Find Career Success Someplace You Don’t Expect

My advice for career success is to go someplace nobody ever expected for you — and that you didn’t expect either. I will always have a place in my heart for Howard University. I taught for a decade at its law school in northwest Washington, D.C., as the first Asian-American law professor there.

Founded after the Civil War to uplift recently freed black slaves but open to individuals of all backgrounds, the university was named for a white Union General who had headed the Freedman’s Bureau. During the civil rights era, many members of the team of legal advocates who attacked official segregation were affiliated with the place. Their leader, the late Thurgood Marshall (who subsequently became a Supreme Court justice), was a graduate.

More than any academic study could have done, my time at Howard illuminated for me the prejudices I held despite myself, and the privileges I’d enjoyed while barely noticing them. I learned more than I taught. Almost all my students had had direct experience, which I could not doubt, with bigotry — if not daily, then more than often enough. Throughout my life I have faced children on the sidewalk challenging me to kung fu fighting, but I have not witnessed their parents crossing to the other side of the street or scurrying along because they assumed I might be a thug or worse — not once ever.

Yet I saw how my white friends were curious about blackness. They simply had not been around many black persons who were their peers. They wondered about what my life was like on the other side of the color line. They pointed out, inadvertently, not only the ambiguous position of Asian Americans and others who are neither black nor white but the reality that there remains a meaningful divide.

Contrary to the casual speculation of my acquaintances who were not black, in a predominantly black classroom race became much less important. Folks did not sit around all day long talking about race and racism. They were comfortable in a way that they could not be if they were a token who bore the burden of representing a race — an impossible task. A student could be confident that she was not likely to be treated as a stereotype or overlooked by a teacher for an inappropriate reason. Nobody was about to come along to touch their hair because they were dying to know about its “nappiness.”

I was immersed in the diversity of the African diaspora. I saw that “black” encompasses not only African-American but also African, Afro-Carribbean, Black Britons, Black Hispanics, Afro-Asians (“Blasians” in the vernacular), and every combination conceivable. I’d estimate that fewer than half of my black students were African Americans born of two African Americans. Some who would have been identified by a white passerby as “African-American” would have proudly identified themselves as Nigerians whose families had come here when they were young. I also met Baptists descended from preachers, Muslims who had converted to the faith as well as those born into it, a few Episcopalians who were as “high church” as any WASP could be, and some stray Buddhists. There were third-generation professionals who pledged the same fraternity or sorority that their forebears had led, and the impoverished who could not buy the books needed for class, and those who exemplified “urban” and those whom they called “country.” All political ideologies were present, from separatist nationalism to a traditional, entrepreneurially oriented Republicanism (which, it turns out, could coincide).

All of this brought about permanent changes for me. I don’t mean merely that I partake of grits and greens, which were always available in the cafeteria, for breakfast and lunch, respectively. I also mean that I am indebted for relationships and a new outlook on subjects I thought I had understood. We are expected to assimilate, but we are rarely explicit about the fact that there is a specific standard that is the norm.

I saw the enduring value, for all of us in a diverse democracy, of institutions of higher education that have a distinct purpose. They make good on a promise of community. (Some wise guy always asserts that Howard is somehow an example of reverse racism. For every historically black college or university, there were many historically white schools. They were separate but not equal during the era of “Jim Crow.” The former included whites in many roles right up to the top; the latter excluded blacks except in jobs at the bottom. It is whites generally staying away that keeps black schools predominantly black.)

I went to Howard, because I believed. I returned after an absence, because I was committed. Although my choice was not about ambition, it turned out I could not have been more strategic. When I recently left an executive role, the most heartwarming piece of correspondence I received as nice note from a former student. She asked me to “come home.”

My life was transformed for the better by an association with Howard University. I will always have a place in my heart for its people. I encourage everyone to look for opportunities where we could not have imagined ourselves.

An earlier version of this essay appeared on Huffington Post.
Originally posted on Linked IN by: Frank Wu

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503


In a Job Interview, This Is How to Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Two years ago, a young woman named Michele Hansen spotted a job opening that piqued her interest. She wasn’t qualified—the posting was for a product manager at an investment company, and she had no experience in financial services.

In that situation, the voice in your head screams for self-promotion. If you’re applying for a job, you know you need to bend over backward to hide your shortcomings. As an interviewer, when I ask candidates to name their biggest weaknesses, they usually respond with strengths in disguise. I work too hard. I’m too much of a perfectionist. I only won a silver medal in the Olympics.

But Michele Hansen did the exact opposite. She took a page out of George Costanza’splaybook on Seinfeld: “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” Instead of trying to hide her limitations, she led with them:

“I’m probably not the candidate you’ve been envisioning,” her cover letter began. “I don’t have a decade of experience as a Product Manager nor am I a Certified Financial Planner.”

Hansen got the job. And she isn’t alone. In one study, interviewers gave the highest ratings to business school applicants who were more concerned with being seen accurately than positively. In another study, Harvard researchers asked undergraduates to answer a job interview question about their weaknesses. Only 23 percent gave actual negative qualities: I procrastinate. I overreact to situations. The other 77 percent hid their weaknesses inside a humblebrag: I’m too nice. I’m too demanding when it comes to fairness. When collaborators reviewed the answers, they were 30 percent more interested in hiring the candidates who acknowledged a legitimate weakness.

