1. When Interviewing via Videoconference, Think Hollywood

Even after the pandemic is declared over, interviewing candidates via Zoom, Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts et al. will, because of its convenience, remain popular. You should expect your first interview to take place via video teleconferencing.

Therefore, mastering, or at least becoming comfortable with, “Zoom meetings” and appearing interesting and professional on camera is a skill set you’d greatly benefit from. After all, image, whether face-to-face or via videotelephony, is everything.

If you want to improve your videotelephony skills, avoid making the following mistakes, which I’m sure you’ve seen being made on video conference calls you’ve sat in on.

Mistake #1: Not making eye contact with your interviewer(s). 

Look directly at the lens of your camera, not your screen. Eye contact influences your interviewer’s perception of your credibility and trustworthiness. Additionally, your interviewer will be more likely to pay attention to you if you appear expressive and are looking at them. 

Mistake #2: Winging it or reading from notes. 

Before appearing in front of the camera, actors practice their lines several times—so should you. Prepare, and rehearse, answers to common interview questions (e.g., “Tell me about yourself.”, “What is your greatest strength?”, “Why do you want this job?”) in advance. 

Mistake #3: Inviting your interviewer to read the titles on your bookshelf. 

For some reason most candidates I interview via video teleconference choose to sit in front of their bookshelves. Maybe they think it makes them look scholarly, or projects they’re into self-improvement. Since I’m a voracious reader, I find myself tilting my head sideways attempting to read the titles of the books behind the candidate. During one interview, I noticed a book by Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms, which is a favourite of mine. I ended up asking the candidate about their reading habits. For 15 minutes, we talked about our mutual love for American Southern gothic literature, thus eating up interview time. (Yes, I hired the candidate, but not because of their reading diet.)

Your goal is to keep your interviewer(s) engaged and focused. Therefore, avoid having a distracting background. Instead, select a location that doesn’t have many details and is still. (e.g., avoid a window overlooking a busy city street). Better yet, use the video conferencing platform’s virtual background feature that allows you to substitute a photo as your background.

Mistake #4: Too much lighting, not enough lighting. 

“I think too many film students in America are losing the artistry and not learning lighting in the right way.” – Vimos Zsigmond (1930 – 2016, Hungarian-American cinematographer)

A significant factor in creating a professional look during a video chat is lighting. Lighting compliments video imagery by helping to deliver a crystal-clear image, making your interviewer feel like they’re in the same room with you.

Cameras need the right lighting to deliver a good image. Your video camera will render a poor-quality image of there’s not enough light, too much light, or light that’s pointed in the wrong direction.

Straight-on lighting is best. The key is for your primary light source to be directly behind your camera, throwing light on your face. This ensures your face is well illuminated and clearly visible. For the best result use natural light coming in through a window, which will create accurate skin tones and colours. 

Before your next videotelephony interview, schedule a video conference with a friend and use the self-view feature to experiment with lighting and virtual backgrounds. Place yourself in front of a window, lamp, or both and have your friend give you feedback on how you appear. 

A few last-minute tips:

  • Make certain you’re not going to be disturbed during your videotelephony interview and that your environment will be quiet. (“Quiet on the set!”) The last thing you want is your spouse calling out, “What do you want for dinner!”
  • Call into the conference at least 10 minutes early. You want to be sure your technology is working (audio, visual), and you don’t want to keep your interviewer waiting. (The equivalent of being late.)
  • Turn off your smartphone and close all tabs on your computer. (You don’t want the pinging of emails coming in or chat messages.
  • Just like a face-to-face interview, dress for the job you’re interviewing for. Guys, between you and me, it’s okay to use some makeup—Christian Bale, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Pitt, Tim Hiddleston sit in a makeup chair before walking onto a film set.     
  • When you’re not talking, mute yourself. 
  • Record the interview! (review afterwards)

“Why didn’t I get the job?” is the most universal question job seekers ask.

You will seldom know the real reason.

Wishful thinkers sell themselves the false narrative that the most qualified candidate gets hired. This is simply not true. Of all business activities, hiring is the most bias. A candidate’s charisma (Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.) plays a significant part in getting hired, as does being a referral. (The power of networking.) However, often candidates—qualified as they may be—destroy their chances of getting hired.

Regardless of how many letters you have after your name, your years of experience, or your reputation within your industry/field, there are many reasons an employer aren’t saying “Yes!” to you, the most common being: 

Your social media is a turnoff.

Without a doubt, employers will Google you, dissect your social media activities, and review your LinkedIn profile to decide if you’re interview-worthy. If you’re applying to jobs, you’re well qualified for and not getting responses, consider your digital footprint. Meticulously go through your social media accounts. Delete anything unflattering that reflects poorly on you being a mature individual who makes good decisions.

TIP: Before you post anything on social media, ask yourself:

  • Am I boasting? (Trying to impress.)
  • Will this enhance or diminish my reputation? (Personal brand)
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it true?

You’ve got a negative attitude.

I’ve lost count of how many candidates I’ve met who complained about their former or current boss and sometimes their coworkers during an interview. They probably think this will show why they’re looking to make a change. Actually, it shows they’re a complainer and probably not a team player, which is someone I don’t hire.

Sage advice when to come to interviews: If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. 

You didn’t do any research.

Even in the age of Google, I still get asked, “What does this company do?” If you don’t know what the company does, how it’s doing, what market it serves, or who its clients are, then you can’t tell me, let alone convince me, how you can add value to the company. 

You smell bad.

Are you a smoker? Most people today don’t smoke. Since your interviewer is likely to be a non-smoker, they will smell your cigarette smoke, which will turn them off. Moreover, your interviewer will be asking themselves how many smoke breaks you will be taking throughout the workday.

The same goes for heavy cologne or perfume use. You never know who has allergies or has fragrance sensitivity. So play it safe, go to your interview clean and fresh.

You’re desperate.

Have you ever done an interview while employed? If yes, I bet you were less nervous. You already had a job, so the pressure to find a job to pay your bills wasn’t there—you weren’t desperate! 

Coming across as being desperate is a turnoff. So, play it cool, but not too cool; you don’t want to seem indifferent to whether or not you get hired.

You don’t look the part. (Image is everything!)

How you look when you are walking into an interview or greeting an interviewer in the reception area cannot be overstated.

How you dress is how you’ll be judged if:

  • You’re serious about being hired.
  • You’re “one of them.” (You’ll be a fit.)
  • You have respect for yourself and those around you.

Your salary expectations are unrealistic.

The value to an employer many job seekers have of themselves is often questionable. It’s not uncommon for me to immediately end the interview if the candidate is looking for more money, benefits and perks than the position is worth paying.

Research the salary range the job you’re applying for pays in your area and be ready to negotiate a compensation package you’ll be satisfied with. Although start-ups and small family businesses probably cannot offer you the compensation and benefits that large companies can, they may provide advantages worthwhile considering (e.g., fewer office politics, greater flexibility, more hands-on experience). 

The good news is that all of the above issues can be fixed. (Yes, even a digital footprint that turns off employers can be corrected.) It’s just a matter of being honest with yourself, not playing the “I’m a victim!” game that some “ism” is why you aren’t getting hired, and question how you present yourself in interviews.

(Think this over.) When you apply to a job posting, you’re hoping, with fingers crossed, you’ll be the one person selected to be hired out of the 100s, sometimes 1,000s, of other candidates who also applied and are just as qualified, if not more, as you are. It’s no secret there are a lot of talented, hungry job seekers going after the same jobs.

Applying to an online job posting is like playing the lottery—you’re expecting a stranger to hire you.

Undeniable, networking is critical to conducting a successful job search. Still, it’s often avoided, especially by individuals who’ve sold themselves the limiting belief they’re an “introvert.” 

As you know, there’s a hidden job market. Most jobs, especially highly desired ones, aren’t advertised. Thus, networkers land the jobs—the plumb jobs—so I might as well be straightforward. If you’re not networking throughout your job search, you either refuse to understand the benefits of networking or are not serious about your job search.

I know many “highly extroverted introverts.” Therefore, I firmly believe you can be both introverted and extroverted. A job search fact: An outgoing individual will always have a considerable competitive advantage finding employment over someone who sits behind their laptop, hoping a stranger will hire them.

A life truism: The world is made by extroverts for extroverts.

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes, “The more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you are.” In contrast to your close friends and colleagues, your acquaintances—individuals you know, and more importantly, who know you—exist in an entirely different social universe. Consequently, they’re aware of jobs and networking opportunities and can introduce you to the right person that no one in your inner circle can. 83 percent of people who found their job through their network, and networking activities, did so through people they occasionally see. So those Facebook friends you haven’t spoken to in a while—it’s probably worth checking in on them. 

You’ve no doubt heard it a million times: Successful job searching, and career advancement are as much about who you know than what you know. I would say today, with social media, “Who knows you is more important than who you know.” This is why those with a career you envy focus on their personal brand (aka. reputation). Thus, being a skilled networker and self-promoter is crucial to job searching and career management. 

However, mastering networking/self-promotion skills requires more than just schmoozing over cheese platters and exchanging business cards. (Does anyone have business cards these days?) There’s an art to it.

Nowadays, there are so many platforms, especially social media platforms, available to network and market yourself on, that you must come up with creative ways to stand out.

Creativity aside, here are 8 networking tips to get you started:

  1. Start with the network you already have. Begin your networking activities (e.g., Informing that you’re looking for a new opportunity and what you can offer employers.) with relatives and friends. This will help you become comfortable with networking.
  2. Wear (tie, hat), or carry (purse, portfolio), something unique in colour and design that’ll start conversations.
  3. When you say “Hello,” smile!
  4. Don’t apologize for trying to build a relationship. Never say, “I’m sorry to bother you.”
  5. Use the person’s name throughout your conversation.
  6. Create an elevator speech and practice delivering it. (g., Hi, I’m [your first name]. I’m a software developer with 8 years of experience using C++, .NET, HTML and Java. Currently, my team customizes software for financial institutions across Canada. Recently, I completed a project that increased revenue by 32% for Gotham Payments Services, and I’m now seeking my next challenge.”)
  7. Read: Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi
  8. (Golden networking tip.) When you meet someone for the first time, ask yourself, “How can I help this person?”

When done skillfully, networking can not only help you land plum jobs, but it can also help advance your career, gain new clients, and gain access to those who can assist you. 

Don’t approach networking with the mindset that you’re doing it for your own gain (the reason networking may feel uncomfortable). Embrace that successful networking depends on the give and take. (Remember, “How can I help this person?”) Networking relationships are all about adding value. As you give to others and focus on them, your network connections will reciprocate.

4. Leveraging LinkedIn to Get a Job – Part 1

A reader emailed me the following question:

I was an exec at a small oil exploration services company. We closed our doors due to the economy in 2020, and I’ve been trying to pivot since then. I’ve never been on LinkedIn as I was employed for over 30 years at the same company and didn’t feel I needed the exposure. Do you think it’s a detriment/impediment to not be on LinkedIn? 

My answer: Not being on LinkedIn isn’t detrimental to a job search; but it’ll lengthen your job search.

Job seekers gain two advantages by having a complete LinkedIn profile they keep current:

  1. Employers and recruiters find them and approach them with job opportunities (Optimized LinkedIn profile = more views = more opportunities.), and
  2. When short-listed for a job they’ve applied to, their LinkedIn profile, when visited by the employer, which is inevitable, will validate they’re interview-worthy. 

According to a September 2020 Forbes article, 95 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates. What’s more efficient for a recruiter; searching LinkedIn and reaching out to qualified candidates or posting a job and being inundated with resumes, many from candidates who don’t meet the job requirements?

To gain every advantage possible during your job search, you must have a LinkedIn profile that’s attractive to employers.

Maximizing your LinkedIn profile requires at minimum doing the following:

  • Keeping your profile current. (Regular updates.)
  • Being comprehensive about your skills.
  • Highlighting your experience, and most importantly, your value to your employers. (Remember, numbers are the language of business, therefore use numbers throughout your profile to support your claims.)

I’ve found the best approach to making the best use of LinkedIn is to be authentic. Be yourself, represent who you are. LinkedIn isn’t your resume. On LinkedIn, you have the opportunity to dynamically represent your experiences (and show your work), skills, career objectives, what you know, and what you’re interested in. However, LinkedIn’s power isn’t dependent on how all-inclusive your profile is; it’s dependent on how current your information is. 

In this column, and the next three (a four-part series), I’ll be offering tactical tips on how you can make LinkedIn your job search partner. 

My first two tips will immediately boost your LinkedIn profile views.

  1. Have a current, no older than 6 months profile picture.

A profile picture is a crucial element of your LinkedIn presence, generating 14 times more page views. In addition, a hiring manager who sees your photo on LinkedIn will develop a specific impression of you. Therefore, it’s critical to consider “strategically” what a person might conclude about your personality and competency from your profile picture.

Job seekers have told me they don’t have a photo because they feel uncomfortable “putting themselves out there” so visibly. Several have said they believe showing a picture of themselves could lead to discrimination because of their age, weight, or race. I tend to look at this last reason from the viewpoint that who you are will become apparent during your first meeting. I’d rather be upfront and be discriminated against, which I won’t really know, than spend my time interviewing only to end up not getting the job due to the interviewer’s bias.

Bottom-line, the lack of a photo keeps your profile from being complete. Complete profiles appear higher in search results than “incomplete” profiles.

  1. Get your headline right.

When people search for you, they only see your photo, name, and headline, which appears beneath your photo. Worth noting, in August 2020, LinkedIn increased the number of headline characters you have from 120 to 220. 

When composing your headline, focus on these elements:

  • The role you want. (Use the job title that matches your goal.)
  • Your qualifications.
  • Challenges you enjoy solving.
  • Your track record.


  • B2B Inside Sales Representative | $2.7MM generated in 2021 | Digital Ads Manager | 5 years experience managing 7-figure ad budgets | Bilingual (French)
  • Digital Marketing Manager for gaming apps | Increased Subscription Growth From 12k – 55k Users in 8 Months (Without Spending a Dime on Ads) | Google Analytics IQ Certificated

Note: While there is no shame in being unemployed, it’s not a selling point. Employers and recruiters are interested in your skills, not your current employment status. Don’t make the common mistake of adding “Actively Seeking Opportunities” or “Unemployed.” to your headline.

In next week’s column, I’ll be discussing the following:

  • Being comprehensive about your skills.
  • Build your network to the 1st degree.
  • Follow companies you’re interested in joining.

5. Leveraging LinkedIn to Get a Job – Part 2

In last week’s column, I provided two tips to instantly boost LinkedIn profile views.

  1. Have a current, no older than 6 months profile picture.
  2. Get your headline right.

In this column, I’ll provide 3 more tips on how to make your LinkedIn profile appear in searches, thus increasing your profile views and hence improving your chances of being informed of job opportunities.

  1. Be comprehensive about your skills.

According to LinkedIn profiles with five or more skills listed receive up to 17 times more views.

There are more than 45,000 skills to choose from on LinkedIn. Include your notable skills (e.g., Algorithm development, Statistical analysis, CRM software, Data and metrics interpreting, Conflict resolution), so you appear in searches. LinkedIn allows up to 50 skills on your profile.

There are 2 ways to add skills to your profile:

  • Click on your profile, then scroll down to the “Skills & Endorsements” section. Then click “Add a new skill” in the right-hand corner of that section. 
  • Click on your profile, then click on “Add Profile Section” in the top right corner of your profile. Click the “Skills” section and click on “Skills” to add a new skill.
  1. Build your network to the 1st degree.

There are three types of connections on LinkedIn: 

  • 1st Degree: 1st degree connections are people who invite you to connect or people you invite to connect. In both cases, as soon as you or the person you invited accepts the invitation to connect, they become one of your 1st degree connections.
  • 2nd Degree: These are the people connected to your 1st degree connections.
  • 3rd Degree: These are people connected to your 2nd degree connections.

The more connections you have, regardless of your connection level, the more your LinkedIn profile will appear in search results. In addition, when you create a post, you’ll appear on your connection’s homepage updates, which significantly increases your LinkedIn presence.

Begin by connecting with your lowest-hanging fruits first. Send connection requests to family members, friends, former classmates, and colleagues (current and former). If you have an email contact list, import it. Now comes the fun part, researching relevant professionals, and employees of companies you’d like to work for, particularly those in a hiring capacity, to include in your LinkedIn network. Finally, connect with recruiters in your area and thought leaders in your field and/or industry. The majority of my 1st degree connections are call center and customer service management professionals, customer experience thought-leaders, English language newspaper editors, and recruiters in Toronto.  

IMPORTANT: Never send a connection request to someone you don’t know without introducing yourself and explaining why you want to connect.  

I won’t get into details on how to compose a LinkedIn connection request. A Google search (“How to write a LinkedIn connection request”) will give you an infinite number of examples and templates you can customize. Better yet, read my column Write a LinkedIn Connection Request That’ll Get Accepted

When crafting your message, remember the five P’s. 

  1. Polite
  2. Pertinent
  3. Personalized
  4. Professional
  5. Praiseful
  7. Follow companies you’re interested in joining.

Make a list of companies you want to work for and follow them on LinkedIn. As well, connect with members of the leadership team and human resources.

Following companies you’d like to work for is a great way to stay informed about company news, new hires, and, most important, job openings. When you follow a company, you’ll be closer to the action. Follow a company by selecting the “Follow” button on its company page. 

Companies can’t see that you’re following them; therefore, like, comment and share their posts and articles. Engaging with a company’s content, especially commenting, is the best way to increase your visibility with employers on LinkedIn.

TIP: I believe in creating positive karma. Help those in your network who are also job hunting by sharing job postings that aren’t right for you, or you’re not interested in pursuing.  

I know you’re asking, “What are the top 10 most followed companies on LinkedIn?” In 2021 they were:

  1. Google … 17.724 million
  2. TED Conferences … 17.693 million
  3. Amazon … 5.048 million
  4. LinkedIn … 12.155 million
  5. Microsoft … 11.681 million
  6. Apple … 11.441 million
  7. Unilever … 10.351 million
  8. Nestlé … 9.855 million
  9. IBM … 8.696 million
  10. Tesla … 6.361 million

In next week’s column, I’ll be discussing the following:

  • Use the advanced search. 
  • Ask for an introduction. 

Be more than a wallflower.

6. Leveraging LinkedIn to Get a Job – Part 3

In my last two columns, I provided the following five tips to boost your LinkedIn profile views and increase being informed of job opportunities.

  1. Have a current, no older than 6 months profile picture.
  2. Get your headline right.
  3. Be comprehensive about your skills.
  4. Build your network to the 1st degree.
  5. Follow companies you’re interested in joining.

Here’s 3 more tips on leveraging LinkedIn for your job search.

  1. Use the Advanced Search.

Use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search option and conduct a search on companies you’re interested in joining. Make a list of your 1st degree connections associated with these companies (past or current employees). Then reach out to your connections who are current employees and inform them you’re interested in joining their company. Ask if they’d be willing to assist you in your job search (e.g., refer you to job openings). One of the most helpful things your 1st degree connections can do for your job search is being able to introduce you to people who are in a position to hire you. Therefore, you need to ask them for an introduction, which brings me to my seventh tip.

  1. Ask for an introduction.

I’m happy to make introductions for connections whom I know, and trust, outside of LinkedIn. Speaking for my preference, the best way to request an introduction is to send a note: 

Hi Nick,

[Personal note/comment]. Would you mind introducing me to [person’s name along with their LinkedIn URL — www.linkedin.com/in/nameofperson]?

I am interested in speaking with [person’s first name] about the Digital Strategist position I came across on Merrick BioTech’s website. [Link to the job posting.]



I like to give the person my connection is looking to connect with a “heads up.” Therefore, I’ll send them a note asking if they’re open to being introduced. 

Hi Akando,

Hope all is well with you. Stephanie Powers, a former colleague when I worked at Rekall, Inc., is interested in speaking with you about the Digital Strategist position at Merrick BioTech’s. [Link to the job posting.] Can I make an introduction?



Once Akando says yes, I then make the introduction. 

Hello Akando & Stephanie,

I’m following up to connect you both regarding the Digital Strategist position at Merrick BioTech. I’ll let you two take it from here.



  1. Be more than a wallflower.

The key to being visible on LinkedIn and building your network is to be active, by regularly sharing and creating content and engaging with other people’s content.

If you’re starting out on LinkedIn, I recommend you begin by engaging with other people’s content before sharing your own. Review your feed (content you see when you click on your LinkedIn home page) and thoughtfully comment on other people’s posts and articles. 

There are three ways to engage with someone’s content:

  • Like
  • Share
  • Comment

I believe comments are the gold standard of engagement. The reason being your name, your photo and the beginning of your headline appears before your comment. Therefore, your comments act like mini advertisements. 

TIP: When you comment, tag the author of the post so they’re notified that you’ve commented. 

To tag the author of the post or anyone on LinkedIn:

  • Type the @ symbol.
  • Begin typing the poster’s name.
  • Choose the poster’s name from the dropdown list you’ll be given.
  • LinkedIn will then delete the @ symbol and bold the poster’s name.

Regarding creating content, while I write and post articles (125,000 characters maximum) on LinkedIn, I get more engagement from my posts (1,300 characters maximum). The reason for the increase engagement is LinkedIn posts are favoured by LinkedIn’s algorithm and will show up on your connection’s newsfeed. However, LinkedIn posts quickly get lost in the crowd and therefore have a short lifespan. On the other hand, LinkedIn articles will keep getting viewed from search results on Google and other search engines; thus, they have a longer lifespan.

In summary, LinkedIn posts (TIP: For additional visibility include several relevant hashtags and add a graphic.) are great to keep the ball rolling on the engagement side of things. In contrast, LinkedIn articles are helpful for long-term brand image and authority (subject matter expert) building. The bottom-line: The more you interact and post as a professional, the more you’ll be noticed and build recognition.

In next week’s column, the last of this four-part series, I’ll be discussing the following:

  • Get involved in LinkedIn Professional Groups. 
  • Research your future boss and executive team. 
  • Network after business hours. 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.


7. Leveraging LinkedIn to Get a Job – Part 4

In my previous three columns, I provided the following eight tips to instantly boost LinkedIn profile views.

  1. Have a current, no older than 6 months profile picture.
  2. Get your headline right.
  3. Be comprehensive about your skills.
  4. Build your network to the 1st degree.
  5. Follow companies you’re interested in joining.
  6. Use the Advanced Search.
  7. Ask for an introduction.
  8. Be more than a wallflower.

In this column, the final of a 4 part series, I’ll provide 3 more actions you can take to improve your chances of being informed of job opportunities.

  1. Get involved in LinkedIn Professional Groups

There are currently over 2.2 million active LinkedIn groups. There is no doubt that there is a group, or several groups, relevant to your profession and the industry with which you’ve aligned your career.

Engaging in—this is keyprofessional groups will give you ample opportunities to take part in online discussions and showcase your expertise and will help expand your network. When researching groups, make sure they’re currently active. A group with no regular or daily interaction is of no value to your job search and networking efforts.

There are three types of groups you should consider joining:

  1. Industry— These are groups dedicated to a specific industry and/or field. Try searching for a few different keywords for your industry and profession. For example, if you’re in supply chain management, expand your search to “procurement,” “purchasing,” and “sourcing.” I suggest favouring groups with larger memberships and local groups (g., “Alberta Oil & Gas Recruiting,” (45,463 members), “Professional Engineers Ontario Discussion Group (14,100 members)) to get the most value (READ: exposure) from joining a group.


  1. Active— There are many holistic groups that you can join, such as job-seeking groups (“Toronto Job Networking – Canada Jobs & Technology”), skills-based groups (“Python Developers Community”), and general interest groups (“Corvette Owners & Enthusiasts”). The options are endless!
  2. Alumni— Most universities have official alumni groups. Join alumni groups you’re affiliated with – your college’s or university’s main group, any relevant department or major groups, specific alumni interest groups, etc. Joining such groups will give you access to a massive network of people with whom you have something in common. (Networking boils down to finding commonalities.)

To search for groups to join:

  • Look for Groups directly in the search bar, just as you would find connections, companies, or anything else on LinkedIn. (g., warehouse management, accounting, digital marketing)
  • On the search results page, click on the “Groups” filter option.
  • Look through the groups and click on the ones you’re interested in joining.

TIP: Join groups where hiring managers and those in a management position in companies you’d like to join are active. For example, say you want to join Soylent Corporation. You notice that Sol Roth is part of “Commercial Finance Professionals.” (When you visit a person’s LinkedIn profile, scroll down to the bottom of their profile and the ‘Interest’ section click on ‘Groups’ to see which groups the person has joined.) Join the group and begin engaging with Sol’s posts—commenting to show your expertise and how you think.

  1. Research your interviewer

All successful interviews have one thing in common, the interviewer and the interviewee relate to each other on some level. Connecting with your interviewer and vice versa will enormously benefit you. Learn about your interviewer’s work history (Maybe you both worked at the same company at one point, or they worked at the same company as your wife or best friend.), likes, interests, and more—look for common ground.

It’s a small world; you’d be surprised how often you’ll find a connection with someone within one or two degrees. Use this information to create relatability. It’s human nature to want to work with people you like, feel comfortable with, and relate to.

(WARNING: Harsh truth.) Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.  

  1. Post and network strategically.

When it comes to getting the highest amount of exposure on social media, timing is everything!

According to Sprout Social, the best days, and times to post on LinkedIn are Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00 AM – Noon, and Wednesday, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. The worst day to post is Sundays.

For obvious reasons, the use of LinkedIn is most likely to take place during the workweek, in contrast to Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok, which see an upswing outside of work hours. Therefore, you’re less likely to get eyes on your LinkedIn engagement efforts on weekends.

7. Leveraging LinkedIn to Get a Job – Part 4

In my previous three columns, I provided the following eight tips to instantly boost LinkedIn profile views.

  1. Have a current, no older than 6 months profile picture.
  2. Get your headline right.
  3. Be comprehensive about your skills.
  4. Build your network to the 1st degree.
  5. Follow companies you’re interested in joining.
  6. Use the Advanced Search.
  7. Ask for an introduction.
  8. Be more than a wallflower.

In this column, the final of a 4 part series, I’ll provide 3 more actions you can take to improve your chances of being informed of job opportunities.

  1. Get involved in LinkedIn Professional Groups

There are currently over 2.2 million active LinkedIn groups. There is no doubt that there is a group, or several groups, relevant to your profession and the industry with which you’ve aligned your career.

Engaging in—this is keyprofessional groups will give you ample opportunities to take part in online discussions and showcase your expertise and will help expand your network. When researching groups, make sure they’re currently active. A group with no regular or daily interaction is of no value to your job search and networking efforts.

There are three types of groups you should consider joining:

  1. Industry— These are groups dedicated to a specific industry and/or field. Try searching for a few different keywords for your industry and profession. For example, if you’re in supply chain management, expand your search to “procurement,” “purchasing,” and “sourcing.” I suggest favouring groups with larger memberships and local groups (g., “Alberta Oil & Gas Recruiting,” (45,463 members), “Professional Engineers Ontario Discussion Group (14,100 members)) to get the most value (READ: exposure) from joining a group.


  1. Active— There are many holistic groups that you can join, such as job-seeking groups (“Toronto Job Networking – Canada Jobs & Technology”), skills-based groups (“Python Developers Community”), and general interest groups (“Corvette Owners & Enthusiasts”). The options are endless!
  2. Alumni— Most universities have official alumni groups. Join alumni groups you’re affiliated with – your college’s or university’s main group, any relevant department or major groups, specific alumni interest groups, etc. Joining such groups will give you access to a massive network of people with whom you have something in common. (Networking boils down to finding commonalities.)

To search for groups to join:

  • Look for Groups directly in the search bar, just as you would find connections, companies, or anything else on LinkedIn. (g., warehouse management, accounting, digital marketing)
  • On the search results page, click on the “Groups” filter option.
  • Look through the groups and click on the ones you’re interested in joining.

TIP: Join groups where hiring managers and those in a management position in companies you’d like to join are active. For example, say you want to join Soylent Corporation. You notice that Sol Roth is part of “Commercial Finance Professionals.” (When you visit a person’s LinkedIn profile, scroll down to the bottom of their profile and the ‘Interest’ section click on ‘Groups’ to see which groups the person has joined.) Join the group and begin engaging with Sol’s posts—commenting to show your expertise and how you think.

  1. Research your interviewer

All successful interviews have one thing in common, the interviewer and the interviewee relate to each other on some level. Connecting with your interviewer and vice versa will enormously benefit you. Learn about your interviewer’s work history (Maybe you both worked at the same company at one point, or they worked at the same company as your wife or best friend.), likes, interests, and more—look for common ground.

It’s a small world; you’d be surprised how often you’ll find a connection with someone within one or two degrees. Use this information to create relatability. It’s human nature to want to work with people you like, feel comfortable with, and relate to.

(WARNING: Harsh truth.) Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.  

  1. Post and network strategically.

When it comes to getting the highest amount of exposure on social media, timing is everything!

According to Sprout Social, the best days, and times to post on LinkedIn are Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00 AM – Noon, and Wednesday, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. The worst day to post is Sundays.

For obvious reasons, the use of LinkedIn is most likely to take place during the workweek, in contrast to Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok, which see an upswing outside of work hours. Therefore, you’re less likely to get eyes on your LinkedIn engagement efforts on weekends.

8. 2 Interview Questions You Will be Asked—Question 1

Every job exists to solve a problem, to respond to an employer’s need. For example, the purpose of accounting is to accumulate and report on a business’s financial information regarding performance, financial position, and cash flow. Using this information, the company’s leadership makes business management decisions, investors decide whether to invest in the company, and financial institutions decide whether to lend it money. You should keep in mind the reason(s) the position you’re interviewing for exists, and ensure you’re checking off the following to have a successful interview:

  1. Know the company, and ideally, your interviewer’s story.
  2. Prepare for the two questions you’ll be asked.
  3. Present yourself as the solution to the company’s problem(s).
  4. Have questions.

In this column and the next, I’ll discuss being prepared for the two questions your interviewer will surely ask you:

First Question: “Walk me through your resume.” or “Tell me about yourself.”

You’re being asked, “What is your career story?” This is the most critical question you’ll be asked in an interview, so know your career story and be able to deliver it flawlessly! Your career story will either turn on your interviewer or turn them off. 

The reason interviewers ask for a candidate’s career story is to determine the candidate is worth investing time in and gauge how well they can articulate who they are. Therefore, you want to tell your career story in a way that’s compelling, relatable, and, most importantly, paints a picture of your competencies.

There’s a scientific explanation for our love of stories: When we hear, read, or see (e.g., movie, Netflix series) a story that resonates with us, our “feel-good” hormone oxytocin levels increase, boosting our feelings of trust, compassion, and empathy. Storytelling, a skill I recommend you become adept at, builds connections. When interviewing, as I mentioned in previous columns, your primary objective is to establish a connection with your interviewer. 

Don’t try to improvise. Since you’ll be asked for your career story in every interview, it’s worth investing some time writing out your career story and practicing delivering it.

Your career story shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes to deliver and should provide details, along with several results—numbers are critical. Mention the number of people you’ve led, the revenue you and or your team generated, the savings you created.

People don’t have short attention spans. They have short interest spans. Make your interviewer interested in you!

