Do you smile when you go to work?



Last week I got to do a bucket list type activity.

Wait – back it up..     Years ago I really wanted to see the Three Tenors (Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras) live.   With Luciano’s passing it wasn’t going to happen.  I missed out.

This past December when I saw Andrea Bocelli was coming to Minneapolis in six months, I bought tickets the moment they went live. I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity a second time.

Honestly I really didn’t know what to expect.  All I knew is I thought he had a great voice and I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to see someone of that caliber and genre live.  I just had high hopes it would be a great memory.

Speaking of…

My short term memory is pretty poor, but my long term memory for extraordinary events is pretty close to photographic.   I remember every last detail. As the performance started, I wondered what memory I would take with me.   Would it be Bocelli’s powerful voice?   The perfect union of singer and orchestra?   The crazy overpriced, but yet mediocre drinks?????

Ironically, I came to hear; but what I walked away with was what I saw.

His smile.

Soon after his birth in 1958, Bocelli, 57, was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma which made him partially blind. He then lost his vision completely at the age of 12 years after he was hit on the head during a game of football.   Because if this, the conductor escorts Bocelli on and off stage multiple time during the performance – it’s clearly well rehearsed.

What will always stick with me is, as he was being escorted on and off stage to thunderous applause, is Bocelli’s most genuine and appreciative smile.

This guy truly loves what he does!

How many of us have Bocelli’s passion and love for what we do?   And – if we don’t, how many of us have the courage to change it?


Dear online apply: you’ve made my job search process suck…

focus boy small

Show of hands for those who had a great experience with online apply in their last job search!   Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller???

I’m dating myself now, but in the olden days a person just mailed in their resume and waited, then called, and with any luck got an interview. Pretty simple right?

Along came the internet and all the cool tools meant to aid the process of applying for a job actually turned a simple process into a highly complex, frustrating, and convoluted one.  Corporate America got super excited about inserting a technology solution into a human recruiting process and forgot the one thing that should have been the primary focus: the human!

An unanticipated casuality in this tech revolution is your friendly corporate recruiter.  While automation has increased, recruiting budgets have shifted to technology – leaving the recruiter with impossible workloads under the guise of perceived efficiency that, in practice, comes up short.

Like it or no, online apply is a reality and here to stay for the foreseeable future.   That said – here’s a few ideas to game the system and stand out in a sea of applicants.

DISCLAIMER:  You will undoubtedly find recruiters who will disagree and agree with my advice.  I’m using my objective experience on both sides of the house to help Joe Smith understand the process and  reality of job search today.  The goal is to help a few more people successfully land their next gig!   

Here’s the issue:  

Corporate recruiters really want to give you a fair shake, but they are juggling 20-40 jobs at any one time – each with (conservatively) 50-75 applicants just like you.  Thats 1000-3000 applicants they’re trying to screen, evaluate, and service… Bottom line – recruiters aren’t always set up for success and can’t give the customer service they would otherwise like to.

Corporate America has made it incredibly hard for a person to just raise their their hand and say “Hey!  I’d like to work for you!” without jumping through hoops such as:

Step one – Upload your resume.

Step two – Yaaaa…. all the info on that resume you just uploaded?? Were gonna need you to manually enter that all over again in the next 3 pages.   Sorry.

As a result – some companies track a candidate fallout rate as high as 50% from their crappy online apply.  Thats some pretty good talent who said “I’m interested” then walked away after getting frustrated.

So what’s a person to do?

Here’s a few recommendations:

Recruiters all love your cover letters – but they just don’t have time to read them (see issue #1 above).  Awesome story.  Love your passion and purpose.  Recruiters simply do not have time. Soo…..  86 the cover letter. Instead – invest your time in a clear, sharp resume.

You’ve literally got 20-30 seconds to get their attention.   20-30 seconds – for a process that may have taken you 10-30 minutes to complete.  Sorry!  Totally not fair, but it’s just a fact of life.   Be targeted with your resume.  All those words in the job description need to be in your resume too. This is so the robot recruiters that screen and rank resumes for the human recruiters know that you’re a good match and you get ranked higher than the other candidates. Please be honest though… If you don’t have a skill, don’t say you do.   Long story short:  you should be tailoring your resume specifically for every single job you apply for. Recruiters will love you for making their life easier and your resume will have a better shot of seeing the light of day!

