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Archive for February, 2012

Elsewhere: Your Boss Is Bad For You from Lifehacker.com

February 28th, 2012 Comments off

I think I can assume that nearly all of us have faced a bad boss in the past. The good bosses I have had stand out because they were/are so rare.

Sadly, most of the methods listed in this article are fraught with career danger. That is NOT how it should be. You should not have to risk your job to try and make your work — and your company — better.

Each time we let something like this pass, we only make it worse for the next person. The average worker has so little power to effect change without risking their career though. It shouldn’t be that way, but most companies aren’t interested in solving the problem — only in making it go away and firing the worker that complains is often the easiest way.

Situations like this make me wonder how some companies stay in business at all. Imagine how productive they might be if they could resolve some of these issues.

Your Boss Is Bad For You: Why Bad Bosses Infect Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them

Those of us who have had to deal with annoying or aggravating bosses know how it’s tough to shake it off at the end of the day, but a new study explains why it’s so hard, and why so many of us suck at it and wind up bringing our stress home—where it doesn’t just hurt you: It hurts your family, your friends, and your other relationships. Let’s look at the study and talk about some ways you can learn to check your bad boss at the office door when you leave work.

Read the entire article from Lifehacker.com

Categories: Elsewhere, News/Opinion, Tips Tags:

Career Books from Douglas E. Welch

February 28th, 2012 Comments off

I now have 3 career-related books available in the Amazon Kindle Store. I invite to take a look at each one. Free samples are available for download.

The High-Tech Career Handbook: The Best of Career Opportunities 1998-2003

30,000 Words

Navigating the special difficulties of a high-tech career can be troublesome for workers, young and old. Career Opportunities, a weekly column for ComputorEdge Magazine in San Diego, California and Colorado Springs, Colorado, has addressed these issues for almost 13 years.

While simultaneously developing his own high-tech career, author Douglas E. Welch has shared his insights, trials, setbacks and successes with his readers. The High-Tech Career Handbook collects the best columns from 1997-2003 into a book for all high-tech careerists, whether they are just starting out, building their career or looking for a new career in the high-tech world.
Topics covered in the columns include getting your career started, ethics, fairness and the benefits of doing honest business, personal development, professional development, and the tips and tricks for transitioning into a mature career.


Cultivating Your Career Reputations

11,000 Words

While we often talk about one, monolithic, Reputation – with a capital R — I believe that there are a series of reputations that make up the whole. This book will focus on the combination of reputations that make up your one, overarching, Reputation. By examining each of these reputations in detail, I hope you will find specific areas where you can improve your work, your actions and your thoughts so that your overall professional reputation grows.

Why break your Reputation down into its constituent parts? It is often said that you can’t “do” projects, you can only do the individual tasks that make up the project and achieve the desired result. The same can be said for reputation. You don’t build your reputation as a whole, you cultivate the smaller reputations that create it. Each individual action builds your reputation in unique ways and each requires some thought as to how they relate to the whole.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Reputations
  • A Reputation for Fairness
  • A Reputation for Honesty
  • A Reputation for Trustworthiness
  • A Reputation for Decision-making
  • A Reputation for Empathy
  • A Reputation for Helpfulness
  • A Reputation for Compromise
  • A Reputation for Clarity
  • A Reputation for the Big Picture…and the small
  • A Reputation for Balancing Work and Self
  • A Reputation for Creativity and Innovation
  • Conclusion
  • About the Author

 


Career Compass: Finding Your Career North

5,100 Words

Imagine if when you were born you were given a magical compass to lead you through your life. It would always show you the way. It would show you the right answers on tests, lead you to the right college and to the right course of study at that college. It would lead to your first job, your first (and maybe last) love and always show the path ahead. This isn’t some idle fantasy. We each have a compass to show us the way, if only we would take it out of our pocket and use it. This compass, of course, is our desire. Instead of a needle, it is a feeling, a pull, a tension — in some cases, an overwhelming flood of feeling that says “Yes, this is the way — this is the one — this is where you need to go!”

