My Advice: Hold Off Job Searching


Sounds like odd advice from an Employment Counsellor to give on the surface of it doesn’t it; putting your search for a job on hold. Yet quite often, that’s the advice I give some of the people I meet with.

Now if you’re employed and see yourself first and foremost as a taxpayer and believe that everyone in receipt of social assistance should be completely investing 100% of their time looking to work, my apologies. There are some situations in which I believe looking for a job is not only ill-advised, it can set someone back tremendously from finding employment in the long haul.

Take yesterday as an example. For two weeks, I instructed a dozen people in the basics of using the computer. I’m talking basics here; using it to make an email, learning how to access the internet, find employment opportunities, make a resume, apply for work with that resume. We did more as well, but I like to instruct with practicality in mind, so as most were unemployed, why not learn the basics of the digital world and at the same time, showing them how competing for employment these days requires computer skills? Anyhow, there I was yesterday, seated with one of the participants from that class, doing a follow up appointment.

Typically, I plan on giving someone feedback on what I observed over those two weeks, encourage them and point out moments of success and accomplishment. However, I threw all that out the window yesterday when this one woman came in and we sat down in my office. She was 15 minutes late, and said she had almost decided not to come in for the scheduled meeting. Two developments on the day before our meeting occurred; she was contacted by her Doctor who said she must meet immediately with her to share results of some medical tests and her 13 year old daughter was committed to a hospital for a few days after telling her own Doctor that she was thinking about killing herself.

Suddenly, giving feedback on computer skills and talking about using these new skills to job search seemed entirely inappropriate. Of greater importance in that moment was listening, supporting and responding to her disclosure, her fears of what her Doctor knows and must share in person immediately and her own daughter’s thoughts of ending her life. At a time like this, the focus on receiving, comprehending and processing these two major life events supersedes any encouragement to get out and get a job.

Besides, if you believe that she’d be able to effectively job search at the present moment, I’d venture you’re views are based in ideology and not practical reality. Do I think governments always get this? No. I suspect when they look at stats, they focus solely on how many people start a program, how many finish and how long it takes someone to find employment after taking a program to determine its effectiveness. Numbers don’t tell the whole story; not by a long shot.

“Will I get in trouble for not looking for a job though?” she asked. So I took an hourglass from my desk and flipped it over, letting the blue sand fall. “You only have so much energy. Right now, your focus and energy is on receiving your own diagnosis and whatever implications that holds. As a caring mom who has a daughter in crisis, the two of you have a lot to work through, you’re probably blaming yourself and you’re scared. You just got two extremely upsetting events on the same day. Forget the job search for now; you won’t be in trouble.” She looked at that blue sand accumulating in the bottom half and said seeing how the top was emptying was how she felt.

Near the end of our meeting, she told me how glad she was that she’d decided to come because she’d considered staying at home. There she was, expressing gratitude to me for making her feel better. It’s pretty humbling to hear someone in the midst of heightened anxiety and trauma be so genuinely kind and thoughtful. When she left she hugged me; we hugged each other. Somewhere in that simple act, some of her fear melted into me, and some compassion for her suffering flowed from me to her.

Do you really believe she should be focusing 100% on looking for work? Do you really think I – anyone for that matter – who counsels and supports people looking for work should pressure her into making a job search her first priority? And where I now wonder does any government making funding decisions and program cut decisions factor in this kind of experience?

I tell you this, were I that woman, receiving these two pieces of information, I’d sure be grateful to meet with a compassionate, understanding and patient person. Yesterday I was fortunate to be that guy, but this is not about me. I believe there are people with equally, even better responses everywhere, having similar experiences daily.

Something as simple as removing an expectation of finding work and assuring them they won’t have their benefits suspended, can do far more good in the long run by building a trusting, human connection. For who is equipped to deal with either of these situations let alone two on the same day?

So yes, put aside the job search; there are times when it’s not priority #1.

And your thoughts?

It’s Probable You’re In The Wrong Job


It’s a huge world we live in, with everything from densely populated urban areas to rural districts and places of relative isolation. There’s mountainous regions, prairies and wetlands, coasts, deserts, wastelands and watersheds. Out of the billions of places you might have entered the world, chance plopped you into it where it did. Where you entered this game of Life is one of the key determinants to what you’ll do job/career-wise.

