Archive for the ‘Job Search’ category

Great Resume Fillers for Long Employment Gaps

June 5th, 2012

Not long ago, President Obama announced steps to protect the unemployed from a new form of prejudice and unfair treatment.

In March of this year, the CBN News Channel, described the challenge of proving that bias against the long-term unemployed exists.  While a number of states are working to address this issue, even if a bill making it unlawful is passed, unemployed men and women need to take matters in to their own hands.

If you’ve been out of work for quite some time, consider using some of these strategies to de-emphasize employment gaps.

Volunteer:  Become a long-term, committed volunteer for a non-profit and earn a title that can go on the resume.  Chair a committee that drives the direction of the organization or helps them raise money.  Those are skills that translate into great resume builders.  Make sure you treat volunteering like a job.  Show up on time, do what you’ve promised, say yes when ever possible and don’t bring your baggage.  You never know when you’re actually auditioning for your next job.  Volunteering not only looks great on your resume, it offers an outstanding opportunity for connected people to see you in action – which will put you on their radar screen when they have or learn about an opening.

Set yourself up in a small business:  President Obama’ job creation agenda might need to start with you!  What skills do you have that you can use to help others?  What things do you enjoy doing that other people need?  Start looking around for opportunities to create your own job, but make sure you follow business protocol to avoid any legal and tax issues.  Enterprise Centers, the Small Business Association, and other organizations like the Urban League, offer workshops and support for start-ups.  Even if you’re not making a mint, you’ll gain valuable business acumen and have something for your resume that fills that shows drive and initiative — making you incredibly attractive to hiring managers.

Go back to school.  Your unemployment status has likely changed your eligibility status for grants and loans.  Investigate now to see if you can get money you couldn’t when your income was flowing.  The extra benefit is that employers are looking for people who can bring them into the future.  Educating yourself will position you to do just that.

Work for family:  Check the family tree for someone who owns a business or needs support?  Even if they only pay you minimum wage or per project, you’ll get a little pocket change, additional marketable skills and you can put it on your resume.

Network:  This may not be a resume builder, but it has become one of the best job-hunting tools for the times. Too often people hide behind computers, sending out resume after resume.  The truth is employers don’t hire resumes; they hire people they know or who come highly recommended.  Spend some of that time online looking for networking opportunities.  Brush off those business clothes and get out there.  This is foreign to a great deal of the workforce who never needed to do this before, but it has become an absolute necessity.  Identify associations that are in your field.  For women, there are organizations like eWomenNetwork and NAWBO.  Look at events hosted by your local chamber or business associations.  Some events will cost you, but many events are free.  One hour of making human connections trumps many hours in front of a computer.

The old ways of finding a job are obsolete.  The employment ads are more about fulfilling EEO requirements and less about finding actual candidates.  Today’s market requires that you become a living, breathing resume – your actions and connections might be your only way in.  Even the most skillfully written resume and cover letter won’t rise above a person who is well-networked and/or visibly proves they have the right stuff.

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The Facebook Makeover for Job Seekers

May 30th, 2012

The job search environment has been forever changed.  The key to today’s job search is networking, and social networking is front and center. says that 37 percent of employers check social media for clues about the prospects they’re considering.  It’s become an extension of one’s resume in much the same way belonging to a fraternity or sorority opened doors for previous generations.

Although you may have become social media savvy, a makeover for your Facebook page may be in order to usher in the next stage of your career.  The new timeline design provides a great opportunity to make the right first impression.

The expansive photo area on the new timeline design places great emphasis on the visual.  This is your first impression for a prospective employer.  Attractive, professional photos will speak volumes about who you are to someone you’ve never met.  In the large header space show off your creativity by using pictures that display your hobbies or interested.  Stay away from inappropriate gestures, flesh, activities or clusters of friends.

What shows up when people click “About” under that big eye-catching banner?  This is a great place to sell yourself and show off your writing skills.  Complete the college and high school sections to reflect a positive image of your education and highlight extra-curricular activities that don’t involve drinking and partying?  You can also include things may no longer fit on your resume like honors you’ve received, sports you participate in and clubs in which you have played an active part.

Make sure you add links to the places you’ve worked to your profile – but only the places that will give you a good reference if contacted?  Employers are looking for information that reveals your character rather than your high profile accomplishments, so even being a camp counselor in high school can be added to this list.

Including additional languages you speak is an advantage as the world becomes increasingly multi-linguistic.  But, unless you’re seeking a job where religious or political views are a factor, it’s a toss of the dice as to whether those subjects work for or against you.  Think it through before revealing this information.

“Favorite Quotations” is a pretty neat way to express who you are to a prospective employer.  Companies are looking for people who are forward thinking, flexible, adaptable and resilient.  Quotes that represent those qualities are excellent choices.  The Internet offers what seems like an infinite number of places to find quotes by famous people.  Find your favorite ones, include a couple quotes here and and post from them frequently.   As for the “People You Admire” section choose wisely and with your own reputation in mind.

On the front end, what do your “Likes” say about you?  Are the brands or organizations consistent with the image you feel an employer will embrace?  Are they too militant, or depending on what kind of job you’re looking for, are they not militant enough?

When you “Share Your Interests” what do your choices in music, TV shows, athletes, or sports reveal?  A lot can be gleaned from that information.  So they’re all worthy of mindful review in light of your career goals and interests.

If you’re having trouble blending your true social space with one that is for professional purposes, consider starting a new Facebook page that you can direct prospective employers to – even include it on your resume.  If you choose to have a dual online personality, keep in mind that your social page is no more than a Google search away from unintended eyes.

If you do start a separate page, don’t forget to make sure people “like” it.  Nothing screams fake persona like a well-crafted Facebook page with no “friends.”

Remember, your remade or new professional Facebook page isn’t about entertaining yourself or keeping up with the latest trends, wacky videos and gossip.  It’s about creating your personal brand.  You’re marketing your benefits and value to someone who may be trying to weed out the candidates who aren’t savvy enough to know when they’re being watched.


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Job Hunting Tips For the Class of 2012

May 22nd, 2012

Congratulations to all the recent, or soon to be, college grads!

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) says hiring of this year’s college grads is expected to be up 9.5% over 2011.  That’s great news!

If you’re a recent grad, or you have one in your life, here are a few quick tips that will provide a competitive edge and make the job search process more fruitful.

  1. Make your job search your full time job. Devote your time to networking, completing applications, sending out or posting resumes, following up on leads, and attending job fairs.  Put in a good days work, every day, as you look for that right opportunity.
  2.  Demonstrate your work ethic by developing a professional resume – one that’s free of errors – and complete the application with care
  3. Do your homework and research the position for which you’re applying, the company and industry.
  4. Make sure your cover letter is well-written and speaks to something specific about the company.
  5. Remember, employers will likely check out your social media presence.  So, if need be, clean up your image.
  6. After each interview, promptly send all interviewers a thank you note and affirm your interest in the position.

Make wherever you land the perfect place for learning and growth.  Take every opportunity to strengthen your competency as an emotionally intelligent human being, and enhance your experience base as a professional.

Good luck!  Enjoy every step of your journey!

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Want to Grow and Flourish? Seek Out the Gift of Feedback.

January 31st, 2012

As I wrote last week’s post, “A Challenging Boss Can Be Good For You,” I started thinking about another key workplace challenge – the challenge of getting good feedback. It’s a big hurdle for most people.

You may have reservations about making yourself vulnerable when you ask for feedback. “Do I really want to hear what they have to say? Is this going to make me feel bad? Will I be embarrassed or humiliated by what they say to me?”

You may have questions about whether you can trust what the person says? “Are they being honest with me? Are they telling me the whole truth or have they sugarcoated the message, dumbed it down or softened it to the point that it’s meaningless?” Or, you may wonder, “Did they have to bludgeon me? I could have gotten the message if they had been just a little less painfully critical.” Despite all of these concerns, feedback is what you need to help you grow and flourish.

I divide feedback into two major categories: appreciative and developmental. Appreciative feedback is a message about what you’re doing that works well and makes you effective. Literally, it’s what others appreciate and value about you. Developmental feedback contains a message about something you’re doing — or not doing – that leads others to judge your behavior as less than effective. Both types of feedback are necessary and very valuable. Appreciative feedback lets you know what you are doing that you should continue doing. Developmental feedback gives you an opportunity to consider behavioral changes that could result in increased effectiveness.

Here’s the problem I see all too often: people don’t get good feedback. In this case, good means honest and truthful feedback, whether it’s appreciative or developmental. Most often, people don’t get good feedback because their managers and supervisors don’t give it. They tend not to give it because it’s hard to do and they’re often uncertain about how the message will be received. They may be asking themselves, “Will this be more work than it’s worth?”

To grow and flourish, you need accurate information about how your behavior impacts others – how you’re perceived and experienced by those with whom you live and work. You need to understand how you impact others because, with great regularity, there is a gap between your good intentions and the way your behavior looks and feels when it lands in the world of others. Armed with good quality information, you can make wise, informed decisions about repeating behaviors that support your success and choosing new behaviors where change is warranted.

So, here’s a strategy…ask your manager/supervisor for feedback. Ask to set aside some time on their calendar for a conversation about your performance. Scheduling time to talk will make it less likely you’ll be interrupted.

Here are a couple of questions that are open-ended and work well:

  1. What do you see me doing that works well and helps me to be effective? (Appreciative feedback)
  2. What are a couple of things you would suggest I do differently, to be even more effective? (Developmental feedback)

Now, here’s the hard part. After you ask question #1, be quiet and listen. Make notes of what the person says. Do NOT debate with them or explain yourself, or agree or disagree. Listen, note key words and phrases, and say, “Thank you.”

Then, go to question #2. Ask the question, then be quiet and listen. Don’t debate, agree, disagree, or make excuses or give explanations for why you do what you do. Just listen and take in what the person says. Make it easy for them to share their truth with you. Be sure to note the suggestions they provide and to thank them for being forthright and helpful.

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind:

  1. Breathe deeply to stay relaxed and present.
  2. Remember, this is NOT a conversation. Don’t dialogue back and forth. It’s a data gathering session. Ask your questions. Listen well. Take good notes.
  3. If you are unclear about a point, ask, “Would you mind clarifying that for me so that I fully understand.” Be sure to use a tone of voice and non-verbals that convey openness.
  4. End the meeting with, “Thank you!” It takes a lot for people to give feedback, even when it’s their job. A certain amount of personal courage is required and framing feedback so it’s clear also takes mental and emotional energy. Accept whatever the person has offered as a generous gift.

Here’s an important fact to remember: you can do with feedback whatever you want. You decide. You can use it or you can ignore. The choice is yours, as is the consequence of your choice. The giver will be watching. If you use the information constructively, you predispose the giver to be open with you the next time you ask, or the next time they hear something said about you or your work that they think you ought to know.

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Perfect or Excellent? Which Do You Shoot For?

November 15th, 2011

I was listening to Arthur Joseph discuss Vocal Awareness, a powerful concept he founded. He and his work are powerful.

Arthur asked, “Do you strive to be perfect or excellent?”

Hearing the question, I felt surprised by it. Clearly, the way he posed the question suggested there was a difference between the two, but it wasn’t a distinction I’d ever considered. Yet, the moment I heard the question, simultaneous to my surprise, I got it.

Intuitively, I understood – or at least I had a handle on my own interpretation of his message. And, I’m sure Arthur could add far more dimension and depth to the distinction between perfect and excellent than I was able to grasp in the moment. Yet, the question provided me with a gift.

From Arthur’s question, “Do you strive to be perfect or excellent,” several thoughts occurred to me.

  • Perfection is illusive and fleeting. It never lasts.
  • Perfection is a fantasy that fuels LIES That Limit and is usually based on a narrow, impossible to achieve image or idea.
  • Excellence is a way of being.
  • Excellence is birthed when you live up to your intention to simply be your best, moment-to-moment, day-to-day.

As I listened to Arthur, I thought to myself, “I will never be perfect, yet I can be excellent every day of my life. I can string together moments of excellence – moments of me doing my best at whatever I’m engaged in. In so doing, I’ll create an extraordinary life – a life that pleases me and represents me well. ”

I won’t delude myself with fantasies of being perfect, in thought, word or deed. As a Spirit of Purpose, I’ll simply shoot for excellence. Day-to-day, moment-to-moment, being excellent means that I’ll do my best to take another step towards making the unique contribution that I was born to make. That’s my work. Consider making it yours, too.

LIES That Limit will help you let go of the voices in your head that hold you back.  Order your copy today!


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Are You A Spirit of Purpose?

October 25th, 2011

Have you uncovered the deepest truth of who you really are and what you’re here to experience and contribute? If you’re like most people, you’re searching for the answer to those questions.

John said, “I want to know who I am and why I’m here. And, I don’t want to know. “

“Why not?,” I asked.

“It’s simple. If I know I’ll have to do something about it. I might have to change. I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”

Like John, you may not know the answer to these questions…not with consistent certainty. You do alotto avoid criticism and scrutiny.  Perhaps you’ve habitually distorted your desires and contorted your actions to conform and gain others’ acceptance and approval.  Now, you find yourself equivocating; questioning your right to dream a different dream; fearing your truth; resisting saying, “YES!” to the call that comes from deep within.  You doubt your ability to connect with your inner guidance and hear what this part of you has to say about who you are and why you’re here. You do the approach-avoidance dance and disconnect from the real you.

You ARE a Spirit of Purpose™!

Spirit, a spark of the divine universal life force, is the energy that animates your mind and body. You’re here to make a specific and unique contribution – to fill a need that no one else but you can satisfy.  Your Spirit and Purpose have been calling to you – loudly or softly – all of your life.  It will never be silenced.

How do you connect with your Spirit of Purpose™?  That’s the question we’ll continue to explore because Spirit of Purpose™ is who and what you are, and it’s an organization with an evolving and growing community.  The intent of Spirit of Purpose, LLC is to support you on your journey to remembering the deeper truth of who you really are and why you’re here.

Through our work, be it LIES That Limit, future books and articles, this blog (which will soon be renamed The Spirit of Purpose™ Blog), workshops, speaking engagements, as well as one-on-one and group coaching sessions, Spirit of Purpose, LLC is dedicated to providing content that will enable you to live a better life — one directed and driven by your authentic self.  The journey begins when you identify and let go of all the ways you have been trained, tricked and coerced into living LIES That Limit.

LIES That Limit was written to help you undo the damage of the labels, illusions, excuses and stories that sabotage your success, narrow your range of choices and limit the fulfillment of your deepest, most noble desires. Doing the work described in LIES That Limit is the first step on the path to living fully as the Spirit of Purpose™ you are.

Living and leading with the Spirit of Purpose™ you are is about reclaiming your real brilliance, power, majesty, creativity and calling. When you reconnect with that truth, you will have a better life – the one you were born to have.

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Do You Settle Before You Even Try?

July 26th, 2011

Ed told me with great pride about the many accomplishments and fearlessness of his son. Each story he told made the point crystal clear: his son is an extraordinary young man – intellectually gifted, well-nurtured by his family, challenged by caring teachers and spurred on by an internally-driven approach to life that says, “I can do anything I want to do. My options are limitless.”

As Ed talked about his son, his eyes conveyed pride and joy, certainly. And they held an edge of incredulity. It seemed hard for Ed to accept his son’s consistent record of higher and higher levels of achievement, and his never-ceasing reach for more; all done with complete confidence and full expectation of getting what he wants.

I asked Ed about that glimmer of astonishment, spiced with a bit of fear.“You seem to have a little disbelief or reticence taking in and accepting your son’s accomplishments AND his fearless press forward for more. Any truth in that?”

Ed and I had spent our last two sessions discussing his desire for a new challenge and strategizing about ways he could make it happen. For each recommended action, he had a ready Excuse or Story about why he can’t, or why now was not the right time. He de-energized and handicapped himself each time he spoke one of the LIES That Limit.

After a pause, he responded to my question with, “Of course not. I’m proud of Jeremy. He just goes for it and he gets what he wants.” The movement of his head was consistent with, “No, I can’t believe it.” I listened to his words and watched his non-verbals.

“Jeremy never even applied to any school other than Stanford?! I know that’s where he wanted to go, but I thought he should have a back-up plan, just in case he didn’t get in. But he put all his eggs in one basket. And, it paid off. ”

How many times do you do that: settle for less than what you want before you give your all and go for the full magilla – before you put your full energy and total attention into pursuit of your goal? It’s what I do, all too frequently, and it’s what I see many others do too. We allow ourselves to be swallowed up by the muddled middle I describe in LIES That Limit that flat, non-descript space of average that results in being less than you’re capable of and falls short of your real desires and sense of purpose.

Suddenly, Ed was animated, talking more quickly than usual. “That’s my problem! I don’t go for what I want. I give up before I even try. But not Jeremy. He just goes for it and makes it happen. My God, that’s what I have to do too. I’ve got to stop stopping myself from really trying. My own son is teaching me something about life.” He threw his head back in laughter, delighted about his lesson, amazed by his teacher.

Does Jeremy’s example hold a lesson for you? I know it does for me.

The power is within you  right now to take control of your story — rather than letting doubt or fear write your story for you.  Learn how to unlock your full potential.

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Are Your Problems Covering A Hidden Passion?

July 12th, 2011

I meet wonderful people at book signings and speaking engagements. They come up to talk, openly, about the details of their lives. It’s such a privilege to bear witness to their stories.

Recently, a woman, let’s call her Nan, told me the story of how a chronic, debilitating problem awakened her passion. “I had diabetes from the time I was a small child. As I got older, it became more challenging. Most medications didn’t seem to help. Those that did came with major side effects that were as debilitating as the disease.”

Nan went on say, “I was so sick and limited. One day, it occurred to me that maybe I could something about it. I just had to figure out what and how. So, I began talking to everyone I met, and doing research, about alternative treatments and cures for diabetes. And, I healed myself. I no longer have diabetes.”

She looked delighted and pleased. Who wouldn’t be? An ailment like diabetes is an albatross; one she had successfully thrown off. She’s been free of the disease for more than fifteen years.

Now, here’s the really good part of her story: Nan shares her knowledge with others. She helps people who have chronic diseases learn how to manage their ailment with a combination of nutrition, exercise, and spiritual practice.

“A special joy for me is helping parents help their children. So many of the ailments children experience can be managed, if not cured, with the right combination of nutrition, exercise, and spiritual practice. Things like asthma, ADHD, respiratory ailments, and so on, all respond to natural remedies. We don’t have to drug our kids.” Her eye contact was intense. I could feel how deeply committed she is to her message.

She took a couple of steps to begin walking away, but turned back to me. “You know, for so long I resented having diabetes. Then, one day it occurred to me that without diabetes, I wouldn’t have come to discover my passion and my life’s work. I’m so grateful for what I thought was a problem. It was just hiding my real purpose.” She smiled a walked away.

Perhaps more of us have a purpose and passion masquerading as a problem. Survey your life. What’s the gift in whatever it is you’re complaining about, annoyed about, angry about, resentful of, tired of? There, in that nagging problem, perhaps even scary problem, may lay the pathway to your purpose. Your so-called problem may be covering a hidden passion. Look within and listen to the alternative, wise take on what you’ve called a problem. Your internal Wisdom will help you see, as soon as you open your mind and heart to a different take on an old story.

Uncover your passion with the tools in “LIES That Limit!”




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Failure Is the New Success: 8 Ways to Embrace Failure

May 24th, 2011

Everywhere you turn these days, people who’ve “made it” are encouraging us to embrace failure. Denzel Washington told the 2011 graduating class at Ivy League University of Pennsylvania that if they’re not failing, they’re not trying.

Tavis Smiley’s new book “Fail Up” recounts many crisis along his life path that could have easily derailed the successful, high-profile media personality.

This notion is very difficult for many – including me – to surrender to, even though safe, guarenteed outcomes are an illusion. With each decision we make, we weigh the risks and the benefits, and move toward the outcome we feel we can most easily live with. Often times we end up not achieving our dreams because we were so afraid of failure that we don’t even try.

A colleague recently shared with me that during a discussion with friends, they all agreed that there’s little reward for doing what you’re supposed to do. Coloring between the lines doesn’t get you noticed. Instead, it gets you overlooked, because the spotlight and attention are on the people “in trouble.” How many times have you heard about CEO’s who failed miserably, were fired and then hired by another prestigious company? I bet you don’t have to think long or hard to find a story of a colleague or acquaintance who got promoted even though everyone thought they were a “screw up.”

So what does this mean to you and your success path? If you’re a “play it safe” kind of person, how can you learn to love failure? How can we dilusional safe seekers become dream-fulfilling risk takers?

  1. Learn to recognize when you’re letting fear of failure keep you from doing something you really want versus making a rational decision about doing something that’s not right for you.
  2. Let your Authentic Self be your guide. Don’t grasp at things that are just about making money, following other people’s dreams (like the guy on the infomercial who makes a million dollars a month flipping real estate) or impressing the opposite sex. Those motivators aren’t enough to carry you through the thorny path to success. “LIES That Limit: Uncover the Truth Of Who You Really Are” is a tremendous tool for identifying your Authentic Self.
  3. When seeking advice from friends, rather then taking their criticism as a reason not to proceed, use it as a way to inform yourself about the obstacles you’ll face and figure out how to overcome them.
  4. Make a list of the things you failed at that didn’t get you fired, killed or banished from a group you cherish. We’ve all failed at something and still we’re here to tell the tale. Remembering that those failures didn’t completely do us in helps put the risks into perspective.
  5. Don’t plan for what you’ll do if you fail. That gives you a mental out that will make it easier for you to give up.
  6. Take small, slightly riskier steps forward than you feel comfortable with.
  7. Educate yourself on what it would take, make a list of what you need to do and start knocking the items off one at a time. As you find out what it takes, there will be steps that feel overwhelming and frightening. Address the aprehension you’re feeling by asking yourself exactly what you’re afraid of instead of letting that feeling in your chest stop you in your tracks. Say it out loud. Write it down. It’s occupies more space in your head then it will out in the universe.
  8. Know your boundaries. Donald Trump takes big risks, but he also has big resources to back him up. I don’t imagine he’ll ever take a big enough risk to lose everything, and neither should you.

Reconnect with your Authentic Self.  Read “LIES That Limit.”

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5 Job Hunting Tips For the College Class of 2011

May 17th, 2011

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), “Employers report that they will hire 19 percent more new college graduates this year than they did last year.” This is great news for the class of 2011, who NACE says are more likely to turn down jobs and wait for a better opportunity than the class of 2010.

In spite of this upturn, college graduates can still expect the hiring environment to be extremely competitive. And, how they start their careers will have a long-term effect on their worklife success and overall fulfillment and wellbeing.

To help graduating college students start their careers off right, I offer these five tips designed to bring success in finding that first job and making sure it’s something that will make them happy for years to come.

Focus and find what you want. Get clear about who you are and what you want to do? What’s your career vision? Research shows that even without good grades or in some cases, a specific degree in that area, your vision can carry you through to success. How do you do this?

Ask yourself these questions and be honest about the answers:

  • What do you LOVE to do – even if you aren’t getting paid to do it?
  • What industry do you want to work in?
  • What job do you see yourself in?
  • What you know of the work that is required to do this job, can you see yourself engaged in and enjoying it?
  • Are there specific companies you want to target?

Inventory your experience and skills to see how they fit into the type of career you decide to pursue.

  • Summer, part-time, or current “paying the bills” jobs
  • Internships
  • Volunteer experience
  • Athletic and other extra-curricular experience

Make it your full-time job to seek information and search (or part-time job if you’re already working at a job to pay the bills):

  • Research the companies or careers you decide to pursue.
  • Network in person and on the internet. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to connect, but make sure your Social Media presence is career-friendly. Start by checking out “Nine Best Practices for Using Social Media To Win Your Dream Job.”
  • Have friends, family and alumni advise you.
  • Arrange informational interviews with people who are in positions you’d someday like to have.

Once you land the job – remember that you must fit in before you can stand out:

  • Observe and absorb.
  • Executives and managers constantly tell me that new hires think they should have their jobs – and that puts managers off and could stunt your career growth.
  • Don’t show up being critical of the way things are done in a company before you really understand it.

A copy of “LIES That Limit” would make a great gift for the graduating senior in your life!

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