Resume Fundamentals – What You Have to Know to Succeed

(reprinted from “Getting Seen: The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Most Important Document of your Life – Your Resume”)

by James Hale, author of “Getting Seen”

In the mid-1970’s, over a billion resumes and applications were screened each year by potential employers, and that number may well have quadrupled since then.

These days, it’s not unusual for a large organization to review more than 50,000 resumes in a year.  That’s a lot of people trying to market themselves.  And any given company will only hire about one to two percent of these applicants, maybe even fewer.

The only way businesses can sort through this avalanche of applicants is by becoming very good at screening, judging, and categorizing resumes.  With the advent of Internet recruitment, resume evaluation is likely to continue as the most important pre-employment screening device.

Look at it this way: Face-to-face interviews cost businesses time and money, so by screening out most of the potential candidates during the resume evaluation phase they save themselves countless hours and dollars.  They know lots of people will do anything to get their foot in the door – including lying – so companies do everything they can to eliminate any resume that has the slightest hint of a problem.  Understandably, businesses want to avoid their own form of “buyer’s remorse” – hiring someone who looks fine on paper, only to find out that they missed something important in the resume or interview.

A good resume serves two very important tasks. The first is to get you interviews – not just one or two interviews, but lots of them. You want your resume to consistently generate interviews, which leads to its second function. The second function of a resume is to enhance and supplement your professional image throughout the entire interviewing and hiring process.  Everything else is inconsequential.

A good resume is like a personal publicist, an information desk, and a cheerleading squad all rolled into one – a document that will consistently remind hiring managers that you’re the right person for the job.

Both of these functions are equally important. If your resume doesn’t get you interviews, it doesn’t matter how nice a polish it puts on your professional image. If it doesn’t get you in the door, sitting across the table from an interview panel, it’s worthless.

THE JOB APPLICANT AS A TEACHER

As you’ll discover while reading this book, it’s important to understand the mindset of the person who’ll be reading your resume. That will often be a recruiter.

The principal function of a recruiter is to find qualified candidates for a specific job opening. She then has to sell these qualified candidates to her client and convince the client to interview them. Since a recruiter doesn’t get paid by a client company until the qualified candidate is hired, it’s up to her to convince the client that the candidate is qualified and should be hired. Put simply, a professional recruiter makes money by finding qualified candidates that her clients are apt to hire.  If she messes up and recommends a jerk, no return business.

So how does this recruiter obtain a qualified candidate for her client’s job openings? They find qualified candidates by placing employment ads, reviewing company websites, scrutinizing online job sites and job boards, working with referral agencies, and maintaining a database of potential employees. Hence, much of their day is spent sifting through resumes, reading cover letters, evaluating referrals, surfing the Internet, sending and answering email, networking, making cold calls, and talking on the phone with other human resource professionals. Their short-term objective is to find qualified candidates for their clients. Their long-term goal is to generate a pipeline of qualified candidates.

In terms of the likelihood of any one resume actually resulting in a job, most recruiters receive over 1,100 resumes for every one job opening. In addition, nearly all recruiters receive at least 50 new resumes per day. These are subsequently added to databases that already contain detailed information on anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 job applicants.

In other words, recruiters see a lot of resumes. In order to get yours placed on the pile that will get you interviews with employers, you first need to shift your mindset and adopt three new beliefs about resumes.

New Belief #1:  Resumes must be written to teach – they are not an advertisement or a marketing tool.

A resume is a specialized teaching tool.  It is not a marketing piece or an advertisement.  This is in contrast to what most resume “experts” will tell you.  But think about the mindset of a marketer.  Marketers pull out all the stops and do whatever they can to get us to think we need their product.  They spend millions researching logos, product names, color usage, and advertising campaigns.  They exaggerate product claims about what their products can do for us (check out the weight loss and get-rich-quick infomercials), sometimes crossing over the line by lying or at least providing false hope to the general public.

Or they use the “bait and switch” approach where they offer us something that looks too good to be true.  They don’t tell us the “typical” results people get; they only telling us about the rare and lucky flukes.  (“I lost 35 pounds in a week eating nothing but Oreos and ice cream!”)  The marketer doesn’t reveal that the product rarely works this good.  Then, after we have bitten the hook, they “up sell” us by telling us we need an additional product or feature to get the full benefit.  It’s all a marketing scheme, grounded in well-researched persuasive psychology and walking the line on legality and the ethical high road.