Speaking of jobs and careers, there’s an abundance of these world-wide too. If you attempted to list all the jobs that exist in the world, how do you think you’d fare? My guess is you’d do poorly – and so too would I for that matter. There are those jobs we’d readily find in many populous areas world-wide like Servers, Teachers, Factory Workers, Drivers etc. and we’d likely have these pop to mind. However would you also have Dolly Grip, Actuarial Analyst, Pet Insurance Agent, Bung Hole Borer or Brand Evangelist on your list? No, not likely.

The thing is, there are more jobs we don’t know exist than those we do. So what are the odds that you’re in the single perfect job – I mean, THE one you were put on this planet to excel at? Doesn’t it appear rather unlikely that of all the places you could be in the world, somehow you occupy the one city block you were meant to occupy, and that the one job – that single, perfect role you were meant to aspire to and succeed at is within an easy commute? While we’re at it, if you believe soulmates and partners are a one in a million catch, what are the odds they live nearby too? You’re odds of having the perfect job, in the perfect community, living happily with the person you were put on this earth to love for all eternity is astronomical!

Hang on a moment, let’s not get carried away. As we look around, we do see people – and plenty of them – who are happily engaged in the work they do, they’re in healthy, loving relationships and they fit in with the environment they live in. So how did they beat such incredible odds? More importantly, if they did it, how can we duplicate that happiness and success?

It begins with discarding the notion that there is only a single job in existence that will bring us satisfaction. This notion that we have to find that one job we were meant to do is the delusion that keeps many from finding job satisfaction. You can travel to other cities, countries, continents even, and end up doing a job that had you looked, you’d have found nearby in your own community, or in dozens of communities around the globe. So if you’re born in the city but dig a mining career (hope you enjoyed that one), yes you might find yourself relocating to a mining town, but there are lots of those to choose from.

The truth in my opinion is that we’re a multi-talented creature we humans, and as such, there are many jobs that will stimulate our need for job satisfaction. If being around people and helping others is our thing, we can fulfill this desire in many professions; any one of which will bring us happiness and have us feel satisfied at the end of a day. If we’re more inclined to like work that we do in relative isolation, we don’t have to be a Forest Ranger in a lookout tower or even leave the cities we find ourselves in. There exist jobs right in the heart of densely populated cities that people do in isolating roles.

One thing I’d encourage you to do, and do with periodic regularity, is find a quiet space and listen to yourself. It sounds trite, it sounds corny, it might sound downright silly and a right eyerolling, “you’ve got to be kidding?” moment, but listen to your inner voice. If you don’t go to work happily on most days, if you don’t find satisfaction in your work and find yourself clock-watching every fifteen minutes, what are you doing there? You’ve got this one life and time is ticking. As time goes on, options you once had start disappearing. The prison you might find yourself in, chained to a job you come to loathe is one of your own design. Get out into the world and move on before you close the door on yourself. If you don’t, blame yourself, not the world.

If you don’t hear that inner voice pulling you in some other direction, excellent! However, if something keeps nagging at you that there has to be something better, something different, more fulfilling; shouldn’t you be paying attention to that pull? I mean at least explore the possibility of whatever it is that suggests there’s something else you could and probably should be doing? The price you pay to look around is cheaper than the fortune it’ll cost you to lock yourself into a job that brings you nothing but money.

Sure, there’s the usual snags to this thinking: “I have bills, responsibilities, people depend on me, I have to play it safe, my time has come and gone.” Seriously? That’s sad isn’t it? You’re hearts still beating right? Oh good, because it sounded like you were already dead.

A stimulating job or career is nearby; open your mind and your eyes to the possibilities and do something great!

An Unfair Playing Field


“You can be whoever you want to be.”

If you heard these words from your parents in your childhood, it’s probable you were born into an upper middle class family.

“Don’t try and be better than your own.”

If you heard these words from your parent in your childhood, it’s probable you were born into a lower class family; possibly even one in poverty.

Parents in both were doing what they believed was correct; preparing their child for life ahead. How they did this was either by laying the world before their child and encouraging them to dream and then follow that dream, or to keep their head out of the clouds and prepare for a predictable life of work ahead.

The reality for many of the poor is a different value system than those in both the middle and upper classes. While there will always be the odd exception; that child who aspires for more and finds an inner determination to climb the social classes, the majority face what often turns out to be insurmountable struggles. Education for example, highly valued by those who can afford it, is often a precursor to success. For children growing up in poverty, they may have families who frown on education as unnecessary; many of the parents themselves poorly educated and as a result, not in a position to assist with or encourage home study time.

