29 May 2017

Archives for August 2016

Humble Yourselves Before the Lord, But…

My clients laugh when they see this in the instructions in an exercise: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up; but when you are networking or interviewing, blow your own horn! Sell yourself!”

We have a lot of energy directed toward us throughout our lives telling us to be humble. Our parents tell us not to brag: “Don’t brag; it’s not polite.” Our coaches tell us that we win as a team and we lose as a team. After tossing a perfect game against the Braves in May 2004, Randy Johnson said he couldn’t have done it without a great bunch of guys behind him. Even the Bible tells us to be humble: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:10).”

After more than 22 years and working with thousands of job seekers, I’ve concluded that one of the most common problems holding job seekers back is the failure to blow their own horn. I can empathize with you; I feel somewhat embarrassed when I tell an HR person who is considering my services that I believe I’m the best career coach in Atlanta. As long as I deliver the message in spite of my embarrassment, I’ll be helping them make a decision that is good for their company and for their departing employees.

One of my all-time favorite compliments was from a client who wrote to his former employer, “I got more in three days from O’Farrell Career Management than I did in three months from [your competitor on the north side of Atlanta].” This is an example of point three down below. Blow your own horn; it’s expected when you are searching for a job!

Four guys who were humble and bold.

There’s no conflict between being humble and being bold; there’s no conflict between being modest and taking credit for the good things we’ve accomplished. Want some evidence? Look at these four people:

Moses: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3).” Moses was the most humble man on earth, yet he boldly confronted Pharaoh, the most powerful man on earth, and God used the emboldened Moses to set his people free.

David: In 2 Samuel 17:8 David was described as being “as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs.” David was also described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). As a young teenager, he boldly confronted Goliath who said, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” David replied, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you.” A few minutes later, he did just that (1 Samuel 17).

Jesus: In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said of himself, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus was humble and bold, never arrogant or full of pride. Time and time again he challenged the establishment, provoking them to such anger that they crucified him.

Paul: Like Jesus, Paul was humble and bold. “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31-31).” Paul spoke boldly even though there were multiple attempts to kill him (2 Corinthians 11:22-31).

With this in mind, here are three tips to be bolder and more effective:

1. Just do it.

Just as Moses confronted Pharaoh, David faced Goliath, Jesus stood before Pilot, and Paul defied angry mobs throughout the Mediterranean, you can pick up the phone and ask for help, or call a hiring company and tell them you want the job. You can also tell others, especially potential employers, about your accomplishments. I’m not aware of any job seeker who died while networking, interviewing or following up after an interview.

2. Just the facts, ma’am.

Remember Dragnet? Jack Webb played Sergeant Joe Friday on the old TV show, and this quotation was his signature line. Every week the poker-faced detective found himself interviewing some witness who offered subjective opinions instead of the hard facts. He would interrupt the witness in his uniquely deadpan style and say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Investor’s Business Daily says to take the hype out of your message; stay away from adverbs and adjectives. For instance, instead of saying, “I successfully led an initiative that improved productivity by 36%,” say, “I led an initiative that improved productivity by 36%.”

3. Share the facts – specific, quantified facts – please.

When we do role-plays in my office, clients almost always miss opportunities to slip a fact-based accomplishment into the networking and interviewing vignettes. I’ll hear this: “I moved to Atlanta and ran the plant here for five years.” I’d rather hear this: “After implementing team-building and cost-cutting initiatives in Cincinnati, they transferred me to Atlanta to run the plant and overhaul the operations. We won ‘best production facility’ in my third, fourth and final year at Valvoline.”

This third tip employs peer analysis and third-party proofs; both report that what you are saying is not just your opinion of yourself, but someone else’s as well. If you can put it in the context of, “It may be helpful for you to know…” or “I was fortunate to…” then it is positioned not that you are bragging, but that this information is important for the other party to make a sound business decision about your candidacy.

One final point about delivering the message; your body language and voice have more to do with how the message is received than the words you say. If you leave out the superlatives and state the facts in a neutral tone with comfortable body language, you’ll get your point across without seeming to be full of pride.

Yes, God wants us to humble ourselves before him; he wants us to admit that we are dependent upon him for hope and faith and love – and for strength, courage and boldness too. So when you are networking and interviewing, have a healthy sense of pride in your accomplishments – not a false humility.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (1 Timothy 1:7).”

