Prepare for you Informational Interview

Approach an informational interview prepared. You want to learn about the companies’ culture to see if you fit. You want to understand the company’s goals and needs but be prepared with questions that will help you with these goals.

Learn who the right person to talk to is first and then learn as much as you can about that person and the role that person has in the organizations. Do some research on the industry and company as well as the person you want to talk to.

Look professional. Leave a business card. If you’re not employed have a professional business card with your name and contact information made up at the local printer. They are not expensive

Make an appointment. Keep your meeting short. Follow up expressing your gratitude with a thank you note.


Own It! Your Career Path in 2019

By Brent M. Jones


The New Year, 2019, is coming, and you can see a job change in the road ahead. Maybe you’re already there? Some have not had to look for a job for 10 plus years and others have had it happen a few times. Either way, it is a different job market today and surprises are ahead.

You use LinkedIn to search for options and ideas, and so do employers – to check you out. Some employers cut whole departments at the same time while expanding others. A trained, long-time loyal employee is let go and often at the same time, a new untrained and unproven staff is hired for another new department. The longer some departments exist the more likely it is that the department, along with its employees, have become dated and behind the fast-moving technology that will replace them.

What has changed is that employers don’t see their employees as lifelong commitments and they don’t continue to invest in them or build on what they have achieved as much as they did in the past.

The best companies say they value each employee, but is that enough?

You must understand your career direction and take the initiative to get the training and experience for the next steps. Keep your ears open and build on your network while you’re still working. Be active on your network with give and take. Start out early in your career and build and maintain your network.

Connect and network with those people who have the jobs you would like and study them. What was their career path? LinkedIn will show you the career history of those you want to learn from: do a little research and see the payoff.

The years ahead are shifting where an employee has more responsibility for continued employment and in addition, more advancement to the employee.

(Article published on LinkedIn click here)

If a Job Option Just Feels Right, Is That Enough,

 By Brent M. Jones


Maybe your out of a job and just didn’t see it coming? Perhaps you never expected it to happen and just didn’t think about what a network of contacts really was before?  Maybe you just found a job without a lot of effort and it seemed like the perfect job?  You just tell yourself it just feels right.

Making a choice based on how it feels is still just a choice of best options available. It doesn’t guarantee that the choice will work out and it is what happens next that is really the most important part of the decision.  What will be required of us after we make the choice. Before we can envision how we will function in the new job we have to have some insight into how it will be different.

If you didn’t talk to suppliers, current and past employees, and customers of your potential new employer you still need to. Can you see yourself succeeding in this job?

If your gut is telling you whether to take the job or not it is important to listen, because your gut is an extension of your instincts. Is it intuition or fear that your listening to? Would more facts change those feelings? If there really are more important facts, then find then and listen again.

Find your Path Forward by Looking Back

By Brent M. Jones


Stories of outstanding leaders, who look back at their own lives and tell of how their success came because of the trails and setbacks they had in life, are not uncommon. It is obvious that they didn't see the value of the problems when they occurred but only after years of rethinking the events. Their self acceptance of their challenges followed years later.

Previously I wrote an article titled “As You Look at Your Own Life Story You See Yourself Differently” which included background research from Julie Beck's Atlantic Magazine’s 2015 article titled “Life’s Stories”. The sub title of her article states: “How you arrange the plot points of your life into narrative shapes who you are, and is a fundamental part of being human.” 

Beck quoted Monisha Pasupathi, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Utah, saying: “In order to have relationships, we’ve all had to tell little pieces of our story.” This means we have to know our own story and as our perspective changes, we change and the story changes.

If the essence of accepting yourself is to know your own life story, then the question is, what is the story? Author Bill George suggests building a time line of your life that includes the highs and lows, reflecting on it each day. A summary of your life brings you to where you are today, and a timeline points out when things happened of significant influence, representing forks in the road. The more recent events in the story often help you see the prior ones in a different light.

Our narrative and our perspective are choices and how we look at the events and people in our lives changes as those memories are filtered against other events and all of our memories. A lesson we learn from an event today can help us see what happened before differently. Connecting events and drawing conclusions is the process of weaving together our life story and defining who we are. Who we think we are is clearly connected to who we become.

