John is an executive recruiter & speaker sharing his thoughts on healthcare, recruiting, digital technology, career management & leadership. 

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System
7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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7 December, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
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Three Keys to Your Job Search

Posted December 7th, 2017 | Author: John G. Self

“I need a recruiter to find me a job.”

That statement is fairly common, misguided, but common.

career transitionFor the record, recruiters almost always represent employers, not the candidates, and those executives who think that it is a recruiter’s job to find them a new position are almost always disappointed.

Here is another reality. Finding a new job is probably more difficult for the average executive than doing their “day” job because the vast majority of them don’t change employers on a regular basis so are not as proficient with the job search process. That is why there are career transition or outplacement consultants who are paid by former employers to guide executives through what has become a complicated process. Oddly, though, many executives either are unaware of this service, or they do not think to ask when they are being given the bad news. Worse, many employers are loathe to volunteer this benefit unless pressed to do so. This means there are many out-of-work executives who waste valuable time or miss relevant new job opportunities because they are not up to date on what it takes to compete effectively in an era in which prospective employers can, and are, being more selective about who they hire.

I am currently coaching five executives in search of a new position. Two found positions within 90 days using some of the job search strategies they were taught. I think they will tell you that, their success notwithstanding, looking for a new position is tougher today than ever before; there is more involved and it is much more time consuming.

Here are three points we emphasize with our Career Transition clients:

  1. Get organized. This means emotionally, intellectually and physically. Emotional preparation speaks to the need to get past the fact you were fired or, in kinder no-fault terminology, laid off. When this change comes without much notice, there is, of course, shock, which then leads to fear, anxiety and even anger. Before you start your search, grieve, or whatever process you need to go through, before you begin networking.

    Intellectual preparation means that you must come to grips that the way you look for a job today is vastly different than it was three years ago. Get up to speed as quickly as you can to avoid wasting limited opportunities.

    Physical preparation is also important. If you do not have a home office, set one up and be sure you have privacy with minimal background noise. If you have a family, establish some limits while you are working the phones or during those times you are being interviewed.

    Find a database that will help track names and contact information of new networking “friends” and potential employers.

  2. Establish routines. Finding a job is your immediate new job. Most jobs require focus and dedication for you to be successful. You have to discipline yourself to set and keep regular “office” hours. Unless you have a large reputation, do not sit back to wait for recruiters to call. Keep a job search journal, recording names and information from your calls. Do not think you can remember the flow of information that will be generated if you are aggressive in networking.

    Once you have found a job, keep journaling. It is a good habit to get into, recording accomplishments and successes that can be used in future searches to strengthen your case. I also encourage candidates to journal gratitude. Looking for a job is hard, frustrating work. It involves a lot of rejection. It is easy to become discouraged. Journaling gratitude is a remarkable routine that will boost your spirits.

  3. Take care of yourself. I have heard (and seen) the results of not paying attention to your physical health. Gaining weight or decreasing energy will not enhance your physical career brand. Presentation and presence are critical.

    You also have to take care of yourself emotionally. Find someone with whom you can talk or vent. If you keep it bottled up inside that, too, will affect your attitude and your health. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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© 2017 John Gregory Self

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6 December, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Career Networking
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Maintain Your Job Search Momentum During the Holidays

Posted December 6th, 2017 | Author: John G. Self


Executives in the job market know this is the slowest time of the year for launching new recruitment efforts to fill open or newly created positions. Here are five things executives in the job market can do to maintain their momentum through the holiday season — Thanksgiving Eve through New Year’s Day.

Search projects that have been in the works tend to slow down during the holidays given the difficulty of scheduling interviews — getting everyone who needs to be involved in the interview process to commit to being available because of holiday activities or end-of-the-year vacations.

Whether you are already involved in the interview process or just starting a job search, the important thing during the holiday lull is to avoid losing emotional and/or mental momentum. Turning off your energy and tuning out until after the first of the year is not something I would recommend. Here are five suggestions to keep those wheels turning and maintain your momentum during this dormant period:

  1. Volunteer your time. Whether it is at a food bank, soup kitchen for the homeless or staffing a Salvation Army red kettle for several shifts, all are ways to maintain a positive mental attitude. The act of contributing to help someone else and the interaction that comes with your effort could be helpful in networking if you are looking for a job in a local market. Offering a helping hand to those who need support is a powerful fuel to enrich your soul, your energy and your outlook on life. As the late tennis great Arthur Ash once said: “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” This will carry over to 2018 and your job search.
  2. Broaden your network. Nathan Chaffetz, Director of Business Development for Perfect Loop, a Seattle-based recruiting and staffing enterprise, agrees with the idea of volunteering your time for a worthy cause but he also suggests that job seekers score invitations to holiday parties because there are almost always executives and other employees from companies where the hosts work. That said, remember it is a party, not a gathering designed for you to make unwanted pitches for employment. Rather, this is a time to meet people and form bonds that could be productive in the new year.
  3. Develop your LinkedIn connections. Most candidates I deal with in our outplacement practice offer a common lament — they just do not have the time to invest in building out a robust, productive LinkedIn network. This is the time. The closer we come to Christmas, the less interested a prospective employer is going to be in hearing an unsolicited pitch, in person or in writing, so use this time to identify companies you would like to work for and build strategic networks around those organizations with people that work there or who might know people who work there.
  4. Feed your professional soul. Executives say that with the pressures of a demanding job, they do not always have the time to do the reading they want to do. This is a great time to catch up on your business reading and to develop a series of short posts that can be uploaded to your various social media sites, especially LinkedIn, early in the new year. Offering valuable content will be appreciated by your network and will help you get noticed by recruiters who are rushing to fill positions that have been on holiday hold.
  5. Begin new routines. So many candidates I meet in our searches or through our career transition practice are at a disadvantage in developing a more powerful resume because they cannot remember the details of prior successes. You can improve your marketability by having a resume that offers examples of the successes that speak to the needs of a specific potential employer. Keeping a journal is a money-in-the-bank move to strengthen you personally. You should also begin journaling those things in life for which you are grateful. Dr. Johnny Parker turned me on to this practice and I immediately sensed an uptick in my attitude and level of confidence. Others that have started journaling gratitude have reported similar positive effects. As one of our outplacement clients told me recently, “It lifted my soul. I began to realize how much I had to be grateful for. That was instrumental in breaking out and landing a great job.”

This may be a dormant time but there is much a job seeker can do to maintain her or his momentum. Do not waste the gift.

© 2017 John Gregory Self

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5 December, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Leadership
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What Is Your Ikigai, and Is It A Problem?

Posted December 5th, 2017 | Author: John G. Self

WASHINGTON,D.C. — Describe your ikigai?

The candidate thought she was prepared but holy cow, what is this?

Before I define it for you, ask yourself these four questions from Laura Oliver of the World Economic Forum.

  1. What do you love?
  2. What are you good at doing?
  3. What does the world need from you? From my perspective, perhaps this is a better question: What can you do that allows you to live out your values and your purpose in life?
  4. What can you get paid for?


Dan Buettner, an explorer for the National Geographic and author of “Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People” says there is a fifth question: What can you give back? Buettner says, and annual research polls back him up, that only 30 percent of the people in America like their jobs. This is a problem since the gainfully employed spend 75 percent of their waking hours at work. No wonder employee engagement is such a problem and should be of serious concern for Chief Executive Officers, but that is a subject I have written about in the past.

So here is the definition, roughly translated: “Ikigai” is the Japanese word for two key career and life questions: Why do you get up every morning? What motivates you to do the job you do? And I would add a third: What is your reason for being?

So many people I know pocket their paycheck and keep doing what they have been doing, never looking over their shoulder to see what they might be missing. They take care of their responsibilities —they pay the mortgage and their taxes, feed and clothe their family, take care of school tuition and at the end of the day they hope they have some left over for retirement and possibly a couple of family trips each year. Many are doing what they went to college to learn how to do — to be lawyers, accountants, geologists, doctors and bankers, for example.

But are they happy? More to the point, are you happy? If you were asked in a job interview about your ikigai, what would you say?

Buettner, who is the first person I have encountered with the job title explorer, is also a multiple New York Times best-selling author and evangelist for a healthy lifestyle to promote a longer life. His company, Blue Zones, focuses on that vision. His emphasis on happiness at work is based on the theory that if you are unhappy in what you do with 75 percent of your life, the chances for living a long, rewarding life are greatly reduced.

So as you cruise to the end of the year and begin planning for 2018, Buettner suggests that you ask yourself those five questions, make a list for each and begin looking for the common denominators in your written responses. Write down what you feel in your mind and heart, not what you feel you have to do based on that degree or certificate hanging on the wall.

Based on personal experience, and from insights I have gained from our career transitions coaching practice and my years in executive recruiting, I know the common elements are there, but you just have to be painfully honest with yourself to see them.

I invite you to follow me on our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram

© 2017 John Gregory Self

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