Marketers don’t care what buying their product will do to your budget, and they don’t have your best interest at heart.  YOUR best interest is not THEIR job  –  their job is to make money.  If they don’t make money, they lose their job and their kids go hungry.  Their job is to play to your emotions, your intellect, and your sense of urgency so that you leave the house right now and go buy their product.  That’s their job.  It doesn’t necessarily make them bad people; it just means that they don’t care that much about you.  You are not like a marketer.

Lots of people writing their resumes think of themselves as self-marketers.  They try to present themselves as bigger than life, greater than great.  Studies indicate that over 60% of resume writers exaggerate the truth on their resumes.  Some research indicates this number could be as high as 90%.  And, as a hiring manager, I’ve sometimes fallen for this.  The result:  I’ve hired people who SEEM to be a good fit for the job, but after a while, they don’t work out.  They’ve sold themselves to me and end up not being a good fit for the job.  Everyone pays a price for this:  the manager, because he’s hired a person who is unable to do the job; HIS boss, because he now thinks the hiring manager is incompetent;  and the person hired, because he is not able to do the job he convinced the manager he COULD do.  As a result, the employee can end up with disciplinary actions against him, which could result in termination of his employment – not to mention all the associated stress caused from his failure on the job.  Or he may have just locked himself into a job for life because his incompetence means he won’t be promoted.  Or, if the company finds out he falsified information to get the job, he could end up at the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Experienced managers can smell self-interest marketing techniques.  They intuitively identify someone who is trying to sell themselves.  When an experienced manager senses that someone is trying to sell themselves in a resume or job interview, the manager sees the person as desperate and self-centered.  The manager will run away, because the applicant sounds like a used car salesman trying to unload a junker.  It’s like the applicant is holding a big “WILL WORK FOR FOOD” sign – People tend to look the other way.  As a resume writer, you are trying to teach managers what you can do for their particular business, not trying to sell yourself as the best thing since sliced bread.

The purpose of a resume is to teach – not to market yourself.  When you draft your resume, think about the characteristics of great teachers.  This takes the pressure off of you.  You don’t have to become a salesman.  But, in teaching the hiring manager, you must adhere to teaching basics:  First, eliminate distractions.  Remember how easy it was in school to get distracted by things going on outside the windows or things the class clown was doing?  And sometimes you were so bored in the class that you probably LOOKED for things to distract you.  I know I did.  The hiring manager is the same.  If your resume is too wordy, has a distracting layout, or has any other attributes that distract the manager, it will be headed for the trash can.  More on this later.

 

Resume advice for job huntersSecond, educational psychologists have found that people need to hear a message at least three times before they remember it.  If you give students a piece of information once and never bring it up again, they are sure to forget it.  So what does this mean for you?  I want you to remember that 3 X 3 does not equal 9 x 1.  Here’s what I mean:  Giving a manager examples of three skills you have and repeating these skills in three different situations is much more powerful than giving the manager nine different skills and mentioning each only once.  The nine won’t make an impression, but the three will make you look like an expert.  For example, if a company is accepting resumes for a team leader, you are better off using three different examples of when you’ve successfully led team projects, rather than nine different skills you have, one of which is team leader.

 

But, James, won’t I be falsifying my application using this technique?  Good question!  And my answer:  Absolutely not.  Many jobs are so diverse and involve multiple duties, so writing out a complete description of the job gets long and windy.  Condense and emphasize.  Otherwise, you end up hiding your qualifications behind too much data and trivial facts.  In writing your resume, you will have to choose what to include and what to leave out of each description of your past and current jobs.  Leave out irrelevant details and emphasize necessary qualities for the job you want.

The hiring manager has the right to hire the very best person for the job.  They get to choose – that’s their job.  It is their right and their responsibility to the company.  Your job is not to sway them that you are better than some other job candidate.  Chances are you don’t know the other people the hiring manager is considering.  But your job, on the other hand, is to teach them who you are.  You have the right AND the responsibility – to yourself and those affected by your employment decisions – to put your very best in front of the manager for him to consider.  You are an educator, not a sales person.

This is a complete mental shift for most people.  Every day many great applicants are passed over because they are selling themselves, not teaching the manager.  If a manager can look over your resume and know what you have accomplished and what skills you could bring to the job, you have succeeded as a teacher, regardless of who gets the job offer.  But, remember, most people draft their resume as a sales tool.  Draft your resume as a teaching tool and you WILL stand out.

