The simple answer is that you are in control of your career decisions, but it does not always feel like that.
You may be one of the people who feel stuck where you are, with little time to tend to a job search, and feel like you are victim to someone else’s whims, waiting and hoping to be identified as a good catch. You feel as though you are not in control because other people you do not know on the other side of a computer screen appear to have power over whether you get the call back or make the cut.
Or, you may not even realize that you are in control, but you are in your own way. You may feel as though there are limits to your success imposed by invisible forces, long-established systems, or other people. Essentially, you stop yourself before you even try. YOU surrender your power, viewing attempts at changing your life as futile. This is harder to recognize, because the thoughts are automatic, based on deep beliefs formed long ago.
Amazingly, not everyone has experienced this. I have interviewed over two dozen people who have achieved EPIC career success for the Epic Career Tales podcast and have found that many of them grew up with few doubts about their success, and a lot of support to follow their dreams. If you are among this crew, it would be challenging to empathize with people who do not just make the changes they need to make in order to achieve happiness, wealth, a better schedule, etc.
This is where I feel most divisions occur. It isn’t easy to walk in someone else’s shoes. It is nearly impossible to say with any degree of accuracy what we would do if we found ourselves mentally bound by our own self-limiting beliefs.
Did you know that if you put chains on an elephant, limiting its mobility, even after the chains are removed that elephant will remain within the limits of the chain anyway? This is proven by circus trainers, who eventually replace metal stakes with wooden pegs. Coincidentally, once the elephant grows big enough and strong enough to rip the tether from the ground, it never even tries, so the metal chains and stakes are overkill.
Last week, LinkedIn founder and CEO Jeff Weiner posted this message, “It’s not so much that people can’t change; they’d prefer not to (change is hard) and we’re rarely in circumstances where it’s truly required.”
It generated quite a bit of quality engagement on the subject of change.
This was my reply:
“The brain actually sabotages most efforts to change, sending our body stress signals to warn of us of ‘danger.’ We have to override it. If you really want to change, create a discipline of recognizing these signals and overriding them. Mel Robbins and John Assaraf are good resources to learn more about the neuroscience around change, and Gretchen Rubin has shared some great insights on habits in Better Than Before.”
If you just said to yourself, “Who’s ‘we?’ Speak for yourself. Change is absolutely required! I need change NOW, thank you very much!”
Then I am giving you an assignment that takes less than five minutes, so that you can test to see why change hasn’t happened yet – is it some awesome force, be it human, systemic, or supernatural, beyond your own power, or is it a belief formed long ago that you have accepted as truth, when it is really a brule (bullshit rule, a la Vishen Lakhiani)?
Your assignment is to take 17 seconds every day for the next week to visualize yourself in the perfect job. I mean PERFECT. DO NOT impose any “reality” on this job. The visualization is just part of the assignment, though. The more critical component of this assignment is to be mindful of your thoughts. Even with just 17 seconds your brain, running on autopilot, will have plenty of time to kick in and start talking to you. Open up a journal and spend two minutes writing down the thoughts you recognized.
Then, spend another two minutes assessing if these thoughts are based on beliefs, and if these beliefs are true. If they are true, then they would essentially have to be true for everyone. If they are not, then they are not true.
These beliefs produce thoughts at every decision point that you may find sabotage you from creating meaningful change in your life, but you take their power away once you recognize them.
A few weeks ago I shared a post, Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss, and made a short list of some of the thoughts that can occur as you have to decide how proactive and assertive you are going to be, which are critical ingredients to landing what you want:
“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?”
While you can take their power away by recognizing them, eliminating them is the trickier part. They have been running on automatic for a very long time. Look for an upcoming post on different methods to overriding self-limiting beliefs.
In the meantime, please share any revelations resulting from this very short, very do-able assignment.
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: https://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.
These are deep questions, ones that in the midst of our hustle and bustle lives we rarely contemplate with any depth. This time of year as we supposedly get a little time off to focus on what matters and approach a new year, the opportunity for a fresh start, allow these questions to simmer in your mind for a bit.
