Your Life in a Circle

Most people would agree that a career transition is a daunting endeavor.

Yet one of the most challenging aspects of a career transition or a job search is something that most people don’t consider and plan for before I meet with them.

What am I referring to?

Carving out enough time in your life to devote to the process.

I have many clients who come to see me with a great deal of excitement about making a significant career change. They usually have been thinking about it for a while, and have finally made a commitment to themselves to make it happen.

A very important step.

Yet most clients have not yet given any thought to another very important element of the process. Finding and carving out enough time every week to actually devote to the process. (note: this is really crucial no matter what type of change in your life you are considering)

ImageUnfortunately, wanting a career transition doesn’t respond to magic wands. One needs to take many actions: Getting prepared with your career story, identifying potential paths, researching, talking and networking with people numerous times, re-assessing your potential paths, building new alliances, applying to various roles and practicing how you present yourself, etc. etc.

We can come to a decision about changing something about our lives and feel good about it – but nothing will actually change unless we take action. And those actions can’t exist in a vacuum.

Simply charting out your week in a pie-chart format can be very helpful.    Your Life in a Circle

Draw in all the pieces of pie that comprise your life every week.  Do you spend 60% of your time at your current job? 5% at church? 25% with family and friends? 10% at church or community activities?

That’s great – but where are you going to fit in the time to make a career transition (your pie already adds up to 100%+)?

You can’t expect that you will expand the universe and make each day have more than 24 hours. You can try but you will wind up just spinning your wheels and nothing will change. Which is even more frustrating.

That means something has got to go. You will need to make some decisions about what aspects of your daily life you are willing to forego in order to accomplish your goal.

What will you do differently?

  • Awaken an hour earlier each day to get in some morning time for networking
  • Use social media sites to strengthen your network
  • Use your lunchtimes to meet with networking contacts
  • Get to work 60 minutes earlier and use the extra time to research companies and associations online, etc.
  • Stay up an hour later each night to strategize and reach out to your online networks
  • Schedule Saturday mornings for career development activities

What is it?

What are you willing to change in your current daily activities to make room for the actions you must take to make a career transition?     Image

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Book Review: Job Searching with Social Media (for dummies)

I’m back. The truth is that I couldn’t keep up with my blogging over the summer. I was too too busy. Okay – I said it. 

I would still be putting it off except for the fact that I made a deal with Joshua Waldman, founder of Career Enlightenment, that I would write a posting on his newly published book Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies (I have always hated the name of these books – couldn’t they just leave off the “for Dummies” part?)  

I admit it – the book is pretty good. How do I measure this? Well, subjectively of course. But I also consider if I’ve learned anything new within the first ten pages. Yes, I did. I also consider whether the majority of my clients could benefit from the book. Yes, they can.

Here are some things to consider:

  • More than 80% of recruiters use LinkedIn.
  • Fifty percent of hiring managers determine whether a particular candidate’s personality might be a good fit for their company just by taking a look at the person’s social media presence.
  • Simply Hired lists not only job openings, but lists who you know on Facebook and LinkedIn from the companies you are interested in.

    Thomas L. Friedman

In the Sunday New York Times on August 13, Thomas L. Friedman wrote a column entitled  A Theory of Everything (Sort of). In it he said

…globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.

This is the single most important trend in the world today.

If you don’t believe this, you are in trouble. Big trouble. Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy and don’t give a dam about what’s going on in the world. Of course, Thomas Friedman’s column has a knack for sounding simple yet touching on very sophisticated concepts.

But let’s get back to simple.

If you are unemployed or miserable in your current job, my humble advice is that you need to pay very close attention to social media and start learning how it impacts you as fast as you can.  Jump in. Discover the value of these tools. It’s important.

If you’re feeling a little cocky because you  ‘know how’ to use LinkedIn and are on Facebook, think again. There are ways you could (and should) be utilizing these tools that are changing as we speak. And they can be the difference between landing a job and not landing a job.