Categories: Books Tags:

We all do stupid things – Podcast

February 27th, 2012 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logo

While it may seem a bit rude to say, we all do stupid things. It is a fact of human nature that there will be times when we do something that makes no sense at all. I do it. You do it. We all do it. That said, stupid things aren’t always simply stupid. Often we are just distracted, upset or angry and this leads us to do stupid things. Most importantly, once we recognize that we are all capable of doing stupid things, we can work harder to minimize those occurrences. This is how we learn and grow.


Social Media Self Preservation: Taking advantage of social media without losing your mind

Audio Book – MP3 – 42 mins

Buy Now

View other books by Douglas E. Welch


Like Career Opportunities on Facebook


Why we do “stupid things”

As you might realize based on the introduction, many of the stupid things we do aren’t really stupid at all. Truly stupid things would be those actions taken out of ignorance or lack of thought about the consequences. Sure, there might be a few of those things in your day, but for the average person, these are few and far between. It is far more likely that we do stupid things out of inattention, distraction or anger than actual stupidity.

It is easy to become distracted. How many of us have left our coffee cup, briefcase or other object on top of the car and then started to drive away? We weren’t being stupid. Something else was taking our full attention and we simply didn’t have the mental space for the smaller item. I think this is one of my own biggest reasons for doing stupid things. I become so focused on something else — usually something unimportant — I leave something where it shouldn’t be or forget to do something important.

We can get distracted for any number of reasons. Perhaps we are trying to juggle too many items. Maybe someone else is trying to talk to us about one thing when we should be actively concentrating on another. Perhaps we are worried or scared or not feeling well. Each of us has our own distractions and you will need to notice and learn from your own distraction triggers if you want to reduce the amount of stupid things you do.

The next most common reason we do stupid things is out of anger. We all have stories of friends who kicked the flat tire, punched a wall or did something else injurious because we were angry. Anger short circuits our thought processes and leads us to do things we might never do otherwise — slam doors, throw things, shout loudly and angrily. We almost always regret doing these actions moments later, but when we allow ourselves to be taken by the moment, we can do some amazingly stupid things. This is why the “count to 10” rule is so often advised when we are feeling angry. Simply counting to 10 can help us overcome the urge to lash out and let our thinking catch up to our actions.

How to do fewer stupid things

First, you must realize that all of us will do something stupid nearly every day. As I mentioned, it is simply part of the human condition. Our goal is not to try and eliminate ALL the stupid things we do, but rather do as few stupid things as possible. Trying to eliminate them all would probably cause you to go mad and, in some cases, insure that you do nothing at all, out of fear of making a mistake. You don’t want to drive yourself to inaction while trying to drive yourself away from distraction. You still have to live within the everyday world. Rather, you want to use a few simple tools to help you reduce the amount of stupid things to a low enough level that they really don’t have a major impact on your life.

First, you need to begin to better understand what distracts you and when you are most likely to be distracted. For some of us it is in the morning confusion and rush. For others, it might be in the car in traffic. For still others, it could be later in the evening when you are trying to get something accomplished. Think back over the last few weeks and try to remember when you did something stupid. Were you being distracted by something? Can you remember the situation or source of the distraction? How could you avoid such distractions in the future? Identifying those moments and bringing yourself back to focus can go a long way towards reducing your stupid things.

Next, learning to understand and control your anger is also extremely important. Some of us are more prone to it than others. I am pretty level headed at most times, but certain things can set me off into a downward anger spiral. It is very important for me to be aware of these triggers and do everything I can to avoid them, or minimize them when they occur. If you have similar feelings, paying more attention to this could greatly improve your work and your life. Sure, there are some things that will make you angry and some things that should make you angry, but you can’t let those feelings run away with you all the time.

We all do stupid things. That is simply part of being a human being. You shouldn’t hate yourself for them. What you can and should do is learn from your stupid moments and reduce their occurrence as much as you can. Even moving from two stupid things per day to one could make your life and your career much, much better.

***

Categories: Audio, Podcast, Show Tags:

Elsewhere: Forbes: Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions

February 20th, 2012 Comments off

Mitch Krayton of Krayton Seminars (and co-chair of CareerCampSCV and others)  shared this Forbes article with me today. I would definitely put some credence to these 3 rules.

