Overheard at synagogue: “I would like to grow up and become a rabbi like you, but my dad doesn’t think women should be rabbis.” From the head rabbi’s seven-year-old daughter to the assistant rabbi who is a woman.

Religious groups seem to be one of the last standouts — along with coal mining and construction — where people feel free to openly declare that women should not hold top jobs. Don’t get me wrong, people in other fields are thinking it. But they know to talk in low voices.

Yesterday, the AP reports, “Jefferts Schori, bishop of Nevada, was elected Sunday as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the US arm of the Anglican Communion.” She has an advantage over other women rising in religious organizations in that she has worked as a pilot and an oceanographer, other fields that are male dominated. Sharing ideas across industry lines is critical toward diversifying leadership in any given industry. In this sense, Schori is a one-woman meeting-of-the-minds.

But Schori is unique in that more than other fields of business I know, women in the pulpit have separated themselves from women who are breaking down gender barriers in other professions. While women in engineering, for example, align themselves with women in marketing and mentor each other, women in the pulpit are less likely to see themselves in the same boat as these other women.

But they are in the same boat: Religious organizations have office politics and salary issues; there are issues over who gets their own secretary and there are issues with sixty-year-old men who think they’re still working in an era where it was legal to specify gender in a help wanted ad.

The good news is that there are “more liberal attitudes toward women in leadership positions among those in younger generations,” and the gender divide is decreasing quickly among younger workers. Example: A female rabbi I know was interviewing for a job in a large synagogue. A male congregant stood up and asked, “How can you do such a demanding job as this one and take care of your kids?” A younger male congregant stood up and said, “That’s an illegal question. Don’t answer it.”

No matter what your business situation is, you should keep an ear to the ground about how people in other industries are changing the rules of management and success. There is a large and inclusive base of people who want a flexible and tolerant workplace. Align yourself with those people. You don’t have to do this alone, even as a priest or a rabbi.

Howard Stern has lost most of his audience. I’m not a big fan of his. I like public discussion of sex that is more interesting and productive than Howard offers. But I’m not above learning from him, and how can you not learn a lesson or two from a guy who has lost almost 11 million of his12 million listeners in just a few months?

Stern bet that his audience was so loyal that they would pay $13 a month to listen to him on satellite. Inside Radio reports today that most of Stern’s listeners are just plain too lazy to make the switch. (Though 13% don’t want to pay the extra fee.) The findings of this survey are consistent with the conventional wisdom that 80% of lost customers were not actually unhappy with what they were getting.

Each of us takes little gambles with our customer base all the time. Yesterday, for example, I told someone that I was changing our project specifications a little bit. I moved away from her vision and closer to my own. I made a bet that she likes working with me enough to put up with my change.

In this vein, an editor once told me, when I turned in a column late two weeks in a row, “People who write as well as you can be late. You just need to keep writing well.” That worked for a while, but then I really pushed his limits and he fired me. In this sense, I have empathy for Howard that he overestimated loyalty. Today I make more conservative estimates, and I bet Howard would do the same, if he could.

Once we all admit that we are all marketers, then we’re more humble about loyalty. Then we’re more careful to really get to know your clients and what matters to them — be they radio listeners, editors, consumer purchasers, or the guy in the cubicle next to you.

Howard Stern overestimated how dependent his listeners were on him, but perhaps he underestimated how beholden individual radio stations were to him. The trick, as a marketer, is to find out whose business is most dependent on you, and who you are most dependent on. Then you know where you have room to wiggle.

The job market is good, the Internet is buzzing, and optimism is high. Still, the best jobs require talent before you walk in the door — you need to know how to search. Here are seven tips to help you:

1. Big job sites cater to keyword-focused applicants.
Only three to five percent of job seekers find employment through online job sites. In order to be one of this small percent, you need to tailor your resume to keyword searches. “Sending a resume to a big company’s web site is like sending your resume into a black hole,” says John Sullivan, human resources consultant and professor of management at San Francisco State University. “In a big company, your resume is sorted by an applicant tracking system.”

These companies receive thousands of resumes a month and the tracking system sorts them by skill. Sullivan tells of a study where researchers took a job opening and wrote 100 perfect resumes for that opening. Then the researchers added 10% more information to the resumes. Of those resumes, only 12% were picked up by the tracking system as qualified. This means that even if you are the perfect candidate, if you submit your resume blindly to a large company, there is almost a 90% chance that no human will ever see your resume.

