Hey, Be A Career Guide

Remember what Steve Jobs said – people don’t know what they want until you show them. This applies to careers too. You might think you want a specific job title or hit certain goals, but the reality hits differently.

I once told my wife I wanted to be a vice president by 35 when I was 25. Got there, and it didn’t feel any different. It turns out, what I really wanted was control. Titles didn’t matter; I wanted to be the one calling the shots.

As a leader, I’ve noticed maybe 10% of the people you guide know exactly what they want in their careers. The other 90% are like me back then – they think they know but are just winging it until they hit some goal.

Most employees don’t really know what they want in their careers. That’s where leaders come in. It’s our job to help them figure it out.

Your job as a leader is to show your team what they want. Don’t assume they already know – most don’t. They won’t admit it, but that shouldn’t stop you from pointing out the possibilities.

From my own experience, the best leaders I had showed me the way. Four mentors in my life called me out on my title obsession and guided me in the right direction. They didn’t give up on me, and I’m grateful for that.

So, leaders, your role is like a career guide. Help your people see the path, and you’ll see them step up and do more than they thought possible.

Love Love Love

I love to love. I’m not into expecting it back in the same way. Not everyone gets that, though. You hear people saying, “I love that person,” but when they don’t get the same love in return, they act like they never loved them in the first place.

Work relationships are kinda like that.

When you’re working, you want to feel good about your job. You also want your boss to feel good about you. It’s a two-way street.

For me, loving someone doesn’t change just because they might not love me the same way back. My kids loved me like crazy when they were little. I was their world. Now that they’re older, I’m not the center anymore, but that doesn’t change how I feel about them. It’s growth, not a downgrade. I hope I’ve taught them to love their own kids if they have any.

Same goes for employees. If they don’t love me anymore, it hurts, but I’m not going to stop caring about them. I want them to do well, even if it’s not with me. That’s just how I roll.

So, here’s to keeping it real and spreading love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Don’t Say That!

Found this oldie but a goodie and I thought it would be a fun one to revisit. Still holds true, right?

7 Things You Should Never Say When Asking for a Raise!

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

There are certain conversations in our work lives that cause people the most anxiety and having to go in and ask for money is, on my list, the next most anxious work conversation most people will face.  I can think of many times that I wanted more money, thought I deserved to get more money, and heck even our good old Comp people said the market should be paying me more money, and still, it is a difficult conversation to have with my superior (at least for me).

Like many people, I think I do a good job, give my best effort, produce great results, and after all that, should I really need to ask? Shouldn’t my boss ‘get it’ and just want to write me a blank check?!

With all this in mind, most people will screw this conversation up by saying things they really want to say, but shouldn’t, if they’re trying to get a raise.  Here are the top things you probably shouldn’t say when asking for a raise:

1. “If you pay 10% more, I will really put in some extra effort!” – So what you’re saying is you’re not putting in extra effort now…

2. “I looked in our HRIS system and I know Sheila on the 5th floor is making $5000 more than I am – and she’s an idiot!” – Not the best strategy to look at others’ private comp information, even if you have access, then call them an idiot – at least in my experience…

3. “If you don’t pay me more money, I’ll be forced to find another job that will pay me what I worth” – Be careful, I’ve tried this one, and they might call your bluff!

4. “I’ve done the math and if you fire Mike, I can do his job and mine, you save $50K, after giving me $25K of his $75K salary” – This actually might be a really good idea, But Mike might be the last one standing with the $25K raise, not you!

5. “I really don’t understand how you can be worth $50K more than me, I do all your work – and deserve more money” – Bosses just love to hear they are overpaid, don’t do anything, and you can do their job – NOT!

6. “I saved the company $1 million in reducing recruiting fees, by implementing a social media strategy successfully, I should at least get a fraction of those savings” – Why, yes you should – if you were in sales, but you’re in HR, and this was part of your job description. Sorry for the wake-up call – all employees aren’t treated equally – put on a helmet.

7. “I know times are tough, so I was thinking instead of more money you could give me an extra week’s vacation or pay for my health insurance or something else like that.” – Okay, Einstein, stop thinking – it’s all money. Vacation, health insurance, paid parking, lunch money – it all hits the bottom line on the income statement. You just showed how expendable you really are.

