• Courtney Kirschaum

This is where careers go to die

For years, my cousins have been inviting me to join them at their summer cabin. A few years back, I decided to take them up on it.

Heading from Colorado to Northern Michigan on a perfect summer day, I was flying down I-80 when the stench hit me.

An invisible wall of eye-watering, toxic, “Should-I-even-be-breathing-this?” Noxious fume-ry assaulted me for half a mile.

Finally, the source appeared.

A huge cattle feed lot adjacent to the Interstate.

Looking like all the manure in the western hemisphere had been stockpiled there. It smelled like road kill in a plastic bag left in an unkempt outhouse for six, 110-degree days.

How anyone standing within a mile of it didn’t die from toxic fumes, I’ll never know. “This can’t even be legal. Why doesn’t someone DO SOMETHING!?!?!”

is what I thought as I floored it and got away as fast as possible before the stench made the paint on my car bubble.


“Hi Courtney, I don’t work there anymore. I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”

I’d called an HR manager for some help managing departure details following my resignation from our mutual, now prior, employer.

United in our solidarity as now former employees, the conversation took a personal turn.

She shared her reasons for leaving: unmitigated harassment.

The details were astounding even to me: a two-decade veteran of corporate America, who’s seen a lot of toxic crazy go down. A. LOT.

“Did you report this?” I asked.

“No.” She said, then explained why.

The reason for not reporting her horrible experience is common, yet obscure enough that you may never have considered it.

“My sister-in-law works for the company. She recommended me for the job. Going to battle with them could mean negative blowback on her.”

This is a little known truth about why companies prefer hiring people with connections inside the company, rather than anonymous, yet qualified candidates off a job board, i.e., unconnected, free agents.

Any relationship you value enough not to risk damaging it will do.

It’s common for companies to pay existing employees thousands when someone they recommend is hired.

You get a paycheck, your friend gets a bonus. Everybody’s happy.

You’re less likely to burn the house down when someone you know is living it in. You can’t buy that kind of insurance from Allstate.

On the other hand, job boards make you the feel like you could reach out and touch that perfect job glowing on the screen in front of you, but when you’re there, you’re usually as far away as you can get from your next job.

Job boards are a cattle call and they stink like that cattle feed lot for three reasons that are deceptively fragrance free while you’re there.

  • Job openings posted to boards are often as stale as crackers left on a party tray overnight. Remaining up long after the source has lost interest. The client has paid for them, so there they sit (and sit.)

  • The number of applicants accepted is almost always filled in a few days, if not a few hours, because thousands apply. Yep, thousands.

  • These huge numbers are the reason for another foul-smelling reality: some companies rely on ATS. Applicant Tracking Systems to scan these many resumes for keywords. So the first cut is not even a human one. Somewhat like composing a piano sonata by letting a chicken walk up and down the keys.

When you start customizing your resume to please a machine you don’t even know for sure is there…well, there’s a saying about deck chairs and the Titanic.

Which brings me to the point.

If job boards are a black hole and getting jobs through existing connections throws a shadow over your freedom too, what’s the answer?

The sweetspot is getting them to come to you.

If you want a method far better than fanning your resume out like hay bales at feed lot, one that shows you how to create a connection while taking you straight to recruiters who are actively seeking candidates like a sailor on shore leave during fleet week…all while you increase your chances of hearing from a recruiter as much as 300% … along with simple, even seemingly silly things that will bring the welcome wave from recruiters who ignored you before…

Grab my free LinkedIn tip series here. You get the exact steps to bring the recruiters and hiring managers who want what you offer, knocking on your door.



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