New Belief #2: Resumes must focus on the needs of the hiring manager – they are not autobiographies.

Hiring managers don’t care AT ALL about you, your needs, or your goals. You’re nothing to them but one of perhaps hundreds of names they see on pieces of paper every day. They don’t care about your career goals.  They don’t care if you become fulfilled and self-actualized, or if you really need this job because of your financial setbacks.  They have their own needs.  Your agenda isn’t their agenda.  The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll be able to create a resume that speaks directly to what they’re looking for.

From the hundreds of managers I’ve talked to, here are the top eight motivators for most employers:

1. Maintain or increase profits

2. Speed up or streamline processes

3. Comply with legal mandates

4. Solve specific problems

5. Take work off someone else

6. Move into a new market

7. Improve company image

8. Improve customer service

As employees of the company to which you’re applying, the hiring managers are operating with a set of their own needs, like pleasing their bosses, getting that next raise or promotion, and not looking stupid.  These needs influence their choices.

When you look at it from this perspective, it seems obvious:  You need to write your resume focusing on how you can meet their needs, not all about your history.  The change in mindset is somewhat subtle, but the results are powerful.

Yet very few resumes are written with the psychology of what a hiring manager wants in mind. In fact, some resume writers not only ignore these factors, they actually create resumes that work against them by focusing on issues that are of interest to no one but themselves.

Your target audience is hiring managers. To create a resume that generates lots of interviews, you have to look at life from the hiring manager’s perspective. If you don’t thoroughly understand their point of view, you’ll dramatically reduce the odds of getting an interview with a great company.

Novice resume writers often go wrong by trying to:

* Make themselves look important

* Impress their family and friends

* Secure a management position

* Get paid as much as possible

* Make their resume look like they can do things they really cannot

* Make the document fit on one page

* Demonstrate their career objectives

* Bend the truth, exaggerate qualifications, or lie outright

Once you know what’s going on in a hiring manager’s mind, it’s easy to see that the mistakes the novice writer makes have nothing to do with the manager’s motivations or that of the companies they represent. In fact, these motivating factors are so at odds with each other that they’ll most likely result in that resume writer rarely getting an interview with a great company. Which brings us to the third rule.

New Belief #3:  Resumes are truthful – you must never exaggerate the truth, and NEVER EVER lie on your resume

You know people who have done it – some of them high profile individuals.  Or maybe you’ve done it yourself – in the past.  That stops today.  Some people do it to get an advantage.  Others think they can do a job and all they need to do is get their foot in the door.  Still others do it to avoid a black mark that exists in their past and don’t want the hiring manager to know about it. I’ve talked to professional, highly paid resume writers who encourage people to “bend the truth.”   If you were a hiring manager, would you want potential employees exaggerating the truth or, even worse, lying?

There are three reasons you must not lie on a resume: 1) If discovered, you can lose your job, be publicly humiliated, or both; 2) If you land a job based on falsified data, there is a good chance you will not be able to do the job, which can cause a whole host of problems; and 3) It is wrong.  I’m not going to talk about this much.  You know in your heart what I mean.

Sixty to ninety percent of the people writing a resume will lie or exaggerate the truth on it.  Good managers see right through people who think they are marketing themselves, and like used car salesmen, such managers distrust people who they see as self-promoting marketers.

 

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With all the ethics scandals today, good managers often are refreshed by someone who is confident enough in themselves to tell a manager what they can and cannot do.  Many people have painted themselves as being able to walk on water and – through deceit – have worked their way into jobs that were not a good fit for them.  Over time, they become miserable because they recognize that the job is a bad fit.  Coworkers, the manager, and the company look bad because they hired someone who doesn’t have the skills to do a job.  Honesty is seen as refreshing and demonstrates a welcomed trustworthiness that today’s managers appreciate.

Now I’m not saying people will be more likely to hire you if you put in your resume that you’ve robbed banks and committed all sorts of felony offenses.  But you don’t have to describe yourself as another Bill Gates to get hired by a computer company.  Don’t list all your transgressions in highlighted, bold text.  But don’t misrepresent yourself or your accomplishments.

