Friday, April 20, 2007

"How to Succeed Like a Workaholic"

Well this is something fun: I did an interview with careerbuilder.com a while back for a piece on what we can learn from "workaholics" and to my surprise and delight, it's instead been published on at jobs.aol.com - on Page One ... and above the fold, no less! [4/23/7: at least it was through Sunday!]

Here's an excerpt:

If you want to have the success of a workaholic and still have your down time, Zweibel offers five strategies you can employ.

1. Put in the hours at the right time. "There is a benefit to being seen in an organization," says Zweibel. If you are working late or are in on the weekend, pass by your boss's office for some face time. Not only will you get kudos for the extra effort, but you might get the opportunity for valuable one-on-one time.

2. Pay attention to time stamps. If you are sending an assignment to your boss via e-mail after hours, the e-mail will indicate the extra time you are spending. Pay attention to when you are sending these messages -- they could demonstrate your commitment. However, Zweibel cautions against going too far. Sending messages at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night or at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning could indicate that you are not able to manage your time well, and there is something to be said for being able to get the job done early. "You could make a better impression if you can do the same work in a shorter amount of time," Zweibel says.

3. Talk up your successes. Don't be afraid to be your own cheering section. Make sure your boss knows about your achievements and the extra time you put in. More importantly, have other people talk up your successes. There's nothing like a good word from another respected co-worker or client to make you look great.

4. Be the "go to" person in a crunch. You don't have to work every weekend, but make sure your boss knows that you are someone who is willing to go the extra mile when needed.

5. Strive for perfection, but know when to settle. One thing most workaholics have in common is the pursuit of perfection. This drive to be perfect brings about results, but can also wear you out. On the continuum between lousy work and perfect work, there is what Zweibel calls "merely excellent," which, he says, is "pretty damn good." He suggests you strive for greatness, but allow yourself to settle for "merely excellent" work most of the time and reserve absolute perfection for those really special projects.

Full text: AOL: Succeed Like a Workaholic; GGCI archive.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Framing Success Stories with with P-A-R

I'm often asked, "How can I be sure to put my best foot forward in an interview? What's the best way to share Success Stories?" My answer: Frame them with P-A-R:
  • P - Start by stating a PROBLEM you've dealt with that is relevant to one that your prospective employer might have and/or want you to be able to address.
  • A - Next, explain the APPROACH you took to meaningfully, if not eloquently, resolve the problem.
  • R - Then share how the RESULTS you achieved not only solved the immediate problem, but enabled additional downstream benefits as well.

Information Technology Example:

"Tell me about an experience you had with handling a major system outage."

Sure, I'd be happy to. The problem was this: All calls into our facility were being improperly rerouted by the phone company to a 'this number is no longer in service' recording.

Obviously, this was unacceptable. So, I took the following approach: Through a series of conversations, I was able to quickly learn the name and number of the specific person responsible for assigning technicians to fix such problems. Unfortunately, she was less than cooperative, at first, to put it mildly! But we didn't have time to go in circles, so I said, "Look, this is a real mess so I need to know: Is it that you don't want to help me, or you don't know how to help me. Now, which is it?"

That turned the tide and in a very short period of time she had her top technicians working to restore our service - which they did in record time. So that was good, but the added bonus was that I now had some new key inside contacts who could be excellent resources for helping us address future outages. And you can be sure that those results have paid multiple dividends since.

Human Resources Example:

"Tell me about your experience with implementing changes to the benefits administration process for a unionized workforce."

Sure, I'd be happy to. The problem we faced was that the benefits staff was spending a whole lot of time checking on the status of pending insurance claims for employees and not getting to other important matters.

So, I took the following approach: I researched, proposed, and got approval to install a web-based claims management system where employees could check on their claims themselves - without HR's assistance. Of course, the biggest key to making something like that work effectively was getting union buy-in, which I was able to do by demonstrating how employees could check status from their home computers anytime, day or night. (Too, I agreed to install several shop-floor terminals for employees who didn't have home computers.)

The results were pretty good: Not only did we save the company tens of thousand of dollars each year in the benefits management area, but we were also able to improve efficiencies in other benefits-related work - and improve union relations, as well. We hit the trifecta on this one!

