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The 6 Best Career Tips I've Learned This Year

By Marty Nemko

A Clue to Reading People

Read people correctly and you’ll more likely succeed in your interactions. Problem is, according to the University of Oklahoma’s Dr. Calin Prodan, most people rely on inaccurate cues. For example, when your counterpart is smiling, think that’s a good sign? Maybe—smiling can be faked easily. It’s harder to control other indices of a person’s emotional state: their eyes, eyebrows, and forehead. So, next time you’re in an important conversation and are wondering what your counterpart is feeling—happy, sad, angry, or worried—glance at the upper half of the person’s face.

My Favorite Website contains links to hundreds of tools to track down almost any information. It’s like having the ultimate library reference desk at your fingertips, 24-7, free. Consider using it as your start page.

Putting Fire In Your Belly

Many people are motivated by big goals. Tell a class of schoolkids to write about their summer vacation--snore. But ask the class to create a newspaper to distribute to the entire school—cool! Same with adults. What's the biggest goal to which you could reasonably aspire?

When Looking for a Job

Looking for a job? Try this. Make a target list of potential employers, dividing them into A and B lists. The A list contains companies you'd like to work for. The B employers are those eager to have you work for them--even if it's just a volunteer position. Contact the B list first—they’re more likely to offer you a job quickly. Having an offer gives you confidence and makes you more desirable to your A list. (This idea came from the Five O'Clock Club newsletter.)

An Easier Route to Changing Careers

Yeah, you want a new career. But like most people, you’re not thrilled with having to take a bunch of career tests, get trained in the new field, and then try to convince an employer that she’d be wise to hire you even though you have no experience.

There may be an easier way. Just tell everyone in your personal network that you're looking for a job in which you can, for example, use your people and organizational skills. That approach is not only easy, it reduces the chances you'll need to undergo major training. If someone knows you, they're more likely to trust that you can learn on the job. Of course, that’s not true if your new career is brain surgeon.

Finding a Good Job in a Lousy Job Market: The 50/50/50 Method

You’ll likely land a good job if you do these three things.

  • At 50 fast-growing organizations, contact a person who could hire you. How do you find growing organizations? Many government agencies are starting to grow—and don’t forget about county jobs—most job seekers focus on federal, state, and city positions. The non-profit sector is also relatively flush. There are even pockets of growth in the private sector. How to find them? Visit It lists companies that have received an infusion of cash and so are more likely to be hiring. Also, see which organizations have large ads in the Sunday newspaper. Once you get an organization’s name, visit its website or call directory assistance to get its main phone number. Then ask the organization’s switchboard operator for the correct spelling of the person responsible for hiring people like you. (For example, the senior person in charge of training.) Then ask for that person’s phone number and email address. On the phone or via a letter, explain, in a human way, why you’re looking for a new career, why you picked that organization, and what you bring to the table.

  • Contact 50 people who like you and might know someone who could potentially hire you for a suitable job. When they say, “I don’t know of anyone,” ask them to keep their ears open for you, and ask if it’s okay if, in a month you’re still looking, they’d mind your phoning back. You’ve just recruited a team of scouts.

  • Answer 50 on-target want ads. The internet makes it easy to find them. Websites such as,,, and list literally millions of openings. Just enter your desired location and keywords, and good fits pop up instantly.

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