In summary, in your resume, write about YOU while designing it for THEM.   You must know what motivates the hiring managers in the specific business you are applying for.  If you are an experienced chef, for example, your resume will look different when you apply at the upscale steakhouse chain than when you apply to a family-owned vegetarian restaurant.  It is critical that you do your homework on the company, finding their successes, their fears, and their dreams, and what their top motivators are from the list in the previous section.

Looking at all three new beliefs together, you can see that resumes are fundamentally teaching tools that must be designed to meet the underlying needs of the hiring manager and, by extension, the company they represent.  And while you are the item that’s being taught about, your resume will fail if it’s too self-serving.

This is the single most difficult concept for inexperienced resume writers to master. Write about you while designing it for them. However, if you think about the recruiter, the hiring manager, and the company’s needs, you’ll ultimately get the jobs that you desire because you will be addressing their motivations and fulfilling their needs. On the other hand, if you ignore this primary directive, you’ll be looked over because they won’t see you.  Or, worse, you’ll wind up in a job you are ill-prepared to handle.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:

Getting Seen by James Hale is the book you need to set yourself apart from the job competition. Getting Seen: The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Most Important Document of your Life – Your Resume is available for only $4.97 in all e-book formats.

Adding the Five Percent

5_star_image_prefby James Hale,

In an interview with authors William Doyle and William Perkins, a successful partner in a management consulting firm credits attention to detail for her success.

She says, “I believe that battles are won and lost in the last five percent of detail.  Everybody gets the first 80%.  Most people get the first 95%.  What makes the difference is the people who get the last five percent.”

I can relate.  One day, a colleague of mine and I were partnering up to pitch a major training program to the General Manager of one of the largest hotels in the Southeast.  With over 900 employees, this was a big deal … for the GM and for us.

We put together our cost estimates, mapped out the series of classes we would offer, and projected the hotel’s return on the investment.

On a sunny summer day, my colleague and I walked into the GM’s office to make our presentation.   The GM was a surly, ‘numbers kind of guy,’ focused keenly on our ROI projections and the metrics we would use to measure project success.  With a furrowed brow, he put his hand on his chin and said, “There’s a lot of soft stuff in your proposal about training managers how to coach their staff and teaching staff to work as a team … what if we cut that out and focused on work flow, process streamlining, and maximizing efficiency?”

My brain started thinking about the edits we would need to make and how cutting out the content would reduce our time and therefore save on project cost.  After all, he’s the customer, right?  We need to deliver what he wants, right?  Before I could open my mouth to ask specific questions about the modifications, my colleague said, “No, that’s not an option.  This company was built as a family.  The founder made it feel that way.  He had a 5 star hotel that he was proud of and that was a place of dignity for the employees.  I looked you all up and you are not a 5 star hotel anymore.  You’re 3 stars.  3.5 at best.  Your performance has steadily slipped since the founder passed, and it is because of the degrading trust within this organization.   I ate at your restaurant last night and you could feel it in how the staff interacted.  Efficiency, work flow and process streamlining are the byproduct of an environment where managers coach well and people work together towards a common goal.  We cannot maximize the results of our training without the soft skills.  If you take that out, we are not the people to deliver the program.  We can’t be part of a company that doesn’t believe in teamwork and trust … that’s not how this empire was created.  It would be disrespectful to the founder and to the legacy he created.”

Then, there was the dramatic pause.  My mouth dropped open as I stared at my colleague.   I could have killed him.  This was too big of a project to be that forceful.  Sure, I was impressed with the boldness he had shown, but a major contract was on the line.

The meeting didn’t last long after that.

Then, in the elevator on the way down, my colleague told me about some research he had done.  He told me that  the hotel is family owned.  It was constructed by the father of the current owners.  He built the hotel floor by floor on a cash-flow system, building a new floor only when he had the funds to pay cash for the work.  An amazing man.  In addition to showing wise restrain in his money management, he had quite a reputation in the community because of the commitment to his church, his generosity to local charities, and his way of treating employees like they were family.  When my colleague ate in the restaurant the night before, his waitress talked about how this man gave her a chance when others wouldn’t because of her low education and her race.

We ended up getting the project, and the GM told us that the deciding factor was my colleague’s boldness … and because he had gone the extra mile in researching the history of the company.  He new the importance of the family legacy, and that made all the difference.

That’s what I mean about that last five percent:  attention to detail made a difference in the overall impression we left with that client.