Make a connection (but be professional):  You’ve applied – cool!    But time to be proactive.  Who do you know in the company that could be an avocate for you?   Know someone who knows the recruiter?  The hiring manager?  Reach out to them but be professional.   Do it when you truly believe you’re a great candidate.  People – including recruiters and hiring managers don’t like surprises and value honesty from potential employees.  It’s a fine line that’s often the difference between getting an extra look and being deleted forever.   Aka: pestering a recruiter or hiring manager can get you blackballed.

Have a short memory:  job search is hard and without an inside  connection – it can be down right frustrating.   Understand that if you’re applying cold to companies, the ballpark average is 45 job applies will yield one job offer.  Stay positive and stay on top of the details – follow up, say thank you, and stay focused.   Your next job is out there – you just have to weed through the process  and get noticed!

Job search can be a tricky thing, but hopefully these few suggestions make your next job search more successful!

Happy (and stress free) hunting!!


How following through helps you follow through.



In November I publically commited myself to Monthly volunteering with a goal of 12 events in 2016.   So far I’m one for one in January, however I can’t take all the credit.  Out of the blue my daughter proclaimed she was having her January birthday party at Feed my Starving Children.   This is a great hands on way to help feed children in depressed areas throughout the world.  Check them out if you’re not familiar – we made an impact and had a great time – all in a 2 hour timeframe! (

Lets wind back the clock to November when I made the volunteering commitment.  Of course this was a no brainier – serving others and having fun – why would anybody not want to do that?  But… I know all too well It’s easy to let life get away from you, and all of a sudden it’s three weeks later and that great plan is still just a plan. I knew I needed a little kick start – and so upped the ante and called myself out online.  It worked!   And by following though; it is now easier to follow though!  We got the ball rollin’.

I’ve always wondered why so many good plans become nothing.  There’s a ton of valid reasons but I’ve seen all too many times – it’s just hard to start.  Now that I’ve started – it’s easier to keep at it.   It’s pretty fun too!

With this first volunteering event, my issues and hesitation revolved around the wisdom of bringing seven 5th and 6th graders to FMSC with me as the sole chaperone.  What if the kids screw off?   What if they hate it and are bored?  All these road blocks are possibilities – but not probabilities.  Side-note: A big thank you to their management for allowing me to blow their recommended 4 to 1 minor to adult ratio out of the water.  They had faith in our group, even if I hadn’t completely bought in yet.

Packaging food also seemed tedious and boring from the outside looking in.  We started slow but found our groove and really started to have some fun competing against other teams.   In the end we packaged 470 bags of dehydrated food.  That’s the equivalent of feeding 13 kids for a year.   Kind of staggering to know that investing 2 hours of your life can have such a lasting impact on a child.

Moral of the story?   Just get out and do it (sorry Nike).  Whether it be professional or personal life – starting is, many times, the hardest part.   This is a lesson I continually have to reteach myself, but I hope I’m getting better!  You’ll succeed more often than you think and even if it goes down in flames there are valuable lessons to be learned.   I’m finding myself looking forward to our next event and just jumping in vs. trying to anticipate reasons I should postpone.

One down and eleven to go…  and I’m looking forward to every single one!



It’s not job search… It’s career management!



It’s just different these days.


Gone are the 30-year careers with one company followed by the party and the gold watch. The world of work is changing now, if it hasn’t already. Today – many more professionals are consultants, contractors, or entrepreneurs by choice.   This may seem risky and unstable to some, but layoffs in the 90’s and 2000’s have shattered the myth of stable and long term employment. In turn; the world of job search has changed.

It used to be that you got ticked off at your boss, got laid off or fired, posted your resume and started looking for your next gig.   It’s a pretty reactionary strategy that doesn’t work so well today.

Today it’s not about job search.   It’s about career management. The savvy professional constantly makes new connections and evaluates opportunity.   It’s not a resume. It’s a career profile.   Looks similar, but the difference in approach and methodology is everything. These subtle shifts are critical to those who successfully navigate a successful career.

I’ve worked with hundreds if not thousands of job seekers over the years. It’s fun, challenging, and at times, outright frustrating. I’ve learned a lot along the way and here are a few recommendations based on experience:

linkedin profile: Spend 10 minutes a week on Linkedin. Update your profile, review potential connections, and join relevant groups to expand your network. It’s free, easy, and increasingly more important. There are tons of online help and resources to help guide you so no need to spend money to have someone develop your profile. Best of all… It’s 10 minutes a week!