Everyone has Success Stories to share. But try taking a few of yours and frame them with the P-A-R model. See if it doesn't make them that much more compelling and engaging stories to tell.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Climbing the Job-Hunting Ladder

Did you know that September and October are some of the busiest times of the year for interviewing? So says The Ladders, the most comprehensive source for $100k+ jobs. With summer winding down, companies are gearing up for a strong fourth quarter and they're looking to hire - just like you! So if you've been thinking it's time for a change, I whole-heartedly recommend you subscribe to TheLadders Career Newsletter.

What's in it for you:

  • You'll gain access to 25,000 exclusive quality job leads at the $100K+ earning level, at top companies.
  • Openings are sorted by job function, such as: Finance, General Management, Human Resources, Law, Medical, Management Consulting, Marketing, Operations, Real Estate, Sales, Science, and Technology.
  • These are executive-level jobs only. No low-level fluff. All real, open, $100k+ jobs.
  • In that they have an exclusive partnership with the WSJ Career Journal, you know they've got all the best jobs.
  • And if you subscribe in early September, you'll get a full month of their weekly newsletters, one of which is scheduled to include a brand new article written by yours truly!

What's in it for me:

  • TheLadders is increasing its commission payments for this month and offering a $1,000 bonus to the first affiliate to add 20 new Premium-level subscribers.
  • I get to help a number of you who have been wanting to step-up your job search but haven't really dug in as of yet.

To sweeten the pot, if you sign up in September - and use coupon code 39408 -you can save $15 off your first month's Premium membership. Consider it a little extra incentive from TheLadders ... and a little extra push, from me!

Just click on any of the links above.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Interviewee Tip

Preparing for a job interview - or any type of presentation, for that matter - can be a pretty stressful thing. One thing you can do to help reduce that stress, though, is to go right to its source by asking yourself:
"What specific questions do I really hope they don't ask me?"
Why? Because once you get clear on what questions you don't want to be asked, you can then figure out how to answer them should they actually be asked.

You'll be amazed how much more confident you feel from this one extra step. Try it and see for yourself.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Career Strategist: How to Network Effectively

Martha White authored a very nice article in the most recent issue of Motivation Strategies featuring yours truly. Here it is in its entirety:

Career Strategist: How to Network Effectively

Meeting planners are often responsible for organizing networking events, yet when it comes to their own industry associations or local chamber of commerce events, many aren't as effective as they could be when it comes to networking. “I suggest people establish some goals for the effort,” says Barry Zweibel, executive coach and president of GottaGettaCoach. “[Pledge to] meet five or six new people, for example. Another goal might be to reconnect with people you’ve already met,” he suggests.

Many would-be networkers get stuck because they can’t think of what to say. Zweibel points out, “In your job, there’s always a to-do list, [and] anything on that list becomes grist for the networking mill.” Just accomplish something major? Interested in learning about something with which you’re unfamiliar? Bring it up, Zweibel says. Maybe the person you’re talking to could use your insight, or maybe they’re an expert in the topic you’re looking to learn more about. Another mistake many professionals make is not thinking about networking until they need something. Good networkers know that connections go both ways, Zweibel says, so be on the lookout for people you can help out now.

Now, what about staying in touch? This can be tricky; planners’ often-hectic travel schedules can make it tough to stay on top of the deluge of work-related e-mail. Deciding how much of a priority networking contacts should be is a delicate balance. “It’s an unrealistic expectation that you’ll be able to stay in touch with everyone,” Zweibel says. “To work properly, networking needs to be in balance.” Try to arrange an initial follow-up phone chat, coffee or even lunch to find out how much you have in common with each contact, personally and professionally. Have a lot in common? Drop them an e-mail on a monthly basis. For a more tenuous connection, quarterly is fine, Zweibel says.

