Refocusing Career Counseling Clientele

When I started my company, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., it was with the mission of promoting the hiring of veterans and merchant mariners. I worked with everyone, but our national heroes were my primary concern.

I will still work with everyone when it comes to executive recruiting. If you are qualified for a position I am looking to fill, I will consider you regardless of whether or not you have served. However, when it comes to career counseling, as of January 3, I will only work with veterans, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, healthcare professionals, merchant mariners, and their spouses. The reason is simple: We have new heroes who need our support, not just veterans of the military.

I don’t want to make this political, but the treatment of law enforcement has been disgusting, to put it mildly. Firefighters, to a certain extent, have had to risk their lives because of how law enforcement have been treated. Healthcare professionals are facing burnout. As for our merchant mariners, they have always been the forgotten heroes. And the spouses of all (hopefully) have stood by them. They all need credible career services without the games. Others may be able to afford to go to career counselors, pay thousands of dollars, for services that can last years – that’s not a typo! – but our heroes cannot. The game is simple: The longer the services last, the more the counselor (sometimes called “coach,”) earns. So they have not incentive to work quickly. I work quickly, efficiently and effectively.

All my clients have always paid a flat rate, veterans receiving a 50% deduction, and my services have always continued until the client gets their next job. That will not change. I have no incentive to draw out the process. All I require is an initial 2-hour session and then we will have unlimited interview rehearsals (those are what are important) until the job is secured. (I also make myself available to answer any questions a client has.) No limits. No small print. No strings attached. And the price will stay that which was previously paid by veterans.

Anyone can hire me to help them with their resume and cover letter, as part of my Professional Writing Services, so I am not leaving those who can’t afford my competitors in the lurch. But the important services, the planning of a job search campaign and, most importantly, interview practice, are reserved for my Career Counseling clients.

Let me tell you about some of the veterans, police and medical staff I have helped in the past. In all cases, the key was the response to the offer (it is not a question), “Tell us about yourself.”

One soldier, who had served in the Infantry, told me his response would be to summarize his resume. That’s the mistake most people make. The good response is to tell the interviewer something not in the resume that speaks to their character. In this case, the veteran had guarded a construction site where the Afghans were building a girls’ school. Then he guarded the girls. His response to the interviewers was to tell them about his pride and satisfaction in being a part of girls receiving a formal education for the first time in their lives. Their response was a job offer.

A Marine who came to me was very shy. He did not want to tell me about his military career. It took a couple of hours but he finally relented. A job interview is no place for modesty. He told me that he was the recipient of a Silver Star! When I asked him why he had received it, he smiled and said, “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you!” I told him that that was exactly how he should respond in an actual interview. We added “Silver Star recipient” to the top of his resume. His phone starting ringing. He got interviews and he got job offers.

I have a great deal of respect for nurses, having worked at nursing homes for over four years. One nurse’s story was about how she successfully integrated technology (administrative not medical) into her team’s workday, decreasing the time they had to spend away from patients. She, too, got the job offer.

A police officer, who had taken early retirement, told me a story which, when he told it, was very funny. I cannot do it justice, and won’t try. The short version is that while serving on the New York Police Department, in his first year, he delivered two babies. That was it. No more babies. One day he single-handedly captured two armed bank robbers with the loot. He told me he was more afraid delivering the babies than confronting the robbers, face-to-face. When he told the story to the job interviewers, he got the job offer.

One doctor told me a story which I would really like to forget! (I apparently had not made it clear enough to him that I’m a Ph.D. doctor, not an MD doctor! For the record, they are jealous of us because we have one more letter than they do!) In any event, while his story was not appropriate for me, it was certainly appropriate for his job interviewers and he got the offer.

Our heroes have unique stories to tell. They just have to know which ones to tell and how to tell them.

I look forward to serving those who have served – including their spouses.


Dream Your Dream Job

I am certain I have written about this previously but, with 290 LinkedIn articles, I hope you will forgive me for not being able to find it and pardon me for repeating myself.

Many years ago a man had a unique problem. He owned a meeting venue. His best client was a woman who regularly filled his largest room, some 250 seats. This was a weekly lecture. It began at 11 AM and was scheduled to finish at Noon, but her audience, all women, stayed an extra 15-20 minutes to speak with her. It was just what any speaker would want and exactly what the owner wanted. Until…

One day a man came to him and said he wanted to rent his largest room on the same day that the previously mentioned woman was scheduled to speak. The man wanted to begin precisely at Noon. The owner explained to him that the room would be utilized until Noon and they agreed that his presentation would begin at 12:15.

Now the owner had to figure out a way to clear the room by Noon so he could have the rows of chairs straightened and the room cleaned, if necessary. If I remember correctly, he came to me for a solution and I asked a friend, more qualified than I, to join me. (He may have called my friend who invited me to join them. It was a long time ago so some details are fuzzy.) We went to his facility, saw the room, and then the three of us took a walk outside.

We noticed that across the street was an apartment building with retail stores on the ground floor, including a shoe store catering to women. One of us came up with an idea. We approached the owner of the shoe store and asked him if he would agree to have a 50% off sale, for one hour, on the day in question, starting at Noon and ending at 1:00. We said we would print no more than 250 coupons which we would place on the seats prior to the woman’s lecture.

Since the owner of the meeting facility would pay for the printing, the shoe store owner agreed. When the women entered the room and saw the coupons, that became the topic of discussion. For the first time ever, they started to leave the lecture before the speaker had finished. The room emptied out before Noon. The sale was a complete success. The store owner was thrilled and offered to do it again.

I remember, when the venue owner called to tell me that the gimmick actually worked, my friend and I had a good laugh. We could not understand the fascination women have with shoes. And we could not think of a male equivalent. Ties? Cuff links?

In any event, the connection between women and shoes has always remained in the back of my mind. On occasion, I have asked shoe store owners to explain it to me. Their answers were usually along the lines of “Women” in an exasperated tone of voice. Not at all helpful.

As my regular readers know, I have lately been reading Freud. During his tenth lecture on dreams, “Symbolism in the Dream, ” in Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, he stated that “the shoe or slipper is a female genital” (emphasis in original). That got me thinking that perhaps women have a subconscious need for shoes. For some reason, this got me thinking about people who want to change careers.

I am sure everyone has heard that in sports the general advice is to think it, visualize it, and then do it. Think about throwing a strike. Picture it sailing over home plate. Then you will throw a strike. Think about hitting an ace in tennis. Picture your swing and impacting the ball. Then you will hit an ace, a ball your opponent cannot return. I advise clients to imagine their upcoming job interview and play it out. Then, in the actual interview, they are usually calm and confident because they have rehearsed different scenarios either with me, a friend, or simply in their heads.

So why not the same with changing careers and literally finding your dream job? Dreams, according to Freud, are expressions of our wishes (“wish fulfillment” to be precise). We dream what we want. (Nightmares are what we fear). And it does not matter if it is a day dream or a sleeping (night) dream, we dream what we want.

When a career counseling client comes to me to discuss changing careers, I always ask about their day dreams. Based purely on personal experience, I know that is a key to what a person truly wants. I had no idea that psychiatry was supporting me and I never bothered (My bad!) to find out. Apparently, I was right. (It’s rare, but it does happen!)

So, since your dreams tell you what you want, if you are thinking about changing careers but don’t know what to do, think about changing careers before you go to sleep and perhaps your subconscious will let you know. Or, if while doing your job you find yourself day dreaming about something else, you may already have your answer. (As for what the items in your dreams mean, that’s above my pay grade! I would not hazard to guess.)

One word of warning: Many times people do not actually want to change careers, they only think they do. They like their colleagues. They like their boss. They like their clients/customers. What they want is a change of responsibilities, something new. In those cases, we work out a written proposal to the employer to expand the person’s duties. Everyone is happy. The boss keeps a loyal employee and the employee keeps working with people they like while making their dream come true.

Pleasant dreams!

The 21st Century Job Search

New cover shot for articles

People seem to believe that entering a new century means that there is a new way to do just about everything, or at least there should be. That’s silly. At least as regards conducting an effective job search, the only thing different in this, the second decade of the twenty-first century, from previous centuries, is technology – you can literally find networking events at the push of a button, and apply for hundreds of jobs a week, if you already have a computer and Internet access, virtually for free!

There are two other differences, but I am afraid you will have to read my new book, The 21st Century Job Search, to find out what they are!

I have never been afraid of controversy, nor am I hesitant to admit when I am wrong. Accordingly, in the book I revisit my previous comments on such things as wearing large engagement rings to job interviews, my short-lived position as a career coach at a New York university, and coping with discrimination, topics which raised some eyebrows when I originally wrote about them on LinkedIn.

In the book you will learn:

  • How to prepare for an effective job search;
  • How to research prospective employers;
  • How to handle your Internet presence;
  • How to utilize LinkedIn to build your brand and attract employers;
  • How to effectively network – especially if you are shy;
  • How to prepare for surprises;
  • How to correctly read job descriptions to avoid frustration;
  • What really happens to, and how to write, effective cover letters;
  • What really happens to, and how to write, effective resumes;
  • How to properly prepare for phone, video and in-person interviews;
  • What questions to ask, and how to answers questions you will be asked, in interviews;
  • How to follow-up after an interview;
  • About legal and illegal discrimination; and
  • About negotiating, offer letters, and resigning.

I also tackle the “tough” questions of dealing with a “resume gap,” raising health issues, having been fired, and how to turn having been a stay-at-home parent or caregiver into an attraction for employers.

But I do not simply tell you what to do, when possible, I show you. There is a script, especially for those of you who are shy, for effective networking and follow up. Additionally, you will find sample letters for networking, expressing interest in a company, applying for jobs, thanking interviewers and, my personal favorite, the rejection letter.

While in the book I give particular advice to veterans, college students, “older” candidates, the long-term unemployed, stay-at-home parents, and caregivers about how to effectively cope with the different stages of a job search, the book is for any job seeker regardless of their circumstances.

The official launch date for the book is March 1. You may pre-order the book and receive significant savings through February 28. The paperback edition will only cost you $9.95 (a $10 savings), and the Kindle edition will only be $2.99 (a $6.96 savings; FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.) To make your purchase, click on the links or the book cover.

Links to LinkedIn Posts You May Find of Interest

Ten Things for Veterans to Keep in Mind When Conducting a Job Search

10 Things to Do to Get over the Holiday Job Seeking Blues

Why I Believe I am Correct in Accepting Connect Requests from Everyone

The 5-Second Resume Skim

Two Jobs to Think Thrice About Before Taking

How I Got a Former Prostitute Hired

5 Steps to Successful Career Change

Closing the Salary Gap

9 Questions Every Candidate Should Ask in an Interview and Why

Before hiring, meet the wife!

Why reading the classics is important

Check Your References

What is an Informational Meeting and How Should You Conduct One?

The Dangers of Frivolous Accusations of Sexual Harassment

Why Volunteering is so Important for Job Seekers

What is appropriate to share with colleagues and what isn’t?

Is this the Dumbest or Most Brilliant Reason for Working on a Straight Commission?

On Time Management

What will the 2018 Resume Look Like?

Identifying and Eliminating the One Person Who is Blocking Your Job Search or Career Move

Every so often I like to read books about topics about which I am curious, knowing full well that I will not understand them. So when I learned that Einstein had written a book meant to explain his theories to the public, I ordered it. If I say I understood 25% I would be bragging and exaggerating! But it was not a waste of time. (Get it? Time. The fourth dimension! Pause for laughter.) It’s good to get out of your own head every now and again.

That is especially true with a job search. The majority of everything you do will be unsuccessful. Most of the employers you contact will not respond. Most of the people with whom you network will be of no assistance. But the minority will respond. The minority will be helpful. You will get that job or start that new career. The problem is, unless you are really lucky and get that new job quickly, it’s going to take a while. That will cause frustration and frustration leads to self-doubt. Self-doubt leads to paralysis.

Most of the resumes I receive start with self-praise.

Highly accomplished manager and sole contributor with deep understanding of best practices to support all channels of asset management distribution. Deep management team-building and mentoring capabilities. Extremely fluid at forging trans-departmental relationships and strong collaborations in highly matrixed organizations. Excellent contract negotiation skills. Creative problem solver skilled at developing effective messaging with internal and external clients. Keen sense of priorities and projects ownership to ensure successful completion on time and on budget.

That’s an exact quote and a great example of what I am talking about. Notice how great she thinks she is but, alas, no mention of a single actual accomplishment. If she had come to me for assistance, the nonsense would have been replaced with a few tangible facts about which employers would actually care. She may be as good as she thinks she is, but, to use a journalism term, if so, she buried the lead.

There is a reason why so many job seekers make this mistake. They are focused on themselves. They want employers to know how great they are. Well, no employer cares how great you think you are. Employers want to be confident that you can solve their problems. That is why self-praise needs to be replaced with selected accomplishments.

But even that is no guarantee of a job offer. And most people will still ignore you. There may be better candidates. You will not always be the best. In fact, you may be the best only once, which is all you need to be.

The problem is, as stated, rejection leads to frustration. You then go from thinking you are the best to thinking you are worthless and your career has been for nought. You start obsessing. You panic. You can’t think straight. You can’t figure out what you are doing wrong.

You then become your own worst enemy. You can’t see the forest for the trees. You no longer have any confidence. You forget about all your successes. You are the one standing in your own way!

That is when you have to step back. Unless you are in marketing or sales, you are not an expert in marketing or sales. And marketing and sales is what a successful job search is all about. You could be actually the greatest IT professional in human history, but the worst in human history making the case for your employment. There is no contradiction between the two. This is not what you do!

When that happens, when you reach that stage, you have no choice but to seek outside help. Of course, I am pitching my services. I’d be lying and would lose all credibility if I pretended otherwise. But before spending money (you don’t want to know how much some people have told me they have spent on job search assistance and career counseling!) spend time with people you respect. Notice I did not say “friends and family.” You might like or love them, but you may not respect them. And if you don’t respect them, you won’t listen to them and, just as importantly, they won’t listen to you, because they probably don’t respect you either. The person needs to be able to take a step back, forget all they know about you, and let you talk freely and candidly about your career. They first have to listen to you. Then they have to ask questions you might not like but which you will have to answer. And then you have to listen to them. You don’t necessarily have to agree with them, but you have to listen.

I have found that people sometimes ignore their most valuable traits. They take them for granted and don’t think they are a big deal when, in fact, they are. Ironically, those are the traits that may appeal to a new employer and are usually the ones that will lead to a new career. But to find them, you have to stand back and let the person with whom you are meeting see both your forest and your trees.


Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website,, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

The One Question to Ask Yourself if You Think You Should Change Careers

I won’t exaggerate. It does not happen every day, but at least once a week I get a phone call from someone considering changing careers. As we chat it becomes clear that their problem is not their career but rather their job.

There’s a difference. If you basically like what you do but don’t like your boss or colleagues, you want a new job. If you like what you do but want to do more, and there is no room for growth with your current employer, you want a new job. (In that case, you actually need a new job!) But if you really don’t like what you are doing, despite the fact that you like your boss and colleagues, then it may be time for a new career.

That’s a major step. You will have to learn new things, maybe even go back to school. You could require a license or certification. And, no less importantly, you may need to create an entirely new network. This is not buying a new car or changing your appearance!

When you have issues with your job, it is good to talk to friends and family. They can help. They can listen. They can advise. But when the topic is changing careers, friends and family may let their feelings get in the way. They are rightly concerned about your finances. After all, a new career means starting over and starting over usually means a much lower salary. They care about you and don’t want you to end up loosing what you have worked so hard to achieve. And they may be right!

Some people, including career counselors, will suggest that you take an aptitude test to determine what you are good at. Nonsense! It’s a waste of money. If you actually want to take a test, ask the counselor what test she recommends and then go to their website and take it yourself. You’ll save time and money and won’t feel like a total idiot since you will be wasting less time and less money if you had used her services. (Usually all that happens is that the counselor sends you a link to the test and then the company sends her the link. She then calls you and, basically, reads you the results.)

The fact is, you know what you want to do, you just don’t know it! So sit down, alone, in a comfortable chair, without any distractions, and ask yourself one simple question: When you are working, doing your job, what do you daydream about?

Once you have that answer you may know what your next career will be. To find out, most friends and most family members will be of no help. As stated above, they are going to let their personal feelings get in the way. Instead of encouraging you, which means encouraging you to take a risk, they will encourage you to play it safe. That’s when you go to a career counselor. Because a career counselor can help you answer the next question, Can you make an actual career out of what you daydream about?

Previously I have written, and said at my public presentations, that when choosing a career counselor to help you conduct an effective job search you should always ask one question: How many people have you hired and fired? If they have not hired or fired anyone, then, for them, career counseling is an academic pursuit. You don’t need theory you need experience and they can’t provide it.

The same is true when it comes to choosing a career counselor to help with a new career. The one question to ask them is: Have you ever changed careers? If not, then, again, all they can do is to tell you what they have read in books and articles. You need someone who can hone in on the real issues career changers face and then, together, decide if that is really what you want. If they have not been through it, they won’t know what to ask (unless they read the right books which, after all, you can read on your own saving yourself time and money!).

The good news about changing careers, as opposed to jobs, is that you can actually change careers while keeping your current job. You can test it out and see if you like it before taking the plunge and quitting that job about which your friends and family are so concerned. Which means they will not be negative influences since there is nothing for them to be negative about. There’s no risk – which is obviously the same situation if you want to change careers because you lost your job.


Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website,, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

%d bloggers like this: