Archive for January 2011

5 Myths and Truths About High-Performing Salespeople That You Need To Know To Get Your Dream Job (Written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 31, 2011

What pops into your head when you hear the phrase “salesperson?”  Chances are you’ll think back to some time you dealt with a sleazy, slimy, pesky salesperson who tried to jam a product or service down your throat.  Given the behavior and demeanor of the typical salesperson, most people have misconceptions about what it takes to succeed in sales.

When I was in college (before I started my sales career), I assumed that you had to be sleazy, tricky, and dishonest in order to be a good salesperson.  Since I am none of those things, I wasn’t sure I could cut it in sales.

However, after setting a number of sales records in the NBA, I realized that the best salespeople are those who truly care about their customers.  If you have integrity and you’re good at building relationships and professional friendships, you can be great at sales. 

Approach your job search like a high-performing salesperson approaches his work, and you will land your dream job faster and with less effort.  Here are 5 myths and truths about high-performing salespeople:

Myth #1: High-performing salespeople have inborn qualities that low-performing salespeople do not.

The Truth: Not everyone can become “the Michael Jordan of sales,” but selling is a skill that can be learned by anyone. 

Myth #2: High-performing salespeople are dishonest and tricky.

The Truth: High-performing salespeople have integrity.  Customers buy from salespeople they trust.

Myth #3: High-performing salespeople are very aggressive and confrontational.

The Truth: High-performing salespeople build rapport with their customers; rapport is not built through force or manipulation.  Customers buy from salespeople they like.

Myth #4: High-performing salespeople are lucky.

The Truth: High-performing salespeople create their own luck by having a positive attitude, being well-prepared, and taking massive action to achieve their goals. 

Myth #5: High-performing salespeople are focused on their own needs and desires.

The Truth: High-performing salespeople are focused on their customers’ needs and desires.  They focus on how they can help the customer, not on how the customer can help them.

In summary, if you want to get your dream job, you need to think and act like a high-performing salesperson.  Anyone can learn how to sell.  Demonstrate integrity to build trust, be likeable to build rapport, create your own luck by having the right attitude and by taking the necessary steps, and make sure you always focus on the needs and desires of the people you want to buy you (aka to hire you).

If you like this post or want to add your thoughts, please comment below!


7.5 Dirty Little Secrets For Using References To Get Your Dream Job (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 24, 2011

In one of my favorite books of all-time, Influence by Robert Cialdini, PhD, the author talks about the principle of social proof, which states that people often look to the opinions of others to form their own conclusions. 

This has strong applications for job searches, as hiring persons are definitely influenced by the opinions of others when thinking about who to hire.

Here are 7.5 dirty little secrets for using references strategically in order to get your dream job:

