Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog

I Think, Therefore I Blog

What Would Mom Say About Your Job Search?

BobbiIn honor of Mother’s Day and moms everywhere, I think it is apropos to share how “Mom’s Rules” apply to the job search and interviewing process.  We have learned a lot from our moms. You may be surprised how much of this can be applied to this process.

Stand up straight

When presenting yourself in writing or in person, stand tall.  I always say, be confident to the edge of arrogant.  You need to project the image of someone who is sure of themselves and knows what they are talking about.  Body language speaks loudly about you, as does the tone of your voice.

Don’t talk with your mouth full.

Full of lies, that is.  Always be honest in the process.  It only takes being caught in one lie to lose the opportunity.  And, it might even happen after you have started working.  If you feel the urge to lie, ask yourself, do you really think you should be the one to get the job.

Money does not grow on trees.

Actually, American dollars are not even paper–they are made of cotton and linen.  Set your salary target responsibly.  In a down economy, do not be surprised to be asked to take a pay cut.  You may have to re-establish yourself at a new company to get a promotion to a level you are accustomed to. 

What if everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?

Differentiating yourself is the key to getting the offer when being compared to other A-List candidates.  What are the key experiences or knowledge that make you special?  Think of things you have accomplished that no one else could have done. 

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Never, ever bash your previous employer, co-workers, neighbors, mailman, cat…Any kind of negative statements can be misinterpreted by the hiring manager.  Although I am not a big cat person, maybe the hiring manager is.

Be careful or you’ll put your eye out.

Or at least hurt your reputation.  Be careful not to apply to every single job posting that looks remotely close to your ideal job.  Also, do not put out a weekly email that states you are still on the market.  Manage the level of your communication so that you do not appear desperate.

When you have your own house then you can make the rules.

The job search process does have its own rules.  Mostly unwritten.  You certainly can be creative in finding inroads to companies, but do not go behind your recruiter’s back.  You should never apply twice for a job.  If a job posting says to fax or email in a resume, they really don’t want you to call.  Follow the rules until you get to make them as part of your job.

Smiles are free.

And attitude is everything.  Project a positive attitude throughout the whole process.  Sometimes this is hard when you are not sure you want the job that you are interviewing for.  When you have doubts internally, they tend to show externally.  Therefore, you need to think of the job as your best/only choice for the time being and give it all you got.  Remember, you can’t turn down an offer you don’t have.  You can always evaluate your options later, when you do not have to be smiling.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Obviously a good one for this process.  You should resign yourself to the fact that you will most likely be in this longer than you would like.  There will be ups and downs, close calls, and surprises.  If you set a plan realistically and financially, you may not rush to take the first offer you get.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If it doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.

During the process, you will get better and better at understanding what is required of you.  And along the way, you’ll be expanding your network.  Some companies may think you are not the right person for the current opening, but might have one soon for you.  You need to think of the process as a growth opportunity and learn as much as you can about companies, industries, and yourself.

Always wear clean underwear (in case you’re in an accident).

I had to drop this one in.  In this case, I would say the “underwear” is all the searchable media about you that may not be on the surface.  Any potential employer can search on your name in Google and find out what you have been writing on the Internet (or what has been written about you).  Make sure you have “laundered” all this material.

No matter what, I’ll always love you.

Remember the big picture.  It is hard not to take rejection personally.  After all, it is YOU they passed on.  In the grand scheme of things, if it was not the best fit, we need to accept that and move on.  But do not ever let a hiring manager put a kink Ronain your self-esteem.  You will find the right fit and someone down the road will appreciate you.  Maybe not as much as mom does, but enough to offer you a job.


I am sure there are many more I could have included.  If you have one of your own, feel free to leave a comment.

Happy Mother’s Day to my moms and moms everywhere!  And be sure to follow all this advice.  Why?  Because Mom said so!


May 5, 2009 - Posted by | General Musings, Interviewing 101, Job Search


  1. This is an entertaining back-to-basics reminder of life’s important lessons! Here’s one for you from my mom….

    “Watch out I have eyes in the back of my head”

    And your boss does too! Be mindful of your internet usage for personal social networking and the time you spend at the water cooler – do not take advantage.

    My mom does have eyes in the back of her head via Facebook and Twitter so you know I’m always good :-).

    Comment by Karla Porter | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  2. Oh my goodness. We grew up in the same house. How did I never pass you in the hall? :o)

    I’ll throw in my personal favorite mom-ism: “It doesn’t cost any more to be nice.”

    Treat the receptionist with respect, smile at the custodian, wave at the VP, hold the door for your peers — it ties in with your “smiles are free” point. Positive energy generates and attracts positive things. And we could certainly use more positive energy right now.

    GREAT post! (But then we’ve come to expect no less from you.)

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies out there. (You don’t have to have given birth to be a “mom” …)

    Comment by dawnbugni | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  3. Great points here, Jeff! My mother often says “don’t get your britches in a twist” (because I so need to hear it), and I often find myself essentially saying the same thing to job seekers I work with. Too often, they get so worked up (and sometimes for understandable reasons) that they lose their way in the process. A clear, rationale head (and straight britches!) often prevails.

    Comment by rezlady | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  4. Very nice! These are also great rules for those currently employed. But it’s funny how much we all need to me reminded. Good stuff!

    Comment by Craig Fisher | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  5. Lots of fun reading this and such great application in so many ways.

    Here’s one of my mom’s favorite sayings:
    “You can do anything you want if you put your mind, heart and soul to it.” Projecting an upbeat, optimistic attitude during a job interview is so important. It’s contagious and people like to be around other positive people.

    That’s why we read your blog Jeff! You’re infectious and I mean that in a good way, not like the flu!

    Comment by Jeff Hurt | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  6. Brilliant, Jeff.

    I recognize the sayings well. One of my Mother’s favorite’s as well “Smile and the World Smiles Back at You, Er um, you did brush your teeth, didn’t you?”

    Comment by Suzanne Levison | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  7. Good advice cleverly presented! Thanks for sharing Jeff.

    Comment by Traci Deveau | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  8. Great post, Jeff.

    Comment by glhoffman | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  9. Hilarious, yet informative. Well played.

    Comment by The 405 Club | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  10. What an absolutely adorable blog post! I’ll have to let mom read this one for sure. 🙂

    Comment by CarolAnn | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  11. A great twist demonstrating the transferability of basic, but very important, directives from Mom’s everywhere to the job search process! Excellent work, Jeff!

    Comment by DINA | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  12. This reminds me of that book, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.” Great reminders that moms do know best and that their advice is transferable to many parts of our lives. And yes, your last point is your best point, although my mom would say, “Nobody loves you like your family loves you,” and “This too shall pass.”

    Great blog!

    Comment by Sharon | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  13. Jeff….my first thought was to roll my eyes just like I did when I was a kid and my mother said some of those things to me. It isn’t always easy to hear these things, but they are important and they do matter. I’d add one…”look at me when I’m talking to you”. Eye contact is so important, it communicates confidence and interest.

    Comment by Tabatha | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  14. Too much to remember.

    Comment by Recruiting Animal | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  15. Hey, good stuff and funny – made me grin a few times.


    Comment by Dennis Smith | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  16. […] O­rig­in­al p­o­st­: Wh­at Would M­om­ S­ay About Your­ Job S­e­ar­c­h­… […]

    Pingback by What Would Mom Say About Your Job Search? « Jeff Lipschultz's Blog « Job Search Techniques | May 7, 2009 | Reply

  17. Your best post yet Jeff!! I love reading what all the other mothers said as well. You may need to do a part II, Like “Don’t Run With Scissors”, “Life isn’t always fair.” and my personal favorite, “Your action speak so loudly I can’t hear a word you are saying.”

    Comment by Gretchen | May 7, 2009 | Reply

  18. […] In honor of Mother’s Day my friend Jeff has written another great article – and in my opinion his best and funniest so far.   “What Would Mom Say About Your Job Search?” […]

    Pingback by WHAT WOULD YOUR MOTHER SAY? | Gretchen Benes | May 7, 2009 | Reply

  19. Jeff — What a clever approach to sharing the sort of advice that never grows old — just like the wisdom of mothers, I might add. If you hadn’t shown the photo I might of thought we had the same mother!

    Comment by Donna White | May 7, 2009 | Reply

  20. Great – and clever – blog post with those basic reminders that too many folks forget!

    Comment by Deb | May 8, 2009 | Reply

  21. Hi Jeff- Funny, but very relevant post! Amazing how all the little common-sense things we’re taught growing up are so important, and serve us well throughout our lives.
    Hope you don’t mind– I’m tweeting you for Mother’s Day!

    Comment by Denise Gabbard | May 9, 2009 | Reply

  22. Clever as usual, Jeff. My mom had another -ism I’ll throw in: “When I was your age…”

    Remember, if you’re a “young” (and I use that term vaguely) recruit heading into an “old” territory: environments, processes, attitudes, and even dress codes are bound to be different than what you might be expecting. Don’t saunter in expecting them to catch up to where you are. Realize that your “elders” (or those who simply have more experience) often have valuable wisdom to share. Open minds are growing minds. The best advice I ever received from a colleague as a new employee was also the most hurtful and personal. The reason I grew from it? I understood my colleague’s intentions were good, so I put aside my then 21-year-old attitude, and I placed her comments in context with her experience.

    P.S. Eat your vegetables.

    Comment by Sarah Close | May 11, 2009 | Reply

  23. […] What Would Mom Say About Your Job Search? From Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog, I Think, Therefore I Blog […]

    Pingback by 12 Job Search Tips for Recent College Grads and More | May 26, 2009 | Reply

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