Posts tagged: unemployment

Building Your Business

When I say your ‘business’ I mean whether you HAVE a business or whether you ARE the business. Today, being prepared for changes is what required.

I work with several entrepreneurs and meet with new ones regularly. It is such a joy because each one is excited about their business. They have energy and a hunger to learn and grow. It is infectious and wonderful.

Many of them, like me, have had plenty of ups and downs. In fact, most of them will experience more downturns that they believe they can stand! What separates a successful ‘business owners’ from the unsuccessful, is flexibility. The ability to pivot.

So how do each of us, whether we starting a business, reinventing ourselves or invigorating our career, take the “just do it” train?

Ideas are easy to come by, in fact, very easy. What’s not easy is making that idea into a business (or career) that works. Here are some rules for navigating the terrain:

  1. Build skills. In my corporate years, I looked for assignments that would allow me to learn new, specific skills.
  2. Try on different roles. Find ways to test out various roles, tasks, assignments. Volunteer, talk to your boss, be specific about what you want.
  3. Fail fast. This one sounds the worst. Most of us don’t want to ‘fail’ at all. What we don’t realize is that we learn the most from our failures. It is what propels us to do new and better. It is what helps us learn quickly and meaningfully.

Are  you excited about your work? Do you wake up ready to learn? If not, perhaps it’s time to pivot.

Photo Credit: Empowering Startup 

Job Interview Question: Why Are Tennis Balls Fuzzy?

I recently gave a talk in front of a group of senior executives (older folk) who are ‘in the hallway’ (looking for work). I was talking about the collaborative economy and I made a reference to Porter’s 5 forces model. Now, you may never have heard of this, no big deal. But for a group of people over 50 who made over $100,000 in their last corporate job; it surprised the heck out me that only one them had heard of it but couldn’t accurately describe it.

Let’s be clear, on any given day… there are 1,000’s of things I don’t know and this has nothing to do with Porter’s paradigm specifically. My comment to them was, “good thing this isn’t a job interview.”

I work as a consultant so I go on a ‘job interview’ several times a month. As I’m networking, I never know who is going to be a connection to a gig.

Fuzzy Tennis Balls? This article, “13 Weirdest Interview Questions – 2014” offers us some of the oddest questions people were asked (submitted via Glassdoor). If you got this question in an interview, how would you answer? Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, thank goodness I’m not looking for a job or I’m going to pray that I don’t get a question like that. That’s one approach.

How about this? What if you use these odd questions as a chance to stretch your mind? Just for exercise. Talk to someone about it over lunch. Ask your kids what they think. Have fun for crying out loud.

For those of you who are looking for work, old or young, remember the goal of these questions is for the interviewer to see how you think, how quick you are on your feet, what happens to you when faced with a (small) challenge. Do you stumble and stutter or do you let your creative juices flow? Creativity requires practice so I suggest you play games, answer silly questions, get out those crayons; maybe you’ll get that job after all.

Photo credit: Tennis Kevinzim

Building the Brand of You: Portrait of an Expert

So imagine you are a the only person of your race in a world full of money, power and prestige. Now imagine that through your talent and pure force of will… that you build an impeccable career and reputation. What would it take for you to overcome all the odds against you?

Some reading this, may not know Sidney Poitier. For the rest of us, Mr. Poitier is a movie star who starred in tour de force movies like, In the Heat of the Night . If you haven’t seen this wonderful film, I encourage you to check it out. If you are wondering how to build your personal brand, I suggest you examine the public life of this amazing human being.

He rose to be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. No rehabs, no scandals, no spin — just a high quality ‘service’ (his acting) delivered with dignity and thoughtfulness. It’s not about being famous… it’s about a sure and steady knowing, inside ourselves, that we have done the job well and conducted ourselves in way that makes us proud.

As I think about my own career, I can say that I have done well on some fronts and could have done better on others. Here’s what I learned from Mr. Poitier…

1) Be myself. I can learn and grow, but don’t take any crap from anyone; particularly those who would exploit or diminish me.

2) Don’t let them judge me by my looks and don’t judge others that way. Remember the words of Martin Luther King …” where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Substitute age, race, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc. for color of their skin).

3) When in doubt, don’t do it, say it or type it. Mr. Poitier gained his reputation by making thoughtful choices from words to roles. Did he sacrifice tremendously for those choices? My guess is yes.

If you want to figure out how to build your personal brand… look at those who have done such an amazing job before us. They’ll teach us everything we need to know.

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

 

How to Ruin that Face to Face Meeting You Worked So Hard to Get!

This week I had a couple of meetings like I do almost every week. (Do you meet between 2-5 new people a week?)

First — the good meeting!

One was with a guy I met who has been unemployed for about a year for the first time in his career. I met him briefly after a talk I had given. He confirmed our meeting the day before. Yeah for him. Then he offered to buy me a coffee, I always appreciate the offer. Another yeah for him. (cost him $1.72) He told a story about delivering meals to shut ins as one of the ways he spent his time while unemployed. Triple wow. He even asked how he could help me. Unbelievable.

And now the not so good meeting:

Meeting with someone I had met before and had helped him with something. By 5pm the day before, he had not confirmed our meeting so I did. Ick, not happy. I usually send my cell phone number so in case something comes up last minute.. the person doesn’t leave me sitting there. Hmm, maybe you could send me yours so in case something comes up for me? Nope. Didn’t improve.

In the article, “5 ways to lose your dream job during the interview process” — the same simple etiquette applies. Confirm your meeting, be polite, don’t talk too much, think of ways you can help the other person, don’t be cocky, send a thank you note, etc.

Seems pretty simple to me. But if it’s so simple, why don’t most people do it? I have no idea. Sigh…

Oh, and did you send a Linked In invitation after your meeting?

