Archive for the Empowerment Category

The Light At the End of Your Job Search

Posted in Communication, Confidence, Empowerment, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Recruiter on December 14, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you land a position other opportunities start presenting themselves? Do you find that strange?  What about the phenomenon that occurs when several companies ask you to interview in quick succession?  How does that happen and why is it so unpredictable?  Well, there are several factors that play into these occurrences.  Some things that influence it are the market, the number of positions you applied for, and the depth of your network.  However, I am going to suggest that the number one contributor to this type of opportunity flow is the waxing and waning of confidence.

There’s no statistical evidence that I am aware of,  but if you just look at other key indicators, I believe a significant argument can be made for this case.  I’ve spoken with thousands of job seekers and heard their stories and a clear pattern has emerged.  If you imagine yourself in the scenario below, I’m sure you will get a sense of familiarity if you’ve ever spent any significant time seeking opportunities.

The First Wave – You have just entered the job market.  You’re riding high off the fact that you “have time” thanks to your severance package.  Furthermore, you know your skills are in demand.  You believe you’ll have a job in no time.  You talk to friends and let them know what’s going on.  Some  people are even jealous of your little break from the rat race.  What’s more, you already have a few prospects from people you know from the industry.  You have two or three interviews scheduled.  “This is going to be easy”, you think to yourself.  You go to the first interview full of confidence.  It ends with a lot of smiles and handshakes.  They tell you that you will hear back from them soon.  The waiting begins.  You think back on your interview.  It’s been two weeks since you heard anything and your calls weren’t returned.  You begin doubting yourself.  The other interviews follow suit. The future stops looking so bright.

The Second Wave – After some time you start to reevaluate your search.  Everyone you’ve spoken with confirms that the market is tough and what you are experiencing is normal.  It may not get you a job, but somehow it makes you feel a little better.  You start to reminisce on the earlier days in your career when things were easier.  Sure you made less money, but you had more fun.  You were in the trenches with your comrades or you had the chance to do the “real work” where the action happens.  Right now, you’d welcome the return of those days.  In fact maybe that’s what you should’ve done all along.  You get excited.  Now you have more jobs to choose from and a greater chance at landing something.  You start getting calls again, a few more interviews are scheduled, and you’re back in the saddle. 

The Third Wave – Looking at broader search criteria has helped you get more interviews, but the employers are concerned about you taking a “step back”. As a result, no one has pulled the trigger despite the fact that you’re offering them a bargain.  You’re getting a little frustrated with the whole situation.  You’re almost thinking of starting your own business.  You start looking into your options.  You realize that all these years you could’ve been your own boss.  You’re beginning to gain a strength that isn’t dependent upon whether or not you’re hired by one of the companies you’ve applied to.  You know you have value and if no one is going to take you up on your offer to impact their company, you’ll make an impact of your own.  You start thinking that all these companies have been doing you a favor.  They helped you to realize that you are not defined by your job.  You feel so good that you’re not certain if you ever want another job again.  That’s when your phone rings.  It’s a recruiter.

The Fourth Wave – You decide to go in for the interview.  Because you’re not concerned about the outcome, you are very confident.  Who knows, this company may turn into a sales prospect for your new business. You engage the interviewer(s).  You tell them your story and you even secretly give them your new sales pitch on how to improve certain facets of your industry.  You leave the interview and get back to work on your ideas for your business.  You don’t give the interview another thought except to send thank you notes. A few days later the phone rings.  The recruiter wants to know if you can do another interview.  You say yes.  A couple weeks later you’re signing an offer letter.  You say to yourself, “this is nice, but if it doesn’t work out I have my back up plan.”  For the next few months, with a twinge of pride,  you have to tell recruiters that you found a position.

While this may not be your exact story, I’m sure the message is not lost.  Confidence is key.  Not only have I personally experienced this phenomenon, I have spoken to numerous job seekers that can testify to a similar experience.  I have also spoken to people who had new jobs before their first severance check cleared.  I can tell you that these individuals made decisions quickly and did not lack in the confidence department.  Of course, just being confident won’t land you a job, but without it, you may never be able to convince employers to give you a chance.  So be mindful of your confidence level throughout your search and be sure to participate in activities that will keep it high as you seek opportunities.

