Use it or Lose it

I often talk to clients and when they say they need to hire a candidate they inevitably tell me they need a candidate who can hit the ground running. With the limit on money and resources they need someone who can do the required tasks with minimal supervision.

I often say the that the perfect candidate is the one that just left. That is the candidate that can perform the tasks at 100%.

Over the years I have started to see that getting the person that closest resembles the job description may not always be the best choice. The best choice maybe a technically strong, great communicator with initiative that has to something to gain by choosing the company.

I know that may sound backwards.  The benefit needs to be mutually beneficial.  A win for both employee and employer. what happens in 12-18 months passes and the person does not feel that they have a place to grow and flourish. They start looking for another opportunity.

I had a candidate yesterday that turned down the job because it was a lateral move. He was looking to improve his skills. He was looking for the opportunity to stretch his technical skills.

He did not want to lose the technical skills he had so hard to gain. His technical skills would start to dwindle.

I like to work out but I do not like to work out on “Legs” day. I know that since I do not squat, lunge, or leg press that often that when I do my muscles have started to lose some of their strength.  My muscles have started shrink or have gone into a basis muscle atrophy.

Per Wikipedia when you muscles go into atrophy it “decreases quality of life as the sufferer becomes unable to do certain tasks or worsen the risks of accidents while performing those”. Those things you do not use you lose.

We have all heard the saying “use it or lose it”.

That saying applies in muscles and knowledge. When looking for that right candidate you can think about today but make sure the long-term benefit will be a good fit as well.

Deja Vu

I had posted yesterday how I had surprised myself by running a distance almost twice as far as I had run in a long time.  The tough thing about learning how far you can take yourself makes it tough to do anything less than your previous best. You are setting yourself up for failure. You are quite right.

This morning I thought to myself I need to get after it and do something really hard at the gym. I thought about biking the 25 miles I need to go on an Olympic distance triathlon. In the end I decided that I was going to do a sprint Triathlon in the gym.

I decided to skip the swimming until the end because the is nothing worse than sweating after you have gotten out of a chlorinated pool. My skin feels nasty (did I just write that). anyway I started off on the bike and just nailed it. I mean I was Lance Armstrong except for the endorsements and the biker shorts, not my style. I am sure all the people at the gym are thankful for me sans biker shorts.

Anyway, I get off the bike and I start to run. It takes my legs a few moments to make the transition from running to biking. So I started off a little slow or in my case slower than usual. I quickly jumped my speed and initially felt well.

After my first mile I start to feel things in my legs. Phantom pains I would say. A tightening of  my muscle here, a cramp in my foot there. The doubt started to creep inside my head.

“You have done 12 miles on the bike it is okay to rest. No one will care if you stop. I mean you look like you have worked hard just ease up a bit.”

I kept running though. “I can’t quit” I thought “I just wrote the dumb blog post about not quitting. At that point I wish I had not written that post.”

I had the toughest time between 1-2 miles.  By the time I reached 2.5 miles I was so determined. In fact I cranked the speed up on the treadmill. My last lap I put my sweat rag over the time and count in my head down from 120 to 1 just to make sure I was going to finish and finish strong. I wanted to crank it  up really for two reason.

1. Finish strong. Always finish strong. Lance Armstrong can have livestrong I am finish strong . Rubber arm bands to come out soon at an Ace Hardware near you. j/k 🙂

2. The faster you finish the faster you can stop RUNNING. 🙂

So I finished in a happy 26 minutes.

Next on to my best and most favorite part of the triathlon, the swim. I mean it is not hard for me I grew up with a pool in Phoenix. I have flippers for feet, at size 14. I had a great first two lengths of the pool but by length 10 I was tired and it was starting to show. I know why they place the swim first in the triathlon, half the group in the race would drown because of fatigue. I finished the swim. I had done  a sprint  triathlon on an average Friday morning.

I finished my race and didn’t quit. I did that all before work. I am in the office by 8am. Good day here I come.

Deja vu  in the fact that two times in as many week, I have had some self-doubt, fatigue, self-pity and been able to push through it. I do not care what it is and how small the goal finish strong and carry your head high.

