Ten Important Lessons I Learned in My Job Searches

Ten Important Lessons I Learned in My Job Searches

For 20 years I’ve been in the job market, either in a job or in a job search, and 15 of those years I’ve been recruiting all levels of professional talent for multiple companies in various cities and countries. Through all of it, I’ve learned some important lessons that I’d like to share.

1. Network now and forever.

NetworkingIf you’re not doing it already, start immediately. Networking should be an integral part of your career, and is critical when you’re in a job search.

Periodically connect with your existing professional contacts, whether it’s getting together or just passing along a relevant article to them, but stay in touch.

Extend your network regularly. Every time you attend a conference or off-site business meeting, make a point of connecting with someone. And, consider asking your current network to connect you with other contacts they value.

Extend yourself to those within your network by offering to help, introduce them to other contacts or act as a mentor to a junior professional.

When you ask someone in your network for assistance or to connect you to a hiring manager, be specific and thoughtful in your ‘ask’. For example, if you’re in the job market, and interested in a specific role, be prepared by providing your resume, as well as an outline of your strengths and accomplishments that match the requirements of the role you’re interested in.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is engaging and professional. Don’t just drop your resume into your LinkedIn profile. Your profile should be more distinctive and include the highlights of your career. Create a headline that speaks to what you’re passionate about in the business world. Hiring managers and recruiters are constantly using LinkedIn, so a strong headline can get you noticed.

If you want to minimize age bias, abbreviate your experience, including only the last past 10 to 15 years.

3. Have an elevator pitch ready.

NetworkingWhen you least expect it, you’ll be asked what you do or what you want to do. Be ready and be concise, zero in on what you do and what you want to do. Your story should take less than thirty seconds to tell.

Always have your elevator pitch ready, not just when you’re making a job change, but all the time, because opportunities can arise when you least expect them.

4. Regularly update your resume.

Annually, it’s a good idea to update your resume, even if you don’t need it. That insures when you do need it, you’ll be ready to go.

I’ve met leaders and senior professionals who recommend you keep a record of your accomplishments and update your record at least annually. It’s a great idea and good practice to get into.

5. Be prepared to discuss salary during a job hunt.

It may seem radical that when you’re in the job search, you get asked about your salary during your first conversation with a company, but it happens frequently. The reason why? Companies don’t want to spend valuable time with candidates who aren’t likely to fit their role. And, from your perspective, there’s nothing worse than spending 8-10 hours interviewing, and then receiving an offer that $10k to $25k below what you’d consider. You’ve just wasted valuable time and energy that could have been spent on a stronger role. So, while it feels intrusive, discussing desired and/or actual salary insures you and the company are focused on a role that matches what you’re interested in.

If you’re asked for a specific number and you’re not comfortable providing one, consider providing a range. If you want to be flexible about compensation, add that you’re flexible when you reveal your salary. And, tell the hiring manager or recruiter why you’re willing to be flexible, so it doesn’t appear to be desperation. Many individuals are flexible in their compensation requirements for reasons such as a better location, work/life balance, because they feel they’re over the current market salary or they may be transitioning their career.

6. Be organized.

cover-letter-writingJob search should be viewed as a project, and potentially the most important project you work on at any point in time. Like all good project managers, develop a plan and schedule, work the plan, and stay on target. Good project management skills will keep you organized when you’re juggling multiple interviews and roles, and interviewing with several companies.

7. Set aggressive goals each week.

Since most of your work will be meeting people or applying online, set goals for both, applications and networking. And, make your job search your number one priority every day. When you’re in a job search, you should spend 6 hours/day minimum on your job search, like your standard work day, whether it’s time spent networking, in meetings, resume submissions or research.

8. Contact and confirm your references.

Don’t include references on your resume or when you apply for a role, but do connect with your professional references early on in a job search. You should gather a list of at least 3-5 references and use only 3 of the most appropriate when you’re asked for them after an interview(s). Most companies want a reference from someone who supervised you, a peer, and one other person who knows you professionally. If this is your first role after your education, then teachers and professors can be used as they will speak to your work ethic. And, stay in touch with your references regularly.

When you get asked for the names and contact information for your references, reach out to the ones most appropriate for the role, and provide them information about what you’ve learned about the role, reiterate strengths that are important for the position, and thank them in advance for the recommendation.