Yes, there might be other specific issue involved in a particular job, but if you can’t get beyond these 3 rules then I don’t think you’ll get the job.

Kevin Kelly - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009

Forbes: Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions

[…]

The only three true job interview questions are:

1.  Can you do the job?

2.  Will you love the job?

3.  Can we tolerate working with you?

[…]

Cornerstone International Group CEO, Bill Guy emphasizes the changing nature of motivation,

…younger employees do not wish to get paid merely for working hard—just the reverse: they will work hard because they enjoy their environment and the challenges associated with their work…. Executives who embrace this new management style are attracting and retaining better employees.

Read the entire article for more great information

 

Categories: Business, Education, Elsewhere, News/Opinion, Tips Tags:

What I’m Reading…Accidental Creative

February 9th, 2012 2 comments

I have listened to Todd Henry’s podcast, The Accidental Creative, for years, so it only made sense to pick up his book from the library.

From Amazon.com…

Have better ideas, faster, without the stress and burnout.

It isn’t enough to just do your job anymore. In order to thrive in today’s marketplace, all of us, regardless of our role, have to be ready to generate brilliant ideas on demand.

Business creativity expert Todd Henry explains how to establish effective practices that unleash your creative potential. Born out of his consultancy and his popular podcast, Henry has created a practical method for discovering your personal creative rhythm. He focuses on five key elements:

* Focus: Begin with your end goal in mind. * Relationships: Build stimulating relationships and ideas will follow. * Energy: Manage it as your most valuable resource. * Stimuli: Structure the right “inputs” to maximize creative output. * Hours: Focus on effectiveness, not efficiency. This is a guide for staying inspired and experiencing greater creative productivity than you ever imagined possible.

Link: The Accidental Creative: How to be brilliant at a moment’s notice by Todd Henry

 

Archive: You want to do what?!

February 8th, 2012 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logo

Would you get an RFID chip implanted in your arm so you could access the company data center? Would you take a test that asks deeply personal questions with no perception of anonymity? Would you take a lie detector test? How about a drug test? If any of these scenarios sound frightening to you, you should start thinking about your response now, because everyone will be facing these decisions sooner than we might like. Is any job worth sacrificing your privacy?

Listen to this Podcast


New from Career Opportunities Author, Douglas E Welch

5,100 Words

Imagine if when you were born you were given a magical compass to lead you through your life. It would always show you the way. It would show you the right answers on tests, lead you to the right college and to the right course of study at that college. It would lead to your first job, your first (and maybe last) love and always show the path ahead. This isn’t some idle fantasy. We each have a compass to show us the way, if only we would take it out of our pocket and use it. This compass, of course, is our desire. Instead of a needle, it is a feeling, a pull, a tension — in some cases, an overwhelming flood of feeling that says “Yes, this is the way — this is the one — this is where you need to go!”

 


Like Career Opportunities on Facebook


In an odd moment of synchronicity I came across mentions of two of these issues this week and it reminded me of my own brushes with controversial techniques to try and divine who is a good employee. After a humiliating experience with a lie detector test when I applied for my first job, I will never take another lie detector test again. I have been exposed to company surveys where the proctor made obvious attempts to skew the results. I have taken the Meyers-Briggs Personality Profile Test. Still, more and more companies are trying to find the “magic bullet” that will solve all their employee problems and you will be faced with ever more intrusive methods.

Just say no!

So, how do you protect yourself against invasive tactics such as these? First, learn to say “No,” quickly and assuredly. You may decide later that the results will be protected or anonymized properly and change your mind, but your first response at any sign of concern should always be “No.” If you are feeling uncomfortable, this is a sign to beware. It is also a sign that others around are probably also uncomfortable. In some cases, you might not have enough information about the test or survey. In others, the questions being asked might seem too personal or outside the bounds of what any company should need to know.

There are good reasons for saying “No.” Once you have completed a test or survey, it is too late to withdraw that information. Regardless of whether you contest the results or the entire testing program later, you have offered up information that can never be regained. By refusing to take the test, you are protecting yourself in many different ways.