Be The Turducken When You Interview

Posted in Communication, Empowerment, Hiring Managers, Interview Secret, Interviewing, Motivation, Networking, Personal Brand with tags on November 25, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

With Thanksgiving here, I decided to get festive in my interview analogies by introducing the Turducken as a model for job seekers to consider the next time they sit down for an interview.  For those of you who have never heard of the Turducken, it is a partially deboned Turkey that is stuffed with a deboned duck that has also been stuffed with deboned chicken.  But that’s not it.  There’s more stuff inside.  The minds who invented this culinary delight go further by filling all of the gaps and cavities with other stuffings.  Just thinking about eating it is intimidating to me.  Talk about more than “meats” the eye.

When I heard about the Turducken just recently, my mind went straight to the thought that like this meal, there’s always more to people than what is on the surface.  So keeping with the whole Thanksgiving theme, I thought that it would be a good idea for people on the job market to think about what they are grateful for–the gifts, skills, and talents that they have honed over the years.  Think about what kind of services you can provide to an organization–all of the things that you possess on the inside that are not made visible by a resume or online profile.  The next time you present yourself, be the Turducken.

This may sound like a strange analogy at first, but just imagine that someone asks you to cut the Thanksgiving “bird” and to your surprise you find a duck, and then in that duck, you find a chicken.  If that’s the first time you’ve seen such a thing, you won’t soon forget it.  And, more than that you are going to tell others about it.  That’s what candidates need to go for when they interview.  You want to pleasantly surprise the first interviewer so that they will tell the next person in line and on and on until the whole company gets to know you.  We’ll be talking more about this approach to the interview process in our upcoming webinar, The Anatomy of the Interview Process on December 9, 2009 at 12PM.  In the meantime, I suggest candidates take time  this holiday season to focus on what cannot be seen and working with others on how to share that with others.  If you can get one person talking on your behalf, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Ending The Confusion About Inclusion – Diversity 2071

Posted in Communication, Diversity, Empowerment, Hiring Trends, Inclusion, Job Search, Small Acts of Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 with tags , , , , on November 20, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

On this blog, we try to offer a thought-provoking take on all subjects related to job seekers and their experience on the job market.  As I’ve mentioned, we believe that empowered job seekers will have a significant impact on the overall turnaround of the market itself.  So when we decided to write about Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), we wanted to offer an outlook that you might not find anywhere else.  Having a clear unfiltered picture of what a totally inclusive culture would mean to the business world will explain why so much effort is being put into creating it.  As job seekers, it’s important to know that D&I isn’t going anywhere and that it’s in everyone’s best interest to understand why it is essential to their success to have an idea of where it is headed.

In order to envision the future of D&I, I began considering what kinds of careers the next generation would reflect upon having grown up in a digital age driven by technologies that allow us to connect and share information with increasing rapidity.  I even chose the year 2071, to illustrate the year that children born today would be eligible for retirement based on the current government recognized age of 62. Living in a time when anyone can contribute their thoughts any time they want via social media platforms, I wondered if they will laugh at our generation for ever needing Diversity training in the first place? 

Considering the way the internet is being used today really put D&I in perspective and the more I thought about it the simpler it became.  When you really break down D&I, it’s driven by the fact that–on an individual level–everyone just wants to fit in somewhere and express their creativity freely.  With virtual worlds, online gaming, social technologies, and search engines, being able to experience this is increasingly becoming a cultural norm.  As more and more people engage across digital platforms, it will become more difficult not to engage in other social arenas as well.  So when you eliminate all of the distractions it becomes clear to see that D&I efforts are suited to facilitate the highest level of engagement. Now for many, this may sound too simple and it definitely doesn’t present a clear business case for why time and money should be invested in programs and training to try to get entire organizations on board. So there must be more to it.

Well while companies know that what’s driving the need for D&I is fundamentally simple, it isn’t easy at all.  Transformation never is.  It is uncomfortable and challenges everything we know.  It demands vulnerability in exchange for growth.  And the rewards that come from our efforts will only meet us halfway.  That means we must extend ourselves.  In essence we must put ourselves out there and learn by doing.  For many of us that is too scary.  We’d rather just close our eyes and wait for change to pass us by.  But, that’s not going to happen.  We’ll be pulled in eventually.  Just ask anyone who reluctantly created a Facebook page or people on the job market who are finally accepting the value of a LinkedIn account.  It’s the same process.  And if you still think social media has nothing to do with Diversity, just wait. 

I deleted an earlier version of this post because in the end it was just one more post telling us what we’ve already heard before.  If Affirmative ActionEqual Employment Opportunity, and the idea that diversity breeds innovation were convincing enough, the discussion would have ended long ago and people would be volunteering to learn how they could help the process move forward.  But because in large part, mankind’s fear of loss still generally exceeds their desire for gain, the D&I dialogue will continue until we reach the tipping point where resistance is obviously costing us more than voluntary compliance.  Understanding this is leverage for those willing to take a front seat on this transformational roller coaster. By the year 2071 when the confusion about inclusion is no longer an issue, the retirees will be able to look back on what it took to get to an inclusive culture and simplify it into a definition like the one below.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) – A systematic process designed to facilitate information transfer through converting a culture from a driving mindset of “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM)  to one of  “What’s In It For Everyone” (WIIFE) .

Now, you might still be asking what this has to do with your job search.  The answer has everything to do with market relevance.  The market is headed this way and if you are not, your POTENTIAL to contribute will be irrelevant since your resistance will represent an information bottleneck. When it is all said and done I believe the retirees of 2071 will demonstrate that the business case for Diversity and Inclusion never had anything to do with the categories that we break ourselves into and everything to do with increasing the flow of ideas and information. 

Google is growing by leaps and bounds because it feeds our need to know and gives us access to information on demand.  Every time we go to a search engine and look up anything, we increase our expectation to find answers quickly. We are in an age where information is currency and anything that gets in the way of our access to information will be minimized and eventually eliminated.  It is inevitable.  We are fast approaching a point where the only hang ups in communication will be individuals withholding information because they are operating on an obsolete paradigm.  So I submit that in the future of business this will not be tolerated from anyone regardless of a person’s race, color, national origin, sexual identification, age, religion, or disability.  The business case for D&I can’t get any clearer than that.

Cashing In On Psychic Income

Posted in Closure, Emotional Investments, Empowerment, Interview Secret, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Psychic Income, Rejection, Salesmanship, Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Not that kind of psychic.

In our September 14 posting, Managing Your Emotional Investments In A Job Search, we talked about the gambler’s fallacy as it relates to job hunting and offered some tips on how to navigate the waves of emotion that arise as you look toward securing your next job.  In this companion piece, we discuss psychic income, why it can sometimes be more valuable than any other currency, and how to know when to cash it in for opportunities.

In their book, Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed By Social Technologies, Charlene Li* and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research discuss the phenomenon of psychic income–the intangible revenue or satisfaction that comes from participating in certain activities.  An example could be the feeling you gain from making a certain purchase or working on a project that calls upon your creative ability.   Because of my genuine interest in people, I derive psychic income from reading, writing, listening, and conversing on almost any topic.  So if it were not for bills, I’d do almost any job for free if it allowed for authentic engagement of some kind.  But because most of us do have bills, we’ll talk about the financial implications of psychic income.

In Groundswell, Jeff Stenski is attributed to have potentially saved Dell over $1 million simply by answering questions on Dell’s Community Forum.  Why has Jeff spent the equivalent of over 123 workdays a year on this forum answering questions about optical drives for free?  The answer of course is psychic income.  Jeff loves to contribute and this forum gives him an opportunity to do so.  As we mentioned in The Ultimate Interview Secret, there are rewards that come from seeking to contribute to your industry or area of expertise and these rewards can be cashed in.

For starters, as long as you are contributing, your skills will keep current.  This has tremendous value.  Added to this, in a depressed market, there is a definite value in engaging with people who have the ability to skillfully transfer their enthusiasm.  This is known as salesmanship and believe it or not, the purchases that we usually feel the best about are usually laden with the psychic income we earned from engaging with the salesperson.  In a world where we have global access to products and services, it is actually the psychic income embedded in those products and services that is the differentiator.  What do you think this information can do for your interviewing skills?

So knowing this, doesn’t it make sense to keep track of your psychic income just as well as you do of your financial income?  We think so.  That’s exactly why this blog exists.  As recruiters we know how taxing the job search can be for everyone involved.  With so many things to consider when making a hire, disproportionate amounts of psychic income can be strewn about with many feeling like they didn’t get the ROI they were hoping for.  Our goal with CareerAssist is to give back to the candidate pool for the time and energy they share with us when they talk to us about the opportunities with our clients.  It may not be the job they were hoping for, but we hope that it contributes in some way.

So if you take anything from this post–whether you are on the job market or engaging with someone who is–let it be this.  Psychic income is part and parcel of every relationship no matter how much time is involved.  So be wise in your deposits and withdrawals.

*Charlene Li has since become an independent thought leader and Founder of Altimeter Group.

The Ultimate Interview Secret

Posted in Communication, Empowerment, Interview Secret, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Uncategorized, Volunteering on November 2, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

The job is already yours.

How many interviews would you say it takes to secure a job? 1, 2, 5000?  The truth is that when it comes to securing a job, the interview doesn’t end until your last day at the company.  Everyday that you engage with an employer is an interview day.  And given this logic, your first “interview” is also your first workday.  This is a secret that  successful interviewees know and apply daily.

The reason companies hire is because they have a problem and they are looking for a solution.  Interviewees who understand this start working for the company as soon as they find out about the opportunity.  The first thing they do is ensure that they understand the challenges of the organization.  Next, they determine if they have the skills or access to the skills required to bring about a solution.  If they do, they will work to communicate to the decision makers that they have a means to ease the pains that the organization is feeling.

Once they are brought in for the interview/first day they begin to consult with the interviewer.  They use this opportunity to demonstrate their ability to listen, engage, and problem solve.  But more than this, they make sure this first hour or so of work shows that they are already adding value to the company.  If they do this successfully, they will be asked to return and it will continue on until a point in time when either the employee or the employer determines that they’ve gone as far as the relationship will presently take them.

You see, the idea that you need a company’s permission to work for them is a fallacy.  By working for any particular industry, you are automatically working for every organization operating in that industry.  When you move on to a different company, it is ideally because it provides an opportunity to make a greater contribution to your industry of choice.  The more value you add to your industry, the more in demand you will be and the greater the reward will be over time.

The mistake that many candidates make is to think that they cannot contribute unless someone hires them.  But the people who find opportunities the fastest are those who are always looking for ways to contribute to their industry.  They volunteer.  They create blogs.  They participate in online discussion groups.  They start online communities.  They even start their own companies. 

Candidates with this mindset have the goal to contribute to their field to the maximum of their ability.  And because they’re passionate they will do this regardless of the number of doors they have to walk through before they start getting paid for their services.  This is the Secret of empowered interviewees and now it’s yours.

To learn more interview success tips, join us for our upcoming webinar on December 9th at noon.  In The Anatomy of the Interview Process, we will discuss:

  • Phone ettiquette
  • Interview Preparation
  • The Recruiter Relationship
  • Managing Company Expectations
  • Navigating the Interview Process and more…

Our presenters will be Sr. Recruiter and Author of “366 Tips for a Successful Job Search”, Cynthia Wright and JCSI Candidate Relationship Manager, Pedro S. Silva II.  We look forward to your participation and welcome your feedback.