“It’s always helpful if you can find more things you have in common. Once you know a little bit about the person, you can start looking for ways to help them,” he advises, which will make them more likely to lend you a hand if the need arises. For instance, if they’re just setting up a home-based business and you run across an article in a business magazine about how to do just that, send it to them with a quick note. For more information about networking, go to www.gottagettacoach.com.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Help Them Say Yes: Provide a 90-Day Plan

My latest article, Help Them Say Yes: Provide a 90-Day Plan, has just been published by TheLadders.com:

It's one thing to be able to answer interview questions well. It's something else entirely to be able to get an offer. One way to 'sweeten the pot' is by offering something that most applicants do not -- a written summary of the steps you'd take during the first ninety days of employment.
In doing so, you show that you're:

  • seriously considering what it would mean to work there
  • completely understanding what the job entails
  • taking the initiative to further differentiate yourself from the other applicants
  • able to communicate through the written word
  • willing to share your insights and observations, without cost or obligation

Focus on the Foci

While creating a 90-Day Plan may seem onerous, it doesn't have to be. It doesn't even have to provide a calendar of events. All it needs to do is provide some additional insights into how you'd approach the job if it was yours. Think of it as providing a few missing pieces to the puzzle they're trying to solve about which applicant would be best-suited for the position.

The key is to focus their attention on your understanding of -- and ability to address -- four major aspects of the work at hand: problems, processes, projects, and people.

Remember, you don't have to completely address each of these foci to maximize the impact of your 90-Day Plan. You just need show that you (a) understand the issues involved, and (b) have a plan for working them. Let's take a closer look at doing exactly that:

continue reading Help Them Say Yes: Provide a 90-Day Plan.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Curling and the Rules for Success at Work

While I haven't been watching a LOT of the Olympics, one event that has captured my attention is curling - even though I can't seem to figure out the rules for the game.

Actually, I do know a few things. (Keyword: few.) I do know that there are so many of these teapot-looking things called 'stones' - maybe they're called 'rocks' - that are slid across a shuffleboard-looking court made of ice and if, at the end of the round, your rocks are closer to the bulls-eye-looking target than your competitor's, you win points. (I can't figure out how many points you win for accomplishing what, though.) Meanwhile, your competitor can curl some of his teapots into yours to change their placement, so there's some bocce-like strategy needed to prevent that from happening, too. (Not that I know much about bocce, either!) I think each game has a set number of bowling-like frames, but it might also be that you play until so many points are won, like in ping-pong. I'm just not sure.

Oh, and there are these brooms-like things that are used to either speed up or slow down the rocks, when needed. It's a crazy game and I just love to watch it unfold.

The point of this post, though, is not to show off my ignorance - although I've probably accomplished that quite well. My point is that if you want to succeed at work, you can't just be a spectator - you need to know the Rules for Success.

Too many people think that there's just one rule for success, the rule called 'doing a good job is enough.' You really need to be more savvy than that, though. You need to know the Rules for Success for working up, down, and across the organization. You also need to know the Rules for Success when working outside the organization - with vendors and customers, as example.

Do you know you boss' Rules for Success?
  • Do you know what your boss listens for when people speak?
  • Do you know how (and when) to give your boss bad news?
  • Do you know if it's better to ask for permission or beg for forgiveness - and when to do which?
  • Do you know his/her preferred method of communication - email, voicemail, memo, in person?
  • Do you know how often - and on what topics - your boss likes to be updated?
  • Do you know what makes your boss livid? Ecstatic? Bored? Engaged?
  • Do you know what your boss looks for in a go-to person? Are you that person?

In curling, sometimes the slightest nudge is all that's needed to clear the way and enable a score. So too at work. But you need to know the Rules for Success to even have a shot at doing that.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Companies are Losing Middle Managers

According to the above-titled article in this month's Training & Development magazine, "Middle managers are leaving companies at about twice the rate of senior-level executives."
It makes sense. After years of pruning management ranks through layoffs and attrition - and keeping salaries and bonuses depressed - middle managers are fed up. Tired of being given more and more responsibility and less and less recognition, they're taking advantage of an improving job market and jumping ship.

So what are companies doing to stem the tide? Well, according to the research cited, here are the top ways organizations are trying to retain their middle managers:


If we contrast this with what managers say are the top competencies they need for their ongoing success:
      • communications (70%)
      • strategic thinking (67%)
      • leadership (64%)

it seems pretty clear that if your middle managers are starting to make some noise, providing them with a coach-to-call-their-own is a cost-effective, win/win, alternative that you can offer now, on a per-person basis, rather than having to wait for a company-wide Middle Manager Retention Initiative to get going.