Photo credit: photo bucket

No Thanks, I Don’t Want to Work For You…

A 30-something is in the middle of a job interview. The hiring manager is excited about the young man sitting in front of him.

From the hiring manager’s point of view, the interview is going very well. He has laid out the requirements, is satisfied that the candidate has good qualifications and equally as important, he seems to be a good fit for the group

The young man pauses and stops to think and then says,

“Thank you very much for your time today. I am very grateful but from my perspective this interview is over.”

The hiring manager is completely taken aback. “What do you mean?

The candidate continues, “I like your company, but you just finished telling me how many long hours you work. I have no objection to long hours when they are needed to complete a project. You also just finished telling me about how you miss spending enough time with your family.  I am looking for a company whose leadership is committed to work/family balance. So while I appreciate your time, I think we are not a good fit.”

Dumbfounded, the hiring manager said goodbye. Initially, he was furious. How dare that kid tell me anything about running a business. After discussing the event with a few others, he started to think seriously about the candidate’s point of view.

There are a lot of reasons why the best and brightest may not want to work for you. Check out this article by (one of my favorites) David Meerman Scott called, “How to Build a Crappy Workforce.”  Perhaps you’re not scrambling for talent yet but you will be and if you think changing your culture now is difficult — imagine what it will be like when the economy is back full steam.

 

 

 

 

Image credit: Fast Company

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Progress Not Perfection.

If a beaver really thought about all the work it would take to build a new home (dam), (s)he might never start. But since the need, desire and drive to build are innate… he doesn’t stop before he starts.

Somewhere along the way, human beings, who start out curious and driven (just watch a baby learn to walk) – we stop learning new things. How many times have you stopped yourself from trying something new because you were afraid?

Is it looking, acting or sounding stupid or admitting you don’t know something? We think that if we act like we’re not sure that we’ve somehow failed.  The older we get, the less likely we are to try something different.   We need to recalibrate our ideas so that learning new things is what’s good!

Here are my suggestions for staying hungry. Those of you who know me, know I’m already foolish (thank goodness!)

  1. Everyday do something you don’t want to do… just for practice.  Don’t gripe or complain, just do it. If you say one word about it to anyone, it doesn’t count. Do it for 7 days in a row and then talk with someone about the experience.
  2. If you have a chance, watch a child learn new things. Do they get frustrated easily?
  3. Make a list of the last 5 things you learned. Is it an easy list to construct or did you have to think about it for a while?
  4. Set a goal to learn something new and take one small step towards it.

If you want to be Steve Jobs (author of ‘stay hungry, stay foolish’ and noted perfectionist) then this  post is not for you. If you’re a mere mortal, then please tell me…. how do you stay hungry?

 

 

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

I enjoy meeting new people and helping them succeed. I understand the importance of networking and when I ask someone to meet me;  I offer to buy them a cup of coffee. Two dollars is a small investment to show someone that I appreciate their time.

I am grateful that I have the time and ability to volunteer and help as many people as I can.

When people ask to meet me, say they want to ‘pick my brain’ or ask me to make introductions to my contacts and don’t even offer to buy me a cup of coffee; I take note. What kind of employee will this person make if they don’t understand common courtesy?  I am taking this post to heart. I resolve to buy more coffees in 2011 to thank all those who help me.

Tell Me About Your Biggest Weakness (You Loser)

Recently I was helping someone prepare for an important interview by asking her all kinds of questions. One that caught her flatfooted was, “Tell me about one of your weaknesses.” Arghhh. Who’s prepared to answer that stupid question? You could try:

— “I’m a know-it-all perfectionist and I need to be in charge.”

— “People drive me crazy and I’m not a team player.”

— So why not say… “I don’ t have any weaknesses.”

Hmmm, that just screams — I have NO self awareness. Not a good answer.  Are you a grown up who understands his/her shortcomings and what to do about them? Or are you a shallow so and so who will just make everyone nuts?

We all have strengths (by the way, can you answer that important question?) and we all have little places that could use improving. The goal is to reply with something that you are really working on but not admit that you are a loser.

For example, I like to say something like…”I’m always working on my listening skills. I try to make sure that I am hearing the other person well enough to repeat back what they just said to me.”  I say this because I really believe that listening is one of the most important skills in any person’s toolkit.

I also like the, “I’m very dedicated to the job and am working on seeking balance….” Yeah, don’t hire me because I work too hard.

Check out the article, “How to Answer the, ‘What’s Your Biggest Weakness’ Question”.  Be honest but not too honest. The interviewer is listening and watching to see how you handle yourself in a difficult situation. Be prepared and then relax.

Walking on a Tightrope

I recently started reading a new blog by Joshua Blankenship. The post that turned me on Whose You Do You Want To Be?

If you have talent, there will always be someone telling you how to use it. Talent is in short supply, and smart people always have a vision for how you should use yours.

It’s a struggle to balance the need for earning a living and finding a satisfying way to use your talents. There are no courses in school for understanding your gifts and then figuring out how to best use them. Mostly, we tell kids to follow a career path and it’s hard to argue with that. But that doesn’t necessarily help them figure out how to be happy.

The tightrope is the journey to create the life you want. Please don’t be afraid of what other people will say. If they have time to talk about you, they’re not focusing on their own tightrope/happiness. They are likely too afraid to get up on the wire! How about thinking about your fulfillment goals instead your career goals.

When I was young, someone said to me, “be bold and great forces will come to your aid.” I never forgot that.

You don’t have to do something outrageous or outlandish to be true to yourself. But you probably have to bear the weight of people telling you that you’re wrong. Be strong, look for allies and be yourself. There’s no one like you in the whole world.

Inspiring and very entertaining video (also found in Joshua’s blog). Thanks Josh!