Archive for the ‘Employment’ Category
Sunday, April 20th, 2008 |
Now you’re probably wondering what Toyota has to do with your job interview. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that. But first I want to talk about the mind set you need for being successful during an interview.
A job interview is nothing more than a sales meeting. And what you are selling is YOU. To nail the job interview, you must first understand the real purpose of the meeting. And if selling is the reason for the interview, why not learn to sell from one of the top marketers in the auto industry…Toyota. Let’s take a look at some lessons from Toyota that will help us nail that job interview.
Do your research. Before Toyota puts a new car on the lot, they first do a significant amount of research in preparation to build that car; but not just research on how to improve the mileage or unclutter the instrument panel. Toyota wants to know what car buyers are looking for. Toyota has a research department in Torrence, California with more than 100 people dedicated to learning what the customer wants.
When you prepare to sell yourself to a new employer, you need to do your research. Learn about the company. What do they value? And learn about the job. What are they looking for? You want to know the employer the way that Toyota knows the car buyer. To sell yourself, you need to understand the employer’s needs so you can demonstrate how you will meet those needs.
Put the polished product front and center. When Hooters advertises their hot wings or shrimp, they seem to focus more on the women in citrus colored shorts than the food. But Toyota give their product the lead role. When you see an ad for the Toyota Camry, it’s the shiny new car that gets all the attention.
To sell yourself at the interview, you must present yourself, and your talents, in the best possible light. This starts with your appearance. Of course, you want to dress professionally and be properly groomed for every job interview. But the real sparkle for the product of YOU comes from your personality. Sell yourself with a smile and an upbeat personality. Employers read your energy level as a sign of motivation and enthusiasm. Present yourself as professional and motivated. Your appearance means a lot.
Sell the results, not the methods. When’s the last time you saw a Toyota commercial that took a close look at the engine and examined the details of the rack-and-pinion steering? Well, you probably haven’t seen one at all. But I’m sure you’ve seen the RAV4 hauling friends to the beach or the Tundra truck carrying a 10,000 pound load. Toyota sells the excitement and utility of owning their vehicles by showing you what they can do. They sell the end result, even though it’s the engine that really gets you there.
Selling yourself in the interview requires the same marketing strategy. Sure you could talk all day about the skills you have and the knowledge you’ve acquired. But what the interviewer really wants to know is how you can make this company better. Sell the results of your talents. Tell how you can improve systems and speed up productivity through effective management skills. Explain how your networking experience can help the product developers collaborate with the research department. And your research before the interview will help you know what outcomes the employers is looking for. So sell those outcomes, don’t just show them the engine.
Focus on reliable and productive over glitz and glamor. Ford shined with the Mustang and GM sparkled with the ‘vette. But Toyota has not build it’s success on trying to create the next hot thing. Instead, Toyota has earned it’s place by selling reliable vehicles with the features and appearance desired by the driving public.
The same should be true of the sales pitch you make during the job interview. Don’t try to wow the employer with one-time successes and talents that will be little used on the job. Focus your presentation on those things the employer wants most.
Don’t give up when faced with failure. Toyota ventured onto the American market in 1957 with the Toyopet Crown family car. But after three years, a variety of problems and less then flattering sales, Toyota was forced to pull the Crown off the market. But it was not the end of Toyota in North America. After half a century, Toyota has proven it’s worth with a nearly 16% market share, ahead of Chrysler and about to overtake Ford.
When interviewing for a new career, or just a change of jobs, you will likely be faced with some failures. But one employers decision to not hire you, does not mean your search must end. Even the best interview will not always win the job. So continue your search, do your research and prepare for the next interview. And remember the lessons you’ve learned from Toyota.
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Monday, April 7th, 2008 |
Probably one of the most important things anyone can do for their career is keep their resume up to date. This is particularly true for anyone considering a midlife career change. So here we go. It’s time to take out that ole’ resume, brush off the dust and update it with all the wonderful things you’ve accomplished.