And what if you're one of those under-appreciated middle managers contemplating a change? Try asking your boss to provide you with a coach-to-call-your-own and see if that doesn't help you re-engage in your work without the hassle of having to move to a new employer.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thanks to TheLadders.com

Those of you following this blog know that I've been doing some writing lately for TheLadders.com* newsletter:

As a thank you for these contributions, TheLadders.com has made a sizable donation to a charity of my choosing.

I just wanted to recognize them publicly for doing so.

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*TheLadders.com is the world's leading $100,000+ jobs Web site with more than 550,000 members and 20,000 new jobs each month. Follow this link to sign-up with TheLadders.com.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What do you NEED to know about your boss?

Some will say you don't NEED to know anything - just do your job and that'll be enough. I believe that to be a career-limiting approach to your work because if you don't have the active -and consistent - support of your boss, chances are good that you won't get that plum assignment you were hoping for, you won't get those extra bonus dollars you were counting on, and you won't get that added respect and regard that's needed to make doing your job that much easier. So what DO you need to know about your boss? Well here's a start:
  • What does s/he listen for? Examples: If s/he listens for problems to solve, there's not much sense in talking about a great opportunity you see in the marketplace. Conversely, if s/he listens for opportunities, then framing an issue as a problem-to-be-solved will likely yield little traction.
  • How does s/he like to be updated? Examples: Some bosses like the in-person update. Others, though, are so busy that they prefer updates by email or voicemail. Some prefer the Blackberry or Nextel update; others hate it. The key is to know how to get the info over to your boss before your boss comes-a-lookin' for you.
  • How much information does s/he want? I've already written about mysteries or headlines, but let's take it farther. Examples: Does s/he want only problems with solutions in tow, or is s/he willing to engage in some brainstorming with you? Does s/he want line-and-verse of a situation, or just enough to know if things are under control or not?
  • What's the ideal frequency of updates? Examples: Something every day or once/week? Something as soon as it happens, or presented in batch-mode with other items of note? How often is too often? How often is not often enough?
  • What are his/her hot-buttons? What topics/issues will elicit a greater response (positive OR negative) than others?
  • What does s/he look for in a go-to person? Do you truly know what value-added means to him/her?Are you that type of person consistently enough?
  • Does s/he prefer that you ask for permission or beg for forgiveness? Example: Does your boss want to refer your plans before you get started on them, or have you run solo until you run into problems?

The more you know about how your boss likes to operate, the better you can tune your performance to provide exactly that. Note that this isn't about the ethics of work; it's about work style and preferences. And the better you can tune your performance to provide exactly what your boss is looking for, the greater freedom, flexibility, recognition, and reward you'll probably be given.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

15 Networking Do's

from Networking Magic: Find the Best - from Doctors, Lawyers, and Accountants to Homes, Schools, and Jobs:
  1. Believe that networking will work.
  2. Target the right audience and approach the best individuals who can help and/or direct you to those who can.
  3. Make a strong first impression by being well-prepared.
  4. Network with those you emulate and don't be afraid to approach people whom you admire and who inspire you.
  5. Talk to everyone you meet and be genuinely friendly.
  6. Learn to read people and pay close attention to people's needs.
  7. Become a good listener and observe more than talk.
  8. Be willing to help and always be ready to give freely and generously.
  9. Be prepared in your subject area and be able to provide insightful answers to questions.
  10. Find common denominators, interests, objectives, and values which are solid bonds to builds strong networks and deeper, more lasting, relationships.
  11. Bring value to the table and always have ideas, suggestions, and insights to share.
  12. Be honest, courteous, and fair.
  13. follow up after you first meet someone.
  14. Keep referrers informed as you build relationships; keep your network referrers in the loop.
  15. Look at the big picture and past the momentary day-to-day activities that occupy your life.

My favorite saying that applies to networking is this one: "What goes around comes around." Send something good around by effectively networking with others, and good will come back around from the people in your network to you. But know that it's usually up to you to get things started.

So get started!

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Research Your Role Before a Change of Scene

Wearing my career coach hat lately. To that end, Washington Post staff writer Mary Ellen Slayter quoted me in her Career Track column about young workers searching for their Ideal Job. She even gave me the final quote of the story:

Zweibel likened the search for one's ideal career to the surprise in a box of Cracker Jack. "Sometimes it's at the top of the box, sometimes it's at the bottom." You never know how long it will take you to find it.

Read the full article here - it's good.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

The Ladders

Breaking News! GottaGettaCoach! just became an affiliate for TheLadders.com, the most comprehensive source for $100k+ jobs, all in one convenient and easy-to-use Web site.

Executive-level Jobs ONLY. No low-level fluff. All real, open, $100k+ jobs. Jobs at companies of all sizes. From Fortune 500s to startups, we've got all the high-level jobs. Join now and put your job search in gear.

Their targeted sites list more than 20,000 new jobs each month across every industry and sector. Each month, they screen hundreds of thousands of job listings and hand select only those that meet their strict criteria. They then list exclusively jobs that pay more than $100,000/year, including many C-level, VP, Director and Manager jobs. If you're in the market for this type of job, you won't find a better resource anywhere.

TheLadders brings you real, open high-level jobs across the US and around the world. Most job sites our there are designed for the mid-level job-seeker. Loaded with jobs below your skill-level or experience, they make it difficult to quickly and easily pick out the jobs that are right for you.

TheLadders.com is designed just for the $100k+ professional, though. They make it easy by delivering only top-tier jobs in the right industry and sector for you. They'll also send you their weekly jobs newsletter, packed with tips and advice on how to successfully land your dream job.


Over 16,000 new open positions this month. Sign up now! www.theladders.com

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Career Coach Blog Entry

Headline: : Great News to End the Week.

Today, I received calls from not one ... not two ... but three different clients telling me about new job offers they'd received!

What a wonderful way for me to end a busy week ... and an even more wonderful way for them.

Congrats to LS, DW, and LK. You guys rock!

Career Coach Link

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Job Seekers: Out-shine the Competition

As reported in the Chicago Tribune, here a six great ways to stand out from your peers and/or other job applicants, and my comments in green:

1. Communicate your value to the organization - Emphasize the connection between your achievements and the organization's bottom line or goals and objectives. Accomplishments are great, but in and of themselves, they're somewhat irrelevant if you can't show their relevance to the opportunity at hand. Help your audience connect the dots.

2. Create a portfolio documenting your successes - Use this 'brag book' to help build your self-confidence before important meetings or interviews. Include in it anything and everything you're particularly proud of. I like to call this your "Good for ME!" file and anything that makes you smile, warms your heart, or helps you remember how smart and capable you really are is great stuff to include.

3. Find a mentor - And not just one, but several so that you don't find yourself over-relying (or over-burdening) any one person. I suggest my clients create a portfolio of mentors - one for each area of their interests/needs. That way they can target mentors far more precisely. To get started, take out a clean piece of paper and draw a circle. Divide it into eight wedges. Label each wedge with an area of interest/need of yours that would benefit from a little coaching or mentoring. Now for each wedge, identify two-to-three people who would be a good resource for you in this regard. Note: They all don't have to be people you already know. Authors, as example, are great resources for additional insights related to their books, or magazine articles. You now have a portfolio of 16-24 people you can contact for some expert advice.

4. Find a sponsor - There's nothing like a high-ranking, much-respected advocate for your cause. Who are your high-ranking, much-respected advocates? Before leaving to become a coach, my boss recommended me for a promotion to corporate officer (which I received). But before he would, he wanted to know who on the Board would stand up for me? It was a serious question and speaks directly to the power of a having a sponsor.

5. Surround yourself with a super team - When they win, you win, especially if you paint victories as the success of both you AND your team. Your ability as an individual contributor may have enabled your past success, but your future success will depend far more on your ability to lead others in doing their work than ever before.

6. Find one or more external advisors - Look outside for objective advice to keep you grounded and focused. It's too good to pass up ... repeat after me: "I GottaGettaCoach!"

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Job-Shaping - Who's Tried It?

Interesting cover story of the January/February issue of AdvanteEdge Magazine - The Dream Job Myth. In it, Dan Strutzel looks at a number of ways to turn the job you already have into your Dream Job.

One of the things that the author suggests is to write out a five-sentence description of exactly what your Dream Job would consist of - salary, perks, focus, location, etc., making sure that all of the things that are important to you are included in it. "If you think only about the company and job and not the fact that you may be on the road 70% to 80% of the time, your dream job may quickly turn into a nightmare because of how it affects the totality of your life," he writes.

Strutzel also suggests you take a fresh look at how close your current job is to your Dream Job model as you just might find the fit isn't nearly as bad as you thought - especially if you can do a little "job shaping." Job Shaping is the process of working with your boss to tweak, or re-shape, your job responsibilities to include more of what you like ... and less of what you don't. Given the high cost of replacing mid- to high-level employees, employers are often quite open to this in lieu of you flat-out leaving.

Has anyone out there successfully job-shaped before? I have, although I didn't know to call it that at the time.

I knew I wanted to get more into this coaching and mentoring thing, but as the vice president of telecommunications, well, let's just say that I was in an entirely different sphere. But when the head of HR left right before the launch of an important management coaching program trial, I asked if I could run lead on it until an HR replacement was hired. To my surprise and delight, I got the green light to not only do that, but to coach and mentor the person in Human Resources who would assist with the program's logistics.

By the way, the added responsibilities also provided me with the opportunity (read: necessity) to jettison some of my less-challenging/more time-consuming work to others. Interestingly, they found that exact same work to be a great learning opportunity of their own.

Do you have any stories you'd like to share about Job-Shaping? Please do.

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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Interview with Teena Rose, owner of Resume to Referral

For all of you looking to ramp-up your job searches, I took the opportunity to interview Teena Rose, CPRW, CEIP, CCM, and owner of Resume to Referral, so she could share some words of wisdom with you about exactly that.

"What are some things that you know are important about resumes and cover letters that most job seekers don't seem to know?"

Teena Rose: A common mistake found in many documents is a lack of focus. Some jobseekers tend to list everything within their resumes without any regard to the reader, the position, or the industry. Follow these 5 tips:
(1) Weigh the importance of current and older positions. If you're trying to resurrect a past career, then question the amount of space you're dedicating to irrelevant job descriptions.

(2) Are your certifications and licenses applicable? Some credentials shouldn’t have a place within a jobseeker’s resume. You must decide whether listing certain items helps or hurts your job search.

(3) Stay away from a simple objective or summary statement. The top section of a resume serves as your small commercial; if it doesn’t contain the key points that hiring professionals are seeking, you’re hindering your search.

(4) Does your document contain too much information? Avoid listing street addresses for employers, manager’s names and phone numbers, and reasons for leaving.

(5) Once you’ve created a great introductory statement, lead your resume with the next important asset you bring to the table. For example, if the employer has specifically requested a master’s degree listing your education prominently within the top third of your resume will immediately make you more marketable.
"What's the best format/outline for an incredibly compelling cover letter?"
TR: A great cover letter revolves around what you say, not how much you say. It's time saving for a jobseeker to utilize a stock cover letter, but thorough changes should be made to personalize the letter for each recipient.
First, utilize a conversational writing style throughout the letter.

Second, reference specifics throughout the letter pertaining to the company and the position.

Last, leave the reader with the impression that the letter was written specifically for him/her.
"What's the best way to "speed up" a job search?"
TR: With technologies in place, there are methods to optimize the reach of a resume within a short time. These new methods, however, don’t always secure favorable returns for the jobseeker.

Conducting a job search that focuses on quality and not quantity will produce better results over the long haul. Not all jobseekers follow this method because a certain amount of research is involved along with retooling each cover letter and résumé accordingly.
Teena Rose offers a wide-away of helpful products and services for jobseekers through her website www.resumebycprw.com. She can also be contacted by phone at 937-325-2149.

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Career Day Comments

Over the weekend, I attended the CCASTD Career Development Day, volunteering to work in the information area and to provide free 15-minute 'laser' coaching sessions to interested attendees. Good fun that was. And during my free time, I also had the chance to attend a few of the presentations being given, which was a nice surprise, as well.

What really struck me about the day, though, was this - almost all of the attendees I spoke with that day confided that they already knew what they needed to do to find work; they just weren't all that motivated to go do it! Sure they showed up to the conference, which was good. (And there were a LOT of programs, presentations, models, speakers, books, and such, to learn from.) But in their heart-of-hearts, these attendees were anything but fully engaged in the process of finding themselves their next job. And what was worse was that things like fear, frustration, confusion, regret, among other things, were keeping them from getting UNstuck. It was kind of sad, actually.

I guess that's why I love to coach so much. In coaching, we don't try to overlay some boiler-plate model of someone else's success on people. We don't think we have better answers. Instead, we listen to people - as in REALLY listen - to find out what it is that's keeping them from being their Absolute Best. And we ask questions about what to do about THAT.

It's interesting what coaching creates. And my Career Day conversations were no different. Here's a sampling:

+ I asked one person what he'd rather do than job hunt. He said that he loved woodworking, but he felt guilty about it because he knew he should be looking for a job. The double-entendre struck me as particularly poignant - he would love working! (How ironic is that?!) So we talked about his woodshop and I asked him what he might build to represent his job search. He replied by saying he'd build a workbench! (There was that word work again! We decided that there were some interesting parallel processes to building a workbench and finding a job. He seemed very intrigued by that and found himself eager to work on both projects, in tandem, to better understand the connection.

+ A woman I spoke with was already working but wanted to find a better job. Her background, her skills, her work ethic, they were all amazingly aligned with what she wanted to do. But although she knew that on an intellectual level, she couldn't feel it in her heart or stomach. This lack of confidence and lack of courage was derailing her from doing what she knew she needed to do. In talking with her, she decided she would to talk with several of her best friends and ask them to remind her what they liked about her, what she was good at, and what they saw for her in the future as a way of better owning who she already was but just wasn't realizing it. Who isn't motivated when they're connected with their Best Self like that?

+ Then there was this fella who wanted to take his career to the next level. He knew what he wanted - and knew what to do. The problem, though, was that he had so many ideas that he didn't know where to start. So part of our talk was spent using the metaphor of an archery target to help clarify his thinking and focus it more clearly on what was at the center of the bulls-eye. Since he happened to be a newspaper man, as well, I gave him the assignment of coming up with a dynamite headline to capture the essence of what he wanted to do. I think that really sparked his enthusiasm and captured his imagination.
They say that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But when it comes to the job hunt - and any of a number of other personal/professional stretch goals - it's not so much a matter of distance as it is a matter of movement. These three people got unstuck. And they did it in a way that was totally unique to themselves and totally in keeping with who they really are and what they wanted to be. It was so evident that their motivation, focus, courage, stick-to-itiveness, happiness, and resolve had kicked into high gear. They were ready to rock 'n roll!

Helping people get to that place is what the power of coaching is all about. It's a bee-YOU-tee-full thing!

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Monday, April 12, 2004

Interview Tips

From the Career Builder section in the Sunday, 4/11/4, Chicago Tribune:

Questions you should ask your interviewer:

+ Describe a typical workday.
+ Which managers would I be working with?
+ What are the strengths/weaknesses of the team I'll be working with?
+ What can I do to help the company achieve short- and long-term goals?
+ What's next in the hiring process?
+ When can I expect to hear from you?

What your interviewer needs to know about you:

+ As an employee, you can do more than others.
+ You can do it better and faster than others.
+ Your level of professionalism will save the company money.
+ There are no risks in hiring you.
+ You're a sure thing.
+ You want the job.

What you should know about your prospective employer:

+ What is the company's history?
+ What new products have been introduced?
+ What's the company's status in its given industry?
+ How many employees are there?
+ What are the company's products/services?
+ Who are the key executives?

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Thursday, March 04, 2004

Inspiration AND Craft

I've already recommended Béla Fleck as a musician worth checking out - even if you're not sure what the heck 'fusion banjo' even is! But there's more to the story.

In listening to an interview he gave a while back, he spoke of two essential elements of musical success - inspiration and craft. And it got me thinking about how applicable those elements are to success in almost anything.

Think about it. Craft, is having the ABILITY to succeed. Without it, we really can't ... unless we're incredibly lucky. Inspiration is what gives us the WANT to succeed. Without IT, we likely won't care enough to do what it takes to BE successful. Together, they pave the way to making good things happen sooner.

The application of this insight might take the following form:

Step One - identify something in your personal or professional life that's not going as well as you'd like.

Step Two - Identify whether the 'cause' is more a lack of Inspiration, or a lack of Craft, on your part.

Step Three - Identify three steps you can take to improve that element.

Step Four - Do those steps.

Then let me know how it worked for you.

In the mean time, here's a sample of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones:

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