Posts tagged: job search

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

Become a Connoisseur of Your Mistakes

“The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them – especially not from yourself. Instead of turning away in denial, … you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art, which, in a way they are.” Daniel Dennet

Many of us want to shrink when we make a mistake. We deny that we’ve made one or we hesitate to own our part. While it may seem easier to avoid ‘consequences’ – the truth is we (almost) always  feel the consequences one way or the other. For instance, if we avoid taking risks for fear of looking foolish – we deprive ourselves of opportunities to grow and learn. Not good.

If we take a big risk… e.g. wholeheartedly sponsor a big project at work… and it goes well; we might get that promotion. If it fails, we will suffer from the ‘slings and arrows’ of people’s looks and possible gossip. But who learned? You did. While they were sitting back and judging you, you were out there talking, promoting, learning, growing and gaining visibility. Instead of hiding from your mistakes; what if you embraced them? what if you just say, “Wow, I made a mistake. I learned a lot and I won’t make that mistake again.” Imagine how confident you would seem and feel.

Billy Joel has a great line in his song… You’re Only Human:

“You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes
But they’re the only thing that you can truly call your own”

If mistakes are the only thing I can truly call my own, then I should make MORE not less. We encourage our small children to make mistakes and assure them that it’s ok when they do. Then they get to be teens; we start to bear down on them — don’t make mistakes!. As adults, we are mortified when it happens to us. Why? Because we are afraid to look anything less than perfect. We set a better example when we own our risks/mistakes.  We then have the satisfaction of knowing that we created something – all my own. Smile, it’s just a mistake.

Photo credit: Hand over mouth Mel B.

Because Every Job is “Temporary”…Confidence is Key

Confidence is defined as “belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities.” Where does your confidence come from?

If it’s from your work and you’ve been forced to make job changes then your confidence might be rocky. But if your confidence comes from self-awareness and continuously updated skills… then you might be feeling ok.. no matter what your employment circumstances are.

An author I admire, Darmesh Shah, wrote an excellent article titled,  “Nine Qualities of Truly Confident People.”  He describes confidence as, “quiet: a natural expression of ability, expertise, and self-regard.” Note that the article doesn’t describe confidence as bravado or swagger; but the ability to listen, to be wrong in front of others, to freely ask for help and shine the spotlight on others.

I would add two things to his list: knowledge and discipline. People who are confident usually are disciplined. They get more done than other people because they understand what’s important. In addition, they keep their skills updated. They don’t make excuses for why they don’t know things… they work hard.

If you are looking for a new resource to help you in your journey to career confidence.. check out CareerRealism - their tag line.. “because every job is temporary” … speaks to the modern condition. Most of us don’t like change, but there is one way to be sure that you can cope and that is to create it.

Be confident. Be happy and go with the flow. Change is good, timing is everything, patience is the key.

Photo credit:  3 WCAP boxers medal  photographer

Career Advice: Give

This blog is a rant.

I’m probably getting old and cranky (ok, not probably) but I am tired of people who want ‘help’ — get it through the generosity of selfless people and then boom – they take and take and largely never give back. All the ‘takers’ just stopped reading! I didn’t really expect to change any ‘takers’ but I am hoping to get to the ‘matchers.’ (read on!)

In his research-based book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success Adam Grant (Wharton School)has identified three types of people — givers, takers, and matchers. Matchers return favors tit-for-tat (they care above all about fairness), Takers try to tilt most things in their own favor (focus on themselves), Givers are generous (focus on others).

Most people are givers in their personal relationships. Interestingly, at work, people change. Grant notes,  “An extraordinary number of people who are in a giver mindset at home are a matcher or taker at work.” Only 8% describe themselves as givers at work because most people think “givers are chumps who will fall behind in the game of work”.

Grant’s research shows that givers are among the most successful people in business and may also be the happiest. “There is powerful evidence,” “that givers experience more meaning in their work than takers or matchers.”

Back to my rant. I have probably met one on one with 500 people in the past 5 years. Many people thank me and that’s all I ask. But there’s a whole segment of people (both men and women) who act like they’ve never met me when I see them later. They are so focused on themselves… they don’t even remember meeting me! Often these are the same people who.. didn’t offer to buy the coffee (when they asked to meet me), never asked me one question about myself, never bothered to write an email saying thanks or following up in any way. In the tug of war of life — are you helping to pull for the greater good or shoving people out of your way?

Ok. I’m done.

Photo credit: Navy & Marines in tug of war   NYCMarines  (I wouldn’t bet against any of these fine human beings)

Long Haired Freaks Need Not Apply (Then), Tatooed Workers Need Not Apply (Now)

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In the world of work there is a lot of discrimination. Yup, I said it out loud. Not the kind that can be legislated or regulated against but bad nevertheless. In the 1960’s it was long hair, today, it’s ‘body art.”

In a recent article titled, “Top personal attributes employers hate about you;” piercings and tattoos are listed among several ‘undesirables’. The article states if people have these, employers are less likely to consider them for promotion. Yikes!

I don’t really understand why. Look, I’m a Boomer, I get all the dress for success ‘stuff’ we’ve been raised on and understanding one’s customers is very important. It is never a good idea to appear disrespectful to your clients. However, I believe that most people would continue to ‘buy’ from you whether your IT, HR or sales person has a tattoo or not.

Not considering them for employment or promotion because they look different from you is a big problem.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished us to, ‘judge on the content of a person’s character,” (or in this case, their work output) ” not on the color of their skin,” (or in this case whether or not they have a tattoo or a piercing. ) Let me clarify… if someone is inappropriately dressed for an environment for safety or collegial reasons– then that’s not acceptable. But I don’t think that sneakers, flip flops, jeans, or some tattoos etc. are inappropriate in most environments.

The millennial generation (20 something’s) love their body ink. It nearly a rite of passage for many.  In 2010, nearly four in ten persons age 18 to 29 had at least one tattoo. (Pew Research)

Get used to it folks, it’s here to stay and there’s nothing wrong with it.

Photo credit: Big hand, small hand Xurble

How Fair is Your Pay? 5 Steps to Getting Your Share

This pretty picture has nothing to do with fair pay… but it is an inspiring, life affirming photo. I want to inspire you to make sure you get what you want from your life. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Today. It is, after all, all we have.

When I read this article about Whole Foods compensation structure — I was amazed and wondered why more companies don’t follow suit. Here’s the bottom line:

“Execs can’t earn more than 19 times the company average, the co-founder gets $1 a year, and non-execs get 93% of company stock options. The result is 7% turnover — among the lowest in the industry. Says co-CEO Walter Robb: ‘[We] really make love to the company values.'” I would say they put their money where their mouth is. Most companies SAY that employees are their most valuable asset but how do they demonstrate it?

Not all of us can work for Whole Foods so what can we do?

1) Mean what we say and say what we mean. Be a person of integrity. You will never regret it.

2) Keep your skills current. When you do that, you give yourself the opportunity to change… jobs, organizations, fields, etc.

3) Pay it forward. The more aware you are of helping others achieve their goals, the better.

4) Be nice. Organizations look to hire people who can get along. Being nice never hurt anyone’s career. Don’t be a doormat but the most successful people I know are generally described by others as ‘one of the nicest people I have ever met.”

5) Work for yourself. You don’t always make the most money this way… but you’ll make sure you get your fair share!

Checkout these online salary resources:

My favorite is Glassdoor.com where employees post the real skinny on salary, work and culture. Also try salaryexpert.com, jobstar.org (links to over 300 professional salary surveys) and salary.com.  It’s not all about money… but getting comparative data can give you strength in negotiating. By the way, if you don’t ask for the money you deserve… you’ll probably never get it.

Photo credit: mmtzjr69out  Double Bubble Rainbow

Ditch Your Dress Code and Other Interesting Advice

I am a child of the 60’s;  a hippie and a non-conformist. I worked in Corporate America for over 2 decades. I enjoyed it and I learned so much. What I didn’t love was figuring out what to wear.

First… there’s no such thing as business casual for women. As much as I’d like to show up in a pair of Dockers and a sport shirt (NOT) … or it’s equivalent… I’d be glad to.. but there is no equivalent.

Second … The idea that “clothes make the man” is passe and needs to be rethought.

Third… Check out this article titled,” 5 Reasons to Ditch Your Dress Code”  You may get more out of having a culture of flexibility in employee dress than maintaining strict standards.

Fourth… Diversity of  people can lead to creativity in thought and action.

