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Steve Piazzale

Newsletter Archive

Each month or so I publish a job/career newsletter. This page archives both the current and past issues. I'd be interested in your input or suggestions for future topics.

If you'd like to receive interesting career/life tips, useful web sites to check out, resources you can use, etc. please sign up for my newsletter by e-mailing me at Steve@BayAreaCareerCoach.com



Newsletter Archive Index

2014-2015       

Spring 2015     "
Difficult Interview Questions"



2013

Winter 2013      "Making Crucial Career Decisions"

Summer 2013    "Newsletters and Videos"



2012 

Summer 2012   "You're Hired!"

Spring 2012     "It's a jungle out there!"

Winter 2012     "New Years Goals"



2011

Winter 2011     "Michael Krasny, Thanksgiving, & the holidays"

Fall 2011         "Bragging or just the facts"

Summer 2011   "A Time for Bright Spots"



2010

Winter 2010     "Secret to Staying Confident While in Job Transition" 

Fall 2010         "My Ideal Job Description" 


Summer 2010   "Making a Career Change"

Spring 2010    
"Making a Plan and Sticking to It!!"


2009

November/December 2009    "Happy Holidays!"

September/October 2009     
"More Inspiring Quotes"

July/August 2009                "You're Hired!" TV Show Episodes

June 2009                         "Using Social Media to Communicate Leadership & Brand"

April/May 2009                   
"Creating Your Personal Brand"

February/March 2009          "YouTube and Personal Branding"

January 2009                    
"Setting SMART New Year Goals Revisted"


2008

November/December 2008   "Job Hunting during the holidays"


September/October 2008     "Finding a Good Job in a Bad Economy"

July/August 2008               "Surviving a Sudden Job Loss"


May/June 2008                  "Look Sharp--dressing for the job hunt"


March/April 2008                "Landing a Job That's a Great Fit"

February 2008                   "Which Job Search Strategy Should I Use? Part 2"


December 2007/Jan 2008     "Setting SMART New Year Goals"


2007

October/November 2007      "Which Job Search Strategy Should I Use?"

September 2007                
"You Have a Job, Now What?"

August 2007                     "Work Humor"


July 2007                         "Success Teams Lead to Success"

May/June 2007                 "Winning Cover Letters"

April 2007                        "Sealing the Deal: Turn an Interview into Job Offer"
March 2007                      "Paws for Thought"
February 2007                  "Questions to Ask When Networking or Interviewing"

January 2007                    "Who's In My Network"


2006

November/December 2006     "More Inspiring Quotes"

September/October 2006      "Winning the Phone Interview"


August 2006                       "Success Stories Lead to Career Success"


July 2006                           "Input from You Part 2"


June 2006                          "Input from You"

May 2006                           "Negotiation: Getting What You're Worth"

April 2006                           "Creating Your Self Marketing Plan"


March  2006                        "Providing Value Employers Need and Want"


February 2006                     "Interviewing Basics"


January 2006                       "MBA the New Bachelor's Degree?"


2005

November/December 2005      "Good Career Development Books"

October 2005                       "How Does Coaching Work?"

September 2005                   "Interviewing Humor--Don't Do This!"

August 2005                        "Integrated Career Development"

July 2005                            
"Jobs Leave as Profits Rise"

June 2005                            "Success on the New Job and Beyond"

May 2005                             "Managing Stress"

April 2005                             "Make Your Hobby Your Career?"

March 2005                           "Mid and Late Career
Transitions"

February 2005                       "Building Connections"

January 2005                        "Developing Charisma"


2004

December 2004                     "Lean Times"

October/November 2004         "7 Attributes of Success"

September 2004                    "Organic Job Hunting"

August 2004                         "Inspiring Quotations"

July 2004                             "Changing Careers: Impact on Identity"

June 2004                            "Networking As You're Getting Laid Off"

May 2004                             "The Future of Work"

April 2004                             "Resumes that Need Some Work?"

March 2004                           "Tell a Great Story, Get a Great Job"

February 2004                       "Creating Your Own Good Luck"

January 2004                         "New TV Show: Lights, Camera, Action"

December 2003                      "Networking to the Hidden Job Market"






2015: "Difficult Interview Questions"

I'm often asked about how to handle various challenging interview questions, so I thought
I'd make a short list of typical interview questions and offer suggested responses.

o "Tell me about yourself."--Give your 2 (or so) minute personal brand: this is also called
your elevator pitch. (See my comments below about using your personal brand during an interview).

o "Do you have a 5-year plan?"--Emphasize that you don't so much seek a specific title but
rather hope to attain positions of increasing responsibility where you can continue to grow,
stay current in your field, and make significant contributions to the company.

o "Why do you want to leave your job and work here?" Focus primarily on why you want to work for them and only a bit on leaving your old company. "I had accomplished what I could at my previous place of employment and now I'm excited to work for a company like yours where I'll be able to use my XX skills to YY (produce results)." Employers understand going towards a positive much better than going away from a negative.


o "Aren't you overqualified for this job?" Point out that companies need strong people with
the right experience to deal with their current problems immediately. State that your interest
in the company is long-term and that your past accomplishments indicate the type of results
you can produce. If the position is one where you're clearly overqualified, ask if there is
a better fitting role.

o "Tell me about something you planned to do that didn't work out (a failure)"--Bring up a
failed situation and how you turned it around for both yourself and your company. Focus on
what you learned/gained as a result of the experience. (They may call it a "failure" but you
can give an example that is actually more of a setback and not truly a failure.)

o "What are your strengths/weaknesses?" Strengths are easy, cull examples from your personal brand and relate them to the job you're interviewing for.  Weaknesses are tougher. The ideal "weakness" is actually a strength that is only a weakness if it's overdone. Here are a couple examples:

"I'm a very detail-oriented person and I've had to learn to periodically take a step back and look at the big picture and see how my work fits into the larger project. Now I balance the two quite well."

"My first response is to volunteer to help on other projects when asked but I've had to learn to make sure my work can be finished on time before I volunteer to help others.

o "Why have you changed jobs so frequently?" A possible answer is that you chose to take on different positions to gain broad experience. State that with this diverse background you are clearer and better focused on what you want to do and what you can contribute to a new employer.


A couple of helpful thoughts on interviewing

Simply stated, the best way to ace an interview is to prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more. Beyond that, it's key to know your Personal Brand (see the "Creating Your Personal Brand" newsletter)--your personal brand can help you answer all the "Why you?" type questions--examples include: "Tell me about yourself." "Why should we hire you?" "What differentiates you from other candidates?" "What are your strengths?" And many other similar queries.

One thing people have difficulty with is praising themselves by saying things like "I'm good at X" or "I'm outstanding at Y." I think the best way to handle this is to attribute the praise to others and say things such as: "My managers have said..." "My reviews have indicated..." "I have a reputation for..." "Compliments I've received include..." A little easier to say and not sound so egotistical, right?

By the way, if interviewers keep asking you questions about conflict for example then guess what? They have a conflict-ridden situation. When I coach managers on how to interview prospects, I recommend they think of the biggest challenges the new hire will face and ask them questions about how they've handled such situations in the past.

Therefore preparing for an interview includes being ready for behavioral/historical questions where they ask you something like: "Tell us a time when..."--not what would you do but rather what did you do? Prepare by creating success stories where you were successful in stressful situations such as conflict, persuading others over whom you had no authority, dealing with a rapidly changing environment, and other similar stressors common to your role.

Hope these tips help you ace your next interview. For more information on interviews, see the "Interviewing Basics" and "Winning the Phone Interview" newsletters.


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2013: "Making Crucial Career Decisions"

Hello Everyone

Hope your holidays went well.

Around this time of year, we start thinking about goals and resolutions. And
usually I send out a newsletter emphasizing how using the SMART (specific,
measurable, attainable/action-oriented, realistic, time based) model helps
you to clearly define and achieve sub-goal steps.

This year I'd like to focus on how to make decisions that help you define the
goals themselves.

A common career question clients pose is "Should I stay in my current job and
make the best of it I can or should I look for something else and, if so, what?

To help answer such questions, I've come up with the "Ideal Job Description"
action item and the "24-second clock." A personal story gives a rough example
of how, without knowing it at the time, I used both of these concepts to
decide to become a career coach.

10 years ago, I had been laid off from my tech writing job (they closed the
entire west coast office), I was tired of tech writing, I was going through
a divorce, and my only daughter was going off to college--man, everything was
in turmoil and I was pretty scared.

I decided it was time to reinvent myself but doing what? I knew that it was
really important for me to "make a difference" in people's lives, to be
something of an expert in some area, and to have people coming to me for help.

One day I thought "Enough debating and research about what I should do.Steve,
you have 24 seconds to decide what your next career is and once the 24 seconds
is up you are stuck with the decision for years to come. So I started the count
down...24, 23, 22...remember there will be no going back...16, 15, 14...
choose wisely...10, 9, 8...remember what's important to you in work...
6, 5, 4...time's running out...3, 2, 1. Well what is it Steve? CHOOSE!!!"

Psychotherapist!

Psychotherapist? Why? Well I'd be helping folks, I'd be an expert in an area,
and people would be coming to me. I knew, however, that I didn't want to get
another Stanford Ph.D. so I did a lot of informational networking about related
careers and found coaching to satisfy all the criteria without going back to
school and that my training in Sociology and Psychology was totally relevant.

Ok, so with clients who're deciding what their career goal will be, we often
go through this dual exercise. The Ideal Job Description assignment is now a
formal exercise in figuring out what your new career's characteristics must be
for you to be happy and successful in it. And the 24-second clock is designed
to help you go with your gut after having gathered facts about yourself.
Interestingly, a recent study examined how top CEOs make their most crucial
corporate decisions. The answer is they gather all the data they can and then
...and then guess what?

They go with their gut intuition!!!

Oh and for those who are wondering; why 24 seconds?...That comes from NBA
(professional basketball) where they have 24 seconds to get a shot off--a
good antidote to procrastination.

If you would like a copy of either the "Ideal Job Description" assignment or
a discussion of SMART goals, just ask.

Here's to a healthy and very Happy New Year!

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2013: "Newsletters and Videos"
Hello Everyone

I hope the summer treated you well.

I've received some very nice compliments about two pages on my website and so in this newsletter I just wanted to draw attention to them because you might find them interesting and informative.

The pages are the Newsletter Archive page and the Videos page.

On the Newsletter Archive page, you'll find about 65 newsletters covering topics such as resumes, cover letters, networking, interviewing, and negotiation. In addition, you'll find topics such as keeping your spirits up during a job search, setting goals, making a career change, defining your personal brand, landing a job that's a great fit, forming a success team, accessing the hidden job market, and much more.

The Videos page contains most of the episodes of my TV show "You're Hired!" where I interview interesting guests about their careers or where experts in the world of work share their insights. I'm especially proud of the episodes with Richard Bolles, author of the book "What Color is Your Parachute?" and Michael Krasny, host of KQED's Forum radio show. There are even two episodes featuring me as the guest.

If you have any feedback on the newsletters or videos or suggestions for future topics or guests, I'd be happy to hear them.

Take care


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Summer 2012: "You're Hired!"
Hello Everyone

I hope you're enjoying the beautiful weather.

I frequently get compliments about the videos on my website. Well, these videos are episodes of my TV show and, as I think about it, I realize I haven't mentioned the show in quite a while--so let's get up to date.

As you probably know, I'm host and producer of a TV show called "You're Hired!" We've now filmed 79 episodes and while it's shown in many Bay Area cities, most episodes are now up on YouTube and therefore are accessible to anyone anytime. Yea!

The show is chock-full of tips and information about job hunting, career development, entrepreneurship, interesting careers, interviewing, resumes, networking, getting promoted, inspiring success stories, and much more. So I invite you to take a look and watch whatever episodes interest you.

To go to the video page of my website click here.

And, if I can make a few suggestions, here are a few of my favorite episodes (click on the guest's name to watch the video):

Richard Bolles, author of "What Color is Your Parachute?"--the bible for job hunters and career changers was on the show. Dick discusses key concepts from the book; including how to find the work you love and have a passion for, the best and worst ways to job hunt, and accessing the hidden job market. He even discusses how losing your job can actually be a "secret nudging of the spirit" toward something positive.

Michael Krasny, educator, author, and host of the award winning radio show Forum was also on the show. Michael discusses his fascinating multiple-career journey giving us insight on how to be resilient when initial dreams aren't achievable, how to excel in multiple simultaneous careers, and what role career plays in answering Saul Bellow's question "How should a good man live?" Michael also advises to "Never think that your dreams are in the dust."

John Krumboltz, Ph.D., professor of education and psychology at Stanford University and co-author of the book "Luck is No Accident" urges us to keep our options open, test out our dreams, create our own good luck, and never complete our education. He offers tips on how to speak to our children about careers and how to find passion in our work. He provides an easy-to-understand and liberating approach to career development.

Raj Setty, President and Serial Entrepreneur, discusses his unique "giving" approach to doing business. He talks about challenges faced by first-time entrepreneurs and how to solve them. He also discusses the key ways that technical people can differentiate themselves from the crowd, much of which is presented in his excellent book "Beyond Code."

Bob Stahl, Ph.D., founder of Stress Reduction Programs available in several Bay Area hospitals, discusses how he found and followed his calling and how you can too! Also he outlines basic stress reduction techniques you can use on the job and elsewhere and how to achieve work/life balance.

And I can't resist including an episode where I was the guest:

I (Steve Piazzale) discuss what a career coach does. I demonstrate how to simplify the job hunting process by noting the inter-connectivity of its pieces, making it easier for you to navigate resumes, cover letters, networking, interviewing, and negotiating. I also discuss how to get work that really fits you and makes you come alive. And finally I provide tips on ace-ing the interview.

Happy viewing!


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Spring 2012: "It's a jungle out there!"
Is it a jungle out there? Well, sometimes it feels like it.

Each week I meet folks trying to make it though another week of unemployment,
underemployment, or work they don't like. While most of my newsletters are about strategies and tactics to be successful in finding the work you want and deserve, this one outlines 15 actions you can take to keep your spirits and self-confidence up while in a challenging transition.

Some of these actions may seem obvious but we seem to consistently forget what we already know and need to be re-reminded each day.

1) Create a portfolio of your work and review it each week to remind yourself of all the good work you've done.

2) Write out your success stories (PSRs) and practice them out loud. Tape yourself and listen to you reciting your accomplishments. Also practice your personal brand (AKA the elevator pitch).  On my website, see the August 2006 and April 2009 newsletters for more info on PSRs and personal brands.

3) Stay very active in your job search. Set specific short term goals and achieve them, so you can feel you're making progress toward your longer-term goal of better employment.

4) Cultivate an active social life. Stay in touch with your friends. Hang around folks with whom you feel good about yourself--above all don't isolate yourself.

5) Form or join a success team--a supportive group with whom you meet
each week.

6) Be an active networker--build connections.

7) Consider building a "personal board of directors"--some advisers or mentors with whom you can consult. A supportive career coach can be a member of
your board.

8) Set specific short term goals and reward yourself with pleasurable activities when you achieve them. Make a list of pleasurable activities--that in of itself might be fun and give you things to look forward to.

9) Maintain good sleep habits--get to bed and get up at same time allowing enough time to de-stress and get the sleep you need.

10) Exercise aerobically at least 3 or 4 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Don't forget "inner" health activities too--meditation, yoga, prayer, deep breathing, journaling, stretching, and reading inspiring books and poems.

11) Maintain a healthy, balanced diet avoiding junk food, drugs, etc.

12) If you engage in negative self-talk, see David Burns' book "Feeling Good" to catch the distortions and fight back.

13) Volunteer, help others. Helping others can remind you how, in many ways, you're very fortunate.

14) Make a list of things you are thankful for and count your blessings.

15) Fake it till you make it. Project optimism even if you have to fake it. Research has shown that we feel better about ourselves and attract more up-beat folks when we behave positively.

Well there you have it--15 ways to lighten your load. I hope this list helps. Even doing just a few of these things each week, will likely brighten your mood.


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Winter 2012: "Setting New Years Goals"

Last month I sent out a newsletter about setting and keeping goals in the new year.
Well, I was just interviewed on KGO's "The Karel Show" and the subject was goals. To
hear the podcast, please go to:

http://kgoradio.com/Article.asp?id=2368557&spid=40395

And in case you missed it, here's last month's newsletter:

Ever wonder why you make New Year's resolutions in January and by March nothing
has happened? Often that's because the goals you set aren't attainable, not specific
enough, or maybe not time-based. So let's discuss how to set goals you truly can
reach in 2012. This can be the year you really see improvement in your work
situation--you deserve it!

It's OK for goals that are several years out to be a bit general. "I want to be in the
shape of my life, to be financially independent, to continue learning, to fully enjoy
my work, to travel more, or to be closer to my family." While these goals are a bit
general, the steps you take to move toward them need to be specific, so that you
know you're really making progress.

You may ask--why is it that distant goals can remain a bit general? Well, using the
principles of Planned Happenstance we've discussed in previous newsletters, you
don't know exactly what will happen in the future and you certainly don't want to
lock yourself into a set path no matter what happens.

While keeping a clear view to where you want to go, it's better to remain flexible,
test the waters, experiment, and stay flexible and open as you go along periodically
re-examining the distant goals. As they get closer, you must make them specific.

The first step in achieving a goal is to break the larger goal into manageable smaller
pieces using the SMART principle. While many of my clients have heard of SMART
they don't always implement it, so let's go over this again.

Goals need to be S (specific), M (measurable), A (attainable/action-oriented),
R (realistic), and T (time based). Why you ask? Well, if the goals aren't specific and
measurable, how will you know you've achieved them? If they aren't attainable and
realistic then you're setting yourself up to fail. And if they aren't time-based then
you can end up procrastinating. Sound familiar?

Since "attainable" and "realistic" are a bit redundant you could use the A in SMART
to remind you to remain "active"—specifically commit to what you'll do by next week!
Action leads to momentum, which in turn brings confidence, and positive change.

Another key element of goal achievement is accountability. Coaching works as well
as it does because we not only break larger goals into achievable smaller pieces
and use the SMART principles on the smaller pieces, but because we stress
accountability. The key is to make a commitment to someone else and be accountable
to them. Research has shown that with accountability, the likelihood of success
dramatically increases.

In closing, I want to encourage each of you to make a New Year's resolution that
you'll do something to improve your work situation in 2012. No matter how small,
you deserve work that is both rewarding and enjoyable, and using SMART principles
and accountability will help you keep your resolution!

Happy New Year!

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Winter 2011: "Michael Krasny, Thanksgiving, & the holidays"
Hope you're doing well.

One piece of news and two pieces of advice.

In the latest episode of my show "You're Hired!" I interviewed Michael Krasny host of KQED-FM's Forum. Since he's one of the people I truly admire, it was a thrill.

Michael discussed his fascinating multiple careers giving insight on how to be resilient when initial dreams aren't achievable, how to excel in multiple simultaneous careers, and what role career plays in answering Saul Bellow's question "How should a good man live?" He also advised us to "Never think that your dreams are in the dust."

Here's a link to the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ewv05p_18U

If you have suggestions for future interesting guests, please feel free to let me know.

++++++++++++

As we approach Thanksgiving, please try to give thanks for all that you have. Even if things aren't going well on the work front, there probably are other aspects of your life that you could give thanks for.

Research in Positive Psychology has shown that it's almost impossible to be depressed when you are grateful and giving thanks. One thing you could do at the end of each day is to list 2 or 3 things that you're thankful for each day--your health, that you have a place to live, food to eat, someone who loves you, something you're proud of--you get the idea. And maybe additionally note down what role you played in making each of these things happen.

++++++++++++

Just because we're approaching the holiday season, please don't stop your efforts to improve your work situation. So many folks take from the middle of November to the middle of January off thinking no one's doing anything and they're so wrong. Believe it or not, folks even get hired between Christmas and New Year's Day! And you have so much less competition for jobs because so many job seekers are under the misconception that no one is hiring.

Take care and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fall, 2011: "Bragging or just the facts"
A common concern my clients voice is that they feel like they're bragging
whenever they talk about themselves in a networking or interviewing setting.
They feel uncomfortable "selling" themselves and discussing their
accomplishments.

While it's not perfect, I think I've come up with a couple of ways you can
feel more comfortable with this process of "selling" yourself.

First of all, instead of coming up with an elevator pitch off the top of your
head, it's better to build it from the PSRs (problem/solution/result) in your
resume. You'll recall from previous newsletters that resumes are stronger
if they show how you did your job rather than simply listing your job duties.
The best way to do this is to write the bullet points in your resume in a
PSR style--Used my skills to solve a problem and it produced a valuable
result.

Once you create a PSR-laden resume, you have many talking points which
concretely support any claims you might make in your elevator pitch--more
generally known as your personal brand.

It's also easier to refer to what other folks say about you rather than making
claims in the first person. So instead of saying "I'm dependable and get
projects completed on time" you say my references say "I'm dependable
and get projects completed on time." Other similar easy-to-use phrases
include:

o Compliments I've received include...
o I've been told that...
o My reviews have indicated...
o My managers have said that...
o I have a track record of...
o My references say that...
o My Linked In recommendations emphasize that...

In sum, by using a PSR-driven resume, with a Personal Brand built on concrete
PSR examples and told through the eyes of others, I'm confident that you'll feel
more comfortable talking about yourself. It's not bragging if you can prove it
and PSRs and what others say about you are your proof.

Hope this helps!



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Spring, 2011: "A Time for Bright Spots"
I came across an intriguing approach to therapy that I think can be used effectively in career and life coaching as well as in attempts at self help. The book which mentions this approach and cites several examples is "Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath. Prior to this, they wrote the best seller "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die."

In one chapter of "Switch," the Heath Brothers refer to "Solution-Focused-Brief Therapy" (SFBT) which was invented by a husband-and-wife therapist team in the 1970s.

In SFBT, little or no focus is placed on why you act the way you do. Instead SFBT asks questions such as: "If you woke up in the morning and found that what troubled you was gone, what would be the first small signs you'd see that the problem is gone?" How might you act and feel? Once that's answered, then the next question is: "When was the last time you experienced a bit of this miracle even for a short time?"

This is really clever because it shows you that you already know how to deal with and possibly solve this problem...you did it before at least in some circumstance. So, even when problems seem insurmountable, there are always some exceptional instances that can be discovered. These exceptional times when the problem could have happened but didn’t are called "bright spots."

SFBT is a competency-based model, which minimizes emphasis on past failings and problems, and instead focuses on strengths and previous successes. The therapeutic focus is on your desired future rather than on past problems or even current conflicts.

In some ways this is the basic difference between therapy and coaching. Traditional therapy assumes something is broken and tries to help you be functional by combating negatives while coaching is about designing a future by liberating possibilities.

In recent months, I've been encouraging clients who are stuck in some part of their career to remember a few times when they were happy and productive in their work and identify what those times had in common. They then try to populate their current situation with the same bright spots that worked before. I also suggest they vet any new job options by determining if the bright spots that make work enjoyable for them exist in the new work.

As the Heath brothers say "These flashes of success-- these bright spots--can illuminate the road map for action and spark the hope that change is possible."

Wishing you a summer of many bright spots!


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Winter 2010: "Secret to staying confident while in job tranistion"
My confidence is shot, I'm losing my self-esteem. I've been unemployed, underemployed, or just stuck in frustrating jobs for too long. What can I do?

Well, almost anyone who's coping with serious work frustrations is going to feel some loss of confidence. You probably aren't hearing "atta boys" from your boss and fellow employees. You probably aren't patting yourself on the back, telling yourself you did something well. Instead you're saying things like--"I'll never get a good job," "this will take forever," "I'm getting old," "I can't do it anymore," and on and on. This not only leads to loss of self-esteem but it negatively affects your ability to successfully networking and interviewing.

So what can you do about this?

Well, I'm going to list a handful of steps you can take to turn this around. You'll have to try these out and see in what combination they'll work best for you.


People

Seek out supportive friends, family members, and colleagues-folks you can go to for support, input, or maybe just to let you vent. Pick people who hold you in high regard, are easy to be around, and who when you're with them you feel better about yourself.


Join or form a success team. A success team is a group of folks (as small as two people) who meet regularly to help support each other to achieve goals. Listen to the input caring folks give you and also how you support others. We're often gentler with those we mentor than we are with ourselves, so watch your higher self emerge as you help others and then try to treat yourself the same way.

Hire a career coach:  Not only can a career coach give you wise counsel and help provide the structure you need for success, but he or she can help you reframe negative situations and self talk into a more positive outlook. Coaches can also serve as your person cheerleader. Go team go!!!


Psychology

Let yourself be down and feel compassion for yourself. It's a tough market and world out there. It's ok to just feel your feelings and accept them today. Then bounce back tomorrow and go after your goals.

Try imagery. Visualize being successful in your job or job hunt or maybe receiving a standing ovation after a talk. Seek imagery that helps you feel successful and on top of the world.

Create affirmations that are positive and in which you believe. Here are a few examples: "I will succeed," "I'm talented and have much to offer any employer." "I'm as good as I've ever been." Say these affirmations to yourself and out loud--maybe tape yourself and listen to the tape when you could use a boost.  Say them in the mirror.

Be mindful of your self-talk. When you catch your mind being critical, see if you can hear what you're saying to yourself and challenge the distortions and counter with positive thoughts. (For more detail, see books by David Burns and Matthew McKay.)

Count your blessings. It's Thanksgiving time. Practice being appreciative for all that you've been given: family, friends, health, food, safety, shelter, clothing, and so forth. Make a list of all things you cherish and put it on your refrigerator and look at it each day.


Actions

Volunteer to help the less fortunate. Besides contributing to the social good, you can add something to your resume, get a new reference, develop a new skill, and answer the question "what have you been doing lately?"

Use humor for perspective and distraction. Read cartoons and funny books, watch humorous movies, hang around funny people, tell jokes to others. Use humor to look at things a new way and get your mind off of negative thoughts.

Do tasks you're good at and can complete.

Break big goals in to mini-steps you can handle.

Improve your appearance: Work out, lose weight, get in shape, get a new hairstyle or outfit.

Create PSRs (mini success stories) for your resume and practice these saying these accomplishments often and out loud.

Well, there you have it, some ways to combat the job confidence blues. It's not a substitute for the hard work of job hunting, but it's a good start. You want to share what's worked for you?


Special 50% off coaching offer.

How does coaching at 50% off sound to you? It could be a holiday gift for you or someone you care about. A way to start the new year.

I'm offering through January 15th, 2011, one hour of career coaching at 1/2 price for new clients and folks I haven't seen in over a year. For all others, I offer 50% off your next one-hour session for any referrals you make who become clients.

Not bad huh?

Take care,

Steve


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Fall 2010: "My Ideal Job Description"
I've been meaning to write about a useful action item I often give my clients--it's 
called "My Ideal Job Description."
My ideal job description? It's hard enough finding any job let alone an ideal one! Yes,
yes that's true but since you're looking for a change anyway, isn't it better to start
from a position of knowing what you do best?


It's vital to know what work brings out the best in you--that is jobs where you both
enjoy the work and are productive for your employer. Once you understand this,
you'll know what you're looking for and will be more likely to recognize it when
you see it.