See you on Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we are both humble and bold!

Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

JobSeekers of PTC Begins 19th Year of Ministry

Praise the Lord; JobSeekers is beginning its 19th year of ministry in Peachtree City!

As I am out and about, people ask me things like, “Is anyone finding a job?” They make comments like “Things must be pretty tough these days.”

Are they tough? Sure they are. Are they hopeless? Absolutely not. No matter how tough things may be, we ALWAYS have hope because we believe in the living God – the Lord of the Universe; the Lord of our lives.

People who attend JobSeekers regularly and put what we teach into practice also have hope because they know all they need is ONE job, and when they land that ONE job, CNN and all the other media outlets will continue to tell us how depressing things are on the economic front. The unemployment rate will not change one iota in the county, state or country – but they will change dramatically in that one home.

Here’s a fairly typical and brief ‘thank you’ message: “Though my membership was brief, I wanted to thank you for your ministry. I came the first time fairly cynical and not expecting much but left very encouraged and energized.” And here’s a longer message from someone else. She got involved and got a job.

With God’s help, we’ve been beating the odds every week for 18 years at JobSeekers. You can read a brief history of JS PTC here.

It’s about relationships

I gave a talk to about 40 people up in Dunwoody in June 2004. The Jewish Family & Career Service hosted the meeting. When I met with the planner 13 days prior to the meeting, I asked her if I could use examples from the Old Testament to support my points and help motivate the audience. She recommended against it because the audience would not only consist of Jewish participants but Christians, Muslims and agnostics as well. If it weren’t for the agnostics, I could at least have worked from Abraham backwards!

The audience lacked the vital energy that we have at JobSeekers of Peachtree City. As I thought about this, two things came to my mind. First, the Gospel is not proclaimed. Our faith is a source of peace, power and protection; it is much easier to go through a job search with the hope we have as Christians. Second, and this is key to any group, is the fact that nearly everyone present was there for the first time. They didn’t know each other and they weren’t pulling for each other.

A band of brothers and sisters in Christ

In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge talks about how important it is to fight our battles in groups. Dorothy took her journey to find the Wizard with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion and Toto. Captain John Miller goes behind enemy lines with a squad of eight rangers to save Private Ryan. In Gladiator, Maximus rallies his small group of gladiators and triumphs over the greatest empire on earth. And Jesus had the twelve disciples, plus Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Eldredge says we must not go it alone (see pages 187 and 188).

At JobSeekers, we don’t go it alone either. We meet each week for learning and fellowship. We share our joys and our struggles. Afterwards, one-third to one-half of the people stick around for networking and fellowship; it’s one of my favorite times of the week. Here and elsewhere, I often hear of how you interact with one another throughout the week:

1. We support each other one-on-one. One JobSeeker wrote: “I appreciate all the fellowship and support JobSeekers gave me in a time of need. You always had encouraging thoughts, and George was a big help to me also. I had days where I just didn’t think anything was going to happen and there was George with an email to tell me to keep on trucking.”

2. We pray for one another. Another wrote: “After I accepted the offer the first thing that popped into my head was all of us together that morning praying for each other in our job search. The power of prayer worked that day for me and my family.”

3. We work as a group to inspire one person. A third wrote: “As the meeting started, a peace came over me and felt truly inspired; I’m not alone! I’m not a big loser! This gave me the motivation I needed to get through today. I left the meeting determined to accomplish something today.”

4. We give wise counsel to each other. Another wrote: “I cannot thank you enough for the encouragement and help that you have provided. You helped me to get focused on what I wanted to do for a living after months of thinking that I should change careers. In my mind, I was a failure at what I spent my career doing. It was Dave’s seminar that got me to revisit my former employer, and I found that I was not the failure that I believed myself to be.”

5. We trade job leads. We’ve had dozens of people get a good job close to home because one JobSeeker referred another to a specific job. This includes former JobSeekers targeting and hiring current JobSeekers.

Things like this happen all the time.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” We are not asked to go through trials like career transition alone. In fact, it is for these types of challenges that we are encouraged to develop communities of believers who are able to support our needs and to contribute to the needs of others. (This paragraph is from Christ Centered Career Groups.)

