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Daily Job Search Advice from the CEO of Preferred Resumes

Use Existing Resources
By Harrison Barnes  

Several years ago, I was practicing in a large law firm that, at the time, probably had 800 attorneys in it. Down the hall from me, there was an attorney who was involved in a very large case. She had a team of around six attorneys and four paralegals assisting her with the case. The attorneys who were assisting her were the “cream of the crop” and went to the best law schools and had the best experience. She was considered one of the best lawyers in her field in the country.

Every day, she would come in around 8:30 am and all of the people on the case would already be there and working. She would then proceed to hold meeting after meeting throughout the day with her staff to discuss the research they were doing into the case, the findings they were getting, and more. The corner of the office where she worked was absolutely buzzing with activity and I’m sure that the client they were representing was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on all of the work they did. The attorneys accessed extremely expensive online databases to do research, hired detectives to investigate various aspects of the case, and did expensive “mock trials.” They also hired all sorts of consultants.

In addition to the attorneys and paralegals, there were hoards of secretaries working on the case and the firm had a word processing department that was also humming with a bunch of activity from the case. The work on this case would be going on every single day until at least 8:00 or 9:00 pm or so and none of the attorneys or people associated with the case would ever leave until the woman partner in charge of the case left as well. They also seemed to work most of the day on Sundays. In short, there was a massive staff dedicated to the case.

One day, I was walking down the hall late at night and I heard her screaming at a group who was on the case: “Do you realize we are losing and probably have lost this case against a guy who barely graduated from law school who is practicing law on his own, with no money and no resources, out of a small office in a strip mall!”

She was furious and I could understand why. What she was saying, in effect, was that they were about to lose a major case against someone who didn’t have anywhere near the resources she had at her disposal. This was an incredible statement to me and something that really stuck with me. I listened to her continue to speak and the gist of what she was angrily verbalizing was that she and her team were losing a major battle because they weren’t being as resourceful as their competitor.

I’m not sure why, but I think about this event quite often from time to time. The people and organizations who are the most resourceful are most often the ones who end up succeeding. Having resources is a great thing; however, what ends up happening to numerous people, organizations, and others is they don’t utilize their resources to the very best of their ability.

I’m confident you’re not making the most of your resources right now. In fact, you probably don’t even know all of the resources you have at your disposal. When you take advantage of all of your resources, you can make a huge difference in the quality of your life and the outcomes you experience. You need to take advantage of all of your resources and you need to do this right now.

The key to having the career and life you want is understanding the resources you have beneath your feet. You have so many resources that it would really astonish you. Most of us have no idea how many resources we have. The people who are able to achieve what they want in both their careers and lives are the ones who are able to recognize resources in their environment and take advantage of these resources. You too must learn to recognize the resources in your environment and make the most of these resources day in and day out.

One of the most amazing things for me is people always look for something new. For example, many people think they have to change something about themselves, or make a radical change in their lives and careers to go somewhere they believe they need to be. This is a difficult concept for me to explain, so I would like to do it through an example.

A few years ago, I started taking a class to become a Kundalini Yoga instructor. This class was something I did, not to become a Kundalini Yoga instructor but, instead, to learn more about the discipline. Through yoga, you can achieve calmness, fitness, and focus. These were the things I was seeking through this demanding study. I was also excited about it. I felt through the class, I could improve on these aspects of myself that I wanted to work on.

The class was held one weekend every three weeks or so and typically started on a Friday evening and went all the way until Sunday evening. At the beginning of the course, all of the students would show up in sweat pants and so forth and do the exercises. By the third month of the class, however, an incredible transformation had taken place. The other male students in the class began to grow beards, wore white robes everywhere, started wearing turbans on their heads constantly, became vegetarians, and had begun the process of converting to an Indian religion – Sikhism. I was absolutely amazed by this transformation and became extremely uncomfortable continuing with the class. To me, it seemed as if everyone in the class had started adopting the religion.

What made this entire thing so interesting to me, however, was the idea that the people in the class felt they needed to make such a complete transformation. I’m not sure what made these people want to make such a massive transformation and become such fundamentally different people. In converting to this religion, I want you to understand that these people would stick out almost anywhere in the world. Wearing white robes, turbans on your head, growing a beard … all of these are very unusual things almost anywhere. But these people did this. None of the men who did this were Indian and they all had appeared to me quite normal before beginning the class; however, after this experience, they were completely separate from the world. Their families and others must have been absolutely astonished by the transformation.

Were they seeking peace? Were they seeking fitness? I didn’t know. However, what I do know is that whatever it is they were seeking was probably something they could have found without a complete change of their identity. You don’t need to make radical transformations to reach your goals. You only need to reach within you and look around you to find the resources to get where you want to go.

Assume, hypothetically, that the people who made this transformation to the Sikh religion did so because they were depressed for reasons they didn’t understand. Instead of using a change of identity to fix this problem, they could have perhaps worked on the issues that made them depressed. This may have meant getting therapy, drugs, addressing the problem that was upsetting them, exercising more … I don’t know. But there are plenty of resources out there which can help you deal with something like depression. There isn’t necessarily a need to make a complete change in your religion and identity to do this. I had a sense that there were reasons such as this that the people were making such dramatic changes in their religions.