A daily journal captures the events of our lives and a summary of the journal offers some opportunities for drawing conclusions. Reviewing a written life story yearly will show how the way we see our past changes, because our perspective makes a great deal of difference in what we think our history was. Save your story, but rewrite it as you see it differently and save that too.

Think about your story each day and tell your story to your family and others but listen as you do to how you see things have changed and will change.

Goals, Initiatives, and Job Skills Point to Networking Opportunities

By Brent M. Jones

Sometimes when you look at a job listing, the skills required have industry specific labels on them, or they are grouped under an acronym that is industry specific. Everyone is expected to know what is meant, but if you are considering applying from another related industry it may not be clear enough to you.

The first step is to accurately inventory your own job skills and clearly know what you have. Jobs happen when the employer sees a good match of skills to needs. It may take some work to understand how to label and define your own skills: networking can help you uncover what you don’t know.

It isn’t uncommon for a potential employer to create ambiguities in what they ask for. They may call something a Project Management position but when the skills set is analyzed it can be clear they really want a Project Coordinator.

Sometimes a company will understate the importance of what they want asking for a Project Manager but really needing a Manager over the areas they are staffing.  

Perhaps the job seeker in his current job has been performing as a Project Manager in every way but has been paid at the Project Coordinator level with that title in the current job. In this case making a change especially needs to be based on selling job skills rather than titles. A complete and accurate understanding of the job skills ask for in the job listing is very important in this case.

It is very important to be able to get feedback from more than the HR department on potential jobs. Learning in advance about how skills are described will be critical if your changing industries and you don’t want to walk into an interview not having learned that.  Understanding why Goals and Initiatives are chosen, and sometimes even listed on the company web site, will help you see where your skills really fit, enable you to show your strengths and communicate more effectively.

Goals, initiatives, and mission statements seem to always make the organization Web Site. In cases where a set of specific job skills is closely tied to those areas it means someone in the organization has some passion for them and if you can identify them they likely will be willing to talk. 

One web site recently observed showed several company initiatives tied to an overall company goal and even listed committees assigned to the initiatives. In this example the initiative of “patient care” was listed and it caught the attention of a project manager from the aerospace industry. A call was made to the initiative committee chairman to discuss what project management of patient care consisted of?  It was found that many items were the same, with slightly different labels and some of the processes were the same, with only a different acronym used to describe it.

This networking initial call enabled a meaningful interview to follow with some background interest in what was happening from the committee chairman who had been met with. It is always an advantage to have talked to others in the company but this approach was a natural opportunity

Networking helps understand the organization you have an interest in, but it can serve to help you see your own job skills more completely too. The best jobs are found using networking.

Start Looking For Your Next Job While Still Employed

Your employed, so why should you start looking for a job now? If your skills are a good fit for the job you currently have, and if you, your employer, and your supervisor, all see you as a long-term good fit, then you probably don’t need to answer this question. If you do see the need for a change coming, even if it is not for a while, then there are a lot of very good reasons to start the job search now.

The majority of those looking for jobs are passive job seekers and they can take their time to do research and to reach out to their networking contacts. You need as much time as you can get to be selective, finding the best match for your job skills and strengths and learning about the jobs that aren't listed yet. ,

Potential employers, for the same reasons as you, want to find strong candidates whose experience, strengths, and skills match up with the job description and often they take their time passively looking. Good companies know that good matches result in motivated, happy, employees who help build the company so it really pays to take some time with this decision. Use this time to really look at yourself and be honest about your strengths, abilities and what you enjoy and the dividend you will gain is better job satisfaction and perhaps a better fit in the job you find. 

Potential employers often see a candidate that is employed as a stronger potential employee, still valued by his past employer, not someone who was pushed out considered weaker. As unfair as this is, being in a position where you don’t have to take an offer is an advantage.

Employers will bend to reach out for someone with the best job skills, experience, and knowledge so find the best matches and be sure your resume shows skills and strengths that match those asked for on the job listing. 

Unemployed candidates can easily seem too eager just in trying to sell their experience and skills even in some cases when they aren't the best match. Passion and excitement displayed for the new job can be misinterpreted as just needing a job rather than a genuine belief that a real contribution can be made.

