Remember Our Anniversary Party Tomorrow!

Hello, Monday! We’re back from an interview coaching workshop in Columbus, Ohio for one of our clients and getting ready for tomorrow’s First Anniversary Party on Tuesday, September 20th from 7PM to 10PM and fundraiser for the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY), my favorite education non-profit. I participated in HOBY 20 years ago and without  it, I would have never gone away to school or led the professional path I took toward entrepreneurship.

The ticket price for the party is $15 and all proceeds are tax deductible and go directly to HOBY NY Metro’s account via the Eventbrite page (minus the ticket fee). We’ll also be auctioning off some donated goods and services  from our colleagues and partners valued at over $1,000. Here are just a few:

A 4 session small business coaching package from Dana Leavy of Aspyre Solutions

– A one hour free health consulting from Jaison Greene of Detox Authority

– An $82 Avon skin care package courtesy of Jandelle Hinton

– A coaching package of your choice from us!

We can’t wait to see you there and support a great cause, celebrate, and expand your network so see you there!

RSVP here.

Why I Hired My Team

So here is the last in my blog series about my perspective on recruiting and hiring my team. We’ve discussed where I found people, what I did to recruit them, and now today why I thought that these were the right people for the project. Here is what impressed me about my team members.

Achievement and Leadership- As I grow as an entrepreneur and a recruitment specialist, I try to broaden my perspective from the “left-brained” approach of quantified accomplishments and try to consider more creative qualities in prospects. But I’ve come to realize that I place a high value on achievement and my experience has shown that it does predict success. Someone who is focused on accomplishments and leadership cares about their work and making a positive impact. It also means they can “ship,” to quote Seth Godin.

Generalist and Diverse Experiences- I know that there are lots of career and HR experts that disagree on this, that it’s best to become a specialist in something to make yourself more marketable. I have to say I disagree. In professional services, I want to work with people who have done a lot things and can move into various roles when needed. Flexibility and the ability to dig in and get your hands dirty are more valuable to me than being good at one highly valued skill. I can outsource technical work to people I don’t have to work with in a team. The more you can do, the better.

Confidence- Each person I hired was confident about what they could offer me and told their own stories. I believe at least three people I hired at been laid off in the last year, but I am not even 100% sure about all of them. It didn’t matter because they didn’t portray any gaps to me in their work and led the effort to explain how specific things they had done before were going to bring my project to the next level. During the brief interviews, I never had to stretch to envision these people in the job. They acted the part from the first time we spoke on the phone.

One thing I will close with is that since I hired within my network for a short-term project, I did not do extensive behavior based interviewing, even though I am a big believer of its power to predict success. If you’re making hiring decisions from a broader pool of applicants who you aren’t that familiar with, I’d use that as a main tool to help with your selection.

So hope these three short posts on my experienced helped some jobseekers and recruiters. If you have any questions, throw them in the comments!

What I Did To Hire My Team

This week, I’m running a blog series on how I hired an 11 person team. While most of my blogging has been about my perspectives on careers and recruitment, this is about my actual experience as a hiring manager.

Yesterday I talked about where I first met the people I considered for my team. Some relationships went back to 2004, and really 1994 if you consider the college mentor who referred me one team member. So besides meeting lots of people and remembering them, what did I do to put this team together? Let’s discuss three points.

Relationships: This is probably obvious based on yesterday’s post, but I make it a point to keep up with people, even if it’s in impersonal ways sometimes, and know what they’re up to professionally. Even before I anticipated landing a contract where I would need so much support, I also intentionally spent time cultivating new relationships with people who I could see partnering with some day. I still do.

Here is my most important point I’d like to make about relationships. Never Eat Alone is a fantastic book that I often recommend, but despite what relationship gurus say, it’s impossible to have value-added relationships with hundreds of people and be a productive human being. Instead, be okay creating ways to check in with people in quick ways even if it’s not the way you exactly want. Perfect can be the enemy of the good. And speaking of keeping up with people, let’s talk about…

Social Media: In yesterday’s post, you saw lots of mentions of social media. I used Twitter to meet and get to know new people, I used LinkedIn to actively recruit first degree connections, and I used Facebook to engage my second degree “weak ties” by asking closer friends and co-workers for recommendations. Before social media, it would have been so much harder to keep up with people and access such a large network. I actually believe it would be impossible.. So for everyone who says social media can’t help you recruit or establish relationships- you just don’t know how to use it. That’s okay, but you have to learn now.

