By Lisa Parker

I love to cook. The fact I’m now skilled enough I can actually turn out food friends and family enjoy eating is a bonus. That wasn’t always the case. When I didn’t know what I was doing, I hated cooking…not to mention eating the end result. Practice and paying attention to what gifted cooks were doing different than me was a significant game changer. Once I solved the mystery of why two people could follow the exact same recipe, yet experience vastly different outcomes, I was able to make critical adjustments. You see, I was one of those who blamed the recipe when things didn’t turn out well. Little did I know…

So why do people get different results with the same set of instructions? It’s not always about the recipe or the taste preference of the end user. Many times it’s about differences in the way the recipe is carried out. For example, a person who uses spices from a rack they bought from Kohl’s for $9.99 four years ago will likely consider the dish they create more bland than the person who uses higher quality spices that are fresher and have been stored properly. Or, the person who buys a roast with little marbling will probably think their roast is dryer and less flavorful than the person capable of identifying an inferior piece of meat. There are also problems with people who don’t allow pans, pots and equipment to preheat sufficiently. Or who use pots and pans that don’t distribute heat evenly because they are warped or not made of a quality metal.

You see, when it comes to recipes all sorts of things can influence the outcome. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the recipe. It means the cook has to be aware of the quality of ingredients and tools they are using and not assume simply following instructions to the letter is good enough.

I frequently hear job seekers judge various job search strategies as ineffective. “I tried that and it didn’t work.” Okay, but it worked for someone, often times many someones. Why? Some chalk it up to luck, but I find luck has less to do with it than most think. There often is a clear reason when people take the time to dig deeper into what really went into a successful effort. Perhaps your situation is truly unique; the decision makers you are chasing are less receptive to certain approaches. What if the fact a recipe for success in a job search didn’t work for you had more to do with the way you carried it out? If it were me, I’d want to take a moment to find out. To me, when you have a formula that has worked for someone else, it makes more sense to try to figure out what you may have done differently than make the hasty decision to dismiss the idea as ineffective for your situation.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.


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