It’s a sorrowful reality of course. Well, to be fair, it’s sad for many in the middle class who work with and support those in poverty. As an example, we might take our own values and beliefs – writing a cover letter and error-free resume as a given. We’d take steps to ensure our applications were proofread, our sentences grammatically correct and the content precise. Many living in poverty would be more inclined to try and get a job by meeting someone and asking for it directly; no resume, certainly not a cover letter. Where a resume is required, it would be of an inferior quality; spelling errors, blunt and repetitive, a single word or two for a bullet, scant in content and length.

This is no knock against the poor, more an observation of reality. It’s a tough life when you think about growing up to be an adult in a world of digital technology and social media when you haven’t got a high school education, you lack basic computer skills, your literacy level is low and more doors are closed than open.  How sad it is that young children start off in life with such roadblocks to success already set in place.

When working to support the impoverished, it’s vitally important to be aware of our own value system and check frequently to ensure we don’t transfer our hopes and expectations onto others. While we might believe we can be whomever we choose; that hard work and persistence will pay off with success, it’s not the case for all. Think about how daunting it must feel for someone living with literacy issues, a skewed view of higher education and to read over and over again that a high school diploma (not to mention a College Diploma or University Degree) is required for many of the jobs they find. Completing high school and graduating with a diploma is like someone in the middle class graduating with a degree or getting their Masters.

One of the best ways to fire the brain at an early age and open a child to language is reading to them as their parent. It’s great bonding time for parent and child as a bonus, and it sends the message that reading has value. Regular, daily reading time stimulates the imagination, each word sounded out and pronounced correctly creates confidence and builds self-esteem. However, a parent who finds reading difficult themselves isn’t likely to showcase their personal weakness to their child, and may either tell them to read to themselves or actually discourage reading altogether as something of little value. “I never needed it and you don’t neither.”

Each day I work with those in receipt of social assistance, I find many have literacy issues. This manifests itself in the words they use in conversation, their inability to spell common words, sometimes their comprehension and as a result their ability to learn and put into practice what they hear.

Here’s the thing though…these same people are some of the most generous, giving people. They are truly inspiring and while their hope is fragile, many show a determination to be better than they are and for their children to have better lives than they have. Hire some of these people and you get paid back with great employees. Not always of course; sometimes their going to make poor choices – but again, likely because they lack good decision-making skills and haven’t had encouragement and supportive coaching.

They have incredible barriers to success to push through however. Having had poor parenting themselves, often having grown up in single-parent families, they don’t have the knowledge or skills to build on many of us take for granted.

Looking for work is difficult because they aren’t on a level playing field. Many of the advantages we have in middle/upper classes we take for granted; not even recognizing or appreciating them.

Want to help? Be kind, understanding, empathetic, maybe forgiving and always courteous. Give someone a chance, perhaps a second chance.

Job Search Notifications / Alerts Off


Yesterday Glassdoor sent me a notification, advising me that they’d found a few jobs for me that matched my request to be told when Employment Counselling roles were available.

Now in the beginning, I thought this feature would be quite useful. When I first checked the box to indicate I’d want such notifications, in my innocence I assumed the jobs they’d share with me were what I’d keyed in, an Employment Counsellor in my case. Not so. What I got in my email yesterday was a job as a Senior Legal Counsel specializing in Employment Law. Now I can see they pulled in the words, “Counsel” and “Employment” for that one. However, the next job they suggested matched my search? Optometrist. Yep, Optometrist.

LinkedIn I thought would be better at this, and to be fair, I do get some jobs there that are good matches for what I’m looking for. However, I still get notifications for jobs I’m just not at all qualified for, nor interested in.

As an Employment Counsellor, there’s another factor at play that distorts what I’m personally after as well. You see, I’m often on job search websites, searching on behalf of the people I’m working with. However, just because I’m looking for jobs outside my own field, doesn’t mean I myself want to be notified when a Personal Support Worker or Administrative Clerk job opens up.

Maybe the good folks at LinkedIn and others should have a feature where you can notify them that you only want notifications about certain jobs, not every job you search for. You don’t have to be an Employment Counsellor to search for a friend, your spouse or adult children etc. To get the volume of returns I was getting on such diverse fields of interest and qualifications, I’d have to be an amazingly qualified individual in dozens of professions.

So I’ve turned off my notifications; for now at any rate. I mean am I job searching? Well, no not intensely. I am open to other opportunities though. I’ve done training events for my own employer with co-workers and management in attendance as well as for other organizations, While some people find it best to focus solely on their current job, I’m open to other possibilities. What’s out there I wonder?

