What I learned from interviewing 1000 job candidates over 12 years – and my tips to getting hired

I hire people or advise clients on hiring people every day. One of my businesses is a recurring and hiring agency where we are contracted to find the best possible candidates for various jobs.

For over 12 years, I’ve interviewed over 1,000 job candidates for startups, small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, government departments and non profits.

I’ve learned what types of core attributes employers are constantly looking for – and I’ve learned first hand how you can change these small though processes to nail your next job interview.

In the end, like most things in business, it’s a lot more simple than you would think.

When it comes down to it, employers tend to seek a few core  qualities in any interview – some are so obvious they go unaddressed often. Worse, some articles talk about doing the opposite.

Here’s what I learned during my decade plus of interviewing and recurring job candidates.

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5 ways I doubled my freelancing rates in a year

I’ve freelanced for as long as I can remember. I freelance write, design and run a web design and programming firm with some partners.

Over my 12 years as a freelancer, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to become a successful freelancer – and how to curate a portfolio of clients that will help your business grow. I’ve learned a ton about freelancing – but never more than this last year.

This last year, we decided to try a new approach and consolidate our clients. Instead of working with lots of clients for for low to medium pricing, we decided to work with fewer clients but charge more.

I’ve met hundreds of freelancers, myself included, who don’t know when or how to pull the trigger and start charging clients more for your services. When I decided to take this route, I was worried. Worried I would lose clients. Worried no one would say yes. Worried I would lose out on business.

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7 signs you’re successful and winning in life

When you’ve reached a certain point in your life and career, it’s natural to start getting used to these things. You may be extremely successful and not even know it.

I end up being so busy every day that I often forget that I’m actually successful. Being ambitious naturally leads to being goal oriented so all I see is the next goal rather than reflect on how far I’ve come in my life.

From my experience, I think it’s because in order to succeed in any area of life, you’re naturally ambitious and always looking towards improving or achieving the next milestone. Since you’re always looking forward, you’re successful – and by consequence it’s easy to miss what’s already in front of you.

If you can relate to any of these things below, you’re probably a lot more successful than you realize.

You don’t worry about your bills

The vast majority of people have “too much month left at the end of their money” and are living paycheck to paycheck.

If you happen to be in the small minority of people who don’t need to worry about meeting their bills every month, you’re already successful.

It is a terrible and scary feeling not knowing if you’ll be able to meet your obligations and pay your bills on the first of each month. Most of us have been there – and I lived this way for decades while I built up my career.

If this feeling is something you can’t relate to any more, you’re ahead of the 80% of people in America who have this worry every month – and that puts you in the minority.

You can say “no”

A huge luxury among successful people is the ability to say no. Whether it’s turning down a new project at work, or a new customer. It doesn’t matter if it’s because you’re stretched too thin, you don’t like this new customer or project, or you just choose to use your time differently.

Most people have no option to say “no” and they need to accept everything that comes through their door in order to survive.

If you are among the small few who can decline at your discretion, you’re extremely far ahead of most people – and you have the freedom to say “no” when most people are forced to say “yes.”

You can leave right now

Whether you own your own business or are in a position where you can dictate how your time is spent – if you can get up and take the rest of the day off on a whim, you’re hugely successful.

It means you have the option of freedom ok your terms. It’s something most people don’t have. The ability to simply decide “I don’t feel like working today” – the idea is impossible to comprehend by most people’s standards. Most people are told when to come to work, when to eat lunch, when to leave.

Whether you’re a business owner or just in a position in your career where you can decide to do what you want when you want – you’ve made it.

If you decide that you feel like going out to catch a movie right now just for the hell of it, if no one can ultimately stop you and you’re free to choose how to spend your time today, that’s a luxury most people never know.

If thjs actually is an option for you, be grateful. It means you’ve made it to a level that only successful people get to play on.

You can make more money if you wanted to

For most people, they’re working a dead end job that will always pay them the same amount. They may or may not get a small raise in the future, but for the most part, they can’t earn more money or move up in their careers if they wanted to.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur that can grow your business or an employee who can find creative ways to increase your earnings – you’re free to make more if you want. You have no ceilings and no limits.

Like most signs of success, it revolves around freedom. The freedom to earn more or have the possibility or avenues to do so, is a huge sign that you’re successful.