But you can increase your chances by knowing how to use keywords in your resume. “Recruiters locate individuals based on a certain skill set of the job they are looking to fill,” says recruiting advisor Matt Millunchick. So try to imagine how someone else would use a search box to find you, and be very specific about your skills.

These rules remain true if you post your resume to an online database also. The mass of resumes on job sites is so unruly that human resource staffs are paying people in India $20 an hour to sort through resumes to find the good ones, according to David Hanley, owner of recruitn.com. So, even in this case, keywords are your best friend.

2. Don’t depend on your resume.
The typical resume is linear which makes people without linear careers look like a mess. The resume highlights work gaps in a negative way and leaves little space for achievements and experiences that did not somehow contribute to corporate life.

“The marketplace is changing and the life experience that informs the work that people do is changing,” says Anne Burdick, information designer and professor at Art Center College of Design. The static, linear resume is not an effective way to convey this new experience, so don’t lead with it.

Dana Zemack, a publicist, got an agency job by abandoning the conventional resume: She wrote a letter to the agency about how she had been throwing large, elaborate chocolate tasting parties and charging admission. Zemack explained that at first, she publicized the parties to make sure she’d make enough money to pay for the party. But then she realized that she had talent as both a party planner and a publicist, so she started planning bigger and bigger parties. “I used my own endeavors as an experiment to see how far I could go as a publicist,” she wrote. On a second page, she listed the publicity she was able to generate for the parties.

It worked. She got the job. Which leads to tip number three:

3. Go local. Smaller companies posting on smaller job sites look for employees who may not have a resume optimized for a computer screening. This is how Zemack found her job.

Another way to go small is to join professional groups on MySpace. These are people who will know where jobs are. Also, Millunchick says recruiters search through these groups for marketing and technical people.

4. Focus on the referral.
Eighty percent of available jobs are not posted on job boards. But people who work at companies know what positions are available. And employers love referrals, because referral employees have such low turnover.

In fact, many companies pay employees tens of thousands of dollars for a successful referral. Pander to that carrot system by offering yourself up to an employee at one of those companies.

Find people to refer you by looking on sites such as MySpace, Friendster and LinkedIn. Do keyword searches to see if your friends of friends have jobs at companies that interest you.

Offline networking works, too. It’s just slower. There is no keyword search when you walk into a party. But once you’ve made the acquaintance, you can Google the person to find their connections.

5. Stalk your dream job. If you know your dream job but you have no connections, identify someone you want to talk to within a company and use the Internet to get in touch with them: Find an email address, phone number, a conference your target is speaking at. Then ask for an informational interview.

You are far more likely to get a job from an informational interview than from blindly sending resumes. Most people will be flattered by your request and will give you some of their time. Remember an informational interview is not when you ask for a job. But often, if you make a good impression, the person will help you get a job.

6. Make your own job.
Zemack’s career really took off when she created a job for herself: throwing chocolate tasting parties. She is still genuinely touched by each person who turned out for those early parties where she bet her credit rating on herself. And in the end, she discovered something that is not a new rule at all: That believing in yourself and creating avenues for your own success attracts a magnificent network of supporters.

I was in Bloomingdales today, investigating possibilities at the M-A-C makeup counter, when one of the people there asked me if I want to be in a Today Show segment.

“We’re doing a makeover on TV,” said one of four tall blond women.

I said, “I’ll do it if you’ll mention my blog on TV.”

Apparently the scheduled model did not show up.

So they asked me to write down the name of my blog.

The makeup artist looked into the camera and said, “This is Penelope Trunk of the Brazen Careerist blog.” Then he worked his makeup magic.

“Contouring” is the makeup tip of the day, by the way. But that is not the big takeaway from this post. The important things are:

1. Always find the angle for self-promotion.

2. Luck and timing are 50% which means being ready for anything .

3. Be gracious. It seems like it would be really easy for the producer to edit out the Brazen Careerist part, but I didn’t say anything about that. We’ll see on June 22 when the segment airs.

Today is the official announcement of my blog. I actually started blogging three months ago, when I was doing interviews for my recent column about blogging. It became clear that anyone who is very serious about their career should have a blog, and I didn’t have one.

