Archives for epic careering

How to Handle Recruiters Wanting to Connect

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

(A follow up to: 4 Things You Can Do on LinkedIn to Attract Recruiters)

If you follow my advice from the last post, it won’t be long before you see people you don’t know, including recruiters, sending you invitations to connect.

So, should you accept them?

Here is LinkedIn’s recommendation: “We strongly recommend that you only accept invitations to connect from people you know. You can control who can send you invitations from the Communications section of your Settings & Privacy page.”

LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs) subscribe to the school of thought that more connections are better.  LinkedIn will cap you at 30,000 first-degree connections.

The choices you have for who can send you invitations include:

  • Everyone on LinkedIn (recommended).
  • Only people who know your email address or appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.
  • Only people who appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.

First, let me explain why LinkedIn recommends that you stay open to receive invitations from anyone, but only accept those from people you know.

The original intention of LinkedIn is to keep track of who you know, and who they know, and who they know.  The idea we are all separated by no more than six degrees of separation began in 1929 by a Hungarian author who wrote a short story about network theory. That later compelled social psychologist Stanley Milgram to conduct experiments in the 1960’s. And Columbia University experiments in 2003 confirmed the theory.  So, anyone you might want to meet in this whole wide world is no more than 6 introductions away.

Furthermore, researchers from Tufts and Stony Brook University concluded that while stronger connections are more likely to offer help, your weaker connections are more likely to actually help you land a job.

So, it’s not just who you know. It’s who they know, and who they know.

Notice the “know” part of that. What does it take to really “know” someone? Ask 10 different people, and you will probably get 10 different answers.

It’s up to you to determine what you would need to know or how long you would need to know a person before you really KNOW them. I recommend thinking of it this way: figure out what you need to know about a new connection in order to feel confident introducing them to VIPs in your own network.  This means asking new connections very meaningful questions.

Yes, that is my recommendation – get strangers on the phone and get to know each other before you connect.

When it comes to recruiters, some are transactional and some are relational.  A transactional recruiter wants you in their talent community either for a job requirement they are currently trying to fill or because they expect they will someday have a job requirement for which you might be a candidate. A relational recruiter may ask you to connect for the same reasons, but they get that you are a person, not just a candidate, and that building rapport and potentially a relationship will serve the highest good of everyone: themselves, you, your network, their clients, and their network. They see networking as an investment that enriches their professional experience and produces opportunities that can positively impact multiple lives.

Do either or both sound like people you might want to have in your network? A transactional recruiter may not produce as much value for you as a relational recruiter, but you still may land a job through one. 

How a recruiter is compensated and how their performance is measured may influence whether a recruiter works as transactional or relational. If job metrics dictate that they have to make 100 calls per day and interview 10 candidates in person per week, a metric I had previously as a recruiter, taking time to get to know candidates, especially those I can’t place NOW, seems like an unwise investment of time, even if that’s what I really want to do. Recruiters may flip from being transactional to being relational, and vice versa, when changing from one firm to another. Some relational recruiters will only work where the model supports investing time in building long-term relationships because they find transactional networking to be empty and unfulfilling.

So, once you decide what your standards are for people from whom you accept their invitation, the next step is to speak offline. LinkedIn removed the feature that allowed you to reply to all invitations, now you can only reply to those who have sent you a customized note (and if you read this at any point in the future, that may or may not be the case.)

Once you have decided you want to know a person inviting you to connect,  click on their name to visit their profile and message them, by clicking the “Message” icon just right of the “Accept” button. Send a message something along these lines:

“Hi. Thank you for the invitation to connect. Are you open to getting better acquainted offline? I’d like to understand what your mission is and what kind of invitations would be most impactful to you right now in fulfilling it.”

I include my number to put the ball in their court, but you may not be comfortable with that. Instead you can offer them 3 days/times you have 20-30 minutes free, ask them for their number and to confirm a time.

Not everyone who calls me is going to become a connection. If someone starts to sell me on something right away, I think twice.  I consider myself fairly intuitive, and I can feel a person out. My most important qualification for someone joining my network is if their values are aligned with mine. Meaning, will they be ethical, considerate and respectful?

Of course, when I receive an invitation that I’m going to consider, I check out their recent activity and see what they have been commenting on, liking, and sharing. I read their recommendations and see if they have given any. If they are generally adding value, I’ll be inclined to accept the invitation after speaking.

Notice, I still want to speak with them, mostly because I want to know they are willing to speak to and invest the time with me.  If they’re not, there’s a high probability this person will not prove valuable to my network.

When I speak with them I rely on my intuition and make the conversation organic, but to give you ideas of my thought process:  

  • I might ask them about something specific in their profile.
  • I’ll get their thoughts on a prevalent challenge in their industry or a current event.
  • I’ll ask them what they want most to happen in the next 12 months.
  • I’ll share something personal about myself and see if they reciprocate.

The questions you ask are best if they help you determine if the person meets the criteria you have established for making connections. I don’t necessarily need someone to think like me, agree with me, or share my worldview, though that’s great when that happens. Again, for me it’s really about feeling out how they would treat someone I care about if I were to make an introduction.

I set the intention for these calls that, if it seems like someone I’m going to add to my network, we determine right off the bat something we can do for each other – either an introduction, sharing an article or resource, or giving advice. Ask recruiters what is hot on their plate right now; what candidates do they need to present right now. Then, take at least one proactive measure to try to source that candidate in your network, if you don’t have a referral off the top of your head.

Creating this value right off the bat turns an acquaintance into a partner in success. When you have many partners in success, you don’t have to work as hard to achieve goals, so while the investment of time may seem heavy on the front end, it’s really a time and productivity hack.

Happy connecting! 

Connection

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America Connection · The Rolling Stones Between The Buttons ℗ ℗ 2002 ABKCO Music & Records Inc. Released on: 2002-01-01 Producer: Andrew Loog Oldham Recording Arranger: The Rolling Stones Author, Composer: Mick Jagger Author, Composer: Keith Richards Music Publisher: Onward Music Ltd.

Don’t Stress Out about Stress…Yet

Photo courtesy of Sarah (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dm-set/). Some rights reserved.I have been trying all morning to find a Quartz article that other articles (Apost.com) have been referencing regarding bad bosses, why people don’t leave them, and how a bad boss can be as bad for your health as second-hand smoking. I couldn’t find this source article, so I won’t cite the statistics as truth – YES! I fact check!

So, I did a little bit more legwork to see if I could find the original research sources (The American Psychological Association, Harvard, and Stanford.) What I found was that a “recent” study being cited, isn’t very recent at all – 2015.

Further, people who cited the original Apost.com article said that the Quartz article quoted the American Psychological Association stated 75% of American workers said that their boss was a “major cause of stress.” I have not been able to validate this either.  It also says 59% of these people would not leave their job in spite of their bad bosses – I also found no validation of this statistic, and I was relieved for that!

Here is what I have been able to validate

An aggregation of 228 different studies found:

  • Those who face major stress at work are 35% more likely to be diagnosed with an illness.
  • People who work long hours are 20% more likely to die sooner.
  • The fear of losing your job increases your chance of having poor health by 50%.

I’ve had many clients over the years who had to leave their jobs because they believed it was making them sick – literally. They weren’t imagining it. Science has proven that stress can negatively impact our health. There are too many citations to reference on this. If you would like proof, go to pubmed.org and enter “stress and disease” in the search bar.  If you are in denial of this, it may even benefit your health, too.

Not all stress is bad. Eustress is the good kind, and further studies indicate that our perception of stress is the real determinant as to whether it will impact us negatively in the form of sickness and disease, or whether it will improve our performance, resilience, and sense of achievement.  Some people bring out their best in stressful situations.

You have to assess your beliefs about stress and know your own stress limits before worrying that your string of sicknesses is related to your job.  A report I found cited the theories and methodologies of some major I/O Psychology thought leaders (Kahn, et. al.,) which purported that a person’s fit to their environment determined whether the job would produce eustress or distress.

Now, how well do you fit your environment?

A bigger question is, if you recognize that your environment does not allow you to thrive and operate at your highest levels, are you going to do anything about it?

The Apost.com article was thought provoking, even if it wasn’t properly referenced. The author, who surmised that survival is why people stay, stated, “Given the present market conditions, it is not an easy decision to quit one’s job and start over entirely.”

I have two things to say:

#1 – Regardless of market conditions, changing jobs is not an easy decision.  For many, this decision impacts not just the individual, but also family members and logistics that may be working. This is the #1 reason I have found why people stay at jobs that cause them (dis)stress. They operate under the notion that the chances of finding something better that also works with their lifestyle is a fantasy.

I’m here to tell you – it’s NOT!  It still won’t be an easy decision, but once you make it, engaging a partner like me will help ensure that you land swiftly and safely in a position that aligns with your lifestyle, values, and professional ambitions.

#2 – There’s nothing at all wrong with today’s market conditions (as of this post, April 2018.) With unemployment at a 10-year-low and wage growth relatively steady since 2010, there’s no need to be scared of this market – as of now. That could change, of course. But I assure you, having coached through the great recession, people were still landing jobs, and companies still needed to hire people. It just became much more competitive, and all the more reason to engage a coach to help you distinguish yourself and leverage your time and visibility effectively.

If you suspect your job is out of alignment in some way and is causing stress that could eventually (or already is) impacting your health, don’t wait any longer to get help. The job market is ripe, and just being in action and having a partner and a plan can greatly reduce your stress.

You don’t have to jump ship; just take the first step and book your free consultation!

How to Stay on the Same Side when Negotiating Salary

Everyone’s only out for themselves.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Maybe that’s what you have been taught. And if you bought it, you will see evidence reinforcing it everywhere. You believe it, and so it is your reality.

If so, the techniques I share in this blog are not for you. If you struggle to give people the benefit of the doubt, you will use negotiation tactics that are defensive. And, if you feel like you are struggling for power and losing, your approach may even border on adversarial.

If you struggle to trust a company even though it seems to be on the up and up, you will assume they are hiding something, and it will reveal itself in due time. In the meantime, you cover all your bases and feel compelled to constantly cover your … butt. In your professional work, if you feel the need to be competitive with others for attention, credit, prominence, and pay, you will assume others go to great lengths to win and that justifies you doing the same.

You are the last person my clients want work with, work for, or hire.

Why? You will most likely insist on being the last one to reveal your ask, even when pressed. You will try to circumvent the people in the company who are expected to ensure policy is followed for fairness and consistency. You may not even realize your bias against human resources.

You won’t believe what I am about to advise, so you might as well stop reading here.

If you consider yourself to be a moral, ethical person who believes that people are generally good and fair, you have found yourself disgusted by some things you have experienced in cut-throat corporate America. Even if you know there are good people out there, you may not have a lot of faith they can stay good in a system that promotes gaining profit (corporate and personal) over all else.

That being said, you want and deserve to be paid fairly. And there are so many great things you want to do with excess income that would enhance your life, help your family, and perhaps serve many others.

I have a deep compulsion to help you earn as much as possible within your market value range.  The truth is everyone wants a fair deal. I want that for you. You want that for you. And I want that for your employer, too. Why? Because when a company gets ROI on its talent, and it is a conscious corporation, it will reinvest profits in its people. And that is what we are all about.

A lot of companies say their people are their number one asset, but how many of them demonstrate it consistently? Finding out if a company really means it is getting easier (and we are working in making it even easier). And these companies will do the right thing by their people – and that’s when everyone wins.

If you want to stay on the same side with your employer during compensation negotiations, the first thing to do is due diligence: qualify that employer as a conscious company. Glassdoor, Top Places To Work lists, and the tenure and growth of its people historically (information you may be able to assess on LinkedIn) are resources you can use to do this. Then, of course, reach out directly to people on the inside to see if what you gather is substantiated.

The second thing you must do is understand what the market pays for your skills, experiences and talents. You can do this through online research on bls.gov, the salary estimates on Indeed (in the left column), reports on salary.com, and Glassdoor data. I recommend that you always ask a local recruiter who niches in your field to validate what you find. Make sure your data is based on local positions, or you adjust them based on your local cost of living.

Next, determine how you uniquely add value to this. In the nearly 12 years I have been a career coach, I have always been able to identify unique qualifiers for my clients, which is the essence of branding. Often there are monetary values attributed to those unique qualifiers, which can be qualities or hard skills. These can either push you into the upper ranges of market value, or move you above market value. Either way, you must be prepared to justify these clearly in a business case for your employer.

Whether you want to make a fair ask that enables the company to get ROI on you, or you are a top performer and the company knows how to leverage and develop you, they will aim to make 1.75x your salary. You may have a role traditionally considered to be in a “cost center” for a company, such as customer or technical support, but make no mistake – each and every role in a company was designed to contribute to the balance sheet in some way. If you’re not directly generating revenue directly, you are making it more possible, or you are helping to reduce costs or avoid shut-down/fines.  When you understand how your role contributes in this way, you can ensure that your ask is fair and that your reasons for believing this can be clearly articulated.

If your research indicates that the market value for your current position won’t meet your quality of life standards, it’s time to re-evaluate your career. And if you are unsure if the market value will support your needed standard quality of life and also provide a retirement you desire with the future quality of life you want, it’s time to get with a financial advisor. I am happy to make a referral. Just private message me.

Notice I haven’t said anything about your prior compensation. In spite of some companies’ and recruiting firms’ practices of determining your future value by your current value, your past or current compensation is not an accurate determination of your future value at all. It may be a reflection, however, of your self-worth. The branding journey we take our clients on helps them feel in alignment with their true market value and overcome the mental mindset that can develop from being underpaid and undervalued.

Lastly, what do you ask for and how do you come to an agreement with your employer while still keeping things friendly? After all, this is the first big decision you will make together. How you come to an agreement sets the tone for the commencement of the partnership, and it will influence your impression of each other from that point forward. Don’t you want to feel like you’re on the same team?  You each have an agenda, but the negotiation is really about finding the overlap and understanding the other party.

I am not one to advise people to refuse to answer questions about desired or expected salary.  Some of my peers, and even mentors, would.  If you feel like you might be taken advantage of by divulging your ask too soon, then you don’t trust this company. Maybe you wouldn’t trust any company? Or perhaps you didn’t qualify them as a company worthy of your trust? If you are the former, you probably should have stopped reading very early on. If you are the latter, do NOT enter into negotiations until you learn that the company is trustworthy, conscious, and invests in its people.

Instead of “holding your cards close to your chest,” I recommend boldly coming out with a reasonable range, data to back it up, and a business case to explain if you are asking for more than what the position usually pays. Keep in mind, ethical or not, when a person hears a range, they focus on what they are inclined to focus on in order to achieve their agenda. An unconscious company will want to get talent for as little money as possible. And a conscious company will not want to overpay for talent, because it hurts the company and inhibits their ability to re-invest in their talent.

Both examples will hear the low end of your range. So right after giving the range, discuss what conditions would have to be met in order for you to accept the low end, then swiftly explain how the company will benefit from investing in you on the high end.  Your low end must still support your current standard of living. Don’t give a low end that will leave you feeling slighted if offered, even though a conscious corporation would offer you good reasons for doing so.

Collegial negotiations are not just dependent what you say, though. It’s really more about how you are being – are you expecting the company will find your ask reasonable and do what they can to bring about the best possible outcome for both parties? If not, you probably should have stopped reading much earlier. This method will not work if you are suspicious. Authenticity is key here.

Lastly, leave the door open for them to ask questions and counter-offer. If a counter-offer seems way off your ask, ask them to help you understand, while giving them the benefit of the doubt that they have their reasons.

True story: I was trained in negotiating with candidates and employers as a recruiter. In my annual review shortly after that I was expecting a raise since I had been promoted in title. As trained, I did my research. In this annual review situation, it’s not customary to make an ask, as you’ve probably experienced. I anticipated my raise to be 50% above what I was making and instead it was a 10% raise. I had been underpaid my whole career prior to that, and armed with this new training, I was ready to earn fair compensation.  My boss, the VP of Sales – a master negotiator, had trained us to engage clients and candidates in further discussion when agendas didn’t align with the request, “Help me understand.” It became an inside joke, but in all fairness, it works, and it worked on him, too. I don’t have a poker face and I’m sure my disappointment in the offer was all over my face, so I took a deep breath and earnestly said, “Help me understand. I did research and based on the data, my compensation should be X.” I pointed to recent successes and things I had done outside of the scope of my role. He wanted to take a closer look at the data himself, and discuss it with the finance department and CEO.  They came back with a raise that was in my range, and a bit above the median. I, thankfully, had a conscious boss and CEO who wanted to pay talent fairly. 

The training I had was not the same as what I see other negotiation coaches promoting. It was designed to help three parties get on the same page, the employer, the candidate and the recruiting firm.  Our agenda was to keep strong relations with the employer to supply future talent needs, and to help our candidates earn as much as possible so that they stick and so that our share increased.  I used this training to increase my own salary by 50% and finally earn market value, and now I’m sharing it with you so that you can earn your fair share too.

 

If you would like to have guidance and support in qualifying conscious employers, understanding your unique market value, formulating and making your ask at the right time, reverse-engineering your career to align with your desired quality of life, and/or crafting counter-offers, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com with the subject line: Make My Career Epic.

 

The Searchers – Take Me For What I’m Worth 1965

The Searchers – Take Me For What I’m Worth 1965

Is the Dominant Emotion of Your Company’s Culture Fear? Here’s a Simple Quiz to Find Out.

Photo courtesy of Lesley Van Damme (https://bit.ly/2H9l9Wd). Some rights reserved.

Marketing psychology has taught me that people are motivated to make a change or a purchase in order to either move toward something desirable or away from something undesirable. And the latter tends to be a more powerful motivator for most. I predict in coming years this will shift as a natural evolutionary byproduct of the technological revolution, provided we use technology as a tool for solving our major problems.

It certainly has the potential to, yet it remains unclear how this will translate to effectively solving our people-based problems. For now, a companies’ major tools to address people-based problems are training, standard operating procedures, coaching, and culture.

Some companies manage this better than others. It appears to me, based on job seeker targeting, public stock prices and other evidence of growth, that companies focused on proactively moving in a positive direction culturally are doing better than companies merely trying to avoid major crises. One is driven by desire, while the other is driven by fear. You can liken it to playing offense versus defense.

A very powerful verse from Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne Dyer [captured below and mentioned here] helped me realize that when you are focused on the highest good and being the best version of yourself, you no longer have a need to regulate bad behavior.

So, when a company is operating with integrity and effectively nurturing a culture of inclusion, empathy, mutual respect, optimized personal and professional development and acceptance, it rarely needs to focus on problems like harassment, bias, discrimination, disengagement, bullying, ethical violations, and high turnover.

Perhaps you feel I am oversimplifying this, and admittedly, there are other factors that need to be considered as well, such as employee compensation structures and hiring practices. If you follow me, you have certainly heard me stress the importance of self-awareness and how all transformations begin with that. Here again, it is definitely important to have the ability to recognize if this is a systemic issue in your organization.

If your company is adequately able to do this, at least you’re on the front end of what could be a positive evolutionary turn for your company. A company, just like a team, needs both a good offense and defense to win.

What stage of transformation has your company achieved? Are they instituting new policies, practices, procedures or tools based on avoiding problems? Or are they moving toward a more ideal corporate well-being?

As the technical evolution accelerates exponentially, I predict the latter companies are going to survive and the former companies will eventually die. And so, you too must go from playing defense to playing offense. I advise you to plan and manage your career accordingly.

Here is a quiz that will let you know which category your company falls into. If your company falls into the defense category, assess your company’s leadership. Do you feel it has the talent and support to transition into a company that plays offense? If not, that either has to be you, or it’s time to plan your exit.

Tally up how many answers are offense versus defense to see which is dominant.

  1. Does your company provide coaching on emotional intelligence or merely sexual harassment awareness training?

Emotional Intelligence training = Offense

Sexual Harassment training = Defense

Neither = Apathetic = RUN!

  1. Does your company have strict attendance policies or do they operate on an honor system?

Strict clocking in/out = Defense

Honor system = Offense

Nobody tracks attendance and everyone abuses it = The company is probably bleeding money – RUN!

  1. Do performance reviews incorporate goals you identify with or solely those of your boss/department?

Boss goals = Defense

Individual goals = Offense

We don’t have performance reviews = Who still does this? RUN!

  1. If there are conflicts between co-workers, is the focus of the resolution aimed at identifying and punishing the “offending” party, or is there a benefit of the doubt extended to all parties with an aim to arrive at a mutual understanding and compromise?

Punishment-oriented = Defense

Empathy-oriented = Offense

We fight it out and the loudest, bossiest person wins = RUN!

We experience no conflicts = Reflects either an authoritarian culture dominated by orders and compliance, possibly stifling creativity and originality RUN!

OR everyone is hired based on their agreeable nature = Be wary, as innovation most likely lags far behind.

  1. When it comes to social media policies, does your company forbid or restrict social media or do they encourage you and train you to leverage it as a promotional tool? (Exclude yourself from this question if your whole industry is regulated.)

Browsers block social media = Defense

Social media savvy is promoted = Offense

Most of my co-workers waste the majority of their day messing around on social media = Your company may be a front for illicit activities, because companies can’t survive like this RUN!

You may find that if your company is more defensive than offensive, much of the day feels tense and the moments of triumph are few and far between. If you would like to become an agent of transformation to coach your company to be more on the offensive, Epic Careering offers one-on-one leadership coaching as well as workshops. Or, if you now realize you would rather work for a company that is further down the evolutionary road, we can help you land there too.

On the other hand, if your answers indicate that your company is playing offense and doing it well, I anticipate you will be growing and hiring, and I would love to help more quality talent pursue your company as an employer. We should connect!

If any of the above apply to you, private message me or e-mail me at Karen@epiccareering.com.

Freddie Mercury – In My Defence (Official Video)

Freddie Mercury – In My Defence (1992) Click here to subscribe – http://smarturl.it/sub2FreddieMercuryYT Click here to buy Freddie Mercury – Messenger Of The Gods – The Singles: https://MessengerOfTheGods.lnk.to/FreddieStore Freddie Mercury was a man of many talents and many different sides.

Intend to Land Before the Holidays Hit? What You Should Be Doing Right Now!

Holidays by Jim Lukach of Flickr

 

I am in as much denial as you that it is August already! My nieces and nephew in Georgia had their first day of school today and one of my Midwest clients’ kids went back two weeks ago.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.

Your brain, like mine, may simply refuse to acknowledge that the holidays will be here before you know it, but it is true.  There is always so much to do.

“I’ll just wait until school starts and we will settle into our new routine before I think about my job search.”

But then, the school year starts, and papers, to-dos, and events start to mount up.  The kids go back to their activities and you realize that things don’t settle down – ever!

As much as I admire my students for realizing so young the value of hands-on experience through Drexel University’s world-renowned co-op program, year-round 10-week terms demand a lot of their focus and energy. I wonder how they do it. Then, on top of that they have to pass my 1-credit, but very writing-intensive Career Management class in order to graduate. I can see how some of them may have complaints about the added demand, especially when some of them have landed jobs already.

However, the point can be made that as much as their education and lives demand of them right now, it is likely not going to get easier. Forming good habits by making time for professional development now will prove to exponentially impact their career and income trajectory throughout their future.

My clients already get that; they are the go-getters, the game changers, the disruptors, the thought leaders who invest time and money in increasing their visibility, reach, and impact. They are always looking ahead.

September is traditionally the second busiest hiring month. This is due to new job creation and companies needing to give one last push to end the year with maximum profit.

According to the BLS.gov, job creation was increasing more going into this summer than it had been in 15 years, but September offers the chance to re-invigorate summertime efforts to fill positions that proved challenging because of numerous stakeholder vacation plans.

If you want to get in the mix, you have to be already prepared to strike with a branded résumé and LinkedIn profile that enable you to compete, not just qualify.

Of course, this is true for new jobs, too, but the hiring process may still take several weeks to months, depending on the level and process.

That’s why, if we are being realistic…

The time to start preparing for a change in jobs before the holidays is now.

Here is how you start:

Step 1:

The first step for everyone is Career Discovery, which is an evaluation of what you want to keep and what you want to leave behind, and what you want in your future. This goes for your role, your level of responsibility and impact, your ideal boss, your ideal culture, your ideal income growth, and your overall ideal situation as it contributes to your desired lifestyle.

Yes, shoot for ideal first. You can always test the viability of the ideal and add a step or two if it is not obtainable now, but think far ahead before you plan your next step.

Step 2:

Consider and research what qualifications are needed to obtain the ideal based on those who have come before you. Do some self-reflection, take some assessments, or engage a coach who can help you identify how your natural and acquired abilities lend themselves to such a path.

Step 3:

Craft a brand that promotes your unique value in relation to the pains, challenges, and initiatives of your ideal target.

Step 4:

Compose a résumé and LinkedIn profile that tell a compelling story, but that are native to the media. In other words, have a résumé that takes all your special knowledge, skills, experience, and talents and puts them concisely into hard business terms that demonstrate that you are someone who adds tremendous value and fits the organization’s culture. Have a LinkedIn profile that compliments the story, but sounds like you and allows your personality and passion to come through without sounding trite and cliché.

These are the minimum steps you will want to take in August if you want to land by the holidays.

Sound daunting?  Is it too much to handle?

Nah. You can handle it, but you do not have to handle it alone.

If you think it would be beneficial to invest ($900 – $2000) in an expert partner to help you navigate this process, take advantage of a free 40-minute consultation by completing and sending a needs assessment form and your most recent résumé, even if it is incomplete or not updated.

 

If the investment is beyond your budget, we understand, and have DIY solutions so that you can still take advantage of my expert advice on the branding process and use tools that help you create your own branded content.

 

Step 3 to a Happy Career: Freedom!

Soaring Bald Eagle by David Lewis of Flickr

Are the people you deem as successful really free?

The answer may surprise you.

Freedom, by definition, means unrestrained, able to do as one chooses.

Some of the most successful people are severely accountable to many people, and while they may have power to make decisions, they have to make them under heavy constraints with serious consequences.

Success, as in career achievement, does not equal happiness.

Do you look at other people and think they have it easier than you? Do you resent them, even just a little bit?

Not everyone strives for success. Few people strive for a simple life – just enough to get by. Are they happier? Not always. Do they have fewer problems? Not necessarily.

So if you aren’t striving for success, but you aren’t striving for simplicity, are you striving for balance? Is it working? Are you happy?

While happiness and striving are contradictory forces, freedom is elusive to most of us. Some may enjoy certain kinds of freedom, such as the ability to work from anywhere, or to be able to afford travelling to exotic places, but still are on some level enslaved by the need to please others, to be accepted, to be understood, or to be loved, even.

Before you reject this, think about what you learned at a young age about what it took to be loved and accepted.

Many people spend their lives pursuing achievement because at some level they feel that it is what they need to do to feel like they are worthy of love.  Many others gave up a long time ago and settled for that which they felt was worthy. Some were taught that successful people were unethical, and therefore being successful was undesirable.

Are you resisting success, even though it is what you “want?” You’ve heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for.”

One of my Facebook friends who recently graduated law school shared that one of her professors taught her a theory that all millionaires – every single one on the planet – at some time took advantage of someone else, and that is how they were able to become millionaires.

“No one ever *earned* a million dollars… Someone, somewhere was taken advantage of. Someone, somewhere lost in order for the millionaire to gain.”

Wow!  This post caused much debate on both sides, and revealed how differently we can think about financial success, corporate success, and what is fair, especially when it comes to compensation. What did I think? I thought the poster was sure to never become a millionaire with that belief, or if she did she would feel such shame and guilt that she could not enjoy it, though I hope she proves me very wrong and, therefore, proves the theory wrong and obliterates the belief that wealth equals greed for all who hold that as truth.

Last week, I challenged you to vividly visualize the career circumstances that you consider to be ideal. This week, I want you to dig deep into your feelings to see if, upon achieving this ideal future, you will be free from experiencing anything negative that could keep these circumstances from really making you happy.

It may be easy to say, “Of course, I’ll be happy!”  However, if you need circumstances to change in order to be happy, you are not really free. You are enslaved to those circumstances. You would be dependent on those circumstances to make you happy.

You may also notice that there are resistant thoughts – the dissonance between your current world and that future world is too extreme, and, therefore the feat is overwhelming; you would be resented by your family/friends/neighbors/community; you would become someone you don’t like; you will contradict things that you have said and believed.

These are real obstacles to your ideal vision. You will ultimately find at some point the efforts to achieve your ideal future will cease, and you will lose momentum because these thoughts are essentially inertia.

 

Exercise your freedom by choosing to make decisions without the restrictions of these beliefs.

 

Get in the Game

Baseball by PaulMLocke of Flickr

 

Was it hard to tell this Monday from any other Monday at work?

Can you remember the last time you felt triumphant at work?

Has it been more than three years since your last big professional growth spurt?

Your answers may reveal that you have been coasting. Sometimes we need to coast, like when we are going through big personal challenges. The impacts of these challenges can last a year or two (caring for an ailing elderly relative can take much longer). It can take us out of contention for professional growth and opportunity. There is only so long you can coast before ultimately running out of gas.

It may not be your fault; bad companies and bosses can kill your motivation and inhibit your desire to do more than a job requires.

Regardless, it is against our nature to stay stagnant too long and it can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Ambition is something that we naturally generate. We can get into situations where we are re-trained to kill our own ambitions, and it can start at a very early age.

Pretty soon we are convincing ourselves that we are fine; the status quo is comfortable; change is unwanted and scary.

My friend since middle school ended a marriage she was unhappy in after she found evidence on Facebook that he was cheating. A couple years later she is very grateful for that evidence, because she may have stayed unhappy even longer without it. She is currently engaged to my brother’s friend, a man I have known since he was a boy, who I know is making her happy, will make her happy, and will be the loyal and affectionate spouse she wanted her ex to be. She said, “You don’t know how unhappy you were until you are happy.”

I do my monthly Epic Career Tales podcast so that people can be inspired by the level of success and happiness that other people have achieved. I know it is not always good to compare yourself with other people, but if you aren’t getting back from a job what you put into it, then you already know that you’re not as happy as you could be. But how do you know how happy you could be unless you compare yourself to how happy other people are?

A lot of you reading this right now have an automatic thought coming through saying, “Yeah, but those people aren’t me. They are [enter any one of the following: smarter, luckier, more privileged, prettier, wealthier, not as busy, more educated, better connected, etc.]”

If you don’t, that is great for you, because you have few reasons not to take action and become happy.

However, if you recognize that thought, that is also great for you, because recognizing it is the first step in taking its power away.

This post is not meant to put you on a path to extreme change in your life so that you can have happiness. I realize that if you have this thought then you also perceive the effort of becoming happy as potentially futile.

You may want to take action, and I encourage it, but effort is something I want you to save until you have a clear vision of what you being happy in your job could look like.

Tony Robbins has said, “Activity without a high-level of purpose is the drain of your fortune.”

So many of my clients are hesitant to picture what it could look like to be happy because they think that it will lead to greater disappointment.

Tony Robbins has also said that our expectations of what our reality should look like can cause our misery.

I just want to leave you with one distinction that might help clear up what seems to be a contradiction.

Be mindful of how you define happiness. The change you think might be necessary in order to achieve this may not be anything external.

Instead of thinking in terms of what you get when better conditions exist, think about you and your current conditions. Picture yourself in the flow, knowing you are at your utmost best and not needing anyone else to notice or recognize you for it.

This is a baby step to get your head back in the game of your career. For now, do not worry about winning the game, and certainly do not think about the championship – just play.

 

If you can generate a sense of happiness even in unfavorable conditions, you can become unstoppable.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 3 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

The Graduates by Luftphilia of Flickr

 

I went back to college this weekend. It was horrifying to discover that these girls were born the year I pledged. My sorority invited alumnae back to campus to say farewell to the house that has been ours since my senior year. It was a time to reflect on some of the most impactful years of my life, but also to remember the fear, uncertainty, and sadness that accompanied leaving college, where your best friends were often just a door away. I had no grand plan, like some of my friends, and no full-time salaried job as an aspiring radio personality. I was under the impression that if I could not make it in radio, I would be living in a ditch begging for change to buy a meal.

That never happened, though hard times did follow. When asked, “What’s life like after graduation?” I had to remember that some of the best things in my life happened after college – my band, my husband, my company, my kids, and teaching, in that order.  As my friends now turn 40, (I’m the youngest, so I get to watch them all get there first) I see that for some of them, it means it is all downhill from here. That was an exact quote from a 40th birthday party I went to last night. (Happy 40th, Neal!) Looking back at the last decade, at what I have learned, how I have grown, what I’ve been able to accomplish and contribute, I am excited for the next decade.  I’m looking forward to it, and I think there are amazing things yet to come.

BUT, there are some things that I would have wanted my younger self to know, which I felt compelled to pass on to the graduating seniors in my sorority, and my students, as well as ALL soon-to-be graduates. I feel these things would have potentially catapulted me so much further so much faster if I had known and applied them.

Before I get into the hard truths, I most want ALL people, but particularly young people, to know that there IS a formula for success, and no matter what family structure, social or economic status, education, circumstance, or hardships you are from, they DO NOT limit your future at all. At any time you can improve your life. The tools, technology, and teaching exist – all you have to do is harness them.

Okay, now on with what you may not want to hear, but need to know if you want to make your 30s onward the best years of your life.

  1. Unless you land at Google, Apple, Disney, a Big 4 consulting firm, or a company with a similar colossal reputation, it will not be as easy as it is right now to land a job.

The co-op program where I teach is world-renowned. The biggest, most admired companies want these graduates badly. They come out of school not as entry-level workers who were getting coffee and observing leadership, but as junior business stars who have already solved real business problems. By the time they take my mandatory career management class, many of them already have jobs lined up from campus recruitment efforts and co-ops that led to offers. While you may be recruited aggressively if you work for a company with clout for hiring and developing the best talent, the legwork to find your next gig, even internally, if you don’t is on you.  AND, furthermore, even if you are aggressively recruited, you are not necessarily managing your career optimally by being reactive to recruiters’ sales pitches. This is why the class that I teach is not “Get a Job 101,” but Career Management and Professional Development. See your career growth as a trajectory and learn how to course correct early. Learn and master the life skills of personal branding, networking, and career management.

  1. The bottom is often the best place to start if you want to be a great leader.

Many of my clients are influential leaders today because they were once in the trenches. Isn’t that the point of Undercover Boss? Making well-informed business decisions can be easier when you have first-hand knowledge of business from the front-line to the executive office. Those that have been successful in implementing massive change say that they were able to rally the troops because they were once the troops. Empathy, as we have stated before, is quickly gaining popularity as one of the most effective leadership tools.

Also, even for those students who were solving real business problems in their co-ops or internships, it might be worth considering starting even lower if the target role or company is worth it. I can speak from experience here.

While I was on air, reporting news, DJing, producing live talk shows, and operating the board for remote broadcasts at a small community radio station, my fellow Communications majors were putting up flyers at concerts, dressing up in costumes, and handing out chotchkes for the major media radio stations. I figured I had the advantage, but I was wrong. I moved to the Jersey Shore and did get to work producing talk shows for an AM station, while digging into commercial production and more part-time work. I temped to pay the bills. Meanwhile, my fellow classmates went on to full-time jobs eventually at the major media stations. Granted, some of their jobs involved much less glamorous, even undignified tasks, like getting shot from a cannon. Guess what – they are STILL THERE, loving their jobs and making what is probably good money. Casey is the Executive Producer of a VERY popular morning show that is streamed worldwide.  Matt is a Regional Director for Advertising for the conglomerate and Joann is Traffic Manager for a radio station in the same company.

When it came down to it, I had recognized after a year in radio that I was not really willing to continue working awful hours, get paid peanuts, do the boring parts of the work OR keep moving from market to market in order to achieve my ultimate position, but that was what I had learned was necessary from the people who were more senior than I at the station where I worked. At the larger station I would have had a completely different experience, and even though I might not have started out on the air, perhaps I would have found a different niche in radio and stayed there until today, too. Not that I have regrets – I think things worked out just as they were supposed to. However, I’ll always wonder.

  1. In time, you will earn the right to demand certain accommodations IF you are a top performer. But for now, you have to play their game.

Older generations will tell you that they had no illusions – work hard, get a job, work your butt off, save your money, and you’ll be fine. That is not what the younger generations have seen, though, so it is not what they will believe. With diminishing financial security for employees came resentment to employers for taking more than they give. This is what has led to a perceived sense of entitlement.

Even though there are talent gaps, and certain skill sets are very high in demand, most are not. Yes, talent is hard to find, but that does not mean companies are willing to bend over backwards to hire you. Ultimately, there has to be mutual respect and value in the deal.  Many things ARE negotiable, but that depends highly on the company, their policies, their culture and what you have PROVEN you can do to make it worth giving you more than they have given to employees before you.

If you are really that good, get in and prove your worth. You may earn the right to ask for more flexibility, more money, extra vacations, or perks. In the meantime, understand that though your package should remain confidential, IF anyone were to learn of you getting preferential treatment, you would not like the climate that breeds.

 

As graduation month ramps up, I hope this food for thought is helpful, even if it may not be encouraging. In a way, your adult life does not really begin until after college. Adulting is not always fun, but being armed with wisdom and systems for success will make it much more enjoyable.

Follow me and stay tuned for more things you need to know, but may not want to hear.

Share this with graduates you know.

 

Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss

arsp-064 by Anthony Ryan of Flickr

 

Last week I laid out plans A through D for getting noticed by your future employer, but one of those plans deserves its own post, as it requires some ingenuity, investigative skills, and GUTS.

Did that just discourage you?  We will talk in the coming weeks about what caused that and how it can sabotage your success beyond your job search.

Back to Plan C – Find out what other media, social media, professional events, or social events enable you to capture an executive’s attention where few others will be vying for it.

Some executives are inaccessible. Can you presume that they are “ivory tower” types, making decisions from far above the front lines, making you schedule an appointment through their assistant, deeming the lower rungs of the career ladder less important and influential to success? Not really, and they probably are completely unaware that they give off that vibe. I have had to point out to many of my clients through the years just how unapproachable they have made themselves by failing to give themselves a presence.

Their top real reasons?

They are just too busy tending to the people and business that make their success possible. They sometimes even don’t have time to hire the talent that they desperately need!

OR…

They have valid reasons to be concerned about privacy.  They have had access to highly privileged and sought after information. They worked in industries targeted by zealots who bordered on dangerous. Some also worked in highly regulated industries that had not yet discovered how to navigate marketing while staying in compliance.

I have helped my clients overcome these challenges while remaining sensitive to them. But for the executives who remain “invisible,” but who still need YOUR value on their team to support organizational success, how do you make sure you become visible to them?

Have you tried googling their name in quotes? This sounds so common sense in today’s world where our first instinct to find any answer appears to be Google (or YouTube). However, I have been recruiting and finding people on the internet since 2000, and it may not be common sense to everyone.

  • Perhaps if it is a common name, google it with a location or company name.
  • Select the images menu of Google search. Sometimes, your future boss is tagged in photos at events by other people.
  • Check the executive’s LinkedIn Groups and recent activity, if any.
  • Check the company’s press releases (perhaps through your local business journal).
  • Facebook search their name in quotes. Even if they do not have a Facebook profile, you may find them mentioned as part of someone’s post.
  • Join a Meetup related to their industry in their vicinity and see if they are members, then also see what other Meetups they are in.

What clues are you looking for?

  • Places they go.
  • Organizations that they belong to.
  • Events that they attend.
  • Hobbies and interests that they spend time on.
  • Who they hang out with.
  • Causes that are important to them.
  • Other social media that they might use more often, such as Twitter, Instagram or even SnapChat– seriously! You would be surprised!
  • How they view a significant industry problem, company initiative, even their preferences on finding TALENT, aka YOU!

WHY?

This can help you determine:

  • The best way to approach them.
  • Whether to be casual or formal.
  • A place that they might go where you will not have any gatekeepers (except your fear, but we will cover that in a future post).
  • What to talk about when you have a chance to approach them that would be of interest or importance to them.
  • People you may not have known you mutually know because someone wasn’t actively using their LinkedIn account.
  • Maybe you might find that there is a path of even less resistance building rapport with their parent, spouse, child, or assistant.

Does this sound “stalkerish?” Is it Overkill?

That is most likely your fear talking. This is where the GUTS come in.

You may not be driven to try this if you are generating a lot of interest in your top companies by tapping the shoulders of the people you know in order to make powerful introductions that get you interviews. That is Plan A, remember.

However, before you go spend the same amount of time filling out a frustrating online application with redundant or irrelevant questions only to drop into an abyss of résumés that will never even get seen, let alone get a response, muster up some guts to try this experiment with two of your TOP target companies.

If you find yourself unwilling, scared, or thinking any of the following:

“I don’t want to bother anyone.”

“I don’t have time for that; I need a J-O-B!”

“They’re not going to like me.”

“What if I fail?”

“What if I embarrass myself?”

Then we have a post coming up that you need to read, because no matter what you do, you will STOP yourself from getting what you want every time if you do not address the REAL cause.

 

Do you have a story where you boldness was rewarded? Please share the results of your experiments!

 

Look at a Person’s Light, Not their Lampshade

From Quotefancy.com

 

I read this quote from Gerald G. Jampolsky and immediately had to add it to my library of inspiration. I was pondering it for so long.

The most obvious reason that it appealed to me is because of my own company’s motto, “Unveil Your Brilliance.”

This might sound too crazy to be true, but in the ten plus years that I have been providing services to job seekers, I have found each and every one of my clients to be brilliant.

Another quote you may recognize—“Seek and ye shall find.”

Had I discovered and uncovered their brilliance because it was my mission to find and articulate that brilliance? Or have all of the people who have chosen to engage me as their partner in transition been brilliant for doing so?

Then I start to think about the implications of this concept of identifying the brilliance, the light, and everyone in the hiring process.

As a recruiter, I had been a member of a population of justifiably skeptical, if not cynical, people who had been deceived and whose faith in people had been broken time and time again. When people are your product, then you can expect the unexpected, no matter how well you qualify and vet people. There will always be those few people who are either good at fooling themselves, are good at fooling you into thinking that they are confident, conscientious, and competent when they really are not.

I did not like myself as a cynical person. I much prefer to be the person that not only identifies what makes someone uniquely valuable, but also the person to remind others what makes them uniquely valuable. Furthermore, I help them articulate their value powerfully to the world so that they can claim a career and life that makes them proud.

So is it possible to be on the hiring side, mitigating risk for your company and its employees while still being able to appreciate the goodness and value in everyone?

Of course, being turned down by a company does not have to be a diminishment or failure to recognize someone’s unique value. After all, not every company can possibly present each person with their best opportunity to shine brightly.

One of my favorite children’s books is called The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman. It sends the message that you were born special and with an invisible crown. The book beautifully teaches the reader, the child, to appreciate their own crown. It also teaches that everyone else also has a crown.

“No one’s is brighter and no one’s is duller; it’s only a crown of a different color.”

I talked to so many very talented job seekers whose main pain and frustration is the fact that they are certain that they will be tremendously valuable to a company and they get either no response, or they are rejected. As a result, they do not feel as though their individual potential was adequately recognized and acknowledged.

 

On the hiring side, I see great room for improvement on how interviewers go about seeing candidates as each having something uniquely valuable to offer, while still effectively identifying the crown color match that will best enable the individual and the company to shine.

On the job seeker’s side, I wish everyone could have the benefit of working with a personal branding professional like me. Someone who will remove the lampshade so that your color and light will be noticed and appreciated by the company that needs your talent.