It may seem like such a small thing – but it’s not. Most people are confined to their paycheck and less some extraordinary circumstance, they don’t have any option to earn more money unless they find a new job or win the lottery. That means they are stuck.

But the truly successful can make their own terms. They can expand their business or achieve bonuses in their work. They can use their creativity to do more.

It means if you really wanted to, you can spread your wings and soar higher than everyone else.

Just the ability to have this option is foreign to most others and having this privelage – regardless of whether you take it or not – is a blessing.

People admire you or want to be like you

Call it jealousy, envy or admiration. The average person is never talked about by others. They’re usually mediocre on every level so naturally, no one notices them or strives to be like them.

Being successful is all about freedom. It means you’re more free than others because you have what others done. It comes with ups and downs but in the end, if other people want what you have – whether it’s things you own or achievements you’ve earned – someone wants to be like you. You’re the person they look up to. You’re their sign of success and you’re living in it.

Honestly, how many people have you met that embody some form of success – enough where other people want to be in your shoes?

Even if you know of just one person who envies you, you’re successful. Success comes with “haters” and it means you’re ahead of the average person. It’s a sure sign that you’re successful.

People seek your advice

Whether you’re successful in business, relationships or anything else in life, a sure sign you’ve made it – or at least that you’re on the right track – is when people seek your counsel.

People don’t seek advice from the average Joe because you don’t need advice to be average. If you’re above average on any level, you’re the one people seek out.

There are lots of people who want to be this way – so they are constantly trying to give advice to others – often unwanted. They desperately want to be heard and want to be important.

The truly successful don’t need to chase down others. They come to you because you’ve achieve what they dream of – so they seek your help and advice.

If you’re at the point in your life where people want to listen and learn from you, you’re doing something right.

Like other successful people, I love helping others and am always grateful to be in a position to answer any questions or give advice to someone who asks. It’s an honor and privelage to be someone that others can look up to.

I have met plenty of losers who want so badly to be heard yet they haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile. So naturally they don’t have any valuables insight and are never asked their opinions on much at all. In turn, these people get louder and more aggressive as they insist on being heard. The truly successful don’t need to insist in antrhjng because others seek them out.

Success in any area of life is earned but it’s also a privelage. Sharing what you know with others is something only the truly successful can offer when asked. And graciously being able to help someone is an amazing feeling.

You don’t care what other people think

When I was struggling when I first started my career, I was constantly comparing myself to others. I was trolling Facebook or comparing what I had accomplished with everyone else because I always felt like I was behind.

I eventually learned that successful people don’t waste their time comparing their lives to others. They’re too busy to dream because they’re making their dreams their reality.

They desperately want to “make it” so they never stop competing and comparing.

After I “made it” I noticed this feeling naturally faded away. It seemed like a by-product of success was that I had grown into a person that didn’t care what others were doing. I was able to pursue my own dreams and life without wondering what Joe Blow was doing and where I was in contrast.

I learned that when you have enough on your plate and enough success in your life, you’re too busy to concern yourself with antrhjng that doesn’t make you feel good. When your dreams are unfolding in front of you, it seems less and less important how others are doing.

I have met tons of people who are losing in life. They walk around like victims that have no control over what they do or where they’ll end up in life – so they constantly envy others and want to see others fail.

It is a toxic mindset that kills success and it’s obvious why some of the biggest losers I’ve ever met are also the most jealous and most consumed people who never can be satisfied. All they care about is how others look at them. It’s a small minded trait of the losing individual.

They care so much about what others are doing and what they are thinking of them that they don’t get anywhere at all.

When you’re successful and secure in what you’ve accomplished, you don’t bother with caring what others think of you. When you’re too busy writing your own life story, you lose the desire to read other people’s stories.

That is a truly amazing feeling of freedom that comes with the territory of success.

If you’re finding your dreams coming true, you don’t care what others think of you. You write your own story and being able to harness this powerful mindset is a huge sign that you’re winning and dominating in life.

It’s a mindset

Being successful is something to always be grateful for. It takes hard work and sacrifice to get there. Whether you’re already winning or on the way to dominating life, keep these things in mind and remind yourself daily that even if you don’t feel like a success – you may be doing much better than you realize.

If you’re successful that means you have high standards. So it’s easy to miss out on the obvious fact that you are successful.

You realize you’re already successful and the only thing that will change is that you’ll become more and more successful – but you’re already there.