Job boards: Yep – they’re a dinosaur. Yaa… online apply sucks.   Take it for what it is and turn it to your advantage. Job aggregators like and (among others) can provide a wealth of info on who’s got active roles open. This is great but take it a step further. Signing up for job alerts is free and easy. It’s a great way to stay in tune with what the market (your industry) is doing. Look at new jobs within competitor companies, or companies you’d like to one day work for. The time per day to review your auto email is maybe 30 seconds. Small price to pay for career and industry knowledge. I have a number of alerts set up, and it’s a great way to get intel without a lot of work.

Be social: Make yourself visible online. Your job search will be considerably more robust if you are easy to find.   There are ton’s of recruiters out there – make yourself visible. Online is a great way to connect with peers and professionals around the world who may one day have an impact on your career. This can be an extremely powerful way of making connections but connections are not enough. Connections are not relationships and relationships are where it’s at. Which brings me to the next, dreaded, point…

Be social (The other kind): This is hard, scary, and takes an investment of time. You have to meet people – For real!   This is where a connection moves to a relationship. Quite simply, the deeper the relationship you have with someone, the more likely you are to go the extra mile for that person. We’re all busy, and have to manage our time, but I regularly take brief coffee meetings to meet common connections or referrals. I’m selective of course, but sometimes opportunity comes from the most unexpected places.   Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s a bust, but… it’s always worthwhile. Too aggressive?? Start with local peer meetings or organizations – If nothing else you usually walk away with knowledge and it’s a pretty safe environment if you’re hesitant to dive into person-to-person networking.

Know a Recruiter: Or better yet – know a few! How do you know the good ones? Good question!   It’s based on referral, reputation, intuition, and a little luck. I’m not looking for a job – I like what I do, but I have regularly engaged peer recruiters every time I’ve thought about making a change in career direction or strategy. I find real value in these relationships and by being challenged by peers, have sidestepped a few potentially career landmines. If you view the relationship as a career resource vs. a means to get a job when you are on the hunt – your relationship will be enhanced.

There are many more strategies and resources to enhance career management, but this should get you started! So all in all it’s a shift from reactive job search to proactive career management. The world of work continues to change and we all need to adapt.   With some minimal, but consistent, attention to your career, you’ll be surprised where it can take you!

The art of dealing with professional “Cause I don’t wanna.”



This… is hands down, my favorite picture.


I love capturing moments of unpredictability.   It’s grainy; out of focus, and my poor camera flash can’t illuminate the field… But, what it does do is capture the essence of a child’s “Cause I don’t wanna” moment.

It’s all about the unpredictability of kids at picture time; especially holiday time. It’s complete chaos and I love it. Adults plead: “It will only take a minute, then you can go back to playing. Come on – be logical about this”.   But it’s not about logic; it’s about the emotion of the moment. Sometimes for kids the answer is as simple as “Cause I don’t wanna” and your only recourse is to snap the photo.   Appreciate those moments – they are far more memorable than a perfectly staged picture.

As grownups we all deal with professional “Cause I don’t wanna” on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter what we do for work, it impacts all of us, sometimes without us even noticing. While we may not throw tantrums, adults rather, can dig in their heels and go silent.   Conversation over.   Cause. I. Don’t. Wanna…

Learning to recognize CIDW in our professional lives and how to address it is one of the key factors of successful professionals. The skill of stripping away CIDW to its core component objections and being able to address them individually with a common goal in mind, is a pretty difficult skill to master.

For me, as a Headhunter and small business owner I get CIDW from both sides – client companies as well as candidates.

From clients I hear: “I don’t wanna do business with you.”   “I’ll do business with you but I want a discount.”  “You’re not on our approved vendor list.” From candidates I get: “I don’t wanna talk with you cause the last headhunter was crap.”  “I don’t wanna look at your awesome job that would be great for my career.”    “I’m gonna reject the offer you just got for me.”  And so on, and so on.

It’s a constant challenge that I enjoy, but not once in my two years of entrepreneurship has the answer presented itself with out a little digging.   Maybe you think I’m too expensive? Maybe you don’t know me and therefore don’t trust me?   Maybe you just had a bad meeting and want to be done with people for the day?  Who knows??   These CIDW moments are all cue’s to tactfully dive a little deeper to get to the root cause of the objection.