  1. Use references who LOVE you.  Sounds obvious, right?  Well, I haven’t always done this, and you probably haven’t either.  When I was in high school, we learned from one of the colleges that rejected me that one of my letters of recommendation had been a red flag and a factor in the rejection.  (Don’t ask me how my Dad figured this out!)  Apparently, my history professor wrote a paltry, 2-sentence letter on my behalf.  We were surprised at his actions, but I should have known better.  I had asked him for a letter because he was a brilliant writer, and I thought he would write a really good letter; he had not been one of my biggest advocates.  Big mistake. 
  2. Use references who are reliable.  I once asked a former boss to serve as a reference.  This guy was a big fan of mine, so I figured he’d be a great reference.  However, the letter he gave me to submit had several typos and did not even include a standard header.  It looked terrible!  Luckily, I saw the letter before it went out.  I should not have been surprised.  He was one of the most disorganized people I knew.  Make sure your references have their act together.  If they aren’t normally reliable and thorough, they won’t suddenly become reliable and thorough when communicating with people on your behalf.  If your references look bad, you will look bad.  The opposite is also true…
  3.  Use references who look like and/or know the people you want to impress. For example, if you are applying for a marketing job where you will report to a Director of Marketing, it would be much more impressive if you have several recommendations from people they know or from other marketing executives.  A recommendation from your history professor won’t hold as much weight.  Now, if you are starting your career or making a career change, this is not always possible, but try to use people who know and/or look like the people you are trying to impress.  We are much more easily influenced by people we know or by people who look like we do.
  4. Tell your references what to say/write about you.  This might sound sneaky or conniving, but most people have absolutely no idea what to write or say in a testimonial or letter of recommendation.  As a result, most testimonials are the worthless, generic kind, like “John is a great guy.  I highly recommend him.”  Here’s a confession for you.  Most of the best testimonials I have ever gotten are testimonials I have written myself and gotten permission to attribute to another person (with their permission).  Many people actually thank me and tell me that even though they are more than happy to endorse me, they would have had no idea what to say.  Use your judgment on this one.  Some people are more comfortable with this than others.
  5. Tell your references what to say if/when asked about your weaknesses.  Last year, one of my former colleagues asked me to serve as a reference for him.  Given the work that I do, and since I am very thorough, I thought about how to respond if a hiring person asked me what my colleague’s greatest weakness was.  Guess what the FIRST question was that I was asked when his future boss called me?!  Luckily, I had a well-constructed comeback planned, which I conveniently sandwiched between a discussion of my colleague’s strengths.  (Thank you…I know I’m good!)  The chances of your references thinking about that in advance are close to zero.  It’s your responsibility to prep them on what to say when asked about your deficiencies.  If you don’t, they might step on a land-mine for you.
  6. Let your references know what to expect.  Ask if you can use them as a reference before doing so (many people don’t do this!), and give them a heads-up on how their testimonial will be used, who might contact them, and so on.
  7. Get testimonials from your references on social media sites.  Employers check these sites when considering you for a job, and social media sites rank high when someone “googles” you.  You can also “re-purpose” a testimonial posted on a social media site.  For example, by filming a video testimonial and posting it on You-Tube, or by getting a recommendation on LinkedIn, you can then take part or all of the testimonial and use it again somewhere else (i.e. as 1-2 sentences in a cover letter or as part of a 1-page testimonial sheet).

7.5   Take care of your references.  When people put their reputation on the line by serving as recommendations, you owe it to them to make them look good.  You must also send a thank you note and try to return the favor by helping them somehow.   Also keep them posted on their progress; they want to know if they were involved in helping you get your dream job!

In summary, one of the best ways to get your dream job is to influence the hiring decision-maker with strategic testimonials and references.  When you get the right people to brag on your behalf in the right way, you won’t have to do as much of the bragging yourself…

Like this post or got something to add?  Please comment below!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to

7 Questions Employers Have That They Won’t Ask You (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 21, 2011

When I had to hire my first employee for one of my businesses, 7 concerns swirled around my mind.  The person who eventually got the job was the one who addressed all of my concerns with how he presented himself to me.

If you want to get your dream job, you need to understand what is going on in the minds of the people in a position to hire you.  No matter what organization you want to work for, and no matter what type of work you want to do, every employer and hiring person is secretly asking themselves 7 questions about EVERY job candidate and potential new hire. 

Many hiring persons probably don’t even recognize that they are subconsciously asking themselves these questions, and none of them will blatantly ask you these 7 questions.  However, you still need to address them in every interaction you have with potential employers:

1. How much can we trust you?  If an employer doesn’t think they can trust you, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who can be trusted.

2. How hard are you willing to work? If employers think you are lazy or unmotivated, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone willing to work hard.

3. Are you going to be a pain in the “neck?” If employers think you are going to be tough to manage or get along with, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who gets along well with others.

4. Are you going to have one foot out the door from day 1?  If employers think you aren’t committed to their organization for the long-term, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who really wants to work for the selected employer.

5. How much are we going to need to hold your hand?  If employers think it will take a lot of time and effort to get you up to speed, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Position yourself as someone who can contribute from the start.

6. Are you going to embarrass us?  If employers think you won’t represent them well in-person and online, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  As social media and the Internet continue to evolve, this is becoming more and more important.  Position yourself as someone who is professional and responsible.

