Monday, March 15, 2010

Job Search Success: It's In Your Head

Job Search Success: It's In Your Head

By Kevin Donlin, Star Tribune Sales & Marketing

If you’re looking for a job, success may as close as your kitchen cabinet … or between your ears.

That’s according to best-selling author of “Swim With The Sharks” and Twin Cities business leader, Harvey Mackay (

In his latest book, “Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You,” Mackay offers practical employment tips from his 45+ years of experience as an executive.



Here are Mackay’s answers to common job-search questions. Read them and reap …

Question: How can people handle rejection in a job search, whether it’s anger after a layoff or disappointment after being turned down for a position?

“You have to know throughout your life that rejection is going to come,” says Mackay. “I have never yet met a successful person who hasn’t had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life.”

“When the No’s come, when the downsizing, restructuring, mergers, and acquisitions hit, and you have lost your job -- or you might even have been terminated -- you must learn something from it. That’s a point of paramount importance,” he says.

Action Step: For every rejection you experience in job hunting, extract at least one lesson. Example: If you lost out in the interview to another candidate, analyze your performance. What would you do or say differently in the next interview?

When it comes to rejection, Mackay also urges you not to take it personally.

“My best friend is Lou Holtz. You may recall he was fired as football coach at Arkansas. As soon as he got fired, he comes home to his wife Beth and screams that he’s going to sue the school. She talks him out of it, and he goes back the next day, accepts the firing, and learns something from it.”

“He wouldn’t have had the Notre Dame job if Arkansas hadn’t fired him,” says Mackay. “It changed his whole life. That’s how you beat rejection.”

Action Step: While you may never coach at Notre Dame, you will face adversity. Why not use it as a spur to greater effort? What looks like disaster may be a lesson in disguise.

A setback can free you up to pursue the next opportunity more intelligently if, instead of taking defeat personally, you take it apart and learn something from it.

Question: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it now takes 29.7 weeks to find a job, on average. That’s more than 7 months. How do you stay motivated during a long search for work?

“When you get up in the morning, you have two choices: You can be an optimist or you can be a pessimist. You can go around with negative people or you can go around with positive people,” says Mackay.

Given the choice, pick positive people. “If you’re getting all those No’s and all that rejection, you have to take a break sometime,” and turn to your closest friends, according to Mackay. He refers to this group as a “kitchen cabinet.”

“The kitchen cabinet is phenomenal. It’s probably the greatest asset you could have in a lifetime,” says Mackay. “If you have three or four close friends, you can bounce things off them. Then, you have to be part of someone else’s kitchen cabinet. I can tell you, it works miracles for rejection.”

Action Step: Talk to your kitchen cabinet and update them on your job search. Ask for their advice on your most-vexing problems. Don’t have a coterie of friends to count on? Start building that group today. Meanwhile, be sure to offer your help to others in need.

Question: Any parting job-search advice?

“One critical sentence in the book is this: Never say ‘No’ for the other person,” says Mackay. “What do I mean by that? You go all your life and say, ‘I can’t get that interview. I can’t get that job.’ Well, I say, ‘Let me say no.’ Ask! It’s very simple.”

Action Step: Never put a ceiling on yourself. Stop saying “No” in your mind before ever speaking to a hiring manager at your dream employer, for example, or calling and asking an influential person to meet for coffee.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, according to Wayne Gretsky. And you'll be ignored by 100% of the employers you don't talk to, according to Harvey Mackay.

In either case, the only thing you’ll regret tomorrow is the action you don’t take today.

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0.” Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit


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