Purpose is not a basic need, like food and shelter. However, people who consider themselves happy point to purpose as their happiness fuel. You can certainly be content to have the things that you need to survive, but I cannot help but feel as though if you have not reached the level of happiness that living your purpose provides, you have not really lived.
Sometimes purpose is underestimated as a resource for survival. I know so many people, too many people, who feel like they are treading water, just barely keeping their heads above. I want to help them all.
A very common key ingredient missing from their lives is the fact that what they do for a living is not at all tied to their purpose. This leads them to underperformance, underemployment, and underpayment, which then leads to a vicious cycle of under living, and that is the source of feeling like your head is barely above the water. The converse of that, however, is a feeling I wish everyone could experience. The best way I can describe it for those who have not yet discovered their purpose, is that it is like when you are at a live concert or show. The combination of the music plus the performance and the crowd crescendo to a point where you feel like your heart is so full that it is bursting, and you have a sense of connection to something bigger than yourself. Perhaps for you this sensation came in a different setting, like a Tony Robbins event, or a really moving religious ceremony. It is exhilarating, or as one client referred to it recently, LIGHTENING.
When your vocation is tied to your purpose, this sensation is a regularly-occurring phenomenon.
Please spread the word, as I would like to get it into the hands of as many people who are living under their potential as possible.
Discovering your purpose is not only for your sake, but it is also of great importance to the GREAT employers. In fact, I just read a LinkedIn post about how REI doubled the amount of applicants by integrating purpose into their culture and hiring.
If you have yet to succeed at a great company, consider that the missing ingredient is PASSION. There is no better time to start than NOW… Well, December 28th, actually. That is when the book is officially launched. In the meantime, however, grab your copy NOW.
“Laser-Sharp Career Focus now goes to the top of the list of helpful tools for job seekers and those endeavoring to manage their careers more successfully. The book is practical, effective and affordable! If you do the work in the book, the book will work for you. You can even revisit the exercises periodically, to reflect on your answers and update your career priorities. In my opinion, Laser-Sharp Career Focus should become your constant companion, helping you over time to build your most ideal career!”
It is always worse when a layoff comes out of left field, isn’t it? There is definitely something to be said about being mentally prepared to find a new job. Of course there is even more to be said when you are fully prepared with an updated résumé and a branded LinkedIn profile that will position you for what’s next.
I can relate to being in denial; I certainly should have seen the signs coming before my first layoff after 9-11. Even though I had been yearning for greater responsibility and wanting to either move up or move on, I took my layoff very hard. When it took ten months to find something new, and that something new was a step back, I regretted not being more prepared.
That was the first of three times, so I feel like I have learned a little something about how to tell when bad news is coming. The more warning you have, the higher the chances that you can turn the bad news into a positive next step.
1. News of future plans grows quiet
Any company doing well is going to want to generate excitement about the future. If projects are suddenly put on hold, or high-priority projects that your manager had previously told you were coming down the pike suddenly don’t seem as important, something is about to change.
This treatment could even seem like being given the cold shoulder. You may be starting to consider whether you should just confront your boss directly. If you do, be prepared to hear no news or to receive bad news. Ultimately and unfortunately, when bad news is impending there is a pecking order for who is told first.
2. Your employer no longer spends money on certain things
This could refer to perks, travel, technology, training, or even bonuses. Even if there are no immediate plans for the company’s leadership to sell or close, and you can see that the focus is more on cutting costs than growing, it is only a matter of time before they lose market share or become obsolete. If you want to be noble and go down with a sinking ship, that is your prerogative, but simultaneously prepare a life boat. Read over any non-competes, decide what company you want to target, update your LinkedIn profile and start reconnecting with people in your network, update your résumé, and decide how you are going to tell people about why you are looking for something new. (Do so in that order.)