Although applicants believe self-promotion is the ticket to landing a coveted job, the evidence shows otherwise. Undergraduates who played up their skills and accomplishments were not significantly more likely to get job offers. Executives who tried to impress board members with their qualifications did not succeed in landing more board seats. And employees who went out of their way to highlight their successes had substantially lower salaries and promotion rates. Compared to flattery and favors, researchers James Westphal and Ithai Stern explain, “self-promotion is less consistently effective… it is less subtle and more transparent.”

In a pair of experiments, Alison Fragale and I found that self-promotion only paid off when the audience was distracted enough to remember the information but forget the source. Otherwise, they saw right through it: “If you were that great, you wouldn’t need to boast about your greatness.”

Of course, you can’t get a job if you only focus on your inadequacies. After confessing her lack of relevant experience, Michele Hansen devoted the rest of her cover letter to explaining why she had the motivation and skills to succeed anyway. “I don’t wait for people to tell me what to do and go seek for myself what needs to be done,” she wrote. “I’m entrepreneurial, I get things done… I love breaking new ground and starting with a blank slate.”

There’s evidence for a backlash against female self-promoters. Trumpeting accomplishments violates gender stereotypes of women as communal rather than assertive and ambitious. (This helps explain Nate Silver’s finding that Hillary Clinton’s approval ratings go up every time she holds an office and down when she’s vying for one.) Michele Hansen overcame that backlash by establishing her deficiencies up front with candor and humility. As a result, her comments about her strengths came across as more credible.

By admitting your inadequacies, you show that you’re self-aware enough to know your areas for improvement—and secure enough to be open about them. That you’re interested in being hired for what you actually bring to the table, not what you pretend to bring.

In 1987, the Chicago Sun-Times had to replace their beloved advice columnist, Ann Landers. A young journalist, Jeff Zaslow, was writing an article about the search and decided to throw his hat in the ring. “How could you have the audacity to give advice?” an interviewer scoffed. “I may only be 28,” Zaslow replied, “but I have the wisdom of a 29-year old.”

They hired him.


Adam Grant is the New York Times bestselling author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World and Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. His free monthly newsletter on work and psychology is

Originally posted on Linked IN by: Adam Grant

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

We’re working more than ever, but we’re less happy than ever

Whether we believe it or not, we are losing the work-and-money game. We’ve put so much emphasis on getting things done, on finishing to‑do lists, on growth, and on economic demand, that we’re beginning to lose—big time.

We believed that we could continue to win if we kept our heads down and worked until our eyes fell out. We thought it was okay to feel unfulfilled as long as we kept showing up for work and getting everything done as best as we could. Only now are we realizing that this is actually having a negative effect on productivity in the workplace.

Many companies are beginning to lose lots of money, because when people aren’t happy they aren’t focused, energized, empowered, or efficient. When energy is low, so is effort and effectiveness. That’s why, according to Gallup, the US economy absorbs approximately $550 billion a year in productivity losses because employees feel disengaged, disempowered, and unfulfilled.

We’ve always believed that the rules of the game were work and growth at all costs. And now we’re seeing that there is actually a price we can’t continue to pay: we’re unhappy and we’re losing money because of it. Results flow where energy goes. And if the energy is not there, if we are not emotionally connected and stimulated or finding fulfillment, then we have no firepower. We are not energized, and we have no real happiness or connection to anything that matters to us.

This causes us to lose the game on all levels. It’s bad for us as individuals, because the whole point of work is to provide for ourselves and our loved ones, and to be happy. We’re working more than ever, but we’re less happy than ever. And businesses, nations, and economies are losing money because of it too. The economy is broken. The days add up and people are tired. Somehow we keep showing up, but we aren’t getting the results we could if we felt more fulfilled.

This is not to say that money isn’t important—it is. Money can take you from stress into comfort. It can buy some freedom. It can give you a comfortable place to live and help you support your loved ones. But at a certain point, something else needs to drive us. In fact, a 2010 Princeton University study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that, at the national level, making more than $75,000 per year won’t significantly improve your day‑to‑day happiness.

But somehow we continue to run through the motions, nearly working ourselves to death. The secrets to winning big time remain secret. That’s because we’ve been operating under the assumption that happiness and fulfillment do not enhance productivity and success. We’ve been playing the game by the wrong rules, falsely believing that we win by sacrificing well-being for work.

We’ve been missing some basic facts, like the Harvard Business Review’s findings that satisfied employees have 31 percent higher productivity, generate 37 percent more sales, and are three times more creative than their disengaged counterparts. Or Gallup’s discoveries that the top 25 percent of engaged workers have 50 percent fewer accidents, as well as significantly lower health costs. The game has reached a tipping point: we’ve begun to realize that we can no longer increase the number of hours and the amount of stress we put on people to raise their levels of productivity. What we’re finding is that if we want to see what people are capable of achieving, we have to create new definitions of happiness and leadership, both in and out of work.

Our work must energize, empower, enliven, and stimulate us. This secret to finding personal fulfillment, success, and productivity has been forgotten, and we have to find it again. If our daily tasks or overall objectives at work aren’t fulfilling, and the money we earn doesn’t give us that feeling, then what will bring us happiness and fulfillment? We need to find the answer to this question so we can win the game. Besides, the happier we are, the better we perform.