First, assuming you’ve go the old resume in hand, just set it aside for a moment. Before we start making actual changes, we need to learn a bit about how resumes have changed over the years. To learn more about what a quality resume should look like, check out the Resume Tutorial at Quintessential Careers. If you’ve updated your resume in the past twenty years, you’re most likely aware that marital status, hobbies and references should not be included. But are you also aware that many employer electronically scan resumes looking for the right candidate?
Now that you know how your resume should look and what to include, prepare a draft of your resume and share it with a mentor or friend who does hiring and get their opinion. I always think it’s a good idea to have even two or three people look over your resume before you send it to a potential employer. Listen to their feedback and make the changes you find appropriate.
Now print about three crisp copies of your resume and put them away for future use. Sure, you could just leave the file on the computer, but you never know when you will need that resume. And you don’t want to be out of quality paper when the time comes. I even keep one copy of my resume in my computer bag at all times. I have to use my resume for grant applications and other work, so it doesn’t seem all that unusual. But I also like having a copy handy for some unexpected opportunity that may arise.
How often should you update your resume? Well, let’s start with updating it every time you take on a new job or position. That’s right. As soon as you change jobs, change your resume. You also want to make changes any time there is a change in the information already on the resume. For example, if you move, you need to update the address and probably the phone number. But don’t forget to add important achievements to your resume soon after they occur. Keep your resume current and ready for any opportunity.
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Monday, March 31st, 2008 |
This myth is probably one of the most common. And it’s roots are in the fact that by age 40 you HAVE invested a tremendous amount into your career. But does that mean that a career change is out of the question? Of course not…and let’s examine why.
Remember, what is invested is gone, the only thing that matters now is what you get out of your career. Thinking too much on the investment is like the gambler who can walk away from a losing table because she had too much invested. Looking at the investment is focusing on the past. It is far better to consider what you want from your career in the years ahead.
What you have invested is paid back in knowledge, skills and professional contacts; all of which can pay dividends in your new career. Your career investment from the past 20-30 years is not lost. You simply transfer the benefits of the time invested into something more fulfilling. Take the time to consider how you can use your current contacts to find a new career opportunity and how your talents can be put to use in that new career.
This myth is often heard when someone fears losing the stability of their current employment. Making a career change does mean giving up some stability and comfort. This comes with any change in employment. But a career change often includes moving into a field with which you are much less familiar. If you real concern is giving up your stable employment, then call it what it is. But don’t blame your hesitation on what you have invested. Once you’ve correctly labeled your worries, you can do something about them.
As I’ve said, we all have a lot invested into our careers by the time we reach midlife. And leaving that familiar career will bring new challenges and some discomfort. So carefully consider why you are making the change and how committed you are. But don’t fall victim to the myth that you can’t change careers because of what you have invested. Look forward, and choose your path. Don’t look backward.
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Thursday, March 27th, 2008 |
This is another myth that seems logical when only briefly considered. Hey, if I’m unhappy, I must be in the wrong career. But before we decide that the career is the cause of our despair, we need to consider what else may be the culprit. Here are some other causes of career unhappiness.
The job has become routine and boring. Boredom on the job is one of the major causes of dissatisfaction at work. But boredom can often be caused by our own lack of adventure. This was the case in my own career. I had become bored because tasks had become repetitive, and I had lost my creativity. I thought the career had caused the lose of excitement, but rather it was the other way around. My own lack of enthusiasm for my work had lead to my boredom.
So, what did I do about it? Well, that could be an entire other post…and probably will be in the future. But to summarize, I started talking with others around me who still had a passion for our work. I also began looking for ways to be creative once again. In only a month or so, that spark was once again ignited.
Your current employment is a problem, not the career you are in. Often times you just need a change in employers, not a change in career. Examine your current work situation and determine where the problem originates. Is your unhappiness caused by characteristics common to the field you are in, or is the problem specific to your workplace? Don’t dump a good career because of a bad employer.
