An honest guide to the job search.

When you are unemployed and looking for work, it seems like employers and recruiters are holding all the cards. You’re sitting at a blackjack table in a loud casino, the dealer is smirking, and you’ve had one too many and are having a hard time counting. I get it. I’ve been there….more times than I care to admit. But, here you have an advocate. I’ve been in this creative industry talent business thing for over 25 years. I’ve done it all….staffing recruiter, internal recruiter, digital agency talent acquisition, staffing business owner, staffing industry executive, job seeker, you name it.

You’re not alone and I can help.  

With each passing today, it’s starting to look like a challenging job market for many is either here, or it’s on its way.

If you’re looking, here are some things to keep in mind to help set you up for success:

-LinkedIn is your friend. I barely even look at resumes anymore. Take stock of your online presence and what it says, and doesn’t say, about you. There is plenty of content out there about good LinkedIn profile practices. Take advantage of this platform to present yourself positively and to build your network.

-Package yourself in a clear and consistent manner. Brand yourself. Know who you are, who you are not, and who you may want to be. Understand your strengths and your weaknesses. Be honest and realistic.

-Make sure trusted connections are aware of your search. Don’t expect anything from them but you want to be top of mind if they become aware of any opportunities.  

-If they can’t find you, they can’t hire you. Do not name your resume file “resume”. Use your last name as a file name. Add your phone number to your e-mail signature. List your portfolio address in your LinkedIn summary. Make it easy to find you and your work.

-Send thank e-mails after every interview and every substantial networking meeting. It’s a lost art. It shouldn’t be. Graciousness never goes out of style. It also shows interest and intent and can help keep the conversation going.

-Do your homework before every interview and every meeting. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company and role, why should the company care enough to find out about you?

-Hiring is a two-way street. It’s not the hiring company’s job to figure out why they should hire you. It’s your job to present your case in the best way possible. And be prepared to interview the company. You may be showing up to work there every day. There must be something you want to know about it.

-Don’t be too timid and don’t be too obnoxious when pursuing opportunities. It’s a balance. Be confident, not desperate. And use the “3-strikes and you’re out” rule. If you send a resume or inquiry to a company and get no response (or waiting on feedback from an interview) wait 5 business days for a follow up. Assuming no response again, spread it out to another 7 days and finally a third attempt after another 10 days. No response still? Move on.

-Market yourself. Look for opportunities and look for jobs. Jobs exist. Opportunities are created. Put yourself into conversations by being the starter. Reach out to people. Ask for meetings.

-Constantly evolve. Don’t lose your edge. Stay relevant.

-Finding a job is a job. Work at it every day. And if you do, give yourself a break. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You got this.

The extrovert Olympics – Pot of Coffee 9-30-22

The extrovert Olympics (this gem courtesy of Jess Forgue)

Thanks to everyone that came out for Pot of Coffee 2 last Friday. It was a little chilly with the fog, but it’s fun to be outside in the early Fall. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn shorts.

Being in public with people rolled nicely into our first discussion around remote/hybrid/office dynamics, preferences and what is and is not working.

There is no “one size fits” all and hybrid seems to be the best of both worlds. Companies are still figuring out what works best and there is a disparity in approach when establishing policies. Some companies are grudgingly going to hybrid. Truth be told, I would guess that company execs/owners want everyone back full-time but they know it’s not going to happen. People work in different styles and with different levels of productivity in the office and remote. Work needs to be designed to take into account this.

Determining how to navigate best communication practices seems to be scattered. Tools to communicate are either hoisted upon us as they company “way” or companies are taking time to evaluate what works, what doesn’t and including, hold your horses, employee feedback to make those decisions. Yay for those companies!

Is remote work better for your work?

An industrial designer was strong in his opinion that yes, his work is better from working remote. I always wonder about the inspiration one gets from being “out and about” and challenged this notion. He does find outside influences, such as taking a walk or running an errand contribute to creative inspiration but it’s still taken back home and executed. People actually find they end up working more hours, not less, when remote. There is no “I have to leave the office to get home by 6” dynamic anymore so often people just keep on working.

People don’t remember how to interact

Coming back to the office isn’t necessarily resulting in better work or productivity either. Manners and civility seem to be more challenging than they were in the past. And Portland’s passive aggressive tendencies are sometimes apparent such as when co-workers remark, “you didn’t even say “hi”” before responding to a question. No one makes eye contact anymore. We’ve all been Zoom-ified.