It turns out, it is not that easy to blog. Well, it’s easy to write a blog for an audience of six best friends and your mom. But if you want to be seen as an expert in your field by making a significant contribution to the daily community discussion, then you need to think things through a bit.

Fortunately, I’m a person who loves to learn something new. Here’s what I did:

1. I called all the people I knew who were bloggers and asked them about their technique.

2. I spent two hours a night for a month reading other peoples’ blogs. I read hotshot blogs, like Lifehacker and smaller blogs like Communication Nation.

3. I started blogging furtively. I told only my blog mentor and my brother (who said “You should get a better picture of yourself.”)

Today is the last step: Announcing the blog to everyone else.

It turns out that I really love blogging. It appeals to three very big aspects of my personality: I love to write, I love routine, and I’ll read anything. This last thing is genetic, I think. My mom will read anything, too. My mom has an amazing memory, and she was on the game show Jeopardy. I don’t have her memory, but I’m a good synthesizer of information, and blogging is a great outlet for that.

According to the guys who wrote the best selling book Freakonomics, the idea of talent is overrated. What makes people stand out — concert pianists, Olympic athletes (and probably big-time bloggers) is that they love to practice. They love to do it day in and day out and so they get really good at it.

This is the reason that people should do what they love — because that’s what they’ll be really good at because they’ll do it a lot. So I’m happy to have found something I love.

For those of you who are still looking for something you love, you should know that I did not know that I would love blogging before I tried it. In fact, before I tried it, I thought blogging would be a daily pain in the butt. But I took a risk because I know you can’t find what you’re really good at without trying a lot of things.

Blogging is a very big time investment. And it’s not like I'm getting paid to do this. But you cannot get paid to do everything in life. I have made almost all my big career steps by doing something that I did not get paid for. I have written business plans with no assurance that they’d be funded (I got the money). And I have contributed time and ideas with no assurance that I’d get credit (I got a job).

In this case, I’m not really sure where the blog will lead, but I feel strongly that I need to be doing it, to contribute to the online conversation about work and life. Some days I worry about how much time I spend on the blog, but I tell myself that good things happen to those who take risks to do things they love. So, I’m doing that. We’ll see what happens.

Okay, so Danica Patrick still has not won a race, and now that the Indy 500 is over, a new round of complaining has started. There is truth the complaining. Patrick does have very good equipment in a sport where equipment matters a lot. And she does have more sponsors in a sport where other competitors have had to win a lot of races to get sponsors.

But instead of pointing out all the factors that make Patrick an anomaly, look at how she is like you: She is looking to do something she loves, and she is figuring out a way to make it work. She sees an opening — selling herself to the media as the only woman driver — and she takes it. This is not unfair. In fact, Jamie Birch reminds us that having a unique selling proposition is integral to good business and we all need one.

So as you’re doing your job, keep an eye open for what will make you pull ahead of the crowd, and don’t be discouraged in a field of fast drivers. You don’t need to win a race to have the best selling proposition.

You do, however, need to have a good understanding of what you offer. Be realistic of why someone is coming back to you. Patrick wishes people loved her because she wins races, but they love her because she’s the first woman. Don’t be so picky about why people love you — just leverage that affection to do the work you want to do.

Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field.

Ben Day blogged his way into a career as a high-earning software consultant while maintaining the freedom to schedule frequent jam sessions and performances as a keyboard player. Blogging gave him the opportunity to stand out enough to support the life he envisioned for himself.

Phil van Allen, a faculty member of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, said to me in an interview, “For your career, a blog is essential. It’s the new public relations and it’s the new home page. Instead of a static home page, you have your blog.” It’s a way to let people know what you are thinking about the field that interests you.

Employers regularly Google prospective employees to learn more about them. Blogging gives you a way to control what employers see, because Google’s system works in such a way that blogs that are heavily networked with others come up high in Google searches.

And coming up high is good: “People who are more visible and have a reputation and stand for something do better than people who are invisible,” branding consultant Catherine Kaputa told me.

But pick your topics carefully and have a purpose. “The most interesting blogs are focused and have a certain attitude,” says van Allen. “You need to have a guiding philosophy that you stick to. You cannot one minute pontificate on large issues of the world and the next minute be like, ‘My dog died.'”

