Ask The Headhunter®

the insider's edge on job search & hiring™
December 22, 2009
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This week's Q&A

It takes just one Yes

Talk to Nick: For job hunters, managers, HR.
Rule of 6: Get mentored!

Stories of pain... and success

This is normally a Q&A column where a reader submits a problem and I do my best to offer advice. We're always tackling problems. In today's economic climate, we hear enough about frustration, despair and pain. (And there is plenty more to go around.) So I'd like to leaven it with some hope and success.

Over the past few months, I received a string of e-mails from the wife of an Ask The Headhunter reader in Hawaii. Helen started writing to me last August when she found a collection of Ask The Headhunter columns and articles on her husband Greg's desk. She told me how Greg, in utter despair over a career crash and the inability to land a new job after a lengthy job search, just up and disappeared. Walked out the door and never returned.


A very Merry Christmas to you & yours!

...or whatever you celebrate this time of year!

I wish you peace, health and prosperity in 2010.

There will be no newsletter for the next two weeks during the holidays. See in you 2010 in the January 12 edition!

-- Nick       

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Two weeks ago, Helen wrote me that Greg's body was found on a mountain hiking trail, an apparent suicide.

I've gotten to know Helen as best one can get to know anyone thousands of miles away via e-mail. Her story is just one of many that play themselves out on the ebbing and flowing tide of our economy. Some fare better than others, and some just can't survive. It's not easy to know what fortune will come to whom—or who can make it through these trials.

Every one of us has opportunities to reach out to others who are in distress. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly word that reminds a depressed job hunter that they are not alone. Sometimes the fog of despair clears a bit when we realize that there are other blessings in our lives—and those blessings are usually other people. But when the waters are dark and we've gone numb, other people have to step up and pull us out.

Please: This holiday season, and in the new year, reach out to someone who needs pulling out. Take a couple of hours out of your day and take them to lunch. You don't have to find them a job—just be with them for a while. Let them talk about their pain, but watch them light up when you ask them about the work they are very good at. It'll give them courage. It'll remind them that even though circumstances are bad, they're still good at their work. Let them display their value and you will increase their self-confidence. The simple reminder that "the job market" does not define them—people like you do—can give them the courage to persevere.

(Don't know how to mentor others? Learn about Mentoring & Getting Mentored.)

But it's not all dark and despair. This churning economy produces successes, too. A reader sent me this note a while ago. (It might as well have been today.) The message is simple: You will hear No a thousand times. You need just one Yes, but you also need the perseverance to get to it.

Nick, I wrote you several months ago for advice on trying to land a job in finance and investments, preferably as a stock analyst. You even got a friend to e-mail me with very specific advice.

It made me realize that even though I didn't have any experience in this area, it wasn't totally hopeless and I started making contacts within my company which helped me focus on what I wanted to do and what departments I should be looking at. This week I accepted a position in my company's Investment Management & Trust area. I'm tremendously excited about this opportunity and I feel it's a solid step in the right direction on a long-term career path.

So to everyone reading this message, hang in there and keep plugging away. If you keep working towards what you want to do, eventually you'll be in the right place at the right time. Nick, thanks again for all your advice and encouragement!

So, you can change careers, or you can stay put and change jobs.

Another reader talks about the importance of making informed choices. All I gave him was the nudge to do his homework before he chose the company to pursue.

I wanted to say thank you for all your good advice. I had a job that paid well but did not allow me to use my training and education. After my boss and personnel department decided to pull yet one more stunt, I decided to find the employer who needed my skills and who would provide a pleasant working environment. 

The process led me to your site. Intrigued by your articles, I bought your book. Following your suggestions, I took an active role in researching companies, reputations, and needs—along with clarifying what I wanted and what I could offer.

The result is the job I dreamed about but did not think existed. I work in an extremely supportive environment doing engineering design. My boss makes time for everyone who needs him. If something is urgent, just ask and you will end up with more than enough helping hands. The number of employees who left only to return after realizing all that glitters isn't gold is astounding and speaks well of the firm.