Whether your current struggle is job search or something else, my prayer is that all of you will find several people who will go on this journey and fight this battle with you.

See you on Friday at JobSeekers, where we are a band of brothers and sisters in Christ!

Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

O’Farrell Misses the Boat

Networking is by far the number one way people find jobs. One client of mine compared networking to sowing seeds. Ken said, “I’m convinced that networking is like planting seeds. Some will germinate, but it may take a while. The seeds need ongoing attention to help them grow.”

Friends, listen to me: network even when it seems like networking is not working.

To illustrate the consequences of doing the right and wrong things, I think back to August 1985 and a scuba trip to West Palm Beach. Some friends and I dove on a Greek yacht named the Mizpah. It was a night dive in 85 feet of water, two miles off the coast. We were warned of the dangers of the Gulf Stream currents; they could sweep you miles away from the dive boat in the middle of the night.

My scuba buddy, Ron Bennett, and I were selected by the dive master to lead a group of 20 people down to the Mizpah. I wasn’t terrified of the pitch-black water. I wasn’t terrified of the nocturnal creatures that prowl the seas. I wasn’t terrified of being swept away by the Gulf Stream currents.

I was terrified of the wrath of the other 18 people if we missed the boat.

O’Farrell Misses the Boat

To understand my high anxiety, I will take you back three weeks prior. Ron and I and some of the same people were in Fort Lauderdale to dive on the Mercedes, a freighter that had been sunk in 97 feet of water one mile off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. Ron had dived on the ship once before; I was in Atlanta for Independence Day. He said it had been a fantastic dive; they could see the freighter as soon as they jumped in the water.

On this particular dive we ignored the dive master’s navigation instructions and simply started swimming down; visibility was poor and we couldn’t see the ship. We swam against the current in what we thought was the right direction, but still no ship. When we reached a depth of 75 feet, we finally saw something. Sand. Nothing but sand.

We missed the boat.

Ron and I had an underwater argument about whether we should swim around on the bottom looking for a 195 foot long ship or go back to the surface and asking for help. We were rookie scuba divers and had been warned about doing a “pop up,” which is exactly what we were about to do.

The boat captain and the deck hand let us have it. They dragged us over to the drop site again while we hung on to the dive platform for dear life. We used up most of our air during this exhausting experience. We found the boat on the second try, but were only able to spend seven minutes exploring the Mercedes. The other divers teased unmercifully for the rest of the weekend (and for years to come).

So on this night Ron and I are on the platform about to jump into the dark and eerie waters while all these thoughts are racing through my head. Then I remembered our training; I remembered what the instructors had said about reaching our goal: “Swim hard, swim south and don’t take your eyes off your compass.” We swam due south, directly against the current. We did what we knew was right even though we couldn’t see the target. I looked up just before we hit the bow of the boat.

It was a wonderful dive. We went into one room and pushed our flashlights into the sand so they didn’t cast any light. It was cool to see hundreds of bio-luminescent creatures glowing in the darkness of the deep.

Listen to the Experts

Friends, listen to the experts. Do what we say works. Don’t take your eyes off your compass. Your target will be right ahead of you if you don’t let yourself get distracted, if you don’t wander off on one tangent after another. If you do, you could end up miles away from your target and looking at nothing but sand.

Network! Chances are as high as 80% that you will find your next job through a personal contact. Why not shorten the time by doing more networking? Bring up your job search in almost every conversation you have, especially with new people. You may not see your next job up ahead, but it’s out there. You have to do the right things to find it.

– Dave O’Farrell

Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

Feeling Stressed? Take Dr. Rahe’s Test


Richard H. Rahe, M.D.

Feeling stressed? Today you will have the opportunity to take Dr. Rahe’s test while you are in the midst of a life-changing event.

You can estimate your risk of having a stress-related illness or accident using a calculator developed by Richard H. Rahe, M.D., a world-renowned expert on stress-related illness. The test assigns a measurement called a Life Change Unit (LCU) to events – positive and negative – that cause stress. The higher your LCU total, the greater your risk of a stress-related illness or accident within the coming year.