So how do we go about doing this?


1) List the characteristics of your ideal work.

Without necessarily listing a job title, start writing work qualifications, duties, and environment that resonate with you. Maybe you'd start with:
I spend 25% of my time traveling.
I get to use my financial and analytical skills on a regular basis.
I have a manager who provides direction, but doesn't micromanage me.
I work with a small collaborative team.

Maybe by looking at various job descriptions on job boards, you can
find other entries:
I interface with end users (or the general public) 10% of each day.
My commute is under 30 minutes and I work from home once a week
I'm in a minimal number of meetings.
I believe in the mission of the company.

Thinking about past work you've had, try to recall the situations where you
were the most productive and time flew by:

I own my own project but contribute on others.
Promotion is a possibility.

Management encourages career growth

I can earn $100K within 3 years.


2) Rank order the ideal job characteristics.

Ok, so now you have a dozen or so aspects of work that would be ideal in that
you'd be both interested in the work and productive. Now put them in order of
importance. And after finishing that, draw a line between the entries that
MUST be in your future work and those that would be nice to have.


Now, let's take a moment to explain these "must" haves. If you don't know
where your next meal is coming from then you take whatever job you can. But if
one of the must haves is missing, you know that from the get-go, you're going to
keep looking for a better job. A must have is just that--an aspect of work without
which you wont be happy and/or will not be maximally
productive.

3) How to use the ideal job description 
By identifying your ideal work environment, you can compare any job you're 
applying for or networking about to this ideal. You know what questions you
need answered for the job to be a "go" for you. You can even tailor your personal brand
(elevator pitch, resume profile, success stories) to match this ideal vision.
Potential employers whose vision of your role doesn't match yours can back 
away from you without losing face. Instead of having to say "we micromanage
here and don't allow our managers much freedom, " they only have to say
"I don't think we have a good match here" and they back away from you,
but if that freedom is a non-negotiable for you, you want them to back away.
On the other hand, if they like the role and vision you describe, they will be attracted 
to you. Then there is a win-win scenario—you’re happy and they get the best
effort and value you can produce.
Now we all know that there's no perfect job any more than there's a perfect 
person. But the question to ask yourself is "how far off my ideal is the potential position
I’m considering and can I live with the aspects that aren't ideal; are there any
show stoppers?"
As I mentioned before, do not use this strategy if you're desperate for work and 
want the job at all costs. But in situations in which you have some latitude, this strategy
maximizes the likelihood that you'll find work that makes you come alive and you
deserve that!

On the news front:

A couple of my articles where published in the journal for the Northern Section of the 
California Chapter of APA
(American Planning Association)

The first article is about Personal Brands and can be found on page 19 at:

http://www.norcalapa.org/assets/chapter/newsletter/Oct10.pdf

The second is about Networking and can be found on page 22 at:

http://www.norcalapa.org/assets/chapter/newsletter/Sept10.pdf

As I mentioned last time, I interviewed for the Phoenix Focus Alumni magazine. It's an 
article that provides many tips on making career changes. The magazine also has 
several other good career articles. Here's the link: 

http://www.phxfocus.com/2009-12/index.htm

Well that's about it for now.

Take care,

Steve



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Summer 2010: "Making a Career Change"
Hello Everyone,

I hope your summer is going well.

I'm in the process of updating my distribution list and so there's been a gap
since my last newsletter. During that time, we've filmed a couple more episodes
of "You're Hired!" which you can view at:

http://www.bayareacareercoach.com/tvshow.html

Do let me know what you think and if you have suggestions for future episodes.

I was also interviewed for the Phoenix Focus Alumni magazine. It's an article
that provides many tips on making career changes. The magazine also has several
other good career articles on topics such as how to make career progress during
a down economy; how being a well-rounded employee can you an edge, and how to
identify your transferable skills. Here's the link to the issue:

http://www.phxfocus.com/2009-12/index.htm

Well that's about it for now.

Take care and I'll be back in touch in the fall.

Steve

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Spring 2010: "Making a Plan and Sticking to It!"
One of the biggest challenges we all face is making a plan and sticking to it. I came across a fascinating study conducted at Brigham Young University that shows the specific steps to take to greatly increase the likely hood that you'll follow through on your plans.

The study results were as follows:

WHEN A PERSON               CHANCES OF BEHAVIOR HAPPENING
o Says, "That's a good idea."        10%
o Commits, "I'll do it."                   25%
o Says when they'll do it.              40%
o Plans how to do it.                    50%
o Commits to someone else.           60%
o Sets a specific future time to       95%
   share progress with person
   they committed to.

This is amazing isn't it?

If you just think to yourself "hmm, that's a good idea" there's only a 10% chance you'll follow through, but if you add in the personal commitment
to do it and then add in when and how you'll do it, you have jumped 5 fold up to a 50% likelihood of taking action. Add in a commitment to someone else and setting a specific time to share your progress and you're up to 95%. Wow!

So, act now, get out a piece of paper or open a file and make a list of folks you'll commit your action to, what their contact information is, and when you plan to speak with them.

For those of you who are managers or leaders, there's a parallel process you can use to enroll yourself and your team into committed action. In the excellent book "Leadership and the Art of Conversation," Kim Krisco outlines four steps you can take to generate and maintain commitment.

On the individual, the steps are:

1) Think of some action you are committed to taking.

2) Write down what you intend to do.

3) Tell a co-worker, family member or friend what you plan to do and say they can share it with others.

4) As time goes on, observe what happens when you hear someone else talk about your intentions and plans.

Each step generates more and more commitment.

Krisco says you can use the same process to propel a team towards commitment to a breakthrough goal:

"As you are discussing the new possibility, encourage everyone to speak. Listen for public declarations of support. When someone declares support or promises to take action, make sure they know you and others heard them.

Go around the table and ask each person to speak. Request that team members hold conversations with others about the breakthrough objective, go public with your plan in the company paper. In short, manage the conversation by enlarging it to include as many people as possible.

Most important, find ways for each person to go public with declarations of support. Make sure everyone makes the transition from a private, internal conversation to a public one."

In sum, much as the Brigham Young study demonstrated, the more public the intended actions are made, the more likely you and your group will follow through and take the necessary actions to achieve your breakthrough goal. Great stuff!

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November/December 2009: "Happy Holidays!"

Hope this finds you doing well and ready for the holidays.

This brief newsletter covers only three topics.

First, and most importantly, I want to wish you Happy Holidays and New Year. I
hope 2010 is a great year for you and your family.

Part of making it a good year is to turn any New Year's resolutions into SMART
goals--these are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and
Time Based. Rather than discussing them again this year; I'll simply point you
to last January's newsletter that covered this topic thoroughly. The link is:

January 2009 Newsletter

Finally, I'm searching for some great guests for this coming year's episodes of
my TV show "You're Hired!"

If you know someone who has an interesting career or is an expert in some aspect
of careers and who is articulate and would do well on TV, please send me their
names and contact info. To know more about the show and view past episodes,
please go to:

"You're Hired!" TV Show/Video on Demand

Again, Happy Holidays to you and here's wishing you a prosperous and peaceful
New Year!

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September/October 2009: "More Inspiring Quotes"
Hope this finds you doing well and ready for fall.

As many of you know I love quotes because I find them incredibly inspiring. In my
coaching, I notice that there seems to be a personal knowing/doing gap in our daily
psychology--often we know what we need to do and how to approach things, but
we need to be reminded of it frequently in order to be inspired and stay on course.
As a result, every couple years I like to devote the newsletter to sharing quotes
that move me and ask for you to share your favorites.

Before we get to the quotes...one piece of news. Thanks to my wonderful director
Eric Mayrand, we have now have 14 episodes of "You're Hired!" on the website.
They are full of good info for job seekers and changers. You can take a look at
these videos by going to: "You're Hired!" TV Show/Video on Demand

Ok, on to the quotes...Here are a baker's dozen of some of my favorites:

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." -- Les Brown

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens
us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does
not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory
of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And
as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to
do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically
liberates others." -- Mariannne Williamson.

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love." -- Rumi

"Being able to do the job well will not necessarily get you hired; the person who gets
hired is often the one who knows the most about how to get hired". --Dick Lathrop

"Fall seven times, stand up eight." -- a Japanese proverb

"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you are right." -- Henry Ford

"Believe good things will happen and they will. Have hope in the future and you'll
be able to spot the potential good in a situation, or see the opportunity amidst
the danger. Look for blessings and you'll spot them." -- Stephen Pollan

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive
and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
-- Howard Thurman

"Getting fired in nature's way of telling you that you had the wrong job in the first
place." -- Hal Lancaster in WS Journal

"There are no mistakes in life; only course corrections." -- Dr. David Illig

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Elliot

"What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insolvable
problems." – John Gardner, 1965

"When I was a child, my mother said to me,
'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general.
If you become a monk, you'll end up as the pope.'
Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." - -Pablo Picasso.

I hope some of these moved you. If you have some of your own you'd like to
share, please send them to me and I may include them next time.

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July/August 2009: "You're Hired" TV Episodes

I hope this finds you well and enjoying your summer.

As you probably know, while my main business is working with folks one on one to solve their career problems, I also host and produce a TV show called "You're Hired!" We've now completed 61 episodes always with an emphasis on providing interesting and useful career information.

My website now has links to 6 "You're Hired!" episodes so I wanted to invite you to take a look and let me know what you think.

The first two shows are a bit unusual in that a guest host asks me questions about careers and coaching. I try to simplify the entire job hunting/career development process by discussing how each piece (resumes, cover letters, networking, interviewing, negotiation, etc.) is interconnected.

Then we have a great episode with Richard Bolles who wrote THE book on careers-- "What Color is Your Parachute?"

After that, we have an episode featuring Paul D'Souza, a sales thought leader, who discusses how to be a successful sales person. He also presents his "4 Steps to Personal Transformation" and "5 Principles of Change" all as part of answering the question "What do I want to do?"

The fifth episode features Rajesh Setty an entrepreneur, author, and speaker who discusses his latest book "Upbeat: Cultivating the right attitude to thrive in tough times."

And finally an episode featuring Valli Bindana, President and Filmmaker with Kreative Vistas. Valli tells an inspiring story of how she followed her passion--in fact she outlines a 5-step action plan for turning your passion into your profession. She also discusses the importance of work/life balance.

We're always on the lookout for interesting guests, so please let me know if you have anyone you think should be on the show.

In the not too distant future, I plan to add more episodes to the website, so please check back.


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June 2009: Using Social Media to Communicate Leadership & Personal Brand

I hope this finds everyone well and ready to enjoy the summer weather.

On Thursday 6/18/09, I was part of SD Forum's Engineering Leadership SIG panel discussion on career development.

Among other topics, there was an extensive discussion of using social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to cultivate your personal brand.

I thought that rather than the traditional newsletter, I would direct you to a video link that contains one hour of the lively discussion. Each panelist is introduced by the host, so onto the video:

http://www.veodia.com/player.php?vid=QYhpJw2p1ak.


For additional info on developing a consistent personal brand please see:

http://soe.stanford.edu/alumni/career/0409_coach_piazzale.html


And to view an episode of my TV show "You're Hired!" please click:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBtja_GWm2c


That's all for now.


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April/May 2009: Creating Your Personal Brand

In prior newsletters, I've discussed the purpose and use of an elevator pitch but not how to construct one. Therefore the purpose of this newsletter is to help you construct a powerful marketing message that will help you get the work you want and deserve.

As you may recall, an elevator pitch is a short verbal or written message summarizing the unique value you bring to employers. The elevator pitch is also referred to as a 30-second commercial, a value proposition, a career summary or profile, and more recently a "Personal Brand." Regardless of what it's called, to be successful it needs to be a clear marketing message that separates you from others.

A job hunt is a marketing campaign with you as the product. Like any good marketing campaign, the messages you communicate need to be consistent and thus reinforcing verbally, in writing, and on-line. If properly crafted, you can use this same message (with subtle variations) in your cover letter, at the top of your resume, as a way to introduce yourself when networking, in an interview when asked to generally speak about yourself, and when you negotiate for salary--justifying why you’re worth what you're asking for.

Let's look at two short branding messages and see what they have in common:

"Strategist adept at optimizing revenue and market position through global business acumen and keen market savvy. Tenacious problem-solver able to reduce costs and boost the bottom line. Results-oriented leader with a 10-year track record of improving efficiency and enhancing performance."

"Natural leader adept in developing quality management and production teams, motivating them to exemplary performance. Innovative problem-solver and effective communicator adept in delivering superior customer service and developing new projects. Excellent strategist with 15 years of solid negotiation and financial acumen."

Both of these messages focus on what the job seeker can do for the potential employer by highlighting results—that's the key.

You now probably have a pretty clear idea of what a personal branding message is, but how do you create one? Well, first of all, you don't make them up out of thin air; they have to be generalizations supported by the bulleted success stories in your resume. And depending on the situation, the message needs to be expandable--say by adding a success story example that supports the statement--and occasionally it may need to be contracted into a sound bite. (The examples above are pretty much in this shorter form).

A first step in creating your personal branding message is to convert your resume into a PSR (problem/solution/result) style with each bullet being of the form "I used my skills to solve a problem and it produced a valuable result for my employer."

Let's say that after completing this conversion, your resume now contains 15 success stories and in each instance you created value by resolving a problem. Then, ask yourself, if all we knew about you where these stories, what pattern would we see? What do you have a track record of doing? The answer to that question helps produce the first draft of your branding message.

You then need to tweak it to incorporate current market pain points which you can discover by reading and networking. As you network with key knowledgeable folks, ask them "What keeps you up at night?" or "What do you wish some one or some team could come in and solve." If you hear a consistent answer to these questions ask yourself, "Can I point to some example in my past demonstrating that I could be part of the solution to this problem?" If so, include that information in your personal branding message.

Let's say you learned that reducing costs was the main issue on potential employers’ minds. Then, rearranging the prior example, your message might become:

"Tenacious problem-solver able to reduce costs and boost the bottom line. Results-oriented leader with a 10-year track record of improving efficiency and enhancing performance. Strategist adept at optimizing revenue and market position through global business acumen and keen market savvy."

If the claim about reducing costs had not been in the original branding message and you had results showing success in that area, then you'd add a generalization based on it (with maybe an example) to your branding message.

Does that help clarify things? I know a personal brand is a difficult concept to grasp but it’s vital to master because it's your main response to the question "Why you?" and it can be used in all phases of the job hunt.

If you still have questions about this, please feel free to contact me. I'd be happy to help.

For additional info on developing a consistent personal brand please see:

http://soe.stanford.edu/alumni/career/0409_coach_piazzale.html

To view an episode of my TV show "You're Hired!" please click:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBtja_GWm2c

Take care.



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Feb/March 2009: YouTube and Personal Branding

I hope you aren't too freaked out by the economy and remembering to breathe and keep moving forward.

Since last time, we filmed episodes 56 through 59 of my TV show "You're Hired!" and had some very engaging guests. In fact, one of the guests (Paul D'Souza a sales thought leader) transferred the show to YouTube and even took an episode where I was the guest talking about coaching and posted that as well.

To see my episode, click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBtja_GWm2c

For Paul's episode, click:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bGIhtLtsK0&feature=related

In other news, I was asked by Stanford University's Engineering Alumni Association to write a career article for their website, so I decided to make it this month's newsletter. It's a bit long but I think a useful read about the importance of consistent messaging (or developing a consistent personal brand) starting with your resume but integral to all aspects of job hunting and career development.

Happy reading!

A new kind of resume
We all know that a good resume is crucial, but in today’s difficult market your resume needs to communicate a personal brand or value-added message that’s both consistent and powerful. It’s vital that this consistent message be reflected in all aspects of job hunt communication including your cover letters, resumes, and how you talk about yourself while networking, interviewing, and negotiating—even how you think about yourself and what you believe you have to offer to a future employer.

Below I’ll focus on what’s different about this new type of resume and how it fits into a consistent marketing message that you’ll communicate about yourself. I won’t cover the more conventional resume issues such as length, functional vs. chronological resumes, headings, and the like.

Conventional resumes are loaded with job description information—worked here and there, responsible for this and that, and so on. Powerful resumes, however, emphasize specific accomplishments or success stories that demonstrate how you did your job, not just what your responsibilities were.

The key points are to describe the problem, that you did something about it, and how that resulted in value for your company.

Call them PSRs
People refer to these career success stories by many names—PSRs, PARs, and STARS, for example, but they all involve a situation, an action, and a result.
 
A PSR (problem/solution/result) is a specific personal success story in which you used your skills to come up with a solution (S) to some problem (P). And this in turn led to a valuable result (R) for your employer. The entire story could have taken place in a year, a month, a week, or even a day.

The most crucial parts of a PSR are the S and the R—what you did and the benefits of your actions. It’s fine to just infer the problem in the PSR. The key is that you achieved a positive result by doing something that took skill.

Here’s an example:

PROBLEM: Qualifying suppliers was a slow process because each new specification was different. Engineers were required to test parts each time the supplier changed. As a result, engineers felt they were wasting their time.

SOLUTION: Analyzed the situation and then combined each supplier’s specification to make one uniform specification that would be applicable in all cases.

RESULT: As a result, engineers could now quickly qualify a new supplier by comparing the proposed specification to the uniform specification. This change reduced supplier qualifying time by 90% within the first two months of implementation.

Here’s the resulting PSR that goes into the resume:

“Eliminated costly component testing and reduced supplier qualifying time by 90% by developing uniform component specifications.”

Old style resumes just list responsibilities, not differentiating the job seeker from anyone else with a similar job description. We now give specific examples of valuable results.

In an old resume you might have written: “Responsible for database design and programming.”

But now it would read:

“Designed and programmed a computer database linking 13 offices to a central organizational database resulting in better communication between offices.”

And “Program scheduling” becomes “Established and directed a compressed program schedule enabling all departments to effectively control budgets and minimize costs.”

Even if you can’t quantify your results with specific metrics, you can approximate them or write that the result achieved was greater than or less than it was before.

Generating PSRs
To help you start thinking of good PSR stories, remember a time when you did any of the following:

Increased: revenue, profit, growth/market share, shareholder value, employee retention, return on assets/investment, efficiency, visibility, goal attainment, satisfaction.
 
Reduced: costs, time/effort, complaints, risk, turnover, conflict, paperwork,  stress.

Improved: productivity, business process, service, information, morale, communication, image/reputation, skills, quality, customer loyalty.

Created: strategy, system, process, business, product, service, brand, synergy.

These are all instances of generating clear results any employer would value.

Or think of each job you’ve had and then remember specific instances where you had to overcome an obstacle and achieve a valued result for your employer or customer—this could be an internal or external customer.

If you can’t think of many examples, imagine what would happen if someone inept took over your job—what repercussions would that have? Maybe decreased quality, more time spent by management double checking work, a decrease in perceived professionalism, etc.

But when you’re on the job, you prevent this from happening. In fact, the opposite happens—quality goes up, management saves time, the company is seen as top-notch. Examples of these are first-class PSRs.

How All Job-Hunt Messaging Fits Together
Now that you understand more about what the new type of resume is all about, let’s emphasize how the resume is connected to all other job-hunt messaging to produce common themes of value aligned to market needs.

Here is how each component of job hunt communications flows into the next:
PSRs   --> Résumé with value-added results
          --> Self knowledge & confidence
          --> Compelling summary profile
          --> Memorable elevator pitch
          --> Persuasive cover letters
          --> Effective interviewing
          --> Improved negotiation


Each of these pieces is directly connected to each other to produce a powerful form of self-branding. In the following order, you need to:


Incorporate strong accomplishments (PSRs) into your resume. Emphasis is on problems you solve, value you add, or how you enabled someone else to succeed. This makes for a concrete, compelling resume that a potential employer (and you) can believe in. Confidence and self- knowledge rises.
 
After you’ve written the PSRs , take a step back and ask yourself “If I didn’t know this person and I read all these PSRs, what value would I say this person brings to the table?” Then summarize that value-added answer in your career profile or summary at the top of the resume.
 
Once the summary is clear and value based, it can be used as the basis (with a few modifications) for your introduction or 30-second commercial as you meet folks while networking.
 
Also, you can use the summary and supporting PSRs when you’re being interviewed to answer questions such as “Tell us about yourself” or “Why should we hire you?”  PSRs also prepare you to handle difficult behavioral questions such as how you handled critical issues such as shortage of time, money, resources, stressful environment, conflict, initial failure, and so forth.
 
You can also use your summary and supporting PSRs as a negotiating tool. Since they elucidate ways you achieve bottom line results, PSRs make an objective case why you should start at a higher salary or job title.
 
After you’re employed, you can use your summary and supporting PSRs (including new ones) as a negotiating tool for excellent reviews, raises, and promotions.
 
Since they’re going to need to be able to verbalize them in interviews, I encourage my clients to practice their PSRs out loud. A side benefit is the ego-boost that comes from focusing on stories where you were the hero.
 
All these pieces can form a cohesive whole in which you present yourself as a problem solver. You can confidently believe in this because everything you say is based on real stories. Through this process the value you can add to any company you’re part of becomes clear, as does why you should be hired or promoted. This approach provides a consistent “self-branding” message.

It rings true both to you and the company.


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January 2009: Setting SMART New Year Goals Revisited

I hope your holidays are going well and that you are relaxing a bit.

I was all set to write a newsletter about setting New Year goals, when I realized I did it in a previous newsletter. I think it's still so relevant that with a few updates, I'm reprinting it here...

Ever wonder why you make New Year's resolutions in January and by April nothing has happened? Often that's because the goals you set aren't attainable, not specific enough, or maybe not time-based. So let's discuss how to set goals you truly can reach in 2009. This can be the year you really see improvement in your work situation--you deserve it!

It's OK for goals that are several years out to be a bit general. "I want to be in the shape of my life, to be financially independent, to continue learning, to fully enjoy my work, to travel more, or to be closer to my family." While these goals are a bit general, the steps you take to move toward them need to be specific, so that you know you are really making progress, that each year you're more financially sound, are enjoying your work a bit more, are still learning and the like.

You may ask--why is it that distant goals can remain a bit general? Well, using the principles of Planned Happenstance we've discussed in previous newsletters, you don't know exactly what will happen in the future and you certainly don't want to lock yourself into a set path no matter what happens.

While keeping a keep a clear view to where you want to go, it's better to remain flexible, test the waters, experiment, and stay flexible and open as you go along periodically re-examining the distant goals. As they get closer, you can make them more specific. Of course, if you clearly know what you want 10 years from now and it never varies then being specific for a long-term objective can work as well. No matter which method you use for long-range objectives, the nearer term goals (this week, month, quarter, or year) need to be specific.

The first step in achieving a goal is to break the larger goal into manageable smaller pieces using the SMART principle. While many of my clients have heard of SMART they don't always implement it, so let's go over this again.

Goals need to be S (specific), M (measurable), A (attainable/action-oriented), R (realistic), and T (time oriented). Why you ask? Well, if the goals aren't specific and measurable, how will you know you've achieved them? If they aren't attainable and realistic then you're setting yourself up to fail. And if they aren't time-based then you can end up procrastinating. Sound familiar?

Another key element of goal achievement is accountability. Coaching works because we not only break larger goals into achievable smaller pieces and use the SMART principles on the smaller pieces, but because we also clearly define what you are accountable for achieving each week or two. If you aren't working with a coach, then use a friend or your success team and specifically tell them what you plan to accomplish each week. Make a commitment and be accountable to them. With accountability the likelihood of success dramatically increases.

Since "attainable" and "realistic" are a bit redundant you could use the A in SMART to remind you to remain "active"—specifically commit to what you'll do by next week! Action leads to momentum, which in turn brings confidence, and positive change.

In closing, I want to encourage each of you to make a New Year's resolution that you'll do something to improve your work situation in 2009. No matter how small, you deserve work that is both rewarding and enjoyable, and using SMART principles and accountability will help you keep your resolution!

Happy New Year!


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Nov/Dec 2008: Job Hunting during the holidays & free coaching!

This newsletter has two purposes: 1) to encourage you to continue your career activities during the holidays and 2) to help you get going by offering a free coaching session for you or a friend. (For details please see my offer at the end of the newsletter.)

"The holidays will be here soon, so I can kick back and not job hunt, no one's hiring anyway, right?"

Wrong!!!

Sure, it's important to take some time for yourself and family at the holidays, but if you seek better employment, please stay active during all times of the year.

Here are couple good reasons to keep job hunting in November and December:
  • Do you know that you have a better chance of success during this time of year? That's right. Studies show that job hunting declines by at least 20% between November and December, so there's less competition!

  • Plus, another study said that companies have high turnover in October and November and that they have as many openings at years end as they do during the rest of the year but have fewer candidates applying!

  • Some companies must hire in December in order to exhaust their hiring budgets by the end of the calendar year. Again, a better chance of success for you!

This is a great time of year to step up your networking:
  • Go to holiday parties. There are many more professional and personal get-togethers during this time of year--many of them quite low key. Bring your cards, talk to people about what you’re up to, and tell them you'll contact them in the New Year.

  • Or throw a party yourself and invite key folks to it, get cards, and again plan to contact them after the New Year.

  • At this time of year some employers and employees may be in a better mood to receive your call. They might have more time when work has slowed and many folks are off. You could find people in a more relaxed and giving mood.

  • Send out holiday cards. Fewer folks are sending cards these days, so yours will stand out. Give folks a job status update. If you enclose a full letter, you could even include a bit about your background and what you’re looking for. If you're uncomfortable with that then just let them know that you'll follow up in a few weeks.

  • Send your holiday cards out early in December--by the end of the first week. There aren't as many cards going out then and also there are several holidays throughout the month, plus your card will be received early enough for you to be invited to a couple parties. You could even send a holiday card at Thanksgiving to cover all the holidays.

A few more ideas:
  • The end of the year is a good time to review your job search goals and strategy and create new targeted plans for the coming year. You can also fine tune your resume and cover letters; practice your interview replies, elevator pitch and the like.

  • Take time to update your contact lists and start sending out e-mails to set up appointments for January—Many companies are making their plans for the new year.

  • Spend time writing a self marketing plan. (See the April 2006 newsletter under "Free Stuff on my website for more details.)

  • Refine your target company list.

And, of course, don't forget to:
  • Give thanks for what you have--for the abundance that's come your way. This is a time of giving and maintaining perspective.

  • Help someone else out. There are always volunteer opportunities to help the needy and who knows who you’ll meet in the process? You might just feel better about yourself and become aware that you have it better than some others.

  • Relax and enjoy your family and friends.

I hope this has given you a few year-end ideas and also convinced you to stay active during the holidays.

Now here’s my offer:

Until December 31, 2008, if you prepay for 3 coaching sessions, I will give you one free—that’s 25% off the total price!

You can use this for yourself or as a holiday gift for a friend.

In 4 sessions, we can get started on some combination of reassessing where you're going, working on your resume and cover letters, improving your networking and interviewing, and going over negotiating for salary. We could also help you to take performance to the next level and get that raise or promotion you deserve.

So act by the 31st and let's set things up so you can hit the New Year running and help make your New Year resolutions come true this year!

Take care and Happy Holidays.