Here’s my career story:

“Years ago, I found myself working in Cantel’s call center offering additional services to their customers. I liked it, and I was hitting my targets. Since I had some previous managerial experience managing a furniture store, I approached a recruiter about possibly landing a leadership role in a call center. She presented me to a manufacturer of promotional items that was expanding its outbound call center, Myron Manufacturing. Jackie, my manager at Myron, mentored me on coaching agents, understanding call statistics, and achieving revenue targets. I spent over 5 years at Myron learning the ins and outs of managing a sales-generating outbound call center. I left Myron to challenge myself by going to India for 3 years, building an inbound call center for As Seen On TV products and then managing a third-party call center with 85 agents over 2 shifts. Upon returning to Toronto, I joined The Travel Corporation, the ultimate sales-driven and customer-centric industry, where I supervised 85 agents for eight years. I then joined Crocs for two years as their Customer Service Manager. My next job was with Moneris, where I managed their inbound sales department. My annual revenue target was $47 million, which I reached every year. After leaving Moneris, I worked for 3 years at Cognizant, managing 60 agents who moderated content for Facebook and Instagram. Today I’m the call center operation manager at GFL Environmental Inc., overseeing 200 agents handling inbound call inquiries. For the past 10 years, I’ve been on the advisory board of the Customer Service Professional Network. Some fun facts about me, I’m a weekend golfer, an aspiring writer, and I enjoy taking drives in my ’82 Corvette.”

Your career story should reflect your career in the way you want it to be portrayed and give an insight into your capabilities, along with a few “outside of work” interests. (You’re more than just your work.

In my next column, I’ll discuss the second question you’ll be asked: Why do you want to leave your current employer?

9. 2 Interview Questions You Will be Asked—Question 2

In my last column, I discussed the question every interview starts with, “Walk me through your resume,” or “Tell me about yourself.” Essentially, you’re being asked, “What is your career story?” The second question, you’ll be asked if you’re employed at the time you’re interviewing, is fraught with the potential of sending the wrong message to your interviewer.

Second Question: Why do you want to leave your current employer?

The reasons someone is looking to leave their current job are infinite. I’d hazard a guess that looking for more money is the number one reason, and not getting along with your boss or the leadership team is a close second.

I’m going to tell you a secret I learned a long time ago. In order to have a successful interview, you need to tell your interviewer what they want to hear. Therefore, you must understand why your interviewer is asking you a particular question.

I can’t speak for all hiring managers, but when I interview a candidate, I try to gauge the following:

  1. Ability to articulate. (Having above-average communication skills is paramount with me.)
  2. Problem-solving skills.
  3. Confidence and having a clear sense of purpose.
  4. Likeability.
  5. Are they a flight risk?

The reason I ask, “Why are you leaving your current employer?” which is the question every hiring manager asks, is to gauge whether the candidate might be a flight risk. Although I don’t expect an employee to stick around until they cut their retirement cake in the lunchroom, I’d like to feel there’s a good chance they’ll stick around for a while. 

I mentioned in my previous column that you want to be prepared with your career story so you can tell it succinctly and without rambling. The same “be prepared in advance” advice applies to answering why you’re looking to leave your current employer. You want to tell your interviewer why you’re looking to leave without hesitation. The key is to make your interviewer feel comfortable you won’t jump ship after 1 or 2 years just because the mood strikes you. 

  Before crafting your “why you’re looking to leave” answer, consider these two factors:

  1. Length of time at your current job. A short stint—less than 2 years—is a red flag to most employers. My suggestion: Use the “tame answer” example I give below.
  2. Your employer’s size, brand, and reputation. Wanting to leave a well-known financial institution or international pharmaceutical company might raise an interviewer’s eyebrows; therefore, your reason for wanting to leave needs to be convincing. Possible answer: “Acme Inc. has given me invaluable experience, however its made me realize that I would prefer to work at a smaller company where I can have a greater impact.”

You don’t want to seem like you’re only looking out for yourself. Employers and employees both have self-interests—it’s a given that you’ll look out for yours. During your first interview, focus on the employer’s self-interests. Avoid mentioning you’re looking for more money, better benefits, work-life balance, more challenge or furthering your career. Employers aren’t in the business of growing careers. Their success depends on having the right people doing the right things. You want to come across as the right person for the job and company, who’ll do the right things.

The standard advice is to never bad-mouth your employer. Again, I’m not able to speak for all hiring managers. I encourage those I interview to be completely candid with me. I’ve hired several candidates who said something along the lines of, “My manager and I no longer see eye-to-eye.” My follow-up question, to determine whether the candidate will be a fit for my management style: “What are you looking for from your next manager?” 

Yes, I’ve hired candidates who admitted they were fired. (I’m drawn to candidates who are honest and transparent.) My follow-up question: What did you learn from being fired?”

Good reasons to want to leave your job:

  • Hours
  • Commute 
  • Recently received a degree or certification

The tamest answer you can give: “I wasn’t considering a move, but I saw your job posting and was intrigued. It seems like an exciting opportunity, and I believe it would be a match for my qualifications.” (This works well if you’ve been at your job for less than 5 years.)

Being more specific, “I earned my project management certification last month, and I am currently looking for my first job as a project manager,” will make you appear career-focused, which is positive.

10. Consider Your Interviewer's Side

Every story has two sides.

Every person has their own perspective. 

Every person is looking out for their self-interest. 

Those with above-average people skills always consider how the world looks from the other person’s point of view (POV). By imagining themselves in the other person’s shoes, they’re in a better position to understand, empathize, and build a relationship based on mutual respect.

Think of all the possible back-of-the-mind questions going through your interviewer’s head as they interview you. Some questions they’re asking themselves: 

  • “Will I be able to justify hiring Nick to my boss, my colleagues and the team members Nick will be working with?”
  • “Will Nick be a flight risk?” 
  • “Is how Nick is presenting himself really who he is?” 
  • “Will Nick be able to hit the ground running?”
  • “Can Nick help solve our problems?” 
  • “Will Nick be easy to manage?”

Hiring is a MASSIVE risk! 

According to the US Department of Labor, a bad hire can cost the company up to 30% of the employee’s first-year salary. Mellon Financial Corporation did a study that reported bad hires can cost a company 1% – 2.5% of their revenue due to the cost of hiring and productivity loss. An interviewer isn’t going to say to themselves, “Nick seems nice. Let’s pay him tens of thousands of dollars and hope he works out.”

Savvy candidates always take the interviewer’s POV into account. Consequently, they demonstrate empathy, which is a powerful way to establish a bond with your interviewer or anyone.

In addition, your interviewer has undoubtedly been burned before by, for example, candidates who had a beard, were a Millennialhad a long commute, claimed to be a team player. During interviews candidates will “say and promise.” However, often once hired, they forget what they said and promised. Understandably, your interviewer’s hiring experiences create biases, which you have no visibility to. 

Bias is an inescapable part of human nature. Despite government efforts to eliminate employers’ biases, bias will always exist in some form. This fundamental reality of human nature is why my overarching job search advice is to seek your tribe. Think: “I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe!”

Looking for your tribe mitigates the amount of bias you’ll encounter during your job search.

“The hiring process is broken!” is something I hear from those who aren’t getting the jobs they want. The truth is employers design their hiring process (Employers own their hiring process.) to guard their self-interest, which is to make the right hires. Employers don’t hire with the foremost intention of catering to the job seeker’s self-interests. In addition to costing money and time, unsuccessful hiring also reflects poorly on the interviewer, who I can assure you doesn’t want their hiring skills questioned. I’ve made my share of “bad hires”; the fallout was never pretty. Therefore, I understand why employers are cautious about hiring. 

Your interviewer’s wanting to maintain their reputation is something as a job seeker you should empathize with.

The many risks associated with hiring is why most employers tend to have a hiring process that’s conservative and lengthy (several interviews, personality tests, criminal background checks, credit checks) rather than liberal and fast. 

Wishful thinking creates the false narrative that employers being cautious in their hiring practices hinders them from hiring qualified, and most important, culturally fitting candidates.

Here are your takeaways from this column:

  1. Walk into your interviews with one mission: To make your interviewer believe you belong.
  2. Before an interview, envision what it feels like to sit on your interviewer’s side of the desk.
  3. Visualize all the risks your interviewer will face if they hire you and then present yourself as much as possible as “risk-free.”         

Your interviews will go better if you have this POV. You’ll be more persuasive simply because, right from the start, you’re focused outward, towards your interviewer, rather than inward. (“What’s in it for me” is a turn-off.)

An interview is not as cut and dry as a skill-testing question. A human being is asking you questions and judging your answers against their concerns and biases. With me, there’s no right answer, only an honest one. If your honest answer doesn’t get you hired, then so be it and move on. Moving on is a survival skill all job seekers should develop.

When interviewing, don’t agonize over trying to get inside your interviewer’s head. Keep in mind your interviewer is human and probably feels as apprehensive as you feel.

Accepting Your Reality Is Important, Especially for Job Seekers

Some “food for thought” when it comes to syncing your reality with your job search.

Years ago, a defining moment for me occurred at 2:30 AM on a Friday morning in Times Square. A few minutes earlier, it had stopped raining. My friend was trying to hail a taxi to get us back to Hackensack, New Jersey. I took out a cigarette and then realized I didn’t have a lighter. So, I asked a hunched-over man walking by for a light. He produced a Zippo. I commented on the beauty of the neon lights reflecting off the wet pavement. My new friend snapped shut his Zippo. As he walked away, he said, “For every lightbulb on Broadway, there are a thousand broken hearts.”

BOOM! a hit of reality—most people never realize their dream and move onto their plan B or C, assuming they had a plan B or C.

The fact is most of us will never live our dreams—not entirely. At some point, you’ll have to conclude “it is what it is” and either make the best of it or move on.

The popular advice is you should always follow your dreams and passions. In a world (I’m thinking globally.) where most people are just looking to survive to the next day, we’re privileged to think of “follow your dream” as “career advice.” The self-help industry pushes this advice, as do career coaches. Marketing capitalizes on people pursuing their dreams, which created the Western cultural belief that anyone can achieve anything they desire if they work hard enough.

“Follow your dream” advice is sticky because it implies that if you don’t follow your dream, you’re settling (God forbid) for less.

Never is the advice to make peace with your reality. 

  • She’s not in love with you.
  • The world doesn’t need another juggling mime.
  • Everyone is vying for the one (keyword) corner office.
  • You don’t have what it takes to make it in Hollywood.
  • Only a handful of people make a living as a snowboarder.

In my experience, much of life is characterized by, “It is what it is!” and the greatest source of unhappiness is unrealistic expectations.

Putting your hopes on landing a job you have at best a slim chance of landing is a disservice to your job search and happiness. At 47, will you be able to pivot from being an accountant to becoming a sought-after fashion designer? Sometimes I’ll ask a candidate, “When you were in high school, what were you hoping to become?” Most of the time, I hear the cliché “a rockstar,” “a hockey player,” “a police officer.” I’m looking for insight into how the candidate saw themselves in their youth. Then I ask, “So what happened?” to see if they tend to blame others instead of themselves. 

Once a candidate, who I’d say was in their late 30s, told me his dream was to make a living as a comedian. As much as possible, he’d do open mic nights, hoping to get discovered. I hired this person and went to several of his open mics. Some people are naturally funny; most people aren’t. While I give him kudos for his determination, he was most people.

Clint Eastwood, as “Dirty Harry” Callahan, in Magnum Force (1973), gave what I consider to be sage advice: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” 

Sometimes you need to say to yourself, “I’m not cut out for being a (whatever).” I’ve said this to myself more than once. When it’s in your best interest, there’s no shame in quitting and trying something else.

Often job seekers reach for jobs they’re told by well-meaning family members and friends to go after. Or they have friends whose jobs they wish they had because these “friends” present themselves as being successful. They believe having the title of “Manager,” or “Junior VP,” or “Senior Operation Manager” will define them as being successful, or at least make them appear successful.

Straight talk: All jobs (“What is it you do?”) are a means to an end—an income. In today’s expanding/contracting economic climate, it’s foolish to have your identity dependent on your job, which you’ve seen can vanish in an instant.

Today, many people are miserable and job search frustrated. They’re pursuing “dream jobs,” they think will make them happy and show the world they’re successful. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, waking up from the fantasy world of “the dream job” will benefit you and your job hunt in many ways.

12. When Job Searching What’s More Important, Your Resume or LinkedIn Profile?

This question can be answered by answering: What does the world see, your resume or your LinkedIn profile?

Whether you’re actively or passively looking for a new job, it’s no secret an up-to-date and engaging LinkedIn profile will get you noticed by employers and recruiters. Does this mean your resume is less important?

The short answer: No, however, it’s secondary to the importance of your LinkedIn profile. 

Like a salesperson handing a prospect a brochure, a resume is a marketing tool you use to apply for a job. Your LinkedIn profile establishes your professional online presence, connects you with colleagues, companies, recruiters, and other professionals, showcases your career, and is an intricate part of creating your personal brand. Most importantly, your LinkedIn profile can be a job opportunity magnet.  

How you apply for a role will determine whether your resume or LinkedIn is first viewed. If the job application didn’t request that you submit a resume (e.g., you applied via ‘LinkedIn Easy Apply’), the hiring manager will view your LinkedIn profile directly.

If you upload/attach your resume to a job board, LinkedIn, or directly with the company, the hiring manager will first look at your resume and then look at your LinkedIn profile if they deem you might be a fit. 

TIP: Include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume.

It doesn’t matter how good your resume is; hiring managers will review your LinkedIn profile and activities (comments, posts, endorsements, articles, and projects) and your digital footprint to decide if you’re interview-worthy.

In an ideal world, your resume will pass the employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), then be read by the hiring manager, who’ll think you’re a possibility. Then, if the job search Gods are blessing you, after reviewing your LinkedIn profile and social media activity (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), the hiring manager will say to themselves, “I have to meet this person!”

Not long ago, the purpose of your resume was to land an interview. The goal of a resume today is to get the reader to visit your LinkedIn profile, so they learn more about you, your work, qualifications, and career story.

The following are the distinguishing factors between your resume and LinkedIn profile:


  • Opportunity to tell your career story. (past, current and ongoing) Your LinkedIn profile is a place for details, context, vivid pictures, and engagement—all that glitter you edit from your resume to make it two pages.
  • Isn’t formal. Put yourself in the reader’s position—third person resume language isn’t what readers lean into. Use a conversational tone. Include details that humanize you. Don’t just describe what you do; explain why you enjoy it. 
  • You can support your claims. Your resume is taken at face value. Visiting your LinkedIn profile and interviewing you is how your skills and experience are formally accessed. Take full advantage of your LinkedIn profile to showcase your skills, talents, and career achievements. Your profile should have recommendations, articles you’ve published and projects you’ve facilitated or been a part of.
  • Keywords (reason for). For your LinkedIn profile to be effective, it needs to be keyword optimized, but for a different reason than using keywords throughout your resume to pass an employer’s ATS. Including keywords related to your skills, experience, and desired role, will result in your profile appearing more often and higher in LinkedIn searches by employers and recruiters.
  • A profile picture. This is non-negotiable. Period.


  • Organic document. Your LinkedIn is static and only modified to add achievements and job changes. To maximize your resume’s efficiency, you need to tailor it to the specific job requirements of the position you’re applying for. 
  • Concise. Get to the point. Only highlight (bullet points) your skills and experience relevant to the job you’re applying for. 
  • Keywords (reason for). Your resume needs to get past the employer’s/recruiter’s ATS. Mine keywords by referring to the job ad, especially qualifications and the company’s website. Use these keywords throughout your resume to get past the company’s ATS.
  • Formal. A resume is a formal document written in the third person and has a professional tone. 
  • No picture. Never include a picture on your resume.

Due to its length limitations, your resume doesn’t allow you to present the best version of your experience, skills, and background. On the other hand, a LinkedIn profile enables you to present a comprehensive career story with supporting backups. This, plus LinkedIn’s global reach, is why I suggest you give your LinkedIn profile “slightly” more love than your resume.  