How are they being used?

In the case of one company, managers were “asked” to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Test. This test is usually given to people to detect mental illnesses and direct their treatment. It asks extremely personal questions about all aspects of a person’s life, including sex, religion, bodily functions and more. Despite the fact that some states have outlawed its use outside of the medical environment, some companies are still giving it to their employees. In most cases, companies can’t ask you about religion, martial status and race in job interviews, why should questions that are even more private be allowed after you are employed. (See Career-Op: Can you ask me that?, July 23, 1999, (http://welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/ce990723.html) for more on that issue.)

I cannot imagine a worse situation to place yourself than providing deeply personal information to your employer. The mind boggles at the ways you could be abused and manipulated by unscrupulous management. Of course, you must be ready to accept the consequences of refusing. Companies may fire you or threaten you with dismissal. They may try to convince you of the test’s worth using specious arguments or even outright lies. Regardless of the consequences, though, you must stand your ground wherever and whenever possible. Otherwise, you must understand that this particular company will now have a certain amount of control over you that they might not have had before.

As for requiring RFID implants or other surgical alterations for employees, this is almost too repugnant to even consider. Violating human rights is bad enough, but violating the human body, for non-medical reasons, is inconceivable. I believe that this initial news story was more of a publicity stunt than anything else, but this doesn’t mean that some company won’t make a genuine attempt to enforce it in the near future.

There are lines to be drawn today in employee/employer relationships. Lines that we never thought would be crossed except in science fiction stories. Like science fiction, though, what were once just stories are becoming reality every day. While we have seen and enjoyed the benefits of the “good ideas” of science fiction such as space flight and computers, we must guard against those repugnant ideas that demean everyone involved. Just because something can be done, does not mean that it should be done. If you and other employees don’t draw a line in the sand, companies will increasingly overstep their bounds with impunity. Companies may be seeking out ways to find the “perfect” employee, but what they are really doing is finding new and innovative ways to violate basic human rights in the search for higher profitability.

Question of the week: Where do you draw the line on invasive employer behavior?

***

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Categories: Audio, Podcast, Show Tags:

#CareerChat: What to do first when you lose your job? – My Comments

February 7th, 2012 Comments off

Another great #CareerChat Twitter chat today. Below are some of my comments during the chat. Join is for #careerchat, each Tuesday Morning at 1pm EST/10am PST. You can view the entire chat using this Twitter Search on #CareerChat.

