Posted in Career Growth, Early Career, Retirees, Unemployment, University, Women @ home

Networking During Your Job Search

We all need each other. – Leo Buscaglia

This is a fact. There is no way we can live this life alone and as much as we would like not to ever seek anyone’s help, there is something humbling about it, and in fact, if done right, it can uplift us as we connect with the human side of us and others.

I personally was never a fan of “networking” in the sense that it involves attending receptions, cocktails, etc… and I also did not like the idea of organised networking either as it forces people to think about what they can give to others and what others can give back, i.e. focuses on the exchange as opposed to real connection which is often what gets people together to begin with.

As always, I looked within and around me and I realized something fundamental about networking during a job search, and that is that it was absolutely necessary.

Thinking, ironic, right?

Elaborating on this, I see networking as a result of years of experience in meeting and connecting with people be it in University, in companies we work for, in companies with work with and our social network including family and friends. We each have at least 100 people who we have connected with, or let us say, on average, we meet at least 5 people some of whom are our family members. That is the network I am referring to.

Then comes the key question then, what does this network have to do with networking and the job search?

They are a key source of jobs and client opportunities … with the caveat of two questions that you have to ask yourself:

  1. Do you consider them professionally successful? Are they working in an industry that is similar to or conducive to or with connections to the one you would like to work in?
  2. Are they humble? Are they non-judgmental and open? Are they givers?

If the answer to these two questions is yes, then they are a potential source of opportunities that you should not ignore as long as you are ready to answer two questions,

  1. What have you been doing?
  2. What do you want to do and why now?

Go ahead … reach out … I know it is uncomfortable, but be genuine, be yourself and remember, we are where we are because of each other.

It doesn’t matter if you are unemployed … a recent grad … retired and want to return to employment or grow your business …

Today you need others, tomorrow, others will need you.

Be committed to that.

 

Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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Posted in Career Growth, Early Career

You Carve Your Own Career Path

“Companies no longer offer people careers. People make their own careers” – Y Mansoor Marican

If you are currently working for an organization or hope to work for one, be aware that no matter how many opportunities are provided, the reality is that you are the one carving your own career path and it is not the company. Even if you are provided with a mentor, you are carving your own career.

Years ago, companies were interested in retaining their talent, providing them with opportunities for growth and learning. Companies progressed to worrying less about retaining talent and but still providing employees with opportunities to make them a preferred employer.

The reality now is that you are responsible for your career and one can neither expect to be provided opportunities nor are companies interested in being a preferred employer as there is a perception that there is more talent out there than there are opportunities.

The reality now is that you are building your own empire from education and experience and so to expect a company to sponsor your career growth, even if they say they will especially for early grads, you must always ask yourself,

is this what I want to do now and how does it fit with my long term vision?

and you must in turn be ready to answer why you should be hired.

Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted in Career Growth, Early Career, High School, Retirees, University, Women @ home

Link between Social Media and Success

The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel – Steven Furtick

reelI have always liked Earl Nightingale’s definition of success, “the pursuit of a worthy goal”. Worthy, being beneficial to self, to others, without intentional harm.

In interacting and dealing with people throughout my career I have seen three stances on success (there might be more of course); there are those who share the above definition of success, with a clear goal and planning towards it; and others who continue to look for meaning and experiences that help them clarify what success means. A third growing stance is related to those who see success as a hierarchy of where one is compared to others.

Stuck in endless competition, comparing selves to others, seeing success as a hierarchy is one that may get us to our goals but will not allow us to enjoy its benefits as we are busy looking at how we can “beat others”.

Key platforms (related to career) where comparison is inevitable, even if subconsciously, are LinkedIn and Twitter.

Just browsing these two platforms can make one very quickly feel that they are on the wrong path, will never catch up, missed the boat or about to miss the boat, or that all they have done in their career is insignificant and basically, unless they fiercely fight and advertise their winnings, there is no way one could even smell success and it all looks gloomy from there.

So while keeping tabs on what is going on in those platforms and within our network, we need to approach it within the context of our goals and limit our emotional involvement, just like the news. The key question should always be,

How will LinkedIn and Twitter help me reach my worthy goal?

and devise your own social media strategy, specific to you and your goals.

 

 

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted in Career Management, Early Career

Personal Branding: A Reality Check

horn

If the world you wish to know,Never by its speeches go. – Edward John Turnour

Just browse your LinkedIn updates … you will quickly see that people are either on panel discussions and speaking opportunities or trying to land panel discussions and speaking opportunities.

Besidesgetting having an opportunity to sell or test out new products or services, self-promotion is a wasteful ac

See a powerful and influential conference or two is something that is well worth pursuing or accepting. They communicate to others that you have ideas, products or services, that are worth knowing about and would make a positive difference. To spend most of one’s time in more than that makes one question the value that that person brings to the table beyond thoughts and outdated ideas.

For you see, if you are mostly speaking … when are you actually pursuing your goals which really matter in the long run?

It is common to now hear about the importance of self-promotion, but the reality is that the rules of success never change, persistently know and pursue your goals. Why self-promote if it is not critical to your goals? Why self-promote if it will not help one accomplish their objectives*?

Being “known” is not an objective …

Like everything else in your career, ask yourself, is what I am doing bringing me closer to my goals?

