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Testing for Emotional Intelligence – Again

May 10, 2016

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 11:51 am

I’ve written several posts on emotional intelligence, but many people are still confused by the concepts of self-awareness, self-efficacy, and  emotional recognition.

A recent client brought the issues into sharp focus. She is a young woman, who graduated from college four years ago and has had a number of short stints (a year or so) at just-above entry-level positions at Bay Area firms.

Her most recent, was a one-year contract job which concluded four months ago.

She had asked me for help in reviewing her resume and standard cover letter to figure out why she had not been able to find a new job.

She had been offered jobs, but felt they would not provide the salary she needed. She had recently concluded that, “The market has changed. If you’re not an engineer they just feel the supply of people for administrative positions, or social marketing is just so large they don’t have to pay anything.”

She insisted that she was not looking to make a fortune but just enough to support herself and maintain the apartment she rented after she was in her contract job for a few months.

She may be right about the job market, but having lived in the Bay Area for 20 years, I don’t think so.

The job of a good coach and career counselor is to help clients see things from a different perspective.

Could it be that my client was so emotionally unaware that she could not step back and look at the facts from a different point of view. This is the key to one aspect of emotional intelligence: understanding your own strengths and weaknesses.

I suggested she ask herself the following questions:

Why was she able to find positions, but unable to find long-term success?

Was she mistaken that she had a chance at a long-term position at the company when she rented a San Francisco apartment?

With unemployment in the Bay Area and in the nation, continuing to be very low why would there be a sudden flood of folks for the positions she sought?

Was it possible that firms offering her positions really didn’t want her to accept the jobs?

Would it be worth taking a lower salaried position in the hopes that, after a while, you could prove your worth and earn a raise?

These were not comfortable concepts for her to consider. Suggesting that maybe the problem was on her end and that she needed to make some  changes  was not an option.

Emotional intelligence is, in part, the ability to question your beliefs and consider that there is something you might need to change. Perhaps you are not the perfect employee, perhaps its not ‘office politics’ that stalled your career, perhaps there’s a good reason that contract position didn’t turn into a full-time job?

Whether you answer the questions honestly is a true test of your emotional intelligence.

 

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‘Rules’ in Need of Adjustment

November 18, 2015

I just finished reading Laszlo Bock’s ‘Work Rules’ and while I can’t say there’s anything wrong with the book I definitely think it needs an attitude adjustment.51Df4YVLvbL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Bock is Google’s head of People Operations, which is an advanced version of what most people would know as human resources. Like many hi-tech firms, Google feels HR is an outdated term and doesn’t really explain what the department does. In truth, at least at Google, the department does a lot more than traditional HR departments.

But that’s really part of the problem. Bock presents a myriad of suggestions  for managing, promoting, recruiting and measuring employees or potential employees. Many of the procedures were developed at the company using statistical models developed by Google and all are presented as a common sense logical alternative to the way  other firms operate. A common refrain is simply “why would you do it any other way?”

This rationale comes despite that fact that the new procedures represent significant changes from the way Google used to do things, which were also supposedly based on statistical models and were  logical conclusions to the way things should be done.

Old methodology which has now been jettisoned include minimal middle management and the well known brain teasers which stumped thousands of job seekers.

Bock admits what everyone else in HR had been telling them for years: Everyone needs management and brain teasers only test how well someone can solve a specific problem, not overall creativity or performance.

The reality is, that despite their reliance on statistics, Google’s employee turnover  is no better than many other firms and they felt obliged to sign on to an illegal agreement with other tech firms not to poach employees. That case has been settled but the issue has not disappeared.

While there are a plethora of great ideas in the book, that many firms would do well to consider, my problem  is really an attitude issue. Much like a lot of other actions which aggravated many people, (such as private buses using public bus stops) Google seems to assume that what they do should not face the same scrutiny as others.

Other firms, they seem to feel, should be grateful that Google has shared their ideas so openly and should adopt them. That may be true, since there is a lot of bad management at most companies, but no-one likes to be told what is right for them.

In truth the best use for the book, might be for potential employees who want to figure out what principles will govern their potential employment.

And for that reason, I will suggest it for all my career clients, although I will warn them about the attitude adjustment that may be in order.

