Gifts for Moving Forward

The Road Is Rarely Straight.

The Road Is Rarely Straight.

The other day a bright, young lady, a neighbor, age 19, told me her life plan. She explained in detail she will become a physician, marry, and birth two children. Her intentions are admirable and possible but surprises often interfere with our plans.

When I asked one of my grand-daughters if she is looking forward to the next step in her education she answered with a strong “No, I don’t want to grow up.” Is it fear or is she having too much fun? Fun and fear are intertwined frequently.

Career Change

My first book, “MORE than a Paycheck: Inspiration and Tools for Career Change,” shared twenty stories about people who changed careers or jobs. As a recruiter and outplacement consultant I saw people often trapped in unhappy job situations. When people are laid off they go through a grief process, which can last too long in the anger or sadness. “MORE than a Paycheck” gives people role models for career transitions. The stories resonate with encouragement for the readers to put their fears into a large paper bag and dump the bag in the trash. Some kicked and screamed when their jobs evaporated, never to return. They had to take action or lose their homes and sometimes families.

If you know someone who could profit from “MORE than a Paycheck,” you can order the paperback book on my website at a discounted rate. Order the book or e-book online on Amazon or other e-book site for about the same price. It makes a nice gift for people changing jobs or for a graduation present.

Gift of the Suitcase

I am excited to announce my upcoming book, “Gift of the Suitcase,” which shares the inevitable changes in life such as relocating, facing a divorce or experiencing other critical situations.

My new book launches within the next eight to ten weeks. Since I don’t have an exact date from the publisher yet, I cannot take pre-orders for “Gift of the Suitcase.”

This book begins with a gift from my parents for college graduation. I received a large suitcase and a plane ticket to France for a summer job before I began teaching French. The story encapsulates the unexpected changes in my career and personal life. I wrote it as a gift for people who face similar issues. They make plans and the plans fall apart. We learn from these experiences or stay mired in muck.

Watch for details about my journey of unexpected changes. International travel is part of the story to grasp that loosing baggage may not be a loss. My website will be changing soon to share more information. The road through life is rarely a straight.

 

 

Eye Your Comfort Zone for Success

“Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.” Brian Tracy

eye for change

Focus, focus, focus!

“Susan” looks forlorn, lower than a tadpole waiting to become a frog. Her rosy cheeks are stained from fallen tears.  Why? As she sits behind her computer, fretting and twisting her hair, she cannot find openings which fit her background. She lost her job several months ago. What is wrong with this picture? Perhaps a serious case of “zone-itis” or staying in the same spot, trying the same methods over and over. Is she a perfectionist?  Is she looking for the perfect job?

Do you relate to Susan?  Do you find making decisions difficult? Are you overwhelmed with too many options, not knowing which will work best?  Perfectionists and Procrastinators find job search particularly harrowing.  Hospitalization is not necessary.  Leaving a comfort zone is not recognized as a pathological problem, but immobilization can squeeze the breath out of you.

Essential Tips

Henrick Edberg’s article shares “Brian Tracy’s 11 Essential Tips to Living a Successful Life.” Let’s concentrate on decisions.

Tip 10: “Make a decision. Any decision. Just do something.”

Whether looking for another job or eliminating stress from your life, quit whining.  Pick a maximum of three options and focus.

Skills

Susan likes to write, speak to groups, facilitate groups, counsel and teach others. Although successful using all the skills in different jobs, she jumps from industry to industry.

She’s unfocused again. She loves going to school, but she’s in her early 60s. Discrimination looms in the background with age, despite adding new skills.  Can she afford another entry level job? Her persuasive personality convinces employers to hire her. Once she hones her focus, life will become easier.

Helpful Suggestions

She needs to make a long list of places she might work and decide which are most realistic. She spends hours helping friends and neighbors with their problems, rather than working on her issue. Susan should read “When Helping You is Hurting Me,” an old book with solid suggestions to face the problem.