Now, to be clear, I’m not an employee who, upon making some decision to move on, lacks the focus and commitment to excel where he is at the moment. No, at work, I’m zoned in and passionate after all these years about the privilege and opportunity I have each and every day to make a difference for somebody I meet. I love the people I work alongside in partnership – you’d call them clients or customers I suppose. Me? I call them people; after all, they were people long before they were ever seen as a client and I’ve found that more dignified.

At present, I’m working 95 kilometers from home, and commute daily to work and home gladly. Would I like to be closer to home? Sure! However, only in 5 years of my working life have I lived and worked in the same town. Longer commutes are something I’m used to. However, living in small town Ontario, there just aren’t the jobs to support what I do in great quantity. Oh I’ve tried, but one organization won’t look at me because their pay structure is so much less – they assume I’d have no interest. The only other organization in town I could work with is one I can’t due to nepotism; my spouse is a senior Manager and I can’t work there and answer to her.

So I’ve looked around. The notifications feature on some high profile social media job search websites has been useful at times. It’s of interest when a position indicates salary, range of duties etc. for comparative purposes, but few jobs actually peak my interest enough to apply.

The grass is green and lush where I work, and I’m not blind to that fact. It might be greener somewhere else – or at least as green – but if so, I’ve yet to find it. It’s not perfect though, and there are opportunities I don’t want to miss because someone else assumes I’m fixed forever in my current job with my present employer.

The thing is though, I know I’m needed where I am. The people who receive my help tell me this weekly and this gift they give me in wanting me to stay makes me feel like Sidney Portier in, “To Sir With Love”; wanted and needed. There might be opportunities elsewhere but no one is beating down my door.

Like most companies I suppose, people come and people go around me. Co-workers move up, take lateral moves, resign for jobs outside the organization and some just hang on for dear life hoping to ride out changes in the profession. Now I’d love the chance to work with a few colleagues I know in another organization. As unlikely as that is due to the current political climate and its impact on our profession, that chance would be worth a conversation.

As for today, the notifications are off and the email less cluttered with jobs I’m not interested in or qualified for. Optometrist! Seriously, not a chance. Just imagine getting your eyes tested and coming out with new glasses and motivated to change jobs too. Hang on a second…

Helping / Living With The Unemployed


If you or someone you know is apathetic about finding employment; really not caring one way or the other if work is found or not, the only way to get them moving is to identify that one thing. “That one thing?”, you ask. Yes, that one thing that makes wanting to find work more meaningful than not caring.

For a family member, friend or professional working with an unemployed individual, this is a tremendous challenge. You are also likely to find that the longer a person has been unemployed, the greater the effort will be to shift their thinking sufficiently to get them started.

Be forewarned, you can’t motivate someone else. Oh you can help them, support them and encourage them, but you cannot motivate someone else to want something they don’t want themselves. All you’ll get if they don’t want it bad enough is a token effort, and the first time they run into a barrier, they’ll pack it in and go back to what was comfortable; not bothering to look. Unfortunately, they may reason that they can be unemployed and struggling to find work or unemployed and taking it easy. For many, a simple choice.

The frustrating part for those around the unemployed person is failing to understand why they’ve become so disinterested and why they seemingly won’t put in the effort to find work. It’s highly likely that there’s been a major shift in their values; and the values they currently hold differ from those around them to such an extent they’ve become difficult to be around. There may be an increase in friction and tension, more arguments, less things to talk about, or the conversation about work might be one they insist is off the table.

There are far too many factors that could be in play in any individual case for me to accurately know what’s behind a person’s apathy, but here’s one possibility that may be going on. After having become recently unemployed, the person took some time to self-heal mentally. This is especially true after having been fired, let go, or quit a job they found problematic. At this point, they wanted to find work, and planned on doing so soon. When they felt ready, they began to look. That period of time to, ‘get ready’ may have been anything from a week to over a year – hard as that might be for someone else to understand.

As this person started to look for a job, they found it harder to get one than they had in the past. Perhaps because of technology and having to use computers to apply online, or having a poor resume, they kept getting nowhere on their applications. Interviews weren’t happening, or when they did, no job offers came. From the person’s point of view, they’ve left a job on bad terms, can’t get interviews, aren’t sure really how to compete against so many other people now applying for the same jobs, and their psychological state is becoming increasingly fragile.