Thank you so much. My father is now reading your book and couldn't agree more with your statements regarding human resource people.

It seems trite to suggest you should just keep plugging away, or that defining what you want will help you get it. Helen told me that Greg's defeats seemed to stem from pursuing jobs he felt obligated to apply for, and that he was in such despair that he forgot the things he was really good at. There's no guessing at what takes a man over the edge, but I know that doing things I love keeps me away from it.

Helen's early e-mails were naturally marked with a sense of hopelessness. But her recent notes are filled with awareness of the lives she has touched during her years in the medical field. She has recovered her sense of herself—from her interaction with other people. I don't know what life holds for Helen, but courage marks her attitude now. She's reaching out. I read in-between her words a desire to do more for others. My hope is that others will reach out to her, too. It takes just one Yes.

(Please check the How to Say It sidebar at the right, and come join us to discuss how we can help.)


Nick Corcodilos
Ask The Headhunter®

Have a question? Ask away. Each week I'll publish a Q&A that I think readers will find helpful. I will not publish your name if you submit a question through this link. Please see terms of submission below. Sorry, I cannot answer questions privately. Please do not send me resumes; I won't read them.

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Sometimes you have a question too detailed for the newsletter, or it's confidential. I'm not a counselor, nor do I want to be. I will not hold your hand through a job search or consult to you for a year. Talk to Nick enables you to ask me specific questions in short conversations privately via telephone.

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Rule of 6

This is where readers mentor one another—job hunters, employers, HR folks. You've heard of six degrees of separation? Well, I figure that among the many subscribers to this newsletter you'll find one who can give you the advice and insight you need... That's the Rule of 6.

People who need help, advice and introductions please submit your request to me (50 words max, please!). I'll review and post it in the next newsletter. Include your e-mail address. Mentors who want to offer advice: Please click on the reply-to link in the yellow box below and share your advice directly... please cc me ( Remember: This is for mentoring. Please don't ask for jobs or submit job postings. Ask for advice and insight from folks who might be able to help you!

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Readers' Comments

"Nick, as always, great advice. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As a side note, although I am semi-retired from work (67), I am active in business as a consultant and your comments keep me sharp. I refer people to your web page, etc. when they need sound, hard advice. Take care."

Larry Kozoll

Oh, Yeah! I love success stories, thank yous, and examples of how Ask The Headhunter worked for you. Don't hold back: Please share your comments.


How to Say It

Can I help you?

In today's column: Some readers have sad tales to tell of job hunting gone bad. Others have found success after trials and tribulations.

You know someone who despairs over their failure in the job search. They're down, they're out, they feel like they're in deep, cold water. You'd like to help pull them out. How do you say it?

How to Say It: "Come on. Let's go have lunch. We'll talk."

Yes, it can be as simple as that.

If someone has helped pull you out when you felt like your career was spiraling down the drain, how did they do it?

Have you helped someone out? What did you do?

Got an idea to help us all do something to help out someone who needs it? My suggestion is above. But I'm all ears. Please head over to the Blog and share it!

Brazen Plug: There are over two dozen How to Say It call-outs
in the new book How to Work With Headhunters! Order now!

Don't know How to Say It? Send me your quandary and we'll try to tackle it! (Please don't confuse this feature with Q&A topics, which are about advice. This is about how to say something.)


Readers' Forum

Failure Analysis: Learning from interviews

My turn to ask you: The current edition of Wired magazine features an article about failure that occurs in science labs. A sidebar in that article is titled How to Learn from Failure. It suggests that when scientific experiments fail, the outcome is an anomaly. Anomalous outcomes should makes us analyze failure in four steps.

It set me to thinking. (Everything I read flows through my headhunter filter.) How can this be applied to solve job hunting or hiring problems?

The four steps are listed and discussed in the Ask The Headhunter Blog. My challenge to you is this: How can these four failure analysis steps be used to learn from failed job interviews?

Check the Blog, read the article, and help me find the connection.

Got a topic? Something to get off your chest? Something on which you'd like input from other readers? Send it here. 


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