You’re experiencing a general unhappiness with your life. Midlife is a time when many individuals become disenchanted with how their lives have turn out thus far. That’s where we get the phrase “midlife crisis.” If your unsatisfied with other aspects of your life, besides your career, then the unhappiness at work is likely just a symptom of a larger problem. Consider talking to someone, a counselor maybe, about what you are experiencing. Don’t be quick to blame your career if you are feeling down about other parts of your life.
You’re not being successful at work. When times are tough at work and outcomes are not the best, it often causes us to become frustrated or lose our passion. We find encouragement in our successes. So when we don’t get the promotion we wanted or a major client closes their account, our passion for work will often be the first casualty. But life and careers are a series of ups and downs. The solution to our unhappiness may be just one success away.
Of course, in the end it could be that you need a change of career to bring back that passion you once felt. First examine the other possible causes of your frustration. And once you’ve identified the problem, take steps to improve your situation. If it’s a new career that you need, then begin planning for that change. But remember, unhappiness doesn’t necessarily mean it time to dump your career.
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Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 |
Only ten years ago, just 15% of unemployed job hunters were using the Internet in their search. Today, depending on the source, it is closer to 4 in every 5 job seekers. So, if everyone is doing it, then it must be the best method, right?
In 2005-06, the University of California, San Diego conducted surveys with recent graduates to explore, among other things, how they found employment after college. The results indicate that 26% of the graduates found employment through resources on the Internet. However, 38% found jobs as the result of networking, internships and prior experience. Other job sources were job fairs, campus postings, employment agencies and employer contact. But the interesting statistic here is the number of jobs found as a result of networking and other non-advertised methods.
More than a third of the graduates found jobs because of contacts they had, not through searching online advertising or newspaper classified (which, by the way, accounted for only 2% of the graduate jobs). This means that even for individuals starting their careers, networking is a key source of career leads. How much more vital must networking be for those of us who have been at this for more than 20 years?
Networking is a great way to find unadvertised jobs or to connect with employers through other channels. More importantly, if you are considering a career change to another field, networking is crucial to your success. Real career change should involve making connections, sharing information and promoting yourself through personal contacts. Your ability to network within the industry and follow up on leads is vital to finding the right job. For some simple tips on career networking, check out the article Job Search and Career Networking Tips at About.com.
Now, don’t finish reading this post and think that I said not to use the Internet in your midlife career change. On the contrary, you should spend time reading up on the career field, looking for potential employers, and networking with others. That’s right, use the Internet as a medium for career networking. Search for forums and groups in the field you are exploring. Talk with others who share your interest and begin following those important networking tips. Let people know you are looking to change careers and interested in helpful information and leads.
The Internet can be a great tool for midlife career changers, but don’t expect the perfect job to simply appear when you do a search on Monster.com. Invest your time into networking, it will really pay off.
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Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 |
I’m starting a new series at U-Turn called Midlife Career Change Myths. For the next several days, we will be examining some of the more common myths about making a midlife career change.
Midlife Career Change Myth #1: If there’s currently a shortage of workers in a particular field, it guaranteed to be an excellent career choice.
At first glance, this appears to be excellent advice. If there’s a shortage of workers, that must mean there is a high demand that will guarantee a future job and plenty of leveraging power for a better salary and benefits. How could this thinking be wrong? We’re always told to avoid careers with too much competition, so why not pick one with a lack of competition?
First, let’s remember that the job market changes constantly. What we are experiencing today can quickly change tomorrow. Remember the massive high tech hirings of the 90s? Many of those workers lost their jobs when the Dot.com dreams of the 90s went bust. And remember, if you think you’ve found the optimal job market, there are probably thousands just like you that are thinking the same thing. The competition could be much more significant in 3-6 years.
Also, we have to keep in mind that the actual reports of worker shortages typically lag behind the time of the problem. You need to do your research well to be sure the shortage is not quickly becoming yesterday’s news.
Finally, it is important to understand why the shortage exists in the first place. Is the job undesirable? Does it pay poorly? Is training for the skills required, difficult to find? Be sure you fully understand the career you are exploring before you make assumptions about the future potential. What looks like a golden opportunity, may turn out to be just an illusion.