Once they’ve provided a positive reference, and you’ve accepted the offer, circle back with your references, advise them of the role you just accepted, and thank them again.

9. Stay positive.

Job search, whether your currently employed or not, can be exhausting and discouraging. It’s critical that you stay positive. When the going gets tough, reach out to motivators in your network for support and fresh ideas. And, even if it’s difficult to hear, take the advice they give. Sometimes, we can become too siloed in our thinking when it’s about our career or salary. After all, it’s highly personal and often fundamental to how we define ourselves.

10. Pay it forward.

Do what you can to help a colleague, friend, or connection whenever you can. Help others through introductions, or mentoring more junior colleagues. And, if someone seeks your advice, be generous in providing it. Never forget that someone else is today in the same situation you were at one point and may be again.

Job search and managing your career can be exhilarating and frustrating. Being prepared and organized will make you savvier and appear more professional, and get you the results you want faster!


How Do You…A Healthcare Professional, Handle Gaps In Your Resume?

You took time out from your work, now you’re wondering…how do I explain it. Will it hurt my ability to get another job, much less a job I want?

Let’s start with the first question:

How do you explain a gap in your resume?

Foremost, transparency from the start is highly recommended. Be honest. But, don’t pour out your whole story and explanation. That information should only be passed along to close friends and family. If you aren’t prepared and don’t have your elevator story set, you could end up having your absence hurt your chances of getting that job.

Start by preparing, planning what you’ll say, what your story will be and begin with an honest, concise explanation of what happened.


  1. Laid off: You were laid off. If others were laid off at the same employer, include it. If no one else was laid off, you need a plausible explanation why it happened to you. It may be the number of patients were declining, or they needed to reduce everyone’s hours, or they lost funding. But, what if you had difficulty learning something specific? Explain why, and how you’ve overcome the challenge. Don’t expect to avoid it. You’ll need to tackle it head on. If it was due to differences with management, state that, but concisely, and then add information such as the circumstances, the result, and what you’ve learned. Explain how it’s made you a better professional. And be prepared with this information before you start applying for any jobs.
  2. Family illness: Whether it was you, a family member or parent, explain the reason concisely and add what you learned throughout that will benefit you in the future. You don’t need to reveal who was ill, what the illness was, for how long, or what support you provided, and if it was you, you don’t need to tell a future employer. I hate to admit it, but there will always be lingering concerns that you could be at risk for future health issues if you reveal too much.
  3. Raising children: If you took time off to raise a family, everyone will celebrate you, although they may not say it. Your next employer will appreciate your dedication to your family. But you do need to explain it quickly, and explain what you’ve learned while you were not working that would benefit them directly. This could include volunteering at a professional organization (even if you just started recently), any additional learning or training you received, or a skill you learned while at home. A valuable skill may be as simple as ‘I learned how to handle conflict with others, because of an experience I had and what I learned from it.’ If it’s a skill an employer will value, it’s likely a skill that will provide reception of both your time off and your new skill. Lastly, confirm that you’re ready to return to work and have all the reasons you took time off resolved. Be swift and definite with this statement. Then move on. Most employers will too, and they’ll appreciate your family values.
  4. Business venture: You had an opportunity to go after a dream, but it didn’t work out. Explain it briefly, and absolutely guarantee employers you won’t be returning to it, you’re committed to this career now, or if it’s still ongoing, that your participation there is minimal.
  5. Return to school: This is likely the easiest to explain because you just need to say it, and explain what you learned that will benefit your employer in the future. Again, be succinct.

Where do you begin to tell people you’ve had a gap?

Right from the start…on your resume is best. Use a chronological resume and put it on there. We can’t say it enough, transparency, transparency, transparency. You can state it like this on your resume:

Family Leave (2015 to 1/2017)
Took time off support a family member. Or, if it was you, state ‘Personal Reasons’ as your title, then don’t give a reason here, but do take classes or do some volunteering before you start applying for a job.)

  • Continuing education classes you took.
  • Research you did during this period.
  • Volunteering you did during this period.

