Posts tagged: career

Key Hiring Question: When & Why Will You Leave?

When you are interviewing for a job… probably one of the last things on your mind… is why and when you might leave. You’re thinking… I don’t even have the job… why would I think about when I might leave?

Great companies make this complex question part of the interview process.

In an insightful article by someone I admire, Charlene Li of Altimeter Group, How I Hire: Figuring Out Fit — And The Exit Strategy… she outlines the criteria and process for assessing candidates based on culture, skills and my favorite and what I consider relatively unique…  sense of purpose.

“As part of the hiring process, I also talk with people about how they will leave Altimeter one day. The idea of lifetime employment is dead, so why not face up to the reality that this person we’re hiring will one day leave? It’s a core part of us living the value of Integrity — that openness and transparency develops trust.” Charlene Li

The last regular, ‘show up in the office’ job I had, I actually negotiated my departure date as part of my hiring package. When they offered me the job, I told them I would stay one year.  It allowed me to focus on getting the job done without worrying about how I’d leave. It was very empowering.

I am not suggesting that every time you take a job, you should negotiate your exit. What I am suggesting is that you think about what you want to get from the assignment… even it it’s just to earn some money or stay for 6 months.  Be conscious of what it will look like when you have reached that goal.

By the way, this takes courage and it puts the responsibility for finding your next ‘step’ right where it belongs; with you.

Image credit: Diane Arbus Moving On

Shut Up and Listen. You Can’t Learn If You’re Talking.

<a href="http://voxterra.blogspot.com/">TerraVox</a><a href="http://voxterra.blogspot.com/">TerraVox</a>

Have you ever tried listening to someone who is annoying you? Have you ever tried going a whole day without giving your opinion, not even once? If you’re an introvert, this may be easier for you. But for outgoing people, this  is a big problem.

And, by the way, it can be a problem for all of us. Most of us love to hear ourselves talk. We love to tell our side of the argument, our thoughts on other people’s lives etc. That’s why people love stories. It satisfies the need we humans have to know about others and compare ourselves to the them.

But the truth is WE CAN’T LEARN IF WE ARE TALKING.

Put a sock in it. The more important the relationship, the more we need to work on listening. Try it and let me know how the experiment works for you. I’ll let you know how I’m doing.

(By the way, if you have a job interview and the question comes about areas of self- improvement; a statement about the sincere desire to improve one’s listening skills for both personal and professional reasons can work. Just be prepared to talk about what you are doing to improve and make sure you are really practicing!)

Photo credit: Shhh Vox Efx

A Dog Never Tells What She Knows…

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing. Mary Oliver

This is my dog Gildie. She is the first dog I have ever had.

What is there to learn from your first dog? Wow. Everything. She is so excited to wake up every day and play. I need this.

She is motivated by food and people and toys. She is completely engaged in life except when she’s asleep and then she’s completely engaged in that.

I got a dog so I would have to go for a walk everyday. Rain or snow, whatever the weather, I needed a reason to get up and walk. Since she has the energy of 2 toddlers, I am compelled to play, walk, laugh and be completely engaged with her.

The quote above about how a dog perceives the world — through her nose– was brought home to me on one of those walks. She trusts her nose more than her eyes and it got me thinking. Which of my senses do I trust the most?

I am certain my eyes deceive me. Happily, I learned to trust my gut. Take all the information and sift it through the sensor that is my years of experience.What do you rely on? What you see, what you hear, what you believe? Do you jump to conclusions about people?

Understand how you learn and make decisions and you’ll be more effective in everything you do. How free are you with your opinions? Do you offer to give everyone the benefit of your wisdom? Or do you use your experience to let others find their own path? Use all the information given to you to help you be a better friend, co-worker, partner and parent. We’ll all benefit.

No Boss, No Office and My Peers Decide My Pay… What?

“Imagine a company where everyone is equal and managers don’t exist. A place where employees sit where they want, choose what to work on and decide each other’s pay. Then, once a year, everyone goes on holiday together.”

There is such a company, it’s called Valve.

For those of you who think this is: stupid, could never work, is just an experiment and could only work in a handful of cases, perhaps you are correct. I’m not here to argue with you. The point of this post is to challenge our ideas of what is ‘necessary’ in the work environment.

You can read the Valve Employee Handbook here. It is titled: “A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when there’s no one telling you what to do.”

If you are in any kind of leadership role in ANY organization… I encourage you to browse their handbook.

… if you are a 10 year old company that has worked hard “to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling, them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value.”

The handbook goes on to outline what to expect and how a new employee can find their way through this new way of working.

Check this out: “While people occasionally choose to push themselves to work some extra hours, at times when something big is going out the door, for the most part working overtime for extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in planning or communication. If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected.” And then they give you guidance as to how to get help to resolve the problem.