A personal brand isn’t the sum of tweets that people so mindfully post. It isn’t the pictures that someone chooses to share. That’s just a small part of a reputation. The most important — and the hardest — part is the collection of actions, decisions and work that a person does day in and day out over a long period of time. (As seen in the Entrepreneur, Oct 31, 2014)

*There was an article within HBR that talks about the reality of self-promotion.

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Posted in Career Growth, Early Career, Leadership, Retirees

Do Not Miss This Opportunity, Say YES!

No one has ever become poor by giving.― Anne Frank

yes

… Quite the contrary, people gain by giving.

There is a disturbing trend, people hesitating to answer a question, to offer advice, to “waste” whatever little time (in a fast paced world) they have or provide information that they may have wanted to keep to themselves for some future need. More simply, people are “too busy”and the world around them is “not a priority” … at least that is the message conveyed.

I have dealt with people who portray one image online or in public and a different one one-on-one. It doesn’t matter how successful they become in the eyes of the public, it is in those critical moments where an impression is made. I have been witness to people complaining about others who ask for help, my feedback is consistent, “why does it bother you so much?”.

The truth is, missing the opportunity to help is like missing a rare opportunity to build and evolve your career, reputation and engage in self-reflection … and what we forget is that what we give, is what we get, especially for those in mid-career.

From experience, there is nothing more satisfying than helping someone else solve a problem, nothing, not even a raise or a promotion! Unless that raise or promotion will help someone else as well.

Next time someone emails you with a question, answer it even if you don’t know … don’t ignore it.

Next time someone asks you to advise them, go ahead, listen and share the best that you know … don’t hesitate.

Next time someone asks you to help them review something, find an hour to spare … don’t belittle what they are asking for.

Do not miss this opportunity !

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Posted in Career Growth, Early Career, High School, University

Learning from Careers: Jeff Skoll

I’ve come to realize your career is all about the choices you make. Every single one matters. – Demi Lovato

jeff

I have mentioned before that one of the fastest ways to know the next steps to take and decisions to make in our careers is to identify 10 people we think are doing interesting things, one of them for me is Jeff Skoll.

An Engineer by background, entrepreneurial in growth, passionate about social change, here are some of my learnings from his career*:

  • Careers need not be complicated, they can be simply made up of a few ‘yes’ decisions
  • Sometimes it is about who you happen to meet, so take every meeting seriously
  • Take a chance, if you can, the best careers are not always with large stable organisations
  • Our degrees give us the knowledge we need to think, what we do in our careers does not always match what we “study”
  • Being interdisciplinary is good
  • In your career, the bigger your service to others is, the bigger impact you have on people, and the more rewarding (both financial and reputational) your career will be
  • Give back to those who have helped you along the way

 

* based on my Wikipedia / Google search

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Posted in Career Growth, Early Career, High School, Retirees, Unemployment, University, Women @ home

Do what you love?

If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. – Dale Carnegie

VIPEver since I can remember, career coaches and advisors tell us to do what we love … choose a job that you love, choose a volunteering opportunity that you love, choose an industry you love, etc….

I always supported that view but at the same struggled with it.

You see, love is both restrictive and generalist at the same time. It is restrictive in that it advocates one or two things that I “love” and go find a job / opportunity / place that supports that. It is also generalist in that it advocates “love” that is so relative, you see I love eating … and I love art … so will I go and rush to become a food critic / restauranteur or gallery owner in a rush?

I came across the quote above and thought that maybe we ought to start asking people about appreciation … what makes you feel important?

While some may see this as self-involved, isn’t that the whole point?

When we tell people to do what they love … we are asking them to follow a desire irrespective of impact. But when ask them to do what makes them feel important … we are ultimately asking them to take their passion and apply it to an area, place, action, words, etc… where they feel appreciated, i.e. making an impact.

This appreciation translated to motivation to keep on learning and improving.

Whether you are in high school, university, early career days, stay at home parent or experienced professional assessing goals, what makes you feel important?

The clarity that emerges will no doubt surprise you.

 

 

Image courtesy of Supertrooper / freedigitalphotos.net

 

Posted in Career Growth, Early Career, Entrepreneurship, High School, Retirees, Social Media, Unemployment, University, Women @ home

Why Traditional Networking is Dead

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. – Charles Darwin

NetworkTraditional networking is dead. Be it in the form of networking events or even social networking (networking over social media).

You see, it is not that *networking* is dead … it is networking that doesn’t add value.

We are busy and unless something adds value, we are seldom committed to attend or participate. An exception to this rule is one who is generally extroverted and enjoys connecting and meeting people or one who has intended to meet someone specific at an event.

From alumni organizations, professional associations to job seeker and business oriented sessions, from connecting with fellow colleagues to someone who is in a field or job you are interested to connect with, it is time to move from traditional networking to value based networking.

There must an intent or aim to networking, there must be appropriate people who can add value towards the specific aim, and it must be transparent.

One idea is to utilize “speed meeting” formats where people meet based on a specific theme and run brief meetings with each other as facilitated by the host specifying specific matters to discuss.

Another idea for social networking is to move from the need for a general introduction or connection, to a specific introduction that states a purpose and expectations from both parties or use group setup and membership to connect like people with like aims and objectives.

In all cases, networking is a need and in these economic times, critical. What is more critical however is to make it count and not just say “here goes another hour or here goes another connection”.

 

 

Image courtesy of sheelamohan / freedigitalphotos.net