So the real question is: what makes us happy? A great book, All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, shows evidence that happy workers are more productive. However, the authors do not use those exact words. Instead of “happy,” they describe workers as “energized, engaged, and enabled.” They call their version of happiness “the three Es”:

  • Energized: you feel a sense of well-being and drive.
  • Engaged: you’re attached to your work and willing to put in extra effort.
  • Enabled: your work environment supports your productivity and performance. You are empowered.

If we break down what we mean by happiness, we usually find that it involves these feelings of being energized, enabled, empowered, and stimulated. We are happy when we feel seen and heard, when we feel that we are in the proper place at the proper time and feeling good.

My new book focuses on practical ways of obtaining happiness, growing our income through fulfillment, on feeling inspired to go to work, feeling valued and stimulated during the day, and feeling fulfilled in our personal lives when we return home. This is not some crazy, idealized notion. In fact, there is no other alternative for many of us. We deserve to win the game, and it is inevitable that we will continue to play it. A good number of us work most of the years of our lives, and we should feel a sense of fulfillment in our work. We are doing ourselves a disservice by perpetuating a society where the majority of people would like to quit their jobs.

This post has been adapted and excerpted with permission from the introduction to PROFIT FROM HAPPINESS by Jake Ducey from TarcherPerigee, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright 2016, Jake Ducey.

Originally posted on Linked IN by: Jake Ducey

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

9 Reasons why counter offers NEVER work

For anyone that has ever decided to move jobs, you will know that it’s a ‘pretty big deal’. One of the most stressful things that you can go through in your life, in fact it’s right up there with a house move and divorce amongst other things.

However, anyone who has ever been unhappy in work will know how much of a negative impact it has over your whole life, and I’m not just talking in the office. Being in a job you hate will make you feel stressed out, over worked and exhausted. People who are unhappy in their job almost always take it home (for the very small amount of time they spend there). You may well find yourself being short tempered, arguing with loved ones, cancelling social events, prioritizing work over family time and generally being in a constant state of what can only be described as borderline depression.

Deciding to move on is a big step and not one that anyone that I have ever spoken to takes lightly. There is a lot at stake and a lot to consider. Going through an interview process when you are already in work is almost a full time job within itself, It requires a lot of work and preparation. Which will undoubtedly take over not only your evenings but also your weekends. There are a million and one reasons why someone might want to leave their current company: a change in process, location, territory, financials even a personality clash with management. Over the years I have heard many weird, wonderful and downright gob smacking reasons as to why candidates that I have helped ‘wanted out’.


The burning question is, what has happened to make you even think about moving, there must have a poignant incident or a combination of a lot of things that have tipped you over the edge, and from my 10 years experience its very rarely just money.


Regardless how much you might hate your job, leaving what you know and trust is not easy, and the temptation to take the easy/ safe bet is pretty high.


Lots of candidates that I work with (in some instances much to their surprise) who hand their notices in are quite often counter offered.  Your employer may well offer more money, better conditions, some are ‘promised’ literally the earth! Problem solved! Stay where you are, be happy or is it…? Will you really be…?


9 reasons why you should never accept a counter offer


1. Firstly the facts speak for themselves. 90% of candidates who stay after a counter offer leave, I’d hazard a guess that the remaining 10% are not necessarily happy either, the likelihood is that they are stuck in ground hog day.


2. Why are you worth £4,000 more today than you were yesterday? – If your employer offers you more money, this is literally them admitting  that they have been underpaying you and exploiting your loyalty. Ask yourself why are you worth more today than you were yesterday? They know that they have been under cutting your wages, and that other companies are paying their employees more money to do the same job as you. Do you really want to stay and work for some one who sees you as a cheap option?


3. You are not valued by your employer – How valued are you if you have been pushed to the point of resigning before your employer will make changes to make your job bearable?! How many times have you asked them to help or intimated that you were unhappy? If your employer took that little notice in you that they didn’t even realise that you were unhappy, ask yourself is that the type of manager that you are happy being responsible and in control of your well-being and happiness?


4. Will your loyalty to the company and to your colleagues ever be truly seen in the same light again? –  Going in to the boardroom with your manager is going to rouse serious suspicion, its inevitable that people are going to find out. You wanted to leave once, you will continually be under suspicion that you are going to do it again. If you have a dentist appointment, call in sick, even if you are late in the office, you will constantly be scrutinised 10 times more than any other employees. Everyone will assume that you are interviewing elsewhere.


5. When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember who was loyal and who was not – Once you have gone to resign it will never be forgotten, if there is a role that you really want or a transfer it could be likely that your employer would offer this to another colleague of yours, even if they are not as qualified, experienced, or as good a fit as you are for it. How far can you really progress after your employer knows that you want to leave?


6. Your company may immediately start looking for a new person at a cheaper price – This of course is not a given and does not happen every time, however in my personal experience many candidates that have accepted a counter offer have called me months later after they have been let go.  In some cases, they have even been unwittingly training their replacement.


7. You have now made your employer aware that you are unhappy –  From this day on your loyalty will always be in question. This is a fact, as with anything once the seed has been planted it is near on impossible to undo.


8. What’s really changed? – In most instances nothing, more money won’t make your commute any less, working 1 day from home won’t change the fact that you’re still underpaid, letting you work less hours wont improve your relationship with your boss. Ask yourself the real reasons as to why you wanted to leave in the first place, will anything really change…?

9. They don’t respect you like you or value you anymore –  In fact even less so, some managers will offer a counter offer just because it’s just cheaper and less hassle than replacing you, is this really the kind of environment you want to be working in?