If you struggle with myopia, a lack of discernment or unwillingness to look at situations with different eyes, you must move towards the middle for decision-making.

Take a break. Spend alone time thinking quietly.  Do something different today.  Don’t let the discomfort scare you. Staying in a comfort zone stymies creativity and progress. Take a break to return with new ideas. Don’t sweat the healthy discomfort.

Simple Actions for Clarity

Try a new recipe. How about endive or escarole in your salad?

Take your computer to another room.

Attend a new volunteer activity.

Have coffee with someone you want to know better.

Sign up for a month of classes through Lynda.com.

Attend a free webinar.

Get a wild, new hair-do

See a funny movie

Stop worrying! Focus, focus, focus and open your eyes for clarity.  Feel the discomfort.  Progress often (maybe always) feels uncomfortable.

 

3 Reasons to Doubt the Job Data

businessman looking at graphic

 

Last week Fox News ran an article about current job data.  Titled CEO of Gallup Calls Jobless Rate ‘Big Lie’ Created by White House, Wall Street, Media.  Jim Clifton, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Gallup, the renowned research company, is quoted telling a Fox reporter the unemployment figures are “lies.”  You can watch the video where Mr. Clifton tells his reasons for doubting the veracity of the data.  I doubt the job data.

Doubt #1

In Texas, we see mostly good news about unemployment.  Have you heard people say, “People should be able to find a job in Texas with unemployment under 5%.”  Really?  If you left your job a few months or a year or so ago with antiquated skills, you might not be counted in the data.  You may have a decent resume, but the skills needed for many engineers today are not the same as those used in recent employment.  The information in the Fox News piece clearly showed the data may be 11.2%, rather than 5.6% unemployment.  People out of work for an extended period may not be counted.  Part-time workers and the underemployed may be mixed with the full-time workers recently hired.  The data seems misleading.

Doubt #2

Fox News likes the Republicans and often disses the Democrats.  Who can you believe?  Obama says the economy is thriving, yet the Republicans proclaim start-ups are at the lowest point in 20 years. We need start-ups!  I marvel at the creative ideas presented on Shark Tank, but investors and large companies are fearful of spending their cash. What is reality?

Doubt #3

If you are a new grad with an extraordinarily good GPA and fabulous technical skills, perhaps in security software, your search may be challenging without a degree from an Ivy League School. Fortune 100 Companies use lists of target universities to hire the “best” students.  The competition is fierce.

I heard a friend say, “The best education is a Liberal Arts major.”  I asked him how his son found his stellar job a few years ago with a Liberal Arts degree.  He responded; he referred him to a friend of his in the oil patch.  I think that’s called “networking.”  I don’t know what skills his son brought to the table with his Liberal Arts degree, but the world is full of “good-ole-boy” stories, such as this.

Who’s Hiring; Who’s Not

Read the Business Journal from your city to find opportunities.  Update your skills.  In the Dallas-Ft. Worth Business Journal, we see Toyota, Nebraska Furniture with many contract positions.  HCL Technologies mentioned 300 openings upcoming, but I had to search Dice.com to find the details.  Security technology jobs are abundant but require specific knowledge.  Diesel mechanics and truck drivers are in demand.  Today American Airlines lists 200+ jobs in Dallas-Fort Worth area but the right skills are required.  More than half their openings are at the lower end of the pay scale.

Exxon and Radio Shack are laying off people in droves…But, you know that.  Keep your ear to the ground to apply for real openings, not the job ads that stay online permanently, in case the company is building a pipeline to fill later.

Target Your Efforts

Sometimes I feel like I speak out of both sides of my mouth.  I rant and rave to job seekers to ‘target the job, but keep your eyes wide open.” Some may say the economy is great.  Gas prices are down.  Others may lament with gas prices down, we are bound to have a dip in the economy. I was in Houston this weekend.  The rest of the country may be upbeat, but the Houston paper provided sad stories of layoffs in the oil business.