13. Negotiating a Starting Salary, Are You Willing to Walk Away

  • This hiring manager just saved her company $45K in salary, which can either be used elsewhere in the company or added to the bottom line. Don’t think this hiring manager’s boss will not be appreciative of the savings.
    The dual between the self-interests of the employer vs. the job seeker is what’s causing the discourse. In the case of negotiating your salary… why are you “negotiating? Simply state the salary you want and accept the consequences, which may include not getting the job. The key to any negotiations is to be willing to walk away. If you state a salary and the hiring manager says that’s not feasible, then thank them for their time and move on. Keep in mind, you created your lifestyle, not the employer. Therefore don’t expect employers to be responsible for the lifestyle you created.  
  • Perks, vacation time, work hours, laptop/cellphone, etc.
  • The more expensive you make yourself the more of a liability you are to your employer’s bottom-line, therefore making it more attractive to outsource your job to where it can be done cheaper.






Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.


14. Bring Evidence to Your Interviews

In every hiring scenario, the hiring manager is looking for someone as close to a “sure thing” as possible. Therefore, the story of how you’ve added value to your employers needs to be told throughout your résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and during interviews. This is how you sell yourself! 

Successful job seekers understand a job search is a sales process. They see themselves as a salesperson hunting for prospects (employers), building a pipeline of potential clients (employers), and scheduling interviews because that’s where “the sale” is made. Don’t kid yourself; interviews are sales meetings.

A professional salesperson knows the most effective way to make a sale is to demonstrate value. They articulate how the product or service they’re selling will generate revenue, save money, save time, improve results, or fix a pain point. 

Ask yourself: What will an employer gain by hiring you? The “gain(s)” is your value, which you need to convey to employers.

Most job seekers answer their interviewer’s questions giving cliché answers, “I’m a team player,” “I’m great at sales,” “I love writing,” “I’m detail-oriented.” Without numerically quantifying or mentioning specific accomplishments, these are just the candidate’s opinions, and employers don’t hire opinions. 

Talk is cheap. You might be very good at your current job, but if you don’t demonstrate and vividly communicate your expertise and results (Employers hire to achieve results.) throughout your job search, you’ll struggle to find your next job.

Providing examples of how you have the competencies listed in the job description is essential when job hunting (e.g., problem-solving, taking initiative, managing change, bringing in revenue, creating process improvements, leadership skills). What better way to prove your competencies and track record than bringing evidence to your interview?

Don’t tell an employer what you think your value is—prove it with evidence!

Do you expect your interviewer to simply take your word? The next time you’re interviewing, consider bringing the following evidence to show your skills, capabilities, and results you’ve achieved. 

  • Performance report

My world (call center management) revolves around productivity reports. Such reports show me how my call center is doing, whether it’s meeting its objectives, and which agents are distracting it from meeting its objectives. Over the years, I’ve had a few candidates who’ve been astute enough to show me their recent call center statistics. Such proactive initiative always impresses me and makes my hiring decision easier. 

Numbers are the language of business. Showing your interviewer recent reports of your performance (e.g., sales reports, key performance indicators) will go a long way in proving you walk your talk. Anyone can say they were a top 5 sales rep at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc. However, producing last month’s sales report ranking the company’s 45 sales reps and showing you were third in sales revenue changes your claim into an undeniable fact. Undeniable facts are influential.

What recent (no older than 3 months) reports can you bring to your next interview? Sales Report? Website Traffic Report? Social Media Report? Marketing Report?

  • Appraisal/performance review

During your job search, you’ll most likely be asked something along the lines of, “If I were to call your boss, what would they say about you?” or “What will your references say about you should I call them?”

Your interviewer is asking you what your past/current manager thinks of your job performance. Which is more powerful, giving a verbal answer such as “My last manager would say I was one of the best hires he has ever made. He’d say I was the go-to person to get things accomplished on our team,” or saying, as you hand over your last performance review, “I’m glad you asked. Here’s my last appraisal, which I’m proud of. As you’ll see, my manager thought highly of my work, professionalism and how I contributed to the department’s success.”? Just answering the interviewer’s question without producing evidence is hoping your interviewer will simply believe you.

Other ways you can provide proof (READ: evidence):

  • Media appearances (e.g., newspaper articles)
  • Written recommendations
  • Presentations/videos (e.g., you as a keynote speaker)
  • Portfolio (articles, graphics, etc.)
  • Awards, honours and recognitions
  • 360 reviews

Besides not being a fit, the most common reason candidates get rejected is their inability to provide relevant, concrete examples of what they’ve done in their current/previous job that is relevant to the position they’re seeking.

Bringing evidence to your interviews will set you apart from your competition and provide hard proof that what you claim is true, which no interviewer will be able to ignore.  

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.


15. Find a Job Fast With These Methods

No job seeker wants a prolonged job search, especially if they’re unemployed.

Holistically the most efficient way to land a job is to stay focused and determined—persevere! Create a daily job search schedule with daily job search activity goals (e.g., Number of applications and reach outs to companies you’d like to join.). Constantly be networking. Ask your contacts to introduce you to their contacts. Nothing will get you into an organization faster than having an inside person vouching for you. 

Set up job alerts—lead generation—on job boards such as Monster, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, companies you’re interested in and LinkedIn, so opportunities land in your inbox. Follow up on every lead. Finally, constantly look to improve, especially when it comes to interviewing. After every interview, evaluate yourself and tweak your answers and questions for the next time.

Besides having these job search habits and tools in place, focus on the following: 

  1. Search for your tribe. 

Those who read my column know my fundamental job search advice: Search for your tribe! Looking for your tribe is the best compass you can use when searching for a job. Don’t look for a job; look for where you belong and will be accepted.

Trying to fit into a company where you don’t belong will frustrate you and extend your job search. Think: “I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe!”

  1. Be realistic about your worth to employers.

Labour costs are a business’s enemy.

No doubt you’ve heard about the “Great Resignation,” also being called the “Great Reshuffle,” and how companies are having a hard time hiring. I’m going to throw some cold water on this narrative. 

Job seekers are now trying to negotiate a high compensation package, benefits, perks, flex hours, WFH, etc. Employers are making concessions (for now) to candidates’ demands because they’re in a bind.

Job seekers aren’t considering what will happen when the job market turns around, which it inevitably will. When the job market turns expensive employees who aren’t providing a healthy ROI for their salary will be the first to be downsized.

Don’t let today’s “employees are in the driver seat” feel-good story make you an expensive hire. 

Know your market worth and aim for compensation amount. (There are many online resources such as Glassdoor.com. Payscale.com and Salary.com that offer salary comparisons.) Yes, you can benefit from an employer’s current hiring struggle, but beware, you’ll become a liability if their revenue slumps. Remember, economies are constantly expanding and contracting; therefore, think long-term.

Keeping your compensation package realistic gives you a better chance of getting hired over more qualified candidates who expect, because the media keeps reporting there’s a labour shortage, employers to grovel to hire them. Be humble, be realistic regarding your salary expectation.

  1. Present yourself as the solution to the employer’s problems.

Jobs exist to solve an employer’s problems. Whether we’re an accountant (Problem: Keeping track of revenue and expenses.), a sales representative (Problem: Revenue generation.), or an HR manager (Problem: Hiring the right employees, retaining current employees.) presenting yourself as the answer to an employer’s problem is the best way to convince an employer you’re the person for the job. 

The next time you come across a job opportunity you want to pursue, ask yourself:

  1. Why does this job exist? 
  2. What problems is this job supposed to solve? 
  3. How do my skills and experience make me the person to solve the problems this job exists to solve?

Then, whether you’re applying to a job opening or you’re a referral, focus on communicating to the employer reasons you’re the best person to solve the problems the job is supposed to solve.

  1. Make your LinkedIn profile SEO-friendly.

These days, a great deal of hiring is done via LinkedIn, where recruiters and hiring managers search for and approach potential candidates to fill their open roles. Therefore, in order for your LinkedIn profile to appear in searches it must be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly. The following 3 SEO tips will increase your odds of appearing in searches:

  1. Research and include throughout your profile relevant SEO-boosting keywords.
  2. Complete your profile in full, including a current profile picture.
  3. Regularly share keyword-rich content, using relevant hashtags.

A clear plan and staying focused are essential if you wish to avoid a lengthy job search. Above all, believe in yourself! Employers are attracted to confidence stemming from candidates knowing their skill set and experience are precisely what the employer needs.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.


16. When Job Hunting Make Finding a Great Boss Your Priority

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Over the course of my career, I learned the “hard way” that it’s better to report to a good boss at a bad company than a bad boss at a good one.

The typical job seeker reads through job descriptions hoping to find one that reads like them. The thinking: “The closer I fit the job description, the more likely I’ll get hired.” That kind of thinking is counterproductive to your career and enjoying your employment. Yes, to be invited for an interview, your skills and experiences must be aligned with the job description. What about being aligned with your future boss? Shouldn’t finding a stellar boss be your priority?

Job seekers tend to focus on the company, salary, paid time off, benefits, etc. and not on the person they’ll be reporting to. Reverse your priorities, focus on the person to whom you’ll report, then the company, salary, etc.

A great boss isn’t just someone who knows the business, make decisions and intuitively delegates. A great boss is a teacher, a mentor and above all is someone you can count on. They’re someone who shows you your opportunities to enhance your skillset and who believes in you. When you have a great boss, you learn not only what you need to know to do your job, but also what you need to know to move forward.

For these reasons and many more, you should focus on choosing a great boss first. Don’t just focus on the company or industry. A great boss is critical to your success. My career today exists because of three great bosses I was privileged to have worked for. 

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard of the “Great Resignation” and how employers have difficulty filling their open positions. This has resulted in recruiting efforts, especially for candidates with in-demand skills, becoming aggressive in luring (READ: deceiving, duping, misleading) candidates. I often hear from new hires who are disheartened to discover that the position, workplace, and management are entirely different from what they were told during the hiring process. 

Before accepting a job, get to know your future boss. Without good leadership—leadership that supports you—your dream job isn’t a dream job. When employees are asked to describe a great boss, they say:

  • Puts people first.
  • Leads by example.
  • Shares information.
  • Is committed to excellence.
  • Shows appreciation and gives recognition.
  • Delegates effectively, then gets out of the way.
  • Has your back and wants to see you succeed in your position and career.

A great boss is hard to find, difficult to part from, and impossible to forget—they make your work life significantly better. No one does, or tries to do, their best work without a supportive boss and a healthy work environment. In contrast, a bad boss micromanages you, blames you, and holds you back in an attempt to not lose you, all which will make you miserable.

Never accept a job offer unless the person you’ll report to was part of your hiring process and you had the opportunity to ask them questions such as:

  • How do you acknowledge achievements?
  • What irritates you?
  • What’s your communication style?
  • Over the next 12 months, what would be my highest priorities?
  • How do you measure and track success?
  • How do you address performance issues?
  • How would you describe your management style? How will you manage me?
  • Please tell me a story that illustrates your management style.
  • What characteristics should a person have to be successful in this role?
  • What challenge(s) is the company currently facing? How are they being addressed?
  • What’s your philosophy on performance reviews? How often is performance evaluated?
  • What would you add or subtract from the current team to strengthen performance and productivity?
  • What constitutes a workday? What are the working hours? What are your expectations regarding taking work home, staying late or being reachable after hours?
  • Can I get a copy of the employee handbook to read at home?

What’s in a job description does matter. However, in our hyper-changing world, it’s also temporary. Accepting a job shouldn’t solely be based on a job description, which will for the most part be irrelevant in a few years. In terms of having an envy-worthy career, leadership is much more important since it focuses on the long-term. Your time spent doing your due diligence determining whether you and your potential new boss can have a great working relationship will be time you won’t regret having spent.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.


17. Show You’re a Culture Fit—Just Don't Over Do It.

I can’t stress enough the importance of an employer seeing you as one of them to being hired.

A few jobs back, while analyzing stats reports, my phone rang. It was Crocs’s Director of Talent Acquisition calling from the company’s head office in Boulder, Colorado. He’d come across a Pinterest board I’d created, ‘Brands that Have My Heart,’ and saw I included Crocs. He then checked out my LinkedIn profile. Turned out my background was a fit with a position he had open. (This is why you should keep your social media presence current and clean.)

I said, “Your call is like the mothership calling.” He laughed, and we had a great conversation resulting in my joining Crocs.

When interviewing, don’t underestimate the importance of making it clear you’re a culture fit. Ready for counterintuitive advice that’s worked for me? Adopt the attitude “Either I’m a fit, or I’m not,” and then just be who you are. Being someone you’re not, to fit in, never works in the long run.

My advice doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be strategic in making your interviewer see you’re a good fit. Here are three “I’m a fit” strategies to try:

  1. Communicate you have the same values and passions.

Professing your undying love for the company doesn’t tell your interviewer whether you’ll actually fit in with the team and you’re someone others will want to be working with.

Research the company’s core values. Read its mission statement, ‘About Us’ page, and social media postings. Determine what the company cares about. Then ask yourself how it overlaps with your own career and personal experiences.

Now you can lead with something like, “I’m an avid camper; I love your tents, which is why I applied to be your next Director of Sales. I own your Giga Tent. Regardless of the weather, it’s never failed me. Your website mentions how Habitat Camping Gear’s mission is to embrace enjoying the outdoors in an environmentally friendly way. That resonated with me. Camping is how I unplug from the city. Like most campers, I’m environmentally conscious. Camping has minimal adverse effects on our environment compared to flying to a resort, which creates a large carbon footprint. “

  1. Appear knowledgeable, not obsessed.

Think again if you believe showing over the top bubbly enthusiasm for the company’s products and/or services and “raison d’être” will give you an edge over your competition. (TIP: Every company’s reason for existence is to make a profit, therefore, speak to this as much as possible.)

Say you’re interviewing for a Senior Character Technical Animator position with Warner Bros. Your interview isn’t the place to give your rendition of Bug Bunny’s “Ehh, what’s up, doc?” or re-enact your favourite scene from Troy. 

You want your interviewer to subtly notice your passion. Create a plan for what you’ll do once you get the job. Then share it and discuss Warner Bros.’s challenges and how your plan addresses those challenges.

This shows you’re interested in Warner Bros.’s success and you understand the problems they’re facing. You’re also showing what every employer looks for in a candidate, initiative. Candidates who present me with a plan of action are candidates I lean into.

  1. Send a thank you note. That’s it!

I understand; you’re eager to hear about the status of your candidacy, and you want to prove you REALLY want the job. However, too much follow-up will work against you—you’ll look desperate, which is a turn-off.

Take a deep breath. On the same day of your interview, email a thank you note. (Yes, thank you notes do have influence.) Thank your interviewer for their time and offer more. Provide more information to a question you were asked, give feedback on recent news you read about the company, or ask a clarifying question. Then wait. Don’t follow up! (seriously) I don’t believe in chasing an employer; either they want you, or they don’t. No answer is an answer.

Two more “I’m a fit” strategies:

  • Language usage is telling. Throughout your interview, use terminology specific to the job and industry.
  • Every company has an unofficial way of dressing (READ: uniform). Before your interview, find out what it is and follow it. When I interviewed with Crocs, I wore my Crocs.

Joining a company whose culture is right for you should be what guides your job search. By balancing your enthusiasm with research, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting a job at a company where you feel you belong.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.


18. Strategically Pick Your References

Hiring is costly, thus why employers ask for references—the last hurdle to jump over to reach your job search finish line. 

Before going to a restaurant, you’ve never been to, you likely check out online reviews, as you would read Amazon reviews before ordering a herbal remedy you’ve never tried or a laptop.

Employers conduct reference checks for the same reasons you read reviews before making a purchasing decision: They want to know what kind of employee you’ll be (most likely) and whether you’ll be worth the salary investment.

Furthermore, your opinion of yourself and your work is biased. Someone substantiating your claims goes a long way in making an employer feel confident you’re the right person for the job. A few jobs back, I had a candidate going on about how they were a “team player.” They even told me great STAR stories. However, when I spoke to a former colleague, they painted an entirely different picture of the person. Providing references who’ll speak positively about you should be obvious.