So ask yourself, are you going to  stay and fail or move on and be a success? Accepting a counter offer is tempting, it’s the easy option and the safe bet, but is it the best option for you and your career progression…?

Originally posted on Linked IN by: Sarah Socha

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

The smartest things to do when we have a problem at work

If you have millennials on your team, you know most don’t like speaking on the phone. As we interview twenty-somethings, many tell us voice calls are not only time-consuming but require them to give their full attention to a glacially slow form of synchronous conversation. Yawn. Not only that, but many believe that calls are actually rude—as if they are making a sudden demand for the other person to speak to them, now, versus allowing that person to respond when they can.

Such attitudes about voice calls have certainly trickled over into other generations. We can’t count the number of times a manager has told us of phone-phobia appearing with older employees too. One manager related a recent conversation she’d had with an employee who is a professional woman in her forties:

Boss:              “Did you get a hold of the client? He seemed pretty upset.”

Employee:     “I sent him an email. But he hasn’t responded.”

Boss:              “Did you call him?”

Employee:     “I figured I’d give him a while. It’s only been a couple of days.”

Boss (sighs): “Can you do me a huge favor? Hang up with me and call him right now. Leave him a message if he’s not there. Can you do that? Then report back.”

When did we collectively lose the knowledge that, when problems arise, we need to connect with people personally?

As part of our day jobs, the two of us are asked to deliver keynote speeches to conferences around the world on culture and employee engagement. Keeping the calendar straight can get a little tricky, and recently something fell through the cracks and Chester ended up getting double booked on the same date. We can’t remember the last time this happened, but there we were with egg on our faces.

So, what did we do? We sent an email. Rookie mistake.

But hey, it was a great email, we thought. It offered a sincere apology to one of the conference organizers explaining how we’d messed up, asked for understanding, and offered some compelling alternatives that would allow Chester to fulfill the other promise while still delivering a wow to their attendees.

The response: No thanks. We sent another email; this one was even better—Shakespeare would have been jealous. We waited, prayed. The same response. The situation became tenser; Chester was losing sleep.

Finally we realized we were making the same mistake we were hearing about from our consulting clients. So we got the number of the conference organizer and decided to not only call her, but make the assumption she was a good, reasonable person who only wanted the best for her conference. So did we.

Sure enough, once we actually talked on the phone and had a chance to walk through the options, we came up with a great solution together. We ended up accommodating their conference, throwing in extras for the inconvenience, and still being able to live up to the other obligation.

In short, we assumed the best and picked up the phone, and good things happened.

And not only did we find a solution, but we began to develop a connection. Everybody messes up now and then, it’s the response to the mistake that will make or break a relationship. We got to know each other on that call, worked together through a dilemma, and we know will have the chance to work together again.

There’s an old saying that Chester’s dad passed onto him, it goes something like: “Assume the best about people, and 99 percent of the time you will be right.”

And yet there can be a lot of reasons we might not assume good intention in others. It might be a remnant of early man in us. On the Savannah, after all, it was not smart to indiscriminately trust others—they might have spears hidden in their loincloths. But in modern business, we accomplish much more by assuming the best, that people are reasonable and good, until proven otherwise.

Just imagine your place of work if everyone assumed the best about their teammates, suppliers, bosses and customers. Heck, imagine what would happen in politics if each side would assume the other side had good intentions, even if they didn’t agree with their policies.

Of course there some bad people out there, but not as many as we might be led to believe by watching the news. The vast majority of people want to do a good job. Yes, they face challenges, pressures, internal ambitions, and they have made promises of their own. But if we give them the benefit of the doubt when things get tense, and talk things through personally—versus communicating only electronically—in most cases we can reach positive outcomes.

As always, we love to read your thoughts and stories. Are we up in the night about this—then tell us why? Or do you agree?

Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick are the New York Times bestselling authors of The Carrot Principle, All In and What Motivates Me. They are also co-founders of The Culture Works, an innovator in employee engagement and leadership training solutions.

If you’d like to learn how to align the work you do every day with what truly engages you, consider taking the online Motivators Assessment that’s included with the What Motivates Me book. 

Your test results will pinpoint which of the 23 motivators will increase your happiness at work, and the 60 strategies will help you address potential blind spots that are keeping you from achieving more.

Originally posted on Linked IN by: 

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

Hillary Clinton’s Tuition Free Plan Might Not Work, Unless…

Of course Hillary Clinton’s proposal for tuition free college seems like a great idea to me. I am an educator who believes in the promise of higher education, and I’m also the father of two young children who is desperately trying to find the spare cash to put away for their college funds.

But a quick sniff of the partisan air around Washington (not to mention state capitals) tells me that implementing Clinton’s plan to make college free for families making less than $125,000 is going to be controversial, to say the least. Conservatives will resist any raising of taxes to pay for the program. Progressives will demand that higher education be accessible to all Americans.

Is there nothing on which both can agree?

I think if Clinton really wants this plan to succeed, she needs to inspire America with her pitch.

Specifically, she must inspire more than prospective college students and their parents. I suggest she sweeten the pot and thereby strengthen her coalition of supporters with what I will call “The Civic Solution”.

Look, America’s broken. It is not just our infrastructure that’s cracking; we also face rifts that are religious, regional, and racial. Let’s demand that college graduates help us repair our bridges, while building bridges between communities. Let’s tie education grants for students attending public institutions to outcomes for the public good.