Good day here I come.

Some days You might just surprise yourself

I am not a runner. I was built for other activities. Mainly eating. I am very good at eating and I really enjoy it. I like trying new foods. I am constantly going to lunch with clients each day. I was tired of always picking my food. I know what your thinking, “Oh that is so terrible, You poor guy.” I agree with you, poor me.  I usually picked the same type of food and had almost no variety.

So about a year ago I started to tell the wait staff when they come by to pick my food for me. Don’t tell me what you pick for me but give me your favorite food. Their favorite dish they serve. I have had some great choices. I received a Mahi Mahi meal at The Cheesecake Factor that was one of the top five meals I have ever eaten.  Just two days I ate at Armondo’s Cuban restaurant and had Paellas de Mariscos  that had very chewy calamari. Yesterday was Bison at Ted’s Montana Grill, good food, service not so much.

 I hope you see that I enjoy the eats.

I needed a way to lose the calories from my eats so I trained and competed in a Sprint triathlon last year. I didn’t have the best time but I didn’t die and I beat the 76-year-old woman on the Huffy bike so that was good.

This year, and especially after this past Christmas, I needed a goal to shoot for. I decided that I was going to run the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl International distance Triathlon. Which consists of 1 mile ocean swim, 25 mile bike ride and a 10K at the end for good measure.

I was okay with the swim, at my weight I float more than swim. I can ride like the wind on the bike, thought those iddy biddy seats leave A LOT of room for comfort. I know they make them small for less weight but at my size what is an extra 1.275 lbs. Give me the seat with Springs in it.

The problem with whole triathlon scenario is that I do not like to run. I have run and run and run before. I do not like it. I do not like it Sam I am. I do not like on a track, I do not like in the rain, I do not like in a gym, I do not like it Sam I am.

I have struggled with the running portion. I am trying to run 3.5 miles twice a week without stopping. I can do it but I talk myself out of it. So three weeks ago I said that I am going to run the 3.5 miles without stopping and you know what I did it. I ran 3.5 miles. In a blistering 30+/- minutes. Not a land speed record mind you but I think I can still beat the 76-year-old lady. No bets but I think.

Last week as I contemplated how far I had run I wondered. How far can I run until I have to stop, drop and curl up in the fetal position from cramps. I thought it a good idea at the time but really decided that I am good with 3.5 miles once I was into the run.

As I progressed in my run I eventually hit 3 miles and I was still feeling pretty good so I spontaneously turned right and headed down in front of the Home Depot to extend my run. I continued running and knew of another mile loop that could extend my run to 4.5 miles. Can you guess what happened at the end of 4.5 miles? For those playing along at home, if you said I kept running you are correct. If you said something different 10 push ups for negative thoughts.

So I chose a different path on my run and soon my run became a mission to see how far I could really run without stopping. Towards the end of the run I was just trying to extend my distance to the next street lamp. In fact I counted down from 8 to 1 to get to the corner and finish. It was a great run. I completed 6 miles in under an hour and had a huge personal success. By time I was done that 76-year-old lady was nowhere to be seen. She was probably already done and back to the gym resting but in my mind I had won.

Some days it pays to see what you can do, how far you can push it. You might just surprise yourself.

PS. I told this story to my friend Melanie. She had some of the same challenges running and said she had a mental block at 2 miles. We talked and she told me the next time she was going to run she was going to do three miles. Like  a good friend she reported back her success and told me on Tuesday that she completed 3 miles without stopping. Congrats Melanie

Good day, Good times.

Honey-do list

This past week my wife reminded me that her mother, sisters, and sister-in-law were coming to visit for four days. Now, this is not one of those posts that rag on the in-laws. I like my mother-in-law. She is nothing but a nice, hard-working, genuine person.

What caught me off guard was the level of chores I needed to get done for them to stay at my house. I think we have a nice house, not overly extravagant, but very functional.

As I sat there on Saturday morning and looked at my list, I knew my day going to be long. I started to move down the list of chores. I like lists, they keep me on track, and I like to cross things off and see some accomplishment.

