By Lisa Wiley Parker

For the past 15 years I’ve been heavily involved in helping talented professionals connect with relevant job opportunities. I’ve worked in Detroit, Lansing, Dallas/Fort Worth, Baltimore/DC and am now back in Lansing. What began as a career placing temporary employees in accounting and administrative roles evolved into direct hire recruitment and eventually job search strategy consultation. These days I spend most of my time helping un/under employed professionals in Lansing get back to work.

Any guesses on my education background? By degree I am a Medical Technologist. That is a 4 year degree with a heavy emphasis on physics, chemistry, biology and math. Medical Technologists are the ones in the various hospital and research labs around the country running tests and digging for answers to medical mysteries. I worked in the microbiology lab of a large Detroit hospital after graduation. I was assigned to fun things like urine, stool, blood and CSF cultures. Probably didn’t see that coming, right?

Most assume I have a background in business or career counseling. I fell into the recruiting profession. It’s a long story I’ll save for another day. The short version is I failed to consider the lack of people involvement when picking my degree, ended up hating the solitude of the lab and, by a complete fluke, ended up working for a recruiting agency. Moving on…

If I’d had a crystal ball as a freshman at Michigan State University, I may have picked an education path more in line with what I’ve ended up doing. Boy, what a mistake that would have been. You see, it’s the Medical Technologist in me that makes what I bring to the table different from some of my peers. When I got a specimen in the lab I knew I was getting it from someone who wasn’t well. Something was going on with the person and my ability to sniff out clues was crucial. Medical Technologists are hunters, of sorts. The assumption was always that something might be there and every effort must be made to find the hidden and not-so-hidden. Though many of the tests I ran produced normal results, I never let the stats sway my commitment to approach every specimen with my eyes, nose (don’t ask) and brain on full alert.

The habits gained from my dance with Medical Technology often have me approaching searches from the opposite direction of those I’m attempting to help. Many job seekers are convinced nothing is out there so they go through the motions with their search and end up with the negative result they expected. I, on the other hand, am trained to believe the potential for a positive result is everywhere. Because I’m focused on proving something exists and others are focused on confirming their belief something doesn’t, the information we collect is entirely different.

A short way to sum up this long point is that your eyes are inclined to believe your brain. If your brain says nothing is there, your eyes won’t see the obvious. Though it’s important in medical settings to prevent eyes from overlooking things, I promise it’s just as crucial in a job search.

Another important point is you should never write off the potential for your degree to be an asset to careers that seem to have no direct connection. What we learn in all of the courses and interactions that lead to our degrees has depth that goes well beyond a specific profession. Everything you learned along the way counts!


With over a decade of experience in the recruiting and staffing industry, Lisa Wiley Parker is now focusing on providing direct support to job seekers looking to navigate this challenging economy. Through a Job Seeker Round Table she’s organized on and new networking groups for unemployed professionals she hosts at Capital Area Michigan Works in Lansing, (every Thursday Morning) those looking for work have an ally in their quest to secure employment. Lisa is also an active blogger on job search strategies and when she’s not volunteering, she assists small to mid-size companies in Greater Lansing with their outplacement needs. You can find her at:



Job Seeker Round Table:

Editor’s Disclaimer: Lisa is my secret weapon. She is the one I send people to talk to about jobs in the Lansing area. I’m the one who she sends Spartans to that are lost or confused about their career decisions. It is a terrific partnership and I could not ask for a better person to collaborate with.  She is the model of what it means to be a Spartan!


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