By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Launching No BS Job Search Advice Radio on November 20, 2010, was a step into the unknown. At the time, there were very few quality podcasts and fairly poor audio quality available. The purpose of the show was to take the mythology out of job hunting because, from my work in search, I realized job hunting didn’t have to be as hard as it was.

Ten years and 2,000 episodes later, I’ve taught many job search lessons and offered career advice through the show and thought it would be a great time to summarize several important takeaways.

1. You are the Chairman of the Board of your career. Too many people abdicate responsibility for their career to their employer and learn the hard way that their employer is looking out for their own interests and not theirs. You have a Board of Directors — your husband, wife, partner, children — to whom you report. You are responsible for your career, not the people you work for.

2. Life is too short to do work you dislike or are bored by. There is a sadness I feel from messages I receive from listeners who feel trapped in work that deadens them. You can take steps to change the work and the environment in which you are working. It may take effort and time, but so does living a life that slowly deadens you. See job search lesson #1.

3. When firms hire, competence is only one quality they look for. Additionally, they look for self-confidence, character, chemistry and, sometimes, charisma. These are the qualities that, when added up, lead to the big thing they look for — trust. They trust you. Without trust (or desperation — but you don’t want to step into a desperate situation), they will keep interviewing.

4. Networking is a career practice, not a job search practice. Many people make the mistake of lurching from one job search to another doing networking “when needed.” They ignore the data that networking fills more positions than recruiters and ads do. Thus, when they need someone, they become “one of those people” who try to use their history with someone to their advantage, rather than preserving a mutually beneficial relationship. Successful networking usually involves conserving a relationship, rather than prospecting for new ones. Too few people network except when they need something. See job search lesson #1.

5. Practice for interviews. Don’t wing it. Great athletes practice, and entertainers all rehearse. Job hunters go on interviews, and when the first time they speak the words are at the interview, they wonder why they get poor results. They are going to ask certain predictable questions in each interview. Rehearse your answers by speaking them.

6. Although we know we are influenced by brands, we do little to brand ourselves. We live in an age of influencers and brands yet act as though the universe will know and recognize our talents despite making no effort to become visible to people. Think proactively of the things that you can do to widen your sphere of influence so opportunities come to you, rather than you chasing them. See job search lesson #1.

7. Treat people with respect. Recruiters are human beings trying to do the job of filling positions. They are neither leeches nor parasites. They are paid by companies to fill positions. They don’t work for you, who pays them nothing. It is your responsibility to look out for yourself, not theirs. See job search lesson #1.

8. Negotiation starts with the first question about compensation. Whether you live in a state where it is still legal to ask about your current salary or one where it is illegal, as soon as the conversation turns to compensation, they are negotiating. “What are you currently earning? Is that total comp or just base salary? Gee, that seems a little high. Would you be flexible?” You know nothing about the job, the team or who you’ll report to except what you’ve learned from them or online. If you are going to agree to be flexible at this stage, you need to hedge the statement to protect yourself later. “I know nothing about the job, expectations, the team or the person I’ll be working for. In theory, I can be flexible, but there is a lot more I need to know before I can commit to being flexible.” See job search lesson #1.

9. Everyone lies. Many job hunters exaggerate their experience. Recruiters usually exaggerate the opportunity in the job. Most forget employers do, too. I’ve never heard of a hiring manager saying, “I have a big problem. We are way behind; the team I’ve inherited is lazy. My predecessor was fired, and so was hers. I need help to save myself!” Instead, they talk about a great opportunity with a terrific team of people and how they are like family. They may be, but they may be more like the families in all the holiday movies that want to kill one another!

10. Get off the conveyor belt and be treated as an individual. The hiring process has been turned into sausage-making. People apply for jobs through an applicant tracking system where they are expected to homogenize their experience so they are plucked from the thousands of others. They are asked the same questions by most employers until, eventually, they are chosen and onboarded. Get off the conveyor belt where you are processed.

There are many more things I’ve realized, but they can all be summarized as “the skills needed to find a job are different than those needed to do a job.”

If you don’t know how to do it differently, find a coach, mentor or good friend who can guide you. Otherwise, you will be homogenized and commoditized, winding up like everyone else.


Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020, 2021