Being actively employed puts you in regular contact with your network and information about changes in the marketplace is often more timely and easier to get. 

A poor hiring decision is a costly mistake, for both the employer and employee so both sides will likely take some time to do their research. 




Networking Still Superior To On-Line Job Search Platforms

by Brent M. Jones

Nationally unemployment is now under 4% and the On-Line Job Search firms seem to be on the screen every time you turn on your TV inviting you to find a job with their help. Is this really the new way to find a job? Has this approach changed the standard where 80% of all jobs are found through networking? Is networking now less important, or could it be more important?

Recent studies have shown the value of networking in finding a new job has actually gone up, approaching 85%. To understand why, we need to look closer at the people looking for a job and what has changed. Unemployed job seekers are a much smaller group than those still employed looking for a job.

If you add both groups, unemployed and employed, but only include active job seekers this totals only 25% of the total people looking for a job. The largest group of job seekers, outnumbering all others by 4-1, are still employed, considered passive job seekers. They are not in a big hurry just looking for a better fit. For this group networking is something they are good at, seeking job opportunities through contacts from professional networks, work associates and industry connections. 

It is a myth to think that on-line job search options are taking over the process, or even the best approach, to finding a job.

Only 25% of all job openings are advertised anywhere, and that means that On-Line Job platforms are not connecting to most of the opportunities and networking is critical. Employers sometimes assume these platforms can allow them to slim-down their own HR staffs, expecting recruiters to do their work, and neglect their own efforts to network looking for the best employees,

The new middlemen to the whole job search process, on line platforms, are brokers for both sides, staffing positions they have never worked in. When a job seeker educates the recruiter about skills needed for a potential job it can turn out to benefit all of his other contacts. Why should it be necessary to teach your employment contact about the job you seek.

Job Search platforms can be misleading making you think progress is taking place. In one example, when asking someone looking for work how many companies they have contacted, the answer was surprising. The contact had made 40 contacts. The problem was that those contacts were not with employers, but job search platforms. When asked how many conversations or meetings with potential employers those contacts had led to, it turned out to be only one. How many of the 40 contacts were actually passed on to the potential employer or even discussed with the applicant?

On-Line platforms can be a help, but networking is clearly more important, more effective, and serves both the employer and potential employee best in finding the right fit.

Preparing for the Job Interview

By Brent M. Jones

You are planning a job interview and doing everything you can think of to get ready. You have done your research, learning about the company’s history and goals, and you know something about the people that likely will be in the interview.

What about the questions they will ask? Do you know what they will be, and are you ready? What about the inevitable questions that always show up in an interview: What are your greatest strengths and what are your weaknesses?

Before you are asked these two questions you should ask them to yourself, giving the most honest answer you can. Your potential employer wants to know if your strengths match the job skills and strengths of the potential job. Do they really match? If they don’t, you should reconsider, because you will do better, and be far happier, if they match.

What about your real weaknesses? Do you know what they are, and will they be a problem in the position your applying for? The potential employer will not hire you if they see that you’re not aligned with the needed requirements.

Identifying your own shortcomings requires some real personal honesty, but even that can be a trap. People sometimes are tempted to just congratulate themselves for their honesty and move on. When asked about their weaknesses they just repeat their assessment, expecting to be congratulated for their honesty. Truth is better served by considering the context that these questions are presented. If your weak areas have no relevance to the job they may not belong in the interview. If your weakness is a potential roadblock in meeting the needed job skill requirements, then some focus and thought will be needed before the interview. In those cases, present the weak area with your successful steps in overcoming it. For example, if you miss appointments and don’t do well with short term memory, then your devotion to a daily planner should come with that admission.

Always, of course, be 100% honest with yourself and consider your findings in those goals you seek. Remember in a job interview they are looking at how you fit, and answers only need to be focused to that end.

The need to make a job change can be an opportunity connect yourself with your real strengths.

Why You Like Your Job

by Brent M. Jones

Often in job interviews the question is asked, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” This can signal and enlightened HR Department, that is aware of the changes in thinking over the last decade, knowing how best to develop people by building on their strengths, rather than trying to make their weaknesses the area of focus.