I always go back to – What are we trying to accomplish?   In my case: You (Client) need to hire someone.   I (Headhunter) can make it happen for you. With that as our base – let’s work something out!  If we have the same core goal it’s much easier to get to the root causes of CIDW.

Holiday season can be stressful for everyone.   As we work through our days, let’s recognize CIDW for what it is, and take the time to understand core objections.   It’s certainly helped me during the past few years and especially now as we approach holiday time.

Happy Holidays, and keep a sharp eye out for CIDW in yourself and in others. It makes getting stuff done far easier and the process much more enjoyable!


Happy holidays to all and a great 2016!!!

A Thanksgiving challenge: Just get greedy. You’ll totally thank me later.

consult small


As a kid I grew up in Plymouth, MN but our family ended up going to a Church in a neighboring town of Golden Valley.   Church was never at the top of my list of things to do on a weekend. There was school, homework, and activities that crowded the week, and finally a weekend rolled around and it was off to Church.   Damn….   It was tolerable and everyone was nice but it was the Weekend!!! I’m sure I had some more important weekend type stuff that was waiting for me! Shortly thereafter, my parents found out about church Youth Group and decided it would be good for me.   Another Church activity? Come on…    It was a group of adult lead, Jr. and Sr. Highschoolers that got together for events, volunteering, and just fun times.  Turns out it was one of the best things that could have happened to me and  I still have some pretty close friends from that era.

The culmination of Youth Group was always our summer service project creatively titled “Work Camp.”   It’s where a bunch of kids get on a well worn bus and road trip to some poor or depressed area to help people fix up their houses. On the surface – not an ideal Summer vacation. Invariably it was hot, humid, buggy, and our rent-a-bus always seemed eager for at least one in-trip break down.  It was an experience that turned out to have a pretty large influence on the type of person I am today.

In addition to Work Camp there were also a million other volunteer events that ate up our year. Some were fun. Some were not.   But the one constant for me was always how I felt pre-event.   It was balancing “I just don’t wanna go” with the inevidable “hey where were you” type questions at Church the following week if I didn’t show. All in all it was good for me; you know, character building type stuff.

Some time later,  I started to became aware of how I felt after volunteering.   It was odd – I felt good. Really good.   Sure I was tired and I just gave up a quarter of my weekend – but I was energized and just generally happy.   I liked it.   And so I became greedy about giving. I liked it and I wanted to do more.  I was doing something good for someone I didn’t know, or would likely never meet – but…   It felt really good!

Time went on and I went off to school, came back , got married, had a kid, got divorced, started my business and life just got busy.   Think it happens to a lot of people.   It took me a long time to realize it but – I did finally notice that I was missing the feeling I got from volunteering and I needed to get that back.  Its a good type of greed/addiction.   In my 42 years on the planet I’ve never heard someone say “Yaaaa… Jeff – your volunteering is really getting out of control and we’re concerned about you.   Time to back off a little.”

Nope!  Time to get greedy again!


Sooo…   The Challenge:

A funny thing happens when you put pen to paper and then share it.   The level of accountability goes way up – and for me that has always been a positive thing.

So I’ve got two goals I’d like your help with. Hold me accountable; ask me how its going, and even better join me!

  1. Give time: It’s easy – but it’s also easy to just put it off and “do it next time.”   My daughter Maeve and I will be volunteering every month on a Saturday.   Its such a small thing, but over time it can have a big impact. I’ll be blogging and posting pictures on the when and where of each place, event, etc.   Would be great for those of you who are local to join us!   For those of you who live in other states – join along in spirit or better yet, volunteer in your community! Please let me know if you would like to join.
  1. Give money: For me giving of time is always more rewarding than money.   However – the money part is essential and I’m continually amazed by how far charities can stretch a dollar. Many of you know that I started my own Headhunting firm a few years ago; Insitu Search. It’s a simple business: Clients pay me search fees for finding and hiring top level talent they have difficulty recruiting themselves. I have goals for myself and for my business. One goal for my business in 2016 is to be able to donate one of my Search fees, on behalf of my clients, to a charity. This would be professionally rewarding for me and something I’d like to do every year going forward. 2016 sounds like a great time to start!


There it is. So simple, but so easy to forget to do.


Travel safe this holiday week and enjoy time with friends and family. And in this time of Thanks and Giving – don’t forget to be greedy and allow yourself an abundance of happiness – you’ll thank me later!