3. Other people are being let go
This sounds pretty obvious, but I have seen some professionals insist that those who were let go were logical choices, whereas they were top performers. This is who gets hit by the news the hardest. You might have done everything right, you might have established that you are irreplaceable, and still be the victim of a workforce reduction. Does it have to do with your salary? Maybe. You will spend days and weeks trying to figure out what you could have done differently and the answer could be nothing. Instead, act immediately to position yourself as a rock star and a thought leader in high demand. Promote everything that you have done to add value to your employer and promote your résumé through social media. Consider publishing posts and responding to calls for speakers at industry conferences. Set up lunch meetings. Organize happy hours.
Being uncertain of the future and being in flux are very uncomfortable for most people. The best way to ease your worry is to make something happen. Start to build momentum. Even if you are wrong and your job is completely secure, you might open new doors to unexpected opportunities.
I am glad that LinkedIn exists for multiple reasons, but mostly because there is a venue for professionals to communicate beyond concise and awkward résumé language. Through LinkedIn, they can “speak” in their own natural voice with their own innate verbiage.
As a former hiring professional, it was helpful to understand who the candidate was behind the résumé. As a branding professional and Certified Professional Résumé Writer, I love having a place where I can better express my clients’ personalities and add greater context to their achievements and unique value.
Storytelling has burned a place into corporate and personal marketing because of its effectiveness. It helps people better learn and recall what makes a person impressive and better inspires them to take action on that person’s behalf.
If your LinkedIn profile summary still is a carbon copy of your résumé summary, answer the four questions below. These questions will help you better optimize the 2,000 characters that LinkedIn allows you, so you can distinguish yourself in your own voice. If your computer or phone has a dictation app, I recommend that you use this tool. Do not be too concerned about wordsmithing or character limits as you initially answer these questions. Do not yet judge how people will perceive your answers. Just record your answers as they emerge.
Not only will this exercise enable you to craft a LinkedIn summary that provides visitors with a much better idea of who you are as a person (not just a professional or a candidate), but it will reveal to you how you have been presenting yourself to your network. You may even find that once you record your answers, evaluate them, and edit them that you have been divulging messages that are extraneous, irrelevant, and incongruent (or even damaging ) to your brand. Once you become conscious of these, you can craft better network messaging and become more effective at inspiring introductions and interviews.
Question 1: How did you get here?
You have an experience section on your LinkedIn profile, so there is no need to chronicle your employment history. However, look at your present status as a sum of inspirational and educational moments that you have acquired throughout the years. Some of your most inspirational moments may be more personal than professional. Again, do not initially judge your answers. What we share about our personal learning experiences can often be more powerful in helping people resonate with who you are and what you have to offer.
Think about it and record those moments to answer to this question. What you record may wind up being paragraphs or even pages long, but eventually you will want to edit it down to one paragraph, starting with a vivid depiction of one of your most powerful moments.
Question 2: From what contributions have you derived the biggest sense of fulfillment and satisfaction?
You do not want to spill the beans with all the specific anecdotes from your employment history that have made you most proud. Instead, you want to entice the reader to keep on reading and to scroll down to your employment history to read the rest of the story. In your summary you want to be general. I encourage you to include anecdotes as an answer to this question because it will help you write summaries for your previous positions. Sometimes it is easier to recall specific memories and then to take a step back and figure out what these memories have in common.
You want to look for patterns and themes that have been threaded through each of your previous experiences, regardless of how different those experiences may be. This is where you demonstrate your passion. Notice, please, that I have yet to encourage you to tell people how passionate you are. The answer(s) to this question will do a much better job of communicating that you are passionate without stating your passion.
Question 3: How have you honed the primary skills and talents that enabled you to make these past contributions?
In the Career Management course I teach at Drexel University, my students are tired of hearing me lecture about how important proving your KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Achievements, aka KSEs: Knowledge, Skills and Experience) are to potential employers. Rather than simply leaving your list of skills out there without context as to which skills are strongest and without proof as to whether you really possess them or not, use this opportunity to explain how you developed personally and professionally. Some of this could be through formal training, some could be through life experience, and some could be through interesting challenges that enabled you to identify talents you didn’t know you previously had. Can you see how this creates more intrigue?