I’ve seen great resumes, impressive interview performances, and all the candidate’s efforts negated by bad references. Hence, their candidacy was no longer considered. 

Speak to your potential references before starting your job search. Changing jobs is common these days; therefore, there’s a good chance your former boss is no longer at your former employer. This is why it’s a good idea to stay in touch with former colleagues and bosses. You don’t want to be asked for references, a sign that your potential employer is considering offering you the job, and then find yourself scrambling trying to find references who’ll evangelize your abilities and provide examples of your work.

Don’t provide a list of names to employers without telling the people on the list that they’re references. Never share a person’s contact information without their prior consent. If I receive a reference request out of the blue, I decline to act as a reference. First off, I’m caught off guard. Secondly, the person who gave my name and contact information without my permission didn’t show any common courtesy. Nobody is owed a reference. 

As a hiring manager, I’ve spoken to many references who weren’t excited or eager to act as a reference. Gauge how the person feels when you ask them to be your reference. Unless they say, “Sure, anytime!” or, as I tend to say, “I’ll make sure they want you more than you want them,” then don’t use the person as a reference. Don’t even try to convince them to be a reference.

I will occasionally decline to be a reference for obvious reasons; we parted on bad terms. Not only is it professional, but it’s also in your best interest to leave your job amicably. Leave the epic job quitting scenes in Jerry Maguire, Office Space and American Beauty to Hollywood. Keep in mind that it’s a small world; many industries are “close-knit,” and reputations travel on many roads—then there’s social media. You never know when you’ll need a former boss or colleague to act as a reference for you.

Your references should be people who can speak to your work output and results, your overall approach to projects, and your ability to collaborate and lead. Your mother, father, best friend, or that one successful uncle don’t count. Instead, choose former or current coworkers, past managers, or even clients and customers who can offer insight into your work and character.

Ideally, your references (Plan on having at least four references in case one or two are unavailable.) should include a recent boss, a peer, and a subordinate. Chose people who not only can speak to your performance and your potential but—this is key—who are articulate. They needn’t be orators, but one-word answers and “Oh, he’s nice” don’t make for a good reference.

If you have any doubt about someone being a reference, DON’T USE THEM! As I mentioned, regardless of how well your interviews went, a bad reference can destroy your chances of receiving a job offer.

Once you’ve lined up your references, give each of them a copy of your current résumé. When a potential employer asks for your references, inform your references to expect a call. As well, send them the link to the job posting or the job description.

Last but not least, thank your references for helping you take the next step in your career and stay in touch with them for your next job search.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

19. Before Joining 'The Great Resignation' Rethink Your Current Employer

My addiction to job hunting (“the hunt”) has made me somewhat of an expert at landing jobs—and a job hopper. 

“Look at me! I’m moving on to greener pastures!”, “I’m going to where I’ll be paid what I believe I’m worth!”, “At my new employer, management will get me.” I know firsthand how job-hopping can make a person feel as if they’re in control. 

I’ve also experienced firsthand, more than once, starting a new job and realizing within a few days, even hours, that leaving my previous employer was a mistake—I’d made a hasty decision.

The media is reporting that everyone is quitting their jobs; as a result, employers are experiencing “The Great Resignation.” This mass reshuffling of employment is attributed to the pandemic prompting employees to seek better jobs. 

Actually, the Great Resignation represents the peak of a long-term trend of rising quitting rates that began over a decade ago due to five factors: retirement, relocation, reconsideration, reshuffling, and reluctance.

If the media is to be believed, employers have trouble filling job openings; hence, job candidates are now in the driver’s seat. In contrast, emails I receive from frustrated job seekers paint a different picture. Don’t let wishful thinking lull you into believing today’s job market isn’t populated with hyper-competition, especially for sought-after jobs at sought-after companies.  

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t predict the future power dynamics between employers and employees. However, I’m certain about one thing, the employer-employee relationship, and the economy, which is cyclical, are in constant flux. Inevitably employers will be back in the driver’s seat, which given the rapid growth in AI, robotics, and self-service, not to mention using contractors and contractor, might be sooner than employees would like.  

Additionally, Bay Street and Wall Street are nervous, central banks are hiking interest rates attempting to curb inflation, and geopolitical unrest is worsening supply chain issues that began in 2020. Based on history, the recent spike in inflation will cause the economy to contract. The warning signs of a looming recession, possibly a major one, are flashing.

It’s not a matter of if there’ll be an economic contraction/recession; it’s a matter of when, which means employers will downsize.

If you’re considering joining the Great Resignation, keep the following in mind: Last one in, first one out. No one’s ever accused me of not being pragmatic.

I’m not saying you should stay with your current employer forever. Considering my track record that be hypocritical of me to say. Changing jobs for the right reasons and at the right time—making a well-thought-out strategic move—is often required for career advancement and income growth.  

What are your reasons for wanting to join the Great Resignation? We’re talking about your career. I assume you have career goals other than “to make lots of money.” Are you just jumping on the Great Resignation bandwagon? Is now the time for you to move on? Don’t let your ego make your decision. 

An article I read on the Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG™) website, 15+ Million Pandemic-Era U.S. Job Quitters Say They Were Better Off in Their Old Jobs, makes the point that we seldom give our decisions the serious consideration they deserve. According to the article, 43% of people who quit during the pandemic admit they were better off at their old jobs, and 1 in 5 have returned to their old employer. 

Maybe the media should be reporting on “The Great Regret.”

To avoid regretting having left your employer consider the following: 

  • TIP: Write a pros and cons list of leaving your current employer. 
  • Don’t just chase money. The most common reason to change jobs is to earn more money, but is the “more money after taxes” worth it? More money means more accountability, headaches, stress and hours, higher expectations, etc.
  • Are you running away from your present employer because the going is getting tough, and you believe elsewhere will be easier? What is your reasoning for believing that elsewhere will be better?
  • What do you expect from a new employer? Are you being realistic? 
  • How will changing your employer now advance your career?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a shiny new job, new colleagues, a new boss, etc. I know what the need to get out of Dodge feels like. However, upon reflection on whether the grass will be greener elsewhere, you might conclude staying put, for now, is in your best interest. Staying put could be the best career decision you ever make.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

20. Does ‘Networking’ Make You Sweat

Opportunities are all around you—the caveat is they’re attached to people. Therefore, (stay with me) the people you spend time with determines the opportunities you’re made aware of.

Building the right relationships—networking—is critical for your job hunts (You’ll be conducting a few throughout your career.) and your career trajectory. It’s not an overstatement to say, “relationships are everything.”

Those who take their career seriously are in constant networking mode. Networkers land the plumb jobs that aren’t advertised, they tap into where most job openings exist, the hidden job market. People who don’t network as part of their job search and career management activities either refuse to understand the value of networking or aren’t as serious about their job search/career as they claim they are.

You can either be networking (creating and maintaining relationships), or you can be an outsider looking in; it’s entirely up to you. Ask yourself: Who’s more likely to be hired, a stranger the hiring manager doesn’t know, or someone they’re familiar with, or a referral?  

I don’t think in terms of “I’m networking.” Instead, I prepared my ego by telling myself, “I’m just meeting people. Whatever happens, happens.” No expectations. No agenda. Because of this mental preparation, meeting new people has become second nature for me.

When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t think, “What can I get?” Instead, I ask myself, “How can I help this person?” This mind flip is a game-changer. Now I’m not nervous, breaking into a cold sweat. I’m looking at how I can help my new acquaintance, such as introducing them to someone they may benefit from meeting. Unlike most people, I view networking as offering help rather than trying to obtain help. This reverse approach eliminates “networking anxiety.” 

Focusing on how you can help a person is my first tip for making meeting new people less intimidating. My second tip, especially for those wishing to become comfortable with networking, is to practice networking with the right crowd. This tip is a spin on what I tell all job seekers, Search for your tribe!

Being personable is much easier when you feel comfortable, so start where you feel most at ease. Identify groups and communities with members whom you share a common interest with. Commonalities build relationships. Therefore, it makes sense to begin your networking efforts where there’s already a commonality.

Have you ever been to a classic car show or a sporting event and found yourself conversing with a stranger about the 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 you both are admiring or the triple play that just occurred? Commonality created the conversation. Whether it’s a classic car show, baseball game, rock concert, an art gallery opening, or a packed restaurant, you, along with everyone in attendance share a common interest.

Once you’re able to sustain a conversation beyond “That Stang’s a beauty!” and “What a great play!” you can start diversifying your networking opportunities, keeping in mind to focus on looking for commonalities.

“One should not focus on the differences between people but look for commonality and similarity.” – Theodore Levitt (German-American economist, 1925 – 2006)

Television host Larry King once said, “I never learned anything while I was talking.” How will you know what you can do for someone if you’re the one doing all the talking? You can’t. Ask questions and be genuinely curious. (e.g., How long have you been with your company? What’s the culture like? What trends do you see emerging in the next few years? How has the pandemic challenged your business?) Then ask more questions to gather more information. This is how you build relationships—leveraging the fact people love talking about themselves. 

Showing interest is a massive gesture to anyone you meet.

There are endless opportunities to interact with people. A few months back, during an elevator ride, I learned my neighbour on my condo floor worked was the HR Director for a large publishing house. Good to know! Every time you talk to someone, you learn something new. Everyone you meet is someone you can help and someone who could be of assistance to you in some way, if not today, possibly down the road. As I mentioned earlier, meeting new people is easier when you look to give instead of taking.

I’m sure you’ve heard, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” The second part of this statement is especially true. When it comes to opening doors, it’s often “who you know.”  

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

21. Why Is It Difficult to Get Hired During the Supposed 'Great Resignation'

The media is selling the narrative that a “Great Resignation” is taking place. However, many job seekers are having difficulty getting hired. 

Here are a few reasons why.

COVID caused significant economic damage.

Yes, pandemic restrictions are being lifted, and, for better or worse, we’re moving back to our 1st world lifestyle. However, the pandemic isn’t officially over, and nobody knows when it will be. Small businesses, those that survived, have been severely damaged by COVID, leaving many in a precarious position. According to the latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIBSmall Business Recovery Dashboard, only 40% of businesses have returned to normal sales.

Many employers are struggling and therefore can’t afford to backfill vacancies. Instead, they’re increasing the workload of their existing employees and/or cutting back business hours.

Layoffs are happening.

The number of layoffs since the start of the year has been alarming. Some of the layoffs that made headlines:

  • Netflix (150 employees)
  • Canopy Growth (250 employees)
  • Noom (495 employees)
  • Zillow (2,300 employees)
  • Carvana (2,500 employees)
  • Peloton (over 2,800 employees)
  • Better.com ( approx. 4,000 employees)

The hot job market is cooling down. This post-pandemic reset, caused by employers having overhired, a bear market, business growth slowing (With inflation hovering around 8%, consumers are spending less.), and higher labour costs, feels like a reckoning.

The “Great Resignation” may morph into the “Great Termination.” 

There’s talk of a looming recession.

“We will get a major recession.” – Deutsche Bank Economists, in a report to clients on April 26.

Employers, who, for the most part, are risk-averse, become nervous just hearing of a possible recession. Fear causes employers to slow, if not freeze, their hiring. 

There is intense competition for desirable jobs.

Don’t kid yourself; it’s raining resumes, especially for that job of your dreams.

The jobs people left, they left for a reason—poor working conditions, low pay and bad management. These are the jobs that are going unfilled. In my neighbourhood, a local bar & grill is still unable to open after pandemic restrictions have been lifted because they can’t find staff.

Finding a job isn’t difficult if you view work as a means to an end—you’re just looking for a paycheque. However, most job seekers are seeking jobs that offer fair compensation, flexibility as to where and when they work and a manager who’ll take an interest in cultivating, developing, and growing their skillset. Finding a job that ticks all your “wants” and “nice to haves” is difficult even in the best of times.

If you’re having trouble finding a job, re-evaluate which of your criteria are non-negotiable and which you can be flexible on. At this point, you may not have the skills, experience, or connections (Knowing the right people is what opens doors.) you need to land that perfect job at your company of choice.

Employers aren’t in a rush to fill vacancies.

Despite media claims of a labour shortage, employers are being selective in their hiring, perhaps even more so in the current uncertain economic climate. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns: Employers own their hiring processes. (and the results of) Just because how an employer hires doesn’t serve the job seeker’s self-interest doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve the employer’s. 

Onboarding a new employee is a lengthy, costly process, fraught with risks, especially with the current unstable economy. A bad hire can quickly become a liability.

Businesses are operating with fewer employees.

You’ve seen this: A colleague leaves and the work continues to get done!

Want to gauge your value to your employer? Ask yourself this uncomfortable question: What would happen to my employer if I left tomorrow? I’ve yet to meet an employee who can answer: My employer will go out of business.

Employers have many options for running their business with less employees: AI, robotics, self-checkout, automation, using contractors/freelancers, and outsourcing, to name a few. Furthermore, companies are redistributing work and restructuring responsibilities instead of hiring more employees.

Bottom line: 

There aren’t many “great jobs” out there, and the number is dwindling; thus, it’s a tough job market for the “great jobs.” Sought-after employers aren’t hurting for candidates. Don’t let all the Great Resignation talk lull you into believing employers, especially those everyone wants to work for, are begging for employees. Your job search still requires your A-game, which means:

  • Have clearly defined career objectives.
  • Make networking a habit.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
  • Communicate your achievements over your responsibilities. (Use numbers to show how you provided value to your employers.)

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

22. Getting the Salary You Want Is Your Responsibility

The number of people who accept a job and then complain about the pay afterwards amazes me. Didn’t they know the salary before accepting the job?

While money isn’t everything, feeling you’re getting paid fairly for your work is vital to your self-esteem and overall well-being. Getting the salary you want is your responsibility. 

Speaking of getting the salary you want, you probably hear all the “entitlement talk” about getting paid what you’re worth, which is highly subjective. The “get paid what you’re worth” movement causes many people to overestimate their worth to employers. 

Finding a job that offers the compensation, benefits and perks you desire starts with showing your value to employers. The passive (READ: lazy) attitude of, “I need more money, so I should be paid more,” is common. The onus is on the job seeker to show their value. 

Before embarking on your job search journey:

  • Critically assess your skills and experience. (create a list)
  • Brainstorm how you’ll show employers your track record of adding value to employers.
  • Research salaries in your job market. 
  • Establish a realistic target starting salary, along with benefits you want.
  • Envision how you’ll present yourself (e.g., resume, LinkedIn profile, interviews), so you’re answering the question: Why are your skills and experience worth paying for?

Career success begins with self-awareness. Being self-aware during your job search is crucial to accepting your weaknesses and evangelizing your strengths. Hence, you’ll gravitate toward jobs that capitalize on your strengths employers are willing to pay for. (Employers don’t pay for weaknesses.

As well, firmly knowing your strengths will empower you to convincingly explain (READ: sell) why your skills are worth paying for. On the other hand, knowing your weaknesses will help you determine what weaknesses hinder your career so you can work on overcoming them.

Keep a work journal.

20 years ago, I started keeping a work diary, which has proved invaluable. I highly recommend you do the same. When you’re preparing for an interview or want to ask for a raise, you’ll be thankful you’re keeping a work diary. Before leaving for the day, note your day’s accomplishments, results you achieved, conversations you had, challenges you overcame, milestones you reached, new skills you acquired, fires you put out, etc. 

Your work diary will be invaluable when preparing for interviews, especially when it comes to providing examples of your achievements and creating STAR stories. Additionally, your journal will be your best friend when you ask for a raise since you’ll have many reasons why you deserve one. 

Whether you’re negotiating a starting salary or asking for a raise, you need to build a case. Your work diary will provide the evidence (e.g., process improvements, revenue generated, monetary or time savings) you need and may have forgotten.

TIP: When talking about your accomplishments and results, use numbers to convey your value.