Without being able to articulate what they are experiencing and how they really feel, they retreat rather than engage, and withdraw into themselves. Socializing becomes a huge outpouring of effort and only having so much energy to get through a day, they choose to stay in the relative comfort and safety of their home or a room in their home. This isolation skews their thinking; they become anxious beyond their safety zone, perhaps more irritable and easily frustrated. Whereas they used to be happy and good to be around, they are now a constant source of worry for others and an ever-present and growing concern.

How they see themselves has changed dramatically. Once productive and self-reliant, they had dignity and a healthy view of their ability to provide. Now they feel dependent, reliant on family or friends – and when that dependency becomes too hard to live with, they remove themselves and turn to the broader society at large to support them. It’s sad, it’s unfortunate and it’s not uncommon.

Of course they – or you, never used to feel or be this way. Once purposeful and hopeful, things have changed. It’s understandable why so many might self-medicate with alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs. With the ever-present thoughts of failure, disappointment and regret, anything that takes that thinking away, even for a short time is appealing.

Suddenly, just telling someone to get a job and expecting them to respond accordingly doesn’t sound at all realistic. Getting a job is transferring our own value of employment onto this other person who doesn’t share our value system as they might once have done. Yes, they genuinely want work perhaps, but they haven’t the energy, focus, willpower and motivation to make any real progress on their own. None, until that is, they find that one thing that they want more than they want the way things are. And no, you can’t find it for them.

Conversations are good; talk that draws someone out once the trust is established that allows them to go deeper and unload the ‘big’ stuff. Some are never going to work again, some may and others will. All three types will need support however, and the nature of the support they receive will vary depending on the individual.

Sure it’s challenging for family, friends and those who work with this population. Do what you can; know your limitations.

How Are You Coming Across?


One thing I’ve come to believe is that the person you believe yourself to be is key to being the person others perceive you as. How you see yourself is largely how others will see you. To a point that is…

It’s always worth checking out every so often; how you are viewed by others around you, in order that the way you see yourself is in line with how people you interact with size you up. If you find that how you come across differs from how you view yourself, you should be asking yourself what it is your doing and saying that’s projecting this image that differs from how you believe your interacting with those you meet.

Take a moment and think about how you want others to see you. Do you want others to see you as helpful? Are you going for ruthless? Aggressive? Assertive? Innovative? Self-assured? We are multi-dimensional; meaning there are many sides to us and how we wish to be perceived will vary with the people in our lives we wish to interact with. So for example, we may want to come across as knowledgeable when we meet with our Supervisor at work, but when we talk to someone to buy our snow tires, we might wish to come across as wanting to be informed on what’s best for us and defer to their wisdom.

Whether we do it consciously or not, whenever we interact with others, we send signals about who we are, what’s important to us, how we see ourselves and all of these signals give others an impression of how we see ourselves. This is a key to interacting with the world around us and coming across to others in the way we wish to be viewed.

Take two people you see on a subway platform. Without having a conversation, you see them both from 20 feet away; one is a person in a formal suit, polished leather shoes, pressed pants, crisp shirt and tie, carrying a leather folder. The second is a person with green and blue hair, denim pants and sneakers, long-sleeved shirt, wearing a backpack and a tattoo on each forearm peaking out of the shirt sleeve. You know nothing about their character, their intelligence, their occupation, income level, hobbies, attitude, etc. but if you’re honest, you start to form an opinion about them just the same.

Did you choose a gender for both of the people above? None was given in the description, although to view them on the platform you’d have this information. That first impression you began to form in your brain is based largely on how you’ve perceived and interacted with other people of similar looks in your past. So whether you saw the person in the business suit as successful, determined and confident or conceited, hard-nosed and full of themselves is largely an individual thing. Were you to watch them longer, observe them closer, have a conversation perhaps, your view of them would either be reinforced or change based on further information you gather.

Just like the two people I’ve described, you present yourself to others (the world around you) both in how you look, how you act and what you say. Both the people above may be on the way to work, be very successful by their own definition and be friendly.

The choices we make right from the start of our day go a long way to determining how we are perceived. So what are some of these choices? Showering vs. not showering, brushing our teeth or not, how we wear our hair, the clothes we pick out, (cleanliness, colour, style, fit). There’s also the way we move. Do we saunter along, looking at the streetscape around us and the people we pass or do we walk with a purposeful stride, focused straight on the path ahead, not looking anywhere but at the destination we are moving toward?