One of my “to dos” was to paint the front door and attach a new kick plate. My wife and I went to Home Depot and made our (her) decision. Upon returning home, I looked at the front door and saw that there was prep work needed before I could paint.

Prep work can be just as important as the actual job. Without sanding and prepping, the paint would not adhere as well, and the door’s surface would not look as smooth.

I had a consultant who was hired to fill a difficult position. He was very knowledgeable and smart.

I took him to lunch from time-to-time to check-in and see how things are going. His response was generally the same each time:

“Good. A little slow. I wish there was more work.” he said

However, I met with the manager this last week and she was very unhappy. She was very busy and had brought that consultant in to help her finish some projects. She explained that every time she assigned him a project, he ran with it.

The problem is that she had never told him the “companies way” of doing things. She figured he was senior consultant and he should know how to do the work. But, they ended up having to redo some of his work to match the company requirements.

He was completing the projects all wrong. He needed to learn the “company’s way” of doing things. She readily admitted she needed to spend more time coaching him. And when I talked to the consultant, he admitted they had just turned him loose.

She figured, much like my door, since the paint was already on there, no real prep-work was needed. The consultant didn’t see the need to change to meet the needs of the company. After all, he knows the software. But just like the door, there needed to be some adjustment to make sure things were done correctly so the paint (work) would function as needed.

I think many problems could have been avoided through a simple dialogue of the needs and expectations of the project.

I asked for feedback several times as I painted the door. In the end my wife said the door looked good. My only problem,was that five more “to dos” came in while I was trying to paint the door.

Good luck and good times.

String Cheese and Oreos

The new year is upon us. Out with 2009 and in with the 2010. I am happy to back to work so I can get some rest. With all the things that go on in the holidays I think it becomes more stressful than regular work.

The new year means going back to work and checking on the things you left undone or needed to complete from the Holidays. My cubemate came back to a little less than 400 unread emails. It took her a couple of days just to sort through the deluge of information and questions.

I struggle to remember what I need to do from yesterday.  You can ask my wife she has to even write me a detailed list for the grocery store because if not it is string cheese and Oreos for dinner

Imagine trying to remember where I had left off from 2-3 weeks ago. If you are looking to change careers or gain a new career, do not assume that people remember anyones status from December.

Now is the time to call, send emails, send up the flares.  Personal contact being the best. It’s easy to glance at an email and forget. It takes effort to talk. Start trying to touch base with everyone.

“Everyone” you ask.

“Everyone” I say.

I give you an example. I talk to people all day about positions and resumes. I had a candidate referred to me with great marketable skills.  I didn’t have anything for him then but I asked him to call me every week or two to check in and I would call him if anything popped up.

Long story short he doesn’t call and I forget. Several potential positions come and go that were potential positions of interest. I was invited to a Networking event two months later and guess who I run into, my candidate. I tell him to call me the next day. He doesn’t call, which baffles me, but I receive a job  for the exact skills he has and in the industry he just left.  I called him and we end up setting up an interview. None of that would have happened if we would not have talked the day before.

Timing is everything. Time to reach out. I know a lot of people do not want to bother their friends and acquaintances about their job search. I have never heard a friend say ” I am tired of trying to help my friend get  a job.” If they did they weren’t a  true friend. People understand the economic times.

Companies are hiring. The most recent jobless numbers are down. While we do not know all the factors, there are people getting hired and starting new positions right now.

While job boards are good the highest percentage of positions are filled through networking.

Good luck and go call someone.

Don’t hibernate your job search

Contrary to common belief the start of the Holiday season does not end all hiring until the second week in January.

I had asked a friend how her husband’s career search was coming. She stated ” We have given up and were waiting until the new year to start the search. Nothing happens during the Holiday’s.”

What! What what!! I would have said triple what but I think there is a trademark on that.

I told her that hiring does not stop at the end of the year. In fact some of my busiest weeks are in December. I am currently seeing an uptick in openings.

Last year I had a candidate who found a position for the Holiday season. She had done such a great job for them in the holiday season that they decided to kept her on and she is still there one year later.

I can go on about people I know who have achieved career zen in the Holiday season when other people picked up their toys and went home.