NO (responsibility statement): “I inputted customer orders.”

YES (accomplishment statement): “I inputted no fewer than 60 customer orders per day, with an accuracy rate of 99.5%.”

The achievement statements demonstrate how candidates deliver value to their employers, value that’s worth paying for.

Establish firm boundaries.

When you set non-negotiable boundaries regarding compensation, benefits, vacation and sick days, and working hours, you’re in control of your job search and career.  

I’ve lost count of how many interviews I’ve ended because a box on my non-negotiable list—I have 20 boxes—wasn’t being checked off. I don’t want to be one of those employees I mentioned earlier who accept a job and then complain that they’re underpaid. 

Getting the salary you deserve requires you showing your interviewer how your knowledge, skills, experience and abilities will benefit the company and—this is critical—not settling for anything less than the salary you want.

It seems logical that if you only take jobs where you’ll be paid what you feel you’re worth, you’ll always be paid what you feel you’re worth. Never hesitate to say no to a job opportunity. If an employer or job doesn’t feel right or ticks off all our “wants,” walk away! When you walk away, you free yourself to continue looking for the job and employer that’s right for you. 

Employers understand money. Next time you interview, demonstrate how you made money for your previous employers or saved them money. This is how you create value for your services. (As an employee, you’re providing a service to your employer.) The more value your services provide, the more money you can ask for your services.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

23. 3 Reasons You're Struggling in Your Job Search

I’ll get right to it; the top 3 reasons why job seekers struggle with their job search are:

  1. How you talk to yourself.

The most important factor predicting success isn’t your situation but what you tell yourself about it.

Your mind never stops talking to you. Your internal dialogue (a.k.a. narratives) determines your actions, beliefs, values, and moods. If you tell yourself, “Hiring managers won’t hire me because I’m overqualified and they think I won’t stay long,” you aren’t getting to the actual “whys” of why you’re not getting interviews. Instead, you’re expressing the beliefs that absolve you from being responsible for your actions. It’s easier to blame being overqualified than considering your LinkedIn profile, resume, interview skills, or lack of professional network as possible reasons why you’re not getting hired.

Say to yourself: “I have lots of qualifications and experience. It’s just a matter of finding an employer who views my qualifications as an asset, not a liability. There’s an employer out there who’ll hire me!”

Your mental narratives can inspire you or deplete you. A slight shift in your mindset can spark a cascade of changes so profound that you’ll be speechless. As a job seeker, firmly believe, “What you believe, you’ll achieve.”

  1. Your expectations.

Having realistic expectations is the key to happiness. This is especially true when job hunting. Your expectations determine your attitude. You tend to have a positive attitude when your expectations are met or exceeded. The reverse is also true: You tend to have a less-than-stellar attitude when your expectations aren’t being met. 

Often, I see job seekers attempting to duplicate their previous position, thus prolonging their job search. 15 years ago, you won the job search lottery. In your last job, you earned a base salary of $110K, plus an annual $20K bonus, full medical coverage, stock options, 3 weeks of paid vacation time, and 10 sick days. Unfortunately, you were downsized and therefore forced to move on. 

Due to my pragmatic nature, I assume your goal is to get back to work ASAP. You don’t want to spend all your savings or go into deeper debt during your job search. The shorter your job search, the better; therefore, look for low-hanging fruits. $75K jobs are much easier to land than $110K jobs. (You don’t need to keep a $75K job forever, right now, all you need is income.)

Before beginning your job search, consider the compensation you require to cover your needs (not your wants). By eliminating or curtailing your “wants spending,” you’ll be able to live on much less.

Ask yourself if maintaining the lifestyle you’ve created is stressing you out. Is the effort to hold on to your lifestyle worth it? Does your lifestyle make you happy or cause anxiety? Do the benefits of climbing the corporate ladder outweigh the mental fatigue caused by constantly navigating office politics and working long hours to appear like a “team player”? Can you imagine living a simpler lifestyle, thus needing less money, making you calmer and happier?  

A short as possible successful job search requires having realistic expectations—realizing there’s fierce competition for the few “desirable jobs.”

  1. Not looking for your tribe.

Here’s my best job search advice: Don’t look for a job; look for where you belong. Look for your tribe! 

I know an ex-midlevel marketing executive and avid golfer who worked for a large global consumer goods company. He was aiming to become the next regional vice president. Thus, he put up with the travelling, backstabbing office politics, and dealing with department heads who had agendas of their own. A shuffle in the leadership led to a new boss. Eight months later, at 49, he was shown the door. More than once, he told me that golf kept him sane. Today he manages a local Golf Town store, says he’s happier, and his golf game has improved.

Is he making as much money as he used to? No, but he’s in a better place than before. Isn’t that worth something? I’ve experienced working for “the money” versus working where “I belong.” Working where I belong is much more satisfying and better for my well-being than working for money and being miserable.

Consider what you’re passionate about. Which values matter to you most? What skills do you enjoy using? Look for companies where you’ll be a natural fit.

Making finding where you belong a priority throughout your job search is the best compass you can use.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

24. My Side of the Hiring Desk

An interview has two sides, yours, and your interviewer’s. Here’s a pleasant truth: You and your interviewer have the same agenda: To determine if the job opportunity is right for you. 

Your interviewer isn’t your enemy. They just want to make sure they’re making the right hire. Job seekers never consider that their interviewer’s hiring decisions are judged by their boss and their boss’s boss, the team the new hire will join—essentially everyone at the company.

I never want to hear: “Who hired Bob? He always comes in late, is rude, has yet to complete his assignments on time and has below-average Excel skills for a junior accountant. What was Nick thinking hiring Bob?”

A hiring manager’s ability to hire-their judgment skills-will be called into question if he or she makes “a few” bad hires. The same holds true if a recruiter presents unsuitable candidates to their client. It’s good to be sympathetic to your interviewer’s need to make a good hire; it’ll help you bond with your interviewer. 

This is why there is a great deal of vetting during the hiring process to minimize the possibility of hiring a liability.

Your interviewer wants to know three things:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you like the job?
  3. Will you be a good fit with the team and the company? (most important)

I’m often asked how I hire. What do I look for in a candidate? I remind people there is no universal hiring process. I evaluate candidates differently than other hiring managers and vice versa. I know of candidates who weren’t hired by me and went on to find a suitable employer. 

Truth: Human bias and gut feelings play a critical role in the hiring process, which is why a universal hiring method doesn’t exist.

Although you weren’t hired by ABC employer, that doesn’t mean that XYZ employer won’t hire you. As there isn’t a universal hiring method, there isn’t a universal “must hire” employee either.

Your interviewer doesn’t owe you, a stranger, anything. This is why networking, which many shy away from, and maintaining an extensive professional network is beneficial to your job search and career development; you become “familiar.” We all gravitate towards what is familiar.

On the other hand, your interviewer is responsible to their employer, current employees and the business’s customers. If you’re speaking with a recruiter, they’re accountable to their client. The interviewer’s objective is to find a qualified candidate who’ll fit into the team and culture and contribute to the company/department’s goals.

With the above said, here’s a holistic overview of how I evaluate a candidate, bearing in mind that I’m speaking for myself. (Remember, there’s no universal hiring methodology.)

  • Above-average communication skills, both spoken and written, are a non-negotiable requirement.
  • I like—really like—candidates who have confidence in their abilities and are comfortable with themselves.   
  • If you come across as having a sense of entitlement, our conversation will be short.
  • The more interest you show in the job and company, the more points you’ll receive. Being interested is a powerful gesture. 
  • If you seem burnt out or outdated (past your expiration date), I’ll pass on you.
  • My focus isn’t on your accomplishments or experience. My focus is on what you can do now and in the future for the company. 
  • Show me you’re listening. Refer to something I said earlier. “When you mentioned that XYZ Inc. was launching a new line of granola bars in mid-July to take advantage of back-to-school sales, I was impressed by the timing. You mentioned Genom Corporation wants to capture 25% of the granola bar market by the end of 2023. What is your outlook for the second half of 2022?” 
  • Don’t tell me what you want me to think of you. (e.g., “I’m a team player,” “I’m detail-oriented,” “I can sell.”) Show me! Prove it! (e.g., “I’m part of a 20-person Inside Sales team. Daily I handle 60 – 80 calls. Last year I exceeded my quota of $1.5 million by $350,000.”
  • Your questions should demonstrate that you are evaluating the job opportunity, me, the company, and your fit.

Connecting with their interviewer is a job seeker’s primary goal. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Before you walk into an interview, ask yourself, What do I want my interviewer to feel about me?

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

25. Headlines. Job Market. Your Mindset.

Inflation and interest rates are rising, stock markets and real estate prices are declining. In the next few months, and most likely into 2023, you’ll see headlines such as:

“Job Market Showing Signs of Cooling”

 “Worst Job Market in Decades”

 “Unemployment Lines Growing”

You know, clickbait headlines written to evoke angst, which then can be easily manipulated. Putting headlines aside, with interest rates heading upwards, a global pandemic that isn’t officially over, a punishing stock market and turbulent geopolitics, an economic reckoning is inevitable.

The job market seems to be divided into two parts. On the one hand, Canada’s unemployment rate falling from 5.2 percent in April to 5.1 percent in May—the lowest level since comparable data became available in 1976—indicates an economy that continues to add jobs. The current “holistic job market picture” narrative, being told by the media, paints a picture of a shortage of workers to fill job vacancies. 

Then there’s the media reporting, almost daily, layoffs and hiring freezes, particularly in the technology sector and among start-ups. According to an internal email seen by Reuters news agency earlier this month, with the subject line “pause all hiring worldwide,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to halt hiring and cut jobs due to a “super bad feeling” about the economy.

Is the sky falling? No. However, the winds of change are blowing.

Despite economic uncertainty, emails I’m receiving from readers indicate:

  • There’s still a tendency to seek new employment opportunities.
  • Conversely, employees are hesitant or afraid to leave their current employers. (It’s common knowledge should layoffs happen, the general rule is “Last one in, first one out.” You don’t want to be the new kid on the block.)
  • Employees are concerned about their career paths.

In such uncertain times, I’d be remiss if I didn’t advise—stress—the importance of carefully considering a job change. I’m not saying you shouldn’t explore opportunities. I’m advising being careful about the opportunities and, more importantly, the employers you’re exploring. Thoroughly vet the employer’s history, past growth, potential future growth, and staff turnover. 

Now’s not the time to change your employer for the sake of change. Have a solid reason for switching. How do you envision the company and its associated industry coping with economic turmoil? As we saw with the pandemic, there were essential industries which grew over the past 2 years and industries/employers the government deemed non-essential, which literally got decimated. Though there’re no guarantees, for pragmatic reasons, you want to be employed in an essential industry such as energy and utilities, pharmaceuticals, food, or financial services.

Avoid industries that depend on discretionary income, such as entertainment, travel, hospitality, or luxury goods. When consumers cut back on spending on non-essentials, these industries take the brunt of the hit and take the longest to recover. Avoid start-ups as well. Understandably investors are taking a cautious approach to the market, which has led venture-backed companies, which tend to be start-ups, to slow or cut hiring.  

It’s crucial to have the right mindset when searching for a job.

Sky-falling headlines can lead to a scarcity mindset, leading to seeing limitations rather than opportunities. You feel like everything is against you, why bother?

Don’t stress over what you can’t control.

“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.” – Roy T. Bennett, author of The Light in the Heart.

  1. Create a result-oriented résumé that WOWs! A résumé that clearly displays your results. If necessary, hire someone to help you tell your career story; it’ll be money well spent. Ensure the person you hire is a Certified Résumé Strategist (CRS) and a Career Professionals of Canada member. The same goes for your LinkedIn profile. Read LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies 2nd Edition, by Donna Serdula.
  2. Create relationships. People hire people, therefore, focus on relationships. Expand your professional network by using your current connections (family, friends, neighbours, current and former colleagues) and asking for introductions. Become visible!
  3. Create your future by investing in it. For instance, if a Digital Marketing certification will help you land your dream job, do it! Your future self will thank you.
  4. Create an Internet presence that’ll boost your job search and career. Your digital footprint influences your job search—you’ll be Googled to determine if you’re interview-worthy. Clean up your online presence. (Delete all posts, comments, photos, and videos that might turn employers off.) Optimize your LinkedIn profile. Post content that showcases your expertise in your field.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

26. An Internship Can Lay the Foundation for a Great Career

With 2022 “graduation season” behind us, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer some advice on how an internship (“co-op” back in the day) provides an opportunity to gain transferrable skills and experience, start building your professional network and kickstart your career. 

An internship is so much more than memorizing coffee orders. Your internship experiences—I recommend doing several—can be immensely valuable, offering you a chance to build skills to showcase on your resume and LinkedIn profile and, most importantly, establish professional relationships with professionals in the industry you aspire to become a part of. 

As an intern, your goals are:

  1. Learn what you want and need to know. (TIP: Create a list of what you want to gain from your internship. On your first day, share your list with the person coaching you.)
  2. Make a positive impression. (Make a strong enough impression, and—fingers-crossed—you’ll likely receive a job offer.)
  3. Begin building your professional network.

Creating a great impression starts with being relentlessly punctual. Woody Allen said it best, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Show up on time, or better yet early. Arrive for meetings before they begin. Complete tasks by their deadlines. Employers value reliable employees. Internships are usually 3 – 4 months long, so give your internship no less than 100%.

“Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.” – Ted Key, American cartoonist

Take on every task and assignment you’re given with an unwavering commitment to excellence. It’s never beneath you to do what’s asked of you. If you’re asked to make coffee, make the best coffee your colleagues have ever tasted. If asked to create an Excel template, put extra effort into ensuring it’s accurate, aesthetically pleasing, and comprehensive. Continually delivering exceptional results is how you create a reputation (READ: Personal brand) that advances your career forward. 

Act when you see a need. (e.g., sign for a package and deliver it directly to the recipient, offer to cover reception during lunch) Don’t wait to be told. Checking your Instagram account while waiting to be given something to do is never a good look. Interns who never sat idle and proactively sought out where they could be of help, or pitched in without being asked, are the ones I remember. Deliver more than expected, do what no one else is willing to do, and you’ll be appreciated and remembered.

As an intern, it’s expected you’ll ask questions… lots of questions. 

Asking good questions is the sign of an intellectually curious, diligent person, which is a turn-on. Think—in advance—of questions to ask. Spend time formulating your questions. When meeting with a peer or superior, think of thoughtful questions you can ask to demonstrate you have prepared for the meeting. If you’re in a meeting with management, don’t focus on your answers but on what’s missing. With me, asking the questions no one else is asking (e.g., “How does A relate to B?”, “How has the company dealt with these issues in the past?”) earns lots of points. Elephant-in-the-room questions often steer a group’s thinking and conversation in a more productive direction—this is how you become an influencer.

TIP: When you hear someone ask a great, conversation-altering question, write it down and reflect on what made it great. 

Ask at least one authentic question in every meeting you attend. By following this advice, you’ll become comfortable asking questions in a group setting, hone your ability to ask questions that lead to real insight and reveal your intellectual curiosity.

The most valuable benefit of an internship is it offers the ideal setting to establish professional relationships you can leverage throughout your career, whether job hunting or seeking advice. Since internships don’t last long, interns tend to focus solely on their work and only form connections with their immediate colleagues and fellow interns. Don’t be that intern! Cultivate as many professional relationships throughout the company as possible. 

Don’t be shy to introduce yourself to Senior Managers, Directors and VPs—they were once in your shoes. Invite colleagues whom you notice management hold in high regard to lunch. Ask them questions. (Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves and their successes?) Offer to help where you can. 

TIP: Observe great relationship-builders and learn from them. I recommend reading The Connector’s Way: A Story About Building Business One Relationship at a Time, by Patrick Galvin.