And why not? Many are calling for tying any kind of public grants to tuition freezes, and Clinton’s own plan requires that states put up a good chunk of the money. Why can’t we demand that institutions prepare students for lives of civic engagement?

We are at a moment in American history where we need to be inspired by the promise of our diversity.

Clinton must sell her #TuitionFree proposal as not just a giveaway, but an investment in the American future. The hashtag isn’t helping.

In her proposal, she names the AmeriCorps program as a way for students to get loan forgiveness. Why not bolster and expand it? AmeriCorps is a major achievement of Bill Clinton’s administration and is a great example of the kind of civic-minded organization that engages young people, local agencies, faith groups, and the private sector for the common good. Like the GI Bill—which is widely considered an economic catalyst for American growth—AmeriCorps includes education awards to pay tuition or repay qualified student debt. But the amounts of AmeriCorps education awards are tied to the amounts of Pell Grants, which fund an ever-shrinking percentage of tuition. For this program to continue to succeed, we also have to recommit resources to the Pell Grant program, which has provided college funding to lower-income students for decades.

The Interfaith Youth Core is an organization that I have worked closely with and admire. Founded by Eboo Patel, an Indian-American, Muslim, Rhodes Scholar andauthor, IFYC trains college and university students to build civic engagement through community service. They engage faculty, staff, and administration in the science and art of leadership and cooperation. Interfaith leaders who engage in service, acting out of their deepest values, discuss them and the religious, philosophical, and secular ideals that birth them. Where I teach, at California Lutheran University, the students, faculty, and staff who are involved in the movement for interfaith cooperation come from the most diverse backgrounds and share some of the tightest bonds on campus. We should find ways to encourage private support so that organizations like IFYC, which can boast positive results, can scale their efforts.

We have to deepen the impact of programs like these. We cannot simply tell students just that it’s good to engage in our communities, we need to equip them with the skills to do so! The government can partner with a coalition like Campus Compact, which connects over a thousand colleges and universities in helping students forge their citizenship skills and engage the public good.

Let’s double down to tie loan forgiveness to volunteering at public events to build civic partnerships and habits of service. Let’s create more public-private partnerships that Americans of all political backgrounds can champion.

As we saw from the diversity of speakers at the Democratic National Convention, the Clinton brand in this election is already staked on a kind of “togetherness” in the face of division. Let’s deepen that. Let’s tie it to our vision for education, and let’s tie that vision for education to a vision for the future. We are at a moment in American history where we need to be inspired by the promise of our diversity.

If you’re listening, Hillary, take it from a University educator: the next generation of Americans, who I teach, is not bound up in the silly hyper-partisanship that consumes the cable news cycle. Let’s capitalize on their desire to do well in life, and their commitment to doing good.

Let’s invest in them, and encourage them to invest in America.

Dr. Rahuldeep Singh Gill consults, speaks, and writes about training leaders for a global society. He serves as Campus Interfaith Strategist at California Lutheran University, where he is a tenured professor of global religions.

Originally posted on Linked IN by: Rahuldeep Gill, Ph.D.
Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

Use a Shark Tank Approach to Get a Job

Last week I showed some data that demonstrated that the chance of getting a job via applying directly to a job posting was about .1% – one chance in one thousand.

To improve your job hunting odds I suggested implementing a 20-20-60 job hunting strategy. This consists of spending 20% of your time applying directly to jobs for which you’re a perfect fit on skills. Another 20% needs to be spent on making sure your resume and LinkedIn profile can be found when recruiters search on common keywords. The other 60% – and the most important – needs to be spent on networking and using the backdoor to get interviewed. A lot of what needs to happen in the interview is comparable to what entrepreneurs do to get funding. The process is quite similar to the television show Shark Tank.

Too many job seekers think networking is talking to as many people in the hope that someone has an open job. This is as much a waste of time as applying directly. Here’s a better networking rule to follow:

Networking is talking with only a few people who know you personally who are willing to vouch for your performance and introduce you to people whom you don’t know.

Of course, networking like this is only one aspect of the 60%. The big idea is to turn these referred strangers into acquaintances when you first meet them. If successful, their decision to hire you or refer you on to others is based on your ability to do the job not on your depth of skills and experiences. This is where the backdoor and the Shark Tank ideas become important.

But before giving you the key, it’s important to understand the value of acquaintances and the hidden job market. In a recent article I described the state of “Q” – this is the hiring superfecta where interviewing accuracy is high, getting a person hired only takes 1-2 weeks and the job is a perfect match for the candidate’s career interests. Achieving “Q” is a common occurrence. It happens whenever a person is promoted based on their past performance and upside potential.

While it takes a little longer it also happens when someone personally known to the hiring manager is rehired. While interviewing accuracy suffers a bit it also happens when a person is hired who was highly referred by a credible person personally known to the hiring manager. However, as these acquaintances get further and further removed interviewing accuracy suffers, time to fill and cost increase and candidate satisfaction declines.

Why interviewing accuracy declines along with achieving “Q”

The reason is obvious:  With strangers the assessment is made less on the candidate’s past performance and ability to do the work and more on the candidate’s depth of skills and experiences, generic competencies and the quality of the person’s interviewing skills.