 

 

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Existential Career Crisis

June 6, 2015

Filed under: Coaching,Management,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:17 am

A friend called recently worried about her career. She was apparently having an existential crisis after the end of a major project.

She’s a physician by training, specializing in back and neck injuries, using integrative treatment methods.

But, like many Baby Boomers she had been able to cut back on her work schedule and increase her volunteer activities.bigstock-playing-a-game-of-chess-52764313-758x485

As she said, “I like seeing patients two days a week, but I want something more, I just don’t know what it is.”

As I mentioned in my post “Career Conundrums” this is a frequent problem for older workers who already have a career. You can call them midlife crises or late-life crises, but they are generally an uncomfortable feelings related to “Is that all there is?” Peggy Lee’s 1969 hit.

After a short discussion, it became obvious that, hers wasn’t really a problem with “what do I want to do,” but was more about marketing – an all too common problem.

Turns out, my friend had some very specific ideas about her talents. She had even made a list – before I could suggest it. But she didn’t know how to market herself, or more accurately, just didn’t want to. That’s because sales and marketing requires a whole new skill set.

As someone who has done sales support and sales, I know that good sales people seldom get the credit they deserve.

Knowing what you want and telling the world about it require two very different talents. Most of the time we fail to recognize the difference. The real problem becomes bridging the gap.

Many very creative individuals have come to understand the problem. That’s why artists – actors, writers, painters – have agents. It frees them to do what they like, and leaves the sales, promotion and marketing to someone else.

Recruiters effectively do the same for other professions. Unfortunately, not every field has a specialized recruiter and many recruiters do a poor job of matchmaking.

If recruiters don’t meet your needs, you might look into outsourcing – the latest Baby Boomer growth industry. I don’t mean moving to India, but rather small companies who specialize in part time work. There are firms who place financial officers for  temporary positions or others who do the same for HR. There are even firms who place temporary CEO’s. This is particularly common in turn-around efforts, or for unexpected departures when firms need time to choose a new leader.

These outsourcing specialists are looking for a talent pool they can offer on an as-needed basis. Sometimes they lead to permanent jobs, but more often they are short assignments on a contract basis, which might be just what you want.

Believing that the world will beat a path to your door, because you have great skills is simply naive. You may have  a large circle of friends who know what a great job you did on that last project, but unless you let them know that you are open to more, you are invisible. You cannot be afraid to ask for help.

It requires a lot of self confidence to advertise yourself as an expert in a new area, because it risks criticism.

It also means change, which can be very disquieting.

The trick is to reframe your efforts: to expand your network: and practice your marketing pitch.

Ask a friend to lunch, but don’t approach it as a sales pitch, view it as an opportunity to ask for advice. Once you’ve done it a few times with friends, expanding to less familiar acquaintances will get easier.

Marketing yourself is just as important as the new career. You need to carve out time for it. At the start, your new job is all marketing, but eventually, it should just be part of your new career. But it needs to be a fixed part of your weekly schedule.

Don’t get trapped into a narrow range of assignments you will accept. Everyone sees you through a different lens and may see skills that you did not recognize.

And don’ expect instant results: keep your day job until you have some concrete new offers.

If you’re comfortable with blogs, tweets, or Facebook posts you can build your brand on the internet, but marketing on the internet can take even longer and means exposing yourself to many people who may not be able to help.

Your new career, at least at the start, will come from the people who know you the best.

Change is difficult, but it may be easier if you understand that:

1. Recognizing what you want to do, is not easy – you may need help.

2. You need to list the skills you want to market, but be open to alternatives.

3. You must recognize that marketing is part of your new job.

4. Self-promotion should start with people who know you best.

5. Reframing your interactions as a request for advice will make it easier.

6. Considering  recruiters or outsourcing specialists is an option.

7. You realize change will take time

 

 

 

 

 

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Resume Writing: The job No-one Loves

May 2, 2015

Filed under: Coaching,Resumes — Tags: , , , — admin @ 8:28 am

Resume writing may be the most hated job in America.

At least that’s the impression I get from dealing with hundreds of rewrites over the last few years. Most of my clients, young and old, seem to be very unclear about the actual purpose of a resume or what they should include.submit resume

The purpose of a resume, and cover letter, is to get an interview. Nothing more, nothing less. The goal is to let the reader know that you have the skills and qualifications needed for the job and that they need to speak with you.