I will also say this on the content curation, creation and promotion aspects of social media… it helped me with this project, too. For the people I hired who I didn’t have strong relationships with, they were able to know more about me and what I had to offer based on content I’d shared on the internet. They saw my legitimacy in my new endeavor and made them more willing to work with me and listen to…

Recruiting with Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsThe Pitch: Tomorrow I’ll talk more about the selection process on my end, but once I decided that these were the people I wanted to hire, I had to convince them to work with this project. My recruiting strategy borrows a lot from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, not only for my recruiting for business, but when I develop a full-scale recruiting solution for a client. Too many organizations focus on the lower parts of the pyramid- compensation, security, a team to work with. Those are important, but when I talked about the work to prospects during the meeting process, I talked about how they could make a difference, structure their work, and  learn new skills- the self-actualization aspects of work.  And I kept that promise anyway I could that didn’t interfere with the client’s needs.

Image courtesy of

More on why I hired the team tomorrow.

Where I Hired My Team

This week, I am writing a quick blog series on how I hired my team for a client project this summer. I thought it would provide an interesting perspective to job seekers on what actually happens when a small business seeks to construct a team. Less than 3% of U.S. companies have over 500 employees so the small business mindset is important to many job searches. Again, this is my experience, not just my opinionated advice.

My intent is to keep this blog series as dead simple as possible. Today, I want to point out what the sources were for my hires, meaning where I first met my team or came to know of them. As you’ll see, I relied on my network to fill my positions because trust was important to me, and as an experienced recruiter, I subconsciously spend a lot of time cultivating a network of talented people for moments like this. It never occurred to me to post any of the jobs on sites because I knew if I looked in the right places, I had perfect people within two degrees of myself.

Over the course of the project, I worked with 11 other people, almost all part-time and all hired in June or July 2011. Nine were excellent and two of the eleven were replaced by other hires- one didn’t like freelancing and the other one was asked to leave, but I’ll count them in here.  So where and when did I first meet these people?

Two hires originated from Twitter chats (fall 2010 and spring 2011).

Two hires were former co-workers (2005 and 2010). One I found when I posted on Facebook that I was hiring and a mutual former co-worker informed me the hire was considering freelancing. A second I found when I poured through my LinkedIn network and found out that she had made the move to independent consulting.

– One hire was recommended by a former direct report who saw my post about hiring on Facebook (summer 2011).

– One hire I first met at a live Brazen Careerist networking event (fall 2010).

– One hire was recommended through someone I worked on projects with and originally met on Brazen Careerist (spring 2011).

– One hire I had found on Google as a direct competitor (spring 2010) but developed a close relationship once we started talking on Brazen Careerist (spring 2011).

– One hire I met in a women’s entrepreneurship group that we both hated (summer 2010). I thought of her when I was looking at my LinkedIn network for good partners and talent. (Interestingly, the team member in the bullet above was also in that same group but we didn’t know her.)

One hire was referred to me by my college mentor for an internship at my old company and came to work with me at The Opportunities Project as an intern and then operations and marketing consultant (summer 2010).

-One hire I met through a book club I once managed and have worked with over and over again on professional projects since we met (2004).


It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’ve spent my life working in recruitment and was not just going to hire anyone for the biggest project of my career (more on why I selected people on Thursday). Are you still surprised with how I staffed my team? My guess is that instinctually many of you would say no, but it’s likely not aligned with how you might be trying to find your own next opportunity. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Blog Series: How I Hired My Team

Happy Monday! While you’re catching up on all the good stuff we have to offer you in the coming weeks, I’m also introducing a new blog series for this week called How I Hired My Team. A few weeks ago, I was participating in #HFChat, the Hire Friday Twitter chat dedicated to helping job seekers get back to work, and the topic was where job seekers should look to find jobs. As I was tweeting out some tips- network intentionally, ask friends- I realized that I had a unique role this summer beyond my standard ones as a career coach and a recruiter. I also served as a hiring manager when I hired 11 subcontractors to work on a big contract our company landed. Some subcontractors were selected to do quick 10 hour projects, some were hired to replace the ones that didn’t work out, and some were hired to work 40+ hour weeks, but the hiring and recruiting strategy stayed the same for all and it did not include job boards.

Come back to the blog this week to read three posts and gain some insight that can help you position yourself for an unexpected opportunity.

Tuesday: Where I found everyone who I hired, specifically how I came to first know about them (I think this will be the most informative post)

Wednesday: What I l did to find and convince people to jump onto this contract

Thursday: Why I hired the team I chose


Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Four Upcoming September Events and Opportunities

Summer is almost over and we’re doubling down on our efforts to meet our dual mission of helping young professionals create opportunities for themselves quickly and confidently AND improving educational outcomes so that more young people have a shot at career success. Here are four opportunities and events we’re hosting and hope you take advantage of them with us.

The Opportunities Project’s First Year Anniversary Party and Fundraiser for HOBY


Please join me on Tuesday, September 20th at 7PM to celebrate a successful first year in business,as well as network, and raise money for my favorite education organization, the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY). I participated in HOBY 20 years ago (1991, baby) and it was very influential on my development as a young adult and professional. Without HOBY, I would have never gone away to school or led the professional path I took toward entrepreneurship. I believe this organization teaches the skills kids really need in today’s economy and want to help them reach more students.

The ticket price for the party is $15 and all proceeds are tax deductible and go directly to HOBY NY Metro’s account via the Eventbrite page (minus the ticket fee). We’ll also be auctioning off some donated goods and services which we’ll update on the Eventbrite page. It will be a fabulous opportunity to support a great cause, celebrate, and expand your network so see you there!

RSVP here.

Free Webinar: Confidence Confidential- How to Sell Yourself in the Job Search


I am doing a free webinar through Big Marker’s Jump Start Your Job Search September Campaign called Confidence Confidential: How to Sell Yourself in the Job Search on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 7PM ET. After teaching and coaching 750 people last year on how to manage their careers, I’ve found that the issue is rarely a bad resume or lack of skills, but an absence of confidence. I’m excited to share what’s worked for my clients so you can break through the wall between you and your new exciting career move.

You can register here.

Pay What You Can Coaching is Back

We’re doing our latest round of Pay What You Can Coaching on September 19th and 20th where we offer 6 sessions at discount rates. We’ve filled two of the slots and if you want one of the last four, make sure you apply ASAP.

You can submit an application for one of the slots here.

Avoid a Cruel Summer free eCourse Enrollment Deadline Extended


Due to demand, we’re extending the date that you can enroll in our free eCourse, Avoid a Cruel Summer until September 22, the official last day of summer. Yes, you can’t probably do the lessons on the beach any longer unless you live in the south, but it’s all still good content. It will also be the last opportunity to get it all for FREE.

If you want more info on the course, check out our video on our Facebook page or straight to the enrollment page.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

9/11 and Your Life

One of my favorite books these days is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins where rocking teenage heroine Katniss Everdeen is forced to fight to the death with 23 other kids in an annual event organized by a post-apocalyptic government. After the event, privileged citizens who saw the event on television talk about where they were and who they were with during the games and not about the death and destruction they saw. That scene reminds me of how some of us are reacting to the upcoming anniversary of September 11, 2001 as I see more articles and blog posts that ask “Where were you when you found out that the planes crashed the World Trade Center?” It’s an understandable way to deal with complex emotions about something so horrific that we could never have imagined it before it happened. But it also allows us to escape truly reflecting on a terrible tragedy where thousands of people lost their lives that day and even more were changed irrevocably.

