The Secret Ingredient of Job Search Success

There’s an abundance of information out there about how to find an ideal job. Multitudes of Twitter tips, blog posts and articles galore tell you how to create a targeted job search, tap the hidden job market, reach out to your network, build a great resume and LinkedIn profile, and ace the interview.

Unfortunately, the KEY ingredient for a successful job search – one that brings you interviews leading to job offers – is often missing or easily overlooked. You might have noticed this yourself. For example, you may believe you’re doing everything RIGHT in your search, but you don’t seem to be getting much traction and you don’t know why.

Clues about this missing ingredient can be found in the acronym PROD – coined by one of my colleagues, Susan Whitcomb. With this acronym, successful jobseekers can prod, nudge and motivate themselves daily with:

  • Perseverance: Abraham Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” Feeling discouraged? Persevere. Feeling fatigued? Persevere. Feeling apathetic? Persevere.
  • Resilience: This is the ability to recover from disappointments, such as when you don’t get the job offer you were expecting, you learn that a past employer hasn’t given you a great reference, or you got “stage fright” at an important interview. When these events happen, see what lesson you can learn for the future, so you can shorten your bounce-back time and get back on track.
  • Optimism: Optimism is hope personified. There are solutions waiting to be discovered, and insights and learning to be leveraged. Things can get better in the next day or even the next hour or minute, as expressed by the legendary band Fleetwood Mac in their most upbeat, popular song: “Open your eyes and look at today, you’ll see things in a different way! Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, it will soon be here, better than before, yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone!”
  • Discipline: Discipline is becoming a lost art. Most people associate discipline with pain or punishment. As the biblical saying goes, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Yet, imagine how things could things be different for you if you amped up your level of self-discipline by 5-10%!

Courage is another trait that is essential to success, but that doesn’t mean you always have to feel courageous. Everyone experiences some level of trepidation when they’re going out of their comfort zone to do something big and new. The fear never goes away. But we have a choice, to either be fearful and frustrated, or fearful and free.  

Now, why aren’t these mindset practices emphasized as much as the mechanical techniques of a job search? Because they’re difficult! They don’t come easy. As human beings, we typically want easy, quick fixes to our problems. When these fixes don’t seem to work, we want to quit.  

That brings me to the secret ingredient. Want to know what it is? Look in the mirror. Surprise! It’s YOU – the visible YOU and the YOU underneath, which is the sum of your ACTIONS, fueled by your thoughts, perspectives and beliefs.

So, to bring a better YOU to your job search, add perseverance, resilience, optimism, discipline and courage to your toolbox. When you do, you’ll be that much closer to landing your dream job.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. 2014 All Rights Reserved

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    How To Bring More Luck into Your Job Search

    Do you ever wonder why some job seekers appear to be luckier than others? You know, people who always seem to have a constant flow of leads, interviews, and connections that come their way?

    The good news is that you can be one of those lucky people. You’ll find the answers in this step-by-step guide: The Luck Factor: How to Increase Luck in Your Life-The Four Essential Principles,  written by Dr. Richard Wiseman, British psychologist and magician.

     From three years of research, which included 400+ volunteers (ranging from “lucky” to “unlucky” people), Dr. Wiseman dispels myths of luck and has determined that luck is not a magical ability or something people are born with. Instead, luck is a way of thinking and believing, which people can learn and practice to create more good fortune in their lives.   

    In his book, Dr. Wiseman summarizes four essential principles which lucky people have in common:

    1) They create, notice, and act upon chance opportunities in their lives. They are more extroverted, build and maintain a strong “network of luck,” have a relaxed attitude toward life, and are open to new experiences.

    2) They make successful decisions by using their intuition and gut feelings. In turn, they listen to and trust their gut feelings and hunches, and take daily steps to boost their intuition, whether through meditation or other solitary activities.

    3) They expect good luck to continue, happily anticipate that their goals and dreams will come true, and strive to reach them, sometimes amidst slim odds. They keep going, despite failures and setbacks. They also expect their interactions with people to be lucky and successful.

    4) They can transform their bad luck into good fortune by seeing the positive side of bad luck, believing ill fortune will work out for the best in the long run, and taking steps to prevent bad luck in the future. 

    Dr. Wiseman’s engaging, down-to-earth style literally takes you by the hand, in his quest to help you become a luckier person, overall. In the introductory chapter, he asks you to take a brief Luck Profile questionnaire that you’ll refer to as you progress through the book. 

    One chapter is devoted to each of the four principles of luck (stated above), each of which has three sub-principles. As you read through these chapters, you’ll be asked to complete other simple exercises and questionnaires which Dr. Wiseman used with his research participants.

    Your cumulative scores on the exercises will help you determine where you fall on the luck scale: lucky, neutral or unlucky. You’ll also be given simple exercises to help boost your luck score in any one of the four principles.

    To get the most from this book, Dr. Wiseman suggests writing your questionnaire responses in a Luck Journal, where you’ll also track your observations about luck for 30 days. He calls this process “Luck School” and cites case studies of Luck School graduates who have significantly boosted their luck by diligently practicing the principles and doing the exercises.

    If your job search could use a little more luck, purchase The Luck Factor from, read it straight through, do the exercises, put the principles into practice…and watch for results!To learn more about Dr. Wiseman, his research and other books he’s written, visit his website

     © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, 2014 /

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      You Didn’t Get the Job – Now What?

      You applied for a job you really wanted and were thrilled to get a timely response for the initial phone screening. This lead to several promising in-person interviews with the hiring manager and people you’d be working with. All the interviews went well and you felt confident after each one.   

      At the final interview, you learned that you were one of the top candidates and you’d know by the end of the week of the hiring team’s final decision. Each day you waited and hoped to get the good news…that they’d chosen you!   

      However, you were dismayed when the answer came in the most impersonal way: a four-sentence email, telling you that another candidate had been hired. Your heart ached with disappointment, frustration and resentment.  

      What went wrong?” you ask yourself, over and over again. “I was so sure I nailed it…what could I have done differently?” You replay the interviews in your head to detect what mistakes you might have made; and you agonize over what you “should-a, could-a, would-a” done, if only you could rewind time.   

      Even though this is a natural response to rejection, you won’t move forward by continuing to spin your wheels like this. Here’s what you can do instead, to reach closure, realize your own truths and move onto other opportunities.  

      • Send a thank you note to the hiring management team: “Thank you for the opportunity to interview for this position. I enjoyed meeting all of you and wish your new hire success in this position. Please keep me in mind for other opportunities in [XYZ] company that fit my skill set. Thanks again.” This strategy shows maturity and professionalism-and keeps you on their radar in case their first-choice candidate declines the job. You could be next in line! 
      • Praise yourself for being a top candidate: You’ve obviously marketed yourself well on paper and in person, since your resume and cover letter caught the attention of the hiring management team; if you hadn’t first connected well on the phone, you wouldn’t have been invited for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd interviews. 
      • Self-evaluate your performance on paper: Instead of repeatedly playing out “what if” scenarios in your head, write them down; brainstorm about what you felt went right and what you could have done differently; note any patterns that may surface, which indicate potential areas for improvement in future interviews.  
      • Reassess if the job was truly ideal; you might see that it wasn’t, after all: This happened to one of my clients working on the admin team in a CPA firm. She interviewed for an office management job at another branch. When she didn’t get that job, she felt let down, but realized that if she had, she’d be putting in 80-hour workweeks during tax season and commuting home late at night. She soon promoted to a position in the tax department, which was a better fit for her lifesyle and career goals.   

      While rejection never feels good, it’s part of the job search experience. When you’re ready, continue your search and choose opportunities that are most ideal for youAccording to the world’s most successful salespeople, the more “no’s” you get, the closer you are to hearing, “Yes, you’re hired!”  

      © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach  2013  All Rights Reserved

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        Law of Attraction: Five Basic Principles

        In 2007, the Law of Attraction received lots of media hype with the book and DVD, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Even before The Secret, other spiritual teachers wrote about the Law of Attraction, including Esther and Jerry Hicks, authors of Ask and it is Given the late Lynn Grabhorn, author of Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting, and Law of Attraction, by Michael Losier.

        I’ve studied and practiced Law of Attraction since 2000 and I can say that it works! When you use Law of Attraction principles correctly and strategically, you’ll get whatever your heart desires.

        Here are five basic Law of Attraction principles that will help you understand what it is and how to use it, followed by one example of how I’ve made it work in my life.

        Principle #1: Understand sympathetic vibrations – like attracts like. Did you know that if two “Middle C” tuning forks are laying side-by-side and you hit one of them, the other one will vibrate by itself? Like musical notes, everything in the Universe vibrates. When something is vibrating, it will attract whatever is on the same wavelength. As human beings, we vibrate our feelings, which are fueled by what we think about. When we think about something bad, we feel bad; when we think happy thoughts, we feel good! Those “feeling” vibrations attract “same wavelength” vibrations by deliberation or default.

        Principle #2: Raise your vibrations – the importance of “feeling good.” There are only two types of feelings – good and bad. Have you ever noticed that when you wake up in a bad mood, your day seems to spiral downward? You sleep through your alarm, stub your toe, tear a button on your shirt, arrive late to work and get yelled at by your boss. The Law of Attraction responds to your negative emotions (low vibrations) by bringing you more negative situations.  But when you awake feeling good, you’ll find that more good things will happen, such as landing an account, receiving money in the mail or claiming a prime parking spot on a crowded street.

        Principle #3: Change your mood – you have the power. If you find yourself in a “funk,” you can simply switch your thoughts to something that makes you smile, like your pet, your children, your grandchildren or your favorite dessert (for me that’s anything with chocolate in it). Just thinking about these things will raise your vibrations and help you feel better. Keep the feeling going for 16 seconds — the Law of Attraction says this equals 10 hours of work!

        Principle #4: Follow this four-step process toward “deliberate creation”: 1) Identify what you don’t want; 2) Get clear about what you do want; 3) Feel what it would be like to have those things; 4) Allow the Universe to bring those things to you.

        Principle #5: Allow the Law of Attraction to work – the absence of doubt. Allow (without the slightest doubt) the Law of Attraction to bring you what you want. If you have any doubt that what you want will manifest, this will delay the Law of Attraction from bringing it to you.

        Now, here’s how the Law of Attraction worked for me. I decided I was going to get married again, before I turned 55. On 12-21-00, I wrote down 10 things that I wanted in my next relationship. (I already knew what I didn’t want).

        In July ’02, I met Howard — my “husband to be”– and we got married in July ’03. Thankfully, he has most of the qualities I asked for; he even tolerates cats, for my sake <lol>. I also beat my target goal by five years.  

        There’s a learning curve with implementing these simple, yet not always easy principles of the Law of Attraction. Remember that practice makes perfect! The more you practice, the more you will get what you want from life.

        © 2012 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved

        *This post originally appeared in the June 2012 Edition of Career E-News.

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          Got Gaps in your Work History? Don’t Despair!

          Employment at one company until retirement has become the exception in the US, rather than the rule. With the evolution of a global labor market, the 9/11 crisis, and the 2008 economic meltdown followed by “The Great Recession”, “job security” has literally disappeared. These trends have also led many companies to cut their workforce, leaving downsized workers with gaps in their employment history and/or long periods of unemployment.  

          Gaps in work history can occur for other situations besides the economy, such as family/maternity leave, caring for an ill relative or returning to school full-time. Whatever the reasons might be, the challenge for jobseekers is how to skillfully handle these gaps on resumes, social media profiles and in conversations with hiring managers, without jeopardizing their candidacy.

          Given today’s economy, hiring managers are usually more accepting of gaps than in previous years. Even so, it’s wise to show them that you haven’t been idle during a period of unemployment. You want to confidently answer the questions: “Why did you leave your last employer?” or “What were you/have you been doing between Job A and Job B?” 

          Start by filling in the gaps on your resume and on social media profiles with temporary or contract work, survival jobs or volunteer assignments. Here are some examples from my client case studies: 

          • Educational Programs:  An unemployed business analyst returned to school full time for a certificate in data warehousing. She moved the “Education” section to the first page of her resume, then listed the name of her school, the program she was enrolled in, the core curriculum and expected graduation date.
          • Caregiver: Several clients who have been primary caregivers for loved ones have listed this as an actual job on their resumes. To properly serve in this capacity, they had to resign from their full-time jobs.
          • Contract/Temp Work: A laid-off accountant registered with several contract/temp firms. Because one agency kept him busy, he listed it on his resume as his current employer and wrote key bullet points about what he accomplished for each client company.
          • Survival Jobs: A downsized marketing exec took a job in retail to bring in money while searching for another marketing position. He created an “Other Employment” section on his resume, and listed the retail position there.
          • Volunteer Work: One client handled a major campaign for a high-profile foundation as a volunteer and listed that as her current status on LinkedIn.
          • Workforce Re-entry: One woman had a nine-year gap when she took time off of work to raise a family. She inserted “Resigned to start a family” as one of the bullet points in her last job; then she listed the volunteer/leadership activities she was involved in while being a stay-at-home mom.   

          On LinkedIn, you can even set your current status to: “In Transition,” then include a few sentences to explain that you are actively engaged in job search.

          For interviews, prepare scripts to back up your gaps. Your scripts should be short, matter-of-fact and close-ended, e.g., “I was downsized because my company closed down the department I worked in.” <period> Then, redirect the interview about why you are perfect for this job.

          Gaps in work history are part of life. When you have a strategy in place for handling them, you’ll overcome a major hurdle in confidently marketing yourself for the job you want.

          * This post originally appeared in the May 2012 Edition of Career E-News.

           © 2012 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved

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            Conquer Negative Self-Talk Which Sabotages Job Search and Career Success

            Job search is a healthy balance of “activity” and “attitude.” Activities are creating résumés and cover letters, applying for jobs, networking, and interviewing. The “attitude” part is how well you handle poor responses to résumés you send out, why another candidate was chosen over you, or why you don’t hear back from hiring managers when they said they would call.

            If you have a positive attitude, you can quickly rebound from these setbacks. But negative attitudes and beliefs will project onto others and keep you from moving forward. You might be thinking “I’m too old – who will hire me?” even though your interviewer doesn’t have any issues about your age. This negative and stressful mindset will actually prevent you from convincing the interviewer why you’re perfect for the job. 

            Some say that reciting “affirmations,” present tense statements which you would like to be true in the future, will help you feel better. Ex: “I’m earning $200K annually.” Yet, if you know this statement is false, your mind will argue with “what is” causing you to suffer over stressful/negative thoughts and feelings. 

            Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, says “Suffering is optional.” She offers a method of inquiry called “The Work” – four questions and a turnaround – to challenge stressful thoughts and feelings and diminish their power over you.

            Here are the basics:

             First, isolate a stressful/negative thought: Ex. “There are no jobs out there.” Then, challenge this thought by asking yourself four questions:      

            Question #1: “Is that true?” Answer “Yes” or “No.”

            Question #2: “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” If you look closely you might see that it is not true or as true as you first thought it was. Answer “Yes” or “No”.

            Question #3: “How do you react when you believe that thought?” See Emotions & Reactions List to Question #3.

            Question #4: “Who would you be without that thought?” Allow yourself to imagine what your life would be like without that thought. See Emotions & Reactions List to Question #4 (same document as above; scroll to the second page)   

             From having questioned the thought, you probably feel better and are seeing other possibilities. Now you’re ready for the turnaround where you’ll restate your original thought to be its linguistic opposite:    

            Negative thought: “There are no jobs out there.”

            Turnaround: “There are jobs out there.”

            Ask yourself if the turnaround is as true, or even truer, than the original thought. You might say “maybe jobs aren’t as plentiful as they once were, but there are jobs.”

            Next, write three examples of how this turnaround is true. You may recall people you know who landed or have read about recent hires in your newspaper’s business section.

            Last, write down actions you’ll take, consistent with this turnaround. These might be making networking calls or attending another job fair. 

            To begin tackling your negative thoughts and beliefs with the four questions and a turnaround, download a “One Belief at a Time Worksheet” here: 

             Learn more about these concepts at Byron Katie’s website or purchase her book from 

            © 2011 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved


            About the Author:

            Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin is a career coach in private practice, who works with executives, managers, and professionals who are ready to make a change in their employment situation, but don’t know what that change looks like or what their next steps should be. She uses a proven, 8-module career coaching program to help her clients identify and land ideal career positions much faster than they ever could on their own. Joellyn will be happy to discuss your situation on a free call. Contact her at 508-459-2854, or visit to learn more. 


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