(Sidebar: Turns out pictures of Trump also show up when you search Google images for dumb.)
But I’m not talking about him. I’m talking about the guy who famously said that changing the world requires 80-hour weeks.I wonder what the author of the 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss, would say about that. I’d have to imagine he has a portfolio full of case studies of people who are changing the world and working FEWER hours.
So Elon Musk, in case you didn’t realize who I quoted, is CEO of four different companies concurrently, all of which he has charged with disrupting industry. He’s one of the most innovative minds of our times, able to leverage the best in technology and science to do things most would have thought impossible. BUT, he seems completely ignorant of what science has proven about human performance optimization.
According to a Wired article, though Elon was able to finally achieve producing 5000 Model 3s in a week, his factory machinery and car features had been riddled with errors. His workers are avoiding any potential contact that could spark a firing tantrum. According to Tesla’s Glassdoor reviews, people are being micromanaged and turnover is high.Do we even need science to know that these conditions do not lead to sustained success or growth?
It’s no wonder why he’d love nothing more than for someone to come along and take his open source designs and start a company to compete with him. Actually, I’d really love that, too. I’d love someone to come along and leverage his science and technology as well as neuroscience and human performance optimization techniques to surpass him and prove to him that not only can you can change the world in a reasonable work week, but you can do it faster and better, more collaboratively, and solve even more problems when your workforce is rested, inspired and encouraged to have enriching experiences outside of work, as science proves.
I wonder what would happen if workers were encouraged and supported in stretching every 25 minutes, exercising every morning, taking half-hour breaks 3 times per workday, and working a 35 hour work week.
I wonder what would happen if instead of being berated when something doesn’t work, workers were told to meditate or engage in a cathartic activity. I wonder how they might perform better if they were trusted to fix their own mistakes.
I wonder how much faster solutions would occur.
I wonder what would happen if he turned around his employment brand and was able to attract twice the genius to cover the same amount of hours, but put twice the brain power on issues and plans.
I wonder how many fewer mistakes would be made and how much faster production would be.
I wonder how much more profitable Tesla could be. I wonder if he would actually then acquire the GM plant and re-employ its workers but under favorable conditions. I wonder if he could do that with many other abandoned plants. I wonder if Detroit could have a second hay day as the Motor City.
I challenge any who have the experience, resources, and funding to disrupt the disruptor. Anyone up for it?
Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.
Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019, and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.
As the new administration decides where to make cuts and where to allocate funding, heated debates continue on both sides of the political spectrum. Don’t worry, as usual, this post is not political. (I personally find that many of the issues that need a resolution would be better served if politics were left out of those said issues.) I am much more interested in co-creating meaningful solutions to significant problems than I am finding more ways to separate myself from my fellow citizens.
The intention of this post is to open a discussion on what is a popular approach to alleviating many of society’s woes, teaching people to fish.
I do not mean literally. Though, I know from watching all the shows about Alaska and people living off of the grid that survival literally means catching fish for some. I am talking about proverbial fish, your ability to take care yourself and your family.
I really do not want to discuss whether people need government handouts, whether they abuse them, and who loses when that happens. Let’s just focus on the real challenges and viable solutions to helping people become self-reliant and empowered in their own survival, and then we can eventually move on to happiness.
Someone in my Facebook community was pleading with people to stop complaining about this healthcare issue, and to just go get a better job that pays better benefits.
Raise your hand if you think this is so easy. (I imagine many, if not most, hands raised.)
Raise your hand if you happen to love your work, feel you have found your calling, and can now not imagine doing anything else. (I imagine very few hands are raised, but those that are belong to people who would be doing a disservice to the world to get a new job simply because it has better benefits.)
So, that’s challenge #1 with teaching people to fish: The fish are small
Some people have careers that just are not associated with great benefits and high paychecks, like social service and teaching. These people know how to fish in that they have jobs, their jobs are necessary, and for the most part they work hard in spite of not being paid as well as other equally valuable professions.
Possible self-managed solution: Supplemental income, aka the “side hustle”
Yes, this would require people to invest time outside of their already full-time jobs. This means potentially they would have to take time away from their families. If these income-producing activities, however, were related to interests, hobbies, or causes that were already important to them, carving out time would feel less like a sacrifice and more like an investment. Then it is really just a matter of making sure that these activities actually produce income, which usually means finding the right teacher and/or system.
Some, but not all of these activities may require an upfront investment. Examples include home-based administrative services, real estate investing (bird-dogging and wholesaling require no up front money, and where I live there is an organization that has monthly meetings where you can get educated and find a mentor for FREE!), fitness coach, selling crafts, beauty products, clothes, hand bags, wine, and most anything else you can imagine.
I have walked this walk, and can tell you that while many of these opportunities preach being able to make a good amount in a little bit of time, it takes a significant investment of time to get your systems up and running, and investing money in tools or training can accelerate the income production lifecycle, but it is not necessary.
Challenge #2: No proximity to water (jobs)
With the evolution from an industrial age to an information age, some professions will die, and if the hubs of those professions do not move into the new age swiftly enough, large employers fail to create new jobs for people dependent on those jobs.
Possible self-managed solution: Online training and remote work
In many counties in many states there are programs that will fully or partially cover training for people who qualify. Qualifying usually just means that you have a basic level of intelligence and aptitude to learn the new skills and that you are willing to fill out paper work, attend meetings, and find or pick the appropriate institution.
What if the government cuts these programs? We are lucky enough to live in the age of crowdfunding. I have walked this walk, too. I raised $5K to build a prototype for a job search mobile game. 25 people in my inner circle and 51 complete strangers helped me fund this project. It took a concerted effort, but I was truly humbled and very pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support.
As long as there is a need for that skill, be it a trade or a professional skill, then the challenge that potentially remains is the next one.
Challenge #3: Inefficient tools or inability to understand how to make or use tools
There is a reason I’ve been business for over ten years, and for that same reason my mentors have been doing this twice as long. Not everyone is an effective writer, and even if you are an effective writer, when the subject matter is yourself, it is very challenging to understand how you could make yourself look good to the people who you feel have your fate in their hands. Furthermore, résumés have a lot of rules and are meant to be very concise. Writing using short business speak is a whole different skill set compared to writing long form for comprehension. What separates the best résumé writers in the world from the rest is the ability to concisely, clearly, and powerfully convey what makes a person unique – the softer qualities, but in hard business terms.
