Job Search Tips
I was recently asked by CIO.com senior writer Rich Hein to put together some thoughts regarding the importance of doing research on a prospective employer to prepare for an interview. Rich wrote a nice piece on the topic. I highly recommend that you check it out at on the CIO.com site at Top 8 Sites for Researching Your Next Employer.
Enjoy!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
John Jantsch wrote a book called The Referral Engine that has been a great resource for us here at ITtechExec. Not only does it highlight how to tap into any business’s dream, happy customers who refer you to other potential customers (and thus save you loads of precious marketing dollars), but in the end, it helps you build a company that does more than just “sell” a product, hoping to trick someone into buying it; it gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you built a company full of clients who actually look forward to referring you.
As I was reviewing Jantsch’s book again recently, I began thinking about how corporate professionals could and should apply many of these same principles to their career moves…well before they even start considering their next job search.
One of the biggest issues for most professionals, particularly those a few years into their careers, is learning how to transform from their corporate mindset, which frankly tends to lull us into a stupor, into a more entrepreneurial one, for managing an effective career is really akin to launching your own business with you as the product.
So, let’s look at some principles that Jantsch lays out in his book:
1. Becoming “referrable:
For those of you who find the concept of sales distasteful, then this is the approach for you. The idea is that you position yourself within your company, industry, Google+ circle, LinkedIn group, association network, and so on, as a person people want to refer. In other words, they want to work with you, and they want to do so for the following reasons:
a. You’re consistent.
b. You’re trustworthy.
c. You’re interesting.
d. You know your stuff.
e. You focus on service instead of on achievement.
In my mind, this is really the essence of networking…not meeting tons of people, wowing them with your charisma, and hoping something sticks. Instead, it is recognizing that you are a problem solver, that you have something people need, and that you are the real deal. This “real deal” concept leads to principle #2.
2. Establishing a “core talkable difference”:
There really is nothing better from a professional standpoint than drawing people to you. As a small business owner, having people approach you already respecting the work that you do is like a breath of the freshest air compared with constantly trying to prove your worth, chasing after one potential client after another. The same is true even if you work in the corporate arena. Applying for a promotion and getting it is fine, but having leadership come to you and selecting you first is so much better.
To accomplish this goal, Jantsch suggests developing a “core talkable difference.” This is something, a skill, feature, uniqueness that gives you a competitive advantage because it makes those around you take notice. Again, it is not something you “brag” about per se, but it is something you can demonstrate that sets you apart from all the other software developers, desktop support staff, IT project managers, etc.
Furthermore, this also isn’t about being “nice” or working hard, which isn’t to say that those things aren’t valuable, but remember to think from a business perspective. What is a function you perform or problem that you solve that makes you stand out? It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel here. Think about an improvement you bring to the environment or industry around you and showcase (talk less, show more) that in some way.
3. Understanding your higher purpose:
People are attracted to those who seem to understand their higher purpose, mostly because we crave that in ourselves. We want to be happy in our careers and to feel like we have a vision for why and what we are doing. For principles #1 and #2 to be genuine, you really need to have principle #3, and that’s where most of us get tripped up. We lack the passion to go with the skill sets that we have, and therefore, we aren’t all that referrable or different, no matter how talented we are.
Whenever I work with job seekers or those considering career transition, one of the toughest things to do is to get them to stop and think about what excites them. They are usually too consumed by fear and desperation to want to do that. Whatever is behind this career move rarely has much to do with finding satisfaction as it is about just getting out of the current situation. As a result, they end up in the “sea” of job seekers, hoping to differentiate themselves somehow, and fast. (Of course, sometimes I end up working with the other end of the spectrum…the dreamers…they have lots of ideas, hopes, and aspirations but often are unwilling to take the first step toward pursuing them. They are often driven by a different type of fear and desperation than the first group, essentially, but they all end up in the same place, out in that “sea.”)
Overall, Jantsch says that for a business to be successful (and for our purposes, a corporate professional), you must enjoy what you do and have a sense of purpose, you must be good at it, and you must be able to convince other people to pay you for it. If any one of these ingredients is lacking, then there’s a good chance the business of your career is stalled or stale, and that you are expending a lot of effort just trying to get noticed.
Get the recipe right, according to Jantsch, and the opportunities will start to come your way.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
So it turns out that I have become somewhat obsessed with “The Voice.” You know that show on NBC where people from all walks of life who can sing undergo a blind audition to be on one of four celebrity judges’ teams?
If you haven’t seen it, contestants have to sing with the judges’ backs turned to them and hope/pray that one of them will push his or her button and turn around, granting them a sacred place on that judge’s team (and oh the sweet bliss if more than one judge turns around! Now they have to fight over you!). (Once the teams are full, the contestants then duke it out [musically, that is] to become that season’s “Voice”.)
My obsession with the show has to do with all the back stories they give you about some contestants during the blind auditions. They pick a few participants with each show (undoubtedly the ones with the saddest, most heart-wrenching tales to tell) to highlight BEFORE they go out to sing.
So taking a page right out of the Olympics (you know, right as the athletes are getting ready to compete, suddenly Bob Costas’s voice spurred on by some background music draws you into this back story of the athlete), The Voice does a good job of drawing you in, humanizing these people to the point where you just want to root for them (I mean, after all, this IS their moment, and they DESERVE it!).
Then, just like the Olympics, they go off to the audition to compete, and some make it and some don’t, offering you 60 minutes full of emotional triumphs and agonies (“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!”).
That is, of course, if you are a sucker for these back stories like I am
Like any junkie, however, I knew I had reached rock bottom when not that long ago I was watching with my husband and 8-year-old, and I found myself tearing up over some struggling artist who had moved to Nashville to make it big and had to park cars to get by, just believing that this was his big chance (sadly, though, no one pushed their button for him). He looked so forlorn when the realization hit that his days of parking cars were not quite over.
On the same show, another guy, who grew up on a pig farm and sang so high people often mistook him for a female, belted his falsetto heart out, just hoping for a chance to get away from those pigs, but alas, it also was not meant to be.
I have to admit that I was feeling pretty badly for both of these guys (sniffling, puffy eyes, and everything!) UNTIL I heard my 8-year-old say, “Oh mom, it’s not devastating or anything. They’ll be OK.”
I couldn’t help but smile because (1) she really does listen to me sometimes and (2) she understands what many people don’t: perspective.
As a career pro, I hear this word “devastating” a lot when job seekers are at the end of their rope with a job search. I also heard it several times during the Olympics when someone didn’t medal or didn’t win the gold they so expected.
But disappointment, not matter how severe, is not devastation.
Devastation is a complete wiping out of order, chaos, hopelessness, helplessness. It is complete and utter loss. It is most often associated with the ravages of war or earthquakes/tsunamis or death. Disappointment is, well, disappointing, a sadness that something did not work out as we had hoped. And disappointment, by the way, has many levels, from “ah shucks” to “I’m not getting out of bed for a year.”
It is important to understand the distinction here, especially when it comes to attitude and outlook.
We’ve become so casual in our use of the English language that we often use terms to describe things that are exaggerated and inaccurate (myself included!). And although we often think it is just a matter of semantics, the fact is that our words matter, especially when we reach a crossroads.
Whether it is the pig farmer on “The Voice” or the Olympic athlete who didn’t medal, in both cases, these people have experienced something so rare that many others could only dream about. They obviously have talents that they have been given the opportunity to nurture and develop, and the world has given them a stage to do their best to showcase these talents. For goodness sake’s, you don’t just go to the Olympics because you want to, and not everyone gets an invite to “The Voice.” You really do have to have the goods (not to mention all the competition leading up to this competition)! So although it is disappointing (extremely so) for them (and we can sympathize with them, tears and all) that they fell short of their expectations, it is certainly not devastating (especially when you think about all the things that really are, like war-torn countries, famine, death).
I mean, I wish I had one talent that was even half as good, much less a global venue to show it off! No one ever said to me, “Wow, you’ve got potential. Drop everything and devote yourself to this!” Just think about what a privilege that is! (Uh oh, if I’m not careful, I am going to start to feel “devastated!”)
Instead, like so many of us, I have had to carve a path that has brought wonderful surprises and deep disappointments. It’s just life. It doesn’t always cooperate, but then again, we also don’t always lose. Sometimes we even get amazing things we don’t deserve. (And sometimes, blessedly, we are protected from getting other things we do deserve.)
But once you mistake disappointment for devastation, you will miss all that for it will cloud every decision you make from there on.
I’ve seen too many job seekers go down this path from disappointment to devastation, and it really is, well, disappointing.
See devastation requires a complete rebuilding, if that is even possible, and nothing will every be completely healed because there has been irrevocable loss.
Disappointment, however, still has a chance. Things might have to change, the road might be different than you thought it was going to be, but the chance to salvage something out of it is still there.
Listen. It’s really awesome to dream big and to have high expectations and goals. We all want our children to do that, but disappointment is par for the course. Even if they meet one goal, another one might not work out. It just is what it is.
The difference comes in what you do with it when it comes. Are you prepared? In the end, that is what separates the winners from the losers…Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
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