Unhappy with your job?  Want to enhance your career?  Are you unemployed or underemployed?  I don’t think anyone knows for sure when or if the economy will decline soon, but you’d better hurry up!  You don’t want to miss the existing opportunities!

The Film Crew at our Doorstep

Portlandia at Work

Fred & Carrie

Fred Armison & Carrie Brownstein go to work

Last week big signs appeared on the street where we are staying temporarily in Portland: “No parking, Filming Portlandia.” I was over-wrought with excitement.  I love the satire about the shenanigans of the proud, kooky locals of this town.

Fred Armison and Carrie Brownstein star in the hilarious, sometimes farther-than-far-out show.  Portlandia received six Emmy nominations this year.  The winners will be announced on August 24th on NBC.

Fred’s lengthy credits include bandleader on the Seth Meyers Show, writer, producer, voice actor, and former Saturday Night Live comedian.  You may recall his acting rants as Obama and other less memorable characters on SNL.  Carrie’s credits encompass television writer, actress, musician and cookbook expert.  See the charming video of her conversation with David Letterman.

The trucks and trailers arrived at 6:15 a.m. I took the dog for a walk, hoping I’d get picked for a bit role. Or perhaps the dog would win a cameo appearance, but alas, the filming took place inside the restaurant at the end of the block.

Mickle & Mod

Mickle & Mod, the retro clothes store on wheels

Along with the shiny silver trailers and trucks, a large aqua colored box truck arrived, full of retro clothes.  I read, with interest about the two female who own Mickle & Mod, a retro clothes shop, which has grown with their notoriety.  Now they take their clothes on filming locations.  The episode must have required many changes as Fred and Carrie looked very young walking down the street towards the restaurant early in the morning, but returned to their respective cars (parked at our doorstep) with gray hair.  They must have had an awful day as they aged rapidly in six hours.

film crew electronics

Electronics with film crew for Portlandia

I enjoyed watching the intensity of people in the tent by the truck for electronics. Everyone seemed to carry coffee and doughnuts from the converted school-bus-turned- restaurant. The “Sidewalk Coordinator” carried a Walkie-Talkie and had a cell phone glued to her head. She must have walked miles that day.

We’ve experienced situations where we must scurry and wait, move faster and wait. Watching activity for filming Portlandia reminded me of waiting for wedding music to start or the right song for dancing.  About 11:30 they packed up and the actors drove away.

So now I know. The film industry is glamorous, but it’s like any job…sometimes boring, sometimes organized and occasionally you have a winner. Be sure to watch Portlandia, if you like laughing and zany situations. The film crew knows how to capture and translate the utterly outrageous into comedy.

our doorsteps

Portia Portland guards our doorstep

8 Ways to Slam the Door to a Job Offer

door closing

Why would they slam the door?

Which situations are the worst? Make sure you never, ever let the door slam in your own face when you look for a job offer. Recruiters know each other. They share stories. You want a recruiter to tell great stories about you!  Here are some showstoppers I see  happen far too regularly.

1. Miss an appointment with a recruiter. You don’t want the job and prefer to walk the dog. You missed the call and never returned it.

Be cognizant of others’ time. The recruiter uses time as money. Recognize the imposition you cause and how your reputation is affected.

2. Pretend you are a new graduate, when you have 20 years of experience.

If you return to college after extensive work experience, let’s hope the recruiter sees the value in your 15 or 20 years of experience, including the new degree. Do not try to compete with new graduates. Their value is very different from yours. Mold your resume to improve the chances of being hired by showing any management, leadership, or other skills whether on the job or during college. Use your background for advantage.

3. Tell the recruiter you are willing to move, get the offer and withdraw, calling the night before to say you accepted a better job offer.

I feel sure you must realize the damage to your relationship with the recruiter. Independent recruiters “network” with each other. They document files and share candidates periodically. That’s the way they make a decent living. If you refuse a job after accepting, your reputation suffers. There are, of course, exceptions, but not often!  You may have jumped too quickly on the offer without thinking longer term, which might cause job hopping in the future.

4. Tell the recruiter you can do anything and everything.

The recruiter is not looking for someone who can take over the company or be the Jack or Jill of all departments. You need to know your strengths. Unless the team needs a new graduate, s/he is looking for an expert or someone with a specific number of years of experience.

While you are unemployed (or employed), obtaining new certifications may impress recruiters.  If you used the skill without certification, show number of years’ experience using it, how you used it and the length of time.  Becoming certified shows initiative and drive.

5. Explain to the recruiter that although you have never programmed in C++, it wouldn’t take you long to learn.

The hiring team wants an expert, not someone who never used C++. Yes, of course, you would learn quickly, if you had experience in other, related languages, but that’s not what the recruiter must find. If someone on the team vouches for you, it may work, but the recruiter can rarely talk the manager into hiring someone without the required experience.

6. When asked your best accomplishment, you say, “I’ve accomplished so much. What specifically do you want to know?”

The recruiter wants to hear your verbal communications skill and thoughts about your achievements.  Select a very specific situation where you made an impact on your team to share.

7. Put your contact information in a header.

Many scanners will not capture information in the header or footer. Your resume will be trashed if the scanner cannot read the information, even if your contact information is correct. Be sure to check, re-check, read your information backwards to assure you omit no necessary words or make other errors.

8. Call to complain you haven’t heard from the recruiter.

Respectfully stating you are calling to assure the hiring team that their company remains at the top of your target list may help. Recruiters are busy and do not have time to chit-chat. If you can engage in some way to help him or her, you may find yourself another step closer to an offer.

Before you do something rash, maybe because your are tired or irritated, think about your actions.  This is a better time to clean a drawer or hit some golf balls.

Treat people the way you want to be treated. It can’t hurt. And it may help you achieve a wonderful job offer!

MORE than a Paycheck

 Who are your role models?

 

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders,

but they have never failed to imitate them.”

 James Baldwin

 Who are your role models?  Have you thought about that?  Was it a parent, a teacher or rock star whom you wanted to emulate?  Did your dad take you to work with him periodically?  Do you know who influenced your career most significantly?  Do you remember your very first paycheck?

Are you a role model for your children?  Is Mommy so overworked she can’t make it to her son’s band concert or is Dad so overwhelmed he never comes home until 8:00 p.m.?  What message does that send to your kids?

As a recruiter and outplacement consultant, I saw many people unwilling to let go of anger when laid off, scared they would not find another similar job.  I wrote MORE than a Paycheck to provide role models, 20 short stories, to be exact, to help people see they don’t necessarily need to change careers to find the next opportunity.

Let’s look at the first chapter, or story, in the book.  Carl’s story moves his career from sales to marketing and publishing.  When he got bored or unexpectedly laid off, he demonstrates flexibility to find the next step in his career.  Instead of competing with the same people for the same jobs, he moved his family a few times to achieve MORE than a paycheck.  Wasn’t easy, but it paid off!

I wrote for people who could use a few swift kicks to move their careers forward.  I want you to see you, too, can earn MORE than a paycheck.

You need to read MORE than a Paycheck!

You need to read MORE than a Paycheck!

Today MORE than a Paycheck became available in e-book formats for all devices.  You can purchase it at IBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and from other distributors.  It’s far less expensive than the print copy.  Just search online for MORE than a Paycheck by Ruth Glover.  The complete title is MORE than a Paycheck: Inspiration and Tools for Career Change.

MORE than a Paycheck

 Now available in all e-book formats!

 

 

Sliding to Success with the New Young Boss

Boss on a slide

Working with a young boss can be like sliding downhill

You accepted the job, knowing the boss is young, but you need the job.  Your 20 years of experience should be an asset to the young boss with one year of management. How can you cope with this younger boss?

The manager, impressed by your skills and demeanor in the interview, wants you to understand she is the boss.  You want to share your vast knowledge and experience to help her.  Sparks may fly, if you, the older worker fail, to follow-the-leader.

Communication Style

Coping may not be easy unless you understand communication style.  Listen carefully.  Does the boss tell or ask you to perform various tasks?  Is she introverted or extroverted?  Understand that introverts prefer data and are frequently on the quiet side.  Asking questions, rather than telling is safer.

Let’s say the boss assigns a project to you.  In your previous job, you led similar projects and she’s omitted several steps, which could lead to disaster.  You must not tell her, but ask , politely, if she might want to consider the possibility of adding a couple of steps.  You must be diplomatic!  Try to make it her idea.  Asking vs. telling in a new situation is critical.  If you try to tell her how your ideas are better, you will lose respect, rather than gain it, for she may feel attacked

Do not hesitate to ask the new boss the best way to communicate with her.  Younger people may prefer texting or sending instant messages.  People over 50 much prefer one-on-one meetings, but the younger crowd frowns on tehm, feeling time is wasted.  Learning new ways of communicating in this digital age prevents you from appearing as old as a pyramid in Egypt

Time Management

The young manager, without family obligations, may be a workaholic.  You, on the other hand, want to coach your teenager’s soccer team.  The younger people often text into the wee hours of the night.  You may need  a conversation to set some guidelines in the situation.  Instead of saying, “Please don’t text me after work hours,” let her know you will respond quickly from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. but may not be able to answer texts again until 10:00 p.m., when you check before bedtime. Determine the best way for her to contact you, should there be a work emergency.

Respect

You need to be authentic, yet when you first start a job working for the younger generation, maintain a low profile until the trust is established.  This may be difficult for you but, trust me, the new boss wants to do things her way.  You are building respect, not especially building the relationship at this point.

One young manager and I worked together six weeks before I scrounged up the courage to ask him if he was married with children.  I’m always curious about who my colleagues are, but I refrained from asking.  He was all work, no play, and I had no clue if he liked me or not.  It drove me crazy, but we accomplished his requests quickly and efficiently.  He respected my work.  Was he my favorite boss?  No, but we got along well.  I didn’t waste his time.  Plus, it didn’t hurt me one bit to change my style.  Was I authentic?  Absolutely!  I wanted the job, liked the work and didn’t need to know if he was married with children!

Getting along with the younger boss can create problems if you are not astute when it comes to assessing what the other person wants.  Learning to ask rather than tell, keeping your mouth shut and responding the way the boss wants—all build respect.

You could re-read this article and switch “older” and “younger,” as many older workers prefer less interaction and more electronic communication.   Excellent communication is the key for success in any job, whether you are male, female, old, young or in between.  Be cautious and you will not slide into trouble!

Thanks to Ruth’s friend who suggested this topic.  All suggestions are appreciated!

Gentle reminder: The organizational meeting for the writers’ group at the Sachse Library is Tuesday, October 29 at 6:30 p.m.  Click for the address or send Ruth an email with questions at careers@hotcareers.com.

 

3 Is the Magic Number for Your Career

One is not the “magic number” as the song says.  Listen toThree Dog Night as they sing the song One.  Three is the magic number.  When you think about your career, start with three questions:

What is your passion?  What are your skills?  How are your finances?

Not ONE but Three

3 Dog Night at Work

Action Plan

After you determine your focus and check your finances to determine how much you must make vs. want to make, it’s time to create your action plan.

Your  Action Plan contains three distinct parts that you capture on a spreadsheet.

Page 1-Friends, relatives, co-workers who would be willing to help your search

Page 2-Target companies which hire people with your skills

Page 3-“Shotgun” page to track submissions and activity for random companies (when you see something that appeals to you and say, “I could do that).

By managing your  spreadsheet for your marketing plan, you can find the company quickly when the recruiter calls you six weeks later.  Create columns for when and where you send documentation with at least three more columns for LinkedIn, web addresses, follow up and comments.  Color coding allowed!

Resume Review

Don’t confuse duties with accomplishments. Duties are expected, daily tasks and responsibilities.  An accomplishment demonstrates how you went the extra mile to exceed expectations.  Each job should have duties with a minimum of three bulleted accomplishments.  If the job was short term or a disaster, you can shorten the text and omit accomplishments.

Duty

Supervise six Accounts Payable clerks and two Payroll Administrators. Oversee the operations and activities of a centralized accounts payable system.

Accomplishment

  • Created new database to track project tools at all times with reduction in tool expense of $4500.

Cover Letters

Do not regurgitate your resume in a cover letter.  You cannot omit a cover letter, as you never know whether someone will read it.  With careful research analysis of the job description,  you can easily show three reasons your training and experience makes you the top candidate.  Some Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) prohibit entering it into the database.  Don’t worry about it.

Interviewing

Your resume helps you open the door.  The interview closes the sale.  Underline all the key items the job description requests.  Write questions for each, as if you are the hiring authority.  Practice interviewing in front of a mirror.   Attitude and like-ability are inherent in the process that can readily be visible in the interview.  Take a good-looking leather folder with a pocket for 5-10 resumes and your tablet for notes.

Three things you might forget:

  • Like-ability
  • Listening
  • Asking for the job ( or closing the sale)

When asked a question, look down, and take time to focus your thoughts before you respond to questions.  Then look the interviewer in the eyes, smile and answer concisely.  Watch for the chance to mention how much you want to work for the company.

Near the end of the interview, you will need good questions to show interest for the interviewer or team.  Since your palms and pits may be dripping by the end of the interview, write down at least three potential questions in that nifty notebook beforehand.

Once you start thinking in “threes,” your research and preparation provide more confidence and greater potential for success.  Maybe you’ll have three offers before the end of the week!  Follow up three times and then move on.  Listen to the song again.   Yes, THREE is the magic number, which will make you a “rock star” candidate!

Ruth Glover is a career coach and author, former technical recruiter and outplacement consultant.  You can purchase her book, MORE than a Paycheck, online on this website or through Amazon.

Asking Quality Questions

Asking questions

Preparing quality questions

Recently I read the novel titled House Rules, a fictional mystery with a teenager who has Aspergers, playing a major role.  Aspergers is a high functioning form of autism, which affects more and more families today.  Someone with Aspergers is usually “characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.” But this is not an article about Aspergers.  Repeatedly, throughout the book, the characters did not ask the right questions.  So they didn’t get the right answers.

Your career can be greatly enhanced if you simply remember to ask the right questions.  Asking too many questions won’t help, but asking “consultative” questions improves finding solutions.  Many people are “tell-assertive.”  They are direct, to the point, with an eye for action.  Others are “ask-assertive.”  They much prefer to ask questions rather than tell people what they think.  Which are you?

When you want to convince someone about a situation, you are “selling” your idea.  You are the sales person.

Sales Professionals

Expert sales professionals know how to discern where the pain in the customer’s organization is.  You need to do the same.  Asking how you can solve the pain or challenge helps you finalize your sale.  Call it solution or consultative selling, you need to ask quality questions.

The Scheduling Scenario

You decide, as the Manufacturing Manager, that you want to change the Master Schedule.  If you don’t consult with the team when you change the MRP system, the new schedule may require excessive resources, making matters worse than better. Planning with the team and cross functional departments for parts, components and other resources can prevent disaster.   Ask the right questions to sell your idea and assure a good pilot program before full implementation.  Your questions need to be thought provoking.

The Job Seeker Scenario

You are interviewed by a team of engineers who may become your colleagues.  Do not be afraid to ask, “Will I get your vote for being hired?”  If the team member says, “I’m not going to be the one to decide.”  Your response might be, “I bet your input will be valuable.  Is there anything we need to discuss to assure I’m the person for this job?”

Your Questions

What issues are causing your heart burn or high blood pressure?  By facing the issues directly, but asking quality questions, you are likely to gain traction or make the “sale.”  Write the questions in advance.  Predict what the other party will ask you and be prepared to persuade through quality questions. Asking quality questions gives you a definite advantage in reaching a solution.