Was it worth it?  I think so.   It’s that last five percent that separates the marginally successful people from those that will rise even higher.

When making an impression, go the extra mile by attending to the last 5%.

Five Truths: Part 5, Luck Favors the Prepared

Climb A MountainIn 2004, Pixar and Disney Studios released a brilliant movie called “The Incredibles.”  It was an animated film about a family of superheroes and their struggles to live in normal society.  There is a minor character in the film named Edna Mode.  Ms. Mode is a half-Japanese, half-German fashion designer specializing in custom-made outfits for superheroes. It is apparent that she feels infinitely superior to all other designers in the world and shows much disregard towards runway boutiques and modern fashion models.  She is very talented, overachieving, and a success in her special career niche.

Ms. Mode has several clever lines, but the one that applies to the job search is one she makes when questioned about all the flame-resistance, stretch ability, bullet-proof features, and attention to detail she provides in her designs, which her client views as unnecessary add-ons.  “Luck favors the prepared.”

Whether you call it divine intervention, attention to detail, or simply luck, the world provides advantages to those who invest time and attention to their life.  Whether it’s the job search, health of your relationships, or your dedication to what you are passionate about in life, more opportunities are presented to those who work to prepare themselves for the opportunities.  Luck does favor the prepared.

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Job Seekers and the Unemployed Can Learn to Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

Tarpon Springs, FL (i-newswire) October 3, 2012 — Getting noticed in this job market is a challenging task, especially in a difficult economy where more and more people are unemployed and looking for work.

Career guidance expert James Hale of Path Choice has the solution for job seekers in his new Kindle book “Getting Seen,” available free starting Thursday.

“This book is for any potential job applicant who wants to stand out from the crowd,” explained Hale. “If you want the same old resume advice, this book is not for you. If you want to do some pre-resume work and create a tool that immediately puts you in the top 10 percent of job searchers, read on.”

“Getting Seen: The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Most Important Document of Your Life – Your Resume” is now available for the popular Kindle eReader and it can be downloaded free for two days starting Thursday, October 4. It is available exclusively through Amazon.com for the Kindle eReader, Kindle App, and read online with any device through the Kindle Cloud.

The career guidance advice in “Getting Seen” is based on fact. It dispels the misguided rumors that run rampant in the typical resume advice. Unfortunately, most resumes are nothing more than lifeless lists of a candidate’s job history. They don’t tell what the candidate has actually done, where he has done it, or why it was important. On the other extreme are resumes that are boiling over with detail, running into 20-25 page, or more. These authors have forgotten that a resume is ultimately meant to get you through the door, not do the interview as well.

“This is a book that gets to the heart of resume writing and that heart is the idea of using the resume as a teaching tool,” explained James D. Smith, Author and President of Iron 2 Iron Equipping. “I’ve been in the personal development business for almost 20 years and have not come across a better resource for the job seeker or career changer. People pay thousands of dollars for the advice and coaching that is in Getting Seen.

This book examines exactly what recruiters, human resources personnel, and hiring managers are looking for in the resumes that they receive each day, and how you can give it to them. If you follow James Hale’s advice, you will drastically increase the odds that you will stand out and that recruiters will call you for a face-to-face interview where you can further wow them with your skills and professionalism.

Hale will show you what employers have come to prefer in terms of resume content, length, and format. These preferences have changed recently due to dramatic changes in technology and increased resume traffic. The author will also help you understand the functions of a resume and the psychological profile of the person who evaluates it.

You will also learn how to present yourself so hiring personnel will see you in the position they are filling. You will have a shine on your resume that gets you noticed.

“Getting Seen: The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Most Important Document of Your Life – Your Resume” will give you the tools you need to land the job you want. The book is available free through the Amazon.com Kindle store Thursday and Friday of this week.

 

 

5 Truths: Part 4, Highly successful people are not hopeful…they are optimistic.

by James Hale, author of “Getting Seen”

You thought “hope” and “optimism” were the same? Just smile. They are not!

Oh, yes, they do have definite similarities, and in casual usage they are thought of as synonyms. After all, both hope and optimism are considered powerful emotions based on belief. Both anticipate a positive outcome for a situation. Both feed a desire for the future. But the similarity stops there.

Hope is passive; optimism is active. According to Dr. Emmett Miller, hope has an element of desire—we hope for things we want to happen and what we hope for is usually possible. (I hope Johnny gets the job.) Optimism has more of an element of confidence—we believe good will come from the situation, we believe good with triumph over evil in the end, or that our innate strengths will carry us through. (I know things will be okay even if Johnny doesn’t get this job.)

Optimism knows that things will be okay regardless of the outcome. If “hope” and “faith” had a baby, it would be named “optimism.”

Like gasoline fuels a car, optimism fuels our ability to solve problems and find creative solutions to life’s puzzles.

So how does this affect your job search? Hope has a trap. That trap is passivity. People who misuse hope feel they have no personal control over a situation. People who draw energy from hoping for success often fail to take complete action because they rely instead on simply wishing for the best. They trust that hope will fill in the voids from their limited efforts. They sometimes then simply accept their lot in life and do not take action to help themselves … even when they could.

Optimism is very different. The strength of optimism is that not only does it keep us moving toward the things we desire, it also enables us to let go of the situation if our desired outcome is not realized. Without this motion toward a positive outcome and the ability to let go when reality falls short of our dreams, we tend towards depression, despair, apathy, and helplessness. We give up.

But there is more. Like gasoline fuels a car, optimism fuels our ability to solve problems and find creative solutions to life’s puzzles. When your career path gets steep and rough—when you have those extended periods when no one returns your calls or responds to your resume—optimism helps you see the footholds and the shortcuts. If you cultivate optimism in a way that keeps you in action and keeps you focused on what you can do to influence the outcomes you desire, success will be achieved.

When something bad happens to you, like a layoff or struggles in the job search, it will always do one of three things to you:

  • It will define you, so that you identify yourself by the condition (I am unemployed).
  • It will destroy you (by creating bad habits like isolating yourself from those closest to you)
  • It will feed you power and strengthen you.

People who are naturally optimistic are masters of the latter.  If you are not naturally optimistic, here is a checklist on optimism from Optimist International. See where you are succeeding and where you might improve:

 To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

 To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

 To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

 To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

 To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

 To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

 To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

 To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

 To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

Truths #3 of 5: You Need Help

by James Hale,

80 – 90 % of job openings are filled by people who knew someone within the company to put in a good word for them.  Chances are you have landed a job in the past based on who you knew.

Sample resume formatTechnical skills alone will not get you job offers.  You need friends, coaches, mentors, colleagues, family, and a nice mix of people who recognize your potential and want to help you succeed.  Maybe PathChoices can be one of the people to help you on your career path.  Regardless, there is no doubt that you cannot succeed by yourself.  No success in Hollywood, politics, or the business world did so alone.  You must surround yourself with people who help you learn, grow, and flourish.  Think of all the coaches and managers that surround the big name Hollywood stars and the great business talent.  The most successful people have surrounded themselves with an “inner circle” of 8 – 20 people who can help them.  The road to success is rarely traveled alone.

And while you are surrounding yourself with people who can help you, keep an eye open for people you can help.  The world is packed with both children and adults who do not recognize their gifts or potential. They have never had anyone who believed in them.  A few of them will succeed in life, but many others will fail because no one invested in them.

At any time, there should be at least one person in your life whom you invest in with confidential discussion, productive advice, and genuine encouragement.  This person should be someone you are not required to help and who cannot offer you any assistance as a payback.  There should be nothing for you in the relationship.  It should be a selfless, giving act on your part.  It should come from the heart, even if you do not want to and you need to force it just a little.

Work is a social undertaking.  No one achieves success in their career without the help of others.  Find someone whom you admire and take them out to lunch once a month to pick their brain.  Hire a coach who will be totally honest in encouraging you and helping you see your blind spots.  Get to know people who work for the business you want to work for.  Chances are, the next giant step on your career path will come from one of these three sources.

Truths # 2 of 5: You CANNOT be Anything You Want to in Life.

by James Hale,

No, you cannot be anything you want to be in life.

That is a lie told by well-meaning parents who want their kids to dream big and achieve greatness.  The reality is there are limits and restrictions on your potential.  One of these limitations is your natural skills and talents.  There are some skills—perhaps reading or math or caring for others or an ability to focus quietly—that come easy to you.  Maybe you have chosen to work on refining these natural gifts into perfected talents, or maybe you are like most of us and fallen a little short in this effort.  Regardless, these seeds must be watered and nourished if they are to grow.  Get to work perfecting your natural gifts.

