Higher Ground Associates


Jumpstart Your Job Search™ Newsletter


Vol. 1, No. 4


August 2, 2010



It's hard to believe it's August already.  It seems like I was celebrating Memorial Day just a few weeks ago. 

 While it may be tempting to slack off from your job search and kick back during these last few weeks of summer, this is actually the best time to ramp up your efforts.  Read our bonus article, "Three Reasons Why Summer is a Great Time to Look for a Job", to find out why.


In This Issue

Three Things eHarmony Can Teach You About Your Job Search (Part III)

Job Search Q&A

Featured Resource

Jumpstart Your Job Search™ Webcast Series


Three Things eHarmony Can Teach You About Your Job Search (Part III)

by Catherine Palma


Looking for a life mate is a great metaphor for job hunting.  And just like the world of dating has been changed forever by the use of technology, so has the process of looking for a job.   This final installment of our three part series reminds us to limit our reliance on technology and pay attention to the human interactions inherent in a successful job search. 

Click to read 

Part I: Just because a computer says you are (or aren't) a match doesn't mean you really are (or aren't)  

Part II: Looking good on paper isn't enough  


Never Underestimate the Importance of Chemistry 

Bachelor Bob is browsing an online dating site and comes across Susie's profile.  He's intrigued - she is his ideal physical type, they have many interests and goals in common, she's in the right age range . . . in short, she seems perfect.  Bob and Susie exchange an email or two, and then have a few delightful phone conversations.  Susie is just as great on the phone as she looked on the dating site. 

Bob and Susie meet for the first time.  Susie is as lovely as her picture.  The conversation is interesting and flows easily.  Everything should be fine, but Bob just isn't sensing a spark.  Still, Susie seems like everything he wants so he decides to give it another chance.  Bob and Susie go on a second date, but again there are no fireworks.  Bob and Susie part ways. 

A few weeks later some friend set Bob up on a blind date.  Based on his conversations with his friends, he suspects Jenny is not going to be a match.  She doesn't fit any of his criteria.  But as a courtesy to his friends he agrees to meet her.  Bob reluctantly meets Jenny over a cup of coffee and, BANG, they are instantly smitten with each other and become inseparable.  Susie may have been perfect on paper, but Bob and Jenny had that nebulous thing we call "chemistry". 

How Chemistry Impacts Your Job Search 

You'll rarely hear the word "chemistry" used to describe the interaction between a candidate and hiring company.  Instead, you may hear terms like "cultural fit" or "compatible work style".  But just like you shouldn't ignore the importance of chemistry in a romantic relationship, you also can't afford to ignore the significance of "cultural fit" during your job search.  

Your relationships with your boss, direct reports and colleagues are as crucial to your success as your skill set.  In my experience as a recruiter, I have found that "cultural fit" often becomes a more important factor in the hiring decision than a candidate's experience.  

I was once conducting reference checks on a candidate for a management position.  I had the opportunity to talk to a few people who had reported to the candidate over the years and they gave some of the most glowing references I have ever heard.  The next time I spoke with the candidate, I asked her about her secret to building such a strong, cohesive team.  She told me that she only hired people who could pass the "Milwaukee Test".  

When I asked her to explain she said, "Of course I look for technical competence in my team, but once someone's competence has been established, I ask myself, 'If I were stranded on a business trip in the
Milwaukee airport with this person, would I have a good time with him/her?'  I never hire anyone unless the answer is yes."  Now that's someone who truly grasps the importance of chemistry. 


Assessing Compatibility

Just as the hiring company is evaluating you for "cultural fit", you should be equally diligent in assessing whether the company is a good fit for your interpersonal and work styles.  In order to do this, you should go through the following steps: 
Evaluate your work style 

Jot down your work-related personality traits and how you best relate to bosses, employees and co-workers.   Here are a few examples to get your thought process going: 

  • Do you prefer to work individually or as part of a team? 
  • Do you like autonomy, or do you require a lot of input from your boss? 
  • Do you like making decisions on your own, or do you prefer building consensus with others? 
  • Are you methodical and detail oriented, or are you a visionary who leaves the details to someone else? 
  • Are you "all business", or do you like to interact with your colleagues on a social level as well?

If you find this process difficult, enlist the help of current or former co-workers.  Ask them to share their observations about how they have seen you interacting with others in the workplace.  You can also look over previous performance reviews for areas of interpersonal strength or weakness.  Or you might consider taking one or more personality inventories, like the Myers-Briggs, to gain insight into your unique personality traits and how they impact your interpersonal relationships.