I will make my remarks specific to IT as most of the IT positions I deal with are in the Technology realm.

1. Projects slated to get completed this year maybe behind schedule and need a person to help them finish it before the end of the year. (I received two of these jobs this week.) I did have a client a hire a contractor from me. They extended the contract and now are making her a fulltime offer.

2. An organization has had a Developer or DBA opening during the year and they have to fill the position or they will lose the slot in their organization in  if it is not filled by the end of the year.

3. IT talent is very competitive. Even now I am seeing Great candidate receive multiple offers. Companies are looking for a jump in the company next year and are working to secure top candidates before early next year.

4. The company has had some attrition and they need to back fill the position.

5. The company is looking to upgrade their talent as they feel they can get some additional experience or knowledge from the marketplace. (I have two of these types of positions right now).

Unless you are a polar bear and can hibernate through the winter, now is a great time to be out there marketing yourself. I can’t guarantee you will find a job but you will be miles in front of the candidates who take the month of December off.

Tell me your thoughts.

We need to remember the good things.

Economy, Politics, War, Pestilence, Cancer. Wonderful words to start of a blog. I think that each one of us can think specific things that are bad in the world. In fact if I asked you to name 5 things you could come up with 5 independent of mine above. It is easy to remember the tough times. What we need to do is remember the good times. There have been and still are good times.

I have had great things happen to me. I can always remember good things in my life, a birth of a child, marriage to my wife. Watching the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl, twice even,  🙂 . Hanging out with my family  in Jackson Hole, at a restaurant, and playing on the grass with all of the kids in the extended family.  Going to a concert with my wife. Great times. Nothing can take these experiences from me. I cherish them.

But what about real life. What about today? It’s up to you.

My wife and I set our evenings by the activities of our kids or needs of our church. We have football practice, soccer practice, cub scouts, sports games, church activities for the kids.  Friday night is date night though, thank heavens. A night alone with my wife without the kids.  In all of the hustle and bustle of our family sometimes things slip through the cracks.

This past couple of weeks our basement has flooded twice. So when the rain threatened again a couple of weeks ago I decided to stay home to make sure my home didn’t float away.  After I worked outside to fix the drainage and tons of prayers from my family the basement was safe. We had a great day that day.  I could have focused on the rain or the loss of work by my working from home.  I didn’t, I was so happy my home didn’t flood. We can choose which way we see things, positive or negative.

Later on that afternoon my kids came home and my oldest son tried to get a drink out of the faucet. Guess what no water. I had forgotten to pay the water bill. By this time it was 5pm. I called and got the bill paid but they couldn’t get the water on until the next morning. Nice. Really nice. In the end all I could do was laugh. If that is the worst that happens I can live with that. I am sorry that is happened but my basement was dry.  That is a great thing.

In the end there are many people with worse things that happen to them. I have good health, a family that loves me and employment. There are several things to be thankful for.  Sit down and try to write 5 bad things as quickly as you can. Next write down 5 good things, see which one takes longer.

We have great medicine, travel availability, connectivity and opportunities. Man the opportunities are outstanding. 

 Have a great day today and if I don’t see you tomorrow have a great day tomorrow. I know I will because I can remember all of the good things that have happened to me in my life.

Funny and not so funny ways to not get hired – Interviewing Mistakes

Recruiters, HR people and anyone who has ever interviewed some has been apart of Interviewing Mistakes. I gathered a list of interviewing backfires that I was involved with.

– Showing up to psych test wearing jean cut offs and a tank top. (Just a side note jean cut offs are not allowed anywhere, sorry if that offends any Florida Gator fans. 🙂 )

– A candidate is interviewing with a hiring manger and when he was asked about a time he had to work with difficult people at work what did he do. The candidate replies ” Well we had a #$%@& in our office and everyone hated her but I was able to get along with her. ”

– Lying on your resume. Big no no. When a candidate was asked specific questions about certain technologies on his resume. The candidate admits well they had it at the office but he never used it.

– You send a thank you note with the wrong company attached to the note.