Have you used LinkedIn to search for job postings, to follow companies of interest, to research a company you are interviewing with, to request an introduction to someone who works for your target organizations, to learn how many people your target companies have hired in the past three months?

Did you know that Twitter gives you access to people you would never have access to without it?

So back to the book – Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies.

Joshua Waldman

More than likely, you will already know many of the tips in this book. I’m guessing that it’s just as likely that there are more tips that you don’t know yet.

Here is another interesting thing I learned from this book:

  • Plaxo, which has over 20 million users, is not really a social media network, but a venue for managing contact information.

Two very useful chapters, among others, are Uncovering the Hidden Job Market with Twitter and Using Facebook as a Job Hunter.

Note: Parts of the Personal Branding 101 chapter has information that you’ve probably seen a thousand times before (defining your life’s values, what are you most proud of, your 75th birthday toast, identifying your passions and interests) but it never hurts to review those things. Skip over them if you are bored.

Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies costs around $13.00 on amazon.com.

Is it worth this small investment?     Absolutely.

 

 

Terry Del Percio – visit my website at www.workstrategies.com
978.282.8900


Everything Old Becomes New Again

Either the world is speeding up beyond belief or our brains were kidnapped by aliens and we now exist in a time warp machine  moving at the speed of light.

Once in a while, however,  things on earth circle back around and ‘everything old becomes new again’. It brings a little smile to  my face when the circle theory still shows up, albeit in subtle ways. Let’s take the job search process, for example.

We have all been forced to adjust to online applications, (along with the big black hole) and the difficulty of networking with  colleagues that are often working too many hours and are under a great deal of stress. It’s not easy.

Remember those books entitled Megatrends by authors John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene? The authors predicted (with uncanny foresight) the key trends for upcoming decades.  Note: The first was published in 1982, then 2000, and most recently Ms. Aburdene wrote another in 2010.

Well, here are my Retro-Trend predictions about the job search and workplace. This is just the beginning of an evolving list. If you have other ideas, please send them to me and I’ll write about them.

Prediction 1: Snail Mail Regains its Popularity

It wasn’t so long ago when mailing a resume and cover letter in an envelope with a stamp was the  norm. How many hard copy resumes do you think anyone receives now? Probably none.  Some might  even see it as an indication that the applicant is not computer savvy.

How would a recruiter or hiring manager react now if they received a high quality resume in the  mail? I’m betting that many would find it refreshing. (How often do you ignore anything with a  hand-written name and address?)

What is this professional textured paper and feels good to the touch? How unique. How creative.  How different.

On TheJobBored blog, the author of a post about this very subject believes that “sending a physical resume (nice paper stock, neatly printed, nice envelope) shows a certain touch of class…”

I, for one, would welcome the opportunity to read something on paper instead of another email with glazed eyes. And I certainly would remember the candidate’s name. I might even talk about her/him by the water cooler.

Prediction 2: Hand-Written Notes Become Cool Again

Okay, so most people know that they should send a follow up thank you note after interviewing. Yep – each candidate goes home and writes the obligatory thank you email and sends it right out.

The problem is that it doesn’t mean too much (but you still have to do it).  How much time does it take? Maybe 2 minutes, if that…especially for the cynics who think it’s a waste of time anyway.

The content goes something like this: “Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. You have a great company and I know I can do the job.” Done. And people feel good because they sent this note out on the SAME DAY as the interview.

How would a potential employer react if you actually took pen to paper and wrote a note that reflects a common sentiment or a business idea that you shared during the interview?  Hmmm, I wonder.

Prediction 3:  Pounding the Pavement Returns

Now this is a stretch – but I like to live on the edge. Most of you won’t even remember when one method of job searching was to literally walk into a company off the street – dressed appropriately, of course – to inquire about work opportunities. Well, some of us actually did that.