Possible self-managed solution: Self-teaching
Assuming you do not have the resources to invest in engaging a professional like myself who can create master-crafted tools for you, which will run you up to four figures if you include a LinkedIn profile, there are plenty of resources out there that will teach you how to craft your own branded content. We have the best: http://epiccareering.com/diy-content-builder/
There are plenty of FREE guides, as well, but I can only stand behind my own. Yes, YouTube is a great free DIY resource, just be wary of the advice you take. You can trust our channel, which has had over 45,000 views and is chock full of free trainings on cover letters, networking, résumés, and more. We also have some great motivational playlists.
Challenge #4: Knowing locations, times of day, the right bait, which fish are edible, how to clean, cook, store, etc.
Having effective tools like branded résumés and LinkedIn profiles are great, if they are seen, but the statistics are against being able to be found, seen and considered when you apply for jobs online. That leaves a big “what then?” question. Then, once you are being considered by a company, you have to know how to keep yourself at the front of a pack you cannot even see to secure an offer, and then negotiate an offer that works with your lifestyle so that you can actually sustain your life.
You can actually get the DIY tools above PLUS training in the activities that get the best results, forming good habits around those activities, interviewing to get the offer, and negotiating the optimal offer as a partner to your employer, PLUS many other bonuses by investing just $151 more. If that is still outside of your means, our previous posts below do not give you all of our tricks and tips, but they should give you some really great techniques to get your JoMo (Job Momentum) kickstarted. Feel free to explore the 140+ LinkedIn posts and blog posts available on a wide range of subjects.
Challenge #5: They’ve been taught it’s too hard and they are no good at it
We have written many blog posts about how fundamental beliefs can go completely unnoticed as they make decisions for us that limit our future. I agree with Marisa Peer’s assertion that the major reason and cause of suffering worldwide is actually the easy to form, hard to break (without hypnosis) belief that you are not enough. Additionally, our meaning-making brains translate criticism very harshly. We can absolutely be our own worst enemy.
If you cannot relate, then it would be hard for you to understand how the effort to change can seem futile, as though destiny shunned you and you are bound to fail, not matter what, so why try. You are lucky that you do not have to contend with such self-deprecating thoughts.
Positive thinking has failed many people who have tried. That is because the thoughts are just a symptom of a belief system that can be reversed, but not without tricks and a regimen.
I continue to unravel a lifetime of self-limiting beliefs, so that I can allow myself to accept a better position in life. It has taken many teachers, tools, and tricks. It has meant constantly, as in several times daily, checking in on my mindfulness state, interrupting bad patterns and replacing them with better ones.
I have invested tens of thousands of dollars, and I will continue to make this investment until I stop breathing. I love learning new hacks for success and wholeness, and I love teaching them to you. I find this world fascinating, and my coaching effectiveness has evolved exponentially because of what I have discovered. However, I had to understand the science behind it before I could find a credible means of change, and that took significant time and research.
Possible self-managed solution: Daily personal development/self-help
Some people have claimed that hypnosis was a cure-all for them, but that does cost money, and what if it doesn’t work for you?
At least once a day, feed yourself awareness of your greater potential. First, read The Miracle Morning, as it will help you understand the benefits and overcome some of the challenges of making self-care a priority every day. I can also point you to Mel Robbins, who easily explains some of the neuroscience behind why we stop ourselves from creating meaningful change. Ultimately, your goal is to form a fundamental belief that you CAN fish. In fact, you can be a master fisherman or woman! In my house, there is no can’t; only I don’t know how yet.
Most of these solutions require a person to make an additional investment of time/money. The reality is for some that there is no additional time and there is no additional money. For some, it is just really challenging to shift priorities and they do not see the way out yet, but I have had clients working 80+ hours with kids at home who some weeks did not have ANY extra to give. They were educated, smart, and being taking for granted and underpaid for their work. For this, I wish there were an organization that could put a company on a public probation of sorts. If the government was to interfere by imposing sanctions on executive pay, I wish there were a way to raise awareness without repercussions for workers and then a way to apply social pressure to change the systems and policies that allow talented, hard-working people to be psychologically abused and trapped.
I am very interested in hearing your challenges and solutions. Please share them with us.
Growing up I remember being inspired and intrigued by The Jetsons, which had an idealistic idea of the future American working culture. The Jetsons boldly proclaimed that in the 21st Century, Americans would work fewer hours and have more leisure time each week. In fact, the biggest crisis on the horizon would be the lack of working time and people not knowing what to do with all of their free time. The leisure-filled utopia predicted by those living in the 1950s and 60s never came to pass. Instead of a predicted 16-to-20 hour work week, Americans now work an average of 47 hours per week.
Working longer hours in America
When compared to other cultures, Americans tend to work longer hours and take shorter vacations. The US is also the most overworked developed nation in the world and has recently overtaken Japan in the number of hours worked per year. Working longer hours has had an interesting effect on the economy. The United States is much richer than Europe and has created more wealth because America has a higher population than Europe, and that population works longer hours. Individually, longer hours do not equal more productivity, especially if the number of hours worked extends beyond 50 hours per week. According to a CNBC article, employee output falls drastically after 55 hours per week, and around the 70-hour mark nothing more is produced. Additionally, many salaried employees putting in extra hours at work aren’t paid overtime: those extra hours are essentially “free” for the employer. The downside to employers is employee burnout, absenteeism, and higher turnover rates.
According to a DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) research report, 1-in-6 US employees now work more than 60 hours per week. The number of American men who regularly work 48 hours per week or more has risen by 20% in the last 25 years. A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development stated that Americans are working 20% longer than they did in 1970, while the numbers of hours worked per week has fallen in other industrialized countries. The United States is the only developed country in the world that is not required to provide families with mandatory paid maternity leave, and the Family and Medical Leave Act only covers employees if they’re eligible. When compared with other countries, the situation is so bad that even comedians such as Jon Stewart can’t help but mock it. The Newsroom also addressed the issue, among many others, in a stunning response that debunks the myth of America being the greatest country in the world.