Note what is important to you 

Based on your evaluation of your work style, make a prioritized list of the traits of your ideal work environment.   Remember, knowing what you want is the first step toward getting it. 

Ask questions that will shed light on the company and/or team's work style

Don't be fooled by slick mission statements or flowery website content touting how great it is to work for a particular company.  While these things are often indicative of the personality of an organization, there are occasions where what happens on a day to day basis is not in line with the company's mission.  Asking the right questions and listening carefully to the answers can shed a great deal of light on the dynamics of a company or a team.  For example:  

  • Ask the internal recruiter, HR person or hiring manager about how the department or position is perceived in the company. 
  • Ask the hiring manager about his/her management style or about the personality traits that the most productive team members share. 
  • Request to meet some of the people you will be working with and/or managing, and then ask them about their experiences working with the company, the hiring manager or the team. 
  • If you're being interviewed by a group of people, watch their interactions closely and observe how they relate to each other.

Finally, trust your gut

Getting the "right" answers to your questions doesn't guarantee that the job will be a good match for your style.  Just like individuals sometimes lack awareness of their personalities and how they are perceived, organizations can be equally blind to their foibles.  The employees may talk a good game, but the reality could be very different.  

Chances are if something doesn't feel right to you, then it isn't going to be a good fit in the long run.   When in doubt, put the hiring manager and team members through your own "Milwaukee Test".  You might be surprised at the answer. 


  • Do you know what you really want in your next job and how to get it
  • Are you comfortable asking questions to determine if a job is a good match for you? 

Contact us at cathy@highergroundassoc.com or 610-581-7884 to find out how we can help.


Job Search Q&A 


Q:  How can I make my resume stand out in the crowd?  (H.R., Washington)

A: There have been books devoted to this subject, and entire companies built on writing resumes for job seekers, so it's not possible to cover every aspect of resume writing here.  I would, however, like to touch on some of the most important tips I give my coaching clients: 

  • Check your formatting - You want your resume to be easy to read and formatted in such a way that information is easy to find.  Use clear section headings and steer clear of small fonts and/or narrow margins that can make your resume look crowded and overwhelming.
  • Avoid writing in prose - Long paragraphs are unwieldy and may mask your skills and accomplishments.  Brief paragraphs are fine in your professional summary or as an overview of each position, but the rest of the content should be organized in bullet points.
  • Include accomplishments - Too many resumes read like job descriptions.  Employers are most interested in what value you can add to their company or department, so be sure to include brief, concrete examples of your past achievements.  Whenever possible, quantify those accomplishments.  For example:

    • Instead of "Provided administrative support to the accounting department",


      "Provided administrative support to the Chief Financial Officer, two Finance Directors and a department of 35 employees." 
    • Rather than "Managed software implementation project for a major client",


      "Managed a team of 15 on a $10M software implementation project for a Fortune 500 company.  Project was delivered on time and under budget, resulting in a $5M/month savings to the client."
  • Customize your resume - When applying for a specific position, review the job description carefully and identify the key skills required for the job.  Look for ways to make those skills more prominent on your resume - i.e. reorder your bullet points or change the wording of your resume to mirror the language of the position description.


Featured Resource





If you're looking for a job in the non-profit sector (or would like to research a charity before making a contribution), GuideStar.org is a great resource.  You can research a single organization using their basic search tool.  The advanced search tool allows you to refine your search by geographic location and/or key words.  With a free registration you can gather financial information, names of key contacts, addresses and phone numbers.  More detailed information is available with a premium subscription.

Your feedback is valued and appreciated.  Do you have a comment, suggestion for a topic you would like to see covered in a future article, or a question for our Job Search Q&A?  Please email me at cathy@highergroundassoc.com.


If you know others who are in career transition, please use the "Forward email" link below my signature to send them a copy of this newsletter.


Best wishes in your transition,


Catherine Palma
Higher Ground Associates


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The job market today is one of the most competitive in U.S. history. 

Job search techniques that worked just a few years ago no longer yield consistent results.

(HINT:  If you're relying mostly on internet job postings, newspaper ads and job fairs to land your next job you're making a huge mistake.) 

Do you know how to market your skills in this competitive environment?  

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These are just three of dozens skills you will master in the 

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The information provided in this newsletter is designed to be intellectually and conversationally stimulating, and for personal entertainment purposes only. You are responsible for what you do with this information and nothing in this newsletter is to be considered legal or personal advice.



















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