Finding Business Opportunities in Any Economy with Donald Asher

Reading Time: 38 Minutes

More than 10 million adults under 30 are now unemployed or dropped out of the labor force in the last month. The University of Chicago published an analysis stating that “42 percent of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss.”

In this interview, professional development expert Donald Asher discusses how to find the hidden opportunities even in a challenging job market.

After the Interview

About Donald Asher

Donald is an author and speaker. He’s been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Money, USA Today, and many others. His books cover topics like writing resumes and graduate admission essays, launching and relaunching careers, finding opportunities in any economy, and earning promotions.

Donald Asher is an author and speaker who is very knowledgable on a number of topics like like writing resumes and graduate admission essays, launching and relaunching careers, finding opportunities in any economy, and earning promotions.

Read the Transcript

This transcript was auto-generated from the original video recording using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. While the transcript has not been human edited, we hope it will still help you to quickly find or reference useful information from the interview.


Deliberate Leaders I am Allison Dunn, your host of the Deliberate Leaders Podcast where we are bringing you interviews episodes of people who bring expertise in various areas of business. And today’s guest is Donald Asher. He is the author and speaker specializing in professional development and higher education. And he’s been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Money, USA Today and many other places. His books cover topics like writing resumes, and graduate essay admissions, essays, launching and relaunching careers and finding opportunities in any economy and earning promotions. I’m just going to add that he also has a specialty in salary negotiations as well. So, Donald, thank you very much for joining us here today.


Thank you, Alison, and thanks for putting together such a useful series.


Absolutely My pleasure.


This is such an interesting topic at an interesting point in time, because a lot of the work that you do is very career focused. And one of the statistics that we have is that more than 10 million adults under the age of 30 are now either unemployed or had been dropped from the labor force currently in the last month. What is your top advice for these folks right now?


Well, my top advice would be not to go home, go into the basement and start getting really good at fortnight. So the first thing is that some people are succeeding, the whole issue is to find out what they’re doing and do what they’re doing. So the biggest advice, don’t check out, checking out will show not just now but even in years to come. People will say what did you do during the pandemic? And if your answer is lame, then your lame.


I think that that is excellent advice.


So with 42% of recent layoffs, my understanding is that 42% of the recently asked will be permanent in our workforce. So what do you think the implications are going to be for our younger generation?


Well, we know from prior generations that graduated into a recession that their hit is about 15%. And it takes about 15 years for that to go away. And you could argue it actually never goes away. So some of the data show that it’s a permanent hit some of the data show, it takes them over a decade to recover. So I think that at all those people are looking at a challenge. And I think the challenge is real. And I don’t do magical thinking, I used to, but I gave it up years ago. So not everyone’s going to come through this like roses. But in the same way that I think that you’ve designed your practice on successful people. I also have just concerned myself really with top performers. And so the question For me always says, How do you beat this? I mean, if the if the whole generation faces a 15% hit, then how do you become one of the people who not only survives but thrives?


Yeah, for sure.


In one of your books titled Cracking the Hidden Job Market, how to find an opportunity in any economy, I think is a great time to kind of this is one of those economies. So what is the hidden economy?


Well, the hidden job market, the hidden economy, it’s all those jobs that change hands without going to somebody who applied for a posted opening. Now I want to make that distinction because it’s a little bit subtle. I didn’t say the position wasn’t posted. I said the person hired What did not respond to that posting. So all the jobs that change hands before they’re posted, are part of the hidden job market, but also the hidden job market is those jobs that go to people that ignored the posted opening. And so I always teach people, if you’re really looking at postings that’s already too late because by the time something’s made a posting, the need has been in the organization for a time, I had some old research that showed the need showed up as much as nine months before the position requisition went into HR. So the magic window is that nine months. So if you’re always knocking on the door, you find people that are in that period of time you find that opportunity before it’s announced. And once it’s announced, we know that according to one study, 383 people will apply. And there’s other metrics that show many more than 1000 will apply. In a bad economy. There’s always many, many more applicants. So if you if you can avoid a posted a position that’s been announced in the first place, then your competition is usually quite small. It’s between seven and 11. So it’s a very reasonable number of other people that they might even consider. And in many, many, many cases, if you approach them before it’s an S, it’s really you and only you that’s under consideration. So The competition difference is massive. If you’re unusual at all, like a young person with little experience, you can’t afford to get into a stack of 500 resumes with people three to five years of proven experience. And then but I do want to always stress that many of these jobs end up announced they do end up with 500 applicants, but the fact of the matter is that companies don’t want to wade through those 500 applicants, they don’t trust the 500 applicants. The National Library, I did some research on this years ago, the National lie rate on resumes is around 25% for a management resume, and it goes way up in a recession. So people make up dates, they make up titles, they claim experiences and accomplishments that are unreal. And employers know this. So they’re actually always favoring people that come in with an introduction and people that come in through the hidden job market, because those people are usually better. There’s at least one human being who says, This person is not a liar. I know them. I went to school with them. I played racquetball with them, it doesn’t matter what it is, but that that vouching system is incredibly valuable to the organization at reducing the hiring of bad employees. So those are some of the reasons that candidates should look there because it’s easier and better. And in organizations look there because they end up with a better hire.


I’m astonished by the lie rates, I must be a very gullible person. I I do believe like there should be honor in a resume and it crushes my spirit a little bit to think that people do actually make up so much stuff.


