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JOB SEARCH TIP: Brooks Hatlen was right—slow it down.

23 Jan

“The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.”

I’m a big fan of the film “The Shawshank Redemption”, and this is one of my favorite lines. We have gotten a big hurry in this world of ours, often to our detriment.

This is true for those in the job search. Yes, you need to have a plan and work your plan, but you should also set aside time, perhaps a day or so, to slow it down.

For starters, get off the computer and social media. (Ironic I’m using social media to tell you this, right?

Find an activity that nourishes you. Perhaps you should spend some time in nature (socially distanced, of course), walking in a park or on a lake.

Or how about a good book? Lose yourself in a good story. I enjoy a good mystery—how about you?

Maybe a way to slow down is to be with family or friends (you know what I’m going to say about safety again), particularly with those who can provide some joy or levity or health distraction.

Slow it down.

A final way you may need to slow down is to get some professional help to walk along side of you in these difficult times.

Yes, your job search awaits you, but do take time to recharge and refresh.

#jobsearch #career

Why a gift card isn’t a reward.

21 Jan

I’m looking at a gift card I received over the holidays to redeem.

I was excited about using the card and had a couple of items in mind. The items cost a bit more than the value of the card, so I’ll have to pull a few bucks out of my own pocket when I redeem.

Employers often give gift cards to employees with the intent of them being a reward, and in some ways they are. But if you’re like me and you end up spending some of your own money along with the gift card to get what you want the gift card then ends up being a discount, not a reward.

There may be value in providing a gift card as a way of saying thank you to an employee, but my experience is similar to others such that the gift card rarely, if ever, fully pays for something we want.

If the card doesn’t pay for the item, shipping and applicable taxes, don’t call it a reward.

It’s a discount.

Why do I call this out? If you’re an employer, you want to invest your resources in a way that provides the greatest return for your investment. A reward that isn’t a reward won’t likely inspire as much as a reward that is paid for in full by the employer.

Want to inspire employees? Know the difference between a discount and a reward.

#recognition  #appreciation #gratitude #grateful #inspiration

In the U.S. it’s Martin Luther King Day. Let’s talk about racial bias in the hiring process.

18 Jan

On this day I’m taking a moment to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King, and specifically how far we have to go in erasing racial bias from our society, including our places of work.

Over the past few months I’ve heard of a few things that are designed to moderate (not eliminate) hiring bias:

~ Some companies have chosen to send hiring managers resumes where personal information is been redacted. Hiring managers review only the qualifications of the candidates before choosing who to interview. Some “applicant tracking” software offers this as a feature.

~ Some companies now no longer ask about the salary history of applicants. In fact, some states and jurisdictions outlaw the practice. Asking about prior salary history has been shown to bias African American and female candidates. Eliminating this practice levels the playing field, and a recent study shows it has improved pay equity.

This topic deserves more than the length of this post, but I hope you will join me in considering how we can honor the legacy of Dr. King today, and every day, by working to create more inclusive places to work.

“Win the Week”: In these challenging times, recognize smaller successes more frequently.

13 Jan

In these challenging times, it is hard for organizations to predict and plan for the future. Interestingly, the same problem is encountered with our employees.

Our academic collaborator Michael Ahearne has noticed a number of organizations moving the timelines for goal attainment toward a shorter time period…

“Win the Week.”

Rather than thinking about goals for a quarter or a year, Dr. Ahearne has found that helping employees focus on a shorter-term goal can help folks stay more productive. And, of course, you “win the week” several times in a row you’re going to have a great quarter.

He saw this effort to be successful with sales teams, but could be applied to any employee group—think about key tasks and outcomes that can be achieved in the shorter team, and celebrate those smaller successes on the say to longer-term goal achievement.

Where could you implement a “win the week” strategy and, in doing so, help employees increase their chances of success?

#ThankYouThursday #recognition  #appreciation #gratitude #grateful #inspiration


11 Jan

Organizations spend a lot of time and money training new employees. This training hopefully helps the new employee get up to speed quickly so they can make contributions to the organization. We also hope new employees will be inspired to bring new ideas and creativity to their job.

But what if I told you the companies who don’t wait for new employee orientation to help employees learn are doing better at inspiring their employees?

According to research conducted by BI WORLDWIDE, new employees who learned about their job and organization prior to being hired were far more inspired than those who didn’t learn. They are, on average, ready to bring their best ideas and creativity to the job.

There are numerous opportunities to help recruits learn about the job and organization, learning that could start with the job posting and continuing through the hiring process.

Want more inspired new employees? Get folks learning while you’re recruiting them.

#hiring #recruitment #employeeexperience

Calling for a (U.S.) National Day of Remembrance

9 Jan

I sent this to my Members of Congress. I encourage you to send a message to your elected representatives:


In the summer of 1978 I had the honor of working for a Member of Congress from Nebraska, Virginia Smith, in Washington, D.C. All these years later I still consider it one of the highlights of my life.

Although I worked in Longworth, I was often in the Capitol. Every time– every time– I walked into that building I thought to myself: “I am so lucky. I am grateful and honored to be standing in the halls of our democracy.”

I looked in horror as this building was taken over by a mob of thugs and hooligans who, in my view, were incited to be there. I can only imagine how you felt, discharging your duties as our duly elected representative, and having to flee for your safety as domestic terrorists stormed our Capitol.

As painful as these memories are for all of us, there is one thing we as a people cannot do…

We cannot forget.

I know investigations are under way to find the individuals responsible, and there will be much work done to ensure this never happens again, and I’m fully supportive of these efforts.

But in time those activities will be completed. I worry that in the future other issues and needs will dull our memory.

We must resist this.

We must be reminded how fragile our democracy can be.

We must remember.

Therefore, I would urge you and other Members of Congress to establish every January 6th as a National Day of Remembrance.  

I want to remember.

I want my family to remember.

I want my neighbors to remember.

I want those who have strongly held political beliefs who are opposite mine to remember.

Respectfully, I want our elected officials, present and future, to remember.

I am sure there will be many issues for you to address when Congress (safely) convenes. I would request you add this to your already busy schedule for thoughtful consideration.


Mark D. Hirschfeld

How employing a person with a disability can make you a better leader.

6 Jan

I met a manager who had recently hired an individual on the autism spectrum. He was referred to the company by an agency that provides vocational support to individuals on the spectrum.

As part of his transition into the company the agency spent time with the hiring manager, helping him understand the strengths of the new employee and the situations where he was likely to be more successful. They also provided insights about where the new employee may likely struggle, and they discussed how to best manage the challenges that may arise.

The manager worked hard to integrate this knowledge into onboarding the new employee, and after a while it was clear he was an outstanding employee who would be successful.

The manager reflected back on the training he had received, and realized that the insights the agency provided—focusing on strengths and managing potential weaknesses—could be applied to any member of his team.

As a result of this experience he’s a far better leader—for his entire team.

Let’s commit to creating workplaces that work for everyone.

#inclusion #disability

Want a more inspired sales team? Lead with compassion.

5 Jan

Here’s a link to research we’ve conducted at BI WORLDWIDE regarding engaging a sales team and leadership:

JOB SEARCH TIP: Don’t let the trap of “New Year’s resolutions” derail your job search.

1 Jan

As you probably know, we don’t do a very good job of following up on our New Year’s resolutions.

I’m bad at them too.

When it comes to your job search, it may be easy to fall into some of the traps that cause us to lose momentum in other resolutions.

Rather than resolve “to have a job by the end of the month”, think about specific goals you can achieve each day that will help you get toward that goal:

  • How many job postings will you respond to?
  • How many networking meetings will you have?
  • How many hours will you spending conducting research on prospective employers and industries you may be considering?

Set specific goals around activities such as those noted above. You can’t control when you will receive a job offer, but you can control the activities that will increase you chances of getting one.

Let’s together make this New Year better in lots of ways, including conducting a job search that increases your chances of success.

There are free training videos on the web site of my faith community. Please pass along: 

#career #careercoach #jobhunting #careers #jobsearch

Rest in peace, Tom

20 Dec

When we came to Minnesota seven years ago we fell in love with Minnesota sports, and with that came a love for the local broadcasters.

One of those broadcasters, Tom Hanneman, died this week.

Although you don’t really know the folks you see on television, you feel like you do. It felt like he was a decent guy, and what has been said about him makes me believe he was.

Too many good folks have been lost this year. Tom is but one. My best regards to family and friends.

More about Tom: