Welcome to SixFigureStart®

Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Labor Day Celebration!

It’s fitting and appropriate that a career coach blog on Labor Day weekend.   Holidays are often looked at just for the extra day off from the weekly grind, instead of having a significant meaning to our lives, so I thought I’d give you some background on how Labor Day actually became the holiday we know and love.  

Our friends at Wikipedia write the following:  Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September. The holiday originated in 1882 as the Central Labor Union (of New York City) sought to create “a day off for the working citizens”.  The form for the celebration of Labor Day was a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families.  Congress made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894.[1] All fifty states have made Labor Day a state holiday.  Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer.

So for those of you who are working at the job that you love – enjoy this holiday and get the rest you need!  For those that are still looking, it just takes a bit of work (aka labor) and I’ve listed some tips below that you can labor over this weekend:

Wetfeet.com and Vault.com:  both of these sites are exceptional sources of information for job seekers.  As a disclaimer, I serve as an on-line coach at www.Wetfeet.com so you can submit any question regarding your search if you are a student (undergrad or grad) or an experienced hire.

If you are a student, here are some basic things you should be doing to get internships and full-time jobs:

  1. Use your Career Services Office to help you get on track to find terrific internships that lead to wonderful full-time job opportunities.  Internships are vital to your success so start asap.  You should explore this come Freshman year but no later than Sophomore year.  When I ran campus recruiting at Merrill Lynch and Warner-Lambert, we were seeking exceptional Sophomores with great internships on their resumes.  It will only be a matter of time when Fortune 500 companies reach back to High School students and begin building relationships with them! 
  2. Network, network, network with your peers and find out what they are doing, and anyone else in your world to ensure you have as much information as possible regarding the companies out there that are hiring.  Perhaps your parents have friends who work at companies you would be interested in and hopefully they can set up an informational interview.
  3. Speak to your professors as many of them have come from the working world and have great contacts.
  4. If you are specifically looking for an internship, and haven’t had any luck, consider University of Dreams.  For a fee, they will guarantee you an internship, cover your housing and meals for the entire summer, and arrange for career coaching along the way … in addition to arranging for some fun baseball outtings to watch the Yankees and Mets. 

If you are an experienced hire candidate who wants to either change your job or find a job, here are some things you could do this weekend:

  1. Network, network, network with experts in your field at other companies.  Networking is about building relationships and not about asking for a job.  Perhaps you can take advantage of attending a conference in your field … you will meet a ton of people!  I’ve gotten many job offers this way, and I’ve made contacts that I’ve kept throughout the years as well.
  2. Consider switching jobs at the company you are currently working at.  Internal mobility is valued at many companies.  If it’s a smaller company, however, this may not be possible.
  3. Check the on-line openings at the companies you are interested in.  Many people feel their resume goes into a black hole, but know that this is the database that recruiters search through.  I know because I used to run experienced recruiting at various firms and this was our process.  Just don’t expect the company to get back to you other than receiving an automatic “we have your resume and will be in touch if there is a match” kind of message.
  4. Get your hands on an alumni database from your school (just call them and they should send it to you).  Then, start reaching out and making contacts.  You’d be surprised at the number of good, solid contacts you can make.  I remember that whenever I met an NYU grad, I felt a connection because we spent 4 years at the same school.  I always extended myself for someone I met this way.
  5. Visit www.theglasshammer.com which lists many articles about a job search and how to network.
  6. Get your resume on the top job search sites like Monster, Careerbuilding, Ladders, etc.

There are many other ways to get started as well so you can read our past blogs and visit our website at www.sixfigurestart.com.  But this is a good start!  Happy Labor Day everyone!

Filed under: career coaching, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jobseekers, Beware…Telephone Interaction Is A Mini-Interview

I have a coaching client who always wants to meet in person, rather than be coached by phone which is more typical (and actually more effective).  Eventually we will need to coach by phone because I need to check his phone skills, and he says he’s willing, but I can tell he thinks I’m going to forget or somehow let him get away with no phone coaching.  Well, I would be an irresponsible coach if I let him off without phone coaching.  Telephone screening is a BIG part of recruiting.  I am not just talking about actual interviews done by telephone (and there are many, including most first round screens), but even the shorter interactions by phone — the voicemail to follow-up, the call to schedule a meeting — are mini-interviews.

I covered phone skills in a recent GlassHammer column.  I also shared my voicemail pet peeve in Ellen Simon’s AP article (which includes other handy voicemail tips).  So I won’t give a laundry to-do list here.  Just a warning/ plea/ insider tip from a recruiter who knows that bad phone skills are a candidate killer:  telephone calls whatever the reason are mini-interviews.  Treat them with care.

Filed under: career coaching, , , , , , , ,

The Coach Doesn’t Play

Tiffany Joiner, an upcoming HR professional and blogger, was kind enough to blog about her experience coaching with me.  We had met via the Brazen Careerist, a robust online community for the 20-something set.  I loved reading about what she absorbed from our session together, and as she mentioned so many things, she clearly took to heart a lot.  She’s focused and excited and on a clear path, and while I appreciated the way she credited me…it’s all your work and to your credit, Tiffany! 

I give tools and encouragement.  I give shortcuts and save a lot of time reinventing the wheel.  I may even circumvent a dead-end.  Certainly, there are synergies with two minds, two sets of eyes, and two perspectives going after a singular objective.  But at the end of the day, after we plan, my clients execute the plan.  My clients refine their goals, revise their marketing, get out there and network, take chances, seal the deal.  The potential for success is in the client all along.  My only role is to draw it out.

A coach may identify a player’s best pitch.  A coach may advise how to mix pitches or what pitch to throw when.  But dreams and goals are my client’s game days, and they own these entirely.  The coach doesn’t play.  I’m looking forward to my next session with Tiffany but then I’ll root from the sideline.

Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, , ,

Resource management, the personal way

I did an interview for The Institute for Success and Goal Achievement in July — 4 obstacles to success, 4 solutions to success, general life coaching stuff.   One of the key points I focus on in the interview and in a lot of my coaching is how people use their personal resources.  We know that companies have resource management groups that allocate people and budgets and material to different projects.  How are you allocating your time, money, skills and energy? 

I had a friend who had a demanding job, two small kids, a husband also with a demanding job, and many community service commitments.  She dreamed of writing a book.  So she blocked off time to write.  She scaled back on projects and gave up the short-term cash for the long-term investment of completing her manuscript.  She researched the subject of her novel and honed her writing skills.  She committed to writing that book and told everyone she’d do it.  She put 100% of her resources behind the book, and yes, she finished it.  But no it didn’t get picked up.  Instead, a few years later she published another book.  Completely different subject than she imagined, but she became a published author nonetheless. 

We don’t always know how things will turn out.  But we need to get started.  And we need to commit our resources (our time, money, skills and energy) to what we want.

Filed under: life coaching, , , , , ,

The Job Search Is Selling

In my career coaching, I focus a lot on getting my clients to do prospect research and cold calling (networking first of course to get as warm leads as possible.)  The job search depends on selling, much like a business does.  You brand yourself, you target your niche, and you sell to your customers…in this case prospective employers. 

A recent article in CNN Money Small Business about Sam Richter’s “Take The Cold Out Of Cold Calling” gives great tips on how to better research prospects, including how to uncover email addresses and identify mid-level managers.  I haven’t read the full book, but the tips offered in the article are similar to what I’ve used as a recruiter to uncover prospective candidates.  Candidates should be doing the same to uncover job leads.

A common adage in sales is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer.  As a candidate, you need to think like a recruiter and use the tools that they use to ensure that you’re on their radar.  The job search is about selling.  Forget the umpteenth book on resume-writing or interviews.  Learn to sell.

Filed under: career coaching, , , , , , , ,

Power of Storytelling

I was having lunch with my 12-year old, which is usually when we talk about South Park or Harry Potter or some of the very few things we have in common — she’s at that age where parents are so uncool.  Well, surprise!  She shares some career news.  She wants to do Teach For America.  Notice, she doesn’t want to be a teacher.  She wants Teach For America.  Ah, the power of stories…

My daughter needed to do a biography book report for school and I recommended Wendy Kopp’s “One Day All Children”, Wendy’s firsthand account about starting Teach For America.  An inspiring read and a great business case, the book sells teaching and Teach For America so well because it sucks you into its story and you forget the sell and just come along for the message.  I wanted my daughter to read about an enterprising and current young woman in Wendy Kopp.  In addition, my daughter got sold on Teach For America.

Another great story that I need to sneak into my daughter’s library is Alexandra Levit’s “They Don’t Teach Corporate In College”.   Here again, Alexandra has a great story about her early career climb but it’s so friendly and engaging that you forget you’re also getting excellent career advice.  It also helps greatly that it’s a young person talking to young people.  (For more good career advice for young people by young people, I also recommend Lindsay Pollak’s Getting From College to Career.  It’s got good stories too but reads more in a how-to format).

The power of stories is good news for those of you stumped for perfect interview answers.  Find your stories.  Tell stories about where you worked, what you did, your greatest achievements.  Don’t lecture.  Don’t list.  Engage.  Entertain.  Read the above books for style ideas if you have to, and notice how seamlessly a good story is an excellent sell.