They make up the main things they make up or dates, titles, educational accomplishments, those are the things that they make up routinely and also false salary claims. So and the interesting thing about this, it’s not that hard to verify most of those employers will even employers that refuse to give references will verify data employed at the official title and so educational institutions will all verify degree you call the registrar’s office, they call him to verify degree they put you through to some minion who looks it up and says, Yes, this person did or did not graduate on that date. So unfortunately or weirdly, the liars, they can be caught, but the still the they  are perceiving and perhaps accurately, that the chances of being caught are small and the chances of having success using these techniques is high enough to take the risk 25%. So if you got a stack of 100 resumes, 25 you might say liars, you could even say criminals are in that list. And so HR is always trying to figure out how to reduce that.


That’s a shocking statistic to me. And I appreciate the idea of the idea of the hidden opportunity or the hidden economy. And I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever applied for a job in my entire career. So have I tapped into the hidden economy by making that happen? Or is there a special like knock, you do it?


I think you’ve tapped into the hidden Academy very effectively your whole life. Many of the fast track people that I interviewed for my book, who gets promoted, who doesn’t and why? They were always creating their own next opportunity. So, so you probably have just always done this. It’s probably part of your DNA. But I will stress that it doesn’t have to be a part of somebody’s DNA, they you can actually learn this. And so in cracking the hidden job market, which is one of my books, I teach people these techniques, and then in my book, who gets promoted, who doesn’t and why 12 things you better know to get ahead. That book was actually named career management book of the year. And same thing just went out interviewed the most successful people I could find and ask them for secret tips and compiled them in a book. I call it the two train ride, read. You can read it on two train rides and it can change what happens to you next time. in your organization.


And so I just want to point out, we are connected because my son reads that book every six months.


Wow, that’s great to make sure and he’s like, I’m just like, What are you reading? He’s while I’m reading this again. And I’m like, What do you mean again? And he goes, Oh, I read it every six months to make sure that I’m promotable.


I love that. I love that. One of my clients sent me a picture of her baby reading the book. That’s my baby. My baby probably can read. I assume this was a baby. That’s, I have a picture of it right here. Here’s the baby reading the book.


I love it. I love it. That’s awesome.


Sydney, Australia, there you go getting ahead.


Um, so the hidden job market is something that you do teach in your book. But I’d say most commonly people do rely on job postings to figure out in the meantime, kind of like that. check that box like I’m doing activity to be able to get the jobs. So where, what, where’s the best place to find a posting that would be relevant to my skills? And how do you identify whether a job is good for you?


Okay, so I don’t say you should never apply for a posted opening, I say that you should spend 25% or less of your time on posted openings. And I really ratchet that down all the time, I really think it should be less than 10% of your time. So 90% of your time should be in activities that cause you to talk to people that are not, you’re not talking about a posted opening. But I think indeed is good. And LinkedIn in particular is good to find positions that you might be appropriate for you might be interested in. There’s really nothing wrong with any of the major chalkboards. There’s nothing wrong with them. And they’re actually very useful for a particular thing. You want to go find the jargon that people are using today and make sure that jargons in your resume. So if your resume got old language and it doesn’t mean that you’re old. It may mean that your company uses old language, you may be a superstar, but you’re still a victim of the experiences that you have had. And so you’re couched in the environment of where you work. And they may be using language, it’s not cutting edge. And so which by the way, cutting edge is not cutting edge. So use a position announcements to make sure that your languages up to date are current. You know, a perfect example is, you know, dorms. If you’re applying for a position on a college campus and you use the word dorms, you’re not going to get that position because the correct term is residence halls. So this is the language evolves constantly corporate language about very quickly. And those posted announcements allow you to have the latest jargon and stick it in your resume.


Yeah, actually excellent advice so, so that they can quickly look for the words that relate to the job as well. Sound.


So let me let me briefly cover how to get a posted opening. And when that stack of 500 resumes. I mean, I don’t have I haven’t have anything, I don’t have anything against looking in posted openings, it’s just it the success ratio is minuscule compared to these other techniques. But if you want to post it opening, read the announcement, take every noun out of it and stick it in your resume, because applicant tracking systems. They’re not very smart, and they’re very easy to fool. And so I teach MBAs for example, how to do this. I teach executives how to do this. And I enforce a rule I do not allow any candidate I’m working with to tell a lie. If you can’t figure out a way to put that that term in your resume without telling a lie. You’re not creative enough to work at the executive level. So we’ve created and taking ways and you take the words put them legitimately into your documents and the applicant tracking system. identify you as someone to be advanced So it’s a game. It’s an arms race, I enjoy it. It’s kind of a game of logic. But that’s how you get posted openings to ding on you.


And the applicant tracking system, the artificial intelligence that as a recruiter we can put into a system, it’s a real thing. So if that’s a good technique, you’re teaching people to step their resume with in the right way.


And let me just say that I believe this is legitimate for the following reason. A database and AI can never hire somebody, only people can hire somebody, and only people can tell when they want to bend rule. So maybe the requisition says fluent in Spanish, and I’ve got somebody that last took Spanish in high school, but everything else about them is great. And maybe they speak French and maybe they speak Italian. But if we can get them to a human, the human can say, oh my goodness, this person knows Romance languages. They’re really smart. This the Spanish part they can pick up Look how beautiful they are and all the other candidates So only humans can tell when to break a rule. So what I’m trying to do always is not full human, but get to a human


Excellent. And one of the things that we coach our young emerging leaders to do is networking when they’re looking for a career transition, and yet we’re in this funky timeframe where a lot of networking events aren’t happening. What would you suggest to someone who is aggressively looking for a placement and to have a job? What should they be doing to tap into it?


I think young people in particular don’t like the word networking, I know it, it puts in their mind a bunch of old people drinking cocktails and being awkward, and walking up to people that are strangers and trying to initiate interchanges with them. So I tend to just avoid the word networking and simply say your goal is to talk to people. So if you’re trying to talk to people, you had to have to ask for something or provide something. So if you’re, if you’re in a job search, asking for something asking for help will get you a very, very, very long way. As long as in each of your reach outs, you have a disclaimer where you explicitly say, I’m not looking for an assignment with your group. I’m not trying to join your firm, I simply want your advice. And you have to mean it. Okay, so it’s not a ploy you have to mean that. Why? Because information is more valuable than anything else on this earth on this planet. And so what you really want is someone investment banking, not to hire you, but to tell you how to get hired in investment banking, because that piece of information is teaching you to fish and the other ones just giving you some fish. So, so that’s a way of approaching people and asking for help. The way that people do this wrong, of course, is they really badger people. They come in under the guise of maybe asking some questions for informational interview, but what they’re really trying to do is like trick that person into offering them a position. So, so that’s the first step that’s going out and talking to people when you ask for something. But the other side of it is to offer something. So if you have anything valuable to the people that are the type of people who could hire you, then you can offer that up and say that you want to share it with them. So nothing readily and quickly comes to mind, but maybe did an economic study of Norwegian pharmaceutical companies. And he did this for an econ class as a senior in college. So just go find everybody that does any business whatsoever with don’t Legion pharmaceutical companies and offer up your papers that hey, I did this research project, or today had a great presentation, one the Case Competition. I’d love to share this with you if you’re interested at all. And so that’s a way of also getting people to interact with you. If you If you offer them something or you ask for something, or the techniques, and I think sometimes we make this too complicated. You use, you know, email. I mean, it’s still the best way to get someone to say yes or no. And one of the things you have to teach young people in particular is that the failure rate is normally more than 19 out of 20. So the success rate is less than 5%. So you have to teach somebody what’s that mean for a failure rate to be 5% 95%. It means that out of 9100, you send out five people who responded, or maybe one of them will talk to you. But before you say that doesn’t seem very productive. You have to remind people that making custom resumes and custom cover letters has also a less than 1% success ratio, if you add up all of them that are floating around the internet, it’s a lot easier to send a quick email, a broadcast email, that is to customize an application and they don’t want This failure rate, I will tell you young people don’t like it. And it’s really what keeps them from persevering.


With so much time on their hands while we’re in this kind of interesting job market, and what are some of you know, I’m a big fan of learning new skill and go online to do it. Do you have any platform, or suggestions that people should be considering to hone their skills or improve their skills while they’re in a job search mode? that’s affordable? I guess I’ll position it that way for your report.


Yeah, I had just did a workshop on this. So I don’t have these the tip of my tongue though, because it was a big long list of them. Yeah. So of course, LinkedIn learning is free for job seekers for at least 30 days. And if I think there’s more than one way to get that extended past 30 days, there’s Coursera and those others that are kind of obvious, and then there’s the Great Courses which are a little bit more in depth almost like a college class, usually involving 31 half hour a session. So that’s 15 hours of instruction. There’s a tons more in that way. I also have a list of a quick MBAs. So there’s a so I, what I probably should do also this is text you those and let you just have them as an add on to the end of this webinar if you want.


That would be fantastic. As an effect, I will upload it in attach it as a downloadable so that people can have a thank you, that would be excellent.


I think it’s really useful because people can pick up the skills using these platforms. And as you pointed out, they have the time to do it. And you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to get to the final page.


So doing some you know honing the skills, I know that going to college and or graduate school is it’s a huge financial commitment. It’s becoming a tougher decision for a lot of people. Do you have any advice on how much someone should spend on college?


Well, a lot more than people spend on college, I could tell you that for sure. I’m going to be very straightforward financial analysis, I think many, many decisions can be reduced to financial analysis, and this is one. So it’s a kind of a standard number, that a bachelor’s degree is worth around a million dollars more than a high school diploma. Now, there’s, there’s a lot of controversy about these data. So I for those of you who are viewers who are experts, I’m aware of the controversies but I want to move forward. So instead of spending 30 minutes explaining what that means, let’s just say it’s around a million dollars, okay. Then people who complete a master’s degree will earn $400,000 more than people that stopped at a bachelor’s degree and people who complete the PhD do really well they earn $1.4 million more than people who stop with a bachelor’s degree. Now, each one of these data Points include opportunity cost. So if you think about it rationally, you should be willing to spend as much as a million dollars in current equivalent dollars to buy your, your college education. And you should be willing to spend as much as $400,000 in current equivalent dollars to buy a master’s degree and should be willing to spend over a million bucks but the I tell you the weird thing about the PhD in particular is I can teach people how to get a PhD for free, I can teach people how to get paid to get a PhD a little harder with the masters. So I think sometimes people look at the expensive baccalaureate, baccalaureate degrees, and they project the idea that it must cost an equivalent amount to get a masters or get a PhD. Whereas that’s simply not true. There’s many ways to get a free masters and free PhD. So I have handouts on this and a lot of this is covered in my book, graduate admissions essays. But to answer your question, people should be sitting willing to spend a great deal more now. There’s a caution and a caveat here. That is you have to look at the person’s intentions and career path after they finished the decree program. If your intention is to be a poet, and you get an expensive degree and MFA that you paid for, usually your family pays for these kinds of things. I’m gonna guess that not I don’t know the numbers, but it’s gonna be less than 10% of people who go through this process will ever make very much money as opposed but if your intention is to join a technology firm and be a administrator or a manager and executive and leader, then this will pay back massively, but an area where people make a mistake, this is very, very interesting to me. An area where people make a mistake is the major. It turns out the major is not that big an indicator if your earnings. So philosophy majors out earn business majors 10 to 20 years after graduation, and this is this information is not getting out there. So family are still obsessed Oh, if you major in psychology, what are you going to do? diagnose our cat. But in fact, psychology is one of the top 12 majors of CEOs. So I guess I’m trying to make this more answered than you needed. Allison, I don’t know.


Now you’re leading it’s I think, I think it’s really critical for people to understand because I think, you know, even I’m going to, you know, send us to my kids like we have in our last is deciding to stop and I’m like, you know, it’s really important that you continue, you’ve gone this far and finished, so don’t give up because it could be upwards of a million dollar difference, and I think that’s significant. So I like that stat. Even if it’s not perfect. I think it’s, it’s an eye opener for sure. It does lead me to the next question. So I am a education is a critical pillar of, you know, something I value and it’s part of our mission. You know, it’s a big part of it. Don’t know that I have I have a strong opinion. So I guess I want to ask you what your opinion would be does a prestigious university or community college matter where you get your bachelor’s from?


It depends on the student. Okay? And it depends on their family upbringing. So I could lead you to data points that say both of these, okay, a tremendous amount of the research on the career outcomes of people who go to elite institutions, is biased, incredibly, blatantly, visibly biased. One of my acquaintances is famous for saying if you took the graduating class of high school seniors that’s going to go to Princeton, stuck them in a closet and kept them there for four years bringing only meals, and then you let them back out, they’re still going to be massively successful. So the fact that they went to Princeton, you have to establish a value added, did Princeton help them more that they help themselves So, but there’s a caveat to that. And that’s this. There’s a lot of acculturation that happens at elite institutions in particular, and all institutions with the rich culture. So let’s compare two things, one with the rich culture one not. If you go to a community college where people drive to class Park, run fast to the class, then spend their 15 minutes and then run back to the car and then drive home. That’s no culture at all. The students don’t interact with themselves and certainly academically at all outside of that, the class the 15 minutes, and usually the faculty members doing all of the talking so even that you could argue it’s not much acculturation. Then you compare that with a small liberal arts college where students are forced together, where they eat together, they dine together, they go to class together, they exercise together and they sit around talking, school and philosophy attending 1030 and 130. In the morning of three, these days, three and four in the morning. There’s a tremendous opportunity for a student To get access to other points of view, so if a student is and then so that’s acculturation Now let’s talk about the family background. If the students family background is I don’t know how else to put this very much top tier socio economic status, then they’re carrying that status that internalized worldview and experiences and language and use of English. They’re carrying that with them. And so when they go to community college and then transfer to a more elite school, they didn’t lose the thing, because they’re bringing the intangibles all the way along. However, if a student is very bright, but their family is not from that top socio economic status stratum, then they need that exposure and they’re changed more by it. So that’s a very long answer to what looks like a simple question. It’s not a simple question. It’s a question with extraordinarily nuanced ramifications to the answer. Okay.


And you provided some really good insights. And one that actually kind of addresses our youngest. You know, she’s, she’s driving to class during the class and leaving, you know, she’ll learn how to pass tests, but she’s not going to learn how to navigate the world.


Super interesting. I think she’s gonna navigate just fine. I have no concerns whatsoever. She’s good.


But she’s not, you know, she’s, she’s, it’s her choice. So parenting through that stuff.


Um, I also recognize that obviously, you know, college is not for everyone. And I coach a lot of people who are incredibly successful that have not they have no degrees. But vocation and building technical skills is definitely a really viable option in today’s world for sure. What vocations are do you see as being in the highest demand?


Well, let me talk about things that are not exportable. So that can’t be outsourced. So, so and also things that are a little bit less cyclical. And so the classic example is Residential Plumbing Repair. So most Residential Plumbing Repair, it’s an emergency, it can’t be put off. So it’s not cyclical in the same way that construction is construction is very cyclical. So if you’re in construction, you may do really well without diplomas. And when I say really well, I do mean the 75/85/95/$120,000 a year. So you may do that well, but you have to live through periods of boom and bust or move around the country a lot. So, so if you look at a Residential Plumbing Repair, that’s going to be steady you live in your community, and that’s going to be the same and good seasons and in bad seasons. You might occasionally have to lay someone off but by and large, that’s going to be a very Successful. An area that used to be a really good place for people that didn’t want to go to college is anything that’s based on sales and commission based sales. The problem with that has become that the organizations are requiring cause to read to get these jobs, that you need a college degree to do them. You could argue very successfully that you don’t, but the there’s inflation in credentials in our society. And so sales is the fastest way to six figures within a degree high school degree. college degree. The fastest way to get to six figures is in fact sales. So I also like things that need to be repaired that can’t be delay, the plumbing is one example. hbic is another heating, ventilation and air conditioning is another. But you need to be careful for rollovers in technology. For example, when electric cars come into place, we’re going to need one and the auto mechanic. Next, electric cars just don’t need repaired and when they do need repair, they’re modular. So you don’t have to be a brilliant genius and figure out why that little clunk has to do with this modulating valve over here that you read about the technical released 10 years ago, when it comes to electrical cars, it’s going to be replaced this and that’ll fix that. So you have to be a little bit careful in picking a blue collar career. That’s not going to go somewhere. And then the ultimate issue and no one ever talks about this, but forgive me if I’m going on. No one ever talks about a class. So if you get tremendously wealthy, sometimes doing something that doesn’t require a college degree, and you want to be buddies with everybody that has a college degree, you’re gonna have to work out a little bit. You’re going to have to maybe take up some stuff that reveals class, such as sports, living in certain neighborhoods, send your kids to certain kinds of experiences in order to rub shoulders with the people you want to rub shoulders with. So that’s just something I would tell somebody thinking about this, if they were 17/18/ 19. And, you know, you know, a weak performer with a college degree is is actually almost always surpassed by a strong performer with a trade. So, you know, I’d like to see fewer people that go off to school that don’t love it, don’t like it, don’t succeed at it. I feel beaten up and and basically, frankly, abused by that system, when they could be doing something else that they love and are passionate about. You know, there’s, there’s tons of these examples. I’m sure you’ve seen them people who wanted to design guitars or design fast motorcycles, you know, they could be tremendously happy to doing that, and super miserable as a middle manager in a corporation?


Yeah, I think it’s a tough spotlight to put on it, but I think it’s unfortunately very true. And I think that’s a, you know, you raised an excellent point. So I think the one thing that I hear a lot especially in some of our, our younger generation is, you know, having to write a resume. So, could you just kind of provide some do’s and don’ts maybe even middle management and executive level management like what should we make sure our resumes packed with custom other customized words and what I review a lot of resumes they are not all created equal, how many pages should and should any thought be given to format?


Okay, so for content, in particular for young people, their resume should not be concerned. With whether they were paid for the experience they’re reporting. So if you do something as a volunteer, and you do something for pay, those can be mixed into the same section on the resume. And I think young people, they’ll pick up a resume book for a manager, and they’ll get the wrong idea. So that’s thing they did at summer camp can be much more important for getting a job after college than the fact that they all last three summers had been a clerk in a hardware store. So mixing up things were paid unpaid, formal, informal part time and full time, are one of the biggest tips I can give to young people, and a tip for all people. And this is really truly whether you’re in high school trying to get a job at summer camp, or whether you’re a CEO trying to find work your way onto a board. Your top of your resume has to match your objective. So you don’t have to have an objective but your top of your resume has to match the objectives that you actually have. So if you want to work in commercial real estate, the top of your resume Me has to start by talking about commercial real estate. And one of the skills that comes into creativity. I love creating. I love resumes. I’ve written three books on how to write resumes. And I’ve personally written over 10,000 resumes. I love resumes, they’re to me an example of poetry where there’s structure but within that structure, there’s a tremendous opportunity for creativity. So I love to find a way to take the person’s objective, and get that top listing to focus on that objective. And you can do it with special projects, task forces, stuff that you did as a volunteer, and again, you can come up with and I just did one for a football player at Tulane on commercial real estate, based upon one afternoon in New York City turning around with a second cousin who was in commercial real estate, the top third of his resume now it’s about commercial real estate in New York and his tour through this and we just call it site experience. was a shadowing experience, but I wanted to kind of blur the waters a little bit. So we just call it a side experience. And that’s how you get the top of the resume to match the target. There’s other ways to do it. But whether you’re, whether you’re a freshman in college, or whether you’re a middle manager or senior person, that rule is pretty. You want to go do everything you can to fulfill that role. So the next question you had was about pages. I don’t mind if a resume is long, but you got to realize that I don’t work with a lot of high school students, a lot of college students, there is a long standing rule up through the MBA, that one version of your resume has to be one page. And that rule, anytime there’s a rule, follow it. And that’s not a mystery. You don’t have to go home and said well, should I have a one page resume now of course because it’s the rule. So after you have that one page resume for the rule, you can have another resume that’s longer that you feel might represent your skills and abilities and accomplishments better But certainly comply with the rule. What are your thoughts? Allison, you clearly have a position on this. So why don’t you tell us all?


I do agree that the objective should meet the position you’re applying for if the first paragraph at the top third of it does not correlate back to the job of hiring for it, I don’t even consider it and are going to read anymore, right?


It’s just the obviously this is not a good fit, right or no thought was given to it. Um, I do believe it has. It should be one full page, even if you’re doing unpaid things, and anything less than is it just you’re not getting you’re not you’re not going to get given enough thought to sell yourself. And I say it shouldn’t be more than three pages. I am. I appreciate visual resumes when it does not look good. I do judge.


Yeah. Yeah, of course you do. I talked to a guy that was a CEO in Silicon Valley and we were on a plane to And he said he holds them out about this for about the full length of his arm. And he says, If I don’t like the way it looks, I don’t read the first line. And so that’s it. Yeah, I know. I could I can tell whether something looks good from that distance. And he didn’t bother to read it if it did.


Yeah, that’s super interesting. You brought up assisting a young man from New York. I’m a New Englander originally, and I’m now on the Pacific Northwest. So I’m on the west coast. There’s differences between the East Coast and the West Coast. Can you give I have listeners all over the country. So could you give some guidance as to if you’re applying for a job on the West Coast like things that people should consider in translation if they’re thinking about different coasts?


I love this question. And it you know, what’s funny is you’re like one of the only people I’ve ever met that knows this. So that’s cool in and of itself. So on the East Coast, you put your prep school and you leave it on all the way through Being an executive. If you didn’t go to a prep school you leave it off. But if you did, you’d list that, you know, Exeter that day. You don’t say anymore. But on the West Coast that’s considered a what’s the right word? I don’t know. Yeah, yeah. It’s like, like childish actually, like you didn’t grow up. But here’s one you may not know is that in the wallets, you put your high school. So everybody that grew up in the wallets, if you beat them, they will tell you the high school that they went to, and they do this all the way through being bank president. So you never escape your high school and wallet. So in New York, of course you do it but also oddly in this pocket of New Orleans, but on the west coast, you tote. And so I think that’s an important difference. There’s probably some language differences, but I have to see it. Some things would be grading in New York, but you can brag your butt off khandala so you might change, you might change a couple of words, on an accomplishment claim. So those are some that I know about between the two coasts. What are your thoughts?


And it’s funny, I am almost embarrassed to say but I attended a preparatory school and it was like to keep it on to keep it off. And I, I have never needed to give out my resume, but it’s on there, because I’m an East Coast girl, if that’s what you just leave it on there.


But I don’t share that story ever, because it does vary. I don’t know. I don’t it’s just it’s a different culture for sure. Because people do preparatory school here. And that’s okay.


Yeah, though, there are differences. You know, one other difference and I’m sure you do know, this is that finance people on the East Coast, even people that are making two or $3 million a year they still have a one page version of their resume. They never let go that MBA concept. So Question. I have another one that may be five pages long, but they still have one. That’s one page long.


Just out of curiosity in any of your books or your resources, do you share great examples of what a resume should look like?


I do. Well, I’ve written three books on how to write a resume. None of them are current, so I wouldn’t send anyone to them. But there’s, there’s a, I actually have an example in Greek, of what an attractive looking job description is followed by the scope, followed by the accomplishments. And I do it in Greek, just to prove that the design really matters. So I think of it as poetry I used to be a poet back in the day. And so your poem not only has to sound good, has to look good. And so you don’t have a long line followed by a short line. It has to look good on the page. And so the same thing applies to resumes and we’ll go out of our way to make sure that it is looks good on the page. So that’s one thing. Now you can have a great deal of other design features. So there’s a kind of a breakout in design on resumes right now. You can have, I would just call it design features in the same way that when you’re doing PowerPoint, you can reach over into the right and asked for design suggestions. So I’m seeing a lot more resumes with creative stuff in it like my attention bar. And so they have a circle and it’s your family. And here’s my job, here’s tennis. Here’s something else I care about antique sewing machines. And I find these interesting, I don’t think that they replace the importance of content itself. But there’s a wider acceptance now of employing authorities. For these types of resumes are more fun to look at. They do play hell though, with applicant tracking systems and character readers. So if you’re going to have your resume fed into one of those knots, not physically but electronically. It confuses them because there’s no one solid left margin. So you need to think about that if you’re using your resume only with humans, then some of these design elements are fun. You know, my personal brand is x, you know, I like that stuff. But if you’re going to end up in a database, they may not be able to take your listings and turn them into anything more than jibberish for the applicant tracking system.


Okay, that’s fair. And I’m not sure if you are familiar with personality type assessments like DiSC and the Myers Briggs and strengths finders. Is that something that a candidate should share on their resume or is that completely like that could be bad because they’ll judge or evaluate you based on their own maybe lack of knowledge on the tools?


I think they have value a particular strengths quest. You know, some of them are not scientific and the ones that are not scientific. They’ll work with someone else that likes that one. But with people who care about such things, you’ll come across this a naive maybe or maybe unschooled. So Myers Briggs, there’s people that that love Myers Briggs and will fight to the to the floor about how important it is. And then other people will say, well, it was never based on science. Not only was it not based on any science recently, but it was never based on science. So I don’t know I would be a little bit careful, strange quest based on science, Myers Briggs, not inia gram, I don’t know I haven’t really looked into it, but I think it’s more of, it’s not. I like I like purple. Therefore, I’m a purple person. And that means these things, I’m being a little bit dismissive and probably shouldn’t be, but I would be somewhat judicious and listing my types.


All right. I think that’s, that’s great advice. Um, have you written any specific articles that you’d like to recommend to those who are currently looking for their next career move right now?


Well, I would tell them to get cracking the hidden job market my book because I took everything I know about the hidden job market stuck it in that book. And the interesting thing about the structure of it, it starts out with stuff that’s relatively commonly known and gets into more exotic techniques as you go deeper into the book. I did that because I wanted to reward the people that keep going. And I also didn’t want to give big secrets away to people who couldn’t get past page 50. So, so I would recommend cracking the hidden job market. For young people who don’t know what they want to do, then I would recommend my book, how to get any job life launch and relaunch for everyone under 30, which is exactly what it promises. You’re either in college or you’ve been out a while and you’re not quite sure how things are going. I would look at that book. So if I were looking at career change right now, look at those two.


Fantastic. One of the things that I have had a lot of conversations about is doing a pivot a career pivot, right or relaunching a new you, whatever it be, however you want to look at it. And I just wanted I have a general rule of thumb, I’d say like, every decade, you know, there is probably some type of pivot that people should be making would be common that people are making. Is that typical or standard? Or is it more often?


It’s gonna vary by the person. So it’s true that people are having a lot of jobs. But it’s often not driven by the person’s choice. They’re getting laid off. And we’re at the beginning. I like to say where we’re at today is that we’re at the beginning of the beginning of historic change. And I used to say that we were in the second out of the first inning. I still believe we’re still in the first inning of what’s going on right now. And so I think that we’re going to see layoffs in the next 20 months that are massive. And if you study economics, layoffs create recessions, not the other way around. The recession comes once the layoffs come. And so the layoffs are going to create a deep recession, frankly, it’s going to be a depression, the difference between a recession and depression is whether it’s wide scale and sharp. And so this is definitely going to be a depression, a word that was used frequently prior to the Great Depression when the word was retired. But anyway, this is what we’re headed into. So I think people are not going to just face a routine pivot. I think they’re going to face a career crisis. And they’re going to have to redesign themselves to succeed. And you know, anything like this accelerates trends that were already underway. If you don’t visibly create value, you’re going to be You’re gonna find it hard to create a career path that goes forward. I used to tell young people, if I have to tell you what to do, I don’t need you. So you got to come to me and you got to come to me and tell me what you’re going to do to make my life better or I don’t need you. And that’s replicated throughout the economy. So, I’m not sure I’m actually answering your question, but I think that people are going to have to retool on their own and this is, of course, what’s covered in who gets promoted, because I’m talking about who is the high value people inside an organization keeps being high that keeps being high value enough to be promoted over and over again, and those people can replicate themselves and they’re often autodidact. They teach themselves what they need to learn, but they’re also prescient, they stay ahead of the curve. And I, in the book, I recount a very short story about a guy. His boss came to him and said, You need to learn Spanish and he said, Like, I don’t need to learn Spanish, I’m an American. He said, Well, you know, changes common you need to learn Spanish. You know, they really love to love for you to learn Spanish. So the guy refused to learn Spanish. They laid off his whole team and hired only people who spoke Spanish. His boss was trying to save his career. And instead of responding to that, he went a different direction. He went in opposite I don’t have to do that direction. But see the people that create value and sustain value. They would need their boss to tell them that they would see that and they would respond to that horizon before anyone else. And, you know, whatever your politics may be. The guy messed up his career path, because he refused to learn something that his boss told him to learn. And so the people that create value and keep being valuable and keep finding success, they know what they need to learn and learn it before they have competition. I saw this in the Silicon Valley, in the Silicon Valley wave after wave of cowboy programmers came through. And these were people who could teach themselves. And about six years later, every college student in America was studying what they learned six years ago. And then their value dropped to nothing. So they were making six figures, they didn’t need a degree, no one cared where they were from. And then every four years or so they get fired. So they had to do this over and over and over. But while they were ahead of the curve, they were deep into six figures. And so the whole world works that way.


It really does. So I’d say the key takeaway is, get the book for sure. If you’re wanting to make sure that you are relevant in the role that you’re in with the company that you’re with right now and looking for progression, that you get the who gets promoted. And why does the title help me get promoted? Who doesn’t and why?


Okay, thank you. That’s a great read, and honestly everyone should read it because we should all be looking for the potential future needs so that we’re staying sharp and valuable.


And Allison, I’d like to talk about something if I could I know that we don’t have a ton of time left, that is exactly where we’re going. What did I not think to ask, please share?


Well, I want to talk about a couple things. One of them is salary negotiations. And another is how you close a job offer right now. And so they’re very much inter related. And I’ve been doing quite a bit of work on both these lately. So if you don’t mind, I think it’s an urgent need for your viewers and your wide range of leadership and thought leaders. So salary negotiations is important for reasons that people underestimate. Not only does it make a huge difference in your own income, so I can show you tons of graphs but it tends to come out between $700,000-1.4 million if you do or don’t negotiate for salary, so That’s a lot of money to leave on the table just because you don’t want to negotiate for salary. The other thing that I want to say is that if you don’t negotiate for salary, you lose more than money. There’s a phenomenon that happens. There’s a psychological response of the employer when you don’t negotiate for salary. They actually perceive they may have made a mistake in trying to hire you. And they resort their assessment of your value and your skill set. All because you didn’t negotiate for salary. And so I tried to teach him working right now with an international coalition of PhDs. And so this a lot of PhDs I have a PhD. I’m outgoing and extroverted, but the overwhelming majority of PhDs are somewhat introverted. And so I’m teaching them how to negotiate for salary. And one of the things I tell them is, this is a ritual. It’s a business ritual. You’re supposed to do certain things. That’s how rituals work. And when you don’t do them, You’re disturbing the equilibrium of the universe. When you don’t do your part, you’re messing things up. And so we teach them the lines to say and how to say them to go ahead and negotiate for salary not aggressively. We’re not trying to make them into bloodthirsty negotiators. But we’re I always teach Win Win techniques. But this is something that people need to learn to do. It’s not hard to learn to do, and it is a contributor to the gender base wage gap. Women who negotiate for salary are equally successful. I’ve got numerous research projects, some of which show one side some will show the other but the general consensus on is that they’re equally successful as men and negotiate, they simply negotiate a lower incidence. And so we can if we could get more women to negotiate for salary, it would go somewhat toward reducing the gender base wage gap, which is a true societal problem which we should all work on all get rid of. As managers and owners equally as well as young women. Enter in the marketplace, but there’s a really good technique for women that are negotiating for salary. And that’s to negotiate on behalf of someone else, either for all the women in their MBA class is a really good one for, for their family. So I’ll try to model this, I can’t see it on my computer right now, and I may mess it up, I’m gonna take a shot at it. You know, I, it makes me nervous to negotiate for salary, but I’ve done the reading. And there’s a tremendous cause for the gender based wage gap is in fact, negotiating, for salary. So and I want to address that societal problem and make sure of course, that your organization doesn’t contribute to that either. You don’t want to be a contributor to that problem, either. So, would you give me the same base that you would give a man who negotiated hard for the maximum? What would that maximum look like? So you’re not negotiating for yourself? you’re negotiating for all women and society itself. It’s a it’s a subtle technique. And I’m working on a book on this right now. So I want all of your viewers to negotiate for salary to learn how to do it correctly. Never use ultimatums use Win Win techniques. And so I think I’ll go forward here and do my next point. And then we can come back to this if you have some commentary about it. I actually know one guy, who was funny he was he was, he was fired before he was hired, because he did not negotiate for his own salary. Now, I know the CEO, and so I probably shouldn’t name the company but it’s a major outplacement company. I’m sure it’s one you’re familiar with. And she was hiring a chief procurement global. And so they get to the final stages of hiring. This is like five interviews, right? procurement. That’s funny. I though chief of procurement global, and so he said, What’s the salary going to be? And she named a number and he said, Well, that seems fine. Right. So immediately on hired him, because he didn’t negotiate for salary. If he’s not gonna negotiate for himself, what’s he gonna do for them all over the world negotiating leases and equipment and supplies and materials. So


I love that story because it’s so crystal clear. It is. Yeah, I mean, he was it was the final meeting. And she said, Well, there’s some other things we got to look at. She backed out. Right then right there. Next I want to talk about if I could the final stumbling block for hiring right now. And I’m seeing this at the executive level and also the post college level. So this stumbling block is, here’s what’s happening. People are getting interviews. People know how to do zoom interviews they’ve known for years and they’re just doing them all that way now. They know how to make a selection of somebody, you know, we like this guy, we’re gonna bring her on or bring that man on. But here’s where Douglas, they can’t figure out how to hire that person and bring them on board. So the part of hiring this stumbles, or that the blockade is that where the decision comes to a stop the bottleneck is, is the company cannot see how I bring on that employee successfully, where they’re productive and acculturating, a member of the team. So what I’m working with people to do now is that when they get near the end of hiring, and they’re starting to hear those words like, well, we think you would be a good addition. And there’s verbal cues to it’s going well, I’m teaching them to put in front of that company, a plan for their own onboarding, where they solve the problem before the company stumbles over it. So you literally would make a memo that says, I know in these times, onboarding can be challenging. So I’ve designed an onboarding program of things I’d like to do, if you don’t mind, either. You share it with you, and then you share it with them. And it has features in it to create in a virtual world where you never physically in the same place, onboarding and acculturation, which is extraordinarily important. And you provide that memo to the hiring authority. And they’re like, oh, oh, that does solve this problem I was about to have that was going to cause me to think well, we’ll just wait. Companies will run into the point that they can’t wait. But right now, they’re all waiting. They’re like saying, well, I’ll just wait three months, well, no more than three months, and then your candidates doesn’t get a job. So the things that are on this onboarding are the obvious stuff, which is like you would have one on ones with everybody on your team and all matrix points, but also that you need to assign four buddies are ambassadors to the company, they’re not in the reporting structure of the employee to help that employee get a background information on the company. And then you design a series of social events, where the onboarding employee finds something in common with the people that they’re going to interact with, and gets an opportunity to do that, whether it’s play chess virtually go to a cocktail party, virtually, it doesn’t matter. But this is the kind of stuff that goes into this document. And that document is solving the problem. So a lot of candidates instead of stumbling over that, solve it.


Are you suggesting drafting the onboarding memo to be a comprehensive onboarding plan or just to overcome the hurdle of the uncertainty side of things of things that that I would suggest I do to acclimate and become part of the team when the team may not even be in the office together, that kind of thing.


I’m suggesting that it’s a real onboarding plan with details and you simply say, you know, you don’t have to use this of course, but I just work this out. Look up some resources online came up with this, if it’s useful to you graded, don’t force it on him. But it solves that problem that’s causing employers to say, well, we’ll wait 90 days.


Yeah, I’m super proactive. I think that I would probably fall out of my chair if I got one from the candidate. Whoa, very proactive. So excellent. tool and suggestion to kind of cut you know, be top notch and strategic forward thinking. Right. Good. That’s awesome. Were those the two topics that you were hoping to additionally address? We much appreciate your script regarding salary negotiations. I think that that would be I hope, the number one takeaway for anyone who’s listening who may be in any type of negotiation, you should always negotiate. Always.


If you use Win Win techniques, there’s zero downside. I mean, there’s zero downside and love You’re doing something done.


Awesome. And I just can’t thank you enough for your time today, Donald. And I do want to make sure that as we wrap up this interview is there. Is there a preferred site or location for people to follow you on any of your articles that you’re reading or materials that you provide.


I have a website. I don’t use it to push out either marketing or information but I have two features on it that I think are particularly pertinent. So it’s super easy. It’s www dot Donald, so it doesn’t get any easier than that. Donald and the two features that I would recommend to all your viewers. One of them is salary negotiations or my banner, there’s a little button that says salary negotiations. And it walks through it both theoretically and practically. So you’re going to learn the theory behind the practice and then the words that used to win so there’s that And then I have a little devices, the last chapter out of one of my books. Anyway, it’s called career repair. So if your career is damaged, then go read career repair, take you five minutes, I’ll give you a re oriented way to look at what’s going on with you. And a strategy to achieve to your current desires and get back where you belong. So people who need career repair or often stay at home, moms and dads, they may have been home for five, eight years, and they want to go back to work but not at the bottom. And so and I always like this ex prisoners. So anytime you have a category that has like moms and prisoners, I love categories like that. But if you’re an ex prisoner, you want to come back into society, you might look at career repair, and then there’s people have been laid off and have faced a tremendous retrograde career not advancement, but devolvement. So those are three examples of people who are benefit from that chapter. And everybody that’s going to make a transition can benefit from the salary negotiations button.


Fantastic. Donald, thank you so much for your insight, your expertise and your dedication to helping people find their path in their career. So thank you very much.


Thank you, Allison, for all that you do and keep showing a lot.


Thank you. Okay. Take care.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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