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September/October 2008: Finding a Good Job in a Bad Economy

The current economy is unstable to say the least, unemployment is up, jobs are tougher to land, and yet there are jobs out there if you know where to look. Even in a bad economy you can find good work!

I try to read everything I can about job trends and while you still need to have a top flight resume and cover letter, know how to effectively network and interview and all the rest, looking in the right places is also crucial.

An excellent article was recently written by Beth Fitzgerald (unfortunately I can't find an electronic version of it.) She confirms what I've heard from others about where to look in this current down time.

Despite a net loss of jobs, the health care industry has expanded by 367,000 jobs this year. The government hired 17,000 job-seekers last month and that doesn't include all the education providers not funded with tax dollars. And electronic manufacturers created 5,000 jobs in August 2008.

As baby boomers approach retirement age, millions of job openings will open and yet the boomers will continue to spend which fuels the demand for goods and services that will help the economy. Fitzgerald says "The economy is on track to generate 33.4 million replacement and 174 million new jobs between 2006 and 2016 – more than 50 million job openings, according to the most recent forecast from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics." This will include thousands of health care works needed care for the aging Baby Boomers. The number of teachers will also swell.

Fields to pursue are ones that are difficult to outsource and aren't given to cyclical contractions—so look into health care, education, transportation, energy production and research.

The federal government is also hiring because one half its work force will retire in the next five years! Fitzgerald says that 193,000 mission critical jobs will need to be filled in the next two years. And the federal workforce jobs span the entire professional range of opportunities—take a look at the jobs listed at www.usajobs.gov

In the private sector, large corporations are shrinking, so look to smaller companies.Fitzgerald says that these jobs are often under the radar and are rarely advertised or posted.

On staffing firm executive suggests driving around industrial parks, making a list of the tenant companies, and then checking them out on the internet. You can also scour the venture capital reports in the San Jose Mercury to see what new companies are getting funding.

Strangely enough some industries are hiring and laying off at the same time! A current example is the pharmaceutical industry. Another staffing executive says that "For every big company that’s downsizing, you have a generic company that’s opening a new line and creating production, quality control, operator jobs and the white collar support that goes with it." And don't forget that skills can always be repackaged to launch you into an exciting a new career.

And of course if you need help with any of this, you know who to contact : - )

Nothing but the best.


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July/August 2008: Surviving a Sudden Job Loss

I don't usually use the newsletter to cover a newspaper piece, but with the current downturn, I think it's crucial to know what to do if you suddenly lose your job and I think the following article really provides critical guidance.

"SURVIVING A SUDDEN JOB LOSS: DO THESE THINGS RIGHT AWAY: Steps you can take to maximize income and minimize expenses." Kathy Kristof, Tribune Media Services (6/1/08) (c).

If the country's economic malaise leaves you out of a job, here's the first thing to remember: Stay calm.

Once you know you'll be out of work, there are several steps you can take to help you survive a sudden job loss without economic ruin. Since time is of the essence, here's what you do:

ASK QUESTIONS
Before leaving your workplace, you should know what kind of compensation package you'll take away. Is the company giving you severance pay? If so, how much?

What is happening to your vacation time? You are legally entitled to be paid a lump sum upon your departure for the vacation days you have accrued but haven't taken, said Laura Moscowitz, staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project in Oakland. (You're not, however, entitled to be compensated for unused sick days.)

Some companies give you the option to take your remaining vacation days - effectively delaying your official termination date - instead of getting a cash payment for them. That could mean a few extra weeks or months on the employer's health plan - extra coverage that could be worth hundreds of dollars or more.

UNDERSTAND COBRA
A federal law - the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, known as COBRA - in most cases allows you to continue getting health insurance under your former employer's plan. But the company probably will stop subsidizing the premiums, so your monthly payments could double or triple.

That may still be a good deal, especially if you are older or have serious
medical issues. But you should investigate potentially cheaper options.

If your spouse has health coverage, find out whether you can join that plan. (Usually the rules allow a spouse who has lost a job to be added to a plan at any time, not just during the "open enrollment" process.)

You may also want to check the cost of securing an individual policy by calling a broker or going to any one of a dozen Web sites that can help you compare insurance rates. But don't delay. Unlike group plans, which generally don't require medical examinations to join, individual plans do. If you don't pass the exam, the price of the policy could go up - or you might not be eligible for it at all.

If you can't get other coverage at a reasonable cost, you probably will need COBRA. But you have to sign up for it within 60 days after your job ends, or the option evaporates.

APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT
If Jack Kyser could give just one piece of advice to laid-off workers, it would be this: File for jobless benefits immediately - as soon as you're no longer employed. The chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. said he learned this the hard way when he was laid off years ago. It can take far longer than you expect to get a new job, Kyser said, so it's important to keep some money coming in.

Unemployment benefits won't handle everything. The payments typically cover no more than 35 percent of lost wages. The percentage can be a lot lower for highly paid workers because each state caps how much you can get per week. In California, the maximum is $450. (The average nationwide benefit is about $300 a week.)

That may not be much, but it can help slow the drain on your savings. However, the payments take some time to process, so apply as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner the checks start coming. The benefits normally can last for six months if you remain unemployed that long.

LEARN YOUR RIGHTS
Depending on the circumstances of your job loss, you might be entitled to greater severance payments or extended unemployment benefits, said Maurice Emsellem, policy director at the National Employment Law Project.

If you lost a job because of foreign competition - for example, your employer moved production overseas - you could be entitled to as many as 52 weeks of unemployment benefits, plus 104 weeks of educational training assistance.

If you were part of a massive layoff or plant closing, you might be covered by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Known as the WARN Act, the law requires your employer to give you 60 days' notice or pay you 60 days of back wages. Certain industries and small employers are exempt. The state employment office should be able to tell you whether you qualify.

ASSESS YOUR FINANCES
Start pulling out your financial records, such as check registers and investment and bank statements, as quickly as you can. Then sit down, with your spouse if you have one, and figure out a budget.

If your spouse is still working, your goal should be to live on the one income, plus unemployment benefits, without dipping into savings, Jones said. If no other family members have jobs (or you're single), you will need to consider cutting expenses to the bone.

TAP SAVINGS STRATEGICALLY
If you need to tap savings you should realize that pulling money out of some accounts can be costly. It's wise to consider ways to liquidate assets that cost the least in tax and investment return.

The best place to turn would be a checking or savings account at a bank. The accounts earn little interest in today's market, and withdrawing from them won't trigger a tax bill.

If that's not enough, you can start liquidating investments that are in taxable accounts. You may have to pay capital gains tax on stocks you sell, but generally no more than 15 percent if you've held the assets for at least one year.

If you have money in a variable annuity, you may be able to borrow against the equity in the account. But that could prove expensive in the long run, depending on how much you had been earning on the invested assets. Read your annuity contract or ask your financial adviser.

Your last resort should be tapping a tax-deferred retirement account. Generally speaking, money pulled out of these plans is fully taxable as ordinary income, which can mean a much higher rate than 15 percent. In addition, you get hit with a 10 percent federal penalty. State income taxes and penalties are also likely to apply to your withdrawals.

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May/June 2008: Look Sharp--dressing for the job hunt

We just filmed the 53rd episode of "You're Hired!" and I was the guest this time! Kind of nice to be the one interviewed for a change. Now that the show is streaming on the internet a couple times each week, anyone with a computer can watch it. Please go to my website and click on “You're Hired!” for details.

This month we're going to cover something that seems obvious but is often overlooked--proper attire during a job hunt. And while we'll go through some of the obvious and a few not so obvious things to do and to avoid, the best piece of advice I can give is to look sharp no matter where you go. You never know when you'll run into someone in your network or who could become part of your network and the first impressions are crucial.

Study after study shows that folks make major decisions about us based on appearance and so don't just follow these guidelines when you're going to a formal interview but in other cases too: networking events, informational interviews, visiting the EDD or your local one-stop, revisiting your old campus, reunions, happy hours--literally everywhere! Dress professionally and look sharp even if the environment is casual.

The following are some general guidelines, followed by tips for men and for women. Follow them as closely as you can for interviews and other events as well.

GENERAL INTERVIEW PREPARATION TIPS
  • Before you even think about going on an interview, make sure you have an appropriate well-tailored interview attire (err on the side of being conservative or overdressed).

  • Find out the level of formality of the company and dress accordingly.

  • Get your clothes ready the night before, so you don't have to spend time getting them prepared on the day of the interview. Polish your shoes.

  • If your clothes are dry clean only, take them to the cleaners after each interview, so they are ready for next time. Have them nicely pressed.

  • Bring a breath mint and use it before you enter the building.

  • Do not bring gum, cell phones, ipods, or drinks to an interview.

  • If you have lots of piercings, leave some of your rings at home (earrings only, is a good rule).

  • Cover any tattoos.

  • Make sure you feel fabulous as you’re walking out the door. If you have any question about this, change your outfit.

  • Look and feel sharp: Keep yourself in the best shape you can. Working out makes you look and feel great and it also reduces job-hunting stress. We can all use that, right?


MEN'S INTERVIEW ATTIRE
  • Well-fitting suit (conservative; solid color – navy, black or dark gray) for formal situations, business casual (slacks, dress shirt, and sports jacket) for others. Wool or wool blend preferred. Thin pinstripes are ok.

  • Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the pants and jacket).

  • Conservative matching tie (for formal interviews).

  • Dark socks and dark well-polished shoes.

  • Belt should match or complement the shoes you select.

  • Little or no jewelry, but a dress watch adds class.

  • Neat, professional hairstyle—no comb overs. Trim your mustache and it's probably best to grow beards after you get the job.

  • Go easy on the aftershave.

  • Neatly trimmed nails and please cut any nose and ear hair.

  • Clean and neat overall appearance, clothes washed (dry cleaned), and pressed.


WOMEN'S INTERVIEW ATTIRE
  • Stylish, well-tailored conservative suit (preferably a solid color such as navy, black or dark gray); subtle patterns are ok.

  • Keep hemlines at the knee or lower and avoid low-cut necklines—also be aware of what may show when you bend over to pick up your briefcase or portfolio.

  • Coordinated blouse—solid colors made of natural fabrics (cotton or silk).

  • Wear dark, low, heels or other closed-toe shoes. Well-polished is a must.

  • Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets).

  • Small, simple purse.

  • Neat, professional hairstyle.

  • Neutral (natural) pantyhose.

  • Easy on the make-up and perfume—opt for a natural, healthy look. Nothing to distract the interviewer.

  • Neatly manicured clean nails.

Well there you have it, some suggestions for your next career event. Agree? Disagree? Any comments or corrections are welcome! I'd love to hear from you.

Enjoy your summer!

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March/April 2008: Landing a job that's a great fit

Ok, so I have a decent resume and cover letter, I'm out there networking, I'm pretty good at interviewing but no matter what I do I don't get jobs that feed my soul, they're just jobs. What can I do about it?

Well there are at least three things you can do—identify your ideal work, ask probing interview questions, and contextually frame your accomplishments.

Let's take these one at a time:

1) Identify your ideal work.

By identifying your ideal work environment, you can compare any job you're applying for to this ideal. I have my clients make a list of the job description details that comprise their ideal job. Note this doesn't necessarily include a job title. So a partial ideal job list might look like this:

I spend 25% of my time traveling
I interface with end users 10% of the day
I get to use my financial and analytical skills
I have a manager who provides direction, but doesn't micromanage me.
I work with a small collaborative team
My commute is under 30 minutes, and I work from home once a week
I'm in a minimal number of meetings.

You get the idea. Enough detail that you can reasonably compare it to the job for which you are interviewing.

Now we all know that there's no perfect job any more than there's a perfect person. But the question to ask yourself is how far off my ideal is this potential position is and can I live with the aspects that aren't ideal; are there any show stoppers?

2) Ask probing interview questions

Remember, you need to be interviewing potential employers while they're interviewing you. It does you no good to ignore red flags and get yourself into a job where within a couple months you want to quit or they want to fire you. So probe. Ask your network what they know about the company, do internet research, check Linked-In for former employees who may give you the scoop.

Keep in mind that during an interview, they are massaging the truth about themselves just as you are about yourself. You're not going to tell them about the bosses you hated and they aren't going to tell you that no one respects the VP.

Ask yourself: "what do I need to find out to increase the odds that I can flourish in this job." And flourish is defined as a mutual win--you excel and like the job and they get value.

As part of the interview process, ask to speak to a functional peer--a peer is more likely to give you the skinny on what's going on than is the hiring manager, their boss, HR, or an recruiter. Then ask them about their typical week, about morale, management style, or whatever else you need to know.

Ask "what's something not obvious, that I should be aware of?" This question is always good for a bit of a scoop. Another good question is: "Is the job description fixed?" Google the names of the folks who are going to interview you; what can you find out about them? See if you can find competitive analysis of the company, check financial websites.


3) Contextually frame your accomplishments.

You always get advice to stress your accomplishments. What results you achieve and value you add. But if you want to be more certain to land in a well-matching job, couch those accomplishment stories in a desirable context that defines the kind of place for which you want to work.

Instead of saying, "I improved the productivity of the team 33% by reorganizing the reporting structure within the group.” You might say, “since I was working in an environment where my manager gave the latitude to restructure the group, I improved the productivity of the team 33%."

This is a small example, but as you couple organization context with results, the potential employer will back away from you if the there isn't a match and be interested if you match their organization. And actually you make it easy for them to back away and not loose face. Instead of having to say "we micromanage here and don't allow our managers the freedom to restructure their group's reporting structure," they only have to say "I don't think we have a good match here" and they back away from you, but if that freedom is a non-negotiable for you, you want them to back away.

Do not use this strategy if you're desperate for work and want the job at all costs. In that case, just state the accomplishment and let it go at that. In this case, you don't want to create any barriers to entry. But also know that by taking this approach, you're more likely to fall into the same kind of job you've always had and felt dissatisfied with.

In sum, there's no full-proof way to ensure you'll love your future job, but if you follow these three tips, you'll significantly increase the odds of getting a great fitting job that will challenge and reward you for years to come.

********************************************

Again as a reminder, my TV show about jobs and careers, "You're Hired!" is now being streamed live every Friday at 8:30pm (Pacific Standard time) and most Wednesdays at 7pm (PST). So all you need is internet access and you can watch the show anywhere in the world! Just click or enter:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pacifica-community-tv-live and enjoy the show. If you have trouble using Internet Explorer, please try Mozilla's Firefox--you can easily download Firefox free at:
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

Until next time...


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February 2008: Which job search strategy should I use? Part 2

Two newsletters ago, I asked which job search methods have worked best for you.

Before we get to the results, I have a piece of news for you — My TV show about jobs and careers, "You're Hired!" is now being streamed live every Friday at 8:30pm (Pacific Standard time) and most Wednesdays at 7pm (PST). So all you need is internet access and you can watch the show anywhere in the world! Just click or enter:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pacifica-community-tv-live and enjoy the show.

If you have trouble while using Internet Explorer, please try Mozilla's Firefox--you can easily download Firefox free at: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

Ok, on to the survey. So again the question was which job-search method has been most successful for you? Here's how you voted:
  • Using the Internet to post or send out my resume. 17%

  • Recruiters. 13%

  • Cold calling (either on the phone or in person). 6%

  • Job fairs. 1%

  • Networking (contacting associates, friends, and their contacts; informational interviewing; using professional, alumni associations, Linkedin). 42%

  • Responding to newspaper ads. 6.5%

  • Trade journal and professional association ads. 2.5%

  • Temp agencies. 10%

  • *Other methods? Please list the method. 2%

*Other methods mentioned: Using EDD employment and alumni placement services, volunteering until a position is created, joining trade associations and going to meetings, internship leading to job, direct mail, brochures, and newsletters.

As I expected networking won, but not by as wide a margin as you might think. It seems that job boards and recruiters (especially for c-level applicants), as well as temp agencies are not to be left out of the job search.

I love the useful comments many of you added, so here's a small sampling, edited for clarity and space:

"In the words of Dick Bolles ("What Color is Your Parachute?"), the successful job hunter isn't the one who uses the most successful method, but is aware of MANY methods and uses 3 or 4."

"Special interest groups in professional organizations are the best source of information about companies to pursue and what to discuss in interviews. Most my interviews originate with Craigslist postings and getting introduced to contacts at companies by LinkedIn network friends."

"The best way to find a job is to do it before you leave your current job. Always network as if you are getting ready to leave your current job. Impress people you deal with at other companies, and always capture names, numbers and emails. Maybe even create a personal newsletter that you send to people on your network list."

"I got my first two jobs out of college by asking everyone for a job. When I graduated, I worked at a Brazilian restaurant and whenever I saw a business man walking in I would always ask them:'Who do you work for?', 'Does your company need to hire anyone who speaks Portuguese?' I got two jobs by asking random strangers at the restaurant for a job!"

"It's all about who you know. But even if you don't know anyone in your new career, look around to see who does what you want to do. Call them up and offer to take them to lunch or coffee. That's how I got to the business I'm now a partner in."

"If you need education or training for your new career, try to do it in a local classroom setting, rather than online. The people and instructors you meet at school will be good to know over time."

"If your new career has a trade association with a local chapter, start going to meetings as a guest. Even if you feel out of your league, in no time you'll get to meet established people in your new field. Your interest and commitment will be impressive to a future boss. Join chapter committees."

"Using job boards has worked many times. I have gotten many phone and live interviews from recruiters and companies. I always talk to recruiters and keep in touch with several of my favorites regularly. They can get my resume places where I can't."

"Cold calling gets me informational interviews. By adding, 'could you please help me with my transition.' I got 100% 'yes' answers for info interview requests! Even from VPs and Directors!"

"1. Contact someone at the target company via Linkedin and ask if you can buy them coffee and discuss the company. I'd target a mid-level manager. Did this three times and wound up getting two interviews. Point is to ask for a conversation, not a job.

2. Fax resumes and specific cover letters to hiring managers. Faxes can bypass the admin assistant barrier. Said I'd call them in 3 days to discuss.

3. When offered an interview I looked again at Linkedin to find people who USE to work for the company in my area of interest. Called them and asked if they would be willing to spend 15 minutes discussing the company and work environment. Since they were no longer with the firm they were happy to help. Great insight for interviews.

4. Jigsaw is a good source of contact information. Want to know the name and email address of the Telecom manager or CTO, or Marketing manager? Generally you can find that on Jigsaw for a buck."

"Once you find a job it's a good idea to continue to network, so you have some contacts if you need or want them in the future."

"Point the resume, letter, and interview at the job requirements. Line up resume intro, letter, and stories in the interview to match their needs. It takes a bit of organization, but many of the requirements are similar."

"Start with a strong resume. Use professional job boards and meetings and networking for information rather than influence."

"Headhunters are useful in hi tech but you need to have a productive record or to have graduated from a top University. If you have a relationship of some kind, the recruiter can be a strategic ally."

"Be a networker—try college alumni groups, your neighborhood, social activities, hobbies, church, the workplace, family, and friends. Join industry groups, a charitable organization, and weekly, have a list of people from which you select a few to reach out to (cycle through your whole list every few months). Say 'Hi, how's it going? Let's meet for coffee or I'm interested in what's happening in your industry/career/our past circle from XYZ company' (exchange updated contacts). Be responsive, upbeat and encouraging. There are endless ways to be interested and interesting in the lives and work of others."


Very nice! And this was just a sampling of the responses. Thanks to everyone for all the tips and for voting.

Until next time…


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December 2007/January 2008: Setting SMART New Year Goals

I hope the holidays have treated you well and that Santa brought you everything you hoped for.

The last newsletter produced some interesting responses. If you recall, it was a survey asking which job search method(s) have worked best for you. I'll be publishing the results in next month's newsletter. So if you haven't replied yet please cast your vote.

Ever wonder why you make New Year's resolutions in January and by April nothing has happened? Often that's because the goals you set aren't attainable, not specific enough, or maybe not time-based. So let's discuss how to set goals you truly can reach in 2008. This can be the year you really see improvement in your work situation--you deserve it!

It's ok for goals that are several years out to be a bit general. "I want to be in the shape of my life, to be financially independent, to continue learning, to fully enjoy my work, to travel more, or to be closer to my family." While these goals are a bit general, the steps you take to move toward them need to be specific, so that you know you are really making progress, that each year you're more financially sound, are enjoying your work a bit more, are still learning and the like.

You may ask--why is it that distant goals can remain a bit general? Well, using the principles of Planned Happenstance we've discussed in previous newsletters, you don't know exactly what will happen in the future and you certainly don’t want to lock yourself into a set path no matter what happens.

While keeping a keep a clear view to where you want to go, it's better to remain flexible, test the waters, experiment, and stay flexible and open as you go along periodically re-examining the distant goals. As they get closer, you can make them more specific. Of course, if you clearly know what you want 10 years from now and it never varies then being specific for a long-term objective can work as well. No matter which method you use for long-range objectives, the nearer term goals (this week, month, or year) need to be specific.

The first step in achieving a goal is to break the larger goal into manageable smaller pieces using the SMART principle. While many of my clients have heard of SMART they often don’t implement it, so let's go over this again.

Goals need to be S (specific) M (measurable) A (attainable or action-oriented),  R (realistic), and T (time oriented). Why you ask? Well, if the goals aren't specific and measurable how will you know you've achieved them? If they aren't attainable and realistic then you're setting yourself up to fail. And if they aren't time-based then you can end up procrastinating. Sound familiar?

Another key element of goal achievement is accountability. Coaching works because we not only break larger goals into achievable smaller pieces and use the SMART principles on the smaller pieces, but because we also clearly define what you are accountable for achieving each week or two. If you aren't working with a coach, then use a friend or your success team and specifically tell them what you plan to accomplish each week. Make a commitment and be accountable to them. Since "attainable" and "realistic" are a bit redundant you could use the A in SMART to remind you to be "active"—specifically commit to what you'll do by next week! Action leads to momentum, which in turn brings confidence, and positive change.

In closing, I want to encourage each of you to make a New Year's resolution that you'll do something to improve your work situation in 2008. No matter how small, you deserve work that is both rewarding and enjoyable, and using SMART principles will help you get there!


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October/Nov 2007: Which Job Search Strategy Should I Use?

As I did last year, I'd like to use this newsletter to conduct a survey and if there are enough interesting results, I'll publish them in the next issue.

My clients often ask "what job searching strategy should I be using?" My usual response is that all methods have at least some merit and can work. The real question is, with the finite job hunting time you have, how much time should you spend on each method? What should be the mix?

The authorities suggest diverse methods. The most common wisdom is that networking is the way to go. And I always hear that 70 to 80% of the jobs people get are due to some form of connecting with others. But I've also read that if you are poor networker, focus on using targeted cover letters for jobs which are a great fit. And yet others recommend cold calling using the phone book's yellow pages, or just calling on potential clients in person. Despite these varying approaches, most Bay Area job hunters primarily use job boards to post their resumes or to target which employers to contact.

So which methods are worth spending your most of your precious time on?

My personal bias is for networking for information especially if you're making some sort of transition that requires some explanation and even more so if you are something of an extrovert. But I'd like to ask you--what methods have gotten you the jobs that you've had over the years? Below I list numerous methods and then, of course, have the famous "other" category. Please take a few moments to let me know which ones have led to work for you and let's see if we can all learn something from this little survey.

I've obtained my past jobs by using the following job search methods (for each of your jobs, please list the primary method you used to get the job):
  • Using the Internet (searching company websites, job boards, etc) to post or send out my resume
  • Recruiters
  • Cold calling (either on the phone or in person)
  • Job fairs
  • Networking (contacting associates, friends, and their contacts; informational interviewing; using professional and alumni associations)
  • Responding to newspaper ads
  • Trade journal and professional association ads
  • Temp agencies
  • Other methods? Please list the method
Thanks for taking the time to reply to this e-mail. Let's see if we get some interesting results. Happy Holidays!

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September 2007: You Have a Job, Now What?

My clients sometimes think that everything we've worked on when they're seeking work stops once they find employment or get a better job. The truth of the matter is that we've been working on lifetime skills (setting goals, networking, negotiating, being recognized, getting what you want and deserve, etc.) and there are many ways this can continue to play a vital role in your life.

Coaching and your own hard work can help you stay on top of your game, improve performance, get recognized, make a move when you need to, create options, and insure career resilience in all times.

The following list was originally written to show the ways coaching can help you once you're employed, but you can also use it as your "yearly career physical" to insure you're always doing everything you can to help yourself. Whether it's with a coach, success team, friends, co-workers, or on your own, try to look for ways that you can the following:

o Hit the ground running in your new job; come up to speed quickly, and make a good first impression.

o Build relationships and alliances within your company. Who are your work resources? They can help you succeed. Are people noticing your work? Build your future reference network.

o Set aggressive but obtainable goals and achieve them.

o Understand your core competencies and value and make sure they are being used and recognized.

o Improve management and leadership skills—manage effectively, both up and down.

o Effectively work with difficult bosses and co-workers.

o Cultivate negotiation skills and get what you want and deserve at all times!

Is there more? Yes, work at ways to:

o Get recognized and promoted. Get raises and a better job title.

o Conduct periodic self checks of your current job and how it uses your skills, matches your values and interests, and fosters your growth.

o Position yourself to work on exciting, crucial projects.

o Be entrepreneurial and network within your company.

o Continue to follow your calling; where's the passion? Ask yourself, where am I going? Be adaptable, flexible and creative, make necessary adjustments.

o Keep your resume current and be ready at a moment's notice to take advantage of hot opportunities.

o Keep your network strong and build new contacts. Stay in touch with references. Keep your options open. Remember, with options comes freedom!

And yet more:

o Continue to build motivation, momentum, and confidence—make the most of your current situation while you create options.

o Fine tune your communication and emotional intelligence skills including conflict resolution, team building, change-making, flexibility, presentation, and social skills.

o Develop executive and leadership skills. Be seen as a leader and visionary.

o Take courses. Learn more about where you're going, keep your skills up-to-date, make yourself more attractive to your current and potential employers.

o Strategically pick meetings to attend: professional associations, conferences, alumni and club events. Join key committees.

o Be alert and remain open and well-positioned to new opportunities, hot  markets, industries, and possibilities.

And finally, whew!

o Determine if it's time to leave your company. Be the first one (not the last) to leave a sinking ship.

o Help prepare yourself for your next job. Don't settle for just a job; create a great career!

o Determine and obtain life goals. What else is there? Foster a life of continual personal growth and improved health.

o Work at achieving work/life balance. Reduce stress.

o Be prepared for sudden change, develop career resilience and insurance.

o Get a job that's recession proof.

o Uncover the current and future hidden job market.

o Keep your relationships strong and thriving during periods of unemployment, underemployment, and other bumps in the road.

o Have a vision for retirement or semi retirement. Keep working if you want but make it flexible and work for you not just the other way around.

That's enough for now. Bottom line, there are many ways you can help your life while employed. Don't wait until your unemployed to take charge of your career and life. Even if you only do a few of these things, take action and take care of yourself. And of course I'm here if you need help with any of this. Until next time ...


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August 2007: Work Humor

Hope the summer is treating you well. I just completed two of my favorite "You're Hired!" TV episodes. We had Dick Bolles of "What Color is Your Parachute" fame on one show and Jacky Hood author of "Work to Stay Young" on the other. What wonderful guests and interesting content!