I’ve learned over the years, through trial and error (okay, mostly error) that many, if not all, of the above statements just don’t seem to have the impact that I was hoping for with my supervisor.  I have seen peers, who performed well, were loyal, dedicated to doing their best for themselves, their co-workers, and the company, and got the raise they wanted by just being patient.

Supervisors are as uncomfortable as you are to have the compensation conversation. If you are as good as you profess to be, then they do want to give you more, but probably can’t due to budget, market, others performing even better than you, etc. It may be the hardest thing to do, but being patient usually works out the best of all!

2 Steps to Climb the Corporate Ladder

When it comes to advancing in your career, it’s not just about chasing promotions. Let’s say you have been at X company for 5 years and you’re hungry for more. We’ve all been there, right? Here’s what I would say:

Step 1: Put together a self-improvement plan with goals and a timeline. Show you’re working on your weak spots (let’s call them “opportunity” areas for the GenXers).

Step 2: Let your boss know about your plan, and here’s the kicker – ask for their help in pulling it off. Be specific about what they can do to help you reach your goals.

We discussed some ideas based on his “opportunity” areas.

Bosses love promoting folks they’ve mentored. It strokes their ego and scores them points in the organization for developing talent. Hiring doesn’t get them as much credit as promoting does – it’s basic Organizational Behavior 101.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Bosses like promoting those who show they’re into their job and the company. Taking charge of your development plan and asking for help doubles your shot at getting promoted.

There are a lot of moving factors in this, but if you are working for someone who is respected in the organization, and you have an above-average performance compared to others in your work group, this will almost always play out well for you.

Trying to climb that career ladder? Just follow these two simple steps.

Consistency Matters More Than You Think


Ever wonder what your workplace really wants from you? I’ve spoken to this before.. It’s not about being a superstar, an A-lister, full of energy, or cracking the Top 10%.

The real deal is being consistent—not shining all the time or totally sucking. Just meet expectations. Every day, every week, every year. Dependable and consistent.

But let’s be real, we don’t appreciate consistency enough. We feel the need to be more than just consistent, like it’s some kind of new low.

We’re all about being ‘world-class,’ creating ‘best practices,’ and leading the industry. Sounds cool, but it makes being consistent seem like a bad thing. Truth is, if everyone in our crew kept it consistent, we’d crush the competition.

So, why aren’t we owning the game? Because being consistent is tough. That’s why we chase after rock stars. We need them to make up for the not-so-great ones. Getting everyone to meet expectations is like herding cats.

Next time you’re with an employee who’s just ‘meeting expectations,’ give them a pat on the back. Thank them for doing their thing every day. Imagine if everyone else followed suit—boom, greatness!

You don’t need over-the-top performance to win. Just get everyone to do what they’re supposed to do. Consistency—let’s slap that on a poster and call it a day: “Just do what you’re supposed to do!”

Revisiting Strugglesville

Knee-deep in a daily struggle? Wondering how to shake off the funk and reclaim your day? Let’s revisit Strugglesville in this post from a few years ago.

Have you been struggling lately?

It seems like I go through bits of struggle here and there. The day starts off awesome, I’m getting stuff done, and then life happens and the struggle begins. Could be the boss gave some super-critical feedback on something you poured your soul into. Might be something outside of work (might? okay, probably something outside of work!). Maybe today just isn’t your day.

I know I’ve got a choice. Do I continue the struggle and take it home or pull others into my struggle, or do I pull myself out of the struggle and get back on track? I. Know. That. Is. A. Choice. And still, I struggle with that choice! Do you feel me?

The struggle is real, for all of us. Sure someone else probably has more of a struggle than you, but when you’re in full struggle mode you don’t want to hear that shit. Your struggle at that moment is for real, real!

So, how do I pull myself out of the struggle?

I’ve got a number of tactics I use to pull myself out of the struggle may be one of these will help you in your struggle:

– Find a small win! I’m not looking to save the world, I just need to get one small win under my belt! Maybe that’s not eating Taco Bell for lunch and having a salad (small win for me, yay!). Maybe it’s clearing my inbox (a little bigger win!). Maybe it’s finally having that one difficult conversation I’ve been putting off (small win with a big stress relief). It all starts with one small win, then finding another, and building on those.