Question 4: How do you envision being able to apply and further develop these talents and skills to make greater contributions in the future?
Whether you are a happy and engaged employee hoping to elevate your status within your current company, you are confidentially looking to leave your current employer, or if you’re unemployed and seeking your next big career opportunity, the answer to this question will help you position yourself for growth. Even if you are confidentially seeking new employment but working, you can shape shift the answer to promote your current employer and as a byproduct, promote yourself. This will enable you to mitigate potential suspicions that your new LinkedIn updates are intended to help you leave. You would need however, to find a way to make your future aspirations fit within the future vision of your current employer.
If you are unemployed, you may need to resist the temptation to keep your options wide-open. I understand the logic of wanting to do so if you need an income, but in my 15 years of experience I know it will most likely prolong your search or, sometimes worse, lead you to land in the wrong position at a toxic company where you become stuck and feel hopeless. Good employers want to offer their employees growth opportunities. It is integral in their hiring process to find candidates who are clear about their short and long-term ambitions. These days especially, you don’t have to make a lifelong commitment. In fact, most likely in a few years you will reinvent yourself. But, for now, demonstrate that you have clarity over how you want to apply your skills and talents, and that you have goals.
After you pared down your answers to about a paragraph each, or about 500 characters, leave yourself another 500 characters to create a call-to-action (use the formula within this article) and/or a list of skills that will help you keyword optimize your profile.
Visit this LinkedIn post to see how to include symbols, such as bullets, in your content.
If you use these questions to transform your LinkedIn summary into a compelling story that attracts new connections and opportunities, please share a link to your profile and your results in the comments below.
The act of setting goals is not what moves you toward the ultimate reward of landing the job, but people who set goals are 42% more likely to achieve them when they write them down. My students write SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, Time-bound) goals for their career as part of an assignment. When the goals are specifically focused on job search activities, they tend to drastically underestimate the activity needed to create actual momentum. I have created five SMART job search goals that I have found adequately enables clients and students alike to build momentum week after week. This allows them to generate multiple viable opportunities, create demand that increases their market value and self-worth, and makes them feel empowered to make a choice that is best for their career and life.
Spend 80% of your job search activity proactively pursuing leads in target companies. Identify 10 new target companies each week through networking, LinkedIn, business journals, and professional organizations.
Add 25 new LinkedIn contacts each week by searching LinkedIn’s suggested “People You May Know” and exploring various realms and communities with which you engage. Send 10 customized (straight from the contact’s profile) invitations every day, knowing that not all invitations will be accepted.
Have one meal or coffee a day with a contact or friend, even if virtually. In each conversation and correspondence (including LinkedIn invitations) invite the person to reconnect or get better acquainted. Use this time to share personal or professional initiatives or challenges with which you can both use assistance and to introduce each other to people who can move you forward. Procure five new job leads each week this way.
By asking “superconnectors” in your network, leaders in your industry and checking event sites like Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com, identify 10 worthwhile events, and commit to attending six each month that work with your schedule. Share these events with other people to add value to them, and to see if you can partner with someone who can make the other four events. Acquaint each other with the network contacts that would add the most value and network on each other’s behalf. Add new connections from 20 of your target companies and make 20 introductions for your networking partners each month.
Stay at the top of your network connections’ minds and establish thought leadership by posting one thoughtful social media post daily. Follow active LinkedIn group discussions, share and comment on the relevant posts of Influencers, and try something a little more advanced each week, working your way up to Facebook Live videos or Periscope broadcasts, with the intention of increasing followers/fans by 10% each week.
So, if you really want to achieve your goals of landing a great job, write down these SMART goals, or create some other ones for yourself, and share them with someone who can help you stay accountable. Check out our toolkit, designed to help you track, measure, and improve your activities and your results every week.
If you do not want to achieve the goal of landing a job swiftly, consider that the job for which you are looking may not be the right one and get in touch with us so we can help you identify something that excites you more.
For my 100th LinkedIn post, I want to take a page from my daughter’s preschool and kindergarten classes. They use the hundredth day of school not only to celebrate a milestone I never even thought to celebrate, but to teach kids about the number 100. It is a pretty significant number, as numbers go.
I decided, inspired by the hundredth day of school (that we are now actually celebrating having come to an end), that I wanted to use my hundredth post to expand an exercise that my daughters and I have started to do to turn our attitude into gratitude. It is a way to quickly recover when our complaining turns into a negative tailspin. I’ll have them or they’ll have me make a list of things for which we are grateful. In regard to effectiveness, this makes us feel better 100% of the time.
I started this list with ten things that I feel could apply to anyone anywhere in the world at any given moment. However, I ask you to contribute comments with the things that you can always turn to make you feel grateful and happy, even when the world around you does not seem so happy. The exercise of doing so, I guarantee, will lift your spirits. You can also be certain that as others read your contributions, you will be raising the level of happiness in others.
Recommendation: the worse you feel the more items you add. Keep adding items until you feel better.
1. You can improve your health right now just by moving.
2. It does not rain every day everywhere.
3. The biggest, scariest creatures lived a long, long time ago.
4. Satellites make it easy to see anywhere in the world.
5. It is rare that the sky is not interesting to gaze upon.
6. Seeds represent infinite possibility.
7. When life was invented, I was invented to be a self-sustaining cycle of endings and new beginnings.
8. Each of us had a mom and a dad, whether we know them or not, they brought us into this world and made possible whatever we wanted to be possible.
I seem to repeat this almost every day – you cannot be everything to everyone.
You can try, but you will eventually fall short in something. It becomes very difficult to maintain the persona of someone who is equally strong in a diverse range of competencies. Even if you land the job (and it may be appealing to smaller companies and start-ups, if that is your TRUE brand), it may not keep you employed when a company feels that your competencies have been misrepresented. It also may hurt future transitions if you have to explain why your former employer may not be a positive reference for you.
Branding is the opposite of being everything to everybody. An effective brand distinguishes an individual or a company as having unique qualities that appeal to a particular cross-section of the population or demographic based on their needs or wants, also known as a niche. Companies can execute different branding strategies for different demographics. You might notice that a phone company will air a much different ad on Lifetime than it will on Spike. However, LinkedIn has been very strict about their users only having one profile. As a job seeker, you will actually prolong your job search if you diversify your brand to reach several different employer audiences.
For employers, there is greater risk in hiring people who present themselves as the perfect fit for all their needs. In this market, the candidate whose qualifications and motivations can be trusted will be able to compete more effectively for an open position, and their future performance can be more accurately assessed. In order to instill trust, be honest about what your strengths are and what skills you want to develop further. Prominently identify the qualities or skill sets that distinguish you as a top candidate without making assumptions about the caliber of talent the company already represents.
Many people recognize that networking is the number one transition activity that helps people get hired. However, even people that network fanatically may not be developing the volume of job leads that they would like. There are two major mistakes I see most people making in networking that prevent them from being able to leverage this activity to generate momentum.
Networking mistake #1
It may sound counterintuitive, but not being specific and concise enough for network contacts will actually narrow the number of leads that your network produces for you. Your contacts need to walk away from the conversation understanding how to recognize a good job lead. The chances of your contacts coming across an open position for your job title is so much slimmer than them conversing with someone who has a problem you can solve.
Networking mistake #2
Asking for favors is not the way to inspire people to make powerful introductions for you. A call to action is much more likely to have a positive response when the individual being called upon to act has a clear understanding of the mutual benefits of an introduction. People want to connect you so that they can help both you and their network contacts.
Flip your networking script
Think of network branding as training your contacts to be lead developers for you. Do not use industry lingo if they are not savvy. Do not run down your whole employment history. Tell them what they will remember, such as why companies have hired you in the past and what problems you can solve for a company. Demonstrate the mutual benefit of connecting you to your network’s contacts.
I have seen many formulas for 30-second commercials, but Margaret Lynch’s “Captivate From The Start” formula is the most impactful, by far. Though it was designed for coaches, and was a product of training that SHE received as an EFT practitioner, she decided to pass it on to coaches in her tribe, and I must share the concept with you.
It starts with understanding the pain of your audience. People are motivated to take action primarily by two things: avoiding future pain and ending current pain, with the more dominant driving force being the latter. As a job seeker, you’ll want to think about why the position you want exists, or why it should (because it might not). What business needs does the position fulfill? When it is not filled, or when it is not filled by the right person, what pain results, and for whom? What are the costs of this job not being done well?
Let your network contacts know who would be impacted, and that is a sign to them as to whom an introduction would be beneficial. Tell them two or three things that your target would experience that would be a sign that they have needs you can fulfill, and then give them an idea of the results you can bring about for them.
I help business leaders and engineering teams who have difficulties launching on time because they are not agreeing on product specifications that understand each other and the customer needs, so that products are launched with minimal bugs, with as little time and budget as possible, and with the highest satisfaction ratings possible.
It seems like a mouthful, but would you be able to find a lead for this professional?
To turn this 30-second commercial into a 60-second commercial, think about why you are the right person to fill this position. What evidence do you have to present that proves that, among people with similar qualifications, you add something uniquely valuable that will make the resolution of the pain faster, greater, or more pleasant? What was one major problem you resolved for one major initiative that you were pivotal in making successful?
Once you get the lead and someone encourages you to contact a VIP in his or her network, follow up, even if the opportunity does not seem like it is a fit. Be forthcoming if that is the case, and always offer to be a resource to your network and the network they make available to you.
Train for long-term retention with something tactile
Of course, not everyone learns audibly, so it is wise to have something you can leave behind, whether it is a business card that has comparable information on it, or, even better, a one page networking profile. These are becoming more standard for executive networking groups, and yet I find them to be not much more interesting than a résumé for the average reader.
People crave speedy, visual information. Not only do infographics make information easier to understand, and more fun to read and share, but they make it more memorable. If you really want to wow your contacts, give them something they will be excited to show their contacts and engage us to create your one page networking infographic.
Words are the most powerful force we have as a species. By changing what you say in your networking conversations, you will multiply the number of opportunities that people send your way. Furthermore, these opportunities may not look exactly like job openings that thousands of other people are vying to fill. They will most likely more often look like people who need you and are eager to find out how you can ease their pain. In turn, your pain will be relieved. Interviewing will be more productive and more fun, and will more likely result in a job offer. The job offers you receive are more likely to be for positions that fully utilize your talents and experience. Because you will have the leverage of having a solution to an immediate need, negotiating will be that much easier and more successful. Use this formula to lubricate the tracks to success and accelerate toward a successful job landing.
Last night during Super Bowl 50, there was a two-point conversion which put the Broncos two touchdowns ahead of the Panthers. My father at first did not understand why they would risk not getting the extra point, but it paid off. The Broncos got the two-point conversion and kept their two touchdown lead. They did not need that lead in the end to win, but knowing what a fierce team the Panthers have been all season, going for the extra point was their best shot at insuring the win.
Is your company playing offense or defense when it comes to their LinkedIn policy?
Do you think your company is spending too much time and resources trolling the LinkedIn profiles of employees? Does your boss check his or her alerts whenever an employee is active on the service?
Do you know anyone who was fired from their job for using LinkedIn? If an employer were to be suspicious, either justifiably or not, what do you think of someone being fired as a result?
There are risks and rewards for the employees who use LinkedIn to job hunt while they are still employed. For example, someone actively looking while still employed may pose a data risk to their employer. However, we cannot assume just because someone is looking for a new job that they would be immoral or unethical. (Of course, job searching while on the job is a big no-no.) What if more employers adopted a comprehensive and offensive approach to LinkedIn to engage and ultimately retain employees?
Many employees may imagine their employers are regularly checking their LinkedIn profiles to make sure they are not getting ready to leave. There are two reasons why a company might routinely check the LinkedIn profiles of employees. This is to either fire them first (if job search activity is found), or to convince them to stay. Restrictive LinkedIn policies are defensive. If LinkedIn policies are too restrictive and intrusive, the company demonstrates a lack of trust and respect for the employee, which may cause an employee to seek a new job. Restrictive policies may inhibit an employee’s ability to generate leads, partners, vendors, and to recruit.
Defensive LinkedIn policies also damage employment brands and recruitment efforts
Restrictive LinkedIn policies also have an effect on potential employees. Let us examine a scenario. A job seeker sees a job opening and wants to know more about the company because they care about where they work. They know they have options and are a highly valuable employee. They research the company’s LinkedIn page and evaluate the employee profiles. The savvy job seeker and wants to know how they are connected, but the employee profiles leave everything to be desired. Many employee profiles have minimal content. The employees strike the job seeker as dull and uninterested. They did not even take a moment to write a few words about themselves, or perhaps they are hiding something. It is as if the profiles are under lock down. The job seeker is unimpressed and says “No thanks! Next!” If companies are not strategically using LinkedIn to promote their employment brand, they are failing to attract savvy employees, and perhaps even potential customers.
Playing offense on LinkedIn engages employees
By playing offense and being proactive, a company keeps their employees engaged professionally through LinkedIn instead of having to fear if the next update could land them in trouble. Kevin Wheeler, a consultant and public speaker, has listed the ways a company can play offense to engage and retain their employees. Some key aspects are to excite employees, and to give them a sense of freedom and opportunity.
One of the biggest reasons employees seek opportunities elsewhere is because they cannot easily grow or find promotion within their own companies. Career development or opportunities to move up within a company are appealing. Advancement is not always tied to a higher salary, and employees (especially younger employees), seek to grow and develop their skills. If they feel stagnant they may seek growth elsewhere.
Companies that reward their employees with recognition create good will and loyalty. This is especially true for millennial workers who crave frequent feedback on their contributions.
Employers who care about employees by offering growth opportunity and ample recognition can extend that good will to their LinkedIn policies. These policies encourage employees to use LinkedIn to the fullest to promote themselves, share their knowledge and to promote the company.
These LinkedIn policies include encouraging employees to optimize and brand their profiles. We have been hired by companies to write powerfully-branded profiles for their customer facing front line and executive teams with great results. Powerful employee profiles mention work accomplishments in status updates, publish industry-related articles and company content, connect to a company page and group, endorse and network with co-workers, and expand their network to include customers, prospects, and partners. A proactive approach also engages employees by forming policies around using work hours to connect with others, and even having a marketing team or third-party like us create promotional content that can be disseminated on employees’ status updates. A company can better utilize the complete workforce to share news and job openings. Companies like Seer Interactive and Accolade consider every employee as a part of their recruiting effort.
A comprehensive and offensive LinkedIn policy can play a huge role in employee engagement. Remember the scenario I talked about earlier? Now imagine a job seeker comes across a company’s LinkedIn page. Instead of lackluster profiles with minimal content, that job seeker sees powerfully-branded profiles, frequent status updates about their job and industry, and well-connected employees. These employees are happy to talk about their employer and the company seems like a great place to work. They are interested and reach out to make a connection. Now this employee can have a conversation with a candidate that can easily serve as a first interview. This is what LinkedIn can offer the companies who are willing to play offense to engage and retain their employees, rather than play defense to troll them, fearful that they may jump ship. Which LinkedIn policy appeals to you?
Many employees fear that their boss is watching their every move on social media and are afraid to update their LinkedIn profiles. Other employees update their profiles and openly express an interest in new career opportunities while they are employed. The first group of employees are limiting their ability to promote themselves. The second group risks being fired by their employer. Depending on your employer’s social media policies, a LinkedIn update can land you in trouble. John Flexman was an executive at a gas exploration firm based in England. He uploaded his CV to LinkedIn and checked the box indicating an interest in “career opportunities.” His company accused him of inappropriate social media use and ordered him to remove his CV. Flexman thought this was unreasonable and resigned. Flexman’s situation is not common in the United States because employers do not own your LinkedIn profile as they do in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, there are cases where employers have monitored their employees’ use of LinkedIn. It is possible to confidentially use LinkedIn during your job search while you are still employed.
Promoting yourself on LinkedIn IS part of the job search
A complete and branded LinkedIn profile is the best way to connect with others, stay relevant, and expand your network. However, many people are afraid to update their LinkedIn profile because they fear their employer will become suspicious of their activities. This robs a person of the opportunity to truly optimize their profile in a way that will generate more qualified leads, better opportunities, and will put their career on autopilot. Many of my clients have received offers for promotions within their companies because they have effectively articulated their value. They promote their value as an employee while promoting their company.
Content is your greatest asset on LinkedIn! Do not be afraid to post industry-relevant content and to share your knowledge in groups. Balance the content you share in order to promote yourself and your company. Share the stories where you saved the day, but also use your status updates to express gratitude for being surrounded by and supported by a great team or leadership. Your next boss would love to picture him or herself on the receiving end of such praise. Keep your praise authentic and make sure other people would be able to validate what you say as truth. Use status updates to simultaneously promote yourself, your colleagues, and your employer. Update your status by writing about problems you solved, your nuggets of practical wisdom, and giving colleagues the credit for a great performance.
Keep your direct job search activities hidden
When you use LinkedIn to job search and you are employed, do not openly announce your job search-related activities. This means not mentioning you are looking for a new employer in your status updates and in groups. While it is better to find a job while you are still employed, we know from our results that with a powerful and effective brand campaign and system you can viably land a new job within 10 to 12 weeks.
Although it is possible to turn off all broadcasts of your LinkedIn activity, these decisions are often made from fear and limit your success. The questionable activity to your employer comes from adding connections from the competition. If your profile is locked down to the point where almost nothing is visible, your employer may become suspicious. You also miss the opportunity to network or to be found by potential employers who are actively looking for someone with your skills, and perhaps even your network.
Adding connections from your company’s competition may raise red flags with your employer. In this type of scenario you do want to practice discretion, especially if you plan to transition to a competitor. If you are connecting with the competition, view the profiles of others anonymously by changing what others see when you have viewed their profile. Temporarily turn off broadcast activities when you follow companies for whom you want to work. This action is temporary because you do not want to alert your current employer to a direct job search activity. Otherwise, keep notifications on when you engage in your regular LinkedIn activity to raise your visibility on the network.
Joining job search groups will alert others to your intent to find a new employer while you are still employed. Avert this by not allowing anyone to see you belong to job search groups and make sure these groups are not visible on your profile by changing the order they are displayed. Also, temporarily turn off notifications for groups whenever you join a job search group. This allows you to freely join groups without notifying your network.
If you are using a company e-mail address on LinkedIn, switch to a private e-mail address immediately. Leaving your employer means that you will lose access to your e-mail, and as a result your LinkedIn account. In fact, I recommend this action even if you do not have plans to leave your company. Anything could happen!
Imagine a few scenarios:
A job seeker keeps his or her job search activity completely under wraps on LinkedIn.
They check out and follow competing companies.
Their profile and all LinkedIn activities are completely hidden.
Their confidential job search will not alert their current employer, but they are invisible to potential employers.
A job seeker updates his or her profile to promote themselves and their company.
They are actively looking for work and are employed, but they do not mention direct job search activities.
They are not afraid to highlight their accomplishments.
Their profile is a beacon to potential employers and it is not long before they begin to receive interview requests and even job offers.
Which scenario would you choose? You do not want to scream to the world that you are actively searching for work while you are currently employed. Carefully updating your LinkedIn profile will make your transition quicker and pain-free.
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