I had a client very recently who gave it a try. Believe it or not, the recruiting manager happened to be there and invited her in to talk for 20 minutes. Voila – the interview process had begun. Let me also say that this young woman was confident and prepared. She knew what she was going to say and was pleasant, engaging, positive and non-pushy.

I know it might seem very lame, but hey – is anything else working? What can you lose? The University of Phoenix seems to think this bold move could be a useful tool in the job search, particularly for young professionals.

So, who knows? Maybe it’s true what they say about everything old becomes new again.

———————-

Just as an aside, I also predict that hand written notes and poems will come back as romantic gestures. Ever think about what the impact would be if you wrote a “real” letter to your loved one and left it under his/her pillow – or wrote a friend how you feel about them? Give it a try and let me know how it felt to rekindle something exciting.

Getting back to ideas about work and job search – What do you think?

Toltec Wisdom Applied to Careers

What does personal freedom have to do with career decisions and work satisfaction?

Personal freedom is connected with the human spirit. We can blame everyone and everything for imposing on our personal freedom, but the truth is that we often stop ourselves from being free.

Thousands of years ago, the Toltecs were a people known in Mexico as “women and men of knowledge”. They were masters and students. Toltec knowledge was not a religion but rather, a way of life, and its wisdom can provide valuable insights into modern day job search or career transition.

Several years ago I read a book entitled The Four Agreements http://tinyurl.com/6kx5f9 by Don Miguel Ruiz. I picked it up again recently.

The Four Agreements are very basic yet powerful. See if you might gain some value from thinking about them in relationship to your career journey.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word

Your reputation is everything. Whether you are just beginning to build your career, are a seasoned leader in your prime, or an individual ready to transition out of one career into another, you must speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.

Building trust and developing a reputation of integrity will carry you through difficult times and also be a legacy for those who rise behind you.

If you are in a career transition or job search, your word and how trustworthy and real you are will precede you when you are networking and will follow you into your next endeavor.

Yes – polish your approach and refine your words, but be honest and true. You won’t go wrong.

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

This is the toughest agreement for me to abide by. I used to take everything personally. I am finally at a point where I can let things go much of the time, but I still catch myself taking things personally.

The point of this agreement is that nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality.

If someone gives you an opinion that is negative, i.e. ‘You can’t do this job’ – don’t take it personally. Taking things personally sets you up to suffer.

Be gracious and positive, and know that you are a person of quality and integrity, and move on.

To me, this is one of the most difficult of the agreements, yet I think it is vitally important. Think about how confident and centered you would come across to others if you didn’t take things personally and react defensively.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

We tend to make assumptions about everything, and worse yet, we believe that our assumptions are true. Very dangerous.

Assumptions happen quickly. Our minds trick us.

Say you went on an interview with the CEO of a new start-up and you had a great conversation, had a lot in common and she talked like you already had the job. You left the meeting on a high; you went home and you assumed this deal was moving forward – “This is it,” you say to yourself. “I’m their new Marketing Director”.

Three weeks go by and you don’t hear a word. Now you make a different assumption all of a sudden. You assume the CEO is not considering you and she was just ‘acting’ as if she liked you. Is this true? We don’t know.

Perhaps the CEO is traveling. Perhaps the company is on the brink of a big meeting with a venture capitalist for a huge infusion of money. You don’t know.

Making assumptions is a habit. Just like any other habit, we need to take a different action over and over again to change it. Practice.

One way to avoid making assumptions is to ask questions for clarity.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

This agreement allows the first three to become ingrained.

“Always do your best”- We have heard this before. Simple, right? Well – not always.

How often do you feel guilty because you “should have researched that company more before meeting that networking contact” or you “could have closed that deal if you had remembered the details about that product”…

One thing to keep in mind is that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to another.

Everything in life is constantly changing, so your best will also change over time. Just do your best in any circumstance and don’t judge yourself (that’s the hard part).

The more you practice these agreements, the more centered and clear your life will become. People will be drawn to you and think highly of you.