Success is about freedom. Some people run away or try and fill their lives with meaningless stuff – when in the end, what truly makes you successful will also give you the life of options – the options to do what you want and do what you love.

When you stop and think, you may be surprised to find that you’ve “made it” for a long one now – and you’re continuing to win in life because winning has become your “normal.”

Confident and successful is quiet. Insecure and unsuccessful is loud.

There is a quote from one of my favorite movies – American Gangster – when Denzel Washinton’s character gives some solid advice to his flashy brother. He says the loudest person in the room is the weakest person in the room.”

We all know that guy. When he is clearly jealous about something someone has or accomplished, he’s he first one to shoot him or his successes down. He’s seething with jealousy and envy – rather than working to succeed himself, it makes him feel better in the short term to put that person down. It’s the same reason people say the guy in the red Ferrari is compensating for something.

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5 reasons mediocre people will hate you for your success

It’s a strange phenomenon when mediocre people start looking at successful people. Mediocre people are really predictable. They’ve taken the “road more frequently traveled” and their lives show this. They have their mediocre career i.e. a passionless job, live in their mediocre homes with their mediocre spouses, have mediocre friends, and drive to the mediocre stores in their mediocre car.

There’s nothing exciting or different about their lives – and they aren’t happy about it. They’re idea of success is confined to a very small, not-so-creative box, and they are constantly looking for ways to escape their boring existence. Whether that’s rushing to take their 2 week yearly vacation, dying to see Friday or drowning themselves out in useless, mind-numbing reality TV – the most popular sport among the mediocre.

What’s worse is that “mediocre” has become a goal unto itself. People shoot for the middle. People flock to the same schools for the same degree so they can compete for the same old $50,000/year cubicle job in a company where they’re easily replaceable and probably won’t make it anywhere further than, at best, middle management. They’re passionate about everything except where they are in life. It’s quite sad. So what ends up happening is more people compete for this middle-of-the-road lifestyle, which ironically makes it more competitive – which in turn, makes people want it even more.

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Stop getting married right out of college

I’m not sure when people decided the best time to get married was right out of college – the time when your life is the least stable and normal, when your career, future and ability to support yourself are in question.

Logically, this is the worst time to get married, yet people keep rushing to the aisles ready to say “I do” without the slightest clue of what it takes to be in a successful marriage.

Getting married doesn’t make you an adult

Getting married doesn’t make you an adult. It doesn’t make you more grown up or make others think you’re successful and on the road to the top. Getting married is something you do when you and your partner are fully ready to take on the huge responsibility of taking care of each other. If you can’t even take care of yourself, why would you enter into a marriage?

I’ve been noticing this among millennial a who act like they need to prove they’re all “grown up.” So they leave college and already assume a successful career lies before them – so getting married is the next adult thing to do.

If you’re unemployed, it’s not the right time to get married.

Getting married isn’t an accomplishment – stop acting like it is

It is odd to me when people do mediocre things and act and expect people to be in awe.

Getting married is not an accomplishment. Staying married for 30 years is an accomplishment. But getting engaged and walking down the aisle is something antrhjng can do. Especially when your parents are probably going to end up paying for your wedding – since you can’t afford a dream wedding anyways – it is nothing to mark in your “successful accomplishments” column.

You have to have a job to get married

Getting married and starting a family is expensive. Just like getting a home and having kids.

There are too many unknowns. What if you don’t get the dream job? What if you don’t finish school?

I blame schools for making people too overconfident that life will be easy. Honestly, life is insanely hard. You’re not special and no one is waiting to help you.

Two mature adults who get married tackle the world together – but if neither of you are ready to even support yourself, supporting a family is harder.

You’ll have your big day and spend lots of time planning it – when it’s over, people will go back to their lives and no one will remember or care that you got hitched – because people get married all the time.

Once the glitz and glamour is gone, you’ll just be 2 adults with more responsibilities than you had before.

If you’re in school, it’s not time to get married

If you are in shook of any kind – whether it be undergrad or you’re getting your masters degree – it means you’re not yet an adult. Adults have careers and a plan. If you are in school of any kind, you are not an adult – and marriage is reserved for adults.

Getting married won’t make you an adult and it won’t make you look like a grown up.

Let’s stop rushing to get married and add to that 50% divorce rate – because if you’re not employed and just starting your life, getting married is the worst thing you can do.