Which means, that it doesn’t have to include everything you have ever done, every job you have held and every award you received.

Without exception, this can be accomplished in a one-page document, that is clear, concise, and accurate.

In ‘the old days’ when I wrote my first resume, completing a neatly typed one-page document was almost impossible. White-Out liquid, and Correct-o-Type strips were a necessity, and making multiple versions for different employers was a just a dream.

These days, with computers, tablets, smart phones, you can rewrite your resume in the blink of an eye, tailoring it for every employer and even for different potential interviewers within the same organization.

A resume should not be a dry recitation of every job you have ever held. You don’t need to make sure every year of your life is covered. Yes, that two year gap when you decided to take time off, or were forced to take time off, doesn’t have to be explained in the resume. You will probably be asked about it and should have a good answer ready, but it’s wasted space on the resume.

The goal is to impress your potential employers with your skills. I advise all my clients to list their skills first. Not the jobs, the skills.

Are you a manager? Did you create budgets? Did you lead a project? This tells me more than the title you had and years you worked at Widget Works United Manufacturing.

These skills are what a potential employer is hiring, and can be adjusted depending on the job you want.

You are trying to match yourself to an opening, so don’t be afraid to re-arrange the skills to match the needs of the job advertisement.

Younger clients always complain, “I haven’t done anything, yet, so I don’t have any skills.” This is simply not true. You may not have on-the-job skills, but unless you’ve been hiding under a rock during your high school or college days, you have been involved in a host of activities that have left you with skills.

Maybe you worked at a fast-food restaurant and became a shift manager: maybe you joined a sorority and became the treasurer: maybe you volunteered at the local Boy’s and Girl’s Club and coached basketball.

You have skills in management, bookkeeping, or organization, which might make you stand out. Most employers, hiring new graduates are looking for some indication that you have  “soft skills’ in communication, teamwork and trainability. They don’t expect to be hiring a polished professional.

No matter how old you are, there is no need to embellish, and there certainly is no excuse for lying. The internet lives forever so it’s not too tough to uncover something that isn’t true.

Once the skills are done, you can list the relevant jobs you have held and, particularly for older workers, that doesn’t mean you should list all those part-time high school jobs.

If there are some older positions that you held that may or may not be relevant, maybe a simple one-line listing is enough.

After the jobs, you can list education, with degrees, and finally any organization memberships and leadership positions.

You should provide enough information so that the reviewer understands what you did, but remember, the idea is to get an interview, where you can impress them with the details and emphasize your strengths.

I urge my clients to include a section on hobbies or interests to provide another ‘entry point.’ You never know when an off-hand comment about your interest in, say, photography, will spark a question from an interviewer with a similar interest.

It may not be relevant to the job, but it humanizes you and provides another topic to discuss.

So, if you’re having problems completing the most hated job in America, let me know, and I’ll be happy to help.

 

 

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Finding a New Job-the Easy Way

September 19, 2011

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:42 am

I met a woman over the weekend who is starting a new job. In today’s economy that’s probably enough news for a feature story.

Since I’ve done my share of career counseling, I thought I would just chat with her for a few minutes and get some hard evidence that the suggestions I give people, really work.

I asked what skills she had that were transferable. Both of the jobs involve working with the public, but in much different ways. In her old job she was the office manager in a cemetery. In the new job she would be a public safety dispatcher. Other than dealing with people under stress I couldn’t find much in common.

Well, I suggested, maybe your networking paid off and you knew someone at the new company. “No,” she said, “I just saw the job advertised and applied. It was much closer to my home.”

Well, you must have certainly analyzed the job market and picked a field with opportunity. “No,” she reported, “I just wanted to do something different.” The fact that her new job is in the public sector, and was actually hiring, was a shock to both of us.

I continued to pepper her with questions about interview techniques, networking and the color of her parachute – all the sorts of questions I was sure would lead to some insight on how she used some valuable tidbit that would prove my techniques work.

Nice try Mr. Professional – this woman did  it her way and it worked. She saw the job in the help wanted section, thought it would be interesting, applied, interviewed and was hired. Call the President, his new jobs bill is working!!

She was as amazed as me. She was just the right person, at the right time and she got the job. I guess that’s all you really need. Congratulations.

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