– Conversation with a positive ear! I’ve got some friends, peers, co-workers that I know are almost always really positive. I make that conversation happen, and the topic is not about my struggle, the topic is about something that needs to get done, or I need to make better, etc. After those conversations, I feel uplifted and energized to do something, and walk away from the struggles.

– Do something I’m good at or enjoy, that isn’t destructive. Okay, I might be a genius at ordering the perfect Taco Bell meal, but that’s not the good I’m talking about! I’m good at writing. It relaxes me. If I’m in full struggle mode, I start writing. I enjoy listening to music. It helps turn my mood around given the right playlist.

– Helping someone else. Nothing pulls me out of a struggle like being helpful to someone else. I get a positive boost. They get some help. I can return to my previously scheduled programming without the struggles!

I’ll pull myself into one of these three things mid-day if needed, because me working while struggling doesn’t help anyone, including myself.

I would love to hear how you pull yourself out of your struggle. We all visit Strugglesville, how we get home is pretty unique for each of us!

Your Secrets Are Safe With HR

I’m not big on secrets, but let’s chat about the lowdown that HR folks usually have. In the HR circle, there are always a few things we’re told to hush about.

These are the secrets that only we as HR pros have:

  1. Spotting folks in the office about to exit. Others might catch wind, but HR usually has the inside track on everyone’s moves.
  2. Knowing who’s moving up the ladder, and not necessarily because they earned it.
  3. Figuring out how much you’ll get in your next raise. Yep, we already know, but don’t slack off – we don’t want it looking pre-decided.
  4. Understanding why some departments get more resources than others. Sadly, we can’t spill the beans – it would mess things up!
  5. Getting a sneak peek at your annual bonus 6-12 months in advance. Budgets need planning, after all.
  6. Anticipating changes to your benefits 4-8 months before they kick in.
  7. Knowing who might go off the deep end at work. Can’t tell you for privacy reasons…

There are probably more secrets, but they’re not just HR-exclusive. Consider this: We might tweak our metrics, but guess what? Every other department does it too! In a corporate world driven by politics and metrics for resources, the numbers won’t always be squeaky clean. What makes HR unique is our stash of substantial secrets and the duty to keep them locked up. One common pitfall for new HR folks is sharing these secrets to make friends – it usually backfires.

So, yes, HR’s got secrets – you knew it, and I’m just confirming. Let’s keep moving, though, because I’m not spilling the beans on the details!

4 Habits of Successful Recruiters

In recruiting, success can come down to some simple daily habits. After hiring hundreds of recruiters, I’ve seen what works. Let’s break down the four simple habits that I’ve identified as key factors in making successful recruiters stand out.

  1. Daily Motivation: Successful recruiters stay self-motivated. No doubt about it. They set small goals, like closing a client or job order, to keep themselves on track. Whether it’s meeting specific activity numbers or focusing on a larger goal, daily motivation is key.
  2. Own Up to Mistakes: The best recruiters take responsibility for their work. If something goes wrong, they don’t pass the blame like a hot potato. If an interview is a no-show, they learn from it and make adjustments for the future.
  3. Step Up to Challenges: When critical positions open up, successful recruiters step forward. They embrace challenges and are comfortable working under pressure. They not only excel in their tasks but also contribute ideas for organizational improvement.
  4. Maintain Daily Focus: Successful recruiters stay focused on their daily tasks. Despite the distractions in recruiting, they don’t let the noise disrupt their plans. They concentrate on their goals and persist until they achieve them.

HR and Recruiting both have the same main daily issue we face, we turn ourselves into firefighters.  We run from made up emergency to made up emergency.  It feeds our need to feel like we accomplished something today and became a savior. The most successful recruiters are no different.  They get the opportunity to be fire fighters, just like we all do, but they make a conscience decision not to allow themselves to slide down the pole. How can you make yourself more successful today? And what factors did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Challenging Corporate Complacency

There’s this persistent buzz about technology stealing our jobs in our line of work. The staffing industry, a massive half-a-trillion-dollar global business, thrives on a rather bold assumption: corporate laziness.

I’m not banking on your laziness, though. At my company, we focus on contract work, not only the typical direct hiring. But this laziness perception isn’t exclusive to us; other industries are guilty too.

Look at the diet industry—it’s full of expensive shortcuts like bars, shakes, and pricey gyms, all because we sometimes prefer an easy fix over healthier habits. Guilty as charged!