Marriage is a commitment that you make when you’re both fully matured and understand each other as people – then you can combine your lives and move forward. But don’t think getting engaged will solve your problems and don’t ignore the fact that you haven’t yet started your life as an adult. Getting married won’t make life easier or make you an adult – it will make your life harder. Are the sacrifices and hard work worth it? Damn right it is. But it’s not easy and not for young kids who are just starting out.

Get to a place in life where your future is bright – and plan accordingly. Don’t just get married because that’s what you think you need to do next.

Greed is the only reason to support minimum wage

Minimum wage is another one of those government “solutions” that forces the economy to behave in unnatural ways – causing more problems than it fixes.

People earn what they’re worth. They aren’t entitled to anything more or anything less than the value they provide to the economy. There should be no artificial magic system that forces Jane to be paid more than Jill, completely ignoring everything about that person and their background.

People who complain about the minimum wage is nonsense. It makes as much as sense as me complaining that you aren’t giving me money.

Minimum wage is a socialist idea that pretty much argues that if Jane is a fry cook at McDonald’s, she’s entitled to a minimum salary regardless of how much it costs McDonald’s to hire/maintain her job. Minimum wage ignores what it costs to keep that job alive. It ignores why that job exists. It ignores the return-on-investment for McDonald’s – and forces McDonald’s to pay Jane $20 an hour instead of $8 an hour.

It doesn’t matter if every other fry cook at Wendy’s or Burger King makes $8 an hour. It doesn’t matter if McDonald’s earns $20 per hour from an employee that it pays $8 an hour.

Every job has a level of importance in the company or organization that provides that job. There are low level, low paid positions, mid-level positions and high level positions. The easier and less qualified you have to be to do a job, it demands less pay.

That’s why it makes complete sense that the CEO of McDonald’s earns more than a fry cook at McDonald’s. The job of the CEO is more difficult and much more important – the CEO’s work results in more money being made for the company, while the fry cook’s does not.

People argue the CEO is greedy and overpaid. Maybe. But if the CEO decided to leave, other companies would pay him or her as much or even more. That’s because that’s what they are worth in the marketplace.

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Reasons why immigrants are and always will be more successful than you

Every day, people are complaining that their lives are too hard. They can’t catch a break. They’re able-bodied, fluent in English and are living in America – where no matter how bad your situation there are thousands of ways to get free education, meet the right people and claw your way out of poverty.

They make every excuse from them being born into a poor family to racial profiling to the “man” holding them back. Unsuccessful people seem to have an unlimited number of excuses as to why they’re unsuccessful, yet they can’t come up with even one solution or step to take in the right direction.

As an immigrant myself, coming from a poor family who immigrated to America with all the same opportunities as anyone else, I know how difficult it is to “make it” in this country. I truly know the meaning of inequality and having disadvantages.

But when there are literally millions of living examples who defy the odds and make it big in America, what excuse can someone come up with that explains their lack of success? The way I see it, if immigrants can do it, what the hell is everyone else’s excuse?

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Poor people rely on luck

The vast majority of poor people are convinced they have no control over their lives. So they look for magical forces to explain or fix their lives because they’ve already decided they can’t do it themselves. Luck is the biggest of them all.

A poor person believes that they are poor because that’s what the universe intended. They’re poor because they were born that way. It’s their destiny. Their kids destiny. And everyone in their family with be poor forever.

They don’t believe in exceptions. They think that once poor – forever poor. Period. They are “unlucky.”

By this flawed logic, they also believe all rich people are rich because the universe chose their number out of a hat. They randomly became successful out of dumb random luck. They were in the right place at the right time. They did nothing to create success. They were just “lucky.”

See the problem here? First off, aside from your skin color or your gender, how many things are you simply born with that never change? Very little. Being born poor means you were born poor at that moment. It doesn’t say you can never make more than minimum wage your entire life. There’s no rule that says once poor forever poor.

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You should be embarrassed if you’re an adult mooching off your parents

If you consider yourself an adult, it doesn’t matter what you think you’ve accomplished – if you get a penny from your parents, you’re still a child. Period.

My wife’s best friend hasn’t worked a day in her life. Let’s call her Lisa. Lisa gets to enjoy all the fruits of labor that a normal, working adult earned, without having earned it. The worst part – she thinks she earned it.

She mooches off her parents but she doesn’t think she’s mooching. She says stupid things like “Oh what else are they going to spend their money on” and truly believes she’s getting what she deserves. She even has the balls to call other people moochers.

Lisa looks at my wife, who works a full time job, commutes to work, manages deadlines – and sees herself no different – because Lisa has all the same things my wife has. Earning them is irrelevant. She thinks having those same things make ls her equal. As smart as she thinks she is, she’s not very bright – obviously.

This is the worst kind of spoiled – justified spoilage. A mooch who thinks she’s not a moocher.

Lisa has a nice apartment, new car and vacations twice a year. Her parents finance her life. She’s 35 years old – that’s not a typo – she’s in her mid thirties…and oblivious to the fact that her lifestyle is something 99.9% of people work hard to achieve. Since she has all these things given to her for free, she fancies herself an accomplished adult that deserves everything she has. She has no job and no ambitions but she thinks she’s an adult.

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Women choose to earn less than men

There is no wage gap among women and men. It’s a myth. Women aren’t paid unfairly just because they’re women – that’s just not true so stop believing it.

You’ve heard the deceiving statistic that women earn 77 cent for ever dollar a man earns.

The actual statistic is accurate but it leaves out a critical detail as to why this gap exists. It’s not because employers are sexist and pay women less simply for being a woman. It’s actually because women choose lower paying jobs to work in.

Men gravitate towards jobs such as engineering, science and finance – and those jobs are more valuable to the economy hence the pay associated with these jobs tend to be higher.

Women tend to prefer jobs that are more nurturing in nature such as teaching, social work and nursing.

You can argue these jobs are more important for humanity – which I tend to agree with. But economically speaking, they are less valuable and therefore, a teacher typically earns less than an engineer. A social worker earns less than an investment banker.

Statistically, this is the true reason that women earn less than men. It’s not a conspiracy or a flaw in the system – it’s quite simply that women choose lower paying careers than men.

If men chose these types of careers and women didn’t, men would earn 77 cents on average, for every dollar earned by a woman. It works both ways.

So let’s squash that argument right there. The more important fact that people tend to misunderstand is the simple fact that some jobs are more important than others – and in turn, select people are more valuable economically than others – the pay difference is simply a reflection of your worth to the marketplace and has nothing to do with your gender, race or whatever else you’ve been made to believe.

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School doesn’t prepare you for the real world

School paints a false reality of the real world. Not only is this “reality” completely wrong, but worse, they convince students the real world is most definitely going to be the way they say it is. Students, having never yet lived in the real world, naturally believe it to be accurate. But, of course the real world is nothing like way schools describe it.

instead of simply peddling a false sense of the “real world,” they take it a step further and convince students that this “real world” they describe is exactly what students should anticipate once they leave academia. They paint it as a magical place where jobs are plentiful and available to anyone who gets a good degree and follows the rules.

So not only do students get a false perception of how the real world works, but they are forced to believe that the schools version of reality is absolutely true. It’s not just moronic and irresponsible, it’s deceptive and malicious because after leaving school, students continue to search for thisnversion of the “real world” painted in their heads by the school system – a reality that doesn’t exist.

The result is not just students when are shocked and surprised by what the real world is actually like, but they go into denial, refusing the accept the real world entirely and waiting for their version of the real world – filled with promises of a bright future – to materialize.

Its not that schools don’t tell students Santa Claus doesn’t exist. They tell students that Santa really definitely exists, and tells them they should search and wait for him to appear because he’s absolutely real. It’s incredibly dangerous and explains, in part, why recent graduates are so dillusional and unrealistic about what to expect as an adult.

Their value to the economy, their perceived skills and knowledge, are said to be absolute and “special” in this fantasy world instilled into them by every teacher, professor and guidance counselor they’ve ever encountered.

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Poor people choose to be poor

There’s a persistent myth that people seem to cling onto like religion.

Poor people tend to lump their poverty into the same category as their race and gender. Meaning that if you are born poor or come from poor family, that being poor almost is a birth right. They believe being born poor or currently being poor is impossible to change – no different from changing your gender or race.

The fact is, poor people choose to be poor. Broke people choose to be broke. Financially stupid people choose to be financially stupid. They choose it from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, every single day. For the vast majority of people, they choose to be poor. It’s as simple as that.

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