Here are the top 10 (out of 55) life change events:

  1. Death of a child
  2. Death of a spouse
  3. Death of parent or sibling
  4. Divorce
  5. Separation from spouse due to marital difficulties or work
  6. Being held in jail
  7. Loss of your job
  8. An illness or injury that was very serious
  9. Death of a close friend
  10. Pregnancy

Notice that four of the 10 have to do with the death of a loved one or friend; as difficult as they are, they don’t reflect on who you are as a person. One (pregnancy) is good news, and one (jail) probably hasn’t happened to most of the people who read this newsletter. Of the top 10 life change events, divorce and job loss represent the two biggest attacks on a person’s ego.

In Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs tells the story of two friends who battled cancer and won. Both men soon found themselves unemployed. One said, “I was never depressed when dealing with cancer and possibly dying, but when I left my work, which was my identity, I went into a depression that was like nothing I had ever experienced before.” Are there things worse than job loss? Absolutely; but being unemployed is one of the toughest spiritual battles you will ever face.

If you are looking for a job you may feel you’ve had your ego attacked by your former employer, by prospective employers who’ve chosen someone else over you, and by potential networking partners who’ve refused to help you. You may be experiencing financial difficulties, you may have lost contact with close friends you used to work with, you may have lost the structure in your day and your week and don’t know what to do, and you may be facing the prospect of moving to a distant city in order to find a meaningful position. Your LCU score may be very high.

Who can relate to what I’m talking about here?

You’ve gone through a lot. You may go through more. When it rains, it pours. Problems compound. It seems there is no hope. Now your health is on the decline. Doctors have long recognized that stress can trigger a range of illnesses, from backache and headache to gastrointestinal problems, a weak immune system and heart attacks.

How much stress are you under? To access the test, click here. Go to “Products” and choose “A Recent Life Changes Stress Test.” They charge $5; it used to be $1. No joke. I can show you my credit card bill! If you just want to read more, click here for an article about a similar study that involved Rahe and another psychiatrist.

Over a one-year period, a life change score of 450 or higher means not only that several life changes have occurred, but also that some of these changes had very high stress values. This high recent life change stress load is called a “life crisis.” Two out of three people experiencing a life crisis will develop one or more illnesses, or have an accident, during the following year.

In January 2004, my score was 558. During the preceding six months I’d gotten divorced, bought a condo, lost my primary source of income, and started a business. You may have guessed that I also experienced financial difficulties. I also suffered a broken or dislocated rib when I slid head first into third base during a softball game; I got divorced in the morning (12 years ago last month) and broke my rib the same evening. Since I was more than 100 points above 450, Dr. Rahe would say that I had a 75% chance of illness or injury in 2004. Praise the Lord I made it through in one piece; I did have a bike wreck that December, but was unhurt. My current life change score is more than 500 points lower.

By the way, life change events are not the only things that put stress on our minds, bodies and spirits. We need to take steps to guard our hearts from persistent, long-term stressors as well. I’ll address this topic in two weeks.

You can learn three things from my experience:

1. You are in temporary state.

As it was for me, the good news is that most people do not remain in a life crisis for more than a year or two. That’s because subsequent illnesses and accidents demand your attention and you begin to cultivate important stress management and lifestyle coping capabilities. There is a purpose in your suffering. I am reminded of James’ words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4

2. You have choices; be proactive.

To decrease the length and severity of your temporary state, you must do something! Get out of bed and come to JobSeekers; I did in 2004 – and I was the leader! I came to bless others, and I received a blessing myself. Being proactive gives you a sense of control. Even more important than JobSeekers is the decision you make about the spiritual perspective you will have on your job search and your journey through life. Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

3. You matter to God.

No matter what happens to you in life, no matter what you do or what you’ve done in life, your heart matters to God. He loves you and he wants the best for you. He can take the shattered crystal and broken glass in your life and turn it into a beautiful stained glass window. God promises to work for the good of those who love him: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Later in the same chapter Paul says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

In a devotional at JobSeekers about three years ago, John Hobbs, Pastor of Care Counseling at Crossroads Church in Newnan, used Habakkuk 3:17-18: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Friends, God loves us even when the rain falls. God loves us even when the floods start rising. God loves us even when the storms come. In fact, we are washed by His cleansing water during the most difficult days of our lives. (Adapted from the lyrics of “Washed by the Water” by NEEDTOBREATHE.)

How are you going to respond to God’s call during this significant life change event?

See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!

Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

What it Means to be World-Class

I remember watching the 2012 Olympics in London and thinking about what it means to be world-class. Michael Phelps won the 19th medal of his Olympic career. It’s a staggering number. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won their first gold medal since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, all five women, who ranged in age from 15 to 17, said they decided they would compete in the Olympics during the 2004 Games in Athens. Kyla Ross was only seven at the time.

They dedicated eight years of their lives to winning the gold. Yes, half their lifetime. One young lady, McKayla Maroney, had developed a special talent for the vault. Even among the world’s very best vaulters, she soared two feet higher than any other competitor. One night she was perfection and grace and beauty in motion – so much so that one judge’s mouth dropped wide open. The analysts were shocked when she did not receive a perfect score.

My Peachtree Road Race experience.

I never aspired to be a world-class athlete, but I thought I was a pretty fast runner. In fact, in my junior year of high school, I was the fastest cross country runner in a school with 2000+ students. In my first Peachtree Road Race I placed 193rd. If you are wondering how I did so well in the world’s largest 10 kilometer race, you should probably know there were only 1159 participants that year. Now there are 60,000.

The next year I ran my best time, 39:40. That’s a six-and-a-half minute mile. Six of ‘em in a row.

This was so long ago that the race finished in downtown Atlanta at Central City Park. I remember standing at the base of the Trust Company Bank building, hunched over, hands on knees, sucking air as fast as I could, and feeling elated about my excellent time. I looked up and saw Chase Van Valkenburg casually standing nearby with his hands on his hips. Chase was the fastest cross country runner in DeKalb County. By the way, can you be a runner and have a better name than “Chase Van Valkenburg?”

“Hey Chase, Dave O’Farrell, Southwest DeKalb. How’d you do?” I ask while gasping for air.

“Not so good. How’d you do?” He asks.

“Fantastic; 39:40!” I say.

“Oh, I ran 34:20.” He replies.

Ouch. Crashed and burned. In a six-mile race, Van Valkenburg beat me by a mile. But the fastest guy in DeKalb County finished a mile behind Don Kardong, whose winning time was 29:14. Now that’s world class.

Come to think of it, I lost that six-mile race by two miles. Can you say, “embarrassing?”

This year Gabriel Geay (Tampa)  was the mens’ winner, and Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) won the women’s division with times of 28:49 and 32:24 respectively. Wow. The course record was established in Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic year, by Joseph Kimani of Kenya at 27:01. Amazing.

Your job search experience.

In job search, the number of competitors for a single job may be 1159 people. You don’t want to come in 193rd. This week one of our clients said he beat out 45 other candidates for a job. That’s pretty good. Even better when you consider this gentleman had a stroke about a year ago. Al beat the odds with his faith, his hard work, and his preparation. He didn’t have a pity party. He didn’t make excuses. He went all out and won the one job he needed to provide for his family. Congratulations Al!

Be like Al. Have faith. Work hard. Prepare yourself. Beat the odds. Win the job.

Gene Griessman interviewed some of the most successful people of the 20th century and recorded those conversations in his book, “The Achievement Factors.” He started his chapter on competence with Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus said, “I don’t think talent is as important as the work and dedication necessary to become competent. A lot of guys out there are more talented than I am, and through the years we’ve passed them all by.”

Chase Van Valkenburg might have been more talented that I was, but I would have passed him by if he had not put in the hard work and dedication necessary to be the best in the county.

I still enjoy running. In fact, I ran three miles before sitting down to write this article. I have chosen not to dedicate myself to being the best runner in my age group. In fact, when I go running with my best friend from high school and cross country teammate, Ted Wansley, these days, we start off nice and slow – and then taper off from there.

My passion now is helping people win jobs. I’ve dedicated the past 22 years to perfecting my craft. Nicklaus told Griessman that, even after winning multiple major championships, he was still trying to perfect his game. I look at résumés I wrote seven years ago and say, “Who wrote this junk?” After all, I’d only been writing résumés for 14 years at the time.

Think about all the seven-year-old gymnasts who decided in 2004 they are going to compete in the Olympics one day. How did Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber win the gold when tens of thousands of other girls didn’t even make it to the games?

Do what they did: work at the craft of finding a job, perfect your skills, overcome your weaknesses and fears, play to your strengths – and then leave the results confidently to God.

See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are becoming world-class job seekers every week!

Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved