Wednesday 26 January 2011 at 1:27 pm
I worked in the private sector for 30 years and never experienced a booming economy. The Dotcom craze was our gold rush but that did not pan out (pun intended).
My first experience managing through a recession was the early '80s. That was good preparation for what was to be a series of up and down economies. I acknowledge this economy is the most difficult in my lifetime. It is also different because in the past, business bore the brunt of the downturn with cost reductions, closures, downsizing, rightsizing, reengineering and restructuring, etc. However, other institutions have not experienced the same degree of pain until now. Of course, that is because Wall Street and business were to blame. Maybe yes and maybe not entirely.
Business has always adjusted to an economic downturn. That is the nature of free enterprise. The problem now is other institutions must adjust who have never been part of the free enterprise system or so they thought.
Jim Collins in his book How the Mighty Fall (note Mighty) states there are five stages of decline in business. I believe the five stages are applicable to every organization/institution whether for-profit or not-for-profit.
The first stage is when organizations start focusing on what they are doing and not why they are doing it. This could be avoided if every organization behaved like a 2 year old and kept asking why. Stage two, is when the organization loses its cost discipline and they have a problem with having the right people in the right place. Stage three, is when leaders start pointing at factors outside their "so-called" control i.e., a down economy. An organization can be in stage 1 or stage 2, for 20 years.
The third stage is the most critical stage because this is the point of no return. While it could take 20 years to get to this stage, you can last here about 2 years. A down economy will only exacerbate this. At this stage, people will take more risk and be obsessive with reorganizing. It is like bringing a bucket to a sinking aircraft carrier.
Stage 4 is when the organization searches for a leader to save them. Harvard Business professor Rakesh Khurana calls this the irrational quest for the charismatic CEO. We like this concept until we learn they have no superpowers. That is when hope is about gone but wait we cannot lose hope. True, but according to Jim Collins unless you have a compelling answer to the following question, "What would be lost, and how would the world be worse off, if we ceased to exist?" you are going to be gone.
It's a simple question. The problem is answering it honestly. In a free enterprise system the customer provides the real answer.
Monday 24 January 2011 at 2:39 pm
Resume tips on how to, how not, must do and must not are everywhere in the blogosphere, and they are contradictory. For example, some experts say you DO NOT need an objective, a summary profile, professional experience, education, hobbies, community activities, references, or a one-page resume, etc. Yet, other experts will disagree.
For example, I believe it is helpful for new college graduates to include an Objective on their resume. For each DON't there is a corresponding DO or vice versa. So, how is this helpful to someone wanting to develop a compelling resume? It is not.
When deciding what should be or not be on a resume you need to remember the purpose of the resume. It is to get the attention of a potential employer to consider you further for a job they have or might have available.
Consider this. You are driving your car and a police officer pulls you over. Your heart is racing and you want to get on the good side of the officer. But, the officer is all business and asks for your license and registration. Through your tears, you hand over the documents and wait to tell your story, hoping to be convincing.
A resume is similar to your license and registration. It is a standard document. Human Resource departments are like the police officer except you want them to pull you over. Therefore, you need to show them your resume in a way that enables them to see the information they need. They want to know if you match the requirements for the job. So make it easy for them. My license looks the same as yours except for the information. The same is true about a resume.
In my experience as an HR practitioner, I never rejected a resume because it had an objective on it except, if the objective was not for the position I was recruiting. I never tossed a resume because they had a subheading work experience instead of career progression or that it was not in CAPS. No, I eliminated people from consideration if they lacked the applicable information or their information did not match the qualifications for the position I was recruiting.
My so-called expert advice to you is to make sure your resume contains the right information and is easy for someone to spot and pull you over. In my opinion, you get attention not by running a stop sign (fonts, formats, headings, fancy links, etc.) but by knowing someone in the precinct. In other words, networking.
Thursday 20 January 2011 at 4:20 pm
I was having trouble staying focused so I googled "staying focused." I found a blog with 11 Ways to Stay Focused. Since I was having trouble staying focused, I could not focus on 11 things. I found another blog with 9 Practical Ways to Help Stay Focused by Dumb Little Man. This was better but still more than I needed.
The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur got my attention with 63 Ways to Staying Very Focused. It was somewhat interesting but I was not at the end of the roll. Then there was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies. While appealing it sounded like too much work. I needed just one thing so I turned to a few quotes for help.
Geena Davis had a good one. Archers are pretty focused. This was short and had potential were it not for "pretty focused." I think extremely focused would be better.
Did you know there is part of the brain responsible for focus? I did not know that but it makes sense. However, that means I have to go back to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Again, too much work.
That's when I discovered something profound. It was so obvious. Why didn't I think of it sooner? It was there all the time. As I was doing my research on staying focused I was engaging in an activity that actually helps you regain your focus. That's right I was taking a break.
Monday 10 January 2011 at 8:54 pm
I know you need a job offer first but let's be optimistic and assume you have multiple job offers to consider. How will you decide which one to accept? Even if you have only one offer, what criteria have you determined for evaluating a job offer?
For most, they start with the job. What will I be doing? Next, what is the salary, the benefits (health, vacation, etc.), hours, location, opportunity for advancement, work/life balance, training, the commute, and the list goes on or does it? Do you have a list? If yes, is it written? If not, you are likely to miss something important. Is the list of factors weighted according to the degree of importance to you? If not, you are likely to place too much emphasis on one factor and not enough on another.
I researched and found a list of 35 possible factors that I thought was helpful. It is published by the University Career Services Department of the McIntire School of Commerce of the University of Virginia. I am sure there are others. The Career Services Department of your University or College may have something similar. In any event, there are plenty of free resources available and you should take advantage of them to develop your own criteria and method of evaluation. The factors are not a mystery and the process of evaluating them is not proprietary.
According to the 2011 Jobs Rated Report created by Adicio, a job search portal and published on CareerCast.com, there are five critical factors inherent to every job. They are the environment (physical and emotional), income, hiring outlook, stress, and physical demands. Adicio rates 200 jobs from data published by the Labor Department and United States Census Bureau. The jobs are rated according to the five factors, with the goal of determing professions that provide the best overall experience for workers, not just jobs that excel in one particular area. In addition, the report provides:
Ø A list of the best and worst jobs
Ø A list of the fastest growing jobs
Ø The most and least stressful jobs
Ø The most demanding jobs
Ø 10 of the most satisfying careers
Ø Most popular city for first-time job seekers or countries where college grads want to work
You will be interested to know that many of the jobs don't require higher education or specialized training. I especially liked the list of satisfying careers. The Jobs Rated Report has insight for every job seeker. Lastly, is there a word that describes people who like to make lists? Yes, organized.
Monday 03 January 2011 at 3:06 pm
GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING
HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY
LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE
AND WHAT EVER COMES OUR WAY
These are lyrics to Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf a song back in the late '60s. The song goes on to say:
YEAH I GOT TO GO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
For many the job search race has begun. They came out of 2010 and are;
FIRING ALL THIER RESUMES AT ONCE (my adaptation from the song)
You have heard it said that life is a Marathon run like a Sprint. I have never run a marathon but I have friends who have and I once trained for one. You would be interested to know that when you train for a marathon you never run the complete 26 miles and 385 yards until race day. However, you need to run a total of at least 40 miles a week for three or four months leading up to the race. If you don't train that way you will never finish. So, a marathon is really a series of small to medium-sized races. By the way, the final 385 yards are important. To know why, check out the 1908 Olympic Marathon considered "the greatest race of the century."
Running a marathon is a good metaphor for career search. You need to target a time for when you want to land a job. However, the pace is different for every runner. You need to set a pace that is right for you and try to maintain it for the duration of your job search, but that does not mean you run at the same speed all the time.
In job search, you need to be able to pick up the pace and/or slow the pace while maintaining a consistent pace. You also need to avoid hitting The Wall. That is when you are discouraged because it is not happening fast enough and self-doubt begins to creep in. It happens to the elite and non-elite runners.
The good news is it does not happen to everyone. At least 40% of non-elite runners have never experienced "hitting the wall." So how can I avoid hitting the wall in job search?
1. You get your resume in shape.
2. You pace yourself and network regularly
3. You go with the flow of searching and applying for jobs
4. You focus on getting interviews.
5. You keep the right mental strategy to land that job.
As much as 90 percent of success in sports is attributed to mental discipline. It is more than not giving up. It is thinking about things related to your job search. Most of us, try and get our mind off things when we really need to stay focused on the task.
The song BORN TO BE WILD depicts the '60s, a time marked by an extreme lack of restraint and control. That is what it means to be WILD. What does this have to do with career search? You can't be WILD in your job search and expect to land a position. You need self-imposed restraint and control. It is not enough to get your motor running and head out looking for a job. You need a job search strategy.