  • For me, I think that people need to get the word out immediately about their availability. Put your network to work.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile updated at all times. It is easy to do and doing it little by little is much easier than big updates
  • Put some thought into what you WANT in your next job, not just what you NEED. You want the BEST job, no just the NEXT job.
  • FYI @careertips is Douglas E. Welch from Career Opportunities column and podcast
  • just published a Kindle booklet called Career Compass to help people decide what they truly WANT to do. Timely 🙂
  • In many cases, your network might turn up opportunities you can act on within days. Best case scenario.
  • As for volunteering, consider starting your own org/group/etc and “volunteer” for yourself.
  • You need to constantly be showing people “what you do and how well you do it!” Never stop looking.
  • After a layoff is not the time to be trying to figure out LI, updating resume and such. Need to be prepared.
  • Need to be prepared even if you are working. Never know what opportunities might come your way. Be ready to take advantage.
  • I always recommend “telling a story” in your resume rather than just listing skills. Stories really help sell you.
  • Think out if it is time to relocate geographically, too. Where are the best opportunities for your type of job?
  • Speaking with our Sicilian relatives, temporary relocation for work is a fact of life for them. That surprised me.
  • Further on starting own group – if you are group, you know some people, if you start a group, everyone knows YOU.
  • Don’t undersell your own skills. Chronic problem with workers today. Not askign you be arrogant, but respect what you bring.
  • I feel they (paper resumes) are dead. I WISH they were dead, but old habits die hard. Seems an antiquated job search tool to me.
  • Educate! There are so many sources for online lifetime learning these days. Heck, you can learn much just searching YouTube.
  • Most resumes are designed to be consumed by digital systems at companies, so they look more like data than a resume
  • My recent podcast on Lifetime Learning – Lifetime learning enhances your life and career – http://t.co/4Uy3jKsv
  • I am also highlighting online classes that I find interesting on my blogs, etc. All sorts of topics – iTunes U, CodeAcademy, MIT
  • Use About.me and others. It is not an either/or question, but Yes/And. That said, have your own home base blog to point to
  • A blog is your home base to show people what you do and how well you do it. Collect EVERYTHING there.
  • Give people as much opportunity to stumble upon you as possible. Be everywhere you can be, but link all to home.
  • You never know where your next opportunity might come from. You don’t know who your audience might be.
  • My goal for everyone is to attract work TO THEM, rather than having to go looking for work.
  • t seems only right as the Internet has given us great tools to network and market ourselves, if we only used them
  • You are just as likely to find your next in a locker room, in the coffee shop or online as you are in traditional process
  • As a freelance consultant, a lot of my clients come from happenstance meetups around town, through friends and family.
  • I think of “opening the lines of communication” to be one of our most important jobs for our own self preservation
  • No one else can/will care as much about your career as you do. They simply can’t. It is up to you to build career.
  • ..and trust yourself, and love yourself, and respect yourself…
  • As Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
  • I find that work for yourself and on yourself is far less onerous than work for others. Tough to do, but good.
  • I find that constructive criticism is hard to find. Too many people cloak as constructive, but are actually destructive
  • Shameless plug – My Kindle books on careers and social media available from my site at http://t.co/y5CQ0xSw
  • Have to consider the source greatly. Too many “blocked” people build themselves up by tearing down others. Sad.
  • Insecurity is one of the most damaging traits in society today. It leads people to do some amazingly bad things.
Categories: Career Tips, Discussion Tags:

New Booklet: Career Compass: Finding Your Career North

February 6th, 2012 Comments off
I have just released a new booklet in Amazon Kindle format and I wanted you to be one of the first to know.

This ebook can be read on almost any device including Mac, Windows, iPhone/iPod/iPad and Android device — and, of course, the Kindle Readers.

NOW AVAILABLE AT:
Amazon
Artwork for Career Compass: Finding Your Career North

Buy at Amazon
Career Compass: Finding Your Career North
by  Douglas E. Welch

This career booklet (5100 words) can help you to find the true direction of your career and guide you on that journey.

Topics:

  • How do you discover which job and career is right for you?
  • How do your desires point you in the right direction?
  • How to discover and stop your from moving “Due South” — exactly the wrong direction in your career?
  • How can you use the Career Compass to evaluate new opportunities?

From the introduction…

Imagine if when you were born you were given a magical compass to lead you through your life. It would always show you the way. It would show you the right answers on tests, lead you to the right college and to the right course of study at that college. It would lead to your first job, your first (and maybe last) love and always show the path ahead. This isn’t some idle fantasy. We each have a compass to show us the way, if only we would take it out of our pocket and use it. This compass, of course, is our desire. Instead of a needle, it is a feeling, a pull, a tension — in some cases, an overwhelming flood of feeling that says “Yes, this is the way — this is the one — this is where you need to go!”

Douglas E. Welch
Like New Booklet: Career Compass: Finding Your Career North on Facebook
Categories: Books, Products Tags:

Cynicism is a trap in your life and career – Podcast

February 4th, 2012 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logo

How do you see the world? Do you see it like everyone else, or are your friends and family constantly telling you that you see the world in odd, different or even weird ways? Can you see danger where others see none — opportunity where others see only risk — something new where others see only the usual? If so, you have a big advantage in your life and your career.


Social Media Self Preservation: Taking advantage of social media without losing your mind

Audio Book – MP3 – 42 mins

Buy Now



Like Career Opportunities on Facebook


The ability to see in new and different ways has many advantages. First, it allows you to break out of any rut you might find yourself in. Where others might plod along in the same job year after year, once you sense your dissatisfaction, you’ll start looking for new opportunities right away. Others might feel trapped in their jobs, but you can see that there are always new opportunities out there just waiting to be discovered. While others might think that this is all there is to their lives, you can see that it can, and should be, better.

