David L. Reitman, Esq.
Phone: 914-693-9165

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up (still don’t!), so I took the LSATs, went to law school and became an attorney. I quickly realized I would have been a great lawyer if it wasn’t for all that darned fine print!




The big day had finally arrived.  I was sitting for the NYS Bar examination.  I was so nervous, I was shaking, but I knew that it would be OK because I was prepared.  Boy, was I ever!  Not being the greatest test-taker, I may have overcompensated a bit.  I cleared my schedule and signed up for an intensive, eight-week bar preparation course.  I gave up alcohol and grass, woke up each and every day at 4:30am (LIE ALERT!  OK, 5am on Sundays), worked out, ate a super-healthy brainfood breakfast, and got to work.  I studied all morning, took a lunch break, studied all afternoon, went out for a nice run, showered and studied until dinner.  I’m not crazy, I allowed myself a couple of hours before bed to relax and unwind.  I did this seven days a week for two solid months.  I passed the Bar.  

And yet so many of us go through life’s big events with little or no preparation.  As a legal, compliance and audit recruiter for the financial services sector, I speak to a lot of job seekers, review myriad resumes, and set up interviews.  I’m constantly shocked by how many resumes, both solicited and unsolicited, are sloppy, with multiple spelling, syntactical and grammatical errors.  This is one reason to work with recruiters- we can identify and fix these errors before the resume gets submitted.  The real question is, why would anybody submit a resume that wasn’t perfect?  I think we can all agree that the pursuit of a new job can be one of life’s biggest events.  Most of us would not take an important test without proper preparation, yet we slop a resume together without any thought at all.  Why?  I don’t know, I’m a headhunter, not a psychologist.  

So I receive a resume, or have a chat, or get a response to my job posting, and the job-seeker would like more information.  I proceed to deliver a much more detailed job description, and schedule a chat-time.  When we talk, I sometimes get the impression that the detailed description was never looked at.  I get questions like “What’s the pay?”  Um, it’s right there on top, did you not see it?  Think how much more productive our conversation would be if the candidate took some time to prepare for the chat. Which brings us to…

PREPARATION IS ONE OF THE KEYS TO SUCCESS, FOLKS.  I don’t even go to the grocery store without a shopping list.  I’m telling you, even if I only need three items, I WILL forget one of them if I don’t write it down.  Go figure.  When I set up a candidate interview, I make sure that we have at least one phone call to prepare (and I have a detailed questionnaire to help me).  Depending on the candidates’ verbal acuity, I may even role play, acting the part of the interviewer in order to sharpen up the candidates’ responses.  I make sure they have a carefully thought out list of questions to ask the interviewer.  I encourage them to speak about how they can bring value to the company, not about what the company can do for them.  I tell them to research the company and learn as much as you can about it.  A job interview is a BIG DEAL, and should be taken seriously.  Taken to the extreme, nothing, no event is too insignificant to not put in at least some preparation.  


The fortune teller is sitting cross-legged in the park across the street from the office.  You decide, for a laugh, to have a reading.  She looks into your eyes, gives you the once over, runs her finger along your palm, and tells you something that shocks you right out of your shoes.  You think “Wow, maybe she really IS psychic.” 

Well, my friends, I have another explanation.  Our fortune-teller was merely paying close, close attention.  When she looked into your eyes, she was looking for signs, hints of sadness, joy, indecision, anger, frustration, anything she could use.  When she held your hand, she was searching for strength, weakness, heat, cold, sweating, trembling, anything she could use.   And when she looked you up and down, she was checking out your shoes, socks, pants, belt, shirt, hat, anything she could use.  

People watching is great fun, I love doing it.  Grab a seat on a park bench and watch the folks go by.  Take a walk on city streets during your lunch-break and watch everyone scurrying along.  You can tell a lot about someone by just observing them, even for a moment.  You can spot confidence, fear, confusion.  In college, my acting professor told us that the key to understanding any character is their shoes.  I never forgot that.   I once saw a very handsome guy walking down the street.  He was wearing a stylish blazer and slacks.  Remembering my teacher, I looked down at his shoes.  They were in tatters!  I quickly understood that this man was most likely homeless and down on his luck, despite his jaunty attire.  

Our fortune-teller was not necessarily psychic, but she was certainly a very sensitive person who paid good attention to her surroundings.  This can serve us well in the work world.  Going back to the job interview, we have already determined that proper preparation will greatly aid your chances of getting the job.  Once you are in the room, it’s time to pay close attention to everything.  Study your interviewer the way the fortune-teller studied you.  How is he dressed?  What kind of shoes is he wearing?  Listen to how he speaks, his intonation, the questions he asks.  Try and determine the best way to interact and respond.  Are you in his office?  What’s on his desk?  Pictures of his wife and kids?  A baseball signed by A-Rod?  This can all be used to your advantage.  (SUBTLETY ALERT!  I am not suggesting that you comment on everything you see, just notice your surroundings and let the information inform you). 


It’s been said that most of us go through life half asleep.  If this is true, we are missing out on much that life has to offer.  Those who pay the most attention are the ones most likely to succeed in business and life.  The proverbial “early bird” catches the worm (and also gets the best dinner deals!).  May I suggest a simple (and fun) way to improve your powers of perception?  Good!  Try this:  Take a nice evening walk around your block.  Notice everything you can- the homes, cars, trees, telephone poles and the notices attached to them.  Do this for a week.  On week two, narrow your focus to the three or four homes/buildings nearest your own.  Notice the windows, what’s on the ledges, the type of fences, pets, etc.  On week three, pick one home and study the hell, oops, heck out of it.  You might even want to use your own home.  I guarantee that you will continue to find things you missed the first time around.  Soon (for better or worse) you will be familiar with every brick, car dent, tree branch, etc.  You will take this enhanced focus with you everywhere you go.  

Finally, do this exercise at work.  Notice everything, everyone.  You will be surprised at how much you never saw before, and how much more you retain.  And you will be delighted at how your work, personal and social performance improves as well.  


Oh, I almost forgot.  Eat your peas.  

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Financial Services recruiter
DLR Associates Recruiting

David L. Reitman, Esq.
Phone: 914-693-9165

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