7. Are you more than capable of delivering the results we need in this position?  If employers don’t think you can get the job done better than anyone else, you aren’t going to get hired, no matter how talented you are.  Note: if you satisfy the first 6 concerns, this concern is often eliminated, even if you don’t have a lot of relevant work experience. 

The hiring process is like dating in many ways.  When you first meet someone, you size them up (subconsciously or consciously), and you make judgments about their personality, character, value, and how much you fit with each other. It’s the same with getting your dream job.  Overcome the 7 concerns every employer has about job candidates and new hires, and you will significantly increase your chances of getting your dream job!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to

5 Musts for Avoiding One of the Biggest Job Search/Career Sins (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 17, 2011

Be honest.

Have you ever looked for a new job while you are at your current job?

Of course you have. 

We’ve all seen other people make this job search sin, and we’ve all made this sin ourselves (myself included).

When you are still employed, you have to be careful about how you conduct a job search.  Your current employer won’t be happy if they find out you are looking for a new job, especially if you are using time spent at work to do so.

Here are 5 musts when you are doing a job search while still employed:

1. Keep your job search 100% separate from your current job.  This sounds obvious, but few people are disciplined enough to do this.  Your employer has the right and the ability to monitor any of your email/Internet activities, so if you are firing off job search emails at work or visiting job boards, there is a good chance your employer will learn about it.  (Note: Using Internet job boards is one of the WORST ways to look for a job anyway!)   In addition, when communicating with potential new employers and applying to jobs, use a personal email address, personal home address, personal cell phone number, and so on.  Do NOT use any contact information for your current place of employment.  Lastly, if you see a call come in on your phone from a number you don’t recognize, let it go to voicemail.  Conducting a job search at your current place of employment is not worth the risk, and it will cause you unnecessary stress.

2. Be careful who you tell about your job search.  Only tell friends, family, and colleagues you really trust and/or who can help you get to the job you really want.  Be particularly careful about letting any of your colleagues know that you are looking for a new job.  People love to gossip at work, and word travels fast when an employee is looking to leave. 

3. Be careful about what you post online.  Another huge mistake people make is to spray their resume everywhere online and to comment about their job search through social media platforms, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Even if you have your privacy settings set to private on these sites, it’s too easy for the wrong person to learn that you are looking for a job.  Social media tools can definitely help you get a better job faster, but you have to be careful about how you utilize them.  In order to research different jobs, companies, or industries, consider setting up a “fake” profile on LinkedIn or Twitter.  Yes, I realize that’s not the purpose of those web sites, but you have to look out for yourself and your family first.  (I did this a few years ago to research different industries and companies anonymously.)

4. Give your best effort at your current job.  Getting fired from your current job won’t help your cause in getting a new job.  Don’t draw any negative attention to yourself.  Make sure you continue to show up on time, keep your effort high, and don’t go around complaining to your colleagues about your job.  No one wants to hear your complaints anyway! 

5. Be prepared if anyone questions you.  If someone (i.e. your boss) asks you if you are looking for another job, have a standard reply ready to go.  Rather than lying, reply as if it would be bizarre for your employer to expect you not to be looking for other jobs.  For example, you could say something like, “Jim, I always keep my eyes open for new opportunities.  I have a family to worry about, and I need to make sure I always have back-up options in this economy.  Having said that, you know I give you guys 100% of my focus and effort while I’m at work.”

In summary, it might not be fair, but there is definitely a stigma associated with those who are unemployed.  (Note: If you are already unemployed, you can get around this by volunteering.  Just find a non-profit organization where you can donate your skills/time on a part-time, volunteer basis.  Then, rather than saying you are unemployed, you can reference that work when communicating with potential employers.)

Be smart about how you conduct your job search!

Got something to add to this article?  Please share your thoughts or comments below!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to

6 Major Mistakes People Make When Sending Thank You Notes and Cards (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 14, 2011

If you simply do what you say you will do, you will rise to the top of any company, organization, or industry.  If you go above and beyond what you say you will do, you will be absolutely unstoppable.

One way to go above and beyond is by sending a personalized thank you note/card any time another person does something to help you.  Yes, this sounds basic, and I realize I’m not the first person to tell you this.  However, I guarantee you aren’t sending thank you notes as often as you should, and if you are sending thank you notes, they aren’t having the impact you hope they will. 

