By Kevin DonlinFirst Jobs for College Graduates  DVD

I got an intriguing question email today from the career service office of a university where I’m speaking next month.

Below is the question and my answer. This should interest you if you’re a recent college grad looking for your first job. It may also give you clarity if you find yourself in your 30s and 40s and not sure what you want to do with your life …

QUESTION: My big concern is for the college student job seeker who has skills, is eager to work, but doesn’t have a clear idea of what they really want to do. These are the students who, in a better economy, would be employed, but in this one won’t until they discover what they really care about. How do you help this kind of student without dampening their spirits? How willing are professionals to help this person gain clarity? Or do college grads need to do soul-searching on their own?
ANSWER: The student needs to do the hard thinking and soul searching before ever venturing into the job market. Students need to pick the 3 skills the most want to use (good) or the title of the job they most want (better) before ever speaking to a potential employer or high-value networking contact.

Reason? Once you are branded as unclear, unfocused, and not particularly valuable, it’s nearly impossible to change that impression later.

When the average employer interviews the average college grad for a job, they usually expect to talk to an unfocused 22-year-old who hasn’t done a lot of research on the company/clients/industry in question, and doesn’t know what they want to do with their lives.

Imagine, then, how a more-motivated college grad would impress employers by saying something like, “I’ve researched your firm, Ms. McGillicuddy, and I really admire how quickly you went from $1M to $10M in revenue in 18 months (that’s what the article in Crain’s Detroit Business said). I’ve also researched your 3 biggest competitors by posing as a customer and going through their buying process. Would you like to see the report I came up with? I can also show you a PowerPoint slide that one of their sales reps used last month — I found it on Google using the Advanced Search function and some sleuthing. Could we meet for coffee this Thursday morning?”

Even if Ms. McGillicuddy isn’t hiring, she’s going to meet with this motivated college grad, which will either lead to a job or a highly valuable referral – which is one step away from a job for this college grad.

So, to sum up, professionals expect to help young persons gain clarity, but won’t necessarily want to. By contrast, they do not expect to speak to a young person who has clarity, but will be eager to meet, hire, or refer them.

The only failure in my view is in not picking a direction. I know several people in their 40s who still have no idea what they want to do. They hate their current jobs but have no dream jobs to look forward to. They have lacked direction since leaving school and have been too afraid to pick a defined route because it would have forced them to say “No” to every other route.

If you take a sub-optimal job on the way to a clearly defined dream job, you have not failed and you have not settled. Because you are progressively realizing your goal every day you go to work and making yourself ready for that ideal job. You are a success.

Having said that, there’s no shame in picking a skill set or job title you end up hating in 3 months … or 3 years. What you learn in school is called education. What you learn after that is called experience. As long as you find the lessons and people to recommend you in every job, you can’t help but become more valuable and “referable” to others.

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By Kevin Donlin

Here’s a link to a fantastic article from Fortune Magazine on how to get a job in a recession.

It’s just a coincidence that my business partner, David Perry, and I are both quoted in it :-)

You should read the whole piece, but here are excerpts and comments …

Rather than blast out resumes, [Rob] Sparno drew up a list of about 15 former colleagues who were now in leadership positions – his prospect list, in sales parlance. Then he sat down to write them e-mails. One note was to someone he hadn’t talked to in years, an old colleague from Netscape who now worked at In his e-mail Sparno wrote that he was looking for the “next new thing.” Minutes later he got a text message from his contact’s BlackBerry with two words: “Call me.”

This is what David and I call making a “job shopping list.” Sparno had 15 names on his list. We suggest 15-20.

By the time he went for the final interview – his seventh – he had his pitch down perfectly. Halfway through the meeting, Sparno and the manager started discussing how to target a client Sparno had worked with before. The manager went up to the whiteboard to throw out some ideas, and Sparno leaped up to join him, until the two were standing shoulder to shoulder, markers in hand, batting strategies back and forth.

I’ve been teaching this idea for years. It’s called, “start working before you’re hired.” And it helped get Sparno hired.

Here’s another example from the article of how one successful candidate did it:

“I have no reason to hire you,” said the hiring manager at SAS, the software company, when Pat Bennett walked in for an interview. Bennett, 52, had no background selling technology software. But she pitched herself as a perfect fit in a unit targeting financial services clients. Her last job had been at LexisNexis, handling high-strung attorneys every day. Surely she could deal with hedge fund managers too. In her second-round interview, Bennett gave a presentation showing how she’d approach the business in her first 30 days. She got the job.

Question: Can you create a PowerPoint for your next interview, showing what you’d do in your first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job? There are two correct answers: yes, and yes.

Here’s a final, excellent example of someone who proved their skills by “starting work” before they were hired:

The CEO of tech startup AdaptiveBlue said the company just hired an engineer who found three problems in the software he’d be testing before he even came in for an interview.

And you gotta love this truly “guerrilla” job search tip from David, which illustrates why The Wall Street Journal called him the “rogue recruiter” in a feature story on him last year:

One surefire way to grab people’s attention is to offer intel on their competitors. David Perry, the headhunter, advises gathering such tidbits whenever you go on an interview. When the hiring manager asks whether you have any questions, Perry recommends saying, “Yes, as a matter of fact I do. I understand your five competitors are such and such. What is it about ABC Company that makes you guys nervous?” Take notes, and when you get to your car, pick up the phone and call those competitors: ‘I just left an interview at XYZ Corp. Apparently you’re doing this and this, and it’s keeping them up at night. Do you have time for coffee?’”

New resource: Job Search Video on DVD from David and Kevin.


Whether it is your first job after graduation or a well-considered career move, you always need to be well prepared for the interview. Ensure that your resume is well written. To stand out from the crowd, a professionally written resume is a wise investment. A well-written resume and cover letter will ensure that you are called for a job interview. The process of interviews intimidates many, but you should look at it as a discussion to determine if you are suitable for the job and if this company is right for you. Keep in mind that being well prepared for an interview is as important as the interview itself.

From the first contact, you make with your prospective employer you will be assessed as a prospective employee. You will be evaluated on your level of professionalism, language, and interest in the position.

Do Not Leave Anything to Chance

Most people find the preparation for the interview more stressful than the interview itself. Your preparation for the interview should not leave anything to chance, as you can be sure, neither will your prospective employer. You should have a specific plan of action:

• Prior to the interview, do some online research so you know as much as possible about the company and its corporate objective and mission. Make sure your responses at the interview are a good fit for the company.
• Be sure of the interview format: what do you need to bring with you; whether you will be required to make a presentation, and how long the interview is likely to last.
• You should be dressed appropriately for the occasion – neatly and professionally.
• Check out the time required to reach the venue of the interview, and plan to reach at least 10 to 15 minutes early.
• Rehearse your answers to possible questions.
• Act with poise and be relaxed.
• Always carry extra copies of your resume, in case the interview panel needs a copy.
• Prepare your own set of questions to ask the employer.
• Be well prepared to answer how your experience, education and skills will be an asset to the position you have applied for.

When answering questions, be specific but succinct – try to not respond with long, drawn out answers. Your complete demeanor should reflect your confidence. Neatly fill out the application form. Greet everyone with a firm handshake, and wait to be invited to sit before taking a chair. Do not slouch in the chair and sit up. When talking, smile and always maintain eye contact. Know all your interviewers by name and address them appropriately.

Post Interview Actions

Once the interview is over, thank everyone present and comment about enjoying being there and your continued interest in being considered for the position. It is crucial that you follow-up with a thank you letter that is short and brief. It should reiterate no more than 3 of your strongest skills that you can offer the employer. Do call the employer and do not email the employer unless you have express permission to do so. This will convey your interest for the job, and will demonstrate your follow up skills and enthusiasm for the job.

The impression you have left, your confidence, poise and posture, along with your knowledge on the subject will be an opening for a follow up interview.



Power Networking: Getting Your Name Out There!

On April 10, 2014, in job hunting, by Rogue Recruiter

Today’s economy presents some very special challenges to people who are unemployed, underemployed, or who are simply trying to give their own business venture a shot in the arm. At times, the job search can seem daunting, if not impossible, as it takes quite a bit of encouragement – and creativity – to keep pressing forward. A highly flexible [power] networking plan is important – one that requires “out of the box” thinking in order to increase your chances of securing desired employment.

The following is a list of options (no cost to low cost) to pursue in order to launch a successful personal marketing plan, which is what networking is all about. Most will cost you little or nothing to implement and for the cash strapped person that can be a real help. I wrote these suggestions for business flight attendants who, understandably, have suffered much since the 2001 terrorist attacks. You can easily modify the suggestions for your particular field of interest.

1. Attend aviation job fairs [carry plenty of business cards and copies of your résumé with you - I would use a Guerrilla Resume to stand out].

2. Join an employment support group.

3. List your résumé with an agency AND make sure you take time to have a coffee with whomever is entrusted with your file so there’s a persoanl connection and you’re not just a meaningless statistic.

4. Create an online résumé for additional exposure – this of course means LinkedIn too.

5. Go to retirement parties of former associates.

6. Become your local airport’s liaison to the surrounding community.

7. Attend a catering class.

8. Form a networking group in your area.

9. Go to conventions.

10. Attend other aviation related meetings [medical seminars, safety and security symposiums, dinners, golf outings, barbecues, fund raisers, 10K races].

11. Serve on an aviation related committee as a volunteer.

12. Volunteer for the Corporate Angel Network.

13. Accept other types of employment within your target company [i.e., dispatcher, sales, customer service, etc.].

14. Write an article about some aspect of corporate aviation and publish it online.

15. Organize a wine tasting seminar in your area or approach a local caterer/vineyard about being aviation’s representative to their business [be prepared to offer plenty of free publicity for them].

16. Work temporarily for a caterer specializing in inflight service.

17. Start a part time business by selling a product that corporate aviators need.

18. Finally, for the savvy [some would say nervy] flight attendant the following type of suggestion could produce dividends: Hang out at the local after work watering hole where aviation folks gather. Learn the language [culture] of the company; find out who the movers and shakers are, etc.

Some people might accuse you of being a shameless self promoter, as if you had a contagious disease. Let them think the worst of you while they sit at home fretting about work while you are winging your way to points hither and yon!

Do not be deterred, but start thinking outside the parameters you [or others] have imposed on yourself; your goal is employment and your name is golden – as such, gold must be prominently displayed in order to command the proper attention [employment] that it so richly deserves!

Go Guerrilla Go!



Pick The Right Climate

On April 9, 2014, in job hunting, by Rogue Recruiter

If you are looking to move from one location to another there are many, many things to consider. Perhaps too many. You are probably trying to think about places you want to be, what kind of house you want to live in, what kinds of jobs are available, and what kinds of activities and clubs there are to spend time doing away from work. These are all important things to consider before you commit to a move.

However, one vital thing you may not have thought about in this process is climate.  Like snow… welcome to most of Canada but not Vancouver.  Vacillating between  snow and sandy beaches… welcome to Los Angeles {where great ski hills are just a few hours drive up in to the Rocky Mountains and the Santa Monica Pier with all its miles of sandy beach is down the street }. 

It may sounds simple, but you will enjoy your new location much more if it is in a climate that you can handle and enjoy. Even the best home and job will not be as great if they are located in a climate that you do not like. But you know what, considering climate is something most people never consider.

So, what kind of climate would be perfect for you and your family? Are there certain climates that you should avoid as you make a move? If you are unsure of how to answer these questions, try instead to answer these more basic questions first.

  1. What kind of weather do you most enjoy spending time in?
  2. Is it important to you to find a climate that allows you to be outside everyday?
  3. Do you enjoy a climate that includes all four seasons or do you prefer a more consistent climate?

Answering questions like these about climate will help to narrow down the range of possible places that will fit your job and recreation goals. Crossing off possible locations based on climate saves you time and energy from searching out jobs in areas that you will not enjoy living in.

If you have been offered a specific job in a location that has a climate you are unsure about, think about all of the activities you can do

LA Skyline - Wikipedia Photo

LA Skyline – Wikipedia Photo

in that climate. Are you headed to a place with five months of heavy snow and you are unsure of how you will like it? Check out your options in that location. Maybe there will be a snowboarding class you can take or a group of ice fishermen that you can join. Warmer climates will offer plenty of ways to explore the outdoors.

Regardless of what climate you are moving to, you can make the best of it by looking for fun ways to make the most of the area. Enjoying the possibilities that climate allows will make your search for the perfect location to settle in much easier.