President Obama commented on America’s working culture in late June. “Too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve.” As a result, upcoming changes to federal overtime rules may curb the number of hours salaried employees can work if they make $50,440 or less per year. Either employers will have to pay overtime, or employees will work fewer hours. The changes are expected to affect 5 million workers. The Vanguard Group has already implemented these changes by reclassifying 2,100 of its salaried U.S. employees to hourly employees and the results have been mixed.
Americans and vacations
When it comes to days reserved for vacations, American culture falls behind the rest of the developed world. Compared to other countries, Americans receive an average of 14 paid vacation days per year, while France tops out at 39, the UK receives 24 days, and even Canada enjoys an average of 19 days. In some countries vacation days are mandated by law. So why do Americans work so hard and take so few vacations? The reasons are numerous and complex. A Wharton article points out that despite employees’ willingness to accept less pay for more vacation time, hours have been creeping higher for salaried workers. Employees are being asked to work longer hours because it’s cheaper than hiring new workers and unions aren’t instituted in many sectors to protest this practice. People also refuse vacations because they want to get ahead in the workplace and fear being replaced if they take all of their time off. Others fear that work won’t function without them.
The Wharton article also states that Americans’ self-worth is tied to being able to earn more and to spend more. This means bigger homes, more vacation homes, and bigger cars than European counterparts. Additionally, workaholism is a point of pride in our culture, and even while on vacation, workers still engage with the office thanks to technology.
In an attempt to retain a happier, more productive workforce, some companies have recognized the importance of making quality-of-life improvements. These employers have instituted unlimited vacation policies. As long as people are on top of their work schedules at these companies, they are able to take time off whenever they need. Seer Interactive and the Brownstein Group are two local companies with such policies. When voluntary vacation days don’t work, other employers have been known to either force or entice their employees to take time off. Some companies, such as Evernote, give employees $1000 or more to leave work for a week, while other companies require their employees to take at least two weeks of vacation a year.
Working culture in Europe
In comparison, Europeans tend to value the ability to take long vacations and disengaging from work. When a European goes on vacation, it is not uncommon for an employee to not answer phone calls or e-mail until they return. France is famous for shutting down every August as the majority of the country goes on vacation. The ability to take and enjoy leisure time is seen as a badge of pride. When I was honeymooning in New Zealand, all of the other couples on our excursions were Europeans and were on eight-week “holidays.”
Even as Americans are working longer hours, some employers have been experimenting with other ways to boost productivity. One such method is the inclusion of naps in the workplace. These employers see it as a way to counteract sleep deprivation, lost productivity, and to reduce sick time taken. Companies such as Google, Nike, and the Huffington Post are known for allowing employees to take naps when needed. In fact, Arianna Huffington had her own revelation about sleep and productivity when she collapsed after working long hours with very little sleep. Allowing for naps can also boost an employee’s productivity in the short-term with improved performance and alertness.
Working culture in Asia
There are countries with longer working hours than the United States, namely in Asia. In many Asian countries working long hours, sometimes 12 hours per day, is considered normal. In Japan, this type of workaholism is known as “karoshi” or “death by overwork.” It causes 1000 deaths per year. The country also has one of the highest suicide rates in the world as more than 25,000 people took their own lives due to stress from work, depression, isolation, and financial problems. (Fortunately, the rate of suicide has been on the decline in Japan.) In many Asian cultures, people are expected to live to work and to sacrifice their personal lives for the sake of a company. In terms of vacations, workers are reluctant to take time off. In China over 70% of workers don’t take their paid vacation time, and some workers haven’t taken a vacation in years.
Why time off matters
The implications for health and personal well-being are numerous. In my previous article, “Is Work Killing You?” I wrote about how not taking time off is detrimental to health and productivity. Long hours do not equal more productivity, and ultimately cost employers down the line with absenteeism, sick time, and high turnover. Workaholism and the fear of being seen as unproductive may have become normalized, but the quest for an ideal work-life balance is higher than ever. There are countless articles that offer advice on how to balance a working life with a personal life. If you have your own work-life struggles, these articles are great resources.
Even as forward-thinking employers seek to address the lack of vacation time in American culture with generous perks and benefits, nothing will change unless the culture changes from the top. Americans can look to other countries for ways to structure their own vacation time, but cultural issues around vacations are deep-seeded. As long as people see long work hours as a point of pride, and others fear getting behind in productivity, or being fired, change will remain sporadic and slow because leaders determine the culture and set the example. If more leaders are willing to take more vacations, it shows employees that it’s okay to take and enjoy vacation time.
In the 1950s and 60s, labor experts were certain that Americans would be working fewer hours by the 21st Century. The Jetsons, inspired by the sentiment of the time, had George Jetson working nine hours per week. The idea of working less than 20 hours a week may not have become reality (and probably never will), but a 40-hour work week is definitely a more realistic approach. After all, working more than 50 hours per week certainly doesn’t increase productivity and leads to future problems. The utopia promised by The Jetsons doesn’t have to be a nine-hour work week, but the promise of more leisure time is obtainable. Just imagine what work and leisure time would look like if more Americans worked closer to 40 hours per week and used their allotted vacation time.
Earlier this year the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 40% of Americans have contingent jobs. These are considered alternate work arrangements as opposed to full-time positions, and include contractors and consultants. You may have landed a contract-to-hire job with the promise of a full-time position at the end of the contract. Now what? There are no guarantees that an employer may actually hire you at the end of a specified contract. Even so, many job seekers end up taking this kind of work while searching for a full-time job in the hope that it may become a permanent position. For some, it may be a conflicting decision because they feel by taking a contract-to-hire job that they are going to miss the opportunity of permanent work without the contract period. How can you optimize this arrangement to increase your probability of landing a full-time position at the end of a contract?