On to the newsletter…

Is work or job hunting getting you down? Well then it's time for humor.

About once a year, I like to devote the newsletter to work humor. The following were actually written on real resumes, cover letters, or reference letters. You can't help feel that you'd do better than this. Right?


COVER LETTERS

"It's best for employers that I not work with people."

"The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers."

"Note: Please don't misconstrue my 14 jobs as 'job-hopping.' I have never quit a job."

"While I am open to the initial nature of an assignment, I am decidedly disposed that it be so oriented as to at least partially incorporate the experience enjoyed heretofore and that it be configured so as to ultimately lead to the application of more  rarefied facets of financial management as the major sphere of responsibility."

Huh?


OBJECTIVE

"Obtain a position which allows me to make use of my commuter skills."

Position desired: "Profreader."

"Current Salary: $36,000. Salary desired: $250,000."


EDUCATION

"Finished eighth in my class of ten."

"My GPA at night is 3.0."

"I have a bachelorette degree in computers."


EXPERIENCE

"I was working for my Mom until she decided to move."

"Develop and recommend an annual operating expense fudget."

"Twin brother has accounting degree."

"I was involved in every aspect of the business, including office administration, customer service and cadaver preparation."


PERSONAL

"Marital status: often. Children: various."

"Personal interests: donating blood. Fourteen gallons so far."

"Number of dependents: 40."


ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

"Instrumental in ruining an entire operation for a Midwest chain operation."

"As indicted, I have over five years of analyzing investments."

"Wholly responsible for two failed financial institutions."

"Failed bar exam with relatively high grades."

"National record for eating 45 eggs in two minutes."


SKILLS

"I am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details."

"I'm a rabid typist."


REFERENCES

"None. I've left a path of destruction behind me."


REASON FOR LEAVING LAST JOB

"They insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 am every morning. I couldn't work under those conditions."

"Bounty hunting was outlawed in my state."

"Reason for leaving: Maturity leave."


FROM PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS

"I would not allow this employee to breed."

"Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."

"This young lady has delusions of adequacy."

"This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."


QUOTES

And finally a couple of career-related quotes:

"When you come to the fork in the road, take it." Yogi Berra

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans." Woody Allen

"I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific." Lily Tomlin

"Getting fired in nature's way of telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place." Hal Lancaster


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July 2007: Success Teams Lead to Success
Career transition is hard enough without having to go through it alone. Generally folks job hunt or seek company advancement on their own without help from anyone and often with pressure from their family and internally from themselves. As a result, they often experience significant inertia and procrastination, with little momentum or motivation to do anything productive in any given week. Of course coaching addresses all this, but let's look at how Success Teams can help as well.

WHAT IS A SUCCESS TEAM?
A success team is a group of folks who meet on a regular basis to help each other define and meet goals. These can be any kinds of goals: life, career, relationship, spiritual, or health to name a few. Usually these teams meet the same time each week for maybe 90 minutes during which members take turns describing what they've accomplished in the past week and what they plan to do in the coming week. The members of the group listen intently while each person takes a turn speaking and give (if requested) support, suggestions, and the like.

FORMING A SUCCESS TEAM
You can either find an existing Success Team or create your own. California for example has many governments-sponsored "One Stops" which contain on-going success teams. But if you have no easy way to join an existing team, create your own! You can even start with just two of you. Maybe there's a family member, friend, church member, or someone in your network with whom you could meet? If necessary, you can even do this on the phone.

If you form your own group, look for folks with whom you feel comfortable. They don't need to be in your profession, but ideally they are good listeners whose input you respect, and who can be both a task master and a cheer leader when needed. They need to be willing to meet on regular basis, maybe making an initial commitment of six weeks to the group.

So give it a try, create a group. Have fun, give it a name and decide what day/time/location you'll meet. And since this is your group you can decide how formal or informal and how strict or lax the group will be. Some groups build in smoozing time, others assign a note taker who later sends "meeting minutes" to the rest of the group outlining what each person completed in the last week and what they've agreed to do in the coming week—this helps everyone maintain accountability and build momentum.

In all cases you want to guarantee confidentiality, keep an open mind, interact with respect, give equal time to each member, encourage everyone to set realistic targets, and ask for regular attendance. Each speaker can use their time as they choose, for example: preparing for an interview, role playing networking or asking for a raise, resume review, asking for negotiation tips, brainstorming new strategies, and the like. The team can even decide to have a group-working session where you make calls together or review each others resumes. You can even decide to have occasional parties. This can be fun!

BENEFITS OF A SUCCESS TEAM:
I think you can see that there many benefits to being part of a success team.

They can:
  • Serve as a solid support system
  • Provide new ideas and strategies through brainstorming
  • Foster networking
  • Ensure accountability
  • Provide a pooled source of knowledge and skills
  • Celebrate successes and milestones
  • Overcome procrastination, by helping set achievable goals
  • Provide leadership
  • Foster commitment and trust
  • Build week-to-week continuity
  • Cheer leading and tough love as needed
  • Help you get a job! Richard Bolles in his masterpiece "What Color is Your Parachute?" lists making phone calls as a group as the most successful way to find a job.
After reading this short intro, I hope you can see the value of Success Teams and consider joining or creating one. If you are unemployed, underemployed, or just thinking of making a change, they can be extremely helpful. Even during the good times they help you take performance to the next level, foster connectivity, and provide social support for what lies ahead.

Hope this helps. Any comments?

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May/June 2007: Winning Cover Letters
Several clients have asked me for a model cover letter, so I thought "time for a newsletter."

Now, there isn't just one way to write a cover letter, but usually they have a few basic ingredients:
  • Expressing interest in a specific job or job title with a specific company.
  • A brief demonstration of how your skills & accomplishments match the job's requirements.
  • Reference to your attached resume.
  • Your value statement (also known as your profile, pitch, or elevator speech).
  • The next action you'll take.
A couple of general guidelines include:
  • Keep it short--no more than a page, maybe 2/3rds of a page.
  • Convey enthusiasm and life.
  • Be specific about the experience and value you bring; focusing on what you can do for them.
  • Tailor each cover letter to the specific job.
  • If you know someone at the company, use their name in the opening.
  • Carefully edit the letter—this is the first sample of your work!
Ok, how about an example? Again, there are many ways to do this, but here's a good one (thanks Jim!):

FRED LEWIS
Richfield, NY 10888                                           Home: (555) 785-6232 
E-mail: flewis@aol.com                                      Cell: (555) 785-2275


Date

Name
Title
Company
Address

Dear _____,(to a specific person if possible)


Duncan Renaldo suggested I send you my resume, believing that we might find mutual value in communicating.

With 20 years of experience highlighted by a proven history of success in defining and meeting financial and operational targets, I am confident that I am a strong candidate to join your team at ___ (name of company).

Over the years, I have sharpened my talents and gained a strong background across multiple functions, thereby providing me with insights into the total operation of a business. Early in my career, I was hired by CBS and moved up to a management position while attending law school at night to earn my J.D. degree. Since then, I advanced to become President of a company in need of strong turnaround leadership, and my foremost accomplishment is taking it from a $2 million annual loss to a $570,000 annual gain within a 12-month period.

I have earned an excellent reputation for my ability to provide strong and decisive leadership in challenging environments, and have considered it my mandate to not only manage activities, but to serve as a highly creative problem solver and find opportunities for improving operational performance and for driving revenues, growth, and profitability. One of my greatest strengths is the ability to identify issues and problems, develop strategies for resolution, and follow through with appropriate actions that deliver results. It's my passion to make organizations and companies more successful.

With excellent organizational, leadership and communication skills, I am capable of managing multi-site operations and multiple priorities simultaneously. I have solid business instincts, and consider myself to be a team player and consensus-builder. My résumé provides additional details of my background and qualifications, and is attached for your review.

I would welcome the opportunity to interview for the ___ position (name of specific position) to discuss your needs and further demonstrate my value. Thank you for your time. I will take the liberty of calling next week.

Sincerely,

Fred Lewis

Enclosure: Resume


A couple additional comments …

Some cover letters use a T-letter style of listing the job descriptions requirements on the left and your matching qualifications on the right (ledger-layout style). The more common style, which I use here, is to just address the key requirements in the body of the cover letter without specifically listing them one by one.

Rather than sending a cover letter and resume as separate attachments, send them as one attachment so they are less likely to be separated.


A good book I recommend is "Cover Letters for Dummies" by Joyce Kennedy.

Hope this helps. Any comments? Suggestions?


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April 2007: Sealing the Deal: Turn an Interview into a Job Offer

Welcome to Spring!

Well, life was made easy for the April 2007 newsletter. I was interviewed for today's (Sunday, 3/25/2007) San Francisco Chronicle. So I thought I'd give you a link to the article

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/03/25/berman.DTL

and for those who would rather just read it here, I've incorporated it below.


Here goes...


"SEALING THE DEAL"

How to turn an interview into a job offer
Robert M. Detman and Richard Berman
Sunday, March 25, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle

(03-25) 04:00 PDT 03/25/07 -- To paraphrase a well-known car advertisement, this isn't your father's work world. The notion of a loyal employee holding onto the same job for 30 years and retiring with a gold watch and a healthy pension is about as retro as celluloid collars. There are many reasons for this, but with frequent corporate downsizing, career burnout and the more prevalent notion of entitled career satisfaction, changing jobs is the norm in today's economy. That's why being good in interviews is one of the most valuable skills that a job seeker can have.

Even if your resume is updated and buffed to a clean shine, there are no guarantees about landing the great job you may think you deserve. Going up against other qualified and viable contenders means that you must distinguish yourself in ways beyond your resume. Looking presentable and acting professional are important, but to get an offer you need to show that you're the best possible candidate for the job.

Too often, potential employees will stress their personal qualities, their work history or what they look forward to in the job when employers want to hear, "What's in it for me?" — said Steve Piazzale, Ph.D., a career and life coach who runs BayAreaCareerCoach.com. He points out that the vetting process (including a thorough review of the candidate's qualifications and professional experience) has likely been done prior to the interview, and that hiring managers want to see why each person they talk to might be the right person to come in and fill a need.

"While they're sorting through resumes, employers usually want to eliminate folks and figure out whom to bring in for an interview," said Piazzale. "But in person, the employer usually wants you to succeed. They want you to be the answer to their problem."

To do this, candidates should approach their job search as a marketing campaign, where the interviewee becomes his or her own "head of marketing." This presentation requires practice, including developing the habit of communicating the facts listed on a resume into success stories. To achieve this, Piazzale often uses role-playing scenarios with his clients. "I work with them to practice relaying these stories out loud, that way they're comfortable using them when interviewing," he said. "Another useful device is to tape yourself, so you can hear how you're coming across as you answer questions."

Even without a professional coach in your corner, you can still enlist a friend to do a mock interview with you. It's a good idea to record this on video and study it. To see yourself as others see you might come as a shock and surprise, but anticipating how you will respond under the pressure of an interview will keep you on your toes. But no matter how nervous you might be during the real thing, it's important to convey a positive image and look confident. "Employers look for upbeat, eager folks who are easy to work with, and therefore interviewees have to communicate that energy," said Piazzale.

Another important element to making an interview successful is doing your homework ahead of time. This means taking the time to learn as much about your prospective employer as possible so that you have a realistic picture of what you can expect.

Company Web sites are a great source of information, and a Yahoo! search can also unearth relevant press coverage, financial information and other facts that will make you a more informed interviewee. If you're considering taking a job at a publicly traded company there's plenty of information about the overall health of the business — even if a prospective employer doesn't publish its financial data, chances are you'll still be able to do enough sleuthing to see if it's a stable or growing enterprise.

And employers appreciate the effort.

"I'm interviewing on behalf of my clients and I want to know where the candidate fits in," said Nicholas Lennett, president and CEO of CADD Resources, a Bay Area architectural staffing firm. "I want the candidate to know who we are and to have researched the market."

The knowledge you have about your prospective employer's company will allow you to assert yourself and ask relevant questions. In addition, this information can let you assess where you see yourself fitting in to their world. "I'm looking for people that have a clear objective," said Lennett. "Candidates who know what they want and have realistic goals."

If you didn't meet all your goals in your last position, there might have been acceptable reasons for it — perhaps you were downsized, or parted from an employer amicably before having a chance to fulfill your ambition. You might be tempted to talk about your concerns in an interview for a new job, but this is about as unwise as spending a first date talking about a bad breakup with an ex.

"It's generally a good idea to avoid discussing personal issues," said Alicia Streight, technical recruiter for Kforce Professional Staffing in San Francisco. She advises candidates to look ahead, and that bringing up past negative experiences will only detract from your qualifications. "Don't insult or demean anyone — yourself, past associates, superiors and subordinates alike," she said.

Often, in the last-minute desire to revise your resume for an unexpected job opening, you'll have written the ubiquitous, references available upon request. Do not leave this to chance. "References are a critical part of the qualification process where employers have the opportunity to validate work history and performance of candidates, "
Streight says. "Candidates should always make sure to call references in advance of listing them, to avoid surprise phone calls."

And once your interview is over, don't rest on your laurels and wait for the phone to ring. Show your appreciation to your (hopefully) future employer by sending a thank-you note or card — not an e-mail.

"One in 100 people send a thank-you note," Lennett says, yet it's a memorable gesture that most employers probably won't overlook. This can also become a reminder of your eagerness and enthusiasm and can make you stand out when your prospective employer is re-reviewing the resumes off all of the finalists and trying to make a decision.

***************

Since this is only a snapshot of my thinking on interviewing, feel free to send any questions my way.


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March 2007: Paws for Thought

Usually my newsletters are pretty serious but I came across an Associated Press article that made me laugh out loud and there was a tie in to my work. Recently, I was doing a corporate workshop on resumes when one woman way in the back raised her hand and asked: "Is it ok to lie on your resume?" A bit surprised, I answered something like "exaggerate maybe; but lie, no."

Well, this excerpted AP story shows you what can happen if you don't tell the truth … and could give anyone "paws" before lying!

"DOG WITH COLLEGE DEGREE CALLED TO COURT"

Updated 7:35 AM ET March 1, 2007

FOSTORIA, Ohio (AP) - An attorney challenging the authority of the city's police chief wants the department's police dog to appear in court as an exhibit, because he says the dog and the chief have criminal justice degrees from the same online school.

The issue gives "one pause, if not paws, for concern" about what it takes to get the degrees from the school based in the Virgin Islands, Gene Murray wrote in a court document filed Monday.

Murray is seeking to have a drug charge against a client dismissed by arguing that police Chief John McGuire--who is accused of lying on his job application--was not legally employed and had no authority as an officer.

McGuire¸ was hired as chief of this northwest Ohio city a year ago, is to go on trial in March on charges of falsification and tampering with records. A special prosecutor said McGuire lied on his application and resume about his rank, position, duties, responsibilities and salary in three of his previous jobs.

The union that represents Fostoria police officers and dispatchers filed a lawsuit challenging McGuire's hiring.

Murray said asking that the police dog, Rocko, show up in court at an evidence hearing is a key to discrediting McGuire, who took part in a traffic stop and search in October that resulted in drug possession charges against Clifford Green of Fostoria.

Both McGuire and Rocko, who is listed as John I. Rocko on his diploma, are graduates of Concordia College and University, according to copies of diplomas that are part of Murray's motion.

The court filing did not say how the attorney knows that diploma is for the dog or how Rocko allegedly managed to enroll in the college.

"My client had absolutely nothing to do with any animal getting a degree from an institution of higher learning," said McGuire's attorney, Dean Henry. "The whole thing is bizarre."

He said the dog was with the department before McGuire began working there.

Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert said he will ask the judge to deny the request and limit the hearing to matters that are relevant.

"I don't think it's necessary to bring the actual dog," Egbert said.

A date has not been set for the evidence hearing.

City leaders have said McGuire's hiring was not influenced by his college degree, and any confusion about his background was resolved during interviews.

"We've already been through all that," Safety Service Director Bill Rains. "That was answered to our satisfaction."

Fostoria is about 35 miles southeast of Toledo.
Excerpt: Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

Well there you go, a little humor on this pre-spring day. We'll get back to the serious stuff next month.

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February 2007:  Mining for Information--Questions to Ask When Networking or Interviewing

Questions are your gateway to career information and interviewing success. Whether you're networking for a job or information, interviewing, or negotiating salary, questions can give you crucial information that will help you determine what job and career are for you, where the jobs are located, and then help you land the job.

In this newsletter, I provide a small sampling of questions to give you a start. Before you network with someone or go into an interview, ask yourself what do I most need to get from this interaction? What do I need to find out or communicate? What will help me learn more about where I need to go next? What will help me succeed in landing a job, acing this interview, or negotiating a fair salary? And then write out your questions accordingly. Practice them out loud, see how they sound. And above all listen carefully to the answers you are given.

Feel free to change the wording of these questions to best fit your conversational style. But you owe it to yourself to mine for information.

NETWORKING/INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
What do you wish you'd known before you entered this field?

What's the best way for me to get more experience in your field without taking major steps backward from my current career level?

What sacrifices do you think I might have to make to switch to your career?

What are the emerging trends and changes in this industry?

What skills or personal characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in this job or industry?

What kinds of people experience the greatest success in this field?

What is the most important thing that someone planning to enter this career/industry should know?

Which professional journals and publications should I be reading to learn more? Are there courses I should be taking; a credential I should pursue?

Which professional organizations should I join?

With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, what other jobs or industries would you suggest I research before I make a major decision?

How would you assess the experience I've had so far in terms of requirements for the work we've discussed?

Would you take a brief look at my resume and suggest ways I could tailor it to make myself more marketable?

Could you look at my self-marketing plan and give me some feedback on my job search strategy?

If you were conducting a job search today, how would you go about it?

What's your biggest work challenge? Your greatest reward?

What is the current salary range for the jobs we are discussing?

Do you have any special words of warning or encouragement as a result of your experience?

What special advice do you have for a student seeking to qualify for this position/get into this industry?

Can you describe the industry trends and emerging markets I should be aware of?

How has outsourcing affected this work?

If you were me, what would you do next; who should I speak with, what professional association meeting should I attend, what should I be reading?

Who else would you recommend I contact? (And then network with those folks!)

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
How can I make your job easier?

What should I be asking about this job that's not obvious?

What are my most important deliverables in the first month/3 months of this job?

Please describe the qualities and abilities of a star performer in this role.

What do you wish someone could just come in and just take care of?

Is my position a new position; if not may I speak to my predecessor or to a peer?

To the peer ask: What is your typical day like? What is the management style like? Ask about corporate culture and morale.

At the end of the interview ask: I think we have a good match here. Is there any reason you wouldn't consider me for the next round (or the job)? Do you have any lingering concerns?

What other information can I provide to convince you to hire me?

What should I expect next?

And ask any other questions that will help you determine if you want to work for the company and that you can succeed there.

Well, that's a good start. Don't ask questions the answer to which you could find through research but do ask anything that will help you understand a new career better, network more effectively or help you succeed in an interview. And then listen carefully to the answers—they contain a goldmine of valuable information!

Good luck!

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January 2007: Who's In My Network?

Happy New Year! I hope the holidays have treated you well.

I'm going to discuss networking but before that let's talk about the New Year.

I'm setting my own goals and resolutions for the New Year. Maybe I can help you with your one of yours such as "this year, for sure, I’m going to get unstuck and build momentum towards something better in my job and career."

To help you get started, I have a couple of incentives.
  • For folks who have never seen me or have seen me but aren't current clients, I'm offering "buy one get one free!" Not bad! Pay for one hour of coaching, get one free.

  • For current or past clients, if you refer a person who becomes a client, you get a free session.

So everyone gets a free session to help them make this year a better year than last year. Sound good? If you're interested, please let me know and we'll get you jump started toward something great! These offers expire on March 1, 2007.

Ok, onto networking!

Who's in my network? Where do I start with meeting folks? How do I track all these new people I'm meeting? Good questions!

To start the networking process, I have my clients do a little brainstorming. I tell them: "you're at the center of a network of social contacts, probably a bigger one than you think."

Sit down with a piece of paper and pen or at your computer and use the following categories to brainstorm your contact list. THERE ARE NO WRONG ANSWERS! Just write everyone down regardless if they've switched fields, moved away, are retired, you're annoyed with them, whatever: literally everyone! Only exclude your 104 year old Latvian aunt or your brother's best friend's 18 month old bull terrier.

In making the list, the only criterion to use is if you spoke to the person for a minute or two they'd remember you. We're looking for information and great work, not life time friendship. And you never know who your contacts know.

Now you could do this off the top of your head, but to help jog your memory, here's a list of categories to keep by your pad and pen as you brainstorm:

YOUR FAMILY
o Parents, significant other, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, adult children, in-laws (and all their contacts)

YOUR CURRENT COMPANY CONTACTS
o Co-workers, competitors, vendors, customers, consultants

CAREER CONTACTS
o Former bosses and co-workers
o Professional colleagues, association members
o Business partners, venture capitalists

PEOPLE YOU KNOW
o Friends and acquaintances
o Neighbors
o Little league, PTA, Teachers

COMMUNITY LEADERS/PEOPLE IN ORGANIZATIONS
o College alumni association contacts
o Professional association colleagues
o Chamber of Commerce, Rotary members, etc.
o Members of your place of worship

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATES
o Past and current co-workers
o Your lawyer, doctors, accountant, stock broker, realtor, dentist, banker, & tax consultant
o Your insurance agent, hairdresser/barber, personal trainer/gym contacts, auto mechanic

MILITARY CONTACTS, CAREER COUNSELOR AND COACH

AND ANYONE ELSE YOU CAN THINK OF!!!

After you've made a brainstorming pass at this, put the list away and come back to it the next day to see if you can add any other names.

Now you're ready to create an Excel spreadsheet (or MSWord table) with columns such as contact name, how you know the contact (this is obvious at first, but gets tricky as you meet friends of friends), contact info, what you've done so far, and what's still to do. You can then divide your list into an A, B, C priority ranking and then dive in and start networking. And remember when you speak to these folks ask them for their contacts! Your list will grow exponentially! And now you have a way to keep track of it all.

If you'd like my free Networking Log template, please write me and I'll gladly send it to you!

To determine what to say when networking and how to go about all this you can start with the December 2003 newsletter and then if you have questions give me a call!

Hope this helps you get a good start on your New Year networking. And remember the free session offer I mentioned at the beginning of the newsletter. Start the New Year off right and get your self going in a more positive direction. You deserve it!

Happy New Year!

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November/December 2006: More Inspiring Quotes

As many of you know, I love quotes. I find them pithy summations of how to have fun and to live our lives. About two and half years ago I sent out a newsletter that contained a handful of the quotes I'd collected over the years and since then I've come across even more and have wanted to share them.

So here are more quotes to inspire and motivate you, some to bring a smile, others for perspective. Some apply directly to careers most are applicable to life in general. Just focusing on one each day can inspire you.


SETTING AND ACHIEVING GOALS
"Even when you can't see your goal with your eyes, you can always picture it in your mind. Let that be the strength to take you where you want to go!"  Sandy Corso-Scanlan

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."  Les Brown

"It's the constant and determined effort that breaks down resistance, sweeps away all obstacles." Claude M. Bristol

"If you aren't scared to death, you aren't driving fast enough!"  Mario Andretti: Winner, Indy 500


ATTITUDE
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  Mariannne Williamson.

"An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity." Anon.

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." George Elliot

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique: they are great because of their passion"  Martha Graham



SELF DISCOVERY
"If you observe well your own heart will answer." R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love."  Rumi

"Let the beauty you love be what you do,
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground." Rumi


PERSPECTIVE
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."  Helen Keller

"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity."  Albert Einstein


"The earth is a spaceship and we're all crew members. Not passengers. We can all pick and change what crew job we want. Enjoy."   Buckminster Fuller

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves."  Thomas Edison


HUMOR
"When you come to the fork in the road, take it."  Yogi Berra

"You have to go broke three times to learn how to make a living." Casey Stengel

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."  Woody Allen

"I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific." Lily Tomlin

"Getting fired in nature's way of telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place." Hal Lancaster in WS Journal

And finally, the following signs were observed at U.S. businesses:

Sign over a Gynecologist's Office: "Dr. Jones, at your cervix."
 
On a Plumber's truck: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."

On an Electrician's truck:  "Let us remove your shorts."

In a Nonsmoking Area: "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."

On a Maternity Room door:  "Push. Push. Push."

At an Optometrist's Office  "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."

In a Podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels."

Outside a Muffler Shop:  "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."

In a Veterinarian's waiting room:  "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"

At the Electric Company: "We would be delighted if you send in your payment. However, if you don't, you will be."

And don't forget the sign at a Chicago Radiator Shop: "Best place in town to take a leak."


Quotes are fun aren't they? Now it's your turn.  Any quotes you'd like to share? 

Take care and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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September/October 2006: Winning the Phone Interview

You just woke up and are half asleep, the water's boiling on the stove, the dog's barking at some crazy squirrel in the yard when the phone rings.

"Hi this is Pamela from Google, we like your application; I was wondering if this is an ok time for a phone screen?"

Now what???

Luckily, it doesn't always happen like that but since phone interviews are becoming very common, it might be a good idea to focus on them in this newsletter.

Note: For general interviewing basics, please see the February 2006 newsletter archived on my website.


PHONE INTERVIEWS ARE BECOMING MORE COMMON

Phone screens are more frequently being used as a way of identifying and recruiting employment candidates. Employers can quickly screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who'll be invited for in-person interviews.

Phone interviews are used because they cost less, can be conducted more quickly, and can even be handled by a lower level employee using standardized questions.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Since they're now so common, it's important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment's notice. You never know when an employer, recruiter, or a networking contact might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.

The best way to prepare for a phone interview? Practice!

Have friends play the phone interviewer role. Give them practice questions to ask, a copy of your resume, and have them invent their own questions.

Test different techniques. Close your eyes while listening, stand while talking, smile while speaking. With your friend's feedback, decide what works best for you.

Tape the role-plays and listen to yourself afterward. You may be surprised by the number of "ums" and "uhs" and "okays" which are very noticeable on the phone.

Finally, ask yourself, "Would I hire this person?" If the answer isn't a resounding "YES!" practice some more!


BE PREPARED

In addition, to practicing you need to be fully prepared for a phone interview. It's the step that can lead to a face-to-face interview.

Try to reschedule any surprise interviews. Say that you're going into a meeting and suggest a time you can call back. Then when you call back, be prepared just as you would for an in-person interview.

In advance, locate a quiet place where you can concentrate as well as read and take notes. You need room to have your notes spread out in front of you and access to a landline phone--since it’s imperative that you can hear and are being clearly heard, it’s better to use a land line rather than a cell phone.