Here are 6 major mistakes people make when sending thank you notes and cards:

  1. You don’t have your supplies handy.  At all times, make sure you have thank you notes, envelopes, and stamps in your office and/or home.  If they aren’t easily accessible, you’ll be much less likely to send them.
  2. You aren’t a speedy sender.  If someone gives you career advice over the phone, send your thank you note right after your call.  If someone meets with you for an informational interview or a job interview, send your note right after your meeting.  The longer you wait, the less likely you will send your note.
  3.  You don’t type AND write. Type a short email (or message) AND send a handwritten letter.  In today’s electronic world, people expect a thank you note to be sent rapidly via email, so send your electronic message within a few hours.   (I remember once being peeved that a friend had not emailed me to thank me for donating to a charity event she was participating in.  Luckily, I didn’t say anything about it.  She never emailed me to thank me, but her letter arrived in the mail a few days later.)  By sending the email, you acknowledge the person immediately.  The letter then arrives a few days later as an added appreciation of the other person.  By sending both, you also make sure you reach the other person, in case they miss one of your efforts somehow.
  4. You don’t look professional.  Make sure you use decent stationery, write legibly and in black or dark blue ink, and proofread before you send your letter.
  5. You don’t use a personalized P.S.  Use discretion here, but you want to make people smile and/or laugh in your letter somehow.  Here are a few examples:

“P.S. Can’t wait to hear about your trip to the Caribbean!  You have to send me your pictures when you get back.” 

Or…  “P.S. It will be no small feat, but I think my Jets are going to destroy your Patriots this weekend.”  (In case you missed it, that was a reference to the Rex Ryan “foot fetish scandal.”)

6. You rely too heavily on automatic card-sending services.  Many of my friends use a card service like or  Personally, I think their cards look cheap and/or impersonal.  (Sorry if any of you are reading this!)  The purpose of a card (genuine, personalized appreciation and acknowledgement) is defeated when someone sends a card that they clearly mass-produced online and mailed to everyone they know without any personalization other than changing the name of the person the card was addressed to.  Letters sent by mail should be handwritten (even if it’s just 1 sentence).  Or, if they are typed, they should include a message unique to each person (even if it’s just 1 sentence).

2 Bonus tips for thank you notes after informational interviews or job interviews:

  1. Sell yourself: Include 1-2 sentences (no more than that) to reiterate why you want a certain job and why a certain employer should hire you. 
  2. Use 1-2 sentences (max) to address any mistake, confusion, or omission from your informational interview or job interview. 


In summary, thank you notes are absolutely imperative.  When done right, they can build deeper relationships and help you advance your career.  Want proof? People often thank me for sending them a thank you note!  The greatest gift you can give someone is your genuine appreciation.  Start giving the gift of a great thank you note today.

 P.S. Please share your comments or thoughts as well!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to

7 Secrets on How to Answer “The Weakness Question” Like a Pro (Written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 7, 2011

Everyone hates “the weakness question,” but you should LOVE it!

Most job candidates butcher their chances of getting hired by how they answer this potentially deadly question.  When you know how to answer it confidently and competently, you can really differentiate yourself from the competition.

Before we discuss the 7 secrets on how to answer this question, let’s discuss the 3 main reasons why employers ask this question.  

First of all, they feel like they have to ask this; most interviewers are not very creative.  Secondly, they want to see how you respond under pressure; they know this is a question most people don’t really want to answer.  Lastly, they want to see if you will actually say something that gives them a reason to remove you from consideration.