Here’s the kicker: if corporate Talent Acquisition (TA) simply did their job—filling openings—the direct hire staffing industry might vanish. It’s not that complicated, yet we do everything but fill the position.

It might not seem lazy outright, but it’s sidestepping the core task, which is just as harmful. Ever seen a kid dodge mowing the lawn by doing indoor chores instead? Same principle, different setting.

Recognizing how others bank on our presumed laziness is crucial for TA leaders. And doing something about it? That’s where the real game starts.

Here are some actionable steps from one of my previous blogs:

  1. Set clear, measurable goals for each TA team member.
  2. Make these goals visible daily.
  3. Address performance issues immediately.
  4. Adjust measures to fit business needs.
  5. Keep at it consistently.

TA isn’t a handout; it’s an investment. Great leaders get this and act against corporate complacency.

It’s not just about working harder; it’s about working smarter. It’s time we all took that step forward.

Lessons from Curveballs

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

The Ball Will Always Find You!

There is a baseball metaphor about the ball finding you. Basically, if you are unprepared or you are scared, that’s precisely when the ball will find you! The moment you least want the ball to come to you is when the ball is hit at you. I’ve heard coaches say this statement my entire life being around baseball.

Life works like this as well.

The one time when you go into the office, and you’re not really prepared for your job or function is the day you’ll be called into an emergency meeting with the CEO! The one question you don’t prepare to be asked will be the one that will be asked.

So, how do you prepare yourself for being unprepared?

1. Acknowledge it when it comes.

So often, we want to try and fake our way through something we weren’t prepared for, but it shows. We aren’t really fooling anyone but ourselves. So, acknowledge it. You know, that’s a great question you asked. I’m not prepared to answer that at this moment, but let me do some research and come back to you with a thorough answer.

2. Redirect the conversation to what you do know.

This isn’t perfect because a savvy executive will come back to the original question, but 60% of the time, it works every time! “That’s a great question. What I focused on were these factors, which, in my estimation, is what we need. I believe…”

3. Answer another question like you’re answering their question.

This is risky, but politicians use this tactic all the time, and it mostly works because the person asking the question is sure you answered their question or not, and they don’t want to sound dumb by asking it again, thinking you answered it! Tim, can you give me some insight into how much we’ll be over budget in TA by the end of the year? “Sure, first, it’s amazing the progress we’ve made. At the beginning of the year, we had no idea we’d be 75% over our planned hiring, and the team has been amazing in reaching that goal. In the second half of the year, we see hiring beginning to slow, and we are anticipating that in Q1 of 2024, we’ll be back up to normal.” Then you just shut up or ask if anyone else has any other questions! Bonus points if you actually go back at them during your answer with some verbal ques like, “You understand, right?” Of course, they’ll be nodding yes! At that point, they will never follow up with another question!

4. Bluff.

Answer the question, even though you don’t really know the answer, and hope and pray they also don’t know the answer! I’ve seen way too many people in my career try and look like a fool. I find that very few executives ask a question they don’t have some semblance of an answer to already. They are just checking to see if you’re on your game and have the answer. So, I do not recommend bluffing. This is usually a low-performer behavior that is probably getting fired soon anyway, and they’re desperate!

5. Open the conversation up to the broader audience or the person who asked the question.

This strategy works really well if you have a strong relationship and trust with the person or people you’re speaking with. In this tactic, you basically acknowledge you don’t know but come back and see if anyone knows or has a strong opinion. You are still driving the conversation and asking questions, which puts you in an authority position, so you don’t look weak by not knowing the answer to the question being asked. “That’s a great question. I actually don’t know the answer, but I’m wondering if anyone else in the room does. Or does anyone have a feeling on what this might look like?” At this point, you could offer up an educated guess as to what you believe it to be if no one else has anything and agree to come back with some more specific information.

Professionally, the ball is going to find you whether you are ready for it or not. We all hope that we will be prepared and ready, but that’s not always the case. Your next reaction is critical to how others will end up viewing you. The more confident you are in your ability and performance, the easier it is to say you just don’t know. Unfortunately, so many times throughout our careers, we get caught off guard, and it might be during a time when our confidence isn’t super high, and that opens us up to trying to make something up on the fly and opening ourselves up to being viewed as a fool.

Posted on  by Tim Sackett