Whatever the reason there’s a gap, deal with it quickly, be honest and transparent. Your values and ethics are always being considered – and a gap in employment often reveals your character, values and ethics. The life choices we make reveal a person’s substance.

For more information about opportunities or next steps, check out our employment opportunities or contact us!


Beginner’s Guide to Networking for Healthcare Professionals


Building connections and networking, is critical for everyone today, and can be very useful for healthcare professionals. Whether you’re a Physical Therapist, Registered Nurse, LPN, Dental Professional, Physician, or in another specialty area, it’s an advantage for your career.

Our world is getting smaller, as Stacey says in her blog on One Hour Translation, ‘we often find ourselves connecting with people from one job to another, or with people who leave and move to another position, you’re likely to find it useful at points throughout your career.’

Several years ago, I was encouraged to begin networking and sought out resources to figure out how, including Keith Ferrazzi, and his book, Never Eat Alone, to better understand the mechanics of how to do it. And while that helped me launch my networking efforts, I quickly realized that sometimes it can be easy, but other times it’s a challenge. Here’s suggestions and ideas for it all.

First, if you’re not on LinkedIn already, set up a LinkedIn profile. Keep it simple, but professional. This is a professional networking site, so never put anything too personal or social on it. If you’re concerned about privacy, you can adjust the settings to better match your comfort level. Then, once you’ve got your own profile, invite a peer to connect with you, and another and another. It’s also a great idea to connect with people you’ve met at school, or at any organizations you belong to. And, try to build 75 connections or more to start. This is an arbitrary number, and a guide to help make it a useful tool. You may not need the connections today, but at some point, you’re likely to consider them valuable.

Let’s talk about why you’re networking. There can be several reasons; you’re looking for a new position, you want to stay connected with talented individuals you’ve met, you want to connect with potential employers, or you know it’s just something you should do. For healthcare professionals, these reasons can also include:

  • Building connections with other therapists, doctors, and other healthcare professionals, which may develop into partnerships or help you to land future patients.
  • Knowledge and advice of other therapy professionals about different or innovative treatments and techniques.
  • Awareness of recent research, upcoming events, and issues your profession is currently facing.
  • More professional options. When meeting other professionals in your expertise, you may learn about another position you’d be interested in.

Healthcare ConsultingWhatever your reason for networking, for it to be useful and be good at it, you need a focus. Several years ago, I learned the hard way what my motivation would be. My family and I were on a trip driving through to another state when we were stopped by the highway patrol on our route. After reviewing our license and talking with us, the officer said, ‘Recently I received some valuable assistance from someone I didn’t expect, and they wouldn’t let me compensate them, they said, ‘pay it forward.’ So, I’m going to pay it forward, and if you agree to do that also, you can go on with your trip and I won’t give you a violation.’ That was the beginning of a commitment to pay it forward. Yes, it’s a simple life story, but it was a poignant lesson I learned and how it impacted my networking was important. After some thought, I decided to make ‘pay it forward’ my motivation for networking. So, as I began reaching out to connect with others, I looked at ways I might be able to help them. Often there aren’t any specific ideas that emerge, and they may end up helping you instead, but knowing my motivation made it substantially easier and more fun to network. And the rewards have been immense – from those that I helped professionally and personally, to those that have helped me in unexpected ways.

So, why do you network? Think about it and decide why you want to build your professional network, choose your motivation and focus.

Next, join a local professional organization. If you can’t find one you’re interested in, try finding an organization to volunteer at, and become involved with volunteering. Volunteering can be a great resource for connecting with like-minded professionals.

healthcare-professionals-meetingStart meeting people face to face, whether it’s at conferences, continuing education, or social. It will all be beneficial, and you don’t need to connect with everyone, but if you can connect with one or several people you respect, connect with them later via LinkedIn, and keep an eye on their progress and stay in touch with everyone in the network you’re building.

Last, as you approach networking, keep your approach positive and professional. Don’t approach networking from the point-of-view, what can I gain from this connection? Instead, your approach should be on connecting with talented and interesting people.

Throughout the years, networking has proved to be rewarding in every aspect, professionally of course, and several times over, but also socially and personally.

So, get out there and just do it!


#1 Tip to Be Successful–Overcome Average

Success – We all define it differently. For some it’s about making a lot of money, for others it’s about getting to the top of a company, and for others it’s about health and/or lifestyle. But, in the end, success is success, and it will always run up against the same problem – AVERAGE.

What do we mean by that? Average is always out there judging you and what you’re doing. Whether average comes in criticism from others, critical looks, or your very own head. Don’t listen, don’t accept, and get rid of it in your own thinking, and who you’re listening to. We mean refuse to accept average, in yourself, and in those around you.

Sound simple? It’s not. It can be one of the most difficult challenges you ever take on.

studyingHere’s a fundamental example and it starts early in our lives…When you were in middle school or high school and friends wanted you to hang out, rather than study for a test, or practice your sport, pursue your music, what happened? They applied pressure. They coaxed, they prodded, and sometimes they deserted you. Or what happens if you aced tests all the time, were a top student, became the captain of a team, or got were becoming an accomplished musician? Some of your friends and peers mocked you because you were unavailable, busy going after your own plan. Your success does NOT come unconditionally. It comes with a price. It can be lonely at first to not settling for average. But by focusing on your goals and understanding that… in the end, your own self, and those you love will be better for it, and you will realize you can do it.

And, achieving success takes hard work, and most of us don’t want to do that, because it’s easier not to. Hard work, day after day, hour after hour, often when you don’t feel like it. The problem with not consistently pursuing your goals, we never realize our dreams.

Let’s face it, we’re all among that group, in one way or another, at times. There is NOT an area of our life where we succeed in everything. It may look like someone else does, but they don’t! So, stop dwelling on it. Just do what you want and want to succeed at, accept that you cannot do it all and won’t be successful in everything, career, money, fitness, nutrition, beauty, and/or relationships. There will be sacrifices and some areas of success you’ll never have. The question is, where do you really want success, because you don’t know and will never know if you don’t achieve it. So, you might as well go after your goal, with a vengeance, when it’s important to you, and overcome ‘average’.

successAverage comes in all shapes and forms and attacks you in ‘so’ many ways it’s challenging to overcome. It’s there in your head, in your friends, even in your family. No one means to send you ‘average’ intentions, but they often do. Because average is what most people are. And to compensate for that, we find flaws in those who are successful.

So, how do you overcome listening, thinking, and believing you’re not ‘average’? You become alert to it, and every time it roars its ugly head, you SHUT IT DOWN!

People, whether your friends, family, or strangers, will discourage you. Its only rarely that everyone agrees with you or what you’re doing. And there will be those who doubt you along the way.

  1. Start by believing in yourself and repeating positive messages to yourself frequently until they become your strongest message to yourself and rarely think otherwise. Whether it’s post-it notes, or inspirational messages, or on your home screen, tell yourself you are on the right road…all the time. And, when negative thoughts or doubt creep in, SHUT THEM DOWN FAST!
  2. Stay positive and be confident. Even if you’re not! None of us are, all the time, but fake it. ‘Fake it till you make it!’ Pretend confidence and eventually you will be confident. Eventually you’ll believe it and BE it.
  3. When others doubt you, listen and learn when appropriate, but never, ever doubt yourself. You may want to alter your mindset or direction, but you need to be cautious of doubters and move on.
  4. You will fail, sometime. Everyone does, but don’t dwell on it. If need be, look at it, analyze it quickly, learn from it, and move on. If you determine you need more guidance, direction, or to learn a new skill for your toolbox, get busy.
  5. Build alliances with those people that support you and believe in you. Move closer to those who aid and facilitate what you’re working toward, and limit exposure to those who don’t.
  6. Be cautious when you share your plan, because when you do, the brain interprets words for actions and you’re less likely to then achieve it. For more on this watch Derek Sivers in his TED Talk named, Keep Your Goals to Yourself.
  7. And, always, be grateful to those that supported you and support them in kind.

In the end, pay it forward. Help others achieve their dreams and the rewards will return in unexpected ways.


Want to Work at a Company Where the Culture Is a Positive One?

“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.”

— Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappo’s

A job is more than just a place you go for 8+ hours a day—you also need to deal with coworkers, bosses, and office politics. Here are some clues to determine a company’s culture before you take the job and it’s too late.