Here are 7 secrets for hitting a home-run when you are asked “the weakness question:”

  1. Start with some self-deprecating humor.  This is a great way to put everyone at ease before you respond with your real answer.  Find a playful, but professional and relevant way to poke fun at yourself first.
  2. Be calm, confident, and concise.  Answer this question in 30-60 seconds (max) and maintain good posture and eye contact while you answer.   The longer you talk, or the more you move around or squirm, the more likely you will say something verbally or with your body language that can hurt you.
  3. Sandwich your weakness.  Start by highlighting one of your main strength(s), then address a weakness, and then end with a quick reminder of your strength(s). 
  4. Discuss a weakness that is irrelevant.  Highlight a skill or knowledge base not relevant to the work you would be doing in this position. 
  5. Demonstrate how you are trying to improve.  Mention a step(s) you are taking to address the weakness.
  6. NEVER mention anything very relevant or alarming.  This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at what some people say under pressure when they have not thought about this question ahead of time.
  7. Gently flip this question back on the interviewer.  The best interviews are 2-way conversations that resemble a leisurely game of tennis, as the “ball” (i.e. questions and answers) gets hits back and forth. 

Let’s pretend I was interviewing for a job in outside sales with an NBA team.  Here is an example of how this might play out.

Interviewer: “Pete, what is your biggest weakness?”


“Well, my jump shot is not what it used to be.  (Smile.)  Seriously though, one of my biggest strengths is my strong communication and persuasion skills, as proven by 3-time #1 ranking in the sales department for the NBA’s Washington Wizards. 

However, one area I am trying to improve is my knowledge of how major companies can leverage social media.  I have been reading ABC Book to learn more about that topic.  Having said that, my strong communication and persuasion skills are a main reason why I believe I could increase this department’s revenue from day 1.  I’m curious.  Since we’re talking about weaknesses, what do you think is your department’s greatest weakness?”


-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Author, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to

9 Keys on How to Email a New Networking Contact During a Job Search (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 6, 2011

Students and young professionals ALWAYS ask me what they should say when first reaching out to someone for career advice, so here is your blueprint. 

The bottom line is this: People have to trust you and like you BEFORE they will help you, refer you, hire you, or buy from you.  Therefore, the goal of any initial communication with a new networking contact is to build trust and rapport. 

Here are 9 keys on how to do that via email:

  1. Use a Compelling Subject Line For Your Email. (This makes a great first impression and increases your chances of getting a quick, favorable response.)
  2. Establish something in common.  (It could be a mutual acquaintance, a shared affiliation, you saw them speak at an event, you read their book, a recent blog entry or article, you attended the same college, etc.).
  3. Compliment their work and acknowledge how busy they are, without being a kiss-up.
  4. Describe yourself and your dream with passion and confidence.  (Remember The Lemonade Stand Principle: older people LOVE to help ambitious, younger people.)
  5. Include 2 calls-to-action.  (Don’t go overboard, but include a bigger request and a smaller request.  They might agree to the bigger request.  Even if they don’t, the smaller request will look even smaller in comparison to the bigger request, making it more likely to be accepted than if you had just sent the smaller request.) 
  6. Ask for “ADVICE.”  (Do NOT ask for a job or for help finding a job.)
  7. Write the email in a professional, reader-friendly format.  (Do NOT send a lengthy, poorly written email.  Students and recent grads are notorious for that.  Make your email is well-written and easy to read, and remove any word, phrase, or sentence that is not 100% necessary.)
  8. Use an excellent email signature. 
  9. Include a personal, high-value P.S. (This could be a thoughtful question or a link to an interesting, relevant article).

Here is an example.  Use this as a template and tweak it based on your background and who you are reaching out to, etc.

Hi Mr. Smith, 

Given your success and experience in the sports marketing industry, Dave Jackson at ABC Company thought you might be willing to give me some advice.

In May 2011, I will be graduating with Honors from Johns Hopkins University.  I’ve worked extremely hard in and out of the classroom during my time at JHU and am very motivated to achieve my dream of working in sports marketing after college.

Would it be possible for me to take you out for a cup of coffee, or for us to schedule a 15-minute phone call?  It would be great to meet you, ask you a few quick questions, and learn more about how you got started in the field.

I know you are very busy, so thank you for your time and consideration.

P.S. Here is a link to an interesting article about the future of sports marketing that I thought you would enjoy:


Your Name

President of XYZ Business Fraternity

Johns Hopkins University

Try this out, and let me know how it goes!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Author, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak nationwide to groups of students and young professionals.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to