Optimize your contract-to-hire role
Employees in a contract-to-hire position can make the most of their contract by looking at the arrangement from the company’s point of view. Employers see the benefit of a contract-to-hire job as getting a chance to try out an employee before they commit to a full-time position. In this trial run, employers have the opportunity to judge an employee’s skills and to see if they are a good cultural fit. You can think of it as an extended interview for the duration of a contract as employers see if a candidate lives up to what was stated on a résumé. Additionally, employers can also ensure the budget for a particular project is secure without having to worry about paying salary and benefits. A contract job may seem to favor an employer, but can it be a backdoor that leads to landing a full-time position. In other words, it’s a great opportunity to convince an employer why you’re the best candidate for a full-time job.
Consultants who are trying to make the switch to full-time employment have a uniquely different experience than a candidate who is directly hired as a full-time employee. As a consultant, an employer expects you to know your subject matter, as there may be very little on the job training. Furthermore, consultants need to have the ability to focus, to be aware of, but not involved in company politics, and to know their strengths and areas of comfort. This means going above and beyond what is expected of you. You may be on contract, but there’s no reason not to approach the job in the same manner as a full-time position. Just like with a full-time position, you want to make your employer look good, and you want to respect their chain of command. You may be used to working as a full-time employee, but your role as a contractor is slightly different. You want to be noticed as an exceptional worker, but you don’t want to step on any toes. For example, you may have recommendations and feedback for the company. However, it is best to keep that advice limited to avoid being seen as a know-it-all. I’ll explain how to provide recommendations in few moments.
As a contractor, you are occasionally limited to using the same skill sets over and over again because you’re hired as a subject matter expert. Nevertheless, you are able to sample different cultures and environments and you can look for opportunities to touch technologies, processes, and functions that you previously haven’t been exposed to while you’re there. Being able to see what some companies are doing right, wrong, and a little bit of both can give you an expanded perspective that can help you become a strong strategist. This enthusiasm and willingness to learn can go a long way in convincing employers why you want to become a full-time employee, especially if you’ve been a contractor for a long time. Some employers may believe that you will miss being a road warrior (which is part of some consulting jobs, but not all), that you miss earning a higher hourly wage and that you are not as easily integrated into the fabric of the company so that you effectuate change. Beware of this color of perception, but it is absolutely a challenge you can overcome. If you need our help, we also specialize in this area.
Will this job translate into full-time work?
The employee who is rewarded with a full-time position has proven their value to a company. They have managed to stand out and have gone above and beyond to become indispensable to an employer. As I stated earlier, a contract-to-hire position is like an extended interview. Just like an interview, you want to demonstrate the value you can bring to a company. Find an employer’s pain point and work to solve the problem. Ask questions and challenge yourself to move beyond your comfort zone.
Asking questions is especially good because you can be seen as an outsider by other employees who may consider you to be a know-it-all coming to impose your idea of what is right on the company. This can be surprising to people who have never been in a contract-to-hire role before. This type of position takes a certain amount of diplomacy and earning trust. Asking questions is a great way to demonstrate that you seek to understand your role and the role of others. You’re able to gain a wider perspective and see the bigger picture of how all the pieces fit together at a company. This will enable you to grow faster into a strategic role in your company or at a different company. A full understanding of your role is always a great way to be visible to a wider audience and to expand your network and the company.
Contractors are expected to start out at a running pace and to come in with the skills that the company needs to perform at a high-level from the gate. Immediate contributions are going to be expected, so any understanding that you need in order to deliver should be procured within the first week. Then you will want to network with and ask questions of people in other departments regarding their function, duties, goals, and challenges. Stay away from asking about internal politics. Of course you want to know about them before you decide to become a permanent member of the team, but they usually become evident to you without inquiring too deeply.
Ask your hiring manager for feedback on a weekly basis rather than waiting for a 90-day performance evaluation. Make sure you know the protocol for operating as a consultant, as it differs slightly from the protocol of a regular employee. Follow the chain of command and respect your peers’ and employer’s reporting structure. Participate in social events in moderation- remember this is the age of YouTube and camera phones. Work longer hours and don’t leave before your boss.
Keep a diary or a notebook where you can record questions about why things are done a certain way at a company. Let your boss know that you’re keeping this diary during your weekly performance meetings and ask questions regarding these things before you make any recommendations.
Considerations to keep in mind BEFORE you accept a contract position
If you’re on the fence about taking a contract-to-hire position, there are a few things to keep in mind. Before you accept a contract position, ask the employer how often those contracts are converted into full-time positions. Even if employment is a possibility, keep in mind there are no guarantees. If someone in a consultant role doesn’t fully consider why he or she wants to be a full-time employee, a contract-to-hire role may end badly. I previously wrote about how the shift from a consulting role to full-time employment isn’t always easy– it’s worth reading if you’re undecided.
Contract work can show employers you have a good work ethic. That said, I think some people have the impression that as a consultant you’re able to manage your own schedule and that it’s like working for yourself. In reality, contractors sometimes work longer hours and they don’t necessarily enjoy some of the perks and benefits of employees. As a contractor, you are sometimes brought in to finish projects quickly and to sometimes clean up someone else’s mess. It can be an all-hands-on-deck, do-what-it-takes type of effort. You can also be excluded from certain meetings and social events.
Contract-to-hire jobs can fill gaps in your résumé. Employers are more understanding of candidates who land new consulting positions every few months versus full-time employees who change companies every few months. Even if you have landed a position as a consultant with a company, don’t stop your job search. A very tricky part of being a contractor is trying to line up your next job while you’re still working full-time (and them some) on the contract. Update your résumé as you go and keep a careful record of your every effort, result and impact you make. We specialize in helping contractors with this type of job search.
Contract-to-hire jobs are one pathway into full-time employment. Similar to an interview, candidates who prove their value to employers, and demonstrate their industry expertise stand the best chance at landing a full-time position at the end of a contract.
Mike Lazerow is an entrepreneur with a philosophy that grasps you by the chin and makes it impossible to look away. At least, that is how I felt when he stated his case about being a “weirdo.” In his words, “You do everything that authority says you have to do- get good grades, take the right subjects, make the team, wear the right clothes, comb your hair, go to the right college. You land your first big job interview and the first question they ask is, ‘Why should I hire you? What makes you so different?”’
At an early age we are dissuaded from pursuing our passions in order to settle for a “safe” and “normal” career. While this brings in income, 68.5% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs. There IS an alternative to high employee dissatisfaction. Through what we have been able to achieve with our clients, we know that having a career that fulfills you and pays you what you’re worth is not just possible, but probable when you execute an EPIC job search.