The extrovert Olympics

Who has the biggest personality when in the office? Who can be the most active, most engaging? Who wants to prove that they are the best at being back in the office? Apparently, a lot of you do but the rest of us just want you to simmer down.

How does one stay relevant while remote and otherwise disconnected from direct co-worker contact?

People are using social media more. People are reading more. You may follow more leaders in your industry. You are more award of who’s saying what.

People have become so formal in setting up times to meet or talk. You can’t just grab someone in the office anymore, you have to not only ask for a meeting you have to be super specific about time/place to hope to get a commitment. Slack has replaced the tap on the shoulder.

It’s still who you know.

Internal recruiters can still act more like gate keepers than an avenue into a company. It’s often still “who you know” who gets you an interview or a meeting. It’s not unusual for recruiters to interview you as a box to check-off, without real interest.

While hiring is still brisk in many sectors, tell-tale signs of a slowdown are there too. Hiring freezes are back as a strategy, whether based on real data or an assumption on the direction of the economy.

Blue Suede Shoes

They were actually gray, but they were well received. See you next month.

Pot of Coffee – 9/30/22

The next Pot of Coffee coffee event for the creative industry is on 9/30/22 at Good Coffee in NW Raleigh, Portland. Weather permitting we will be outside the coffee shop.

Come with any questions/discussions around jobs, hiring, employment, recruiting, talent management, job searches, etc. I’ll do my best to keep lively conversation going. Look forward to seeing you there.

Creative industry coffee chat held while drinking coffee

Last Friday (8/26) I hosted my first Creative Coffee Chat for Creatives who want to drink coffee. So that’s not really what it’s called, because I haven’t branded it yet, but it is what it is. Here is a sampling of questions that were covered, and since I do not record these sessions, the answers are as close to what I actually said as possible. Minus a few “ums” which I am working on.

What trends are you seeking in the employment market?

It’s an interesting market right now. What is occurring now in employment and hiring is not something we have ever seen before. People are now conditioned to work remote and changing that will be very difficult. Talent has a lot of pull in the types of jobs they will consider. Most people looking for work prefer remote or at the least, a limited hybrid schedule. Many employers are asking people to return to the office, either now or in the near future…. generally, again, a hybrid situation. While the percentage of businesses that allow 100% remote has increased significantly since before the pandemic, I believe over time there will be a continued shift by employers to have people back in offices. In the long term, employers still hold more cards than talent. But talent won’t give these cards up easily.

What can I do, as a recent graduate, to stand out in the job market?

Network, do your research, engage and connect. Network – be someone who is involved in the community in which you belong. I once met a recent grad at a networking event…she was there by herself and clearly felt out of place…but she was there. We started talking, I was impressed by her willingness to get into the community and I ended up finding her an associate level account services role. She is now a digital marketing manager for a major consumer brand. She wanted it and made it happen.

I’m hiring and I have a hard time finding qualified talent.

I’m not surprised. Again, if you read the news we are all led to believe that talent calls the shots. And some do and always will but by and large, if you are having a hard time attracting talent, the problem is not that there isn’t great talent out there, they just aren’t interested in your company. You have to ask yourself why, and what can you do to change that?

Attracting talent really starts with everything you do. It’s not just one thing, like hiring a good recruiter or recruitment agency. It’s the whole ecosystem of your business that sets you up to succeed or fail as a hiring organization. Companies tend to roll out the red carpet for the best talent and ignore the rest. That’s is a real transactional approach and not how you build an employer brand.

What do you tell someone new to recruiting?

Someone once said that “recruiting is having a bunch of coffee meetings with people you don’t want to have coffee meetings with”.

Recruiting has many flavors so it’s hard to cover them all, but at the core, it’s about them, not you. Them being the person engaging with you to hire, and the people you are trying to hire or place. And since it’s not about you, it’s also something you can do only so much to control. Set guardrails, be a good person, do the right thing always and have others best interests in mind.

Creative Coffee Chat – 8/26/22

I’m holding court @ Good Coffee on NW Raleigh starting at 10AM Friday, 8/26. Come talk about creative industry, jobs, finding talent, recruiting, horses, whatever. RSVP @potestio on Twitter. PS….I’m afraid of horses.

A Change is a comin’….

As I transition this site from a blog back to a more business type of thing, something will happen. Not sure what yet but something will happen.

Just a backyard BBQ

The best little creative staffing agency in Portland has grown. We opened in Austin, Texas in 2013, Los Angeles, California in 2015, Boise, Idaho in 2018, and San Francisco, California in 2019.

We’re coming for your town next.

