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Archive for November, 2009

Video: “The Opposite Might Also Be True”

November 30th, 2009 Comments off

Derek Sivers presents this excellent short video on opposites, using Japanese and American concepts of addresses as a starting point. (3 min)

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Make-A-Move Monday on the Career Opportunities Community Site

November 30th, 2009 Comments off

It’s time for Make-A-Move Monday again. What goals do you want to accomplish (or make progress on) this week? What tools or information can you share that would help out your fellow Career Opportunities readers and listeners?


My recommendation for this week is David Allen’s book, Making It All Work. This is the second follow up to Allen’s well-known book on organizing your live, Getting Things Done also known as GTD.

I am looking for ways to take the GTD methodology to the next level and I think you will find this book interesting and useful, too.


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Break out of the traditional job search treadmill

November 29th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoBreak out of the traditional job search treadmill
By Douglas E. Welch

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I am sure you have heard this famous quote credited to Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I think this accurately describes how little job search strategies have changed over the last century. When confronted with a job search we still pull out the want ads, brush up the resume and send it out. Sure, we might send in our resume via the Internet or post it on online job boards, but the underlying structure remains the same. We see what is offered and then try to match our skills to a given job. I find this both amazing and disheartening. Surely we have progressed, or at least can progress, beyond using the job search techniques of the last century.

Out with the old, in with the new

First, I have to say that you will still be faced with traditional job searches for the foreseeable future. Change, even in this Internet age, can be slow and painful. Most companies have no idea that there is another way to hire. You will still be faced with creating a resume and cover letters and trying to fight your way out of the employment slush pile.

That said, you need to take every opportunity to seek out, and take advantage of, any and every company that has learned there is a better way. When you are presented with an opportunity to short circuit the process, you need to jump at it immediately. In many cases, the company may still be mired in the old ways, but you may be lucky enough to find an employee who can offer a way past the gate or over the wall.

It should be obvious that if a company’s hiring process is cumbersome, slow and downright abusive, the same might be said for the company as a whole. Facing an heavily bureaucratic hiring process can give you a very clear indication that you might want to look elsewhere for a job. Conversely, a hiring process that focuses on your skills, your rewards and your value to the company certainly points in a better direction.

People

While we often talk about resumes and cover letters, the true heart of any job search is the people we know. We don’t get hired by resume databases or online job search engines. We don’t get hired because our bits and bytes look better to a program. We get hired because we know or meet someone who can leap across the chasm of bureaucracy and bring you back with them. These people are to be cultivated and celebrated, for they are the one’s who are truly building a company for the future.

So, to reinforce something I have said many times in the past…start building your network today. Start the moment you join the workforce. Even better, start the moment you are able to make friends on your own. I believe more each day, that the quality of our lives is in direct correlation to people we know. When we surround ourselves with great people, we almost can’t help being great ourselves. When we fill our lives with questionable people, our lives can become questionable as well. Learn this lesson early and you give yourself a great advantage over those who don’t.

Roadblacks — go over, under or around

Another important aspect of your job search is…don’t take No for an answer. Too often you are confronted with bureaucratic roadblocks that stand between you and a good job. Many of these roadblocks are atrophied parts of the hiring process. If a company want to move into the 21st Century, they need to remove these roadblocks or risk losing great talent.

I have taken a very hard line on issues like this. My response to roadblocks — even if I only think it in my head — is “I don’t care.” If the company wants your skills, then they need to find a way through the roadblocks. Otherwise it is a clear sign that they don’t see enough value in your skills or they are so locked into their bureaucracy that they no longer care.

When presented with requirements you don’t have — ask that they be waived. When told you can’t be hired because of one rule or another — questions why and give the company alternatives, if you can. Facing a hiring freeze — give the company ideas about how much they could benefit from your skills. There are ways around most roadblocks and you need to help companies to hire you in any way you can.

Even though you might have to slog through traditional hiring processes, there are companies out there who need talent, know they need the talent, and are willing to find a way to hire that talent regardless. These are the companies you need to seek out. Building your career around companies like these dramatically increases your chances of building the career you deserve.



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Look to the The Welchwrite Bookstore and more this Christmas

November 24th, 2009 Comments off

Looking for gifts for the special people in your life?

Start your search in The WelchWrite Bookstore and more, in association with Amazon.com.

I have highlighted books, software, podcasting equipment and more in my store, or you can shop for anything the Amazon.com provides.

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Reach out to friends to boost your career

November 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoReach out to friends to boost your career
By Douglas E. Welch

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Sometimes in the rush of life and work, we can let ourselves become cocooned in our busy-ness. We rush from task to task, crisis to crisis. Life becomes an endless series of wake up – go to work – go to lunch – go home – go to bed. We can become distanced from our family, our friends and even, in the long run, from ourselves. Continue this long enough and you might eventually find that you are truly alone. If you don’t cultivate your outside relationships — if you don’t sit down with your family or go out with your friends — there will come a time when they will stop trying to be part of your life.

We all need friends and family around us — even if they might irritate us or make our lives a bit more difficult. Overall, the benefit of relationships is incalculable. You need friends for commiseration, networking, job searches, shoulder to cry on and a host of other reasons. No one makes it in this world alone, even if they might profess the desire to be alone. We all have to exist as part of a larger civilization and culture.

Sometimes, when my wife and I are talking, we will often comment on how many good friends we have. Both the quantity and quality of our friends amazes us. We are not famous. We are not rich in dollars, but we are rich in a number of other ways. We have friends who would go out of their way to help us in even the most extreme cases. We have friends who support us and allow us to build the life we want. We have friends who help us do fascinating and interesting things. We have friends who sometimes are just “there” — for listening, for dinner, for help, whatever. More importantly, we see this as a reflection on ourselves. It only makes sense that we have to be great friends to have so many great friends in return.