Day realized the value of focus after a misguided mashup of his politics and business. “I used to have liberal politics on my website as well, but my mentor said, ‘Dude, you gotta trim that off.’ Which was fine because in the world of liberal politics I was just another piece of noise.” Now his blog is all about software development with an emphasis on technologies such as NHibernate and C#.

Once you zero in on your topic, here are eight reasons blogging helps your career:

1. Blogging creates a network.
A blogger puts himself out in the world as someone who is interesting and engaging — just the type of person everyone wants to meet. “A blog increases your network because a blog is about introducing yourself and sharing information,” says Kaputa.

2. Blogging can get you a job.
Dervala Hanley writes a quirky literary blog that got her a job is at Stone Yamashita Partners, a consulting firm that “tries to bring humanity to business.” Hanley told me that the firm was attracted to her ability to put her business experience into personal terms on the blog.

3. Blogging is great training.
To really get attention for your blog, you’re going to have to have daily entries for a while. At least a few months to get rolling, and then three or four times a week after that. So you will really get to know your topic well.

4. Blogging helps you move up quickly.
To escape the entry-level grind, you can either pay your dues, working up a ladder forever, or you can establish yourself as an expert in the world by launching a blog. High-level jobs are for people who specialize, and hiring managers look for specialists online. “Decision-makers respect Google-karma,” writes Tim Bray, director of Web technologies for Sun Microsystemson his own blog, of course.

5. Blogging makes self-employment easier.
You can’t make it on your own unless you’re good at selling yourself. One of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of marketing yourself is with a blog. When someone searches for your product or service, make sure your blog comes up first.

Curt Rosengren, a career coach, periodically Googles “career passion” — words he thinks are most important to his business — just to make sure his blog, Occupational Adventure, comes up high on the list. He estimates that his blog generates at least half of his coaching business.

6. Blogging provides more opportunities.
Building brands, changing careers, launching a business — these endeavors are much easier once you’ve established yourself online. Rosengren told me, “My blog is a foundation. I’m building an awareness that I can leverage to do other fun things with my future, such as product development, or public speaking.”

A blog gives you a leg up when you meet someone new. Dylan Tweney, a freelance writer, told me his blog, the Tweney Review, gives him instant legitimacy with clients.

7. Blogging could be your big break.
Visually creative types can blog beyond just text. Mark Fearing has a cartoon blog. “Cartooning and illustration are very crowded fields,” he says. “My blog has gotten me more notice than any other publicity tool I’ve used. Plus, the blog gives me a way to have a new conversation with potential clients about other work.”

8. Blogging makes the world a better place.
“Blogging is about giving stuff away to a community,” says Day. “For years, as a junior developer, I would go to the Internet for solutions and I would always take, take, take. Now I am happy to be a contributor and give something back.”

Article sponsored by YouSayToo – a bloggers community where you can make money blogging by uploading your existing blogs.

Networking is not getting favors from other people. Networking is giving favors. A good networker is always sniffing for a way to help whoever she is talking to.

If you are at a loss for how to do this, read Ken Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Lunch Alone. When I interviewed Ferrazzi about building networks, he spent a lot of time on the idea of being liked. If people like you, he said, they will help you, so instead of concentrating on getting favors, focus on being likeable.

Last Friday I was on a panel at the Publicity Club of New York where I was struck by the amount of kindness in the room. There were five journalists and about 80 publicists and there was no b.s. The publicists were upfront that they just want to get their clients in the news. And the journalists were up front that they want to do less work so if the publicist can think of news items for the journalist, the journalist will put the client in the press.

Everyone was there to get something. But what was so fun about the lunch was that people were actually so giving and helpful. For example, one woman approached me at the end of the panel discussion and offered an idea for writing about labor unions — not her client at all, but someone else in the room had mentioned a labor union client. This woman was helping me, the labor union, and the publicist representing the labor union.

Publicists, more than anyone, know that their value is in what they have to give. Publicists are experts in that they spend their days building relationships. But we should all strive to be like that.

And then, of course, you have to get comfortable asking for help. Guy Kawasaki points out in his blog that there is no benefit to helping tons of people if you never ask for help yourself: “Good schmoozers give favors. Good schmoozers also return favors. However, great schmoozers ask for the return of favors.”