I have definitely been one of those people who have been trying to avoid the upcoming anniversary but have realized this week that I can’t escape it and shouldn’t. On 9/11/01, I was stuck underground at the World Trade Center on the 3 train for almost 30 minutes and had no idea that the planes were crashing into the buildings above me. Later that day, I watched part of WTC 7 collapse from a spot in front of  St. Vincent’s Hospital with hundreds of people who were waiting for survivors that never came and made a decision while I was standing there that has haunted me for the past decade.

Freedom is not free

In August 2001, I had begun work on my plan to leave New York. I had moved to NYC after college because of an opportunity and a boy, but my dream since I was a little girl obsessed with politics was to live in Washington, DC. While I loved the friends I’d made and the work I’d been a part of in New York, it has always felt like owning a fantastic pair of shoes that never fit quite right, become irritable and even painful after walking in them for long periods of time, but you never throw away because they look so great on the shoe rack. After some networking and lots of job applications, I’d been invited to a high level interview for a federal agency in DC on September 13, 2001. Standing with all those people on that corner, I just felt that I could not leave NYC and cancelled my interview the next day. For various reasons, I never pursued employment in DC again even though the desire to live somewhere outside NYC constantly returns. While I try not to have regrets in my life, it’s sometimes hard not to think about all the missed opportunities of a decade based on that emotional decision.

This summer, I traveled to Newark, NJ a few times a week to work on our Teach Newark project through the PATH station next to the World Trade Center site and watched tourists take pictures there as if they were at a theme park, contributing to an increasing level of sadness and anger about that day. I’ve been thinking about all the people who woke up that morning thinking they had a lifetime in front of them and didn’t, and all the people who did make life-changing decisions inspired by the day, whether they are grateful or now regret their impulsive moves. As we approach the anniversary in a few days, I encourage you to make it a day of personal reflection and think about your own life and whether you’re honoring time the way it deserves- personally and professionally- and what you can do to change that in the next year and decade if you’re not. Truly never forget.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Reverbing in July: New Habits

This month’s latest Reverb prompt is resonating with me.

July prompt- What new thing will you try this month?

(This would have made a great lesson for my Avoid a Cruel Summer eCourse. Damn.)


In the big picture, there is a chance (emphasis on chance) that the next three months may be the last three months that I spend in New York for a while, if not permanently. I’ve been in NYC for 15 years but the list of things I’ve never done is a mile long. What should I be doing that’s new?

But these days I’m concerned with small details and when I read this prompt two weeks ago, I decided the new thing I would commit to is waking up AND getting out of bed at 6 AM every day in July and not getting on a phone or computer until 7AM. I can go for a walk, meditate, clean, read a book (out of bed)… whatever. It just can’t involve the web or email.

It’s hard to deny that the irregularity in my schedule is taking its toll on my body. For those of you who have corporate jobs or kids, this may seem crazy that I don’t have a good schedule. But some of my greatest strengths have always been my agility, stamina, and the flexibility to adjust my schedule to whatever is required. That usually means working very hard one day to finish a project and recovering the next day. The flip side of shining like that is burnout (paraphrased from Danielle LaPorte) and I am feeling the burnout, people!  I’ve lived some version of this for the last four years and like most people, I do my best work in the mornings. I truly believe a schedule change will make all the world of difference in my quality of life so I decided to go for it.

But it’s Day 19… and I’ve failed every day at this. I’ve set the alarm, but I can’t get out of bed right away, and the days that I do, it’s because of the draw of something waiting on the computer. What is the secret sauce for early rising? Anyone?

What new routine could you try that might make a big difference?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Girlhood to Adulthood

I moved to NYC almost 15 years ago because of love. He ended up falling short, but one of the best things that ever happened to me came from that relationship. On one Valentines Day, he gave me something I had always wanted since I was little girl, a pet. In February 1998, I met 2-year-old Sabrina at the Bideawee Shelter in Manhattan when she jumped in my lap, pranced around, and nuzzled her black nose against my head. She had been abandoned with a dog in a cleared out penthouse apartment in Battery Park and had been found starved. For the rest of her life, Sabrina would eat her food like it was the last meal of her life, sticking her entire head in the bowl of food and then shaking the food off her face everywhere she went when she was done.