So why don’t others see the world as you do? What has happened in their lives to convince them that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” as Thomas Hobbes wrote? For me, I see one overriding factor — cynicism.

While the original meaning of cynicism had many good traits, according to Dictionary.com, it’s curren  meanings include:like or characteristic of a cynic;  distrusting or disparaging the motives of others.showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one’s actions, especially by actions that exploit the scruples of others.bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.

It is this distrust, this pessimism, this disbelief that leads others to stop looking for new opportunities. They start to see the world only as a dangerous place where everyone is out for their own good and nothing else. Since they have difficulty trusting others, they also have difficulty working with others, either one on one or in groups. This further isolates them and deepens their cynicism. Eventually, they have dug themselves such a deep hole they might not ever climb out.

For your own self preservation, learn to identify deep cynicism and, more importantly, learn how to avoid it. It is a trap in every sense of the word. It deludes us and traps us in a dark world of our own design. If you begin to feel trapped, you are . If you start to feel fearful and distrustful of others, it will only grow, if you let it. If you think that everyone is out to take direct and purposeful advantage of you, you will find those that will.

Cynicism is a large and important sign that you need to do something new, something active, something — else. Use this red flag of warning as a sign that you need to do some deep and hard thinking. You may need to get away for a while. You may need to find new people to engage with. You might need to change your location, your job, some of your friends. You need to do anything that shakes off cynicism and lets you see the world in new ways again.

If you are struggling with cynicism, it might seem hard to escape its grip, but we all have the power to do it. All we need is to see the light that surrounds us and focus less of the dark. There are people out there willing to help you. There are new opportunities waiting to be found. You are not trapped unless you believe you are. Remember what it is like to see the world differently and then see it that way again.You owe it to yourself and everyone around you to see, and be, the very best person that you can be. Imagine how the world would change if more people had the strength and support to stand up, break free of cynicism and do what they most desire.

Starting tomorrow morning, wake up and ask yourself “What does the world look like today?” Does it look the same as it always has or do you see something new on the horizon. Is it  another in the salt mines like the donkey boys from Pinocchio or is it “the beginning of a beautiful friendship?” Greet tomorrow like a good friend, and seek out the best friends you have around you. Sure, there are troubles in the world, but it is also filled with many who are eager to help you and work with you to make the world a better place.

***

Categories: Audio, Podcast, Show Tags:

Lifetime learning – your children are watching!

February 1st, 2012 Comments off

page01-lg.jpg

Last week I wrote a column about lifetime learning. It seems to be gaining attention in the general world and I think that is a great thing. I saw a blog post today that highlighted some great resources but then mentioned how their own children, 3-4-years-old couldn’t really benefit from these resources.

Yes, that can! The best way that children, even very young children, can benefit from lifetime learning is by watching YOU! Children are sponges that soak up everything around you — your speech patterns, your attitudes, your likes and dislikes. even if you don’t realize it, children are also closely observing what you find important. When they see you learning — in its many forms — it establishes a norm in their minds. They begin to see that learning is something you always do. They see learning as something everyone does, no matter what their age. They see that learning isn’t simply something that happens in grade school or university.

As an example, my son finds it quite normal to visit the library on a nearly weekly basis. My wife and I are big readers and he has gone to the library with us since he was born. He has friends who never visit the library, or only do so when absolutely necessary for schoolwork. It wasn’t that we conciously  modeled this behavior, but model it we did.

You can and should be the same with lifetime learning. Show your children interesting videos, articles and, eventually, books. Show them that experiments are something that are just done in a companies lab. Teach them that every moment of every day can teach us something, if we only pay attention.

No matter how young your children — and I say the younger you start the better — show them that lifetime learning is an integral part of your life and theirs. This simple step could have enormous benefits to them as they grow older. Someone who is constantly learning has great advantage to those who don’t. Beyond the personal benefits, lifetime learning has the potential to create a society of amazing citizens, all dedicated to learning and then putting that learning to use through great creations, organizations and projects.

Photo: My son, Joseph, watching the scientists dig at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, CA

Categories: Education, News/Opinion, Tips Tags:
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