Whether older or younger, some thought going in to how we dress, move and act will change how the people we interact with start to size us up. If you’re older and feel your age is a problem, I have to tell you that it’s possible this self-perception is coming across to others in your choice of clothing, grooming, how you behave and your movement. Look at yourself as objectively as you can and note the people around you that you perceive favourably. How are they dressed? How do they move? What’s their posture like? How are they groomed?

One thing you can do to check on how you’re coming across is to ask people you interact with and trust for their views on how they perceive you. As there is little value in only hearing what you want to hear, ask for honesty. Without leading them by saying, “Do I come across as confident?”, just ask how they see you.

Do this with one person and that’s interesting. Do this with two or three and it’s somewhat helpful. Do this with many people and you get a clearer idea of how the world perceives you. Now the question is do you like what you hear? Is it consistent with how you want to come across? If so, great! If not exactly what you hoped for, what is it you’re doing to create that image in their minds? If change is wanted, you act on it.

Networking Basics


There are essentially two types of interviews you can be part of: the traditional interview you get invited to and the less popular but equally effective interview you arrange yourself. This second type is generally referred to as an informational interview; one you initiate and take the lead on, designed to gather information rather than apply for a job.

The problem for many people is that interviews are seen as a negative experience; only to be endured and tolerated as a means of getting a job, and the fewer the better. So the idea of voluntarily initiating further interviews with people – and taking the lead at conducting it, just isn’t remotely appealing.

Yet, more and more we hear the advice of experts that we should be out there networking. Not very often does the advice we get include who to talk to and how to get the conversations started; even less so on how to keep them going. So here’s a few ideas.

Think about the people who currently work in the jobs you’re interested in, and for the companies you find highly desirable. These are the people you’d likely benefit from having conversations with. The key is to approach them when there is no job currently advertised, for it’s likely they’ll decline any invitation to have a chat at that point out of a desire to avoid any conflict of interest.

20 – 30 minutes is what your after. Less than 20 minutes just isn’t sufficient and anything longer should be entirely up to them to extend their time voluntarily. So how do you get to meet? Initiate a phone call, explain you’re doing some research into the field in general, the position they hold in particular, and you’d love to have 20 minutes of their time. Make yourself available on their schedule by the way, not yours.

Okay so you’ve got a meeting set up and now it’s up to you to come prepared with questions. Have these down on paper and come prepared to take notes; bring along your resume to share and get some feedback on as well.

What to ask? This is the hardest part in the beginning and why some people refuse to try; they simply get anxious wondering what they should say. Well, think about what you want to know; what’s important to you. You might want to ask about what their worst day looks like. Not as an opening question of course, but at some point, finding out what the worst day they experience looks like can reveal if you’re up for it or not. Of course, finding out what success looks like is key too.

What keeps them up at night? This question gets at problems and concerns they have in the job that might spell an opportunity for you. First and foremost, will you worry about the same things they do if you’re in the job and can you handle what the job would have you potentially taking home? The thing they worry about most might be something you can address or at the very least prepare yourself for. Keep in mind that just because they hold the job you’d like, they are a different person than you, and their worries need not be yours. You might be creative and innovative whereas they aren’t, and their biggest worry might be something your ingenuity has an answer for.

Asking what advice they’d give themselves were they in your situation is a thought-provoking question because they have inside knowledge of the role, and they know now what they’d do differently. As you’re entering the field, you have the opportunity to bypass mistakes they’ve made, maybe concentrate on some key aspect of the business that is emerging or trending.

The biggest and best thing you can do is listen with crystal clear focus. If they sense you’re asking questions but not really engaging in what they say, they’ll shut down, give you surface, predictable answers and send you packing quickly. If however, you listen intently and with a peaked interest, they may extend the time, give you sincere help and drop a nugget or two for you that they didn’t plan on doing when you first walked in. These nuggets are golden opportunities and will help you strengthen a future interview.

An unusual question but a good one is to ask what you should be asking but aren’t. You know, that one thing that might be the make or break factor to getting hired or rejected. Only they will instantly think of whatever it is that’s essential when you ask this question. What immediately comes to their mind is what you’re after.

Networking is about creating and nurturing ongoing relationships and something you want to leave with is another person to potentially meet; someone you’ve been referred to by the person you’re now meeting. Ask for a name and see if they’d be willing to introduce you or at the minimum, allow you to mention their name as referring you on. This referral is a pass that gets you in where your competition might be blocked.

By the way, when you’re done, leave them with a handshake, a smile, a word of gratitude for their time and follow up with a short thank-you card – not an email.

Networking is having conversations and it’s these that may help you; it is still often who you know.