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My Ten Commandments of Helping People

Part 2 of 2


by Glenn Shepard

May 12, 2015

Category:  Careers





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Sara's wax seal.

A few years ago I agreed to help Sara Redhead in her job search, at the request of her father Paul, who I know through the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.


She had just completed her bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Alabama.

I required that she promise to follow my simple but proven plan no matter how bizarre it sounded to her.


First, I had her make a list of 25 companies she’d like to work for, regardless of whether they were hiring.   (REASON: Over 50% of job openings are never publicly advertised.)


Second, I had her snail mail her resume with a hand written letter, and a red wax seal containing the first letter of her last name on the envelope. (REASON: Most people apply for jobs online. While there's nothing wrong with that, it's not enough. You’ll never stand out from the crowd if you only do what everyone else is doing.)


The red wax seal is how kings and queens communicated important messages centuries ago. It's so unique today that it's impossible for someone not to open an envelope with this seal on it.


Third, I had Sara mail the unique envelope containing her resume directly to the CEOs, not to the HR directors.   (REASON: If you impress the CEO and he or she passes your resume on to HR, you have a lot more perceived clout than other applicants.)


The next step was to make follow up calls to all 25 CEOs a few weeks later and ask for an interview. Even though we knew she wouldn't get through to many of these top executives, she didn't need to in order for this approach to work. All she had to do was leave the message that she was the young lady that sent the hand written letter with the red wax seal and she'd be instantly recognized.


But before she could, HR directors started calling her and saying "Our CEO said you impressed him so much that I need to get you in here for an interview".


Sara landed her dream job with a major corporation, and moved to San Antonio, TX to begin her career.


But here's the rest of her story.


I've asked every one of the many people I've helped with job searches over the years to keep me posted on their progress. While everyone promises to do so, I never hear from about 90% of them again.


It's no surprise that most people aren't grateful enough to honor this simple request, but this is far bigger than me.


This hurts them because not keeping commitments - especially to people who have the ability to help you in your career - is a bad habit that can come back to haunt you down the road.


This also hurts others because I'm just a little less inclined to help more people in the future knowing there's such a high probability they won't keep their promises.


And that's why this epilogue to Sara's story is so special. Last month I received this email from her:


"Mr. Shepard, I wanted to give you an update. I discovered that the mathematics industry is too impersonal for me. I don't think attaining a mathematics degree was a mistake and am still working full time as a Statistical Research Analyst. But I'm also taking pre-requisite classes to become a nurse. To this day I cannot thank you enough for all you did to help me find my first job. I owe a large part of the success I am currently rewarded with and any future success to your unprecedented guidance and career knowledge."


Only time will tell what field Sara ends up in for the rest of her life, but she'll be successful at whatever field she chooses because:



1. She understands the importance of making a plan and sticking to it. (Her father is retired Air Force, so I suspect he taught her a thing or two about the importance of executing plans).


2. She's willing to listen to and take advice from a voice of experience, even when that advice contradicted what all of her colleagues were doing.


3. She has gratitude and expresses it, which is something most people of any age don't do anymore.


4. She follows through.



These principles are more than good career advice. They're basic virtues that everyone should have, and are common sense principles our great grandparents were taught when they were kids.


How sad that in this day and age when we have access to worlds of information our great grandparents could have never dreamed of, common sense isn't as common as it was in their time.


But for those who are smart enough to listen and learn, it is still out there. If you want a role model for your kids in their career search, tell them to look at Sara Redhead.



To Your Success,



Glenn Shepard



P.S.  We buy our wax sealing supplies at


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