“There’s a lot of mediocrity being celebrated, and a lot of wonderful stuff being ignored or discouraged.” -Sean Penn
Surviving, not thriving
The most recent Gallup poll revealed that nearly 70% of employees are actively disengaged from work. This cost companies $300 billion annually. If a lack of employee engagement cost companies hundreds of billions each year, what does it mean for workers? This disengagement can cause frustration and a deep sense of unhappiness. In turn, that frustration leads to stress and anxiety and/or depression. Disengagement can also teach future generations that work isn’t something you enjoy or that can be fun, but is something you HAVE to do to survive. I see people settling for jobs that offer what they think is security in exchange for their passion as a sacrifice for their family. This exchange is what they think they need to do, but how did they come to that conclusion? How and when did they decide that they couldn’t have a job they loved and that enabled them to take care of their bills, family and retirement? It is a fallacy that was learned from the examples of others, and the longer we perpetuate it by staying in jobs that don’t engage us, the more future generations will continue the same cycle.
The best cure for disengagement is to avoid taking a job you don’t enjoy. Some people may wonder how to tell if they’ll enjoy a job or not. Others believe they’ll eventually find enjoyment in a job if they try hard enough. There are questions you can ask yourself to ensure you accept a job you know you’ll love. Seek a job that leaves you fulfilled, adds value to your personal and professional life, and gives you a greater sense of purpose. Before you apply to your next job, figure out what you want from an employer by identifying your criteria.
If you’re disengaged you are either A) in the wrong job, or B) not taking full accountability for improving your situation. I believe the majority of people are in the wrong job and have yet to find work that is exciting and fulfilling. When people settle, they settle for way less money than they would be able to make if they were in jobs that enabled them to fully utilize all of their talents. A fulfilling and engaging job would allow people to thrive and perform at higher levels, because they would have an effervescent energy that would be hard not to notice. Putting in extra hours would be a natural inclination, because you love what you’re doing. Job fulfillment is something that gives you energy instead of draining you.
If I knew growing up that I would find work that I love so much, work that I would want to do all the time, that gave me a buzz, and that made me feel triumphant, I would have been looking for engaging work from the start. I didn’t know such work was possible until I found it, and I’ve had jobs I liked before I discovered my passion. Passion-filled work is on another level! It literally calls to you and draws you closer. Or as Emmy Award-winning Fox 29 Producer Berlinda Garnett stated in our August Epic Career Tales interview, “A calling is that thing that’s been laid on you.” Esther Hicks nicely sums up why passion trumps motivation, “Motivation is the antithesis of inspiration.” You don’t need to manufacture motivation when you do work that is inspiring.
Being fully engaged at work means finding satisfaction and pride in how you contribute to your company. You want to say you’re proud to work for your employer, you’re proud of what you do for a living, and how you and how your job contributes to society as a whole. An engaging job also presents challenges that aid in your growth. Tim Pash and his role at Microsoft are the epitome of an engaging job. Tim is definitely proud to work for Microsoft and loves the challenge the company provides. Tim admits Microsoft is a tough, but fulfilling place to work because the company really pushes employees’ abilities. The company also encourages employees to constantly create and share new ideas with co-workers and managers. Thanks to the challenges, mastering a job at Microsoft is one of the best feelings in the world. For more on Tim Pash’s role at Microsoft, make sure to sign-up for our newsletter so you can listen to and read about his Epic Career Tale.
Some people believe it doesn’t matter how you feel about a job as long as you’re able to pursue your passion outside of work. I disagree for many of the reasons I’ve already stated, but one really stands out to me: We don’t know how much time we have in life. Why bother to spend the time we do have stuck in an employment situation where survival is just good enough? The death of my nephew two springs ago really drove that point home. Working too hard, not spending more time with friends, and not living a life true to your dreams are some of the many regrets of the dying that Jane McGonigal highlights in her TED Talk. Just imagine how much pleasure and joy we can derive from life if we apply our talents to work and pursue what we love, rather than going after the jobs that we think will provide the most stability, even if it costs us our happiness.
Imagine waking up every morning and being excited to work, instead of dreading another 40-hour week. You may have had people who’ve constantly told you it is better play it safe with a career you might not like rather than risk failing by pursuing what you love. This attitude can bring unhappiness and disengagement. Many people also VASTLY underestimate who they could be and what they can do. It’s not too late to reconsider your career choice. The pursuit of work that engages and satisfies you can lead to a life where work is a joy and you spend your time doing what you really love.
“Jack Canfield Nothing happens until you take action” by BK of Flickr
Ethan is a Social Media Analyst who’s often described by his friends as a “go-getter.” When he sets out to complete a project at work, or help a friend, he gives the task his best effort. Ethan’s work is always completed on time and goes beyond what is asked of him. While he tries to state this quality on his résumé, he does not demonstrate it through his actions during his job search. Ethan looked for work on job boards, didn’t ask his network for help, and didn’t do much research before his interviews. Although Ethan’s friends can vouch for the fact that he is a go-getter, potential employers failed to see this quality. He realized he had to apply those qualities to his job search if he was going to impress employers. This meant connecting with employers, networking, and taking the initiative instead of relying on job portals. Within two months of Ethan applying his go-getter attitude to his search, he landed at a new firm.
What are your uniquely valuable qualities as an employee? Are you detail-oriented? Are you a go-getter? Or are you creative? More importantly, how are you using those qualities in your job search campaign and how are you demonstrating those qualities to potential employers?
Eight qualities employers commonly consider are:
1. Problem solving – Problem solving involves thinking critically, creatively, and being willing to compromise when needed. It could be helping to reduce the workload of a busy boss, eliminating inefficiencies, or finding a simpler way to resolve an issue. In your job search, this could look like finding a hiring manager’s contact information and engaging with them before your interview.
2. Team Player – Team players are people who work well in a team environment. You can demonstrate your ability to work with others by taking a team approach in your job transition. This can consist of getting together in a group, having people attend events on your behalf, and leveraging your network. You can also consider being part of a mentoring group while in transition.
3. Flexibility – Being flexible means you’re willing to make things work. When you’re trying to meet people for job interviews, for information, to network, or even being willing to have flexible work hours, you want to be as convenient as possible. For example, asking “How can I accommodate you?” comes across as flexible and ties into being a problem-solver. This shows you’re willing figure out how best to help a potential employer. Be aware of a few caveats: it is possible to come across as too flexible and seem desperate. You can take your flexibility too far, compromise your values, or seem contradictory.
Max Crowley’s determination to work for Uber is a great example of flexibility. His current role as a System Integration Consultant wasn’t an obvious match for Uber, but he was willing to change careers to follow his passion. Crowley devised a plan where he would position himself to be hired. He followed Uber’s Head of Operations on social media and made it a point to show up at recruiting events. His determination paid off with a Senior Community Manager position.
4. Leadership – Leadership is leading by example and being self-motivated. These are people who naturally take the initiative while following instructions. You can demonstrate this to employers by volunteering in a leadership role and joining a professional organization where potential supervisors could be members.
5. Communication – Communication is more about listening than being heard. We all want to be heard, but being able to listen is a really special quality. Not listening to, or accommodating an employer’s preferred communication method can be a major source of frustration. Some people prefer to communicate by e-mail, others may want you to call, while some prefer a text message.
In the case of Alec Brownstein, he knew exactly how to communicate with his desired employer. He used Google Adwords to purchase advertising spots of the names of his favorite Creative Directors knowing they would Google themselves at some point. Using that space he advertised himself and stated why he would be perfect for the job. Alec was hired by his dream employer.
6. Responsibility and Reliability – Anyone can say they are responsible and reliable, but it is a quality that is best demonstrated. In other words, you prove your responsibility just by doing what you’re supposed to be doing. That means showing up when you said you would, responding when you said you would, and delivering results in a timely fashion. In my years as a career coach, I have found people can easily disprove these qualities just by failing to return a call, or being late for a meeting.
7. Detail-Oriented – Being detailed-oriented ties into being responsible and is another quality that can also be disproven. Do you hear and understand what’s being asked of you? Do you actually take the time to consider the finer points? For example, I’ve read many résumés where people have claimed they were detail-oriented. However, they failed to pay attention to the smaller things such as format, spelling and grammar.
8. Creativity – Being creative means doing things in your job search that others wouldn’t, such as being bold. This could take the form of a billboard ad targeted at a potential employer, or creating an infographic résumé. Creativity also means thinking outside-of-the-box and naturally demonstrating your problem-solving abilities.
Nina Mufleh is a great creative example. She moved from the Middle East to San Francisco and wanted to land a job at Airbnb. Her efforts were ignored by the company. That is until she created a website for an interactive résumé that looked like an Airbnb host profile. It wasn’t long before she was contacted by Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Uber. Nina was able to uniquely showcase her knowledge of the industry and what she could contribute to Airbnb.
Naming these highly desired qualities on your résumé means very little to employers unless you set yourself apart with your actions. The connection between the three extraordinary job seekers is their ability to demonstrate their best qualities while executing their job search. While you may not need to stalk hiring managers at your desired employer, or target them with Google Adwords, you can consider your best qualities and how you can demonstrate them to a potential employer. If you’re a creative type, be bold and creative. If you’re a details-oriented person, pay close attention to the details. How you execute your job search says more than your résumé ever will.
I was surprised at some of the backlash from my last blog. For the most part, actually, the feedback was positive. Engagement, via comments and social media invitations, was quite high. However, because some of the negative feedback came from folks I know, I felt it more. It was almost as if people read the article and thought I was giving the finger and making lewd gestures. People seemed shocked and surprised.
Was this that much of a deviation from my usual style of writing? I know for certain audiences and outlets the advice I give is less personal and more practical. Was this too revealing? While I was NOT the person being lewd and giving the finger, I had admitted to acting “ugly.” I feel more authentic being able to admit that, but perhaps it does damage some previously held opinions of me. The thought of this was alarming, because the backlash came from a population of people who were generally very confident in my abilities and even advocated my services to other people. These people I considered among my target audience – highly successful IT executives in prestigious companies. I was really worried that I might have alienated part of my audience with the bold content. I still am – it gives me a knot in my stomach.
After a few hours of contemplation, I concluded, perhaps falsely, but comfortingly, that people who have it together, have a successful career, act maturely and are under control at all times – they may not get it. They may surround themselves with people who are like-minded. They may consciously avoid people who seem to be a “hot mess.” They may cut off communication with someone who offends them in some way. They may have seen me as someone who has it all together and who acts professionally at all times. As much as I want to, I just won’t live up to that ideal.
I’ve certainly come a LONG way, but I can’t kid you – with two testing toddlers at home, having it together takes everything I have, and sometimes more! If you walk by my house at certain times, especially when I’m trying to get the girls out the door, you will hear someone who sounds desperate for control (and I have some lungs, too!) I’ve been grieving 6 losses in the last 3 years and have had 3 loved ones hit by cancer for their 2nd time. When these feelings are on the surface, I don’t have a lot of access to my emotional fortitude. I can break down from time to time.
It felt good to stand in that road rage story, take accountability and show people that you can create a great day and a great life with a choice in perspective. I felt like that whole incident had such purpose. It was divinely inspired for me to share with other people so that they could be inspired.
Maybe some people don’t want to be inspired? Or maybe what inspires them are stories of greatness that contain only positive details and highlights. Maybe they are successful because they have mindfully avoided people’s head trash. As a coach, however, I dive right in it. I like to sort through it and examine it. I am ever-present to the fact that being successful isn’t as easy as following the right steps. I mean, it could be, but how many professional athletes would we have if it was just a matter of mechanics? It isn’t! Any Philly sports fan recognizes that, while their team has tremendous talent and ability, they get into slumps. They choke. This isn’t because they forget the mechanics of their sport. It’s because performance is more mental in nature than mechanical.
One person had asked what my last post had to do with job seeking. Good comment, and perhaps it isn’t obvious to someone who has it together and has been gainfully employed for 10+ years what dealing with adversity and reframing a negative incident has to do with job seeking. I had hoped my reference to the Ron Nash blog would make the answer to this obvious, but his anecdotes were directly about a job interview and mine was purely about a bad interaction with another driver. Even so, an IT executive in a large company isn’t exactly on the front lines of hiring. From being a recruiter, I know the challenge of hiring has less to do with finding qualified candidates and more to do with finding qualified candidates that have the right attitude who would represent us well to our clients and make us look good, to put it bluntly. The people who make things happen and achieve greatness usually do so as a result of their people skills. Once candidates get to the hiring manager, they have usually passed the professional and personal screens, having been qualified on hard and soft skills. This is a small percentage of the population – too small!
Meanwhile there’s a huge population of people with talent, skills, and education who, for one reason or another, learned habits and ways of thinking and being that are unproductive to their success.
This is who I mean to inspire. This is who needs tools in their life to help them apply with greater impact the power of the talents, wisdom, intelligence, and enthusiasm within them. These people need to know that facing adversity and being flawed is not a reason to accept defeat. My services are mostly aimed at helping with the mechanics of job seeking, but I am immersed in and partnering with thought leaders who focus on the mental aspects of success, such as John Assaraf, Tony Robbins, T. Harv Eker, Jen Groover, Brian Brogan, Ron Nash and Derek Rydall.
From a popular post I had up from May 8, which received heavy engagement, I know people are still very upset about the unemployment situation in spite of improving numbers, which they don’t trust, for the most part. Long-term unemployment, disengagement from job searches, discouraged workers – this is still epidemic.
Herein lies my mission. I don’t want to alienate these successful IT executives, because I like them, and because they’re in positions to hire my clients and be my clients. They certainly can be helped by my services and I feel great about the impact that I can make on their career, but they don’t need to be saved by my services like the growing population of underutilized talent.
So, while I am in alignment in my mission sharing such personal content, I am conflicted and fearful about losing the confidence and rapport that I spent many years building. Do I have to make this sacrifice to move further in my mission to shift the current paradigm of job seeking and hiring? Is this the byproduct of choosing authenticity? Or, am I truly just sabotaging myself and my success by being inappropriate and seemingly irrelevant, diverting from practical career guidance?
These discoveries are unsettling, however perhaps it is perfectly natural. Some say that you know you’re doing something right when you start to get publicly criticized. I’d like to ask the people who consider themselves paradigm shifters how they deal with such friction between old worlds and new ones, if that is indeed what is happening here. Can anyone share?
I pursued the employment industry because I enjoyed matching people with opportunities and creating a win- win-win for the company, the candidate, and my firm. I moved into working one-on-one with job seekers because I gained invaluable knowledge that I knew many people needed to help them succeed; I wanted them to succeed. Being a great judge of character is a necessity to being a great recruiter. While I feel that I do have that talent, it was clear to me after several months that I would rather help these people than determine that they are not good enough to present to our clients. I stuck with it for several years, however. No regrets – the years that followed provided me with even more experience and knowledge. There did come a time when I had to recognize that it was time to move on.
In late 2005 after I was married, it seemed as though everything that I read or watched or overheard was intentional because most of it led me to the same conclusion: I needed to create something of my own to share this information and provide services for jobseekers in this area that no one else offered. From every different direction I was paying attention to inspirations, call them omens, that seemed to confirm that change was necessary. I even had a fortune cookie tell me that a change in vocation was coming. The help and encouragement of a career coach (Sheila Kutner) pushed me to bring my vision and mission to fruition.
When I was a recruiter, it was frustrating to know that people who needed a job were standing in their own way by failing to understand how to market and sell themselves, how to be fair to themselves and the employer in negotiations, and how to do the right thing for everyone involved. As a career coach, I use my experience and expertise to motivate and teach people to target the right job and effectively market themselves for it so that they accelerate toward it. Still, I can only help the people who first recognize that changing their mindset and/or their activity is necessary to change their results. Many people insist on standing in their own way of happiness by not recognizing that a change is necessary, and worse yet, recognizing that a change is necessary and not empowering themselves to make that change happen.
I do understand, to a point, the psychology behind not changing. It is difficult and scary. What if the forces that be decide that you are not good enough? What if there really isn’t anything better out there? What if what you want isn’t attainable? I have seen my loved ones emotionally and mentally beaten down by work environments in which hostility between colleagues is tolerated while appreciation and recognition are scarce. The longer that they stayed there, the more it was reinforced that they were a disposable commodity. It was as though they should feel fortunate to be employed. It hurt to watch people that I know are unique, important, and deserving of so much more made to feel small and insignificant. They became resigned. Once I was recruiting it hurt more because I knew what they needed to be happy and believed it was so attainable. Regardless, it still had to be their decision, their resolve, and their commitment that made it happen. These days it is even harder to convince people that they A) do not have to settle for a consolation job just because they need a job and B) they can actually prolong their search (and misery) by pursuing something for which they have little passion.
Here are a few questions and answers that may indicate if it is your time to recognize the signs.
1. Are you regularly grumpy on Sunday evenings and every morning but Friday?
If you answered yes, this indicates that you have anxiety about going to work. Everyone gets grumpy sometimes. Even people that love what they do will have times when they wish they were somewhere else. Timing and frequency are the factors that have the most weight in determining the cause of the grumpiness.
2. While you are at work, are you spending more time finding personal business to tend to rather than critical deliverables that your boss is expecting?
While most people will admit that they tend to procrastinate from time to time, your job depends on your abilities to deliver. When you prioritize unimportant personal business ahead of what you need to do for you boss, that communicates that you only care enough to keep face, if you even care enough to do that. Your boss could very well be the problem and you may not be able to keep your position in that company and change your boss. You can certainly change something and you might as well.
3. When you come home from your workday, do you head straight for the television, your bed, or a drink?
We all are expected to output more these days. It can be exhausting. This is why it is even more critical to do work for which you have passion. It will be energizing more than it will be draining and it will allow you to come home and tend to personal matters and relationships rather than spending hours decompressing and zoning out until you can sleep, wake up, and do it all over again.
4. Do you encourage your closest friends and family to NOT use your company’s product or service?
If this is the case, it has to be a definite sign that you are not contributing your days and hard work to a company that is going to survive! Find a product or service that means something to you and then find a position within that company that allows you to use your talents and abilities to further their progress while you further your career.
5. Are you just brimming with ideas that no one at your company seems to hear, let alone implement?
Companies sometimes do not utilize the talent that they have to the fullest. This seems like such a waste of great energy and money! That goes for you, too, if you are staying there allowing all of these brainchildren to wither and die!
You know we are here for you if you agree that it is high time that you found a job that lets you UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE! www.charesume.com
As much as I complain about the amount of incoming e-mail, junk and relevant, some times I come across complete gems. I received, by way of a marketing guru’s e-mail list, free tuition to a seminar that promised to reset my financial thermostat, which was a very intriguing concept. I had read books on the psychology of money (check out Crazy About Money, by Dr. Maggie Baker). A financial thermostat is a concept to explain why few people accumulate ridiculous wealth and, even if they lose it (eh-huh, Trump), can easily rebuild it while most others struggle to break through income barriers. It also explains why some lottery winners lose their fortunes. Upon viewing the video, I made a reservation. Then I had to figure out how I was going to get there – who was going to watch my kids, since it was my husband’s crazy-busy work season and swim season, where I was going to stay in Baltimore (the closest and easiest location), and even how I was going to pay for the trip, since it was Christmas–time. It’s funny how once you decide to do something, some things just fall into place. I had no problems figuring any of this out.
As easy as it was to make the weekend happen, I had no traffic getting down to Baltimore on a Friday afternoon, I arrived early at my hotel, had no problems checking in or parking, and found out that the convention center was just on the other side of the parking garage. Then I find an Ale House right across the street from the Convention Center (Pratt Street Ale House), AND they had a homebrewed New Zealand Black Ale. I digress…
I was just as eager and anxious to find out if and how this weekend-long financial freedom seminar was going to deliver as I was to leave my babies for my first weekend away.
There were about 200 people, and apparently that is a light crowd, as they have not done this yet in Baltimore. As the weekend progressed, I realized that there were people there who were hoping to overcome tremendous adversity and there were people there who had already achieved millionaire status through the teachings of T. Harv Eker and wanted to get to the next level.
The education was about more than just being a wealthier person. It was about being a more genuine, more generous, more self-actualized person. It was about breakthroughs.
break·through noun, often attributive ˈbrāk-ˌthrü
Definition of BREAKTHROUGH
1: an offensive thrust that penetrates and carries beyond a defensive line in warfare
2: an act or instance of breaking through an obstacle <a breakthrough agreement>
a : a sudden advance especially in knowledge or technique <a medical breakthrough>
b : a person’s first notable success <a breakthrough novel>
Though I do believe that financial freedom is everyone’s to achieve, I recognize that it takes a person of certain qualities to go out and get it. It takes open-mindedness, a sense of hope, self-worth, coachability, drive, and commitment. Of those qualities, coachability is the most critical, because with coachability, anyone can acquire the rest of the qualities, for they reside within all of us. In many of the personal and professional development workshops I have attended, I have seen closed minds open, hope restored where it was lost, unworthiness shattered, drive discovered and commitments made all because a coach had the keys to unlock a spirit that had shut down, perhaps even long ago. The MMI provided this for those present and participating.
Even though the “apocalypse” could have been approaching, no one there was counting on it. For a moment I wondered if the end of the world as we know it could really be a new beginning and, if everyone could attend a weekend like this, what a wonderful world it could be. I decided to write a couple of blogs on that very idea.
This blog, my first educational review blog as promised in my newsletter, was much more important to do first, however, because there are a few MMIs coming up and if anyone reading this wants what the workshop has to offer, the time to sign up is NOW. When my financial thermostat was turned way up, I immediately wanted everyone to experience financial breakthrough. I signed up as an Ambassador for the program and can offer you complimentary tuition (valued at $795!)
All you have to do is sign up and show up (and whatever planning that requires.)
As far as the upcoming blogs, there are really two things to consider, and therefore two blogs will be written: 1) What would the world be like if no one HAD to work – what would people choose to do, contribute, learn, be? And 2) What would the world be like if everyone effectively applied the best practices of career transition and management?
Stay tuned and keep sharing!
I will look forward to hearing about your new financial future.
Twice, I have left the following comment on this article, and twice I could not go back and find it, though it was confirmed posted. Is someone deleting it? I had read the comment guidelines and I did not violate them. I wonder if they really didn’t have a credible source for the data they so blithely report inaccurately and they didn’t want to keep a comment that called BS on them.
COMMENT was as follows:
“The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July. But that was only because more people gave up looking for jobs.”
368,000 is not a large enough number to impact the unemployment rate by .2%, so it obviously is not solely or even primarily responsible for the drop.
These show that there are actually fewer discouraged workers than there were a year ago as well as fewer people who did not look for work in the past 4 weeks “for reasons such as thinks no work available, could not find work, lacks schooling or training, employer thinks too young or old, and other types of discrimination.”
The total number of people not in the labor force did go up, but that is mostly attributed to people who have not looked for work in the past 4 weeks “for such reasons as school or family responsibilities, ill health, and transportation problems, as well as a number for whom reason for nonparticipation was not determined.”
This kind of “doom and gloom” misinterpretation of data is a contributing factor of a discouraged workforce. People who are out of work have a hard enough time getting up in the morning to do what needs to be done to get a job without the media telling them how difficult or impossible it is. To be part of the solution, highlight more stories about who is getting jobs (there are still plenty) so that people can follow their example.
FACT: There are fewer jobs available than people who need them. But there are also few people who adhere to the best practices of job transitioning, so it is actually quite easy to stand out from the masses. We teach people how and they cut their job search in half. *See our ROI calculator on the bottom of this page.
☞ Make more money
☞ Help me find me a job
☞ Help me find me a career
☞ Show me how to make my dream come true
☞ I want more interviews
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☞ I want better results in less time
☞ I need more job leads
☞ I need more client leads
☞ To learn how social media can accelerate me toward my goals
☞ A more professional image
☞ I need help finding focus
☞ I want to upgrade my IT career
☞ I want to explore jobs and careers in X
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