Getting to “Q” for Job Seekers

This is why being referred is so important: It offers candidates the opportunity to be judged on what really matters – their ability to do the work based on their past performance. Even more important – the jobs being offered to these people are often modified to better match their current skill set, their motivating interests and their career needs.

It’s important to note that hiring managers generally try to hire a known acquaintance or someone highly referred before posting the job in the public market. Collectively these pre-public job openings create the hidden job market. Since they’re not visible, job seekers need to use the backdoor to have a chance to be auditioned for these jobs inShark Tank-like fashion. During the audition job seekers need to ensure they’re being assessed on their past performance and ability to do the work, not some endless laundry list of traits and skills and how well they answer interview questions. The video above describes this process in detail.

Of course, getting the interview is the essential first step. One way, other than being referred, is to conduct some type of free mini-project as bait to get an audition. For example, a recent MBA graduate was having difficulty getting an interview with marketing leaders for the major European telecomm companies. I suggested he prepare a competitive analysis of a major product line and make a short video offering to meet to discuss the analysis in detail. He called me three weeks later telling me he had two meetings arranged with director-level product marketing leaders. Here’s another example. An operations manager with a heavy retail background demonstrated to the CEO of a fast-growing UK-based startup that he could not only handle the expansion but also all of the HR needs. Instead of applying to the job posting he found out the name of the CEO and emailed him a Harry Potter-like message describing some previous magic he performed turning around a business with similar growth challenges. Not only was he hired but he was promoted within six months.

Of course, some people will be concerned about giving away free consulting using this type of backdoor approach. But if an hour of free consulting can be converted into a full-time paid project it’s worth swimming in the Shark Tank.


Lou Adler (@LouA) is the CEO of The Adler Group, a consulting and training firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring. He’s also a regular columnist for Inc. Magazine, SHRM and BusinessInsider. His new Performance-based Hiring micro-course is now available on His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013), provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people.

Originally posted on Linked IN by: Lou Adler

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

Seven Traits of an Intrapreneurial Educator

I recently had the honour of delivering a keynote to over two thousand school principals and educators at EduTECH – Australia’s premier conference for innovation in education. Whilst I have worked with numerous global corporate brands on fostering ‘intrapreneurship’ within their organisations, this was my first major attempt at sharing this with some of the most influential minds in our society – those educators who are future-proofing our kids in an era of rapid change.

My approach to innovation is twofold – foster the traits of an intrapreneur and recognise the blockages that may be holding your school back. Through my work I have identified there are “Seven Deadly Sins” that inhibit innovation. The key to addressing these ‘sins’ is to instead foster the traits of an intrapreneur (an innovator within an organisation). Below are the seven traits I spoke of at EduTECH to help educators build a culture of intrapreneurship within their schools.

  1. Deadly Sin: PRIDE | Counter Trait: VISIONARY
    The first of the Seven Deadly Sins of Innovation to stamp out is pride. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking your school has arrived and become complacent. Don’t underestimate how fast we will all need to adapt to change over the coming decade. As Will Rogers’ said, “Just because you are on the right track doesn’t mean you can’t get run over.”The counter to pride is the first intrapreneurial trait to embrace – be VISIONARY. Essentially, this is to look into the future and re-imagine what education will look like for your school. Create a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and make every decision, every hire, every reward and every change align with this vision.
  2. Deadly Sin: GLUTTONY | Counter Trait: LEAN
    The second sin of innovation is clinging to the mass that can hold us back – the red tape, layers of hierarchy, rules and regulations, systems and processes. The big one for both business and schools is having too many products – in a school’s case it’s the plethora of subjects, sports and co-curricular programs on offer. There comes a point where there can be too many to be effective. Education will not evolve if there is too much inertia to change.Instead, school principals need to treat their school more like a LEAN start-up, asking how they can maximise impact with minimal resources. Intrapreneurs who ‘think lean’ are flexible to change by thinking big but remaining as small as possible. A speed boat can turn and pivot much faster than a super tanker.
  3. Deadly Sin: GREED | Counter Trait: RESOURCEFULNESS
    Next, schools need to remove greed from their mindset. A fixation with the need for extra funding for new initiatives or even to maintain current activities isn’t a helpful approach. Although adequate funding of our schools is clearly a necessary investment, we equally have to cease calling out the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ where funding is viewed as the ‘be all and end all’ of school success.Instead, the most successful schools are not the most highly funded, but the most RESOURCEFUL – one of the most important traits of an intrapreneur. It sounds counter-intuitive but often the less you have, the more innovative you can be. There are few individuals more resourceful in our society than that inspirational school teacher, who fosters incredible student outcomes by throwing out boring textbooks and creating innovative ways to keep our kids inspired in ways that may not cost money.
  4. Deadly Sin: LUST | Counter Trait: COMMERCIALITY
    The fourth deadly sin is the lust for technology, bred by the misconception that all innovation must be technological in nature. Innovation is as much about methodology, pedagogy and a plethora of other initiatives which will leap-frog any change that comes about from merely reading an electronic version of the same old textbook.The biggest changes will start to come when we embrace COMMERCIALITY. The very skills that our kids need to succeed in life, are the very skills the intrapreneurs in our education system need to run a school. Whether revenue comes from government funding or school fees, the reality is: a school is a business and commerciality is key to thriving. To counter lust, it’s key to assess every spend in the school against that Big Hairy Audacious Goal and how effective it will be in achieving it, instead of getting carried away by the latest fad – technological or otherwise.
  5. Deadly Sin: ENVY | Counter Trait: COLLABORATION
    The theory of happiness economics finds that social comparison leads to reduced satisfaction with one’s own position. It’s easy to jealously eye other less constrained organisations and become discouraged about your own school’s ability to make innovation happen. But focusing on what you don’t have can lead to missing the opportunities found right where you are.The obvious trait to overcome enviously resenting others’ success is to COLLABORATE with them. Think about partnering with another school that has been implementing an innovative approach. Siloed thinking stifles innovation, but building relationships with other schools, industry and your local community will turbocharge your growth.
  6. Deadly Sin: SLOTH | Counter Trait: PASSION
    Inertia creeps into to any large organisation that has been established for a long time. A sense of urgency is lost and there seems to be no compelling reason to introduce change. It is slothful habits like clock watching, groupthink, doing the bare minimum and resistance to change which leaves any organisation, including schools, at risk of being left behind.Though I acknowledge that our crowded curriculum and the multitude of systemic requirements placed upon teachers can be a challenge, the intrapreneurial trait of PASSION can help keep a school thriving. Passion gives energy to any pursuit and drives motivation and growth. Whilst a vast generalisation, often times the most passionate teachers are new educators. With their rose-coloured glasses still firmly worn and the latest science of teaching fresh in their brains, it is crucial to harness this passion to prevent sloth creeping in. Fresh eyes are often the best for identifying new and innovative solutions that haven’t been tried before. Give these young (or young at heart) intrapreneurs the support, recognition and latitude they need to try new initiatives.
  7. Deadly Sin: WRATH | Counter Trait: RESILIENCE
    The last of the Seven Deadly Sins of Innovation is WRATH, or anger, over failure. For every ten new initiatives you might experiment with it’s likely only one will succeed. It’s important to stamp out the tendency to crucify failed efforts and instead to embrace the opportunity for learning that these setbacks represent so you can try again with more knowledge.The intrapreneurial trait to foster here is RESILIENCE. This is the ability to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start again when your initiative doesn’t work as planned. If Edison had given up with the first of hundreds of failed experiments in his quest to invent the electric light bulb we may still be in the dark. There’s a lot of talk about fostering this in our kids at the moment, but this can’t happen without positive role modelling from their teachers and school leaders.

It is one of the most exciting times to be in education – a once in a century opportunity to embrace incredible change and innovation. The seven traits of an intrapreneur will equip our principals and teachers with the skills they need to forge this change.

Originally posted on Linked IN by: Creel Price

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

My Ideal Workplace Has Nicolas Cage, Spinach Free Teeth, and More.

I’m still really early in my career, but I’ve had the privilege of working in many roles across many industries. With the variety of experiences I’ve had, I’ve come to realize that my ideal workplace can look pretty different wherever I go. But since I’m a data driven guy, and when it comes to metrics, I have five for determining if I truly enjoy working at a certain company. They are:

  • Do I have any fun stories, or inside jokes from work?
  • Could I call a co-worker if I were hospitalized?
  • Am I reluctant to leave work, but looking forward to coming in the next day?
  • Do I have spinach in my teeth?
  • What have I learned today?

At my ideal company, I will be able to answer all five questions thoroughly and easily.

Do I have any fun stories, or inside jokes from work?

I truly believe that a positive story is a powerful metric to measure our happiness and when there’s a plethora of them to share with others, chances are the place is really fun to work at. After all, your job should be engaging and fun to a certain extent, especially if you’re going to be doing it for a while.

Nicolas Cage memes never get old.

At one of the places I’ve worked, one of my co-workers pranked the entire office by plastering Nicolas Cage head cut outs all over the office– in legal pads, on computer screens and even on the ceiling. I know that at one of the places I’ve worked at, a lot of people would have been irked by an office “prank” like this, which is why I eventually left. In both places, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most driven and enlightened minds in their respective industries, but one work place knew not to take itself too seriously, and to have some whimsical fun that made even a regular day I particularly fun and memorable one!

Or this one.

Could I call a co-worker if I were hospitalized?

Okay, so I do have close friends that I could call if I were to be hospitalized and yes, I know this question is somewhat morbid. But it’s a great way for me to gauge if I trust the people I work with as if they were my family. Trust, because I would have to put my faith in them actually picking up the phone and helping me, and seeing me in a pretty vulnerable state.

When I was working as an RA, there was a time when I was going through an extremely tough episode of PTSD– it was one of my co-workers who came to support me despite her heavy workload that evening. If I didn’t have her at my side through that episode, I’m not sure how the rest of that night would have ended up. But because I had people like her that I worked with, I fell even more in love with my team, and my work.

Am I reluctant to leave work, but looking forward to coming in the next day?

I use this question to understand how passionate I am about my work, and how meaningful I make it out to be. I really don’t want to spend my time doing something that I’m not fond of even if there’s a handsome salary/commission involved. I’d rather have someone else do that work (if they’re passionate about it hopefully), and take a job with lower pay, but I truly enjoy doing.

This is how I imagine Dave from HR might react to me.

At one of my previous jobs, I would actually work during a lecture (I find some of my lectures unbearably boring from time to time), or on the BART while commuting past the hours I was supposed to. I’m pretty sure I was breaking some worker compliance stuff with HR. But I couldn’t help myself– everything I was doing at the time was so fascinating and I was learning so many cool things. And the thing is, I could have well used that time to do something else like nap or read, but I didn’t. Of course, there’s a need for moderation (and compliance), and that’s a topic for another day, but to me, my willingness to overwork is both an ironic and healthy sign of engagement. I mean, at the end of the day, we all want to be working on things we’re passionate about, right?

