Archive for May, 2013

Love and Your Personal Brand

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

071012_Happy_Work_575x270-panoramic_18615“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

Back in 1970, Stephen Stills delivered a mantra useful for those times when you’re far away from where you’d rather be. Quoting fellow musician and road warrior Billy Preston, Stills’ lyric posed a realistic, if unromantic viewpoint about life’s journey.

How about spinning that for a personal branding mantra?

Think about the job you have right now, especially if there’s something else you would rather be doing. Now repeat:

If I can’t be in the job I love, I’ll love the job I have.

Gallop polled 8,000 US workers, and found that’s the philosophy of the happiest, most successful people working today. Researcher Shane Lopez dug into the data and found out what was really behind the smiles. These people weren’t just making do, they weren’t white knuckling it through the day and they weren’t lying about how they felt. They had made great jobs from the jobs they got.

The secret to their success and happiness was reinvention. They reinvented their jobs to fit their skills, strengths and interests. Yale School of Management’s Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski calls it “job crafting.”

Can you job craft?

Make a series of small changes by increasing the tasks you want to do and taking on new ones. You will find a natural decrease in those you don’t care for. This doesn’t just apply to tasks. It applies to the amount of interaction you might want to amplify or reduce with colleagues, customers or your boss.

When you’re reinventing your job, don’t make changes suddenly. And don’t necessarily announce them to anyone. Start with whatever wiggle room you have in your job. Here are some ideas.

-Do an unexpectedly thorough job, even if you’ve been given just a small task. For example, if you schedule tweets and you’d prefer to control more of your company’s social media – include additional ideas, information or insights when you email your report that the tweets are up.

-Pick up the phone if you work virtually and mostly have been communicating by email and IM. For example, call a colleague to exchange ideas about a project and while you’re at it: ask how their day is going.

– Do the groundwork for a project you’d love to lead. For example, if you want to get your company involved in branded content, send around a short presentation with relevant show ideas. Ask for input.

One of the hallmarks of my career is that after my first job in advertising, I never again was hired for a position that had a job description. I was interviewed for these kinds of jobs, but when I met the employer I treated the job interview as an opportunity to collaborate. I learned what their goals were and I brought my ideas, experience and strengths to bear. Without knowing it, I was being entrepreneurial, thinking beyond what was on the agenda. I believe that’s why I was never turned down, because I created jobs that only I could fill.

Job crafting is simply being entrepreneurial on your own behalf, within your current organization. If you want more money, trust, responsibility, and freedom, work the way start-ups do. Take what you have including your imagination, and provide more value by doing more of what you do best. Watch the negative aspects of your job just fall off your to-do list.

Because as someone who does, I know you can be with the one you love and love the one you’re with.

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The End of Giving ‘Til It Hurts

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

officeWorkersHighFiveYou’ve heard there’s no “I” in team, right? Career coaches, bosses and the people you work with have told you never to take credit. Never say: “I did this project! Came up with the strategy, implemented the tactics and for sweeping up the tickertape (or shredded financial statements) from the parade, I’m happy to take credit for the success.”

You’ve seen MVPs on camera after nearly every winning series say, “It’s the team. It’s the fans. The coach was great. And, the real credit goes to the naysayers who really motivated me! But, me? Aw shucks. No. But, thank you, Mom!”

Is this any way to build your career? Can you be your own talent manager if you won’t acknowledge the talent? Is there really no “I” in team? Can you constantly be looking out for your co-workers, administrative assistant, staff, vendors, and your boss? Can you share all your resources with abandon, including the credit you’ve earned, and still have enough juice to make your way?

Being too trusting or too generous was considered a gender issue at one point in time. For example, Sheryl Sandberg wants women to lean in. My experience is that the gender issue is a bit dated when you look at the behavior of young managers today. After all, the Millennials made sure everyone in class got a valentine, there were enough cupcakes even for the losing team and no one needed a date for prom.

This fear of competition or perhaps appearing to be your own best spokesperson, have led the myth that the “I” word is a bad one. It’s not.

There is a “me” in team, if you work the letters a bit. As a career coach, I recommend you learn to take credit as much as you learn to share it. And, be careful what you give away, because your false sincerity – much less your resentment about the lack of regard or that bonus you thought you deserved – will drive opportunities and people away from you.

A more balanced approach is the only way to keep your career on track, according to Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. It’s great to be a “giver,” just make sure the recipients of your generosity are giving back in equal measure. They might not give back to you directly – but make sure they are passing on your acts of kindness, generosity and encouragement.

Grant isn’t promoting a me-first, only me, and more about me philosophy. He notes that some of the great givers including philanthropists like Jon Huntsman, Senior and Richard Branson manage their generosity.

So, make a plan to dole out your credit, appreciation and other bounty appropriately. And, make sure your career strategy is like a good financial one: pay yourself first.

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The New Recruitment Strategy: Jobs that Hunt You

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

imagesYour LinkedIn profile and resume may soon disappear or diminish in importance when it comes to recruiters finding you and approaching you with a great job offer. There’s something called Big Data that may supplant any other approach to matching the perfect job with you.

Gild is among several new companies that scour the web for your presence. Part programmer, bot and recruiter, Gild and the like develop specific algorithms for particular jobs and corporate cultures. Then, they trawl the net looking for candidates. They don’t stop at the usual places, like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. They may include those networks, but they dig much deeper into your behavior online. And, they examine the feedback you get from other people who matter professionally.

For example, a start-up in Silicon Valley with less budget than its rivals have for paying programmers hired Gild to find an opinionated, inventive and productive, self-taught programmer who failed to go to college but wrote code available on public sites that attracted other users to use it on their websites. Tall order but they found the guy. He’d been way below the poverty line without a job and now is the first of ten employees living it up (okay, in front of a screen) with a 6-figure salary. With the company growing to 40 or more, his social skills might stunt his career there, but he got the toe hold he needed to perhaps go start-up on his own.

Searching the web for signs of good, prospective employees isn’t just for tech companies in need of programmers. More and more, you are the detritus of your web surfing, and even more: a representation of yourself made by the comments, interactions, contributions, and expressions of emotion you provide by showing up in the public square that is the Internet.

It’s not just what you write, but how you write it that matters to employers using these bots to find the real you. And, it’s your peers’ reactions that might matter more than anything else. Do people respond favorably to you: do you influence their choices or as Seth Godin characterizes it: do you lead your tribes on any area of significance?

RemarkableHire focuses almost solely on how your online contributions are rated by others.

Entelo functions a bit like eHarmony does for potential lovers. Entelo uses 70 variables to evaluate if you might be ready for a career change – even before you know it.

Sure, these companies bring you in or Skype with you to make sure you really are a person with the right abilities, opinions and requisite social interaction skills. But, what’s really interesting about this new trend is that they know you really well before they ask you: “What’s your greatest weakness?” In fact, interviews might be more about:  do you know yourself as well as they know you? Because, like ardent fans of Bradley Cooper: algorithms have scoured the net to uncover and then, interpret and imagine who you really are.

What does this boil down to? Get busy on the web in all the right places. Show up on your industry sites, create and contribute to virtual projects created by volunteers, and document what you do and know. That is: don’t just update your LinkedIn profile: do your thing in all the right places. Get up on crowdsourcing sites, including DesignCrowd and even Kickstarter to show off your ability to engage, impress and lead.

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