JUST BEFORE THE CALL
  • Dress up for the phone interview. It may sound silly since the interviewer can't see you, but you'll project a more professional image if you dress the part.
  • Turn call-waiting off so your call isn't interrupted.
  • Don't have a silly or long greeting on your voicemail.
  • Turn off the stereo and TV. Close the door, put the dog in the yard, and make sure someone is taking care of the kids.
  • Do some relaxation exercises; take a few slow deep breaths

HAVE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
  • Pen and paper
  • The job description as well as the resume & cover letter you sent in response to the ad.
  • A list of your relevant major accomplishments. You can use these stories of skills used to provide value as needed in the interview.
  • Key points you want to be sure to communicate.
  • Basic company information, products, locations—so you seem sharp about their company.
  • A short list of questions about the job.
  • Your calendar so you can schedule future meetings.

DURING THE PHONE INTERVIEW
  • Don't smoke, chew gum, eat, or type at the computer.
  • Smile. Interviewers can hear you smile and it projects a positive image and can even put you in a better state of mind.
  • Stand up--your voice will sound more powerful and your confidence will rise.
  • If you have a cordless phone, you can quietly walk around the room to work off tension.
  • Listen carefully—don't think of what you're going to say while the interviewer is speaking. You can try closing your eyes when the interviewer is speaking so you can focus on what's being said.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly directly into the phone.
  • Don't interrupt the interviewer.
  • Take your time - it's fine to take a few moments to collect your thoughts.
  • Occasionally repeat or re-phrase questions. Tells the caller that you listened carefully and gives you time to think about your answer.
  • Avoid a simple yes or no; try to be succinct but add selling points when appropriate.
  • Make a conscious effort to sound upbeat and enthusiastic.
  • Always remember to breathe. It'll help you stay calm and sound more relaxed.
  • Avoid discussing salary. You can honestly say you don't know enough about the job to state a salary figure.
  • Create a strong finish with thoughtful questions—say you're very interested in the position, restate your qualifications, and ask for an in-person meeting.
  • Get the caller's contact information so you can follow up and thank them.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

Send a thank you note reiterating your interest in the job and re-emphasizing the value you bring.

Good luck!


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August 2006:  Success Stories Lead to Career Success

Several times in past newsletters we've discussed the importance of success stories and how effective they can be in creating a strong resume, elevator pitch, cover letter as well as helping you interview, negotiate, and get promoted. We have not, however, discussed how individual success stories are constructed and that's what we'll focus on this time.

WHAT IS A PSR?
A little refresher course first.

People refer to career success stories by many names—PSRs, PARs, SOARs, and CARs for example. They all involve a situation, an action, and a result. For the purpose of this discussion, let's call them PSRs (problem/solution/result).

A PSR is a specific personal success story in which you used your skills to come up with a solution (S) to some problem (P). And this in turn led to a valuable result (R) for your employer. The entire story could have taken place in a year, a month, a week, or a day!

As we discussed in the March 2006 newsletter, you can provide value to your employer (or your own business) in many ways. Examples include: Increasing revenue, profit, ROI, efficiency; Reducing costs, time and effort, conflict; and Improving service, quality, image and reputation to name just a few.

Ok, now that we remember what PSRs are, let's look at how to construct them.

PSR CONSTRUCTION

THE PROBLEM: What was the problem? What would have happened if you hadn't solved this situation, what were some of the constraints or obstacles to success?

THE SOLUTION/ACTION: What did you do about it and what skills did you use to solve the problem?

THE RESULT: What were the immediate and long term benefits of your actions? The bottom-line results that added value to your employer?

EXAMPLES
The most crucial parts of a PSR are the S and the R—what you did and the benefits of your actions. It is acceptable to just infer the problem in the PSR. The key is that you achieved a positive result by doing something that took skill.

Here's an example:

PROBLEM = Company was out of control, losing assets, and inefficient with an untrained staff.

SOLUTION = You conceived, developed, implemented, managed, and directed a new training program.

RESULT = As a result, the company saved $200k

Here's the resulting PSR that goes into the resume:

PSR: “Developed a new training program which resulted in a $200k savings.”

or

PSR: “Saved $200K by implementing a new training program.”

Old style resumes just listed responsibilities, not differentiating the job seeker from anyone else. We now give specific examples of valuable results.

In an old resume you might have written:

“Developed internal audit process.”

But now it would read:

“Decreased error margin below 1% of monthly financial statements by developing internal audit procedures.

And “Managed credit collections function” becomes “Reduced bad debt write-offs by 28% through implementing collections follow-up procedures.

Even if you can't quantify your results with specific metrics, you can write that the result achieved was greater than or less than it was before. Or you can approximate the metric--anything to communicate how valuable your actions were.

If you have difficulty going from thinking of a good result to creating a short PSR sentence for your resume, start by writing the PSR out in detail using the above structure. After describing the problem, list what you did (the solution) step by step, and then list all the results that were achieved during that time.

Here's an example:
PROBLEM: Qualifying suppliers was a very slow process because each new specification was different. Engineers were required to test parts each time the supplier changed. As a result engineers felt they were wasting their time.

SOLUTION: I analyzed the situation and then combined each supplier's specification to make one uniform specification that would be applicable in all cases. I tested it with one or two engineers before rolling out the new specification.

RESULT: As a result, the engineers could quickly qualify a new supplier by comparing the proposed specification to the uniform specification. This change reduced supplier qualifying time by 90% within the first two months of implementation. The engineers were quite happy with this result.

PSR: Eliminated costly component testing and reduced supplier qualifying time by 90% by developing uniform component specifications.

This long form is closer to what you'll use when you actually retell the story during interviews, so it serves the dual purpose of creating an intermediate step to creating a concise PSR for your resume as well as creating a mini-script for story telling.

Think of as many of these specific stories as you can for each position you've held, then practice telling the stories out loud and you're well on your way to filling your resume with compelling stories while at the same time preparing for how you'll talk about yourself during networking, interviewing, and negotiating.

I hope this helps clarify how you can construct excellent PSR stories. Now you too can you use your success stories as a path to career success.

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July 2006: Input from you: Part 2!

Last month's newsletter included a questionnaire. Thanks to those who took the time to answer the questions. The following, with some editing, are some of your comments:

WHAT BOOK OR TWO DO YOU RECOMMEND ON CAREERS, JOB HUNTING, AND INSPIRATION?

"Your Dream Career For Dummies," by Carol McClelland. For finding a career that suits you personally and professionally.

"Life's a Bitch and then You Change Careers" by Andrea Kay.

"Celestine Prophecy" by James Redfield. Helps you trust your intuition and be open to new ideas.

"Cover Letters That Knock' em Dead" by Martin John Yates.

Autobiographies of successful people overcoming obstacles.

"The Way of the Ronin" by Beverly Potter. Showed me that I am responsible for my career.

"Selling To VITO (The Very Important Top Officer)" by Anthony Parinello. Every sales technique in this book is equally relevant to job searching.

"Cool Careers for Dummies" by Marty Nemko.

"The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman. Excellent book. Will open your mind to the new globalized world and ignite ideas on how you can increase your value to your existing employer.

"Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed" by H. Anthony Medley. Best book on job hunting.

"Do What You Are" by Tieger. Myers-Briggs results interpretation.

"What Color is Your Parachute?" by Richard Nelson Bolles.


2. WHAT JOB SEARCH METHOD HAS HELPED YOU MOST IN FINDING "REWARDING WORK?"

Networking!! Keeping an open mind. Looking for signs. Thinking creatively (saving articles, emails, speaking with people who work where you want to be).

Evolving the picture of what you want your career and life to look like.

Talking with people in the specialties I am interested in has clued me on which path to take and on how to get there without wasting time.

Posting on Monster and referrals from friends.

Defining myself by what I do, (rather than what I can do), using an online Web portfolio and Linked-In to make me visible to recruiters and hiring managers.

Networking is difficult, but the jobs I've found through networking have turned out best, because a recommended employer usually treats me better.


3. CAN YOU PROVIDE A TIP OR TWO ON WAYS TO EXCEL IN YOUR CURRENT JOB?

Look beyond assigned responsibilities for things you can do to make your whole team's work easier.

Appreciate those you work with. Show appreciation for ways others support you in your work.

Stay motivated, keep doing the best that you can and stay interested in what you're doing.

Prioritize and stay focused. Network and be open to people and your intuition.

Be like a shark and keep moving, learn new skills; may come in handy for your next job.

See things through a client's eyes: business and results rather than technical details. Follow up, keep clients informed and be proactive (without being too pushy). Busy clients appreciate that.


4. HOW ABOUT A KEY RESUME IDEA? WHAT'S WORKED FOR YOU IN THE PAST?

Be succinct. List specific achievements. Be sure to include all your learned skills.

Tailor the resume to the job description. Add a great, unique cover letter to go with it.

Have a really good "generic" resume…define yourself by some task you do well that can be useful to jobs you want. Include every "buzz word" that describes the technologies, industries, areas of interest that someone might use as a search term.

Summarize skills at beginning of resume.

Clearly communicate your value by using specific success stories outlining how you solved problems, used critical skills, and got clear results.


5. WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO NETWORK?

Everywhere! You never know whom you will meet and who they know! Network with those you feel comfortable with first, and then branch out. Don't just network when you need a job, network all the time.

LinkedIn. Also try family, friends, co-workers, and professional associations.

Movie theaters, social events, kids' parents, you name it. Make it a game.

Look for free or low cost seminars offered to people you want to be hired by…talk to each speaker afterward, give them your card, and suggest talking further about how you might get involved in that area.


6. CAN YOU SHARE AN INSPIRING QUOTE RELATED TO CAREER OR LIFE IN GENERAL?

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature...Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure." Helen Keller

"Plan your work, work your plan."

"Some say it's good to dream. Others say it's better to live. But my friend says it's best to awaken."

"Drive thy business or it will drive thee." Ben Franklin

"Being able to do the job well will not necessarily get you hired; the person who gets hired is often the one who knows the most about how to get hired". Dick Lathrop "Who's Hiring Who."


7. HOW DO YOU COPE WITH STRESSFUL TIMES RELATED TO WORK OR JOB HUNTING?

Exercise and being grateful for the few moments that I have on this tiny planet, before I go back into it.

Talking with friends and coworkers I trust, to help keep perspective on the situation.

Meditate, be mindful, remain positive, get out there, treat myself for accomplishing tasks, keep lists of who I contacted and what I've done.

Take that fear and turn it into excitement!

Work out at the gym, do yard work, something physical. Go for a half hour bike ride.

If unemployed, hang out or workout with other unemployed friends/family.


8. CAN YOU SHARE AN INTERESTING OR FUNNY WORK OR JOB HUNTING STORY?

I always wanted to work for Apple and used to drive by stating, "I'm going to work for you one day. And I did!" Also, for my current job, I followed my intuition and even meditated to find the way to get hired.

I left Sun in April. Last week I got a call from a headhunter about a job at Sun.

While in a room full of 30 people, my boss was tongue tied after getting caught up in the he/she explanation in describing the appropriate candidate for a position. He said. "When I say he, I mean he or she, I like both of them equally." I said, "Does your wife know about this?" The room erupted in laughter for half a minute.

A recruiter contacted me about a job that I knew I was grossly overqualified for and had a pay level that wouldn't meet my needs. But this was a company I really wanted to work for. Within minutes of the interview start, he knew this job would not be a good fit. He also recognized that I had a very unusual background and approach for solving strategic problems his division faced, so we transitioned the talk to how I MIGHT be able to help his company in the abstract, he kept the meeting going for 2 full hours. In the end, I got a consulting opportunity out of it! All this by applying for a job I knew wasn't right.


9. HOW ABOUT A USEFUL JOB INTERVIEW TIP?

Breathe!

Get there early. Get centered before the interview, find out about the hiring company then relax, knowing you did all that you could.

Sit up straight and be attentive and animated.

Shake hands firmly, smile, and repeat their name. Make human interest connections with the interviewer.

Do your homework, practice concisely expressing what you can do them: your value proposition. At the end of the interview, ask for the job.


10. WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND AS A DO OR DON'T IN NEGOTIATION?

If asked about salary early, turn the question around: "That's a good question. What is your range, and how do you determine where to put people in the range?"

Avoid negotiating on one single issue, such as salary. Compensation includes many factors. Make a list of other important factors and plan to discuss it at the time of final negotiation.

Be prepared, focus on their core needs. Prepare PSRs.

Do not ever, ever, tell them a number first and if you have to, it is ok to fudge a little, stating the industry standard for what you do.

Know your market value and the lowest salary rate you'd accept without regret.

Never throw out the first salary number. Do your homework. Find something to break the ice at the beginning of the interview.

Don't be rigid, don't be a wimp, don't have low self esteem, don't agree to anything without thinking about it for at least 24 hours.

Do: Reach common ground as quickly as possible and argue in plain, logical terms why you deserve more.
Don't: Begin to weep uncontrollably and ask for your mother.


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June 2006: Input from you!

We just filmed the 32nd and 33rd episodes of "You're Hired!" and all went well. If you have any guests you'd suggest I have on the show (including yourself), please let me know. To get an idea of the show's focus, please go to my website and click "You're Hired!"

For this month's newsletter, I thought Id do something completely different: a short questionnaire. Yes, you get to participate. Tell me what you think and then next time, if I get enough responses, Ill publish the results. Feel free to reply to all or just some of the questions.

So, please take 10 minutes and share your thoughts on these questions, the results may help someone else…maybe you! Let's see.

Ok, so here are the questions:

1. What book or two do you recommend on careers, job hunting, and inspiration?

2. What job search method has helped you most in finding "rewarding work?"

3. Can you provide a tip or two on ways to excel in your current job?

4. How about a key resume idea? What's worked for you in the past?

5. Where is the best place to network?

6. Can you share an inspiring quote related to career or life in general?

7. How do you cope with stressful times related to work or job hunting?

8. Can you share an interesting or funny work or job hunting story?

9. How about a useful job interview tip?

10. What do you recommend as a do or don't in negotiation.


To start the ball rolling, here are my quick answers.

1. Too many books to chose from:

"What Color is Your Parachute?" by Richard Nelson Bolles

"Cool Careers for Dummies" by Marty Nemko

"InfoGuru Marketing" by Robert Middleton

"Working with Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman

2. Networking. It's who you know (or can get to know) and how well can you can communicate your value to them.

3. Remain flexible, open to change, think of ways to be entrepreneurial and add value.

4. Clearly communicate your value by using specific success stories outlining how you solved problems, used critical skills, and got clear results.

5. Start with who you know and find out who they know, regardless of setting.

6. Again there are so many

"Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” -- Rumi

"Careers are linear in foresight but circuitous in hindsight." -- Kathleen Mitchell

"Being able to do the job well will not necessarily get you hired; the person who gets hired is often the one who knows the most about how to get hired". -- Dick Lathrop "Who's Hiring Who."

"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you are right." -- Henry Ford

7. Music, exercise, rereading my success stories, seeking support from my success team, coach, or friends.

8. Every interview I've been on they always keep offering me coffee. Since I already feel wound up, I feel like saying “Does it look like I need coffee?” Maybe wine or valium but hardly coffee.

9. Do your homework, practice concisely expressing what you can do them: your value proposition. At the end of the interview, ask for the job.

10. Delay the discussion of money as long as possible. Remember the old adage: the first one who mentions money loses.

Ok, it's your turn. Please let me know what you think.

Until next time…

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May 2006: Negotiation--Getting What You're Worth!

How do you feel when you have to negotiate salary with your boss or with a potential employer?-- fear, dread, worry? Occasionally a bit of excitement? Well, no matter what your reaction, learning to negotiate is crucial because doing it poorly can cost you a minor fortune! In fact, most experts say that you give yourself your biggest raise when you effectively negotiate a starting salary. All future raises are based on this starting point.

While we'd need an entire course to cover this topic, let's go over at least a few of the keys to negotiation. And while the focus here is primarily on work and salary, most of these principles apply to any bargaining situation.

So here are some important keys to effective negotiation:

BEFORE THE NEGOTIATION
  • Do your homework. Nothing beats preparation. If you're negotiating salary, consult www.salary.com, www.salaryexpert.com, and your network to see what the compensation norms are for your region and job title. Try your best to determine management's negotiation goals.

  • Plan to negotiate in person if possible, preferably after you have the offer in writing: As someone said: “if it's not in writing, it doesn't exist!”


DURING THE NEGOTIATION
  • Listen very carefully and communicate clearly.

  • Establish rapport. Treat the other side with respect.

  • Project enthusiasm, be positive, and express thanks for the offer.

  • Keep an open mind, be as creative as possible, and be strong but not overpowering.

  • Keep an emotional distance, don't get personal and remember; it's best if only one person gets angry at a time. A good tip for all relationship building!

  • Remember, the goal is not to win but rather to succeed. The spirit is we are here to make this happen, with hopefully a win-win scenario—if you get a concession or two, then leave something on the table for the other person.

  • There are always alternatives. Be creative, create options. (See the list below.)

  • Sometimes you can get what you want by calling it by another name. They say “we don't renegotiate contracts” … ok, what if we call it a “contract extension?” They don't want to hire you on a permanent basis, how about an internship?  No severance pay? How about a “consulting contract?”

  • There's an old negotiation adage: “the first one who mentions money loses.” Please don't discuss salary too soon. Put it off any way you can. Three possible methods are: Defer (“Salary is certainly an important consideration, but I need to know more about…;” Inquire (“What is the range you usually pay?);” and Reveal (give a high range—see the next bullet). Remember, your power increases as you go deeper into the hiring process, so the more you put off salary specifics the better off you'll be.

  • Aim high but be realistic. If forced to give a salary, propose a slightly elevated range starting with the top of their range and going higher. If, without knowing their range (which turns out to be 75-85k), you say “I have to make at least 70k/year,” do you think you'll ever be offered 80K? Not likely! But if you do some research have an idea of their range and start with $82-$90k, then you will probably have just given yourself an immediate 20% raise!

  • Negotiate cash compensation first. And the first offer should never be your final offer. And please don't negotiate with yourself—once you make an offer, if they don't accept it, don't make another offer. Wait for a counter offer.

  • Don't be afraid to take a risk. Nothing ventured…

  • And of course use your PSRs (problem/solution/result). In prior newsletters, we've emphasized the importance of developing mini-stories that communicate how you repeatedly solve (S) specific problems (P) and get results (R). These are the bullet points in your resume, they are the accomplishments you stress in interviews, and they can be the ways you communicate that you're worth more than they are offering in a negotiation.

In the 7th bullet I mentioned that there are many possible options to negotiate. Here are just some of the possible compensation items you can negotiate:

Base salary, start date, signing bonus, early performance or salary review, relocation expenses, flex time, telecommuting, performance/incentive bonus, educational assistance and professional development expenses, stock options, 401k matching, profit sharing, benefits (medical, dental, vision insurance), expense accounts, commissions, job sharing, sabbaticals, various kinds of paid leave, office size, DSL at home, company car and charge card, vacation/PTO time…the list goes on and on.

One of the keys is to figure out which options are the most important to you and make sure you get those while conceding the less important pieces. Win some (the ones that are most important to you) lose some (the less critical ones).

AFTER THE NEGOTIATION:
  • Just as in interviews, send a thank you note.

  • Review the process and see how you can improve for next time.

This discussion was all too brief but I hope it will help with your future negotiations.

Any questions? Input?


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April 2006:  Creating Your Self-Marketing Plan

Hope this finds you all well, getting over winter colds and hoping for some spring-like weather.

On to this month's topic...

Career development (and more specifically job hunting) are analogous to product marketing and sales campaigns. In fact, if done well, both use the same tactics to achieve their goals. The difference is that with career development, the product is you. You're trying to make the case that you are uniquely qualified for the position you are pursuing.

The idea of a Self-Marketing Plan is to create a living document that helps guide you through your search process. It should be an evolving document that defines your target positions, key differentiators, and the strategy or tactics you are employing to attain your goals. This plan can also be used as an organizing talking point when you do informational interviewing networking. You ask for 30 minutes to discuss the career transition you're going through and then use the Self-Marketing Plan as a starting point. You show it or discuss it with the person you're meeting with and ask for feedback on the plan.

Below is a Self-Marketing Plan outline with suggested categories to fill in. If you think of anything else that helps target your search or for which you'd like input, feel free to include it in your plan. You are hoping the person you speak with will help you do a reality check on how you're going about things, suggest some new approaches, and best of all provide new folks to contact, meetings to attend, things to read and think about.

Here's the sample Self-Marketing Plan Outline:

TARGET INDUSTRY/COMPANIES/JOB TITLES
List the companies, job titles, and industries you're interested in.

TARGET GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS FOR THE WORK YOU'RE SEEKING
Where do you want to work? Are you willing to relocate?

TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS/ENVIRONMENTS WHERE YOU'VE WORKED (OPTIONAL)
Summarize the environments or organizations in which you have employed your talents.

EXPERTISE
Key functions you can perform and critical capabilities you bring.

UNIQUE STRENGTHS
List what differentiates you from most other candidates.

WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR A FUTURE EMPLOYER?
List the kind of value you bring to a future employer. For example, reduce cost, improve quality, increase revenue, minimize conflict, etc. (For a complete list of the ways you can provide value, please see the March 2006 newsletter on my website: www.BayAreaCareerCoach.com under “Free Stuff”).

CURRENT JOB SEARCH STRATEGIES
How are you going about your search: namely the types of folks you're speaking with, meetings you're attending, job boards you use, websites and books you're reading, percentage of time allocated to each aspect of the search (networking, computer search, cold calling, etc.). Remember to ask for more folks to speak with and new approaches to take.

SWOT ANALYSIS
Assess your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Determine these by asking yourself questions such as:

Strengths:
What do I do well?
What value do I provide to employers?
What unique resources can I draw on?
What do others see as my strengths?

Weaknesses:
What could I improve?
Where do I have fewer resources than others?
What are others likely to see as my weaknesses?

Opportunities:
What good opportunities are open for me?
What trends could I take advantage of?
How can I turn my strengths into opportunities?

Threats:
What trends could harm me? Outsourcing?
What is my competition doing?
What threats do my weaknesses expose me to?


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March 2006: Providing Value Employers Need and Want

In previous newsletters, we have seen how your accomplishment stories can not only lead to a powerful resume but also add to your ability to effectively network, interview, and negotiate your way to better work.

As you might remember, this is all built around the concept of a PSR (problem/solution/ result). These are specific instances where you tackled a work problem by using your skills to create a solution that led to a valued result.

Think of each job you've had and then remember specific instances where you had to overcome an obstacle and achieve a valued result for your employer or customer—this could be your internal or external customer. That's a specific case where you added the type of value (resolving conflict, speeding up a process, improving quality) that any employer would want.

To help my clients recall these mini success stories, I have them focus on times where they saved money, made money, sped things up, improved product quality, and I might throw in a few other items such as reduced conflict, improved communication, and the like.

If my clients can't think of many examples, I ask them to imagine what would happen if someone inept took over their job—what repercussions would that have? They might say decreased quality, more time spent by management double checking work, a decrease in perceived professionalism, etc. Well, then when they're on the job, they prevent this from happening, in fact, the opposite happens—quality goes up, management saves time, the company is seen as top notch. Examples of these are first class PSRs.

I'm always reading new books and articles in the fields of coaching, career development, and job hunting, and I came across a nice book “Guerilla Marketing for Consultants” by Jay Conrad Levinson and Michael W. McLaughlin. In it is buried a table entitled “Drivers of Consulting Value” in which the authors present an outline of how consultants can be of direct value to their clients.

This list, with a bit of tweaking, can also be used to focus in on the ways in which you have or can provide direct value for your current or future employers. Then if you can detect patterns in the way you provide value, that can become a key part of how you pitch yourself in networking, cover letters, resumes, interviewing, and negotiating for salary.

Ok, on to the list. Here are the ways you can add direct value to an employer (or clients) and note that while your PSR occurred in a specific context, each of these results are the types of outcomes that ANY EMPLOYER IN ANY FIELD would find attractive and extremely valuable!


Ways You Provide Value to Employers or Clients


INCREASE
Revenue
Profit
Growth/market share
Shareholder value
Employee retention
Return on assets/Investment
Efficiency
Visibility
Goal attainment
Satisfaction


REDUCE
Costs
Time/effort
Complaints
Risk
Turnover
Conflict
Paperwork
Stress


IMPROVE
Productivity
Business process
Service
Information/Knowledge
Morale
Communication
Image/reputation
Skills
Quality
Customer loyalty


CREATE
Strategy
System
Process
Business
Product
Service
Brand
Synergy


Some of these categories are interdependent. Improving quality might reduce the number of support-desk calls received which saves time. It also might spur sales and thus increase revenue and so forth. But all of these are excellent value-adders, reasons to hire or promote you, and would make excellent PSRs.

Well there you have it, a pretty thorough list of the kinds of drivers you can build your success stories around. I'm going to use this list with my clients, so if you can think of other examples of ways to drive value, please let me know.

Take care and chat with you next month.


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February 2006: Interviewing Basics

Interviewing is a basic but very crucial aspect of getting a good job and while you may be familiar with many of these points; it doesn't hurt to have a clear check list of what to do before, during, and after an interview.

There are a couple types of interviews: panel (one on many), serial, and phone. Most of these tips apply to all three. On the phone, you do have the advantage of being able to use more cheat sheets, move around, dress comfortably, and so forth but the basic principles still apply.

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
  • Research the company; study its website, google them, read competitive analysis reports.

  • Create a cheat sheet with your questions and notes about the points you want to make sure you communicate. This can be more explicit for phone interviews, but abbreviated notes work as good reminders.

  • Practice!  Know inside and out your resume, questions you will ask, your one-minute elevator speech/value statement.

  • Prepare for behavioral questions…develop your success stories or PSRs (problem/solution/ result)—one minute stories where you used your skills to solve a problem and add value.

  • Ask if you can talk to a peer (same job title)—they’ll give you more low down on the company.

  • Check out the route to the interview, get there early, and try to just relax.

  • Dress as though you already have the job, maybe a notch more formal than the way you expect the interviewers will dress.

  • Bring extra resumes, business cards, your questions, portfolio (if applicable), and reference names.

DURING THE INTERVIEW
  • Ask your questions early, listen carefully, and mine for information.

  • Ask “how would you describe a star employee (same job title) who's been doing this for a couple years.” Their answer will give you a clearer view to what they're looking for and help guide your subsequent responses.

  • Get their business cards (for post interview thank you notes).

  • Watch your posture/voice tone/handshake--70% of we communicate is non-verbal and studies have shown that all things being relatively equal, enthusiasm wins out. Make eye contact.

  • Emphasize the value you bring, communicate your PSRs. If you're asked about something you don't know, use a quick-learner PSR story to communicate how quickly you pick things up.

  • Emphasize why it's a good match, why you want to work there, what you'll do for them, and what distinguishes you from others.

  • Remember employers are looking for what you'll do for them.

  • Give complete but concise answers (under one minute).

  • An old negotiation adage: The first one who mentions money loses. Try not to directly talk salary at the early stages—if pressed, give a slightly elevated range.

  • Ask questions to help you figure out if this company is for you—remember you're interviewing them too.

  • At the end, ask for the job by saying something like “I think I'd do this job well; do you have any remaining questions about this.” Then if they have any concerns they can bring them up and you can deal with them. You can also ask what the next step will be.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW
  • Send thank you notes to all interviewers.  Thank them and tell them you're very interested in the position. Emphasize a point or two that came up that shows you're a great match. You can also address an issue you didn't handle as well as you could have. Something like, “the more I thought about XX, I think YY.”

  • If you think things are serious, prepare your references. Let them know they may be contacted and tell them why you're excited about the job and are a good fit for it. In essence, you're coaching them on how to be a great reference.

  • Even if you don't get the job, stay in touch with them. The new candidate may not work out and the folks you hit it off with can be a good networking resource.

Well there you have it: a brief outline of interviewing tips. Each point could definitely be elaborated upon, so if you have any questions (or corrections), feel free to contact me.

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January 2006: MBA the New Bachelor's Degree?

I hope you enjoyed your holidays and will have a healthy, happy, and successful 2006.

This is the time of year I reflect back on last year and make resolutions for the coming year. Since I'm involved mainly with people's careers, I ask myself am I doing the best work I can possibly do. We spend so darn many hours working that to either do something we don't enjoy or that undervalues us seems like such a waste. Luckily I really enjoy my work but it wasn't always that way in my previous career. If I can help you through a tough transition, please let me know.

I recently read two seemingly unrelated articles that have a nice synergy between them. One is a newspaper piece on how the MBA is becoming the new bachelor's degree; the other a book chapter about the similarities between job hunting and sales. The two dovetail into a concept that I already use in my practice—namely that we need to be entrepreneurial regardless of our profession.

Let's start with a The Dallas Morning News piece by Ieva Augstums. Here are a few excerpts:

Today, a master's degree in business administration – for both career and personal reasons – is becoming the new bachelor's degree.
 
"I hate to say that, in some ways, it has become an almost basic requirement if students are going to improve in their careers," said Steve Perkins, associate dean for graduate programs in the School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Like a growing number of graduates already settled in the workplace, many Gen Xers (ages 25-39) and Millennials (24 and under) easily become restless.

Three to five years into their careers, some start longing for a promotion or raise, others may want new experiences, and still others simply want to become more educated to position themselves for the future.

"It's this perception among our generation that the completion of an MBA means something," said Robert Paugh, 32, who started the professional MBA program at Southern Methodist University this fall. "The master's is the new undergrad. We are all here for different reasons." "I don't want to be 50 and not have job options as a professional because I did not plan or think ahead," he said. "There is a human capital aspect in returning to school and completing my graduate degree: to help ensure both my future and my family's future."

For baby boomers (ages 40 to 59) who earned a bachelor's degree in the 1970s, career paths were clearer. A younger Gen Xer with a bachelor's degree today faces roadblocks that include increased competition, outsourcing and a growing global workforce.

"The more you know today, the further you can go," said Mel Fugate, assistant professor at SMU's Cox School of Business. "These young professionals want jobs and employers who see them as valuable and give them opportunities, much more than previous generations."

Today's young adults have seen their parents plan financially for the future only to have pensions and jobs taken away. As a result, Gen Xers such as 26-year-old Carla Rosenberg are returning to school.

Sure, the potential of earning a six-figure salary didn't deter her decision, but earning more money wasn't part of the equation.

For starters, no longer can an MBA ensure a six-digit salary. In 2005, the average annual base salary anticipated by new MBAs who accepted a job offer was $90,652, according to the admission council, which sponsors the Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT.

Instead, she is going back for herself.

"Do I need this for my job now? I don't think it hurts," said Ms. Rosenberg, community marketing director for the Dallas Stars. Ms. Rosenberg will receive her MBA from the University of Dallas next month.

"I wanted to make sure I had all the necessary tools in my toolbox to enjoy and live my life to its fullest," she said.

"If you looked at 10 years ago and today, Generation X and Y, the reasons why they do some things are different," said the admission council's Mr. Ludwig. "These people – it's almost like they are not leaving anything to chance."

Yes, Gen Xers and Millennials are returning to school, particularly in part-time programs. The admission council said that 46 percent of part-time programs saw an application increase in 2005, nearly twice as many as last year. Twenty percent of full-time programs saw an application increase in 2005.

But there's a catch – prospective students have to be accepted into the programs. Over the last few years, competition for top-tier business school slots has become increasingly fierce. And once they're in, they still need to set themselves apart.

"Nationwide, we've got more than 100,000 people a year who graduate with an MBA, so to some extent, we are reaching a saturation point where the MBA is not very unique," said UTD's Dr. Perkins. "It may be useful for these incoming classes to gain expertise in a particular area."

"The whole idea is to set yourself up for the next step in life, and the step after that," Mr. Paugh said. "The goal is not what I'm going to be doing when I'm 33. It's what do I want to be doing when I'm 35, 40 and 50 and 60."


Pretty interesting! I agree that an MBA (especially with an entrepreneurial/marketing focus) could help you be better prepared for future market vicissitudes. But if you aren't interested in going back to school, its also helpful to approach job seeking (and career development as a whole) with an entrepreneurial mindset.

In “The Career Counselor's Handbook,” Dr. Howard Figler writes a chapter entitled “Everyone is a Salesperson.” In it he likens job hunting to selling by demonstrating that each of the five basic rules of selling has a direct job hunting analogy.
  • GET IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. You need to get face to face contact with potential employers. Network as much as possible!
  • DO A NEEDS ASSESSMENT. Know what employer need or what. Research their pain points; what skills they are willing to pay for?
  • OUTLINE THE BENEFITS. How can you ease their pain, solve their problem, add value to their organization? Communicate your value.
  • OVERCOME ANY OBJECTIONS. Anticipate any objections. Prepare to network and  interview effectively by knowing your weaknesses and preparing constructive responses to concerns. Show how you're working to build the skills employers need.
  • ASK FOR THE SALE (CLOSING). Ask for the job. Tell the employer that you want to work for them and feel you're the right person for the job.
Bottom line, the more you think and behave in at least some of the ways sales, marketing, and entrepreneurial folks do, the better your chances are to get a great job or further your career. You can possibly accomplish this by getting MBA, but you can also teach yourself many marketing and selling basics that will keep you prepared, flexible, and open to the many unpredictable employment changes the future will bring.

Here's to a great 2006!


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November/December 2005: Good Career Development Books

Hope this finds you well and looking forward to the holidays.

Last time I wrote about how coaching works. Some of you might also want to read about career development, job hunting and the like and are a bit overwhelmed by the number of books out there. So, I thought it might be useful to create a short annotated list of the career-related books my clients and I have found useful.

To be sure, I'm by no means the final word on this and invite you to write me with any books, articles, or websites you've found helpful. If what you recommend is also mentioned by other people, I’ll include it next time.

So here we go…

"What Color is Your Parachute?" by Richard Nelson Bolles
This one is the classic—it contains good advice with humor and a heart. Now in its 8 millionth (or something like that) revision. Always a good starting point. I haven't seen it yet, but I've been told I'm listed in the latest edition. : - )

"Zen and the Art of Making a Living" by Laurence G. Boldt
I like this one because it can be approached a couple different ways. It contains inspirational quotes, attractive eastern sketches, and all the job hunting basics. A thoughtful eastern approach to one's life work and creative career design.

"The Unplanned Career" by Kathleen Mitchell and "Luck is No Accident" by John Krumboltz & Al Levin
I group these two together because they both focus on how to make the most of unplanned events, showing how you can generate your own career good luck! I love Kathleen's quote: "Careers are linear in foresight but circuitous in hindsight."

"InfoGuru Marketing" by Robert Middleton
You can only get this online (www.actionplan.com) but it’s an excellent marketing guide to attracting more clients. But you say, you're looking for better work not clients. Well, the similarities are striking and you can read it from either perspective.

"Emotional Intelligence" & "Working with Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman
Goleman coined the concept of Emotional Intelligence and in these works he discusses the importance and cultivation of “soft skills”(personal and social competence) in order to be successful and advance your career.

"Cool Careers for Dummies" by Marty Nemko
While it contains lots of practical advice, I particularly like the yellow pages listing 500 plus intriguing careers that you might not think of on your own.

"What Should I Do With My Life?" by Po Bronson
A great book for those thinking of making a major change. It’s not a how-to book but rather individual accounts of how people made major transforming and inspiring changes in their life.

"Doing What You Are" by Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger
If you've taken the Myers Briggs (MBTI) test, this one is fantastic in helping you figure out which careers are more likely to be a good fit for you.

"Insider's Guide to Finding a Job" by Wendy Enelow & Shelly Goldman
This is a new book that provides expert job hunting and career advice from America's top employers and recruiters. You can see what top managers are looking for and how they recommend you go after getting a great job.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Reinventing Yourself" by Jeff Davidson
A fun book that helps you create action plans to set new life, relationship, and career directions.

Well there you have it. Remember, this is just a start; there are many other good books out there. Maybe go to your local bookstore or library and check a few of these out and see if they speak to you. And please do let me know which works have helped you! I’d like to share your findings with others. Thanks!

Until next time …


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October 2005: How Does Coaching Work?

I've now published career newsletters for two years and never really discussed how coaching works. The short answer is that there's no one way simple and effective coaching method and much depends on the individual coach and client, but from the many people I've coached, I can pretty quickly tell what will work and what wont.

If it only were so simple that you just need to show up every so often, do some work between meetings and then you instantly find great meaningful work? Unfortunately it doesn't usually work that way.

Working with a coach is all about setting goals and sub goals, making small and large
commitments that insure small success steps, self-discovery, accountability, confidence, and positive momentum. It's a commitment you make to yourself and follow up on with the aid of a knowledgeable guide.

Coaching works when you and your coach meet on a regular basis (usually each week or every other week) with each keeping an open, determined mind ready to go. We work hard for an hour or so and then agree on action items you'll complete by next time. You tackle the action items during the week and come back having completed the items or open to discuss what blockage you experienced--in other words, you're accountable for what you agree to do and either way you move forward and learn.

What doesn't work is to regularly not complete action items or to postpone appointments until you think tasks are completed. With the exception of emergencies, it's best to treat appointments as critical and do all you can to complete your action items. If action items aren't completed, you'll learn most by understanding what got in your way. If you do all this, you maximize the value of the coaching experience and achieve your goals much more quickly, saving you time, money, and lots of stress. Sounds good, no?

So, by way of an outline, here's one model of how successful coaching works:

1.  Identify large goals. What do I really want and what will make me happy? What's realistic given the current market?

2.  Break these large goals into smaller ones.

3.  Commit to weekly mutually agreed upon action items or steps that help you achieve smaller goals (accountability) and start to build momentum.

4.  Keep all appointments—meeting weekly or bi-weekly.

5.  Learn from false starts and blockages.

6.  Experience self-discovery and achieve repeated small successes.

7.  Build confidence and positive momentum.

8.  Complete smaller goals.

9.  Pay dirt! Achieve larger goals.

10. Celebrate!-- Do the happy dance!

11. Don't stop! Continue to use and expand on what you've learned even after reaching your goal.

12. Reduce coaching frequency to a maintenance level but keep your newly learned life skills vital and growing.

Well, there you have it. Coaching doesn't always move in such a straight line, but when both client and coach are committed and skilled; great things can be achieved!

Hopefully this helps you understand more of what coaching is all about. If you have any questions or alternate views on this process, feel free to e-mail me.

Until next time, take care. Steve

"Being able to do the job well will not necessarily get you hired; The person who gets hired is often the one who knows the most about how to get hired".  -- Dick Lathrop "Who's Hiring Who"


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September 2005: Interviewing Humor--Don't Do This!

You have to agree that job hunting is a pretty serious business and interviewing can be extremely stressful. So, what's a good antidote? How about some humor?

A few years back, Vice Presidents and personnel directors of the one hundred largest corporations were asked to describe their most unusual experiences interviewing prospective employees. Here's what they had to say and remember these things really happened during interviews. Whew!

o One candidate wore a Walkman, claiming she could listen to the interviewer and the music at the same time.

o Another challenged the interviewer to arm wrestle.

o A yet another asked to see the interviewer's resume to see if the personnel executive was qualified to interview him!

o A woman announced she hadn't had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and French fries during the interview

o One applicant asked the interviewer if he would put on a suit jacket to ensure the offer was formal.

o Another said if he were hired, he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm.

o One fellow interrupted the interview to phone his therapist for advice on answering an interview question.

o Another refused to get out of his chair until the interviewer agreed to hire him. The interviewer ended up having to call the police to get him removed!

o And yet another pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped a flash picture of the interviewer. He claimed to collect photos of everyone who interviewed him.

o One misguided person said he wasn't interested because the job paid too much.

o During one interview, an alarm clock went off in the applicant's briefcase. He took it out, shut it off, apologized, and said he had to leave for another interview.

o A balding candidate abruptly excused himself, and returned to the office a few minutes later wearing a hairpiece.
 
o One candidate said he never finished high school because he was kidnapped and kept in a closet in Mexico.

o And finally one person refused to sit down and insisted on being interviewed standing up. (Maybe this explains the origins of “the standing meeting?)”

Now you know that besides answering questions, it's also important to ask some intelligent questions during an interview. The same surveyed employers were also asked to list the "most unusual" questions they'd been asked by candidates. Take a deep breath:

"What is it that you people do at this company?"

"I know this is off the subject, but will you marry me?"

"Will the company move my rock collection from California to Maryland?"

"Will the company pay to relocate my horse?"

"Would it be a problem if I'm angry most of the time?"

"Do you think the company would be willing to lower my pay?"

"Why aren't you in a more interesting business?"

"Do I have to dress for the next interview?"

"Why am I here?"

I have no difficulty in starting or holding my bowel movement.
 
Sometimes I feel like smashing things.
 
I am fascinated by fire.
 
I never get hungry.
 
I would have been more successful if nobody would have snitched on me.

"Does your company have a policy regarding concealed weapons?"


Ok enough, enough. Maybe this newsletter should be titled: “How Not to Act in a Job Interview.” You wouldn't act like any of these folks. Right? Right?


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August 2005: Integrated Career Development

Let's see, I have to have a great resume. Ok, and if it's
really great, I’ll have to figure out how to interview well and handle those behavioral questions they're throwing at us these days. And then if they offer me the job I have to negotiate for salary. And wait a second, in this job market I also have to know how to network. How am I supposed to be good at all these different things?

Well, while people often think all these pieces are, at best, loosely related to each other, if handled correctly, they are integrally related.

In this all too brief article, which I use as introductory material for my clients, I identify the key career-development pieces and show how they're built on each other.

THE PIECES
  • A strong resume built on specific PSRs (problem/solution/result bullet points).
  • In the resume, a Profile/Career Summary (culled from specific PSRs).
  • A value statement/intro/elevator speech to be used in networking.
  • A related value statement built on PSRs to be used in interviews as a tool to communicate your value and to answer behavioral questions.
  • The same value statement as a negotiation tool to set salary level.
  • After employment, additional PSRs and value statements (based on company accomplishments) to be used to obtain excellent reviews, raises, and promotions.
HOW THE PIECES ARE INTERELATED
  • Use our coaching handouts and meetings to build strong PSRs into your resume. Emphasis is on problems you solve, value you add, ways in which you have a bottom line impact or enable someone else to save money, time, add special knowledge, etc. All this makes for a concrete compelling resume that a potential employer (and you) can believe in.
  • After you've written the PSRs (in long and short form), take a step back and ask yourself “If I didn't know this person and I read all these PSRs, what value would I say this person brings to the table?” Then summarize that value-added answer in your Career Profile or Summary at the top of the resume.
  • Once the summary is clear and value based, it can be used as the basis (with a few modifications) for your introduction or 30-second commercial as you meet folks while networking.
  • Also, you can use the summary and supporting PSRs when you're being interviewed to answer questions such as why you? What will you do for us? PSRs also prepare you to handle difficult behavioral questions centering on how you handle critical issues such as shortage of time, money, resources, stressful environment, poor communication, conflict, initial failure, and so forth.
  • You can also use your summary and supporting PSRs as a negotiating tool. Since they elucidate ways you achieve bottom line results, PSRs make the case why you should start at a higher salary.
  • After you're employed, you can use your summary and supporting PSRs (including new ones from your work in the company) as a negotiating tool for excellent reviews, raises, and promotions. They answer questions such as: “Why do you deserve this promotion and raise?”
As you can see, each of these career pieces is interrelated with the other pieces. If constructed correctly, they form a cohesive whole in which you are presenting yourself as a problem solver. You believe in yourself and it becomes clear the value you add to a company and why you should be a part of it or promoted within it. This approach, much like product marketing provides a consistent “self-branding” message of the value you add to any company.

Well, there you have it—the career development pieces and how they're tied together. This piece is meant to provide my clients with an overview for the interrelatedness of career development. Since it's very brief, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input about this.


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July 2005: Jobs Leave as Profits Rise

About 10 days ago, I came across an excellent New York Times article that explains a lot of what is going on in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley in particular. While it's depressing in some ways, it also is a clear heads-up to what's currently happening. Depending on your circumstances, this may actually be an ideal time to be thinking of a career change. If jobs are going away, why not consider using your functional and technical skills in another
industry or different career? Of
course, this is one of the things I specialize in helping people with, so I'm here if you need me.

For the sake of at least some brevity, I've edited this long article. If you want to read it in its full form, search the New York Times for “In Silicon Valley, jobs leave even as profits rise” By John Markoff and Matt Richtel.


Things are looking up at Wyse Technology, a venerable maker of computer terminals - unless, that is, you happen to want to work for the company here in Silicon Valley.

Responding to booming demand in Asia and Europe, Wyse is adding development teams in India and China and expanding its worldwide work force to about 380, from 260. Its profit is posted here - but almost none of its new jobs are here.

Amid widespread signs of economic recovery in this region, Wyse is emblematic of its economy, in which demand, sales and profit are rising quickly while job growth stagnates.

In the past three years, profits at the seven largest companies in Silicon Valley by market value have risen an average of more than 500 percent while employment in Santa Clara County, the heart of the region, has declined to 767,600, from 787,200, a loss of nearly 20,000 jobs. During the previous economic recovery, in 1995-97, Santa Clara County added more than 80,000 jobs.

Changes in technology and business strategy are raising fundamental questions about the future of the valley, the U.S. high technology heartland. In part, the change is driven by the automation that Silicon Valley itself has largely made possible, allowing companies to create more value with fewer workers.

Some economists are wondering if a larger transformation is at work, accelerating a trend in which the region's big employers keep a brain trust of creative people and engineers here but hire workers for lower-level tasks elsewhere.

"What has changed is that Silicon Valley has continued to move up the value chain," said AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California at Berkeley. That has meant that just as low-skilled manufacturing jobs fled the region starting in the 1970s, software jobs are leaving now.

The increase in companies' profits "has been very dramatic, but there's no job growth," said Doug Henton, president of Collaborative Economics, a regional consulting company.

The phenomenon is only the latest twist in the region's boom-and-bust history, marked by repeated cycles of innovation and renewal over the past five decades. Some former technology workers have given up on the sector or moved out of the area.

In some cases, as at Wyse, the job growth in the sector is taking place elsewhere, in lower-cost, higher-growth markets. A new management team is leading a restructuring that includes adding 100 workers in India and 35 in Beijing so far this year.

At the start of the year, the company had 90 percent of its work force in Silicon Valley; now the figure is 48 percent, and only 15 percent of its engineering talent remains here, largely because of the technology development teams it is building in India and China.

Stephen Levy, director for the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy, said the growth of employment outside Silicon Valley was "not a nefarious plot" but a logical development. "Companies are going where there are customers and, in some cases, where it's cheaper to produce," he said.

Companies will always have a presence in Silicon Valley because there is a core of talent, but there is strong pressure to figure out exactly which jobs are essential to keep in California."

The issue is not just outsourcing, though, but also big leaps in productivity. Cisco, a major maker of Internet equipment, now has annual sales of $680,000 per employee, compared with $480,000 in 2001.

One key measure, known as value added per employee, rose 3.7 percent in 2004, to $222,000. That compares with $85,000 per worker in the rest of the United States, according to data reported by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a regional economic research group.

By a number of other measures, companies are watching profits and sales rise. An analysis published in April by The San Jose Mercury News found that the top 100 publicly traded companies in the region had total revenue of $336 billion in 2004, an increase of 14 percent from the previous year.

"It's a clear recovery," Levy said. "It's a high-productivity jobless recovery."

In the past, much of the job growth has come from investment by venture capitalists in start-up companies. That engine is starting to rev up again, with venture capitalists putting $7.4 billion into 724 Silicon Valley companies in 2004, according to the National Venture Capital Association. That is up 17 percent from 2003 but still far below the $34 billion invested in 2000.

Newer start-ups also are under pressure from their venture capital investors to outsource work to lower-cost regions. Venture capitalists, who were burned as the last cycle turned downward, are much more closely watching the way start-ups spend money, including how they hire. And this in turn is slowing overall hiring.


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June 2005: Success on the Job and Beyond

I hope this finds you all well and looking forward to a fun summerhopefully with some break from the grind. This month's topic is about success on the new job and beyond.

Ok, I've got the new job but how do I build career resilience into the equation? How to be ready for the next layoff or what if I don't like the new job or they don't like me? Remember, for most jobs these days it's employment at will, two weeks notice either way!

So, how do I make the most of what I can learn at the new place? How to hit the ground running, get
noticed, get promoted, get references and also keep my networking momentum going? Well, here are  10 strategies that will help.

  • BUILD ALLIES. Who are your new work resources? They can help you succeed. Are people noticing the work you do? They can be future references.

  • KEEP A PSR LOG (problem/solution/result) private or in the form of status notes. Remember PSRs are the heart of what makes a resume come alive. They tell prospective employers what problems you solve and how you solve them.

  • PICK PROJECTS THAT CAN EXPAND YOUR SKILLS, not just ones that are easy or familiar. Where's the growth, the exciting projects in your industry? Volunteer to work on those projects.

  • MANAGE WELL both up and down. Learn to build bridges of communication both to your employees and to those above you in the organization.

  • KEEP IN CONTACT with your new and old network and continue to share contacts. Keep learning, growing, and giving.

  • KEEP YOUR RESUME UP-TO-DATE. Be ready at a moments notice to take advantage of new opportunities.

  • ATTEND professional association and alumni get-togethers.

  • STAY IN TOUCH WITH REFERENCES. Tell them how things are going and what you're learning. Be of service to them. Remember it's a two-way street with references and the rest of your network.

  • ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN for new opportunities, markets, and possibilities.

  • KEEP SEEING YOUR WONDERFUL COACH : - )  Keep the momentum going, make sure you're on track at work and have your options open at all times.

In closing, please let me know if you have any thoughts or additional ideas about this month's topic.

Also, if you know anyone who's frustrated with their work, wants to look and see what else is out there, please have them contact me. I have an excellent track record of helping people find more meaningful and lucrative work faster than they would on their own. I'd love to be of service.

  

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May 2005: Managing Stress

This month we're going to discuss stress management. Looking for work, making important career decisions, or dealing with difficult work situations can be very stressful. To maintain our health and keep performance at a high level, we need to manage stress: some of it is helpful, too much can be overwhelming and damaging!

Here are some ideas of what you can do to cope with anxiety, stress, and depression. You've probably heard of these activities but there always seems to be a wide gap between what we know and what we do.


Deep Mindful Breathing. Get in a comfortable, quiet position and focus on slowing your breath. Pay attention to the breaths as you inhale and exhale. You can even say to yourself "inhale" on the in-breath and "relax" on the exhale. When your mind drifts off, gently bring it back to the breath.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
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As in deep breathing, get in a comfortable, quiet spot and focus on slowing your breath. One by one, tense the various areas of your body. For example, on the in-breath tighten both fists and feel that tension then slowly open your hands and feel the tension leave your body as you exhale. In a relaxed state, you can also practice imagery and picture a relaxing situation or you being successful at something.

Counter negative thoughts. When you catch yourself having a critical, judgmental negative mind, see if you can hear what you're saying to yourself and challenge the truthfulness of possible distortions and counter with positive thoughts. (See the books of David Burns.)

Take a class or join a group that does one of the following: yoga, meditation, pilates, tai chi, stretching, prayer, or qigong. If group activities aren't for you, buy a book or video (or check one out of the library) on the subject and try it on your own.

Time out. Stop for one or two minutes every hour (as a reminder, set your watch or computer to beep on the hour). Become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations. See if you can let the tension drop a notch.

Accomplish at least one task each day mindfully. When you're doing something, just do that one thing, fully present and attentive to what you are doing. While you're walking, just walk. Notice each step. While you're brushing your teeth, just brush your teeth.

Exercise. Get regular exercise. Several times a week, get out for 30 minutes and hike, walk, bike, swim, dance, garden or whatever else you like to do.

Time just for you. No matter how hard you've been working, build in time just for you where you can do what you love--movies, books, music, dance, gardening, visiting friends, journaling, travel--whatever it is. You deserve it! Build rewards into your life.

Get help/connect with others. Hire a coach or a therapist. See your minister, talk to friends and love ones about what's going on. Join a supportive success team. Reach out and connect to others. Foster friendships, build networks.

Cultivate your spiritual side. Pray, meditate, attend weekly religious service, spiritual readings, or practice mindful movement.

Count your Blessings. Practice appreciation for all that you've been given all of which you wouldn't want to lose: family, friends, health, enough to eat, safety, shelter, clothing, and so forth. Give to others, volunteer for causes that help those less fortunate than you.

Laugh as much as possible. Humor is wonderful for the spirit. Watch funny movies, read humorous books, hang out with upbeat witty people, have fun. 

The basics. And of course, eat well, get plenty of rest, slow down (allow extra time for everything) and go to the doctor when needed.

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April 2005: Make Your Hobby Your Career?

Our TV show ("You're Hired!") is now in 23 cities with a potential viewing audience of over 300,000--pretty good and lots of fun!

This month we're going to discuss the possibility of turning your hobby into your work. Is it realistic or just a dream?

Most of these comments come from “Could Your Hobby Be Your Job?” by Roberta Chinsky Matuson.*

Ok, let's see if your hobby could possibly become your career…

Do you spend your workday waiting to get home so you can work at your hobby? Can't wait for the weekend to come? Donald Sentner, president of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania-based Design Specialties, is one who successfully turned his hobby into a full-time job!

Sentner's been interested in kit models since he was a child. "My high school guidance counselor suggested that I do this for a living," says Sentner. "I didn't know this was a possibility." He started working as a model-making apprentice and then spent a number of years working for others until venturing out on his own.

Wouldn't it be great if you could turn your hobby into a paying job? It's possible, but there are a few factors to consider before you leap in. Use these tips to find out if your pastime can become your livelihood.

Is Your Hobby Marketable?  Your first step in attempting to make a job of your favorite activity is to "research your hobby to see if it's a business," Sentner advises. "Make sure your hobby is marketable. Being passionate about something is one thing; being passionate about something marketable is another." Get out and network and do some informational interviewing with people already doing the work you dream of. Ask questions, observe, and learn.

Think It Through.  If you're lucky enough to have a hobby with a market, your next step is to consider whether you would be happy working in it. Nancy Hayes Bevington, vice president-client services at the Burlington, Massachusetts, office of Right Management Consultants, says it's important to consider how this type of job shift may change your feelings about your hobby.
"When your hobby becomes your work, it may not be the same," says Bevington. "This change can take the fun out of what you are doing. In addition to making the product or providing the service, you now have to think about pricing, deadlines, doing it someone else's way, etc."

Kiersten Peterson, manager of retail human resources support for Boston-based Winston Flowers, agrees with Bevington. Peterson recalls when a departing employee told her that she had discovered that an avocation isn't always a great vocation. "It's not all glitz and glamour," says Peterson. "As a florist, you are cutting flowers, lugging buckets of water and spending a lot of time in refrigeration units."

From the Ground Floor Up – Again.  Bevington also points out that your personal experience won't necessarily be acknowledged professionally. "The workplace will look at you as someone who comes in with no professional experience, even if you have done this for years" on a personal level, she says. Can you really afford to start at the bottom again?
On the other hand, we are often very good at our passions and you may be able to leverage some good testimonials from people who know your work.

If you're determined to work in the field, maybe you can gain experience by working in a small shop. For instance, "Walk into your local florist right before a major holiday like Valentine's Day," says Peterson. "If you need to, offer to volunteer your time. Do what it takes to get the experience."

Ease Your Way In.  Don't quit your day job, yet. Curt Rosengren of Seattle-based Passion Catalyst, a career consulting organization, suggests you "continue to do what you are doing to bring in revenue, while taking a parallel path to help make the transition" to your hobby job.
In other words, get the knowledge or experience you need while you still have money coming in. For example, that may mean getting a part-time job during off-hours or earning any necessary certifications. "Give yourself time to succeed," says Rosengren. "It could take five years to completely make the transition."

Keep Your Options Open.  Don't burn any bridges with your current employer, Bevington advises. Refrain from giving your boss a piece of your mind -- because one day you might decide to go back to your day job and spend your evenings enjoying your hobby.
While it's important to keep your eyes wide open to the realities of what's involved in pursuing your hobby, don't let that discourage you from at least investigating and possibly pursuing a fun dream. Since we often can more easily excel at activities for which we have a genuine interest and passion, maybe just maybe you can get paid for doing your hobby!

*Copyright 2005 - Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster, the leading online global network for careers. To see other career-related articles visit http://content.monster.com.

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March 2005: Mid and Late Career Transitions

This month we're going to discuss the older or mature workforce. What you can do if you're going through a career transition in mid or late career?

Many of these tips come from “Boom or Bust” by Carleen MacKay which focuses on career development needs for mature workers.

Ok, so here are some tips for the “mature” job hunter or career transitioner:

STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN TO THE SECRET OF A GOOD LIFE. Take time to reflect on your past work experience, your special strengths, your values and your interests. By this stage, you probably are relatively clear as to what you have and haven't enjoyed. Look at the new world and the revolutionary changes in the job market. Study the changes. Listen carefully to what the marketplace is telling you and align your strengths, values, and interests as closely as possible with current needs. A good life belongs to those who have something meaningful to do and someone to love. By linking your search for life's meaning with meaningful work, you may find the missing ingredient in your own search for the good life.

PRESENT YOURSELF AS A MASTER SURGEON NOT A SURGICAL RESIDENT! Ask yourself; if I needed open-heart surgery, would I choose an experienced cardiovascular surgeon or would I rather let a first year surgical resident have a go at my delicate surgery? The resident, while eager and well educated, can't compete with the skilled hands and experienced brain of the master surgeon. Apply this example to yourself. Focus your mature career on the specific expertise gained through years of learning and the refinement of that learning. Minimize your generalist experience. Remember: “To age is to sage.”

WRITE A RESUME BASED ON RECENT EXPERIENCE. There's no rule that says you have to list every past experience from high school until now. Better yet, in your writer's mind; substitute the word "ad" for the word resume. It'll help you to stay focused and current. Who cares if you graduated in 1958? Claim the degree and the university but not the year.

TARGET THE NEW JOB MARKET. In your youth, most organization's jobs were filled by regular and full-time employees. By the early '80's, 10% of organizational contributors worked in temporary capacities. By the early '90's, up to 20% of us were working as temporary, or contingent, contributors in a typical organization. By 2001, people were bailing out of corporate America. More and more small business or home-based businesses were started. Many economists predict that by 2008, 40-50% of most organizations in the U.S. will be comprised of temporary, or contingent, workforces. If you're exclusively targeting regular, full-time jobs for your next "gig," you may be looking at only 50-60% of the available opportunities available.

SELL VALUE - NOT TIME. The old work world was made up of people working in longevity-based pay systems. If you endured 20 years with an employer, you received a little more "merit" pay each year for your outstanding efforts. In fact, the results of that so-called merit raise of 3 to 4% per year compounded over the years is one reason why you may be unable to compete with lower-paid youth today. Compete by demonstrating that you can make the organization money, save the organization money or help them to outdistance the competition. By linking your quantifiable results to organizational need, you'll be better able to "price" yourself within their view of your value. Stop selling time. It is far less relevant to the buyer than it used to be.

YOU'RE YOUNGER THAN YOU USED TO BE. Since the turn of the last century, life spans have almost doubled. Basically, what it means to you and to me is that most of us will work longer. You're younger than you used to be!

KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR—NO EXCUSES. Keep a positive, enthusiastic attitude and don't lose your sense of humor. If you're asked about being overqualified, say: “What's wrong with being overqualified anyway? The organization will get more for their money!" Plus, age isn't the only factor in a slow job search. Attitude is the biggest job search killer. Don't assume you have a right to your old job and pay; business is about the value you bring to a company today. It also takes longer to find a higher level, well paying job. If nothing else, there are fewer of them. So keep a positive and optimistic attitude!

MASTER THE ART AND SKILL OF NETWORKING. By all means, scan the published openings and post your resume at targeted employer web sites, but don't stop there. Enter the front and back doors - of both systems and people for maximum effect. Join a professional organization in a high profile role. Find out about alumni services. Let employers find you. People hire people.

CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES. Tired of the corporate grind? Explore the booming world of home business, small business, and virtual business. New franchise opportunities abound. You'll be delightfully surprised at the number of opportunities that are out there.

HIRE A CAREER COACH. You have probably hired little league coaches, ballet coaches, computer coaches, student coaches, language coaches, chef coaches. you name it coaches. Now, invest in yourself and consider hiring a career coach to help you overcome the barriers of mature employment. They'll walk with you step-by-step over the new ground in a new world that seems so much bigger than it really is! It's their focused expertise and love of their own work that will help you to open up new opportunities and challenges.

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February 2005: Building Connections (Networking & Info Interviewing)

Hope this finds you all well. This month I'm going to briefly discuss the basics of effective networking. The statistics vary but most experts claim that something like 75% of the jobs people get are through contacts—so if you're going to excel in an aspect of the job hunt, this is where to put a fair amount of energy.

There is a subtle difference between “networking” and “informational interviewing.” Networking involves building connections between people and can be accomplished in several ways. Informational interviewing is similar but involves more formally asking folks for input. In either case, there are 10 basic suggestions that will help you be more effective in your connection building.
  • Do advance preparation about your contact and his/her organization. The more you demonstrate knowledge and avoid asking obvious questions, the better the connection you'll make. Think in advance, what can I hope to learn and share with this person?

  • Be sensitive to the schedule and time constraints of your contact. If you ask for 20 minutes, keep to that time frame unless the other person extends the time.

  • Communicate your purpose in making the contact. Tell them about your background and what you hope to learn or get guidance with.

  • Even though you may be asking questions, remember to communicate your strengths and enthusiasm. You want the contact to think of you as opportunities arise.

  • Remember to ask two key questions. What would you do if you were in my situation? Who else would you suggest I contact? The first question can elicit great career guidance tailored to your specific situation and the second question is how you expand your network.

  • Listen, listen, listen. Absorb everything they're saying before you jump in with your next question. Remain open to their input.

  • DO NOT ask your contact to give you a job. No bait and switch.

  • Look for opportunities to add value to your networking exchange. Send an article that follows up on something you discussed or forward the name of someone your contact might like to meet. As much as possible, use individual communication rather than spamming large groups. Pace your contact frequency so as not to wear out your welcome.

  • Always, follow-up with a thank you note.

  • Stay in touch. Periodically let your network know the latest--you don't want to drift out of their consciousness. To do this well, create a tracking system—this can be as simple as a Word table that lists the name of your contacts, how you know them, their contact info, what you've done so far, and what's next.

Well, there you have at least some ideas of how to effectively build your network. Start with the folks you know then expand out to the people they know. Go to conference events, take classes, join professional associations, volunteer, check out your alumni association and go to it!

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January 2005: Developing Charisma

First a short plug and then onto today's topic: “Developing Charisma.”

This time of year we make resolutions to improve our lives—lose weight, improve relationships, get a good job, and look into a more meaningful career.

If one of your goals is to get unstuck and find more meaningful and lucrative work, then I invite you to consider investing in yourself and consider some reasonably-priced career/life coaching individually tailored to your specific situation.

I help my clients get the jobs they want and deserve more quickly than they would on their own. This saves them time, money, and a whole lot of stress. And considering that we spend so much of our lives at work, it's hard to put a price tag on finding work that's interesting and more of a calling than just another job. Please think about it—you’re more than worth it!

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Ok what's “developing charisma?” While on the surface this may sound impossible, there are ways to change your interactional and presentation patterns such that you can increase your Emotional Intelligence, as defined by Daniel Goleman. This can lead to success in networking, interviewing, negotiating, getting promoted, and much more.

The following points are based on an article by Kate Lorenz for CareerBuilder.com and Debra Benson's book Executive Charisma: Six Steps to Mastering the Art of Leadership.

You've seen them, people like John F. Kennedy, Mario Cuomo, Martin Luther King and many others whose personal magnetism makes them stand out and propels them up the ladder of success.

But is charisma -- that powerful personal magic that attracts people and promotions like a magnet -- something you're born with or something you can learn?

It's common knowledge, for example, that President Kennedy exuded charisma. Yet historians say his style was so carefully rehearsed that before running for president he even commissioned a study to determine the most effective handshake!

Those who study charisma say that while some people are innately more charismatic than others, there are certain things everyone can do to boost their charisma quotient. See if you can incorporate into your life some of the following pointers:

Expect acceptance
Regardless of your status, expect to be treated as an equal. If you expect acceptance, you just might get it. If you don't expect it, you definitely won't get it.

Control your attitude
Success in business is based as much on mental attitude as on capabilities. Try to be optimistic toward yourself, others and life. Walk in to a room with a spring in your step and a smile on your face. Studies have shown that enthusiasm makes a big difference in determining who gets a job or promotion.

Improve your posture
Stand up straight yet relaxed with your shoulders back and down. Breathe deeply. You'll not only look better and trimmer, but feel more energized, alert and in control.

Think before you talk
Think fast, pause, then speak purposefully. One CEO practices saying everything to himself before he says it out loud so that he will hear how it sounds and can change it if he needs to.

Slow down
Speaking, gesturing and walking quickly can make you look nervous and scared. Scared people get passed over, not hired or promoted. Practice speaking in a comfortable, easygoing and welcoming way. Don't waste time, but do speak as if you have all the time in the world for those you're speaking to—at that moment, they're the most important people in the world.

Shoot straight
Everything you say or write can be expressed and done in a simple, straightforward manner. Keep promises--do what you say you're going to do.

Be a good storyteller
People understand you better, remember what you say longer, and find you smarter and more interesting if you use anecdotes to make your points. This ties into our previous newsletter about building your networking and interviewing style around PSR (problem/solution/result) stories.

Be aware of your style
Clothes don't make the person but they do make a difference. Wear well-tailored, good quality clothes that make you look like you're in charge and that you already have the position you seek. But remember, it isn't as much about your look as how you look at things and what people see when they look at you.

Admit your mistakes
If you're error-free, you're likely effort-free. As the saying goes “ask for forgiveness, rather than permission.”

Don't be bullied
If you're unjustly criticized, don't take the bait and get into an argument. Instead calmly ask: "Why do you think that?" "What do you mean?" or "What's that based on?"

Be flexible
Remain open to other points of view. You can still stand out while still fitting in with the crowd. Embrace change; some say it's the only constant.

Be at ease with yourself and others
Look others straight in the eye, eliminate defensiveness and take the edge off your voice. Never let them see you sweat!


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December 2004: Lean Times

Hello Everyone! We have a very meaty topic to get into this time: recent job trends. Before we dive in, let me bring you up to date on the TV show "You're Hired!" We've now filmed 13 episodes and there are plans for it to be shown in several more communities! Great news! We'll begin spreading the word throughout the Bay Area and maybe beyond!

Ok, onto to the topic of job trends… Many readers of this newsletter are either high-tech workers or counsel high-tech workers. Many of us thought that after the .com boom and subsequent bust we'd slowly see growth back to some midpoint between the two. Well, it started out that way but the numbers this year are actually trailing last year's figures. I'm including an edited version of a recent San Jose Mercury article because it discusses the latest trends. In reflecting on its contents, I'm not thinking that both as career coaches and job hunters, we might need to think more in terms of transferable skills and career changes rather than doggedly waiting for things to get better in our old field.

The following is an edited and condensed version of the Mercury News’ “Lean times linger for valley firms RECOVERY A MIRAGE, THEY ‘FIGHT FOR EVERY PENNY’ By Chris O'Brien. It's still a bit long, but very important reading!

Silicon Valley expected to be enjoying good times by now. Instead, almost four years after the downturn in technology spending began, high-tech companies still find themselves clawing for any sale they can get.

Savvy corporations are playing desperate technology vendors against one another, extracting deep discounts for the latest equipment and services -- a far cry from the boom years when customers had to pay premium prices for backlogged products.

This fundamental power shift has huge implications for Silicon Valley. Tech spending is projected to grow only slightly in the coming years. All over the region, companies that sell technology are being forced to slash costs, look for more business overseas, try to buy competitors, revamp marketing strategies and keep a tight lid on jobs in the United States.

“They're all fighting for a pie that isn't increasing as fast as they'd like to tell their shareholders,'' said Martin Reynolds, a technology spending analyst for Gartner, a high-tech market research firm. “Everyone is aggressively trying to cut costs. You've got to fight for every penny.”


Tech spending--Modest growth over next 12 months

After an initial rebound earlier this year, economists agree that tech spending will grow only modestly over the next 12 months.

In a recent report, the UCLA Anderson Forecast notes that tech spending has returned to a “normal path of growth -- one that is still rapid, just not blistering as it was in the late nineties.'” At the same time, the forecast projects improvement will only translate into job growth in the Bay Area of 1 to 2 percent in 2005.

Steve Cochrane, an economist at Economy.com, projects growth in tech spending will slow from 14 percent in 2004 to 9 percent in the first quarter of 2005 and 5 percent in the second quarter. Cochrane said there are no compelling innovations emerging to spur larger spending.

“One question is whether there has been enough change in the technology to drive demand,'” Cochrane said. “It really seems that things are quite incremental right now.”

Gartner is projecting that tech spending will only grow about 5 percent to 7 percent in 2005. Reynolds, the Gartner analyst, said many executives still feel they overspent during the boom on technology that often failed to deliver on its promises.

Those executives who buy technology -- known as chief information officers, or CIOs -- learned hard lessons and have emerged more savvy and aggressive. They know that any time they pull out their wallets, tech companies will be at their mercy.

“In the first 20 or so years of the technology age, the vendors held all the cards,” said Gary Beach, publisher of CIO Magazine. ”But now, the fulcrum of power is not with the vendors or consultants. It's with the customers.”


Profit outlook-- Pleasing Wall St. is getting tougher

Even as customers want more, so does Wall Street. And tech is having a harder time delivering on the demand for fatter profits.

For 2005, Thompson Financial predicts only a 15 percent increase in tech profits compared to a projected 40 percent increase for 2004.

“This isn't going to make a lot of people out there happy,” said Michael Thompson, research director for Thomson Financial.

And so, across Silicon Valley, companies are using a variety of strategies to adapt to this new terrain of lower customer spending and more pressure for results. The most widely discussed has been consolidation.

Many analysts and executives believe there are simply too many companies chasing shrinking IT budgets to remain profitable.

The leading proponent of this idea, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, has waged a 17-month campaign to acquire rival PeopleSoft so he can spread his costs over more customers.

In the first eight months of 2004, there were 164 software merger and acquisition deals in the U.S. worth $2.9 billion, compared with 109 deals in 2003 worth $2.4 billion, according to Dealogic, an investment bank.

For other companies, the answer is to look overseas. Meta Group, a technology market-research firm, projects total tech spending in the Europe-Middle East-Africa region will surpass North America in 2005, and spending in the Asia-Pacific region, while smaller, is growing faster.

Juniper Networks of Sunnyvale has seen its revenues grow 83 percent in the first nine months of 2004 compared with the same period in 2003. Almost 50 percent of the revenue in 2004 came from overseas, compared with about 30 percent in 2001.

Since then, the network-equipment maker has opened sales offices in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Asia. In September, the company said it would open a research facility in Beijing.

“There are a ton of opportunities overseas,” said Christine Heckart, Juniper's vice president of marketing.


Getting More Out of Less
As companies try to cut costs throughout the food chain, the number of tech jobscontinues to decline.

In the third quarter of 2004, tech companies announced 54,701 layoffs nationwide, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That figure was up 60 percent from the second quarter, and up 14 percent from the same period last year.

“Behind this trend is the fact that technology companies have virtually no pricing power,” CEO John Challenger wrote to clients. “Even as demand increases, most manufacturers and service providers are getting less money for each unit sold. They are forced to cut costs to maintain healthy profit margins.”

That trend was echoed in a recent survey by the Information Technology Association of America. The ITAA reported that employers will hire 270,000 fewer business technology workers in 2004 than in 2003.

“Silicon Valley is based on the notion of getting more out of less,” said Thompson, the Thomson Financial research director. “That's just the corporate reality.”

****
This article ends with a nice graphic that shows the flow of “Techonomics”:

1) Customers: large businesses are keeping a tight rein on tech spending. They find the same dollars go further every year. (Analysts project spending to grow only 5% to 9% in ’05 compared with 14% in ’04.)

2) In response, Tech companies see that slow growth gives customers enormous leverage over tech vendors, allowing them to demand deep discounts and drive hard bargains.

3) Wall Street still puts enormous pressure to deliver bigger profits, so tech companies respond by ramping up their marketing, searching for more overseas sales; trying to steal customers from each other, and drastically cutting expenses.

4) Finally, All these trends put the squeeze on tech jobs. In many cases tech co.'s are continuing to cut jobs some four years after the downturn. (Layoffs in the 3rd quarter were up 60% from the 2nd quarter and up 14% from same period last year.

Some heavy information and lots of reading, but I thought it was important for all of us to stay on top of this!

Until next time.  Happy Holidays, Steve


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October/November 2004: 7 Attributes of Success

I came across an interesting article recently. A high school student, Douglas Barry, decided to ask more than 150 top executives “What does it take to become a CEO?” Interestingly, he received many sincere, heartfelt and personal responses from some of today's top business leaders and he collected the letters in a “Wisdom for a Young CEO” (Running Press).

Despite the varied backgrounds of those CEOs, an insightful and inspirational pattern emerged. Here are the seven attributes the CEOs mentioned:

Passion -- Do What You Love; Love What You Do.
"The people who have the greatest chance of being successful are those who work hard and are excited about what they are doing. There is no substitute for energy and enthusiasm," Jacques Nasser of Ford Motor Company says. If you follow your passion, success, whether material or abstract, will be an added bonus to doing what you love.

Respect -- Make People Your Priority
Leaders agree it's all about the people. You're only as good as those who work for you. A great CEO listens to others, feels their concerns, delegates authority, and nurtures the company's talent. Respect is a two-way street – give respect and you will earn it. "Always treat people with dignity and respect, particularly those who work for you," Merck and Company's Raymond Gilmartin advises. "Not only is this appropriate behavior – if you follow this principle, you will attract and retain talented people, which you will find is essential to your success."

Vision -- Clearly Communicate the Future
"One of the key qualities that any CEO (or successful person) needs – a willingness to stretch yourself and go after goals that others think are too visionary, too hard, or too ambitious to accomplish," Richard McGinn of Lucent Technologies says. Leaders don't have to be visionaries, but they do have to have vision. In order to accomplish something, you need to know how you are going to go about doing it. A good leader sets a definite course of action with a vision that is attainable and inspiring.

Humanity -- It's Not Just About the Paycheck
Successful people need to have compassion. "The bottom line about success in life isn't about whether you are financially successful, but whether you have given of yourself in some way to help others less fortunate than you and to serve your community and your country," P. Anthony Ridder, CEO of Knight Ridder says. You should have a desire to make your community a better place and to live and embrace diversity and bigger ideas. You should work so that others, not just you, are happy, inspired and productive.

Curiosity -- Look, Listen, Learn
Learn for learning's sake. Learning takes place everywhere, not just in the classroom and if you ignore this, you'll be missing out. Continue pushing limits, climbing to new heights and acquiring new knowledge. Try everything and don't be afraid to fail. "The more you know, the better equipped you will be to tackle all the obstacles you meet on your way to reaching your objectives," Ivan Seidenberg of Bell Atlantic Corporation says.

Integrity -- Honesty Above All, to All
"Live each day as if your actions would be the headlines the next day in your local newspaper," advises Jon A. Boscia, CEO of Lincoln Financial Group. Personal integrity and ethics reflects not just on the leader, but the company as a whole. Making integrity a priority is crucial to the bottom line. Lying is never acceptable. If you're dishonest, then
dishonesty becomes your mode of thinking.

Pragmatism -- Know What You Don't Know
Be humble. Concentrate on the things that matter most and get better. Don't take yourself too seriously and learn to laugh at yourself. You need to have failures and learn from them. A leader needs to be humble and confident – confidence shows you believe in what you're doing and humility lets you recognize other ideas and opinions. "An important mark of a good leader [is] to know you don't know it all and never will," Anne M. Mulcahy of Xerox Corporation says.

And one more I’d add is persistence-- don’t give, up keep going after what you want. That combined with pragmatism will keep you from chasing the impossible.


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September 2004: Organic Job Hunting

Hello everyone, hope you are all doing well as we head into Fall.


Let's talk about “Organic Job Hunting.”

Organic job hunting? No this doesn't mean your résumé contains no pesticides or that your networking is “free-range.” It does mean that all aspects of career development are interrelated in an organic whole.

Job hunters often miss how each aspect of job hunting or career development is directly connected. Your introduction or pitch when you network is directly and synergistically related to what you write in your business communication (e-mail
messages, résumés, and cover letters), how you answer interview questions, and how you negotiate a better salary. The bottom line is that you need to consistently communicate your worth to a potential employer—in other words, what you can do for them.


Here's a very brief outline showing how the pieces can be connected:

Start by writing accomplishment statements or PSRs (problem/solution/results).
  • You can create a resume rich with value-added accomplishments.

  • This leads to a compelling summary profile which makes general claims supported by PSRs.

  • From this you can fashion a memorable verbal pitch.

  • And write persuasive cover letters.

  • You can use these PSRs to answer competency-based behavioral interview questions.

  • You can also use them when negotiating salary by demonstrating how you've saved employers  money in the past.

This is an all-too-brief outline of how this works but I think you get the idea of the synergistic effect of each element.

Job-hunting is in essence a marketing campaign with you as both marketing director and the product. Like any good marketing effort, you must communicate a clear and consistent message. Through your networking and informational interviewing you need to ascertain the employer's key problems and must then communicate solutions. When potential
employers think of you they need to picture someone who understands and helps solve their problems or ease their pain. As Jean Murphy said recently, “I want to hire someone who's an aspirin to my pain.”

Using myself as an example, I communicate a solution to job-hunting problems by using the following pitch: “Hello, I'm Steve Piazzale, I help my clients find jobs they want and deserve more quickly than they would on their own; this saves them time, money, and a whole lot of stress.” But then I consistently support this message in my e-mail communications and on my website, explaining how I do this, my qualifications, and my track record. I also communicate this message when someone is interviewing me and it's the key to how I negotiate proper compensation for my efforts.

In sum, like any good marketing campaign, employers needs to hear a clear, consistent message that you understand their situation and have a solution for one or more of their problems—that you can add direct value to their organization. If you are able to do this in all your communication with employers, you'll be far ahead of the competition and well on your way to getting the job you want and deserve! And it will be organic as well!


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August 2004: Inspiring  Quotations

We've now filmed eight episodes of "You're Hired!" and it's moving along quite well. We're beginning to shop the show to new communities and are generating interest. Along with the private practice, newspaper column, Right Management, and ProMatch, it definitely keeps me off the streets.

For almost 10 years now, I've been collecting quotes on different topics—humor, love, work, sports, etc. It often seems that a good turn of phrase or a poetic text captures wisdom in ways that long paragraphs can't even approach. Just focusing on one of these each week can be very inspiring.

Here are a few of my favorite quotations. I hope that at least a few of these speak to you.

Getting that job you want and deserve…
"Being able to do the job well will not necessarily get you hired; the person who gets hired is often the one who knows the most about how to get hired".

"Careers are linear in foresight but circuitous in hindsight." Kathleen Mitchell

"Many people think they should get paid for what they know. It's what you can do for me with what you know that brings value - Napoleon Hill

Persistence 
"Fall seven times, stand up eight." a Japanese proverb

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." – John Quincy Adams

"No matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, turn back." – a Turkish proverb

Attitude
"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you are right." Henry Ford

"It may be that knowledge is power, but pulling the switch is enthusiasm."

"Believe good things will happen and they will. Have hope in the future and you'll be able to spot the potential good in a situation, or see the opportunity amidst the danger. Look for blessings and you'll spot them." -- Stephen Pollan

Embracing Risk
"You can't steal second with your foot on first!" – Burke Hedges

"Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing…Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than out-right exposure." Helen Keller

Success
"Success is determined by taking the hand you were dealt and utilizing it to the very best of your ability." Ty Boyd

"Success consists of a series of little daily efforts." Mamie McCullough

"The most successful people are those who do all year long what they would otherwise do on their summer vacation." Mark Twain

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing." Abraham Lincoln

Finding your calling
"Listen to your feelings, they are messages from your soul." Thomas Moore

"If your livelihood isn't making you lively, then what good is it?" -- Heather L. Davis

"My object in living is to unite my avocation and my vocation As my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and need are one, And the work is play for mortal stakes, Is the deed ever really done For Heaven and the future's sakes." - Robert Frost 

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman 

"The only real valuable thing is intuition." Albert Einstein

General Inspiration
"Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions." Albert Einstein

"There are no mistakes in life; only course corrections." Dr. David Illig

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Elliot

"What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insolvable problems." – John Gardner, 1965

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

"And the day came when the risk (it took) to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom." --Anais Nin

"Know what you want but never restrict yourself. The gods may be more generous to you than you are to yourself." D.J. Conway


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July 2004: Changing Careers & Its Impact on Identity

In past newsletters, we have discussed the concept of Planned Happenstance (creating your own good luck) as well as the importance of networking. I came across an interview with Dr. Herminia Ibarra that combines both these concepts in an interesting discussion about how to go about changing careers and its impact on identities. Ibarra is a professor who for years taught at the Harvard Business School and now is a professor at INSEAD (an international business school). Fascinating reading for anyone thinking of changing what they're doing. Here's a portion of it…

Q- Tell me about your research on career change. 
Ibarra- The most interesting finding is that the way people change careers is almost the opposite of what career manuals and counselors suggest to people. The conventional approach is to be very clear about what it is you want to do and to really know yourself through introspection, personality tests, or self-assessment. Then you go through an intensive and analytic approach to identify a more appropriate career, one that will make you happier and be more fulfilling. Once you have identified the ideal career then the rest is just a matter of re-orienting your résumé, networking and contacting appropriate recruiters. It's a fairly linear process.

What I have found is that most people are dissatisfied with their jobs and would like to try something completely different. The problem is that while they can tell you very clearly what they don't like about their job or situation, they are paralyzed because they have no idea what would be a better alternative. They can't find this by introspection because they can't draw on any direct experience with a better alternative. That's why these conventional methods don't help people much. 

My study showed that most people change jobs in a very serendipitous, trial and error, way. They most often start doing something new in small ways, such as taking on part-time work, taking a course, freelancing on the side, or working on a project. Over time that thing grows both in terms of their interest in it, and their ability to turn it into a real job because they get funding, or the right contacts. The person devotes more and more time to it and it really blossoms into a new thing. That is what allows the person to make the leap, because its not a leap into the unknown anymore.

This approach may not be rational and linear but it doesn't mean that you cant guide it for more success…People really have to understand that changing careers is in a way changing identities. I called my book "Working Identity" because changing who you are professionally is a process of working your identity as you would work a draft of a paper. You have to understand it touches profoundly who you are and that's part of what's going to make it a long, torturous process. You have to give up something of who you were and people don't fully understand that until they are in the midst of it.

Q- This makes it much more challenging than simply learning the skills necessary to start a new career. 
Ibarra-  You have to understand the emotions involved, the emotions of being for a time between identities. It's a period when you already have one foot out of the old but the new isn't very defined and you feel like you're in limbo. The question is, What do you do? And its in the 'what do you do' that I have the actionable advice. 

The central point is to act more than you reflect. Do not spend a lot of time introspecting, start acting as soon as you can. It's not that introspecting isn't helpful, but people use that as an excuse not to try things out and you can stay paralyzed for a long time. I've seen people spend a year doing self-assessment…not trying anything.

What does acting mean? I give three kinds of strategies that people can use. One is to do new things in a part-time way; it doesn't have to put your job at risk. New activities can be anything: taking a new course, volunteering for a non-profit, helping a friend who's trying to create a business plan, or doing freelance work. Whatever it is, start doing it in some limited way. That gets you testing whether you actually like it enough to do it more seriously and it gets you in contact with people in that world, which is absolutely critical. 

The second piece of advice is to connect to your networks. This isn't just about networking for leads and referrals, there is a lot of that, but what you're really trying to do is figure out who you want to be next. One thing that helps us decide that is to see role models. Are there people who are doing things that seem really interesting? Can you talk to them? Can they help you? It is very critical during this time to find examples, to see something and say, "Yeah, that's what I want to be." 

Another thing is that its not just a matter of making new contacts and reaching out to new networks; its also a matter of getting out of the old networks. The old networks expect you to be as you were in the past. Even when they mean well, they can be a real brake on your changing, because in your old networks you have already negotiated who you are.

Q- The notion that changing identities is a key to changing careers is an interesting one. 
Ibarra- There's a psychologist at Stanford, Hazel Marcus, who came up with the idea of "possible selves." She has written about how our identities are not just historical things, what we have been in the past, they're also images of who we might be in the future. Everybody has lots of possible selves including the person I'd love to become, the one I secretly wish to become, the person I ought to become, and the person my parents thought I should have become. 

We have this whole cast of characters in our head and they are part of what motivates our search behavior. When you meet somebody who corresponds to one of those possible selves it really gets your attention.

Ibarra- even suggests that it's possible to explore while within a given job…
"…think broadly about the range of opportunities that are available within the organization and to explore them in the same experimental way that I've suggested for changing careers…explore by doing a project, joining a taskforce, or being sent on a temporary assignment."

Q- You've mentioned networks a couple of times. How important are they to changing careers?
Ibarra- I have spent 15 years of my research life studying networks. Whether you're talking about changing careers, or moving up in your organization, or being able to be innovative, the finding that comes up all the time is that people who have broader networks, that extend beyond their immediate sub-unit or function, are simply more effective, more productive and more mobile because they have better access to ideas, and possibilities. 


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June 2004: Networking As You Are Getting Laid Off

This month, we'll briefly discuss networking within your company as you are getting laid off—a bit unusual but very useful nonetheless.

First a bit of news…

We've filmed the third and fourth episodes of my TV show "You're Hired!". Things went even more smoothly than the first time and all the show info is up on the station website. I'm going in several directions at once with the TV show, the newspaper column, private practice, ProMatch, and now being a Right Management consultant. Busy, but lots of fun. 

Ok on to the topic…

In the current job market, it's important to take a "contractor mentality" to the jobs you accept. Most jobs are inherently unstable today and either you or your employer can at any time exercise the "employment at will" contract clause. With that said, it's crucial to continue networking and life-long learning as you move through different jobs.

In recent newsgroup discussions, people have suggested that you can even network within your own company while being laid off! Interesting thought. With thanks to Colette Lamm, here's the essence of the getting laid off strategy

  • Even though you may be in shock, be as prepared as possible, exit gracefully and use all the resources and opportunities you can to help you find your next position. That position could be within the same company, in another division or somewhere else through a contact you make there.

  • Write down the names of people you know in the company, their phone numbers, and email addresses. Ask some for their personal addresses as well. Give them your contact information or personal business card and get theirs.

  • If your company's org charts are available, get them.

  • Look at the current job listings and see if anything fits and go after them.

  • See which recruiters are responsible for the jobs in your subject matter. Go meet them and possibly the hiring manager. Whether or not there's a job right now, you want to be more than just a résumé once you leave. 

  • If your last day is not immediate, then stick out the remaining time. Use that time to close tasks up, train others, make additional contacts, and set up informational interviews in other parts of the company. Don't burn your bridges, make a smooth transition; these people are your resources and your references. 

  • If you could potentially work for another part of the company, make as many connections as you can before leaving.

  • Talk with Internal Placement and Staffing. Ask them to help you navigate the company, lead you to the right areas, and give you names to contact.

  • If your organization has an Internal Placement department, check to see if they have a process by which managers complete references and have your manager complete your reference before you leave.

  • Take advantage of any outplacement program that your company offers.

And as in every kind of networking remember the basics:
  • Do advance preparation prior to meeting with anyone. Know as much about them and their department as possible.

  • Be sensitive to the schedule and time constraints of your contact. 

  • Offer specific information about your background and career goals. 

  • Share information about what you consider to be your strengths.

  • Communicate your purpose in making the contact.

  • Ask for referrals to others who might assist you. 

  • Carefully proofread any e-mail messages before hitting the SEND button. 

  • Look for opportunities to add value to your networking exchange. Think of it as a reciprocal exchange and that you are in this together.

  • Follow-up and thank your contact.


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May 2004: The Future of Work

In his excellent books on emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman stresses that EQ (emotional quotient) is more important than IQ in determining future work success. Workers with a high EQ have excellent people skills or "soft" skills as they are often called. Now, we are starting to see that jobs requiring skills such as flexibility, conflict resolution, creativity, adaptation, leadership, team building, and communication are also the types of work that are hard to outsource. A recent Business Week article is so excellent that I've decided to make it the text of this month's newsletter. If you want to know the probability that your job will be outsourced, read on:

"The Future Of Work: Flexible, creative, and good with people? You should do fine in tomorrow's job market" By Peter Coy with William C. Symonds, Stephen Baker, Michael Arndt, and Robert D. Hof.

No low-wage worker in Shanghai, New Delhi, or Dublin will ever take Mark Ryan's job. No software will ever do what he does, either. That's because Ryan, 48, manages people -- specifically, 100 technicians who serve half a million customers of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) out of an office in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. A telephone lineman before moving up the corporate ladder, Ryan is earning a master's degree at Verizon's expense in organizational management, where he's studying topics like conflict resolution.

That's heady stuff for a guy who used to climb poles. "The technical side of the business is important," says Ryan, "but managing people and rewarding and recognizing the people who do an outstanding job is how we are going to succeed."

Sab Maglione, 44, is more vulnerable. The computer programmer from Somerville, N.J., was hired by an insurance company as an independent contractor in 2000 for good money but soon found himself training the representatives of Tata Consulting who would eventually move his work to India. His next contract in New York City paid half as much – but even that soon ended when he found himself out of work the day after Christmas last year. Maglione, who has an associate's degree in computer science, is studying hard and remains optimistic about getting a job but says he's been stymied by the "barrelful" of recent experience in the latest programming languages prospective employers demand. "If you don't have it, they say, 'Let's outsource it."'

Ryan the happy manager and Maglione the worried programmer exemplify two powerful crosscurrents in the American job market. Changes in the economy in recent years have made some people more valuable and secure than ever, while pushing others -- even those with skills that were recently regarded as highly valuable -- to the margins.

What makes the difference? New research by economists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University concludes that the key factor is whether a job can be "routinized," or broken down into repeatable steps that vary little from day to day. Such a job is easier to replace with a clever piece of software or to hand over to a lower-paid worker outside the U.S. By comparison, the jobs that will pay well in the future will be ones that are hard to reduce to a recipe. These attractive jobs -- from factory floor management to sales to teaching to the professions -- require flexibility, creativity, and lifelong learning. They generally also require subtle and frequent interactions with other people, often face to face.

The good news is that a substantial majority of the jobs in the U.S. economy are nonroutine. And when you think about it, that has to be the case. In the relentless pursuit of productivity, the U.S. has already demolished millions of routine jobs in manufacturing, clerical work, programming, and other fields. So it stands to reason that the people who have survived are doing things that the downsizing experts-- try as they might -- haven't figured out how to reduce to software or ship abroad.

THE SURVIVORS. Nor do you need an advanced degree to have a nonroutine job. You just need to do something that can't be boiled down to a repeatable procedure or that requires a lot of human interaction. The surviving secretaries, for example, have moved up from typing and answering phones to planning meetings, keeping books, and other more complex tasks. Bank tellers now spend more time handling special requests, while ATMs have taken over much of the job of taking deposits and dispensing cash. The factory workers most likely to keep their jobs  will be those who make themselves experts on a variety of computer-controlled machines, or who excel at quick turnaround of custom orders. Those jobs aren't going away.

As the economy evolves, two kinds of jobs will remain impossible to routinize, according to Frank Levy of MIT and Richard J. Murnane of Harvard, in a forthcoming book called The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market. One kind involves complex pattern recognition. Such skills as spotting business opportunities or repairing a complicated machine fall into this category. The other relies on complex communication skills, such as those required to manage people, devise advertising campaigns, or sell big-ticket items such as cars. Says Levy: "If you can really write the whole job down on paper, then someone else can do it."

Viewed through the lens of routine vs. nonroutine work, the debate over job growth and the future of jobs takes on a new hue. It suggests that Americans looking for good jobs would do well to bet on such constantly varying occupations as manager, entrepreneur, or artist, as well as jobs such as teaching, lending, and sales jobs that require lots of people skills.

At the same time, some jobs that are highly compensated today could soon be routinized. Powerful computers, advanced software, and speedy communications have vastly increased the vulnerability of routine work. Well-paid legal researchers, tax preparers, and accountants, for example, are seeing their jobs outsourced abroad. The jobs require intelligence and technical knowledge, of course, but because the procedures are highly standardized, they can be done at a distance by well-educated workers willing to do the job for far less. Likewise, stock traders could eventually be replaced by automated trading systems. Computer programming is a routine job that used to pay well because few people could do it. Now, part of the work has been taken over by clever software, and part has been exported to lower-wage nations connected by fiber-optic networks.

The people displaced from those jobs are shifting into jobs that can't be so easily standardized. And clearly, the growing importance of nonroutine work increases the value of education. College graduates have steadily broadened their lead over the less-educated in earnings. College grads also have more stable employment. Yes, there are pockets of high unemployment, such as in computer and math professions. But the unemployment rate for all people with a bachelor's degree or better was just 2.9% in February, vs. 8.5% for people with less than a high school diploma. "Fear of outsourcing is absolutely a key facto in driving our enrollment," says Todd S. Nelson, CEO of Apollo Group Inc., parent of the University of Phoenix, which caters to working adults across the country through campuses in 30 states and online courses. The university's enrollment soared nearly a third last year to 186,000.

As valuable as education is, technical knowledge alone won't cut it, because workers in other countries read the same textbooks. For many good jobs, in fact, education isn't as useful as specialized local knowledge. Lin Stiles, a headhunter in New London, N.H., says that demand is hot for plant managers who can improve a factory's efficiency. A fancy degree isn't necessary. Says Stiles: "We frequently do not have college requirements even for a vice-president for operations."

While the debate over the future of work pervades the whole economy, information technology is where it's most pointed now. That's because the IT sector is being split in two. More routine tech jobs, such as the programming done by Sab Maglione, are vulnerable to automation or outsourcing. In contrast, there's still plenty of demand in the U.S. for people who combine technical skills with industry-specific knowledge and people skills. That's certainly true at UNUM Provident Corp., the disability insurer. Says Robert O. Best, the chief information officer: "You used to be able to get away with being a technical nerd five years ago. Those days are over." Now, he says, "We're looking for softer skills" like the ability to work with others, change direction quickly, and understand the business.

CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC. Those softer skills are what Kevin G. Wallace, 46, is counting on for job security for himself and his staff. He's vice-president for engineering at Atomz Corp., a San Bruno [Calif.] startup that provides online Web site management services to clients such as the Presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry [D-Mass.]. Wallace says an outsourcing operation could never be nimble enough to respond to his customers' constantly changing demands. "Ultimately," says Wallace, "we want our engineers to know our customers, to live and breathe our customers."

To be sure, automation and globalization will be tough on those people who prefer comfortable, routine jobs, or who lack the education to tackle challenging new tasks. Some of those people will find work as barbers, truck drivers, hospital orderlies, or waiters. While those jobs will be protected by the fact that they can't be done in a foreign country or by software, wages will be depressed because so many people will be competing for the slots.

Still, there's no reason that automation and globalization have to create an underclass. In time, people displaced from routine jobs can study up for more challenging occupations. Harvard's Murnane, an education professor, points out that a century ago, half the U.S. population worked in agriculture, and many people didn't know how to read or write. History has proved that they and their descendants were capable of much more. Murnane, who spends a day a month observing Boston public schools, says "I'm cautiously optimistic" about the ability of Americans to rise above the routine. Those who can will find that computers amplify their powers and globalization extends their reach.


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April 2004: Résumés that Need Some Work?

Ok, how about some humor? The world of work can get very serious and heavy. So this month we're going to lighten it up a bit by looking at some real-life résumé and cover letter bloopers.

But first a bit of news…

On Friday night (April 23, 2004) we filmed the first two episodes of my new TV show "You're Hired!". We had a few minor startup glitches but it went really well thanks to great guests such as Jo Miller and Kim Zilliox.  Thanks Jo and Kim and thanks also to Jim Bottini (producer), Rocky Barbanica (director), and Shelly Ashton (station manager)...ok, I better stop this is starting to sound like the academy awards!

As before, if you have any great ideas for topics or guests, please let me know.  We still plan to syndicate this show along with "Off the Cuff" the business show  I appeared on a couple of times. So, we have a chance to communicate with a lot of folks and any contributions you make will have an impact. 

Ok to the humor…

Résumés that Need  Some Work? 
The following résumé blunders and typos are real errors made by real-life applicants.  Now these people really need some help... 

Accomplishments and Achievements
o "Graduated in the top 70 percent of my class." 
o "National record for eating 45 eggs in two minutes." 
o "Revolved customer problems and inquiries." 
o "Consistently tanked as top sales producer for new accounts." 
o "Planned new corporate facility at $3 million over budget." 
o "Directed $25 million anal shipping and receiving operations." 
o "The Marines is and probably will be the biggest accomplishment I've ever had, even though I wasn't able to join." 

Cover Letters
o "Dear Sir/Modem." 
o "I am extremely detailoriented."
o "I'm submitting the attached copy of my résumé for your consumption." 
o "My qulifications include close attention to detail." 
o "Please disregard the attached résumé - it is terribly out of date." 
o "Seek challenges that test my mind and body, since the two are usually inseparable." 
o "To Home-Ever it concerns." 
o "I'm looking for a challenging, fun, fulfilling job and a paycheck. (If the pay is good, I'll get the fun and fulfillment outside of work.)" 

Education
o "1994 - Moron University." 
o "Bachelor of engineering. Passed out in top 2 percent." 
o "College, September 1880 - June 1984." 
o "I have a bachelorette degree in computers." 
o "My GPA at night is 3.0." 

Experience
o "Worked in a consulting office where I carried out my own accountant." 
o "Any interruption in employment is due to being unemployed." 
o "I have lurned Word Perfect 6.0, computor and accounting progroms." 
o "Responsibilities included recruiting, screening, interviewing & executing final candidates."
o "Twin brother has accounting degree." 
o "Worked successfully on a team of one." 
o "Experienced supervisor, defective with both rookies and seasoned professionals." 
o "I was involved in every aspect of the business, including office administration, customer service and cadaver preparation." 

Objective 
o "Obtain a position which allows me to make use of my commuter skills." 
o "I am looking for a stationery position." 
o "To broaden my computer skills and decrease my use of antacids." 
o Position desired: "Profreader." 
o "My dream job would be as a professional baseball player, but since I can't do that, I'll settle on being an accountant." 

Personal 
o "I can describe myself in 3 words: committed, hard working, and very strategic thinking." 
o "Rabid sports fan." 
o "Weight: 165 lbs. Plus heavy accounting skills." 

Skills
o "Grate communication skills." 
o "Written communication = 3 years; verbal communication = 5 years." 
o "I am very used to working with thigh schedules." 
o "I am meticulate about derails." 

Miscellaneous
o Current "$36,000. Salary desired: $250,000." 
o Reason for leaving last job: "Bounty hunting was outlawed in my state." 
o Reason for leaving: "Maturity leave." 
o Job duties: "Made coffee (early Java experience)." 
o References: "I have over 30,000 national references available upon request." 


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March 2004 : Tell a Great Story, Get a Great Job

This month we're going to see how telling compelling stories can lead to a getting a great job. In various circles, these are known by various abbreviations—PSRs, PARs, SOARs—but they all involve recalling significant past solutions and results. But first an update.

The new TV show "You're Hired!" will begin filming in late April. As before, if you have any great ideas for topics or guests, please let me know. I appeared again on "Off the Cuff" and the host of that business show wants to syndicate both shows in several markets, so we have a chance to communicate with lotsa folks. Therefore any contributions you make will have an impact. 

I now also have regular job/career articles appearing in the Los Altos Town Crier. And finally, if you'd like to take a look, the website has been undated with new info (www.BayAreaCareerCoach.com).

Ok onto stories and jobs…
 

Tell a Great Story, Get a Great Job!

Tell a story, get a job, what's this all about?

As you network your way toward a job, you need to communicate who you are and what you can do for potential employers. It's best to do this in a way that helps you stand out and better yet, stick in the mind of people who could hire you. You can do this by telling compelling and  memorable stories of accomplishments.

The résumés of the 1990s emphasized lists of actions: Designed software, facilitated meetings, trained customers, etc. Today, career coaches teach clients to also include brief memorable stories of specific work accomplishments that speak directly to employer needs.

So how does this work? Well, usually a résumé is broken down chronologically by positions held. So far so good. But now instead of just listing actions, think back and recall obstacles you overcame to produce a bottom-line result. You remember, for example, that one weekend under severe pressure you creatively worked all weekend to get a product out on time, preventing the loss of a valued customer thus saving your employer money and preserving their image.

Retell small or large bits of heroism where you produced a bottom line result (saved time or money, made money, improved employer image) through some action you took or obstacle you overcame. People love stories—it's how information has been passed down through the ages. Employers are no different. Stories create a vision of you as an action-oriented problem-solver.

When I work with clients, we recall these stories and when we take a step back we see common themes in these little tales. My clients begin to see the kind of problem solver they are and this begins to impact how they present themselves at networking events, during interviews, how they write résumés, everywhere. They come to believe in themselves because they aren't just convincing potential employers that they're good, they're reminding themselves as well. Stories are compelling reminders that you're good at what you do. They focus on your successes and make it easier for an employer to see what you'll do for them. Go ahead and try this, your great stories may just land you a great job!        


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February 2004: Creating Your Own Good Luck

This month we are going to look at Planned Happenstance or creating your own good luck. But first an update. 

Thanks to all of you who want to be part of the new TV show and this newsletter. We have a title, it's called "You're Hired!" Upbeat, no? 

We'll be filming the first 2 episodes in late April, so again if you have any suggested topics or potential guests, please let me know. I appeared again on "Off the Cuff" and the host of that business show wants to syndicate both shows in several markets, so we have a chance to communicate with lotsa folks. So any contributions you make will have an impact.

Ok onto Planned Happenstance…

Creating Your Own Good Luck

Can you plan to have good luck? Isn't luck something that just happens? Well, several career experts think you can create your own good fortune.

Dr. John Krumboltz and Kathleen Mitchell define "Planned Happenstance" as a way of being that makes good luck more likely. For job hunters, this means finding a great job and career! 

Planned Happenstance consists of small new actions and attitudes that can lead to big career insights and opportunities. Every action you take—deciding to attend a networking event, being persistent in following a lead, taking an extra risk—all directly shape what happens next: different choices and attitudes lead to distinct outcomes. By cultivating five skills you already possess, you can make it much more likely that creative opportunities will pop into view.

The key luck-generating skills include: 

  • Optimism—Be positive; view new opportunities as possible and attainable.
  • Curiosity—Stay open to and explore new learning opportunities.
  • Risk Taking--Take action in the face of uncertainty; feel the fear and doing it anyway.
  • Persistence--Repeatedly try despite setbacks; remove obstacles.
  • Flexibility—Remain open; change attitudes and circumstances as needed; be resilient.
If you actively cultivate these five skills, you can generate an irrepressible forward momentum toward exciting new experiences and opportunities. Follow your intuition, experiment, remain open, think and plan less, do a lot more!

You can also use these skills to control unplanned events: before the event, your actions position you to experience it. During the event, your sensitivity enables you to recognize possible opportunities for action. After the event, your actions enable you to benefit from it.

Careers rarely follow a linear path (an average of six career shifts per worker) and part of finding a calling and making career shifts is a willingness to embrace change. 

Use these five skills as you explore career opportunities without necessarily committing to them. Take temporary jobs and see how they fit you. Informational interview with people in interesting professions and find out what they do. Try an internship or volunteer and when you assess jobs think in terms of job activities rather than titles. Learn more by associating with people outside your immediate circle of friends. Hang out with people who support your career explorations.

If you give Planned Happenstance a try, I think you'll find that you too can create your own good luck and just maybe find the job you want and so richly deserve!


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January 2004: New TV Show: Lights, Camera, Action

Well, I have some interesting news this month. I appeared on “Off the Cuff,” a business television show and as a result was asked to submit a proposal for my own TV show about careers. And guess what? I now have my own cable TV show!  Incredible! 

Here's where you come in. Since this will be an interview show, I want to get informed, interesting guests. If you think you or someone you know would be a good guest, please contact me. I am looking for articulate, knowledgeable, and lively guests who can discuss various aspects of job hunting and careers. 

Show topics could include: 

The Job Search: 
  • What do you want to do? Finding a calling. 
  • Setting goals 
  • Creating a marketing/job hunt plan.
  • Creating and expanding your network.
  • Writing targeted and persuasive e-mails, cover letters, and résumés.
  • Using informational interviews to uncover the hidden job market.
  • Interviewing.
  • Effectively marketing yourself in the new economy.
  • Negotiating salary/benefits: getting what you deserve.
  • Success stories: portraits folks who have found more meaningful work.
  • Special challenges of the technically oriented, people for whom English is a second language, single parents, etc.
  • Growth of self-employment, home businesses, freelance, telecommuting and contract work.
  • Bay Area or Silicon Valley Reports: the latest trends, emerging markets, areas of downsizing, challenges facing today's job hunter.
Industries Features
Careers in diverse industries--and how to get into them--including: non-profits, government, high tech, retail, transportation, entertainment (leisure), real estate, education, medicine, law, science, the arts, service industries, etc.

Career/health topics:
  • Managing mental and physical health while job hunting. 
  • Issues of self-efficacy and empowerment.
  • Keeping relationships thriving during times of extended unemployment.
  • Getting medical insurance.
  • On-the-job health. Ergonomics.
Please let me know if you know of good guests for the show. Guests can promote their work and company (including film or still roll-ins). We just need to remember that the show's aim is to provide useful information on job hunting, how to get into specific industries, and interesting stories of how people got where they are. Also if you have good ideas for additional show topics, I would be interested in hearing from you.

The Newsletter
I want this newsletter to feature, possibly in the form of mini-interviews, those of you who would like your work or business briefly spotlighted. Like the TV show, the content needs to be interesting and of general interest to job hunters or those who want to know how to get into your field.

So, please let me know if you would like to be part of the TV show and/or featured in future newsletter editions.  As always, if you prefer to be off this list, please reply and let me know.


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December 2003: Networking to the Hidden Job Market

“It's who you know.” You've heard that one before, right? 

Research tells us that 80% of jobs are obtained through personal contacts yet most job hunters spend 80% of their time answering computer or newspaper ads. So what can you do to get that job you want and deserve?

All job seekers or changers need to get out and meet people. Start by making a list of everybody you know who might even remotely help you find out about a job or career in which you're interested. This includes former co-workers, employers, family members, friends, customers, suppliers, vendors, professionals (such as your doctor, lawyer, accountant, teachers), members of your church and other associations—the list is almost infinite.

Once you've made this list and are clear about the kind of work you are pursuing, start contacting these folks and clearly and succinctly tell them what you're looking for. Ask them if they have some time to chat about what they do and your search strategy. It's best not to directly ask for a job because most likely they'll just say they have no openings. Instead ask for information—how to improve your résumé, any additional training you need, specifics about the work they do and current industry trends, other people you could contact and so forth.

Not everyone will give you new contacts but slowly and surely you'll build a large network of folks with whom you can stay in touch. The beauty of this is that none of your calls will be cold calls—you’re always contacting people using the name of someone they know. This network then becomes your eyes to the “hidden” or emerging job market. By staying in touch with these new contacts, you'll hear about opportunities as they emerge and before they're listed on job boards, giving you first crack at them! Plus your contacts are now beginning to know you and can speak to your qualifications, in essence serving as a reference.

Bottom-line, get out and tell everyone very specifically what you're looking for, interact with people, attend professional association functions as well as other get-togethers. This might be a bit outside your comfort zone, but give it a try even if it's a bit at a time. I think you'll find it's well worth the effort. And remember as Woody Allen once said: “80% of success is just showing up.” 

"Being able to do the job well will not necessarily get you hired; the person who gets hired is often the one who knows the most about how to get hired."  -- Dick Lathrop 


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Steve Piazzale, Ph.D.
650-743-6928 
Steve@BayAreaCareerCoach.com