How To Get to the Starting Line

I call it “the starting line” because in life, it ain’t over until it’s over.

I was lucky enough to be able to reinvent my life a bit, but I couldn’t say I’m finished. Everything is just beginning. I am a mere ten months into this new phase of my life (and career), and have a long way to go. There are many goals not yet realized and many plans still unplanned.

Some things I have learned along the way:

1) The resume-based economy is dead.

8 out of 10 jobs in America are filled in some other way than through a cold resume, submitted online. I applied for exactly 411 jobs this way, with absolute zero response.

A fine example of the absurdity of the resume as job creator comes from The Ohio State University. They had a recent opening for a football coach. They hired Urban Meyer, ex-coach from Florida, for a multi-year, multimillion dollar contract. Meyer was forced to deny media reports that he had accepted the position for several days. The reason? The football coaching job at a state university is a state position- the school had to post the vacancy and accept resumes for the job!

The game was over before the job was even posted. I won’t use this space to debate the ethics of this, and we probably can’t prove that Urban Mayer actually signed on the dotted line before the job was “posted”, but this kind of thing happens all the time. Managers know who they want to hire before HR posts the opening. You have to get inside sooner.

2) Be a problem solver.

Maybe you have identified a company you’d like to work for. Maybe you have done exhaustive research and found a weak link, a vulnerability in the machine.

Because you are on LinkedIn (you ARE in, right?) you have found out who the players are, and you have searched for press accounts of recent company moves.

Perhaps you could schedule a meeting with a decision maker, and pitch to them the problem you discovered, and your solution to solve it. You set the meeting agenda, you are in control!

Don’t wait for them. be proactive. Stranger things have happened…


3) Don’t apply for jobs you won’t get.

Let’s say you have 15 years of experience as an education lobbyist. You have written white papers, position papers, and paper papers. You have sat in city or county lawmakers’ offices and discussed heavy domestic education policy issues.

Now you want to work for a wine group.

Yes, you have experience in project management, workflow, and “marketing” ideas to clients.  You do not, however, have a proven record of success working for another reasonably successful wine group; and you don’t have a portfolio online of some of your campaign artwork, social media strategies, and branding success stories.

When a zillion people with wine experience are out of work, these companies are going to hire someone they “know”. Your resume is pfft.

Make sure your resume lists the duties and responsibilities you are a whopping success in performing, and do not fiddle with it to make it fit for each company- especially if you do not have specific experience in the industry. It’s a waste of time.


4) Lie if you have to.

Companies are now putting up a huge roadblock to your reinvention: for at least the last two years, some companies basically say, “if you are not currently employed, don’t bother even applying”!

This is cold, mean, unethical and completely legal.

If there was ever any time to call in a favor from a friend, this is it. You need to have a job to get a job; sick, I know, but consider playing the game. Ask a trusted friend to hire you as a “consultant”  and to be a reference on your cv/resume.

Corporations lie for a living- they lie, and lie some more; to regulators, politicians and their own “family” of employees. They’ll throw your ass onto the street without thinking twice.  They have told you that your unemployment status already makes you a loser in their eyes.

Play their game. Lie to them. You’ll be ethical and trustworthy when you get inside the front door, but for now, you need a job. Tell them you have one. You owe your friend a massive debt, and you can pay it back by doing an excellent job when you get hired, and being honest and dependable…being the good person that you are.

The 1% have moved the goal posts. They have changed the rules mid-game. These are some tools to fight back. You want to work. You want to live. You want to do the right thing for you and your family. Do what is needed.

The other option- don’t try to work for a company that practices those policies. I wonder how you’ll be treated after you get on the payroll…


5) Look for a new job while you have one.

This is the antidote for #4. If you are stuck in a rut, not making enough money, or feeling massively unsatisfied, you have a window of opportunity. This is hardly groundbreaking, I know- but I want you to understand that plotting your reinvention will take time. You don’t want to do it like I had to!

Try and summon some energy to lay out a strategy, and a timeline. Do your research and your homework. Keep your head down at your current job and don’t give them any ammunition to dispose of you. Make your plan. You will have time to try things and fail… if you have a job that is paying some or all of the bills. The more times you fail, the closer you are to a win.


It’s never too late to reinvent. You have options. You also have talent and brilliance inside you.


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