Some time ago, I was sitting at a table in a restaurant with a man who is a chronic alcoholic and a woman who worked with him. The man had drunk seven or eight drinks over the course of a few hours and it was well known to everyone that he worked with that he had a serious drinking problem, but was still able to function at a very high level in his profession as an attorney. During the few hours of our conversation, the man kept talking about how he was interested in moving to one place or another, moving here or moving there. The entire experience was quite fascinating to me because the man had been moving from one place to another every year or so for at least the past 10 years, as far as I knew. The man got up to go to the bathroom and the girl and I were sitting together at the table. We sat there in silence for around 30 seconds and she appeared to be thinking about something. Then she looked at me and said:

“You know, my father was an alcoholic and we used to move around like that all the time. When he got into recovery and stopped drinking, I remember a psychiatrist told me and my mother that alcoholics like to keep moving to a new place because they believe that if they can move somewhere new this will cure their drinking.”

This was an incredible statement and really stuck with me. Instead of using existing resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous, therapy, going cold turkey, rehabilitation, and other potential cures, what he was saying was that the alcoholic believes a major change is necessary instead. The major change doesn’t cure the underlying problem. Only by taking advantage of the real resources available to us can we cure the underlying problem. However, the alcoholic misses the underlying problem and instead subjects his family to massive and unnecessary change … just as I believe many of the people who converted to Sikhism did in the Kundalini Yoga class.

I don’t care what issues you face. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how dire your employment or career situation may seem. You should take advantage of existing resources at hand to try and solve the existing problem before you make a massive change.

One of the most amazing things I constantly witness is attorneys who are out of work and seeking a job. Depending on the strategy an attorney uses to search for a job, looking for a job can be extremely difficult for them. What many attorneys do after a few weeks or months of unsuccessfully seeking a job is say something to themselves like “Aw shucks! What’s the use! I will do something else.” This is unbelievably common. In fact, I would estimate this is something that probably 25-percent or more of the people who become lawyers eventually do when looking for a job becomes too difficult.

  • They become high school teachers.
  • They try journalism.
  • They may go to business school.
  • They may take jobs as salesmen somewhere.
  • They try and fail starting businesses in areas they have no interest.
The reason I bring this up is this particular issue is extremely disturbing to me. These attorneys have gone to school for years to become attorneys and may be very, very good at it. They just don’t make the maximum use of their resources to track down jobs. Instead of taking advantage of every resource out there to locate the job they want, they give up in the ninth inning. They may take a giant pay cut to become a teacher, for example, and are forced to sell their house and pull their kids out of good schools. They may make all sorts of changes that wouldn’t be necessary but for the fact they cannot find a job.

This brings me to a powerful point: The person wouldn’t need to make all of these changes if they really understood the resources out there to get a job.

They could do targeted mailing of their résumé through a company like Employment Authority.

They could track down all of the jobs on employer websites with a company like Hound.

They could review all the jobs from employer websites and other job boards and recruiting firms with a company like EmploymentCrossing.

In addition, there are an incredible number of other resources they could likely take advantage of including:

  • The people they met today
  • The people they met yesterday
  • The articles they read to broaden their perspective
The list of potential resources is so numerous it’s difficult to believe. There are so many resources out there you can take advantage of that you’re likely not using in your career and life. The life you want, deserve, and are capable of achieving dictates you find and take advantage of every resource in your environment. When you do this, you can go up against anyone and achieve anything. This is incredibly efficient and something you can start doing immediately.

I want to return to the story of the attorney in a strip mall who was up against a team of the best lawyers in the world and had no resources but was able to win. I see this sort of thing all the time. People with no resources can take on giants and end up winning. We see this in the marketplace. We see this everywhere and it’s something that can transform you. The leaders of the world make use of their resources to change the way things are done.

You need to understand what you do is something that’s not controlled by something happening in the future but by your ability to perceive the resources that are in front of you in the world today. This is a skill few people truly have and one you need to capture right now.

I love thinking about guys like Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs through the power of his imagination was able to take things like cell phones and MP3 players and transform them into products that dominate the industry. All from using ideas that are readily available, he was able to take advantage of resources—simply ideas—and package something in a new way that ended up transforming an industry.

When an attorney sitting in a strip mall is able to take on a huge contingent of lawyers and wins, he too is being resourceful. He may choose to package an idea a bit differently. He will use his mind to think differently and find a way to win.

This is what you need to do. You need to find a way to think differently like the attorney in the strip mall, or Steve Jobs, and find a way to win. Your career and life can take on so much meaning and become so incredibly powerful when you find a way to win. The only way you’re going to find a way to win is by being resourceful.

Look around you. In every city there are libraries. In the libraries, there are countless books that have been written by people who are living now and have once lived who have learned countless lessons. They can share their lessons with you and they are there for the taking. The most successful people use books as a resource. I remember seeing an interview with Bill Clinton once when he was the President and Clinton used to read 5+ books at the same time. You too should seek out knowledge. A different way of thinking, acting, and more can provide you with resources.

In addition to libraries, there is an incredible variety of information on the Internet all available for you to find right now. You need this information and should go after this information like a voracious tiger. Take advantage of the stuff that’s out there and never stop looking for it. You need resources. Your ability to use resources is huge.

  • People are resources.
  • Your past experience is a resource.
  • Changing your belief structure is a resource.
  • Books are resources.
  • Meditation can show you resources.
You absolutely, positively, and in all cases need to do everything within your power to make sure you make the most of the resources out there. Resources are right in front of you and yet invisible to most people. Make sure you do everything within your power to take advantage of the resources you have and that are available to everyone to be happy, to experience career success, to grow, and to be fulfilled in your career and life.


The most resourceful people and organizations also usually end up being the most successful. Most people, however, fail to use their resources to the best of their ability, and aren’t even aware of all of the resources at their disposal. Learn to recognize the resources in your environment and consistently make the most of them. Many resources are right in front of you but remain invisible to most people.

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