That’s your natural gifts.  But there are other skills that are not as natural for you.  These areas can limit your options in choosing a career, and they can be your downfall in the job search.  For example, the brilliant yet introverted mathematician who cannot deal with people makes a lousy teacher, if he does not deal with his shortcoming.  Similarly, the extroverted people-person who lacks the discipline to master mathematics also becomes a lousy teacher, if he does not try to control skills that do not come naturally.  Recognize that you are set free by your natural skills, but limited by those that are not as developed in you.

But raw skill is not the only variable affecting your ability to choose your profession.  You are also either empowered or restricted by your finances, your network of support from family and friends, and the unique opportunities that come your way every day.  You cannot simple “will” your way into a job by raw desire.  And no matter how hard you work at achieving career goals, some will simply stay beyond your grasp.  When I was in school at Western Kentucky University I worked hard to be the Geologist Senior of the Year.  I was a lab assistant, I volunteered to help teachers outside of class, I tutored people who were struggling in geology, and I studied nightly into the wee hours.  I got the highest grades in the class on nearly all my tests … and I came in second.  Similarly, everyday thousands of talented, brilliantly gifted kids work tirelessly to become the next music superstar … but only one person can hold this spot.  You must live YOUR life, recognizing that you will not have the opportunities provided to others.

James Hale is the author of "Quiet Spaces"

James Hale is the author of "Quiet Spaces"

You cannot be anything you want to in life … but the reality is even better.  You have been placed on earth for a unique purpose … with unique skills  … at a unique place … at a unique time.  You cannot be anything, but you can be one thing better than anyone else.  Better than anyone!  That’s because you have a truly unique skill set and completely unique opportunities that no one else will have.  Just like you may not be able to be the next President of the United States, the next president cannot be you … even if he or she tried.  The opportunities come your way every day, but they are usually subtle and you have to look carefully for them.  They reside in the manager you walk by every day, but never talk to.  The back-to-school scholarship you never looked for on the web.  The on-line degree taught by the university half-way around the world. The article in the newspaper about a community problem.  Or the difficulties that a friend or coworker is facing.

Look for YOUR opportunities.  YOU can serve YOUR purpose like no one else because of the unique combinations of abilities you have, the unique lessons your life experiences have taught you, and the unique opportunities that will be presented to you and no one else.  Successful people focus on the short-term opportunities around them, rather than the vague dreams that can never be realized.

Coming up next: Truth 3:  highly successful people have help.

Why We Have to Die

Graveyard Crossby James Hale,

Death. It’s not much fun to think about. Not a whole lot of fun for many who experience it, either. Most people don’t have the luxury of passing away in their sleep. They die some other way. Regardless, the outcome is the same. It’s also entirely unavoidable. Everyone here on this planet will eventually die. We don’t like that fact, but it’s a fact, nonetheless.

Why is that? Have you ever thought about why is it that we have to die? Seems strange doesn’t it?

I believe it is not quite as big a deal to God as it is to us here on earth. He has a bigger plan. He knows that this life here is just a stepping stone for life in eternity. Life here is our preparation. We learn life lessons. We learn what to do and what not to do. And if we are smart, we learn to trust Him.

 

Five Truths: Part 1

by James Hale, author of “Quiet Spaces: Hearing God’s Call in a Noisy World”

“…think of the power a mosquito has trapped in your bedroom.”

Truth # 1 of 5:  You are endowed with the seeds of greatness … made in God’s image

Your power is much greater than you think.  Sure you have limitations, but you also have some tremendous strengths that you may take for granted. If you accept the fact that you were born for greatness, you will be surprised how you can control your own destiny.

Find that place deep within your heart where you know you where hardwired to succeed.  If you do not know where to look, it is that tiny spot buried under the busy-ness of modern day life and all the difficulties that have come your way recently. Find the spot, dust it off, and take a look. You know it is there. It has just been neglected for a while. It’s time to clean it up and give it some attention.

Seeds of GreatnessOnce you recognize the truth that you were born for greatness, ACT like the great person you know you were meant to be. Start getting your health under control. Pour some energy into the people around you. Set a goal for yourself. Start reading or learning or becoming an expert at something.

If these are all too tough for you at the moment, start by controlling some simple behaviors. Consciously put a spring in your step. Hold your head high when you walk. Look people directly in the eye and when they talk listen to them not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your heart. Introduce yourself first to new people you meet. Smile. Be a little bold in your speech by talking first and saying things that put a high energy positive spin on the conversation. These are the behaviors of a person who is born to win.