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Friday, March 7th, 2008 |
When preparing to write this post, I didn’t know if I should recommend Sutton’s book, The No Asshole Rule, or his blog, Work Matters. The No Asshole Rule, subtitled, “Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn’t” simply and effectively describes the challenge of assholes in the workplace and why they have to go. But you can find the same crisp and informative writing about workplace jerks on Sutton’s blog and much more. Although, I recommend reading both, the subject of this post will be Bob Sutton’s blog, Work Matters.
Sutton is a professor at Stanford Engineering School, PhD in Organizational Psychology, and advocate/teacher of design thinking. So it is no surprise that his blog is intelligent. But one might be surprised to find that his writing is also sharp, friendly and entertaining. Here are a list of some of my favorite things on Bob Sutton’s Work Matters blog.
15 Things I Believe - On my first visit to Sutton’s blog, I found this list on the left column of the home page. Sutton lists the 15 things he believes about work, organizations and management, things like, “Work is an overrated activity.”
Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE) - Even though this exam doesn’t reside on the Work Matters blog, it was written by Sutton and is linked from his blog. Take the test and see if you are a workplace asshole. Sutton also wrote an adaptation to help you identify if your client is an asshole.
Arse Tips - The Arse Tips are found on the blog homepage. Among the tips you will find a list of workplaces that are asshole free and tips for surviving workplaces infested with assholes.
Why Creativity and Innovation Suck -This post, which borrows significantly from the closing chapter of Sutton’s book Weird Ideas That Work, presents some of the problems with creativity in the workplace. He wrote an intriguing follow up post titled, James March’s Quote on Innovation: One More Time.
Fortune Story on The Trouble With Steve Jobs: Asshole, Genius, or Both? - This is the most recent post on Work Matters. Sutton briefly examines the leader/designer/manager Steve Jobs and shares some stories to help answer the question, “Steve Jobs: asshole, genius, or both?”
I recommend you drop by the blog today and discover the talent and intellect of Bob Sutton. For midlife career changers, or just everyday office slaves, this blog will spark a new way of looking at work, management, and the business world.
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Sunday, February 24th, 2008 |
If you are considering a career change that involves leaving your current employment, there will come a time when you must tell your employer. That conversation is no less important than any other step in changing your career. Choosing the right time to announce your resignation requires some planning and understanding.
Rule One: If you have a contract that defines how much notice is required, honor that contract. Violating your contract can put more than just your honor at risk. There can be legal and financial consequences of giving less notice than is required by your employment contract. All of the remaining rules assume that you are first abiding by any contractual agreements.
Rule Two: Don’t give notice of leaving your job until you have firm confirmation of what you will be doing next. If you are going to another job, wait until you’ve accepted a written offer. If you are starting your own business or retiring, don’t turn in your resignation until you have begun a clear plan and are ready to act.
Rule Three: Except in certain circumstances, don’t give more than one month’s notice. The problem with resigning too early is that both you and your employer can easily grow anxious about your departure. This anxiety will often interfere with your work and do damage to your relationship. If you believe your employer needs more advanced notice, carefully consider the possible consequences. I have personally made the mistake of giving notice to early only to have my supervisor respond by showing dissatisfaction in my work for the first time. And even thought I thought my employer would use the time to search for my replacement, they did not begin looking until my final week on the job.
Rule Four: Tell your employer before you tell co-workers and other business associates. You don’t want your employer to hear from someone else that you are leaving. Telling others first will put your reputation and relationship at risk. You don’t want to burn bridges with your current employer. Who knows, they may someday be your customer.
Rule Five: Except in extreme circumstances, never give less than two weeks notice. Even if problems at work make you want to leave on the spot, think first about what is best for you. Working just two more weeks shows your commitment to doing thing right. Give your notice, put in a few more days of excellent work, then move on to the next exciting stage in your career. By the way, the two weeks should not include using paid leave unless your employer recommends it and you agree.
When it’s time to move on, give careful thought to how you will make your resignation. Choose a time that is fair to your employer and allows for a friendly departure. Regardless of your plans for today, you never know how important that relationship may be in the future.