Would you like to work here? If not, why not? If yes, why?
Most importantly, what about the Valve culture can you adopt at your organization to make it more effective?

Image Credit: Banksy

Why Grit, Not IQ, Predicts Success

I wish someone had told me this when I was in middle/high school.

I am thinking of two mid-30′s business leaders.

One went to Yale and had a lot of advantages in life. He’s good looking in an Abercrombie kind of way, soccer star… you know the type. The other is also good looking (by that same standard) and athletic. He has a degree from a state school. His parents are teachers.

If IQ or ‘what college you attended’ or grade point average were the measures of success – the Yalie should win. But  something else is really at the heart of  business ‘success’ and it relates to:

– whether you see obstacles as opportunities or things that slow you down.

One way to to learn about obstacles as opportunities — is to grow up WITHOUT advantages. This builds grit and grit builds success. I wrote a post a few year back about people who failed time and again. Michael Jordan and Ulysses S. Grant. I had a college professor tell me I’d never graduate from college. Haha. I showed him.

Bottom line is — if you think that people who went to Ivy League schools are automatically successful, I ask you to think again.

As a country, we are suffering from ‘elitism fever’ (we think we’re better than others) – but deep in our hearts we know – the American spirit is grounded in pure grit. So next time you go to hire someone, why not ask… what obstacles have you overcome to be here? That might tell you everything you need to know.

Image credit: Elia Locardi

Living for Today… and Tomorrow

A year from now (General Electric poster)

My aha career moments… here are two.

1) I had been working in corporate America (a Fortune 25 company) when I got pregnant with my first child. I realized that if I was going to create the ‘life’ I wanted, I was going to have to figure out how to work part time. There were no ‘part-time’ ‘professional (non-exempt) women working as managers at the company at that time. I made my pitch to my boss… I’ll continue to manage the group, get my work done and you can pay me less (I’ll work 30 hours a week). In return, I’ll manage my own schedule. He didn’t want to say yes but I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. (Well he could have but he had a daughter my age..etc.) My aha moment was not getting the green light to test this new idea, which I did… the aha moment was the incredible push-back I got from my colleagues; particularly women.

Take-away: Be clear about your priorities and don’t let anyone stand in your way. I decided that the push-back came from inside these people. They were jealous that I was ‘brave’ enough to do something so radical (haha, radical).

2) Jumping off a cliff – When I left that same large corporation during a down-sizing (I was made an offer.. go back to full time or leave the company) — I decided to leave and start a company. I was the single mother of 2 school-aged children. People thought I was crazy. What they didn’t know was that I was carefully plotting my career to be an entrepreneur. Every assignment I took inside the corporation was designed to teach me a skill I would be able to use in my future entrepreneurial adventure. So I jumped off the cliff and started a company. It worked for about 2 years and then 9/11 happened and all our customer’s funding dried up.

Take-away: If you wait until everything is perfect, until you know what you’re going to do, until you’re certain… you’ll never jump. Some people are born to jump, some people aren’t. Don’t waste your time wishing you were one or the other. Know yourself and take the risks that make your life meaningful.

Live for today… the sun is shining, you can walk, talk, eat, smell, smile, see — but pay attention to your tomorrow. Don’t listen to others when they tell you — you can’t and leap when the leaping feels right. I sleep well at night and look in the mirror with a quiet confidence. I can always improve myself. But I can happily say; I didn’t let fear get interfere with doing it my way.

Image credit – GE Pinterest Board -That’s Genius – Thomas Edison

You Asked For It… (Or Not)

The number one most common mistake at a job interview is:

failing to ask for the job*

WOW! Imagine if this is true. I took a few moments to think about how many times I wanted something– and walked away wondering why I didn’t get it and guess what I realized, more often than not, it was probably my own fault.

I didn’t open my mouth and say, “I’d like.. that job, that favor, that ‘whatever’…” but my own stubbornness or low self esteem or cowardice (ok, that’s a little strong) prevented me from getting what I wanted.

If in fact I want the job, why don’t I ask for it?

And if I want to be sure to get what I want, how do I get better at asking? The answer is; I practice. I practice asking for what I want. This requires me to know what I want. With some of us that’s the first step. Some people are completely clear about what they want (and some go to a lot of trouble to make sure EVERYONE knows and delivers). If you always are very clear about what you want and don’t have a problem asking for it.. then this post isn’t for you. But feel free to leave a comment!

However, if you are someone who generally knows what you want but sometimes hesitate to ask for it; I want you to stop and think about why that is.

Because every job is temporary.. we all need to be able to look for work and understand how our skills match a potential employer — efficiently and effectively. That includes opening our mouths and asking for the job when we find it. The worst that can happen is — we are told no. It may not be fun to hear no, but it’s better to hear no than silence. You can’t get a hit if you don’t swing the bat. You can do it.