Being kind will get you useful, reliable network. But, more importantly than that, Martin Seligman’s research shows that looking for ways to help people will make you a happier person. Maybe this means that publicists are the happiest people around.

I spent two hours this week writing an article about autism. My son was diagnosed with autism and I could write five hundred pages about dealing with the diagnosis. But then I reminded myself about specializing. About focus. Specialists get a lot of good things in this world, and people who dabble in everything get nothing.

Dabbling is fine, to a point. I mean, you have to dabble to figure out what you want to be a specialist in. But let’s be real. I write a career column. I have a book about careers coming out. I speak at universities about careers. I am not an autism writer.

So I trashed the autism article. Because it’s not going to help my career in a focused way. Sure, it might help in a haphazard way, the way playing basketball at the park helps your career because you never know what will come of anything. But the only way to reach focused career goals is to have focused efforts.

I stick to writing about careers because specialization is the ticket to freedom from boring and inflexible work. Let’s say you want to have every other Wednesday off to go to a yoga class. If you are a specialist who would be hard to replace, your boss will be more likely to say yes than if five hundred entry-level people can do what you do.

The more you need, the more this rule applies. Moving in and out of the workforce is easier once you’ve established that you’re great at a specific thing. And entrepreneurship is easier as specialist, too, because one of best ways to gauge aptitude is if that person has a strong knowledge base and network in the field of the proposed business.

You don’t have to specialize right away, but you should see your work path as a quest for specialization. View random corporate jobs as possible apprenticeships. You don't need to know what you’ll specialize in, but you need to be open to it when it comes. Specialization often creeps up on you, like a friend who you never expected to turn out to be a friend.

When I first started writing columns, I had no idea that I would write about careers. I was hired to “write about what it’s like to be a female executive.” I tried lots of different types of columns. I wrote about software development (my specialty at the time). I wrote about consumer products (definitely not my specialty). Those columns flopped, and so did most of my columns that were not, in some way, about careers. I learned by trial and error that I was a career writer.

It is always scary to specialize because there are so many jobs that become out of your focus. But there is good research to show that you will have an easier time staying employed if you specialize.

Specialization is also scary because we think we need to address all aspects of our personality with our work. But no work can do that. Autism, for example, is important to me right now, but it doesn’t need to be important in my work. In fact, work is sometimes a nice break from that aspect of my life.

My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a type of autism that occurs when someone has a very high IQ but a large deficit in social skills. His teachers taught him a way to leverage his specialty — memorizing — to learn rules for socializing that other people know intuitively.

I learned many lessons from watching him do that. One is that once you have a specialty, you can leverage it to add things that are not necessarily your specialty, but you still want to have them in your life. In that way, a specialized path is one of the most diverse and rewarding paths you can choose.

You have to specialize. Not right away, but figure out how to own some sort of niche. It is the key to your freedom. A specialist in a large company can demand flexibility, but a specialist also has an ability to leave corporate life and succeed on her own, which is something generalists can’t easily do.

There is good research to show that you will have an easier time staying employed if you specialize. This research comes, in part, from Hollywood, where people say they don’t want to be typecast, but the reality is that being typecast is a great way to get steady work.

In the corporate world, headhunters always have a job description they are trying to fill exactly. If you are a square peg, you can go in a square hole. If you do not define exactly what kind of peg you are, a recruiter can’t put you in a hole: No calls from headhunters.

But most people who are strategizing their career right now are not thinking long-term employment, they are thinking entrepreneurship. (Industry pundit Paul Saffo said in the EETimes, “I think the unintended consequence of the dot-com bust is that we have created the largest generation of entrepreneurs this country has ever seen.”)

For this generation, specialization is key to getting OUT of corporate life and into a more flexible work situation. You can’t market yourself to clients if you don’t offer any specific, unique service. And you can’t start your own company by selling to everyone all at once. Specialization is what will make you stand out enough to make it on your own.

When you are wondering why anyone would go work for a big company, the answer is to learn a specialty. Think of corporate life as an apprenticeship so that you can start your own company. Big companies are crawling with mentors and training programs that will help you narrow your focus effectively.

If you’re looking for a road map, there’s a nice story this week about how Christopher Burge became a specialist in running snooty auctions.

And when you get a little further down the specializing road, check out the book Slightly Famous, which, of course, has a web site in an effort to dominate the how-to-be-slightly-famous niche.