An internship is hard work that’ll pay off. Only doing what’s expected of you won’t get you noticed; you’ll be just another intern. Go above and beyond, from arriving on time to doing exemplary work (Yes, that includes getting coffee orders right.) and maximizing your internship opportunities.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

27. For Your Cover Letter to Do Its Job Don’t Commit These Faux Pas

Not including a cover letter is lazy—employers don’t hire lazy. (I certainly don’t.)

Regardless of how you apply for a job, whether through a referral or online, you must show how your skills, experiences, and personality differentiate you from other candidates. It’s for this reason, you should always include a cover letter.

Including a well-written cover letter tailored to the job offers several competitive advantages:

  • It shows your enthusiasm and that you researched the company and job requirements. (You’re not lazy.)
  • You’re addressing the hiring manager directly and bringing your relevant skills and experiences to their attention.
  • You’re selling how you can add value to the company. 
  • You’re able to give the hiring manager insight into your personality.
  • Your cover letter shows your writing skills. (There’s hardly an employer that doesn’t value above-average writing skills.)

A cover letter has only one job; to get you an interview. A great cover letter will have more cache with a hiring manager than a mediocre accompanying resume. Imagine what your “interview invites” results would be like if you sent out great cover letters accompanied with a resume that WOWs. Therefore, you don’t want to make the following mistakes that’ll hinder your cover letter from doing its job.

  1. Attaching your cover letter to your email.

You want to ensure your cover letter gets read; therefore, write it in the body of the email. When the recipient sees your cover letter upon opening your email, they’re more likely to read it.

  1. Writing your life story. / Providing irrelevant information.

Cover letters should be concise. Only offer details directly relevant to the job or prove you have the skills and experience the employer is looking for.

If I’m looking for a new sales-oriented call center agent, I’m not looking for someone who’s been providing “world-class” customer service or who’s, in their opinion, “detail-oriented.” These things don’t matter in terms of reaching sales goals. A person who knows how to uncover customers’ wants and needs and then offer them the appropriate product or service is whom I’m looking for. I’ll lose interest if someone goes on and on about their customer service skills. I want them to tell me about the biggest sale they ever made, along with their passion and methodology for making sales.

It’s not the hiring manager’s responsibility to connect your dots regarding why you’re an excellent fit for the position or how your skills are transferable. Use your cover letter to connect the dots. “Having sold life insurance for the past 15 years, I’m comfortable selling an intangible product, and therefore, I don’t anticipate not being successful selling registered RESPs.” (Registered Education Savings Plan)

Think about what the reader of your cover letter would like to see and what’ll convince them you are worth interviewing. Sentences like, “I see you need someone who’s available to work nights and weekends. I enjoy working these hours and am available to do so,” or “Along with my resume, I’ve included several samples of my writing.” goes a long way.

  1. Not including requested information.

The most common application mistake I see is not following instructions. From experience, I’d estimate that 7 out of 10 applicants fail to address every stipulation listed in a job posting, indicating an inability to follow instructions. Name an employer who’d hire someone who can’t follow instructions. 

Be sure to read the job posting in its entirety! It’s common for employers to ask candidates to submit examples of their work or portfolio, link to their LinkedIn profile, their availability, a video, or their salary requirements. In your cover letter, include anything you’ve been asked to include or mention that it’s attached (e.g., portfolio, writing sample, video, certificates). Failure to follow instructions is a sure way to get rejected.

  1. Closing with a cliche statement.

“Thank you for taking the time to review my resume. I look forward to hearing from you,” shows a lack of creativity and hustle. (Name an employer who dislikes employees who hustle.)

Your cover letter should conclude with something like, “I’m looking forward to discussing what I can bring to the Social Media Manager role at Pendant Publishing. I’ll call you Thursday morning to schedule a time/date to meet.” This shows initiative, that you want the job and aren’t afraid to go after what you want. (Be sure to make the call.

I once received a cover letter that closed with, “Call today, don’t delay.” The closing was aggressive, something I tend to gravitate towards. It grabbed my attention. Additionally, her cover letter outlined everything she could bring to the table as an employee. Her boldness impressed me, so I called her. 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

30. Ageism: Does it Exist or Is It a Form of 'I'm a Victim!' Mentality? [ Part 1 ]

Get over your victim mentality. Be honest with yourself.

This is the first of a 4-part series dealing with ageism while job hunting.

Many job seekers, young and old, play the ageism card. This card, sometimes along with others, is used to avoid accountability. People look for excuses when they don’t get what they want or feel entitled to.”This happened to be because…”

“I’m not getting opportunities because…”

Egos sabotage job searches. Egos kill careers. Egos create narratives that create limiting beliefs and that biggest turnoff of all, a sense of entitlement.

The truth is everyone has an “ism,” sometimes several, which either needs to be overcome, spun as a strength, or simply accepted. Another truth: Employers have the right to do what they feel is best for their business—to protect their self-interest.

When you lose any sense of feeling entitled—that you’re owed—most of your self-limiting beliefs disappear. As a result, you see there are opportunities all around you, with one caveat—you must earn them.

Your age, gender, sexual orientation, political ideology, religion, race and what you believe doesn’t play as significant a role in an employer’s hiring decisions as you’ve been led to believe. However, this doesn’t mean the workplace is a level playing field.

In a holistic sense, the workplace was never intended to be a level playing field. How can it be when every employer’s survival depends on generating and maintaining revenue? Every employer-employee relationship is based on what every business needs to survive: creating a profit. Thus, understandably employers place a higher value on employees whose work directly impacts their revenue (generates, reduces costs, increases efficiency, retains customers) than on employees whose ROI isn’t easily quantifiable.

Since all employers are profit-seekers, job hunters who demonstrate an undeniable track record via their result-oriented resume and LinkedIn profile of influencing their previous employer’s bottom line rarely encounter perceived “isms.” As regular readers of my column know, I base my pragmatic job search advice on four truisms:

  1. Employers don’t owe you anything and aren’t responsible for keeping the workforce employed.
  2. Employers own their hiring process. Employers define their culture and therefore have the right to hire whomever they want.
  3. Applying to job postings is equivalent to playing the lottery; you’re expecting a stranger to hire you.
  4. Job seekers tend to overestimate their value to employers. (Rare is the employee who can quantify their value to their employer.)

All “isms” exist because of a perceived risk. When it comes to ageism, which undoubtedly exists for ALL AGES, a candidate’s age isn’t the issue. (READ: concern) The various “risks” that are believed to come with the candidate’s age, whether 33 or 53, is the issue. A hiring manager may assume older candidates are less technologically savvy, want a higher salary, or have health issues. In contrast, the same hiring manager may assume younger candidates, especially recent graduates, don’t have enough experience, are too demanding of employers, or don’t have a strong work ethic. 

There are hiring managers who prefer young candidates, and there are hiring managers who prefer mature candidates. Long overdue is a non-judgmental conversation if perceived “age risks” are valid.

Job seekers conveniently forget that when the hiring manager green lights a candidate, the entire company sees their hiring decision. From the hiring manager’s perspective, you can see that minimizing hiring risks and being seen as competent when it comes to hiring are reasonable goals. Hiring managers are human and therefore, without exception, incorporate their biases into hiring decisions, hoping to minimize hiring risks. 

Hiring is choosing. Choosing requires discriminating against those not selected, which means there’s an architecture to all “isms,” especially when it comes to an across-the-board “ism” such as ageism. We all have one undeniable commonality, everyone gets old. This human fact makes ageism ironic. One day, the hiring manager practicing ageism will be the candidate’s age or was once the candidate’s age looking for a break. 

Aging is a natural part of life. It’s not a problem to be solved. It’s a blessing to grow old gracefully while enjoying relatively good health. Who doesn’t hope to live a long and healthy life?

What’s never discussed is what’s keeping ageism alive—other “isms” have their own reasons for staying alive—and what, if anything, can be done about it. Such a discussion requires looking at the employer’s side of the hiring process, which I’ll discuss in my next column. Maybe it’ll start that long overdue conversation I mentioned earlier. For now, I’ll leave you with the following truism: Employers are risk averse (more so these days). Therefore, when job hunting, no matter your age or whatever “ism” you believe you have against you, always present yourself as the least risky hiring option. 

31. Ageism: Does it Exist or Is It a Form of 'I'm a Victim!' Mentality? [ Part 2 ]

Understand the employer’s side.

This is the second of a 4-part series dealing with ageism while job hunting.

There are two sides to every story and every issue. When it comes to hiring, there’s the employer’s side and the job seeker’s side.

  • Employer’s side: Find the best candidate with the least perceived risks, willing to accept the compensation package being offered. (Risk aversion is why long hiring processes and numerous vetting steps exist.)
  • Job seeker’s side:Obtain a rewarding and satisfying job that pays well.

As you can see, each party is looking out for their own interests, resulting in a contradictory situation. In John Hughes’s 1985 film The Breakfast Club, Andrew Clark (played by Emilio Estevez), in the library scene, sums up the end goal I’d say most job seekers and employees have: “What would I do for a million bucks? Well, I guess I’d do as little as I had to.”

In recent years job seekers and employees have been creating unquantified narratives that attempt to justify doing the least amount of work—and to work on their terms—for the most money. (e.g., The current ‘get paid what you’re worth’ movement.) I find employees today are promoting the view that employers are responsible for their well-being—they expect their employer to act as their nanny. Employee-employer relationships are rarely discussed in terms of finding a middle ground, which I believe exists, in which employees look out for their employers’ interests and vice versa. Where’s the brainstorming on how to form a healthy “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” employer-employee relationship?  

Until we reach a point of balanced co-dependency, the current, growing tug-of-war between employer and employee will continue. Often, this pulling in opposite directions results in workplaces that neither the employer nor the employee(s) is happy with.  

Employee-employer relationships will never be 100% equal because employers create jobs and sign the paychecks for those jobs; thus, employees are income dependent on their employer. In employee-employer relationships, this dependency gives employers more leverage. (I know, this truth hurts.) Consequently, it’s in the job seeker’s best interest to understand the many risks employers want to mitigate when hiring and how their biases were formed. Embracing the employer’s perspective will help you succeed more efficiently in the job market.

Business survival requires companies to primarily focus on creating and distributing products and/or services as profitably as possible. Profits, which are needed to survive, will always remain the ultimate objective of companies, despite their efforts to disguise the profit-seeking motive through less capitalistic language. No profits = No company. The more profits, generated with the least amount of friction (READ: headaches), the better. 

An employer’s biggest headache is managing its employees, especially with employees’ growing sense of entitlement, keeping them from focusing on profit creation. It’s common knowledge that payroll is the largest expense employers face. Ironically, an employer’s biggest expense is also its biggest headache.

Profitability is an employer’s ultimate goal, while minimizing headaches and risks. Hence, employers prefer candidates who can deliver the greatest ROI for their compensation and who’ll not create “too many” headaches and risks. In my last column, I wrote that hiring is choosing, a process requiring discriminating against those not chosen. Regarding a candidate’s age, a hiring manager may have many risk assumptions (READ: biases).

  • Older candidates:Set in their ways, overqualified (Yes, you can be overqualified, which makes you a flight risk.), won’t fit with the current demographics of employees/customer base, don’t possess the latest-technology skills, have health issues, expect a higher salary.
  • Younger candidates:Don’t have a proven track record of achieving results, flight risk (Always seeking better opportunities.), lack a solid work ethic, will be demanding, have a sense of entitlement.

Do the presumptions mentioned above have merit? In the eyes of the employer, yes. Human psychology explains how biases are formed: Our brains are trained by our experiences. A hiring manager may be more inclined to hire candidates over 40 if they’ve had several “bad experiences” hiring candidates under 40. If the hiring manager has had several bad experiences hiring candidates over 40, the reverse will probably be true. 

Truth bomb for all job seekers, regardless of age: Never think you’re “the best,” you’re not. Instead, aim to be the least painful option, which is a much easier target to hit than claiming and trying to prove you’re “the best.” 

Contrary to conventional psychology, most of your biases don’t come from what your parents, teachers, or friends have told you, taught you or adopting their biases. Your biases come from what you’ve personally experienced. By understanding how an employer’s hiring experiences may negatively impact their view of your age, you can take proactive steps towards addressing how your age is irrelevant, even advantageous. How? Check out my column next week. 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

32. Ageism: Does it Exist or Is It a Form of 'I'm a Victim!' Mentality? [ Part 3 ]

Your age is irrelevant.

This is the third column of a 4-part series dealing with ageism while job hunting.

Career coaches and job search experts claim you can fool employers about your age and beat ageism. The truth is, regardless of your age, nobody can “beat” ageism.

Say you land an interview by concealing your age using experts’ tips and tricks. When you meet the hiring manager, will your age not become evident? Deflecting your age until an in-person or Zoom interview is pointless. At some point during the hiring process, your age will be revealed.

Then there’s the Internet, which “experts” never mention. Employers Google candidates to determine if they’re interview-worthy, which’ll turn up many ways to assess the candidate’s age:

  • Your graduating years. 
  • The years you played minor league baseball. 
  • The picture your son, who tagged you, posted on Facebook, in August 2004, of you dropping him off at university.
  • The whitepaper, Advancing Asian Markets Are Undermining Globalization, you wrote back in 1994 for the brokerage firm you were working at.
  • Last March, you tweeted you were celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary.

There’s plenty of information on the Internet, either placed by you or not, that employers can use to determine your age. The Internet has made attempting to hide one’s age from employers futile. Employers can easily determine, even find, your age outside of your resume and LinkedIn profile. Hence, the advice to leave off dates, etc., seems illogical to me. It’s actually telling that you’re trying to hide your age when you leave off dates.

Employers can find almost anything about potential candidates thanks to the Internet. (e.g., age, place of birth, your social media posts). Consequently, employers won’t schedule an interview if they see something they don’t like about a candidate. The Internet allows employers to exercise their biases, right or wrong, before contacting a candidate. When you apply and don’t hear anything, the reason(s) is unknown to you. It’s a guess—a pacifying belief—to say you’re not getting interviews because of your age.

An employer invites you to an interview because you have the skills, experience, and qualifications they’re looking for, and your digital footprint has passed their scrutiny. If you’re not hired, it’s not because of your age. Assuming you didn’t arrive late, dressed professionally, built rapport with your interviewer, and didn’t knock over the picture of their dog, you weren’t hired because (the two most common reasons):

  • You didn’t sell yourself as the solution to the problem the position was created to solve, or (brace yourself)
  • There were better candidates. 

Obviously, candidates get rejected for various reasons, not just the ones I mentioned. However, rejected candidates often use excuses, such as ageism, to justify why they weren’t selected rather than evaluating their interviewing skills.

You’re not owed friendship, love, respect, health or making a living. Everything in life—everything worthwhile—must be earned. No matter how old you are, you need to earn (READ: prove) why you deserve to be on an employer’s payroll.

Now that you know you can’t beat ageism, what can you do? As regular readers of my columns know, my first advice to jobseekers is to find their tribe. Look for where you belong and will be welcomed. Pursue the right employers! My advice to “find your tribe” applies not just to ageism but to overcoming all perceived “isms.” An undeniable fact: As humans, we prefer to be around people we feel comfortable with. 

When you focus on where you belong, your job search will be much more successful. 

I’m confident there are just as many employers who value the experience a seasoned candidate will bring to their company as there are employers who prefer less seasoned candidates for what they’ll not bring to their company. (I know, this is a bit of a mind pretzel. Flip it around in your head for a few minutes. Slowly it’ll make sense.)

Regardless of whether you consider yourself young or old, you can make your age irrelevant by: 

  • Demonstrating your ability to generate revenue, save money, improve processes, improve safety, etc. (Share your expertise and track record of delivering results.)
  • Adopt a consulting mindset. (Treat interviews as consulting conversations. Show curiosity and a learning mindset.)
  • Communicating your confidence in your ability to hit the ground running. (This isn’t your first rodeo.)
  • Show you’re energetic and enthusiastic.

Look at that; I provided ways to negate your age over which “older candidates” have more leverage. 

Whatever your age, remember, an interview isn’t about you. It’s about convincing your interviewer you’re the best solution to their problems. Remember, you were vetted before getting the interview; your age isn’t an issue. 

Next week, in my final column of this series, I’ll discuss having the right mindset to cope with ageism during job searches.


Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

33. Ageism: Does it Exist or Is It a Form of 'I'm a Victim!' Mentality? [ Part 4 ]

How you think is everything.

This is the fourth and final column of a 4-part series dealing with ageism while job hunting.

The standard advice given by “experts” to overcome ageism revolves contorting yourself to “fit in,” “be accepted,” “be invited.” Essentially, their advice is to conceal your age and hope the employer throughout the hiring process won’t figure it out and hire you. 

It takes a lot of time and energy to be accepted into places where you aren’t welcome, and it can be heartbreaking. 

Finding an employer who accepts you for who you are, regardless of age, gender, race, or whatever, is the key to happy employment. There’s no better feeling than feeling you’re welcomed. Therefore, my advice to job seekers: Be your best self and let the chips fall where they may. Doing your best and accepting the outcome will give you a Zen-like sense of freedom.

An attempt to infer someone’s biases based on their actions is usually just an assumption based on what you want to believe. If it benefits you to think someone is practicing ageism (e.g., a convenient excuse), then you’ll believe you’re the victim of ageism. 

The fact is you don’t know what the hiring manager’s behind the scene looks like. The entire company’s leadership team judges their hiring decisions. Your fit with current employees needs to be considered. Budget constraints exist. Let’s not forget the biggest hiring influencer, their past hiring mistakes, which they don’t want to repeat. 

While reviewing resumes for a senior accounting position, the hiring manager thinks, “The Centennial College graduates I’ve hired didn’t last six months. While Bob has plenty of experience, he’s a Centennial College alumnus. Hiring another six months quitter won’t look good on me.” “Karen has worked for FrobozzCo International. If I recall, the company reportedly funnelled money into offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. I wonder if Karen was involved.”  

Association experiences contribute to most biases. You know the saying, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” If you met five rude red heads in a row, the next one will also be rude, right? The human brain is wired to look for patterns and predict future behaviour based on those patterns. Call it a survival skill. When we first meet someone, we try to predict what behaviour to expect from them using past experiences.

This quick assessment is why hiring managers decide, withing as little as two minutes, whether a candidate is worth their time. While it’s important to try and make a good first impression (READ: image), you have no control over how others interpret it.

Bottom-line: You can’t control another person’s biases. 

Based on how I hire, and conversations with hiring managers, I believe the following to be true. An employer is more interested in the results you can deliver for them than your age or whatever “ism” you believe is against you. 

Can employers afford to pass up qualified candidates who could contribute to their bottom line? Of course not! (Okay, it’s “unlikely.”) You’ll be in demand if you can demonstrate a track record of adding value to your employers.

Having the belief that your age prevents you from finding the employment you want is a paralyzing belief. Ageism exists for all ages, which I think many people use as a crutch. 

“They said I was overqualified. That’s ageism!”

“They hired someone younger than me. That’s ageism!”

“They said I wasn’t experienced enough. That’s ageism!”

Get over yourself!

Employers can hire whomever they deem to be the best fit for their business. It’s self-righteous to judge someone else’s biases (READ: preferences), especially when their biases don’t serve your interests. Let’s say, for example, you’re 52 years old, and the hiring manager prefers candidates between 45 and 55 (Yes, I know such hiring managers), and they hire you. Would you call out the hiring manager’s bias that worked in your favour?

If you believe your age is an obstacle, here’s my advice: Break the fourth wall. If you sense your age is the elephant in the room, put your age on the table and see what happens. When interviewing, I always mention, early in, that I’ve been managing call centers since 1996. I then let my interviewer do the mental math and wrestle with any age bias they may have. As I mentioned in my last column, the employer most likely Googled you and has a good idea of your age. Therefore, since you were vetted to determine if you were interview-worthy, tell yourself that your age is irrelevant.

When interviewing, don’t focus on “isms.” Doing so makes them your reality. Instead, focus on the problems the position you’re interviewing for is meant to solve.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

34. Are You Job Seeker #1 or Job Seeker #2?

Job seekers fall into two categories: 

  • Reactive 
  • Proactive

Reactive: Gets rejected and gives up on the company. 

Proactive: Gets rejected, thanks the person who rejected them and continues to build a relationship with the company. 

Reactive job seekers look for a job passively, applying only to jobs they believe they have a chance of getting. They’re reacting (applying) to positions posted on job boards and company websites. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns: Applying to a job posting is hoping a stranger will choose you over hundreds, if not thousands, of other equally qualified candidates, which is equivalent to playing the lottery. 

Reactive job seekers are lazily looking for a job. This is why they clash with the employer’s hiring process, blame it for not accommodating them, and conveniently ignore the fact employers own their hiring process, not job seekers. Therefore, reactive job seekers tend to have a longer job search and settle for whatever job they get “that’ll do.” 

Reactive: Applies for jobs and waits for (hoping) responses. 

Proactive: Connects with employers. 

In contrast, proactive job seekers take control of their job search; they adopt the mindset of a hunter. They hunt for opportunities before the opportunity appears on a job board or the company website becoming public knowledge and attracting candidates they’ll have to compete with. They accomplished this by networking with hiring decision-makers, thus gaining access to the hidden job market, which I’m sure you’re aware of.

Often, jobs in hidden markets result in you being the only applicant considered, or maybe one of five. Compare those odds to being one of 500 candidates an online job posting will attract. As my column readers know, successful job searching involves focusing on activities that increase your chances of getting a “Yes!”

Proactive job seekers land the coveted jobs—the jobs you wish you could get—that align with their career goals and meet all their needs and wants. 

Reactive: Criticizes the hiring process for not giving them a “fair” chance. (Believes they’re owed a job.

Proactive: Acknowledges that the employer’s hiring process is what it is and thinks of ways to stand out.


The difference between reactive and proactive job seekers has nothing to do with degrees, skills, or experience. The difference is their mindset. A proactive job seeker sets their expectations based on reality, a reactive job seeker on how they wish the world would be. Choosing your mindset is entirely up to you. 

I assume you’d choose the mindset of a proactive job seeker.

Reactive: When told they lack experience, complain they can’t get it without being hired. 

Proactive: Rather than expecting others to give them experience, they create their own.

Here are a few ways proactive job seekers hunt for employment opportunities before they become public knowledge:

  • They reach out to companies they want to work for.On LinkedIn, connect with current employees and decision-makers. Ask your network (Proactive job seekers understand that constantly networking is crucial.) if they know anyone at your target company and ask for an introduction. 
  • They ask for information. People love to talk about themselves, especially their successes, so get over being afraid to ask someone in a position you aim to one day be in for career advice. Ask them how they became successful in their role, how they got where they are, and what advice they’d give someone aspiring to be in their shoes. Besides talking about themselves, people love to give advice. (Guilty as charged.) The things you’ll learn if you just ask will surprise you. If you’ve convinced yourself you’re an “introvert” and asking the above-mentioned questions over the phone or over coffee makes your heart race, then ask them if you can email them three questions.

TIP: Always take career advice from someone who’s been in the trenches—who’s been there, done that. (I love career war stories.)

  • They create a targeted direct-mail campaign. Create a list of all the companies you’re interested in working for in your area. Research, the decision maker(s) in each company. (HINT: This isn’t the HR Manager.) Then email them a value proposition letter selling the decision maker why you’d be a valuable asset to their company and attach your resume. Use your past achievements to emphasize value. Make it easy for employers to envision what tangible results they’ll get by hiring you.

Reactive: Sends 10 networking emails, doesn’t hear back, says networking doesn’t work. 

Proactive: Sends 10 networking emails, doesn’t hear back, follows up (calls) and sends 10 more. 

Proactive job seekers are proactive in finding their next employment opportunity instead of waiting for opportunities to present themselves. Besides being more empowering and less frustrating, it also results in more interviews and offers in less time.

Lastly, people adopt a proactive mindset for a reason: They believe in themselves.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

35. 4 Job Search Strategies Rarely Advised

There’s a lot of job search advice out there, but most of it is cookie-cutter advice from self-proclaimed experts.

You know the advice:

  • “Pursue your passion.” (I’m torn about this advice. My thoughts oscillate between the realities of pursuing a passion versus earning a good living.
  • “Leverage your network.” 
  • “Tailor your resume.”
  • “Resumes shouldn’t exceed two pages.”
  • “Research the company.”
  • “Dress for success.” 

If you want to gain a competitive advantage in your job search, you can’t simply follow cliché job search advice.

Here are four job search strategies rarely recommended. Implementing these tactics into your job search will give you a competitive advantage and most likely shorten your job search. 

  1. Tell everyone you meet you’re looking for a job.

Hiring managers, HR managers, and recruiters are human and, therefore, part of families, social circles, clubs, etc. 

Let’s say you are trying to find a mechanic to fix your 2007 Ford Escape’s transmission or a new doctor. What are you likely to do? You’d ask around for recommendations. Why not do the same regarding finding a job? It’s possible your neighbour’s sister-in-law works at a company that’s hiring. 

Due to the number of job openings available, there’s a high probability that the person sitting next to you in your dentist’s waiting room is directly connected to a job opening or is only one person away from one.

Networking indiscriminately casts a broader net than networking with professionals in your industry or companies you wish to work for. Hence, you’re encompassing people you never thought could be attached to a job opportunity. 

Regardless of who you’re engaging with, a cashier, barista, gas station attendant, your Uber driver mention you’re looking for a job and what kind of job you’re looking for. Prepare an elevator speech and learn a skill that has benefited me throughout my career: Making small talk. Become comfortable chatting up strangers. Whenever you meet someone, you never know who they’re connected to.

Recommendation: How to Talk to Anyone About Anything: Improve Your Social Skills, Master Small Talk, Connect Effortlessly, and Make Real Friends, by James W Williams  

  1. Boring isn’t going to get you a job.

Yes, throughout your job search, you must present a professional image and be articulate when conveying the value you can bring to an employer. However, being “professional” doesn’t mean being boring. The best way to differentiate yourself from other candidates interviewing for the same position is to be memorable. 

Few people get hired because they have a supposed perfect resume. Nor are people hired because they memorized a list of questions to ask a hiring manager or were dressed for success. This “trying to be perfect” makes you appear fake and non-genuine, which I find to be off-putting. You have my permission to find your sweet spot between being polished and endearing. Candidates who are memorable and likable are most likely to be hired.

There isn’t a hiring manager who doesn’t want to feel that they are speaking with an authentic candidate. I gravitate toward candidates who are open and candid with me; it shows they have confidence. The last thing I want is to hire Dr. Jekyll and discover on the first day that I’ve hired Dr. Hyde instead. (I made that mistake more than once, hard lesson learned.)

Job search truism: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.

Put more emphasis on being likeable, memorable, and charismatic than on behaving professionally and how you dress.

  1. When applying for jobs online, save a copy of the job responsibilities and requirements. 

Often when the application deadline has passed, the job is taken down. Hence, if you’re invited for an interview, you won’t have the information you need to discuss how your experience and skills align with the job. 

The job description will also be helpful should you get the job. Having the job description allows you to refer to it to ensure you are doing everything expected of you and getting the training you need. 

  1. Thank you matters.

Maybe it’s just me, but I sense a growing degradation of manners and courtesy in today’s society. Thus, having manners sets you apart from your competition and makes you memorable, which is what you want.

I’ve often narrowed down candidates to two with similar skills and experience. Sometimes the candidates were so equally qualified it was literally a coin toss. When a candidate sent me a thoughtful, non-robotic thank-you email, guess who I hired.

If you want the job, always send a thank you note to your interviewer(s) ASAP after an interview. Thank them for their time, express your enthusiasm for wanting to join the company and give an additional reason why you’d be a perfect fit for the job and the company. Thank you notes do have a positive impact.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

35. All Jobs Are a 'Means to an End'

All jobs are a means to an end, which is why all jobs have one thing in common—they come with a paycheck

Suppose I’m hungry and want a cheeseburger and onion rings. To achieve my goal, I drive to Harvey’s and order their angus burger with cheese and bacon and a side order of onion rings.

In this scenario, eating the cheeseburger and onion rings is my “end” goal. I’m doing everything else, getting in my car, driving, etc. to get a cheeseburger and onion rings. These activities are the “means,” the things I must do to achieve my end goal. 

means is a conditional act. I use several means to reach my cheeseburger end goal—driving to Harvey’s, walking up to the counter, etc.

An end goal is something that’s desired for its own sake. Our decisions and behaviours are driven by it. A company without medical benefits wouldn’t be suitable if one of your end goals is to maintain your health.

All the activities (means) associated with a job, from waking up, commuting, dealing with annoying colleagues, to performing all the tasks required to do your job, lead to one goal (end): Making money.

“Necessities of life” (READ: end goals) have greatly expanded since the mid-70s. Canadians now “need” (READ: feel entitled to) the latest iPhone, eat out three times a week, vacation in Mexico, two cars, a 64″ Smart TV, bottled water, buying Starbucks coffee which can be made at home for 20 cents. We’re not tethered to our employer, which many say, as if work isn’t voluntary, is exploiting them. Instead, we’re tethered to consumerism and always wanting more, thus constantly chasing more money.

How many people in a Starbucks line have little or nothing saved for retirement?

It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff some people accumulate while oscillating between lower middle class and upper middle class—cars, boats, motorhomes, jet skis, etc. 

The bottom line: When you buy stuff, you’re told you need, you’re creating your own exploitation. Employees aren’t exploited by their employers. Employees exploit themselves when they feel they must have what marketing propaganda tells them they “must have.”

We’re exploiting ourselves for a Starbucks, an iPhone, eating out, travelling, a leased car, an oversize house, a designer “whatever,” you know, spending money trying to look rich. 

I’ve never encountered a boss who was unhappy with an employee going into debt. Indebted employees are less likely to leave.

Regarding a job, what are your end goals other than “make money”? Why do you need to make as much money as you’d like to make? Do your whys stem from your ego or financial prudence?

Ego-driven end goals:

  • Buy a car, sailboat, or cottage.
  • Every week eat at the best steakhouse in town.
  • Take your spouse on a trip of a lifetime for her 45th
  • Get the latest electronic gadgets. 

Ego-driven goals aren’t about meeting your actual needs but about appearing “successful.”

Financially prudent driven end goals: 

  • Save as much money as possible for retirement.
  • Pay off your mortgage before the age of 55.
  • Build an emergency fund that’ll cover 6 months of your expenses.
  • Eliminate any debt you may have. (g., student loan, car, credit cards)

Financially prudent goals lead to building equity and wealth, early retirement and being able to pursue your passions, and less stress during inevitable job losses.

Some of the happiest people I’ve met, and know, see their job as little more than a paycheck. As far as they’re concerned, their job is nothing more than a means to achieve their end goals. They don’t identify themselves with their job, and more importantly, they don’t define success based on their boss’s opinion. They define success as making it to the next paycheck. Defining success doesn’t get much simpler than this. 

In contrast, I find that those who are the most stressed, frustrated, and unhappy expect fulfillment from their job. Their boss’s praise and recognition are important to them. They believe their work alone should be rewarded with raises and promotions while ignoring that being likeable and successfully navigating office politics is how careers advance.

It may seem noble to remain loyal to your employer. However, I believe being loyal to financially prudent end goals are much more practical, especially when jobs are precarious. During the pandemic, we saw how quickly jobs can disappear. 

Ask yourself these 4 questions:

  1. What are my end goals?
  2. Are my end goals ego-driven or financially prudent drive? (It’s healthy to have a few ego-driven end goals.)
  3. Are my end goals causing me undue stress? 
  4. Can I achieve my goals with the jobs I’m going after?

Here’s some advice I learned the hard way: The wrong end goals cause you to chase the wrong employers. 


Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at