You need these behaviors even if you have to fake them at first. If you start to ACT like you believe in yourself, you will start to FEEL like you believe in yourself. When you start to act bold and confident and optimistic, you will draw people in, which will give you power. When people give you this power, you turn their expectations into reality by becoming the person they think you are… a person of greatness.

You may have self-doubt that makes you feel small at times, but think of the power a mosquito has trapped in your bedroom.  Despite its tiny size, the mosquito rules all.  You can rule your entire destiny and consciously alter your future … by a simple personal choice to succeed.

Because of this great potential, you must accept responsibility for all your actions.  You must consciously choose what thoughts to let grow in your mind.  You must act with graciousness and bold action.  Be aware of the self-doubt and the worries, but do not let these thoughts take root in your mind.  Instead, focus on turning positive, optimistic thoughts into tangible, concrete actions. When you have no time to entertain negative thoughts, no one will be able to stop you. You will constantly push on when you encounter setbacks, because you truly were designed to succeed. Like the world champ Muhammad Ali said, “It’s hard to beat someone who never gives up.” Your job search starts with the recognition that you were endowed with the seeds of greatness.

I save truth 2 for next time, but I’ll give you the title:  You CANNOT be anything you want to in life.

Learning to Hear God’s Call

Excerpt from “Quiet Spaces: Hearing God’s in a Noisy World” by James Hale,

“Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? … The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” Acts 9:3-6

 

I don’t hear about this type of calling much these days—the kind when God’s voice is direct, thunderous, and absolute. What a joy to have His clear, unmistakable direction. “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up” (Exodus 3).  Wouldn’t it be nice to get your calling via a burning bush or a loud, thundering voice?  Heck, I’d settle for a phone call, or even a text message or e-mail (if it would get through my spam filters).

It sure would make things easier for most of us if God would incorporate a little more drama into His messages.  But does the lack of bells and whistles mean that people are no longer called?  No, I don’t think so.  In fact, there is evidence of calling for only four of the apostles—we don’t know about the other eight.  And there is no evidence that Jesus ever experienced a direct call.

But surely Jesus was called.  Surely the Almighty sat down with our Savior for a theatrical Father-Son chat about His to-do list, His next steps, and His specific duties for the day.  If it’s in the Bible, I can’t find it.  Scripture tells us that Jesus was born of man, and He stayed connected to God by periodically removing Himself from the crowds so He could discern Divine will.  To communicate with God, Jesus turned the volume down on the harsh noise of the world so He could listen to the softer melodies from His Dad.  The Bible indicates that even for Jesus Himself—King of Kings, Lord of Lords—messages came during the quiet spaces.  God’s directions to Jesus did not intrude, scream, clatter, or demand attention.

 

CALLING?  WHAT CALLING?

I think God is pretty much the same now as He was thousands of years ago.  He hasn’t upgraded His technology.  For most of us, He tells us of our callings not through shouts, but through whispers—just like He did with Jesus.  And if we aren’t paying attention, we will miss them.

There are two types of callings: the loud, drama-filled, unmistakable directions that make the good Bible stories, and the quieter, more subtle, personal nudges meant for one person.  These latter ones are not intended for public viewing.  They are soft, personal, one-to-one messages from God to someone for whom He has a purpose.  Maybe for you.

Of the two, the quieter ones are the more common, but less understood. These are ones that Jesus and so many others experienced in biblical times … and today.  It’s these quieter callings I want to talk about for a moment.  These are much more subtle than the dramatic ones.  These messages cascade gently down from on high, and we DO hear them, but we often do not LISTEN to them.

The great physicist Albert Einstein understood the goodness of God—like most people do—but he also understood the quietness of so many of God’s greatest works and how we often miss his messages or think he’s being elusive or tricky.  Einstein observed that “God is subtle, but He is not malicious.” Yes, God is deep and profound, but not devious.  Understanding God often baffles and confuses us, but there is no deception, no false path.  God places the cookie jar within our sight, and invites us to stretch to reach it, without any traps in the way. He calls to us in quiet, subtle ways, and none of His callings are evil or misguided.  There are no tricks, no deceit, no misdirection.

Read more of James’ wonderful book and learn how to incorporate your true calling into your life.