Do I have spinach in my teeth?

Ah yes, everyone sees it, but no one wants to say anything because they don’t want you to feel bad. But at the same time, you’re upset because you’ve been talking this entire time with spinach in your teeth, and no one has told you. I really like this question because it reveals not only how comfortable people are with me, but also how open communication is at a workplace. A lot of people don’t like confronting others, but when a situation arises, it will be the degree of communication that will determine whether a conflict or stronger co-worker relationship will arise. A good co-worker will realize that by pointing out there’s spinach in my teeth, they’re putting both of us in a vulnerable position, but at the same time realize that it will help both of us– I will no longer have spinach in my teeth and go around and embarrass myself, and we will have a stronger, more honest working relationship.

I recall working at a company where the CEO actually had spinach in his teeth, and when I ran into him in the halls, I let him know. His face went bright red as he attempted to pull it out. I wasn’t fired. Rather, I was thanked! He told me how that must have been there for at least four hours since he had spanikopita for lunch, and among the countless people he met with that day, no one told him about the spinach. Maybe they didn’t say anything out of fear, but hey, I took the risk and communicated, and it helped him out for the rest of the day. I think another positive consequence was that he remembered who I was, and as a result, we had some really wonderful conversations.

What have I learned today?

I have a ritual where once I’m on the BART commuting back home, I like to think of at least three new things I’ve learned at work. It could either be a technical skillset, something about my company or industry, something about me, or the tragic backstory of one of my co-workers (don’t we all have one?). If I struggle to find at least three things that I’ve learned that day, I am in the wrong place. I’m the strictest on this metric because constantly learning, and growing help me improve myself, and that’s important to me. Plus, it keeps me from being bored (just kidding, or not)!

Here’s three things I learned today: one of my co-workers has a passion for volleyball and wants to tour Europe on their volleyball circuit, succulent dish gardens are on average $40, and I need to be better about communicating to my manager over our project management system.


An ideal workplace can quickly become non-ideal, and a non-ideal workplace can become ideal. I do what I can to make a place better, but if it’s not possible, it’s okay to move. But again, as long as my workplace has a few funny stories, co-workers I can really on if I’m to be hospitalized, HR that’s upset by the fact I want to work more, people who will confront the spinach in my teeth, and learning opportunities, it is ideal for me. What’s your ideal workplace like? I’d love to hear your stories!

Kunal has volunteered at an elephant and rhino orphanage in Kenya, was a nationally ranked video game player, and has taught a university accredited class on Mean Girls. Currently, he is the founder of a research based non-profit, and a student at UC Berkeley double majoring in rhetoric and psychology. He enjoys writing about the intersection of people, business, and psychology. You can follow him on Twitter or send him any wonderful insights you may have to

#StudentVoices #WhereIWork

Originally posted on Linked IN by: Kunal Kerai

Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-0503

My Thoughts on Mike Pence and Education

The electorate in 2016 will be the most diverse in history. A Pew research reportreleased earlier this year found that nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day will be Hispanic, Black, Asian, or another racial or ethnic minority.It’s no secret that Donald Trump is polling poorly among Latino, Asian American and African American voters. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News national poll found that 82 percent of registered Latino voters viewed the Republican presidential nominee unfavorably. The Wall Street Journal also reported that three quarters of Latinos plan to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the fall.

According to a survey of Asian American voters, only 19 percent of Asian Americans view Trump favorably. This problem is particularly acute with African American voters. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist poll, Donald Trump garnered zero percent support among African Americans in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Kevin Chavous, a former Obama 2008 advisor, ex-Washington, D.C. council member and current board member of American Federation for Children, has suggested picking Indiana Gov. Mike Pence could help in his standing with black and Latino voters, because of the governor’s support for charter schools.

“Bringing minority-supported issues into [the Trump] campaign could pose a real threat to Hillary,” Chavous stated in a press release. “Selecting Governor Pence as VP will bring a major education reform advocate to Trump’s administration. Pence is a major supporter of charter schools and has worked to expand them in Indiana.”

But a press release by the American Federation of Teachers took Pence to task for his support of education policies that sap dollars from public schools that primarily serve African American communities.

“Pence is an enemy of public education,” the statement said.

“His extreme obsession with vouchers and tax cuts for the rich [has] starved public schools in Indiana of funding, and helped to create a privatized system of winners and losers. Budgets signed by Pence shifted money away from racially and socio-economically isolated children—kids whose futures most deeply depend on a high-quality public education.”

As a member of the governing board of the Network for Public Education, a group that works to preserve and improve public schools across the nation, I personally had the opportunity to review Indiana’s education policies and data under Pence’s leadership. The results were not positive.

We examined stability in the teaching force, the use of high-stakes testing, class sizes, school integration, recognition of poverty, as well as the state’s use of charters, vouchers and other forms of privatization. On our Network for Public Education State Report Card, we gave Indiana an F for support of public education.

Pence has done virtually nothing on education to reverse course since receiving our failing grade. Thus, the idea that Pence will empower Trump to attract African American and Latino voters seems quite farfetched.

This article appeared here first in The Progressive Magazine.

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Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! or 860-387-050