I’m taking a brief hiatus from posts about team cohesion this week because:

  1. My kid just applied for and got his first job.
  2. I’ve been immersed in my friend and colleague Michael Thomas Sunnarborg‘s MeetUp for professionals in career transition.

The combination of shepherding a millennial through his first job search, application, and orientation – as well as supporting professionals late in their careers as they find something new – revealed two observations.

  1. Your expectations as you approach the job search process has a direct impact on your satisfaction.
  2. You will do scary things.

In my son’s example, he got coaching from me on the interview and follow-up process. He insisted the things we practiced were common sense, and everyone was sending a handwritten thank you note. Sadly, they are not. When the hiring manager commented on his thank-you note he was pleasantly surprised. Before then, however, he was concerned he wasn’t doing enough. With that one comment from the hiring manager, his job search satisfaction went from, in his words, :-/ to 😀

“Mom!” he said, “You should give other people career advice.” My pleasure!

Here’s some advice as you navigate your personal paths to success.

Focus on the inner game before the outer game.

Take the time to look inside your head (inner game) before you jump on the computer (outer game) to find that “perfect job.” What are you passionate about? What do you want in 5 years? When a potential employer (or networking connection – more on this later in the post) ask you what you’re looking for, you want an answer that doesn’t start with, “A job that…”

Why? Anyone can fill a seat. It might feel like desperate times, and anything will do, however, employers can feel that desperation. Instead, look at the situation from the inside out. Your answer to, “What are you looking for?” must include how YOU can help your employer meet their needs. Companies are looking for people that help meet their missions, collaborate in teams, and communicate for the betterment of the organization.

Set realistic goals and have goals.

Set realistic goals. You might want to find a job that runs 9-5 with no evenings or weekends. A window office would be nice too, please. Oh, and you need 2-4 weeks off, of course. Are jobs like this available? Maybe. Might you find one? Also maybe. Should you hold out for it? I don’t advise it.

I’ve described what some enthusiasts might consider the perfect job. Those with more mature careers might have a different picture of perfect. In both cases, perfect doesn’t exist.

Instead, make a list of the qualities you’d like use in your job. Do you love collaboration or does it drain you? Consider the next five years as you make your list- not only today. You might want a flexible work schedule or some telecommuting, but employers need to spend some time working with you before making that type of investment.

Think about each opportunity with a learning mentality.  Work hard and learn all you can, even if you don’t find the “perfect” job your first time out.

Network with people.

I believe students and early career job seekers don’t watch my networking videos because 1) they think the 1,000+ friends they have online is their network, 2) they’re waiting until they graduate when they need the job, 3) they don’t know how what to say when they network face-to-face.

Late career professionals I’ve talked to share with me their hesitation with networking by insisting 1) they hate it, 2) they don’t want to be sold to, 3) it takes them away from their job search, 4) they shouldn’t have to network to find a job at this point in their career.

In all cases, I have this to say, “You are missing the point.” Networking is about forming relationships – real ones. Be there for your network before you need them so they are willing and able to be there for you. That means sending resources you think they might be interested in or carving out time once a month to catch up on how someone is doing. Informational interviews are a great way to stay connected as long as you are, in fact, information gathering and not angling for a job.

If you’d like more information about networking successfully, I’ll be debuting a mobile learning class soon. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and you’ll be one of the first to have access!

Be of service.

Find an internship when you’re in school. Volunteer with your professional association. In one way or another, be of service to your profession. The benefit goes well beyond the addition to your resume. You could…

  • rediscover you love for the industry
  • sharpen or learn new skills
  • deepen your network
  • build confidence
  • increase exposure
  • demonstrate your commitment to learning
  • and so much more


Gone are the days that you send out 12 – 20 resumes blindly and get two or three calls for interviews. Finding a job is a full-time job in itself; it takes time, introspection, and vulnerability. You will have to brush off disappointments and find ways to learn through uncertainty.

What are the best pieces of advice you’ve received in your job search? We’d love to read about them in the comments. Let’s learn together!


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