Yesterday, Sabrina sadly and unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack. One moment, I was arguing with someone over email and the second, I was running the 6 blocks to the emergency vet here in Cobble Hill. For the last 13 years, she was with me through every NYC adventure, man, friend, job, triumph, and heartache. Sabrina was ABSOLUTELY everything you would want a pet to be- loyal, affectionate, friendly. You name what you want in a pet, and she was it. Lots of stories come to mind.

Sabrina1– When she watched over me obsessively when I was sick for a week  and I pretended it wasn’t just because she was really worried about her food source.

– When she jumped into an open wall during construction in my apartment and got stuck. My ex made a call and 5 NYC firemen crowded in my closet-size bathroom (he had clout, not Klout) and talked with her through the wall.

– When she hissed at a boyfriend that everyone told me I should like more than I did- one of two times she ever hissed at anyone.

There are lots of great things about NYC, but a flip side of all its fun is that it’s hard to remember you’re a grown-up woman and when hard things happen, it hits you like a rock. It’s easy to do the minimum here, like eating at one of 5,000 nice restaurants, drinking with friends and surrounding yourself with little girl problems like a relationship that isn’t going anywhere with a man you don’t even care for that much. Now that I own my business, I primarily deal with woman problems, but it’s still hard not to keep yourself in the comfort zone of girlhood. When I adopted Sabrina at 22, the shelter representative asked, “Cats live for about 15 years. Taking care of this cat and managing her health requires you to be an adult. Are you sure you’re ready to make the commitment?” I thought about myself at 36, and signed the papers. Now that I’m really 36, I realize I had no idea what the representative truly meant, but it was still one of the best decisions I ever made.

I know it will be hard adjusting to not having her greet me at the door like the dog friend I never met taught her to do. Give your pet an extra hug today. S/he will love you for it and so will I.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Q&A with Team Member Lauren Wannermeyer

We’re super excited to have Lauren Wannermeyer helping The Opportunities Project with social media! Until this point, if you were interacting with The Opportunities Project on Facebook or Twitter, you knew you were talking with Tracy 24/7.  Now Lauren will also be manning the accounts and we’re pretty sure rather than get confused, you’ll value having the fresh perspective.


Now here’s some Q&A with Lauren!



Q: What’s the best career advice you’ve received as a college student? 


A: The best career advice I’ve received as a college student was to make my experience. College students are constantly foiled in the search for internships with that old fall back recruiters use. They tell you that you don’t have enough experience. Well obviously! I’m a junior in college and I can’t get any opportunities because everything today requires experience. And how are you supposed to get experience when no one will take a chance on someone without any? So my career advisor told me to make my own. Reach out to local businesses and volunteer to help them. That’s how I ended up doing Faegan’s and I had no idea that it would end up being so big!


Q: Tell me about how you used Twitter or LinkedIn to meet someone cool.


A: I follow a lot of people on Twitter and I’m not shy about responding to people, even if I don’t know them! People on Twitter like to be @mentioned, the love to answer questions and read comments. LinkedIn is a little different. I didn’t know how to use it to begin with. I kept getting stopped by a message telling me to buy the “pro” version. Then I realized that if there was only 3 degrees of separation or if I had a shared group I could talk to anyone. I used that knowledge to reach out to SU alums who worked for the Food Network. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten any job opportunities there yet but it’s still good to have those connections.


Q: You’re on Foursquare a lot- what’s your favorite things about that tool?


A: Mayorships! I guess that’s the incentive to using Foursquare. It’s just a kind of nerdy brag rights kind of thing. For example I was the mayor of the Schine Student Center at Syracuse for a while. It took me forever to get it! It’s also fun snatching mayorships from friends.


Q: Twitter has taught me that we have a lot of similar pop culture interests- Glee and The Hunger Games, for example. What’s your favorite summer movie ever and what are you looking forward to this summer (TV or movies)?


A: It’s hard to pick just one favorite summer movie! But this summer I’m excited for the new Harry Potter movie and I’m always huge into So You Think You Can Dance. I also love Pretty Little Liars. It’s not strictly a summer series but it’s so good right now!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog