m writing of our v.p. candidates lost an opportunity because he went to lunch with the CEO and two other vice presidents and, to quote the CEO, “he acted like it was the first meal he had all week.” On top of that, he ate his salad so fast, “he sent dressing flying onto his tie.” End of consideration. The group doing the hiring was appalled.

We had a candidate sometime back who lost the opportunity because, at a meeting over coffee at the local Starbucks, he slurped his coffee instead of drinking it. The hiring authority was so annoyed he decided not to hire the candidate.

it seems to me that many of the generations in the workplace just aren’t as concerned about manners as they used to be. My casual observation of the generations behind me (… I’m a boomer) is that people’s table manners just aren’t as good as Mama taught us. This isn’t  a criticism so much as it’s an observation.

So, here are some thoughts about interview “meals”:

  • Practice your table manners with someone who loves you or likes you enough to be willing to criticize/help you with any glaring problems you may have… Slouching over your food, talking with food in your mouth, or eating sloppily
  • Try to avoid these kind of interviews if you can
  • Never, never, ever drink alcohol in this interviewing setting
  • Order your food after you see what your host is ordering. Don’t appear to be taking advantage of a “free lunch” by ordering something on the high side of the menu
  • Order something easy to eat… A small piece of meat, a chicken breast, etc.… that can be cut into small pieces
  • Take bites small enough that you can talk with them in your mouth… This means very, very small bites
  • Stay away from soups, chili, spaghetti, etc. or anything eaten with a spoon or that can be easily spilled
  • Eat a little something before you go to the interview so you don’t appear ravenous or even hungry
  • Remember, it’s an interview, not a meal

Don’t let that interview “meal” be your downfall.

OMG…the disaster of social media and your job search

There are always unintended consequences that come with any new technology and the negative consequences of social media couldn’t be more pronounced than in the disastrous effects it is had on people’s job search. In the last six months, just in our organization we have had candidates who looked like they were getting job offers lose those job offers because of what the prospective employer found on social media. Now keep in mind these are mostly professional, degreed candidates with extensive experience, many of whom are earning well over six figures…

  • The VP of HR with 20 years of experience has a link on his signature that takes the reader to his blog. He is a “conspiracy theorist” and blatantly writes about his theories about present and past government officials, i.e. Presidents of the United States, Secretaries of State, etc. He didn’t get hired.
  • The sales manager with 15 years of a great track record whose signature, again, sent the reader to a blog claiming that unless you follow Jesus Christ you are going to burn in hell. He got eliminated.
  • The candidates who were eliminated when their names were Googled who: Had mugshots… Numerous lawsuits… Had written a review of a prostitute (of course the candidate claimed it wasn’t him)… An article implicating them in a case of fraud (even though there were no legal charges)…at least three cases of “mistaken identity” i.e. different people with the same name as the candidate who had very, very questionable Google reports
  • The candidates who were eliminated because of their LinkedIn profile who: was in sales and did not have a LinkedIn profile… Had no picture of themselves on their profile… Had an inappropriate picture of themselves… The LinkedIn profile did not agree with their resume… They only had 10 contacts… They were being considered for a position they claimed to have experience in on their resume, but not on their LinkedIn profile… Their profile highlighted them as a musician instead of a business professional… Their LinkedIn profile highlighted their numerous, nonprofit volunteer positions, causing the hiring authority to believe they wouldn’t focus on their work…
  • The candidates who were eliminated because of what they had on Facebook:.. Pictures of their recent tattoos… Celebrations taking place in bars…Profanity…Provocative pictures… Reports on heavy metal band concerts… Inappropriate jokes…Race-related comments… Political comments… Religious comments… Alcohol/drug references… A post on a candidate’s wall: “Those of you who are ****( sexually graphic)*** my husband, I know who you are” (Please don’t tell me “Well, all you have to do is set your Facebook page to ‘private’.”Even the most elementary hacker knows how to work around that.)
  • the candidate who texted: “grt interview, I prob got the job, but the guy was a jrk.” to one of his friends and it got back to the company and the interviewing authority.

Well, I could go on and on, but you get the picture. please remember that the kind of candidates we placed are degreed, highly experienced and highly successful. The average salary we deal with is $100,000 or more. These people that are getting eliminated aren’t young punks who are looking for hourly work. They are, on the surface, very professional.

We are now beginning to ask EVERY candidate, no matter how professional they appear, if they have done thorough research of their own on any and all social media that might contain their name or their likeness. There is now a cottage industry growing up around cleaning up an individual’s social media as well as researching all social media for companies considering candidates. Remember, there are more than 500 social media sites… And we stopped counting at 65.

The attitude, especially from millennials, but even older candidates, is paradoxical. On the one hand they use social media extensively… 88% of millennials get news from Facebook and they use an average of 3.7 social media networks daily. But when it comes to information about them, they claim that social media should not have anything to do with their professional life. They claim their social life and professional life should be separated and that potential employers should not judge hiring them or not based on what they find on social media. They often get downright pissed off when they get eliminated because of what social media reveals about them.

50% of employers recently surveyed said that they elected not to hire a seemingly well-qualified candidate because of what they found on social media. A quick Google search will find a CareerBuilder report of a litany of stupid things that people either post or text about their job, an interview or a company they are looking to go to work for.

This epidemic is probably going to get worse before it gets better. The lesson is simple. Social media can stand in the way of getting a good job.



…the spiritual side of your job search

Having done this since 1973, I guarantee you that there is a spiritual side of looking for a job that is tremendously overlooked. Those of us that believe in a relationship with God are profoundly aware of the spiritual encounter, but even those with more of a secular, humanistic “connection” with “the universe” will benefit from spiritual practice.

Looking for a job is a tremendously emotional endeavor. It is an emotional roller coaster. Enduring it is easier for those who practice spiritual giving. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned from candidates and employers along the way. (I discuss these in-depth in our online job search program )

Be nice… even when other people aren’t. You are going to experience a tremendous amount of rejection and frustration. Focus on being nice when they don’t feel like it.

Create flow… clean out your garage, your attic, your car, your office. “Stuff” blocks flow.

Practice forgiveness… especially when other people are rude and what you perceive to be mean. Forgive those that put you on hold, forget about you, tell you they’re going to get back to you and don’t, etc. Send an email to an old nemesis forgiving them.

Start an intentions or prayer list… pray for those that are less fortunate than you. Be specific about the individuals, even people who don’t know. Write their names down. Hopefully, others are doing the same for you.

Volunteer… soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, etc. Give time to those less fortunate than you.

Be grateful… every morning when you wake up and at night before you sleep, acknowledge every blessing you have regardless of every difficulty and challenge.

Seek peace… spend 10 or 15 minutes twice a day quietly sitting alone getting in touch with your feelings and thoughts. Just let them flow.

Pray… even if you don’t believe in it. It works

Meditation… not far off from “seeking peace.” It’s the practice of clearing the mind and finding that gap between conscious and subconscious.

Let go… the anger, the disappointment, the frustration. While you are seeking peace envision those feelings and send them far out into the horizon and drop them in the ocean. Do this for five times with each difficult thought or emotion and you’ll be amazed at the relief.

Release resistance… what you resist, persists! Fighting the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” thoughts that ruminate in your head leads to frustration. Release the resistance to them.

Practice acceptance… “Dear Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Laugh a lot… even if you have to read jokes yourself out loud. Listening to children’s laughter has an amazing effect on your spirit. The joy and laughter of a three-year-old is pure and infectious.

Practice empathy… in spite of the fact that you are seeking empathy from others. To receive, we must learn to give.

Sacrifice… fast one or two days a week, give up alcohol for a week at a time or give up your favorite food once or twice a week.

Journal… once a day or at least two or three times a week, write out your thoughts on recent events. Journaling is cathartic.

Love… briefly think of all of the people who have wronged you, been rude to you, etc. and send them thoughts of kindness and appreciation. Even if it is hard to do.

Feeding your spirit in emotionally stressful times can change your world!


…. preparing for reality

Looking for a job is one of the most emotionally challenging endeavors we confront. Most of the folks who write about looking for a job overlook the emotional strain and setbacks the vast majority of people go through in the process. There are millions of people in the United States who are out of work who just plain quit looking for a job. I contend that the majority of the reason this happens is that they are so emotionally stressed, they resort to doing nothing at all or go through minimal motions in looking for a job. They are scared and often depressed. This kind of emotional strain is debilitating.

One reality that might prepare people for this emotional strain is to recognize that they’re going to experience at least TEN negative events in their job search for every ONE positive event. What this means is that for every interview, for instance, a job seeker might get, they are going to experience 10 or so rejections. They will send their resume to the company’s job posting that is “perfect” for them… and never hear a word. And it will happen 10 dozen times. (we recently discussed the probability of getting a job by sending your resume to a company’s online ad.) They will interview impeccably for a job, be told that they are perfect for it and then never hear from the company again. They will even be told that they should expect an offer after a series of interviews& and never hear from the company again.

After a series of negative setbacks, people become discouraged and quit trying. They are unprepared for all of the difficult negative events they are experiencing. They read or hear from unenlightened authors and “experts” that all they have to do is get an interview and go to work. These people never prepare them for the long, difficult and negative filled process they are going to go through.

So, the lesson is to be prepared for tons of setbacks. Prepare to be discouraged, disappointed, lied to, dumped on in about every way you can possibly imagine. ( I even run into candidates all the time who have been “scammed” by folks who claim that if you send them $5000 they will “expose you” to the hidden job market. Not quite fraud but close to it.)  I knew one candidate, not too long ago, who realized that the negatives were going to be 10 to 1 relative to the positives so he kept counting the negative events. His rationale was “every negative is one more step towards a positive.” Not bad approach.

Be prepared for reality!

I didn’t cause it, I can’t change it and I can’t cure it

This is the mantra of Al-Anon as it applies to dealing with other people’s addictions. I am reminded of it every time I hear a candidate express their frustrations with the challenges they face when they hear this from people with whom they are interviewing. “You are a perfect candidate, will get back to you soon… you are exactly what we’re looking for… you will do great in this job…when can you start?” and then they never hear from the Hiring Authority AGAIN!

I’ve been doing this since 1973 and I’ve never figured out …ever.. why people in organizations will tell candidates this. Maybe it’s because that’s the way they feel at the moment. Maybe it’s because they don’t really want to reject anybody because they don’t want to be rejected. And maybe, I just don’t know why and never will.

I have learned, though, to warn candidates to never trust hearing that and accepting it as truth. I tell them the story about a Hiring Authority I had a number of years ago who interviewed nine candidates and told every one of them that he or she was “perfect” and that he would hire them within the next day or two. Not only did he not hire anyone, but he got fired three days later.

Spending time and emotional cycles ruminating over “How do they do this to me?” is a waste of time and a tremendous depletion of energy. I advise candidates to forget what they hear and judge the situation based on the actions of the prospective employer. If they do get back to you, and they do move you forward in the hiring process, then you have something to evaluate. Judge people by their actions, not their words.

So, quit getting frustrated when you hear these things and, subsequently, actions don’t follow. Getting wrapped around the axle as to why people do this kind of thing is a waste. You didn’t cause it, you can’t change it and you can’t cure it.