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Thursday, February 21st, 2008 |
I found some excellent reading on the Internet this week for all you midlife career changers. So here’s my recommended reading list for today:
Creating Brand You – Have you considered how important it is to market yourself? Paul Brown examines the importance of seeing yourself as a brand to be marketed and valued in this New York Times article.
The Answer to the Toughest Interview Question – Penelope Trunk from Brazen Careerist helps you answer the trickiest question a potential employee will ask: “What salary are you looking for?”
Authenticity in Business and Other Lies – I love this blog. Catherine Lawson offers great advice for business, and this time she exposes some of the more common lies told in the business arena.
Overcome Your Fear of Career Change Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 – Maret McCoy has a wonderful website for women called Compass Life Designs. But this series of articles is relevant to anyone frustrated with their current employment.
Tips to Fine-Tune Your Resume for a Career Change (Podcast) – If you’re looking to start a new career, here’s a podcast interview with Kim Isaac’s, Monster.com’s Resume Expert, talking about creating a resume design just for the career changer. It’s worth a listen.
I will try to keep you informed of the best career change information on the Web at least every couple weeks. So be sure to check back for great original posts and the Coryan Recommends reading lists.
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Sunday, February 17th, 2008 |
Whether its the singing in the cubicle or the mess in the break room, anyone who works in an office has had to deal with annoying coworker behaviors. But what’s the best way to address these problems? Here are some strategies for making your work environment a little less frustrating and your coworkers a bit more tolerable.
My first recommendation is to just be honest. Let the person know what it is that bothers you and why. Be polite, but direct. I believe most annoying coworkers simply don’t know that they are bothering others in the office. Maybe Tom figures that since his office mates loved his rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody during Karaoke Night, that his singing might be welcomed in the office as well. When this happens, just mention to Tom that you have a hard time getting your work done when he signs. By saying the problem is with your concentration, it lessens the blow to Tom’s ego.
Here are some specific tips you can try when simply being honest is not working:
When a coworker drops by frequently to chat – The next time Wanda comes by your office to chat, stand up to greet her. Then remain standing during the conversation. Don’t offer her a seat or comment on what she is sharing. At the first pause, smile and let politely say something like, “Interesting, well, I have to get back to work.” Oh, and don’t have a candy jar on your desk unless you want to invite coworkers to drop by.
When a coworker uses their speaker phone in a cubicle or office with the door open – If they are in an office with a door, simply get up and close the door yourself. When you do this, nod to the person as if you are trying not to disturb them. Maybe they will get the hint. If there is no door to close, you may just have to have another talk about your problem concentrating with loud conversation around you.
When a team member isn’t doing their share – First, be sure that the team member feels comfortable in the group and understands their role. Provide opportunities for them to get involved. Sometimes their lack of work is simply not being sure what is expected of them. If that still doesn’t work, you may want to have a talk with your supervisor. It’s not fair for the group to carry one team member.
A coworker with an offensively strong odor – Odors from cologne, food or just lack of good hygiene are difficult to address. People tend to take odor issues very personally. But these matters must be addressed head on. If this is a problem that others have also noticed, I suggest having someone who gets along well with the coworker talk to them in private. If no one wants to do this, or the problem persists, the coworkers supervisor will need to get involved.
Your coworker always needs your help resolving problems or completing tasks – First, be sure the person has been properly trained for the position. Try giving them written instructions for the problem tasks. If the problem is with office equipment such as the computer or copier, show them where the manual is and suggest they try to solve the problem before seeking help. Next time they ask for help, you ask them if they have tried everything in the manual. Make them responsible for working out the problem.
Some coworker problems are best handled by the person’s immediate supervisor. In the end, the boss is responsible for creating a pleasant and productive work environment. If your attempts to handle a problem have proven unsuccessful, speak to your supervisor and ask them to resolve the matter. Sometimes the worse office problems such as gossip and worker laziness must be addressed by management. Don’t hesitate to speak to someone higher up when the problem is affecting your workday.
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