Filed under: book review, career coaching, , , , , , , , , , ,

Fast Company article on James Andrews models 3 great career moves

The Fast Company September 2008 profile of James Andrews by Chuck Salter provides a really interesting example of 3 career moves that everyone can learn from.  (It’s really a piece about the interplay of medicine and sports and another example of business innovation and baseball, this time with the Boston Red Sox using medical technology and expertise, as opposed to the Oakland A’s using statistics a la Moneyball).  Interwoven in the fascinating details though, is the profile of Dr. James Andrews and 3 great career moves:

Getting the right mentor.  Dr. Andrews tracked down a leader in a sector that intrigued him, in this case sports medicine.  He trained with him before branching out on his own;

Networking from the beginning and throughout a career.  Dr. Andrews treated highschool and college athletes at first who are now the big-time players.  He still treats beginners and advanced, athletes and non-athletes, various sports, various teams.  He proves that a vast network builds and maintains a career;

Collaborating rather than competing.  Dr. Andrews trains people who end up becoming top sports surgeons in their own right and presumably competing for the same business.  Apparently, Dr. Andrews regards these as part of his network, not competitors.

Attracting mentors, networking, collaborating.  This is not just good for doctors and athletes, but anyone looking for a great career.

Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, , , , , , , , ,

A Traveling Feast: What to order not order during a business lunch/dinner

I never liked business lunch meetings – especially if it was with a senior person.  One tomato stain on your shirt and you look sloppy.  One dot of balsamic vinegar on your tie and you look more junior than you ever wanted to be.  Well, here is a way to relax during your lunch meetings.  Let’s first start with the dos & don’ts of what foods to order: 

Don’t order…

1.      Pasta – forget it – sauce everywhere – and the long noodles are way too long

2.      Balsamic Vinegar – duck because those dark spots fly

3.      Spinach – nothing is worth having green between your teeth

4.      Sandwiches – they can come pretty thick & you don’t have a jaw like a snake

5.      Soup – you need to spoon out versus spooning in and who is comfortable doing that?!  Plus, the slurping is beyond tolerable!

Do order…

1.      Chicken breast:  you can’t go wrong here

2.      Any type of fish other than lobster:  Fish fillets, Shrimp, Salmon

3.      Baked or mashed potato

4.      Mixed vegetables

5.      Salad with any light colored dressing

The aim here is to be comfortable and relaxed enough to concentrate on the business conversation, and not worry about dodging any flying stains that are coming at you faster than heat seeking missils.

What to wear…

If all else fails, a dark stain on a dark jacket is much less noticeable.  So dark clothing is a way to go.  If you don’t want to look like Johnny Cash, a dark jacket & a lighter shade of pants/skirt are always sharp looking.

If all goes wrong…

A smile will soften the blow of any dish of pasta landing on your lap – so you can deal with this.  Self deprecating humor usually lightens the mood and let’s face it … it’s happened to just about all of us.

So now that you have a better idea of what to order, what to wear, and what to do should something go wrong, there is just one piece of advice to share:

Bon appetite!!

Filed under: career coaching, life coaching, , , , , , ,

My Summer Break at the Jersey Shore!

Lighting storm blows out my 2 year old airconditioner (just as the warranty expires):  $500 in the hole

Pipe springs a leak UNDER the bungalow:  Unknown dollars in the hole.

Flash flood at home soaks car mats in our 2 cars:  $300 in the hole.

Swimming with my family in the ocean while dolphins & sting rays swim nearby:  priceless!

Filed under: career coaching, life coaching, philosophy, , , , ,

United We Stand: Collaboration is Key to Business Success

Successful collaboration brings all the good things Corporate America has to offer:


So it's surprising that more people don't practice collaboration at work on a more consistent basis.  Perhaps there are not enough role models out there.  If you are lucky enough to have a manager that collaborates well, take note and try to learn from their behavior.  On the slight chance that you don't, here are some behaviors you may want to think about developing, in order to improve your capacity for collaboration: 

1.   Be open and honest in all of your dealings with people. 

2.   Try to build consensus and agreement among the appropriate stakeholders (and make sure you identify them in advance). 

3.   When a conflict presents itself, think about an innovative solution. 

4.   Decisions should benefit your group and other groups as well.  It shouldn't always be about developing your own high profile. 

5.   Key learning should be shared with others.  If something worked in your group, volunteer to show others so they can leverage your success.  It will only help you in the end. 

·         Promotions
·         Salary Increases
·         Great year end bonuses
·         Stock Options
·         Fun at work

Stand united and hopefully no one will fall.  Collaboration wnsures we come to work to make each other smarter, in addition to allowing us to enjoy ourselves more than usual!

Filed under: career coaching, , , , , ,