It’s important the culture of the company is one you think you’ll thrive in. The work environment significantly influences how you’ll feel about your job. This includes everything that forms employees’ involvement with the work itself, such as co-workers, supervisors, company culture, personal development opportunities, even hours and surroundings.

A positive work environment makes employees feel good about what they’re doing and encourages employee engagement.

Our colleagues and especially our boss, have a huge impact on our work experience.

If you’re looking for a new job, assessing a potential work environment is a crucial consideration you shouldn’t skip.

Check Out the Company Using Multiple Tools to Learn More

Start with the corporate website. What news and updates do they put out to the public, because what’s on their website is generally relevant to new products, ideas, conferences, or volunteer activities that are happening at the company. If there’s nothing there, that may evidence they’re not concerned about their image. So, they may react the same to their employees.


Check the feedback about the company on sites like Glassdoor. Take the reviews you see there lightly, but if you see common threads between reviews, you’ll know what to watch out for. If everyone leaving a company complains nothing is worth the long hours and demanding management, it may not be what you want to get into. On sites like Glassdoor, don’t just read what employees say, but look at what people who interviewed said too. And, if candidate interview reviews suggest a strenuous or disorganized process, consider it a reflection of what’s happening behind the doors.

Check out the company’s social network profiles, specifically their pages on LinkedIn and Facebook.

See what they share on Facebook to the public, and visit their corporate LinkedIn presence will reveal people who work there, what their skills and backgrounds are.

Ask Questions About the Culture in Your Interview

If you’ve done your homework and the company still looks like a great place to work, you have an opportunity to learn more about the culture in your interview. The one question that usually comes up (and often near the end) in most interviews is “Do you have any questions for us?” That’s your opportunity to learn more about the culture, information you can’t get from just your research. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  1. What’s the company culture like from your perspective?
  2. How does this group work with other teams?
  3. How do the different roles on our team interact?
  4. What’s the intrateam dynamics?
  5. How would your employees describe you? What have you been told by more than one person?

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, one of the strongest advocates of culture, makes a solid point when he says ‘the people you hire represent your company even outside of work. If you meet someone and learn where they work, your perception of that place is influenced based on what you learned.’

So, What Elements Make a Great Company Culture?


Let’s start with what is Corporate Culture. It’s probably a word you hear often, but what is it exactly?

According to The Business Dictionary corporate culture is: “The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.”

This is the reason a positive culture matters. Culture sustains employee enthusiasm.

8 Elements of a great company culture

  1. Positive Values – A positive mission statement outlines the goals and demonstrative the company values and strives toward.
  2. Relaxed and Productive Atmosphere – People enjoy coming to work and feel appreciated, acknowledged, and rewarded.
  3. Open and Honest Communication – Everyone communicates in a cards-on-the-table manner, solving difficulties in a positive way. They view constructive feedback as an opportunity for growth. And constructive feedback is given frequently if needed, and they don’t wait for your annual review. Constructive feedback should also offer workable solutions.
  4. Cooperation, Support and Empowerment – Employees have a sense of camaraderie, cooperation and empowerment.
  5. Humor – Employees keep things in perspective, laugh, and have fun even when change is occurring or everyone is busy.
  6. Flexibility and Transparency – The employees embrace change, accommodate new trends and technology, and incorporate new skills. Companies where management is transparent about the direction, current challenges, and even mistakes creates an environment that builds trust.
  7. Positive Reinforcement – People need acknowledgement, appreciation and gratitude to be motivated. And frequent, specific and timely positive reinforcement is best.
  8. Approachability and Support – When employees feel they can talk openly with their boss and will be supported when faced with challenges. At some point in a career, everyone faces challenges and managers who support their employees


Tony Hsieh, now CEO of Zappos, believes that interactions–both between employees and with customers–are the key to a business’s identity. “At Zappos, we really view culture as our No. 1 priority. We decided that if we get the culture right, most of the stuff, like building a brand around delivering the very best customer service, will just take care of itself.”–January 9th, 2010, The New York Times

In the end, there are no magic pills even when you’ve thoroughly done your research. Business, like everything else today can change on a dime, so if you’ve decided to join a company and learn the culture is toxic, start looking for a new opportunity, and do research on how to handle a toxic environment before you find yourself just reacting to it.