Photo credit: brokenchopstick

*resource = How Interviewers Know

The Most Important LinkedIn Page You’ve Never Seen…

July 2006 Scavenger Hunt&quot;most exotic animal for your location&quot;Happy FIRST Birthday Tai Shan, Born July 9, 2005 Tai Shan Holds Zoo's Hopes, Public's HeartStaff Birthday Wish: Longer Stay for Cub, 1By Karlyn Barke...

LinkedIn (LI) is my favorite social site. Why? Because they built a ‘professional’ social site that truly adds value.

Initially, LI gave users something valuable.. an electronic Rolodex. The site helped us understand to increase the value of our already valuable connections (and gave us tools to use them more effectively). In my recent post, ‘Because Every Job is Temporary…” I discussed the fact that we all need to be looking for work — all the time. Therefore, building a network, helping others and keeping our skills up to date are critical.

Then they made it problematic for people to ‘spam’– if you said you didn’t know someone… they got bounced from LinkedIn temporarily. When they said they valued our privacy, they meant it (unlike some others…)

Once they gave us this tool (for free), they then helped us to build connections across industries, interests, commonality — with groups etc.

So, what’s this page I’ve never seen? It’s called Talent Solutions and it is part of the LinkedIn Recruiter offering which is only visible to companies that pay to use the sourcing and hiring tools. Recruiters can see all your information, but you can’t see them. Think no one is watching you? Think again. If you are actively adding to your skills, building your connections, interacting with people and posting your blog/slideshare/other content regularly, then you are the kind of candidate many recruiters are looking for.  The real reason you should care about LinkedIn… explains more.

Like the Panda in the picture… you have to work for your food, even if the tree is right in front of you.

Photo Credit: Tai Shan, National Zoo Panda dbking

It’s a Defined Contribution World – Are You Ready?

You can’t learn to surf without getting in the water. You can’t learn to participate in the new world of career and reputation management, if you don’t dive in and try stuff. No matter how much you think you can’t, shouldn’t, won’t, don’t need to etc. — you do need to.

In the old work world, our benefits were defined: pensions, vacation, job descriptions, duties. In the new work world, it’s all about your contribution. No one is going to look out for you; you need to look out for yourself.

For small business people; everyday is still a hustle. The complicating factors are the speed and complexity of change. If we want to survive, however, we will adapt. But for those of us who worked in “Corporate America”, big salaries, big egos, big benefits… the world is almost completely different than it was 10 years ago.

I got hired into Eastman Kodak in 1980. At the time, there was no place in Rochester, NY that I could work where I could make anywhere near the money.  In a company town, once you into a place like Kodak… you stayed.. whether you contributed or not. If you played the game well.. you got ahead. If not, you just languished but… you kept receiving the benefits of an employer who dominated the market and had ridiculously large margins.

One of my favorite writers, Thomas Friedman, explains this whirlwind transition in plain English in his article, It’s a 401(k) World. If you’re under 30… you may want to read it to put the older generation’s dilemma in perspective. If you over 30, read it and then act. Figure out what to do. If your head is spinning, it should be. Hang in there, we’re all in this together.

Photo credit: Father and son surf lesson mikebaird

The Facebook Nightmare – Lost Job Opportunities…

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I have a very healthy skepticism of Facebook. I am not alone. We have 3 grandchildren under the age of 5; 2 are “on” Facebook, 1 is not. I support a parent’s right either way.

But I also know how much joy and connection Facebook brings to so many people and I respect and appreciate that.

When I read, Facebook’s Generation Y Nightmare,  the article put into words what I sometimes feel is the dilemma of sharing your ‘present’ on Facebook and illustrating it with photos.  The author of the article imagines a young lady, Tina, at 18 in 2012. The items she posts now will effect not only her future career opportunities but also her alternatives for health care.

Yes, it’s imagined and yes, this assumes that ‘nothing changes”, but it’s not hard to imagine judgements/decisions being made based on incomplete or ‘what’s readily available’ data.

So, I encourage you to review your Facebook ‘timeline’ – assuming that privacy settings didn’t work… (which I think is the reasonable thing to do these days)  — what would your future employer or insurer learn about you might prefer that the whole world NOT know.

I know a young man who lost his job as a student teacher because of his ‘drinking a beers with his buddies’ photos on his Facebook page. He was over 21 and the pictures were harmless and yet the school district’s policy on ‘public comportment’ took away his future career. You may think this is unfair but the truth is… this is happening. The nightmare hasn’t even begun yet.. for those who can’t tell their parents… please don’t put me on Facebook!

Thoughts?

Photo credit: Jack Skellington-O-Lantern  randysonofrobert