– I was interviewing a potential candidate and I asked a questions only to be told ” You already asked that before.”

– When you are asked to tell the Hiring Manager about a time that you used your specific experience, like what is in your resume, to solve a problem. After about 5 minutes you reply ” I don’t think I have any experience like that.”

– I had a candidate who had an interview and brought her kids to the interview and made them wait in the waiting area.

– A Customer Service Representative was asked about her customer service skills replies “I do not like to talk to people.”

– A candidate comes to the interview wearing so much perfume the Hiring Manager had to seek medical treatment from the fumes. A note on wearing perfume in interviews was sent to the recruiting company shortly there after.

I am sure that given the chance to talk or dress differently they would definitely choose differently. Sometimes nerves get the best of us.

If you have your own story please send it to me.

Advice – Diamonds in the rough

I had an impromptu meeting with my HR manager today about a colleague I needed to speak with. She started to give me advice on how to talk to them and what to say.  I was thinking in my head I know how to talk to people does she really need to take me through the play by play on how I should talk to my colleague.

I will tell my wife that I am going to talk to someone about something that involves both us. Indefinitely she tells me what to say and how to approach the situation.

Even my kids get in the act as I will talk to my kids friends and they will tell me not to ask this or that.

Who hasn’t received unsolicited advice from someone outside of our family.

I get tired of people always “giving” me advice.


This morning I had an epiphany. I tell people what to do and say all of the time.  I tell my kids what to do all of the time. Not because I want to boss them. I tell them because I have gone through certain experience that allow me to see the broader picture and I can see where they are headed. And yes they blow me off at times. Though sometimes things happen and now they are ready to listen.

So I thought my HR manger knows this person in question for 10+ years and she has worked with them for almost the same amount of time. It will probably be smart of me to listen. Yes, I said “me” and “listen” in the same sentence. Alarms are going off somewhere.

In my work life I tell people what hiring manager are looking for and what questions to ask. Most people tell me okay, sure, I understand or some similar things to denote they are listening. Whether they listen and follow through in the interview is a different story.

I had a potential candidate who when I started to go through my interview prep with him he cut me off.  He said ” I know how to interview.” I persisted knowing he did not have the information I had. He cut me off  again and said “I am good, yep I understand.” For those of you who can’t see where this going you really have problems. Serious problems. GUESS WHAT, he bombed the interview.  He was unprepared. He hadn’t done his homework on the company and the open position. Imagine that. I had information that was very important to his situation.

Soooo maybe not all advice is bad. It may turn out to be a diamond in the rough. Take a look at who is telling you advice.  A few minutes maybe save you some problems later on.


Matt Cheek


Resume are so subjective. Each individual has different thoughts and feelings about how to format resumes and what is pertinent information to include. I have heard that people look at a resume anywhere from 7 – 20 seconds. In some cases companies have software that go through the resume and looks for key words before it even hits the database for a hiring manager looks at the resume.

What constitutes a good resume? I have three things that I feel need to be in a resume.

1. Summary – If I didn’t have time to look at your resume and all the time I had was 7 seconds and I read your summary would I get a some pertinent information that would force me to read further. I like 5-7 bullet points that tell me who you are, then in the resume you build your case for putting those bullet points up front.

2. Be Specific – Tell me what you have achieved. Tell me what you worked on. I had a candidate come in to prepare for an interview and she kept  telling me what “we” did or achieved. Since the company was not hiring “we” I wanted to make sure she talked to her strengths and achievements.  She is the one they care about.

It is acceptable to improve your resume for each position. Find out as much about the position before you submit your resume. Talk to the recruiter you are working with, call the company and talk to someone in the department. Perhaps you can find them on Linkedin. It does not hurt to try.

3. Be truthful – Always put your actual experience on your resume.  I know this is silly but you would be surprised. Better to not get the interview then get the interview and for them to think poorly of your character. Even in Atlanta with it’s 4 million people I have seen people  excluded from interviewing at companies because they were not truthful at an interview and the manager moved on to another company and the manager remembered the resume.

Those are my initial thoughts on resumes. Let me know your thoughts or have any other points.


Mattie Matt

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