The Morning Blend: Questions From the Road

It’s spring career expo season and I’ve been on the road recently speaking at various events all over the Southeast. At the conclusion of my presentation, I usually get 10-20 folks who want to ask me a question, are looking for some advice, or just want to say thanks for the info I shared.

Though the questions or comments I receive run the gamut from simple to very complex, there are 3 that seem to happen at almost every event. I thought these would be interesting to share, so here they are!

1- Do motivational speakers get depressed? – OR – When you get down emotionally how do you get yourself back up? Given the fact that most of the people that ask me this question have been unemployed for many months, I understand their frustration and the emotional tidal pool they are living inside. Of course, I get depressed – I’m human and it happens! Trying to grow a new business like mine in this wobbly economy is difficult, and I have many days where I question what in the hell I was thinking by starting business full time in 2011. It’s a daunting, humbling and unrewarding task some times. However, I try to live my life by 5 simple words. These words are in every job seeker presentation that I do and are actually framed and hang on the wall of my master bathroom…so I can see them first thing in the morning! The words are “Each Day Is A Gift”!  No matter how tough I think it is or how bad the previous day might have been, when I start my day with these five words, how bad can the rest of the day be?? Really, think about it. If this is the day God has given me – these 24 hours – to live in His word, impact lives, help others, provide for my family – how could I do anything but be thankful, humble and joyful that I have another exciting day ahead of me!

2- Should I be looking for jobs below my paygrade? – OR – I’m applying for almost anything now – will that work? The frustration is coming through again in these questions because folks are sick of looking for jobs and being rejected. Many are desperate to find any kind of income and are ready to take anything. This question has no real standard answer because situation is different for each person. However, I always tell folks to stick to their guns and to look for jobs they are qualified for and perhaps just slightly over qualified for – perhaps one level below their previous employment level. Looking too far below your “pay grade” makes employers question your resolve and desire, and makes them wonder how long you will stay in a lower level job before getting bored or frustrated. Looking one level below is sellable to a hiring manager if you use the phrase “proper entry point into the company”. This phrase means that you are willing to take a slight step back for the chance to join a great company, and then grow back into your previous level based on merit. Try this phrase – many of my recruiter and hiring manager friends say this is a very effective tactic to prove your loyalty, desire, and passion for the company you are pitching!

3- Do I really need a cover letter today? – OR – How do I send a cover letter to “real person” when all I have is the HR email address? I spend some time in my presentation talking about sending targeted emails and covers letters to hiring managers and recruiters. It never fails that I get some version of this question after my class. The point to all of this is that you MUST find a real person to whom you address your communication. Sending something to “Good Morning” or “Hiring Manager” is simply a waste of time and damages your first impression with them. If you don’t have or can’t find a person’s name, you are better off not trying to sell yourself too much in that email or cover letter. However, by using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google and other online sources, you should be able to get the name of the person you need to address. You can even use the old timey method of calling the front desk – gasp!! – and asking for the name of the person in charge of the department you are pitching. Take the time to do this – it means much more for someone to receive a missive with their name (spelled correctly!) on it.

As I collect more of these “Questions from the road” I will share them with you. If you have questions for me, don’t hesitate to ask – I’m here to help!


Brad Raney


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