This doesn’t mean having no standards in dress. Clearly there are certain clothes that are inappropriate in a business environment. Also, a culture that allows casual dress but tolerates disrespect isn’t doing itself or it’s employee any favors. Hard work, communication, listening and customer focus are more important than whether someone wears jeans. Build trust with your employees and peers and we’ll all benefit.

Photo credit: Photographer Irum sneaker

9 Deadly Sins of Job Hunting

Ok, these may not be deadly but they can slow down your search. Take care of these and your search will go smoothly because you’ll be building relationships and learning during your entire search.

You may not want to address these issues… but you’ll be glad you did.

I borrowed some of these from 7 Deadly Sales Sins.

1. You don’t know who you are so you can’t concisely tell others. Seems simple enough but trust me, if it’s been a while since you’ve looked for a job… you probably don’t know yourself as well as you need to. Look into those dark corners, root out your foibles and shortcomings and learn to say great things about yourself and your capabilities.

2. You don’t know what you want. If you don’t know where you’re going; any road will take you there. How can others help you if you don’t know what you need or want. I know it’s easier to define what you don’t want. Start there.

3. You don’t know how to easily help others (or worse you don’t understand why it’s important.) Being of service, listening, making referrals, introducing like-minded folks, etc. it’s not hard but you do have to stop thinking about yourself long enough to consider what to do.

4. You don’t understand what recruiters, hiring managers or human resource people need. If you put yourself in their shoes for a minute, you’ll be much more effective at getting their attention.

5. You’re afraid. We all are, you are not alone. Some of us just “fake it ’til we make it.” Take a page from that book.

6. You stay in your house and tell people you can’t network because you’re: shy, introverted, technical, a geek, blah, blah, blah. Get over it. Most of us don’t want to meet a bunch of strangers, but we do it.

7. You don’t follow up. You know, thank you notes you talk yourself out of.

8. You don’t have a process for your search. Do you have a spreadsheet of your contacts, companies and connections? Do you have a plan to meet 7-10 new people a week? Do you have a job search ‘buddy’ who can help you? Are you learning new skills?

9. You don’t ask for the job or you ask for every job. Be clear about what you want, who you are and when the time is right, be sure to be clear that you believe this is the job for you and why.

Bonus: You don’t have a complete LinkedIn profile with at least 200 contacts. sigh… what are you waiting for?

I believe in you. Go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: MelB Handovermouth

 

10 Steps to A Happy Life

These steps are based on my years of experience of doing it wrong; so I have it on excellent authority… my own happiness… that if you follow these steps … you may not be ecstatic..but you will be in a a better place.

1.  Sit quietly for 5 minutes a day

2.  Stop whining (you live in the wealthiest country in the world)

3.  Stop gossiping (including judging other in our own minds or out loud)

4.  Be grateful (write down 5 things you’re grateful for 2x a day, no repeats for 30 days)

5.  Learn new stuff – especially stuff that is hard

6. Find someone to help (outside your family)

7.  Shut up and listen (for a change)

8. Exercise your body and willpower daily

9. Walk tall, smile, be gracious

10.   Be grateful — this is really the key to everything.

At the most difficult time of my life, I kept a gratitude diary. Once a day I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for…and I couldn’t repeat anything. After 3 months I had incorporated gratitude into my daily thinking. That was nearly 20 years ago and I still reflect on all my gifts everyday.

Those tremendously sad years gave me the one thing I needed most – a way to enjoy every day – no matter what is happening around me. The idea and accompanying serenity are yours for the taking.

Photo credit: Partners in Community Development

Go Ask Alice – She Followed Directions…

The world of marketing is full of musts.  You must tell the story, you must use a powerful image, blah, blah, blah.

Well, one must that many people ignore is the ‘CALL TO ACTION’. Yes, that’s right. Once a customer comes to your website, store, whatever… you need to tell them what you want them to do. Sounds pushy, maybe… but any good sales person will tell you that asking for the business is one of the most important parts of closing the sale.

Typical resumes do not include a call to action but why not? Do we make it a ‘no-brainer’ for someone to contact us, either by email or by phone? Do you put a QR code on your resume that leads to your website, blog, or a video of you describing your fabulous skills? Is your email link live? Are each of your company/organization links live?

Here’s a very cool article on 10 effective ways to build web-based  ‘calls to action’ that can really make a difference.

Remember, don’t try harder, try different. Make your resume stand out.You can do it.

photo credit: Web Design tuts+