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.

How To Overcome The Need For Closure

Posted in Closure, Communication, Emotional Investments, Follow-up, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Recruiter, Rejection, Uncategorized, Whole-Part Whole on October 20, 2009 by jcsicareerassist
Do you see a connection?

Do you see a connection?

This isn’t the first time that the subject of closure has come up on the JCSI CareerAssist blog.  In a previous post entitled Handling Non-acceptance, we told candidates not to focus on the things that they cannot change.  Sometimes you will not know why you were not chosen for a specific position and you will need to rely on assumptions to move forward.  Then in Managing Your Emotional Investments In a Job Search, we encouraged our readers to keep interviews in perspective.  Being attached to every opportunity can be mentally and emotionally draining and can rob you of a true opportunity when it comes around.

In this post, we are going to assume that the advice in the above mentioned posts didn’t quite stick.  Intellectually you understand that rejection isn’t personal.  You can even see how the concept of leaving the interview at the interview would reduce some stress.  But at the end of the day you still find yourself waiting by the phone to hear back from a potential employer unable to breathe until they let you know one way or the other.  If this sounds like you or someone you know, then read on.

In order to make sense out of the need for closure, it may help to know that our brains are actually wired to see relationships holistically.  As the shapes above show, we tend to see things in wholes instead of individual parts.  Most people would describe the shapes as a circle and a square with missing pieces  rather than a bunch of disconnected lines.  This is known as Gestalt Psychology.

Translated to the job search, this means that when we speak to someone about an opportunity we are going to automatically expect it to come “full circle”–pun intended.  When it doesn’t, our brains tell us that something is missing and this is considered a psychological threat.  What happens in many cases is that we assume that we have somehow caused the “missing” piece by lacking in some way.

In order to overcome this, we must be able to see the stages of recruitment as “whole-parts”.  Based on the Whole Part Whole (WPW) Method used in some sports training  and other modalities, the participant is trained to see that each component is a whole within itself.  An example from basketball would be that while the ability to shoot free throws are a part of a game, the ability to shoot free throws is also a skill on its own.  In other words, an interview is part of getting a job, but it is also just an interview.

If you are following this logic, then you can see how “leaving the interview at the interview” is possible.  This is accomplished by:

  • Seeing the whole.  The big picture.  In other words finding a job. 
  • Gaining an understanding of how the parts relate to the whole. These are considered “whole-parts”. Phone Screens, phone interviews, f2f interviews (how many rounds?), etc.  Ask your recruiter for more information.
  • Focus on developing your skills in each “whole-part”. Phone presence, f2f interview skills, follow-up skills, etc.
  • Approach each “whole-part” as a singular event.  An interview serves its purpose in real time without being seen as making or breaking the opportunity.  The goal is to have an excellent interview experience.
  • When reviewing the event, keep it in perspective.  Don’t think how you can stop losing opportunities. Concentrate on developing your “whole-part” skills.
  • Realize that it all comes together in the end.  If you excel in your “whole-part” skills then the whole picture will eventually come together.

As you can see, overcoming the need for closure is more about what not to do than it is about doing  some technique.  The key is to keep the “whole-parts” in perspective.  By seeing the “Whole-Part Whole”, closure is integrated into the process as it moves step by step.  Seeing the process this way reduces stress by releasing candidates from carrying the burden of their entire futures into every recruitment engagement.

Creating a Job Search “A-Team”

Posted in Diversity, Interviewing, Job Search, Motivation, Networking, Team Building, Team-Working, Uncategorized on October 12, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

If you or anyone you know has been on the job market for any length of time, you will understand that for most people the hardest part of the job search is staying motivated throughout the process.  Traditionally, we are taught to work for rewards.  At the completion of every action, there is an almost inherent expectation of some sort of feedback.  This can come in the form of money, recognition, or even constructive criticism.  All of which we receive from a job.

Once the job is removed from the dynamic, the context of work will take on a whole new meaning.  When you are seeking full-time employment, finding a job is your job.  For many, the longer they are on the search without receiving feedback relative to the work they do, the more diminished they feel.  It can be equated to working on a project for your employer and never hearing whether or not you are on target.  This is a situation that most workers detest and often leads to disengagement.  But what will be the result of disengaging from one’s own job search?

In his book, Who’s Got Your Back, bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi, encourages his readers to break free of the “go it alone” mentality that is prevalent in our society and to establish what he calls, “Lifeline Relationships” to help build success.  The idea behind his message is simple.  Identify a  few trusted individuals with whom you can freely express yourself and enlist them to help you sustain accountability in achieving your goals. 

When applied to the job search, this group could be part of what is called a “Job Search Work Team”. This concept based on the Pierson Method by Oliver Pierson has been employed by industry leader Lee, Hecht, Harrison for over a decade with great success.  Furthermore, according to www.highlyeffectivejobsearch.com this method is scientifically proven to speed up the job search.

This is why forming your own team for your job search can be a perfect solution to help you achieve your mission.  To illustrate how these teams can work for you, we’ll use the example of the 80’s TV show, The A-Team.  The main lesson to learn from this show is to build a team with diverse skill sets.

  • John “Hannibal” Smith– The Planner.  This character was the one who began with the end in mind and figured out a way to get there.  Having someone like this on your team is essential.
  • B.A. “Bad Attitude” Baracus-The Mechanic.  Inevitably you will run into snags in your plan and when you do, you will need someone who knows how to take what’s broken and either fix it, create a work around, or completely “build a better mousetrap”.
  • Templeton “Faceman” Peck-The Image Consultant.  When interviewing for most jobs, it is very important to dress the part and turn on the charm.  Having someone who has an eye for such things can be vital to interview success.  This is the person you’d want to perform a mock interview with.
  • H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock-The Dreamer.  When things don’t go according to plan, you can’t easily conceive of a work around, and your charm isn’t opening doors, you need an out of the box thinker who simply supports you without condition.  They don’t believe in impossible and can smile while the whole world is frowning.
  • Amy Amanda “Triple A” Allen-The Insider.  To round out your team, you are going to need someone who is connected or at least knows how to follow a trail to decision makers.  Having someone with the investigative flair is always helpful because if they don’t have an answer, chances are they can connect you to someone who does.

Now imagine how much easier your job search might go if you had such a team working with you.  As you already know, networking is often plays a very important role in a job search.  This post encourages to take it a step further and and go from networking to team-working.

Planting a Resume Garden

Posted in Emotional Investments, Hiring Trends, Job Search, Personal Brand, Recruiter, Resume, Uncategorized on October 6, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Many candidates are not told this, but how they distribute their resume can contribute greatly to the response they receive from prospective employers.  To demonstrate this I will use the analogy of a garden to show your resume’s relationship to the job market.

In this example you should consider each copy of your resume as a seed with the potential to grow your ideal job.  The soil is represented by the places where your resumes end up, such as companies, organizations, job boards, and applicant tracking systems (ATS).  The sun’s equivalent will be the human eyes that will actually see your resume and determine how far it will go through the cycle.  And lastly, the job market itself will play the role of the weather conditions that can either facilitate or threaten your resume’s chances of fulfilling its potential.

Now, if you’ve ever tried to start a garden,  you know that it is not an easy task.  There are so many things to consider before you even start that the thought alone keeps most of us from ever taking on the task willingly.  It’s not as simple as deciding that you want some pumpkins or tomatoes and then throwing some seeds in a field (job board) and sitting back and waiting for the harvest (plenty of jobs to choose from).  You have to think about the type of soil available and whether or not it can sustain the plant.  You also have to consider the amount of sunlight and water that the plants will need to receive.  Lastly, you must understand the plant’s growth cycle so that you know when to plant them and when you can suspect a harvest.  And all that’s before you even consider dropping the first seed (resume).

Once you determine that you can manage the conditions necessary for growing a sustainable crop, you have to go about preparing the land itself.  This takes a lot of work as well.  You have to make sure that there is proper spacing between the vegetation so that each crop can get its fair share of nutrients.  It’s also necessary to separate certain plants from each other because they stifle each other’s growth.  In other words, you cannot rely on having your resume mixed in with a bunch of other resumes and you can’t overload a company with a truckload of resumes hoping one will slip through.  Think of how that will reflect upon your personal brand.

It is not until after you have taken these considerations and made the necessary preparations that you are ready to plant the seeds.  When planting the seeds you must make sure to plant them deep enough in the soil so that they can take root and not get flooded out by rains or picked up by birds or other creatures.  i.e. Try to get a referral or work with a recruiter (professional gardener) to increase your chances of resume survival.  Once all of this is done you have made it to the hardest part of planting a garden–waiting.

Perhaps your ultimate goal with this garden was to be able to make your own salad.  That’s the image you have in your mind and it is what motivated you to do all of the work in the first place.  Now that you’ve planted your seeds, you may find yourself getting a little anxious.  That’s because after all of the work that you’ve done you’ve finally come to the part that you have absolutely no control over.  Depending on the plant’s growth cycle and other conditions, you can spend several weeks maintaining the surrounding area to keep it free from, weeds, rodents, and bad weather and never see a single sign that anything is happening under all that dirt.  All you can rely on is the fact that you did everything that you were supposed to do.  Such is the case with your resume.

The main point that you should take away from this is to value your resume if that’s what you expect others to do.  Consider hiring a professional to review your resume to make sure that the seeds you are planting are good.  And once you’ve done that,  do what you can to give them the conditions they need to make it to harvest time.  That’s the way to plant a resume garden.

Discovering Your Transferable Skills

Posted in Hiring Trends, Interviewing, Job Search, Personal Brand, Recruiter, Resume, Social Media, Transferable Skills, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 on September 30, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Miyagi taught Daniel the Secret of Transferable Skills One of the most difficult, yet most valuable discoveries one can make on a job search is figuring out how to apply their transferable skills to a new opportunity.  This particular ability is especially helpful for people wanting to make a career change or those looking to enter the job market for the first time.

A transferable skill is any ability–whether it is a natural talent or acquired skill nurtured through employment, schooling, etc.–that can be used in multiple situations.  A perfect example would be the wax on, wax off  technique taught to Daniel-San in the 1980’s movie The Karate Kid. 

Throughout his training, Mr. Miyagi had Daniel performing all sorts of tasks, that to the untrained eye appeared to be focused more on the janitorial arts as opposed to martial arts.  Yet when Daniel left the Karate Championship with trophy in hand, it was very clear that  waxing a car, sanding a floor, and painting a fence had other uses beyond what can be seen on the surface.  That’s the power of understanding transferable skills.

As an empowered job seeker, it is up to you to look at the talents and skills you have developed over the years and determine where they can be used most effectively.  Undoubtedly, you are going to come across positions where you can employ your transferable skills.  However, unless you figure out how to draw attention to those skills, you will likely be passed over by an employer for other candidates whose acronyms match the job description.

Therefore, if you are serious about leveraging your transferable skills in your job search, you are going to have make an investment in marketing them–whether it is with time or money.  Here are a few tips on how you can do that:

  1. Hire a professional resume writer.  When your career path matches the logical progression of a job description connecting the dots is easy.  But if you are trying to get from point A to point B via point D with a short layover in Z then you are going to have to paint a picture that a hiring manager can see. 
  2. Build relationships with recruiters. Every star has an agent.  That should tell you something.  But not every person with an agent is working.  That should tell you something else.  With the obvious exception of having talent for them to market, the relationship you have with good recruiters can make the difference between getting your foot in the door and having it slammed in your face. Plus, their wide array of knowledge about the job market will help them to better see how your skills can be transferred.
  3. Spend time on your online profiles.By building a complete online profile, you are giving employers the opportunity to see you multi-dimensionally.  Sites like Linkedin allow you to attach blog posting, slide presentations, and book lists so that visitors can get a clearer sense of who you are and what you have to offer an organization.
  4. Volunteer to work on projects. You know you can do the work.  You just need your chance to prove it. Well, you can always do it for free.  This way everybody wins.  You get the experience and the person or organization that you  volunteer for gets a product or service that they are in need of for a price that they can afford.  Everyone wins.

These are just a few ways that you can discover, apply, and market your transferable skills.  Just remember that any action that you have mastered can be repurposed or reapplied to meet other needs.  Your task is to figure out how.  Good luck.

Rules of Engagement In a Job Search

Posted in Interviewing, Job Search, Rejection, Rules of Engagement, Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

In military terms, the Rules of Engagement determine when and how much force should be applied to a given situation.  The amount of force applied varies with increasing intensity depending on the level of resistance that the troops are coming up against.  An example of how to respond to a level 3 resistance according to the US Marines’ ROE goes as follows:

Level 3: Resistant (Active). The subject initially demonstrates physical resistance. Use compliance techniques to control the situation. Level three incorporates close combat techniques to physically force a subject to comply. Techniques include: Come-along holds, Soft-handed stunning blows, Pain compliance through the use of joint manipulation and the use of pressure points.  

The Rules of Engagement are designed to create a degree of consistency and order in a situation with the potential to go out of control.  When used appropriately, these rules allow soldiers to leverage a situation with the most agreeable outcome–which is to avoid or minimize injuries and casualties on both sides.  When not mastered, however, these same rules can increase the risk of hesitation when action is required or misread cues may lead to the use of excessive force when it is uncalled for. 

At this point, you may be thinking that this is great information if you are ever in combat, but perhaps not so useful in your job search.  However, if you have ever done any sales–and we all have in some way–then you may recognize the relationship between ROE and techniques for overcoming objections.  Herein lies the connection to your job search.

If you didn’t know it already, the day you enter the job market, you’ve also entered the world of sales.  You are putting your skills and talents on the market and you are asking for a certain price.  That’s sales.  As soon as you start selling, you find that objections are a natural part of the process.  Objections are resistance.  And when you come to resistance, you will be best served by having your own Rules of Engagement.  Otherwise, what could be simple objections can turn into a pattern of rejection.

To help you along we’re going to offer some suggestions on how to develop your own ROE.

  1. Look for patterns. If it walks like a duck…  If you notice the same objections repeatedly, add a new dimension. Change your response. You may not get the results you were looking for, but it won’t be what you’ve had in the past either.
  2. Question your reality. Many people see filling a position as the final destination, when it’s actually the starting gate.  If you realize that you or your interviewer thinks this way, this is a good time to ask about where the company is headed.  Like the Marines’ “Come Along Hold”,  a well placed question can shift the direction of an interview.
  3. Go on the offensive. The job market is a game.  That means there’s an offense and defense.  Realize that you are interviewing because the company is trying to go somewhere and they are looking for people to help them get there. They are looking for people who will get on the field and play.

Creating your own Rules of Engagement will help give you a sense of where you are in an interview and what you may need to add to the setting in order to keep engaged.  All ROE are as unique as the person or group applying them, so you have to create rules that fit you best.  Just remember that these rules are guidelines that the other party is not aware of.  So stay conscious that the operative word in ROE is ENGAGEMENT.  Following ROE is meant to help you stay engaged and not to replace it.  That means engage the person, not the rules.