Real Secret Career SuccessMy friend Jessica just landed two dream jobs, in her dream city: London.

Given that she was raised in the midwest (on a farm about as far from Paddington Station as you can get), lots of friends have rung her up asking for the secret for landing a job you love.

Here’s a short, bullet point summary she shared with me of her brilliant, exhausting, successful endeavor:


Landing Interviews:

  • Spend 4 hours a day for two months researching companies and jobs.
  • Never let a day go by when you don’t apply to 3-5 jobs.

  • Take online courses to improve the skills you will need for the job that you want.

  • Subscribe to 20 job announcement emails that you read every day.

  • Find any job boards that advertise your type of job, and look at them EVERY day.

  • Rewrite your resume once per day for specific jobs.

  • Write 4 unique cover letters every day.


Once the Interviews Start:

  • Keep doing everything you were doing above, plus…

  • Prepare for phone interviews for 1 hour and live interviews for 4 hours.

  • For live interviews, search every person on LinkedIn who will be interviewing you, print their profile and research them. Make notes on profiles and bring them to the interview to review just beforehand.

  • Email anyone you know with a connection.

  • Write unique, thoughtful thank you letters. Assume everyone at a company prints theirs out and lines them up next to one another.

Jessica also talked about the importance of actually being in London…how she managed to plan and execute three low-cost, high-value trips to London during her two-month search.

In total, she applied for over 200 jobs before she landed two great offers. It was, as she described, “a full-time job” in and of itself.

I know that you know the feeling. Many of you are either in the middle of a dream job search or considering one, so you’re very aware of the time and resource commitment it involves. I don’t share the story of Jessica’s success to intimidate you or to make you hesitate as you begin (or continue) your search for a job you love.

Rather, the simple fact that Jessica’s effort was successful—when so many other, similarly thoughtful plans, fall short—begs the question: what made the difference?

The answer might surprise you…


The “Keystone” Skills

In studying the lives of the most successful people in the world against those of equally capable, but less well-adjusted, people…one thing becomes crystal clear: skills matter.

But not just any skills. No, we’re talking about a relatively short list of specific skills that distinguish, and enable, extraordinary lives. I call them  “keystone” skills, and they include:

  1. Time Management

  2. Sales

  3. Personal Finance

  4. Decision-Making

  5. Strategic Planning

I stole the word “keystone” from author Charles Duhigg who, in his book The Power of Habit, identified what he called “keystone” habits. These are the habits—the little things we do, often without thinking—that create a positive chain reaction in our lives.

As Duhigg writes, “It’s like making five good decisions, for the price of one.”

According to Duhigg, keystone habits include daily exercise, eating well, meditation and prayer, among others. Keystone skills have the same “ripple” effect.

Jessica’s success offers a unique insight into just how critical these core skills are to executing a dream job search that actually yields a dream job. Consider:

  • The extraordinary time management expertise required to create the space she needed to research companies, apply to jobs, revise resumes, read job boards and prepare for interviews.

  • The strong sales skill set leveraged to appreciate the value of personal research, connections and thank you notes in influencing others.

  • The personal finance expertise necessary to be able to budget for—and afford—multiple recruiting trips to London.

  • The confident decision-making process needed to be able make hard choices and to choose where and how to allocate her time, energy and resources.

  • And, perhaps the most obvious, the strategic planning know-how that enabled Jessica to find success where so many others fail


Are You Prepared?

Do you have the skills you need?

If you’re in the midst of an exhaustive job search that’s not bearing fruit—or are just getting ready to begin anew—the first question you should be asking is: “How adept am I today at the skills required to manage a successful job transition—and ultimately live the rich and fulfilling life I’ve always imagined?”

If your answer is “not very good” or “I’m not sure,” take a second now to imagine a new reality.

What would your life be like if you…  

  • Were in total control of your time?

  • Were a master of money, consciously spending your precious resources in a way that allowed you to live a rich life today and in the future?

  • Could confidently “sell” yourself, your ideas and your vision…without feeling “sleazy” or “slimy” or afraid of rejection?

  • Knew that your decision-making process was rock-solid? Were able to make hard choices—in both your personal and professional life—without fear of regret?

If you don’t know (or aren’t sure), join us on Tuesday, July 2nd at 12pm ET for a special live webinar (exclusive for readers of Career Attraction) during which we will give you a sense of what a skill-based life looks like:

Keystone Skills webinar

Specifically, we will explain what the difference is between low and high skill sets in each of these core skill areas. We will then empower you to benchmark your expertise against your peers and, finally, will offer a collection of best practices designed to give you something to implement and improve on right away in each area.


Ben SandsBen Sands brings a management consultant’s mind to life strategy.

As the CEO and Founder of Regret Free Life (“RFL”) he focuses specifically on helping super smart 20, 30 and 40-somethings create smart(er) life strategies; helping them navigate a world full of “very good” personal and professional options to discover, and live, their dreams.

Ben resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Sarah…together, leading a regret-free life.

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