What I Learned From Selling Trucks

I don’t sell trucks. I have to imagine, though, that if you had a business with multiple trucks or a fleet of trucks, that sales people would come to you. You don’t walk into a dealership to buy a fleet of trucks. But if you want just one truck, salespeople might ignore your business. One truck? Go to a dealership.

Many years ago a business owner did just that….

Continue reading on LinkedIn.



Back to School

I’m back in school. I was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program dedicated to growing small business and creating jobs.

I wouldn’t be what you’d call a “learner”. I know, I know how that sounds, but let’s face it, the last book I read was about golf. And it’s the only book I’ve read in the last few years. I leave it at my bedside to remind my wife that yes, I did read a book.

And now I’m off to school.

Week One.

Nothing like waking up at 4AM to see snow again for your commute to the airport. Luckily at 4AM all you care about is how you’re going to catch up on your sleep.

Arrived late afternoon in Boston and found the bus that would take me to my college home for the week. On the ride we went past Fenway Park and even this Yankee fan thought it was cool. Good thing we were past it in seconds so that momentary weakness was short lived.

We were housed at the conference center hotel on the campus of Babson College. We passed the Wellesley Country Club and I was disappointed to see that they don’t golf in the Winter in Boston. Lame.

Day One at School. Like most days when I am the first person at the office I was one of the first people to breakfast. The conference center hotel has a dining room with a buffet. It would proved dangerous. Walking in there was one table of two gentlemen and while I would normally head to the far opposite end of the room to chug coffee before I spoke to anyone, I decided I would start the week on a friendly note and I sat down at their table. Minor greeting ensued….was it because I was wearing my gym clothes and they were pressed and folded? Not sure but I did seem weird that they spoke what sounded like German to each other and barely looked at me. More pressed and folded types arrived and it dawned on me that maybe these were not my classmates. They weren’t. I was sitting with a group of professors in life science there for a conference. I thought about asking them about cloning and decided I’d just quietly drink my coffee instead.

Most of the day spent in class was focusing on developing financial statements: Balance Sheets, Cash Flow Statements and Income Statements. While I knew how to read them, we learned how to construct them. One thing about buffets…..they usually have ice cream at lunch and dinner. Good ice cream.

Found the pub on the main floor, hung out with some dudes from Puerto Rico, drank some beer and whiskey and called it a night.

Day Two at School: First Scholar (yes that’s what they call us) at breakfast. Sat with the right people this time. No ice cream at breakfast.

The morning session was all about developing an Opportunity Statement. This is a core part of our curriculum….identifying and developing a plan for the business that captures a new product or service. Pretty stoked that I will be working on our new golf course staffing division. Lunch = ice cream. After lunch = trying to stay awake as we delved deeper into financial statements as we tracked the story of RCP Company….a sustainable product company that has a new opportunity to put their products in Wal-Mart and it doesn’t work out so well. It’s our job to help solve their financial challenges and keep them in business.

Dinner = ice cream. After dinner there was a reception for all the students and faculty. I wore a blazer. Then we went to the pub.

Day Three at School: First one to breakfast. I should probably mention that most students showed for breakfast showered, dressed and ready for school. I did not.

Morning was focused on our plans for saving RCP Company. I think we saved ’em. Lunch = ice cream. The afternoon was spent on Marketing. This was the first day since Monday that I went outside….for about 5 minutes.

Dinner = ice cream. After dinner there was a panel on financing and funding. Then the pub. But some students had planned an escape earlier so we grabbed some Ubers and headed to Boston to party at the oldest tavern in the U.S….the Bell and Hand. Stayed out way too late but had a good time with my classmates including one who had a story about running a truck full of machine guns through Oregon and punching out a gas station attendant. You think you’re cool until you come across someone who’s run machine guns.

Day Four: Not first to breakfast.

Most of the day was spent on leadership styles and interactions. I drew a picture of a kitty kat.

Back on the bus headed to the airport. It had been snowing all day. My flight was delayed. My connecting flight in Minneapolis would be missed. I booked a new flight out of Minnesota for Saturday morning. Though in walking through the airport I noticed another flight to Minneapolis that was still sitting at the gate…..3 hours past its scheduled departure. I was able to get on this flight, and even though we spent over an hour on the tarmac waiting to get de-iced, I was able to make it to Minneapolis and on my original flight back to Portland. No sleeping in the airport.

It was a great week. Met some great people. Took a deep dive into M+P. Learned I am a much better student at this age than I was at college. Also learned I’m really sick of snow.