Laying out your weakness can be risky. Improving under-performance comes naturally to those in leadership and coaching positions. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not focused at getting people to concentrate on what motivates them and gives them satisfaction in their work.

Leaders and coaches can measure changes in weakness, but they can not always see the drop-in energy and motivation that comes with it as the focus reinforces in the employee’s mind that their weaknesses really do define who they are. An improvement in weak area can lead to hating their work.

Before changing employment, or applying for a job, it will help if you can match your strengths to those needed for the job. Know yourself well enough to know what your good at. The first step in finding a new job is usually said to be networking, but before you begin working on networking you need to know what your good at, and that will tell you where to network, and what job to seek. Your better off finding a job you love than assuming you can make yourself fit in. Sometimes it is the potential employee who sets themselves up to have to work on weaknesses.

What is it that you like about your job now? What part of the day is the most satisfying? Your job description might tell you that measuring and timely reporting are your main objective, but you may find that during your average day your most satisfaction comes from conflict resolution. This suggests you start networking in areas where you can find a job that will have conflict resolution as your prime goal.

When your search brings you to the interview, lay out your strengths so that they match those needed for the job. Even if the new employer doesn’t totally understand the power of employees spending their time on the areas they have strengths, if you are well matched with what you have as strengths with, you will be much more effective and happy

Mission Statement Conflict, by Brent M. Jones

With correct policies and procedures along with a mission statement, most problems just don’t happen. Do we believe that?  To start with, how do we get a mission statement that has anything to do with the polices and procedures? Looking at the problems the Human Resource Department deal with regularly might be a good start.

The way people understand the policies and procedures clearly present conflicts to some people with their understanding of the goals and objectives of the business.  

If the mission statement has no direct relationship to policies and procedures, then it can be even harder to work out conflicts where people believe they understand the goals. Management and employees might be looking at the same rules and procedures but may believe in very different objectives and results.

Consider an employee being disciplined for excess French fry waste who justifies it with an interpretation of the company’s goals, that the company wants the customer to "enjoy their food". The employee knows that fries are enjoyed hot, not cold, and disposes of the cold fries, increasing the waste, rather than serving them. If the mission statement reflects the goal to have the customer enjoy their food, then it should override the policy on waste and shift the focus to why the fries are getting cold?

Mission statements, however, often go way beyond things that relate to the function of the business where the employees put their efforts. Coca Cola’s mission statement is: “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.” Hyatt’s mission statement is: “To provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of the people we touch every day.” Nike’s mission statement is:” “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. * If you have a body, you are an athlete.” John Doe’s Burgers & Fries Restaurants hypothetical mission statement could be: “To have their customers enjoy their food and always get hot fries.”

Do any of these mission statements help the employee make daily job decisions? John Doe’s Burgers & Fries mission statement does. Who wrote these mission statements? Was it the business owners, the management, the H.R Department, the advertising department or agency, that wrote it?

Maybe the message is that when you have problems brought to your attention listen and don’t kill the messenger.


To Fight Job Burnout, Become a Student of Your Industry by Brent M. Jones

BJ Hat 1.jpg


I was talking with an old friend about his successful career and he told me that he felt his longevity in the industry was seen as a negative, not as a positive, by some in the industry and it appeared also by him? I had to ask myself why this could be? His vast experience should be viewed by himself and others as “added wisdom”, gained by trial and error.

His viewpoint spoke loudly to his own “Burnout” but is that really what years of work have to lead to?

The dictionary definition of burnout is “the end of the powered stage in a rocket’s flight when the propellant has been used up.” With people, a lot of energy perusing various goals is used up- and when people are burned out they feel somewhat used up and complacent. You can hear the burnout in someone saying, “We tried that once before and it didn’t work so it won’t work now.”

     The foodservice industry, like many industries, is dynamic: customer preferences change. That should present challenges to all of us, “forcing us to rethink what we “always knew”. My advice to my friend in this industry is this, "you need to become a student of your industry. Think of new approaches or new ways to use old products and concepts. This will provide you renewed energy. As a veteran you shouldn’t worry about making a mistake. You of all people should know that a failure or setback really becomes an opportunity.

     When any of us start worrying about burnout, we should stop thinking about the past and look to the future. As business analyst and author, Peter Drucker, has said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."