So, how about your friends? Are they acquaintances or people who would crawl out of bed at 2 in the morning if you called? Are they people you hang out with regularly, or only see on special occasions? Do you have friends that help you be the best person you can be? Are there friends that help you do amazing things? If not, the time has come to ask some hard questions.

Are you trying to “go it alone” in your life and your career? Do you dislike relying on others, even in the most basic ways? Do you work to cultivate friends or to keep people at arm’s length? Are you a good friend yourself? If you don’t cultivate friendship, you are limiting yourself and your career. It isn’t strong and brave to go without friends. It is lonely and dispiriting. Even worse, when times get tough, you have no one to listen — no one to help — no one to fall back on. I personally find this a frightening thought.

So, now that you know a few reasons why you need great friends, how to do you go about finding them? First, you need to expose yourself to the world. Whether this means going to church, going out to eat, hiking, biking, going shopping, whatever — you have to engage the larger world in order to find other like-minded people. Too often we are confronted with people complaining how they have few friends, or even worse, no real relationships. It usually comes down to the fact that they rarely engage the world. They drive from home to work and back again and, as Charles Dickens said in A Christmas Carol, “edge their way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep…its…distance.”

Second, be a good friend. Help others. Share your knowledge and your skills. Care about others as you would like them to care about you. I am not telling you to subsume all of your own desires in the service of others, but rather enjoy helping others to succeed in their life and they will help you in yours. Don’t demand or even always expect a quid pro quo in return for your friendship. In the best relationships, this comes naturally. If you expect a 1 for 1 reward for every action you take, you will be disappointed. Friendship ebbs and flows. Expect this when you begin.

Friendship is an essential part of any life and career. If you deny your friendship to others, you are cutting yourself off from a substantial part of life. Engage in life, even though it may have its disappointments and difficulties. Embrace friends in your life and be embraced in theirs. Life is too short to go it alone.



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Make-A-Move Mondays launches this week!

November 20th, 2009 Comments off

Mobile interface for NMI Community siteWe are starting a new feature on the Career Opportunities Community Site at http://careercommunity.welchwrite.com — MakeAMove Mondays!

MakeAMove Mondays are a chance to look forward into each week and decide what you want to accomplish in life, job and career. You can post something that you want to accomplish, and how you might accomplish it — a great resource to help you accomplish your weekly goals or a compelling/insightful/energizing video.

We are looking for your favorite blogs, podcasts, videos, twitter messages — anything that helps to make your coming week the best one possible.

Each week, I will start a discussion thread in the Forums area of the community site where you can post your links and we can discuss them.

For next week, you can find this discussion at http://career-opportunities.ning.com/forum/topics/makeamove-mondays-for-november

Share your best ideas and resources with our fellow Career Opportunities readers and listeners and MakeAMovethis Monday!

Douglas

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You are unique. Act like it!

November 6th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoYou are unique. Act like it!
By Douglas E. Welch

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Here is a little experiment. If you work in an office with cubicles, stand up on your desk and look out over the office. What do you see? If you work in an building with individual offices, walk down a line of offices and notice what is happening within. What are people doing? How are they dressed? What sort of decoration do you see?

Now that you have done this experiment, let me give you a way of evaluating what you see. When you did your observations, did everything look the same from cube to cube or office to office?

Were there oddities scattered among the sameness? Was everyone doing something unique? Now, here is what all this means.

The more conformity, the more sameness, the more blah your office, the less innovative it is likely to be and the less likely you will find a way to express your true talents and skills. The fact is, we know all of this intuitively, but we force ourselves to ignore it by becoming buried in the day-to-day mundanity of our work. It is only when we stop and take a moment to really look at where we work that we can make the fog clear and see the truth.

Why should you care about how your place of business looks? As I have often said in the past, you can only do your best work when you are passionate. Sure, you might do good work, but nothing approaching what you might achieve, given half a chance. If you are burying your uniqueness under the same clothes, the same interests, the same way of working as everyone else, you are bound to suffer.

You might still get your paycheck every week, but you won’t change the world. You might like some of your co-workers and your office, but you will avoid them whenever you can. You might work, but you might not live.

You are unique. Act like it. Look inside yourself — deep inside. What clothes would you prefer to wear? What work do you love to do? Where would you like to do it? Is your current job fulfilling your needs beyond a simple paycheck? If not, there is a way you can change things for the better — and a big reason why.

First the why. Being true to yourself, your passions and your sensibilities is the first path to the career you deserve. If you are constantly corralling your true self and hiding it behind a facade of sameness you are killing yourself every day. You don’t have to “go crazy” in public, but you need to express how unique you are.

Start small. Wear odd socks, a neat tie, a new hat. I know it sounds a bit silly, but it is a start and it leads the way to more dramatic changes. If there seems to be only one way to complete a task, find another. You don’t need to stand on your desk and announce to the world how you will do it differently, but do it in a way that makes the most sense to you. Once you have something worked out, introduce it to others and see how it received. You may soon find yourself rising above your co-workers who don’t make any attempt to mix things up.

The next steps take a bit more courage. Take every opportunity to explore who you are. Don’t like the hours you work? Ask for different ones. Don’t like your location? Ask to work from home on a regular basis.

Obviously, all this works much better after you have established a good — no, great — track record in your work. If you hope to make such large changes, you need to make sure that everyone believes you can complete your work — even be more productive — after these changes.

If you look around and see only sameness, it is time to make a change. Don’t let your job turn you into merely another worker bee, just like all the rest. Find ways to explore and express your uniqueness. Find ways to make your job into the career you deserve.



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