And I suspect you will be more likely to attract the type of work situations that are a good match for you.

Faux Pas #1 – Networking

Reputation is everything. We hear that over and over. It’s true. Yet there are certain behaviors that many of us are guilty of that tarnish our reputation. They seem like small things, but they’re not.

Take networking. Most of us know it’s crucial to a career, yet some people still don’t take it seriously.

Several people have blown my mind lately with their lackadaisical (and sometimes oblivious) approach to networking, especially if they are looking for a new position.

Let’s keep it simple. I’ll be writing about a series of faux pas’ over the next several weeks. Which faux pas have you committed lately? Here’s the first.

Faux Pas #1

SITUATION: You’ve had a tough few weeks. You’ve been on the job hunt for a few months with no progress – everything seems to have come to a screeching halt. Your good friend (Darren) is concerned, and emails a contact (Sarah) and asks if she will meet with you. Sarah has known Darren for a long time, so of course she says, “Sure”.

Darren initiates a virtual introduction through email. He feels good because this may get some momentum going for you. After all, Sarah is VP of Marketing for a global consumer goods company, and you are looking for a Director of Marketing role. She may be able to put you in touch with other people.

Darren sees Sarah at a party a couple of weeks later. She says, ‘Hey, I never heard from your friend, what’s up?’ Darren is caught off guard. “Gee, I thought he would have contacted you already, sorry about that.”

“No worries”, Sarah says, “I’m swamped at work anyway and I’m leaving for a business trip. I’ll be gone for a few weeks.”

REPUTATION: Alrighty then! Darren feels like a jerk after asking Sarah to do him a favor, and Sarah thinks you’re not really serious about your job search anyway so it’s no big deal to her. She’s got more important things to worry about.

You see Darren later the following week. He asks why you didn’t contact Sarah and you say, ‘Oh, I forgot all about it. I just haven’t gotten to it yet – too busy. Dam, I feel like I’m never going to land a job this time.’ Darren SAYS ‘No problem’, but what is he really thinking?

He’s THINKING, “How could you complain about not landing a job when you didn’t even take me up on a sure thing to meet with Sarah? I’ve know her for years and she is always willing to help. I try not to ask her for too many favors because I know she travels a lot and is under a lot of pressure at work. That’s the last time I hook you up with one of my contacts- you’re on your own.”

Oh, and Sarah? She found out just before she left for her business trip that her company just put a requisition in for a Marketing Director in a sister division. What do you think the chances are that she’ll tell Darren to let you know?

SUGGESTION: If someone sets you up through a direct introduction to network with someone from their circle, have the good sense and common courtesy to follow up within 48 hours. If you decide you aren’t going to follow up quickly, for god’s sake – inform your original contact!!

There may be hidden reasons why you didn’t follow up with Sarah quickly. If you are introverted, you may just need some time to prepare and muster up the emotional energy to meet with someone when you are already stressed. Still no excuse not to communicate appropriately with your original contact and save your reputation.

Note: @Wendy Gelberg wrote a book on the Introvert’s  job search… an article  in Forbes quotes her,

http://tinyurl.com/dbudct


Requesting Introductions thru LinkedIn

Several people are sending me “requests for introductions” on LinkedIn, which is great. It’s an extremely useful tool for networking and sharing information.

The problem is how requests are presented.

SUGGESTION: When requesting an introduction, LinkedIn asks you to write a short note both to the person you are trying to connect with, and the contact in between.

Be very thoughtful about these messages.

For example, yesterday a woman (Joan) requested an introduction from me to ‘Mark’ . I would be happy to send it along, except for the message she wrote to Mark.

In her message, Joan said, “Hi Mark, I’m sending you my cover letter and resume for the Director job at Hospital, Inc.. Thanks for your help”

What’s wrong with this message? How do you think Mark will react? What do you think he’ll do with Joan’s resume and cover letter?

Do any of you have suggestions for Joan in regards to using LinkedIn’s requests for introductions more effectively?