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Archive for October, 2013

Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – October 28, 2013

October 28th, 2013 Comments off

Jobs offered CareerCampSCV (Santa Clarita Valley) 2013 - 88 Job Openings from Tuesdays with Transitioners Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, organizer of Tuesdays with Transitioners posted these job listings recently. Join Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup group to receive these job listings directly via Meetup.com and email. 

  • Manager, Response Dept., Joni and Friends (Calabasas)
  • Assistant Producer, Playboy Morning Show (Los Angeles)
  • Focus Group for Audi, Lexus, Porsche Owners
  • Technical Project Manager
  • Personal Assistant Position
  • Assistant to TV Lit Manager/Producer
  • Post Production Assistant
  • Assistant at Green Hat Films
  • JDE Business Analyst, WMS-consultant (Brea)
  • Administrative Assistant, Joni and Friends (Calabasas)
  • Front-end Web Production Manager/Graphic Designer, Hungry Girl (Woodland Hills)
  • Part-time Executive Coordinator/Assistant (Encino)
  • Communications Manager, Marcus & Millichap (San Francisco area)
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist, Medtronics (Northridge)
  • Entertainment Manager
  • Full-time Litigation Secy (Woodland Hills)
  • Office Manager (Los Angeles)
  • Solution Director, Astadia (various locations, nationwide)
  • Quiksilver, Inc. has various openings (Huntington Beach)
  • CKT is seeking an Engineer with Production Management Experience (Camarillo)
  • Associate Counsel with Corporate Securities Experience (Urgent Hire)
  • Associate Director of Business Development, USC Marshall School of Business
  • Digital Account Executive, Centro (L.A. and SF)
  • UTA Listings for 10-24-2013
  • Assistant to the President of Eyeworks USA
  • Assistant to two VPs at Lifetime
  • Showrunner Assistant

Link to Tuesdays with Transitioners for details on all these positions and past listings

** Find more jobs on the Career Opportunities Job Board from SimplyHired.com

Archive: Keep a grade book to track work performance — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

October 25th, 2013 Comments off

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My wife, Rosanne, recently returned to teaching, working as an undergraduate history professor at a local CSU campus. Watching her grade mid-term tests combined with my recent thoughts on office performance reviews lead to a bit of an epiphany. Instead of managers and workers relying on their (often faulty) memories for performance review topics, why shouldn’t each side of that relationship keep a grade book, like any good teacher, so that you have hard evidence of past successes and challenges? This one step could help to remove the sometimes adversarial nature of reviews and give both managers and workers a clear view of their productivity.

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When I was working in the corporate world, I dreaded performance reviews. Despite the fact that I usually got fairly glowing reviews and a raise when the company wasn’t pleading lack of profits, there was always some “issue” that had to be addressed in the review, lest upper management think my manager was being too soft on me. In other years, I found that deficiencies were over-played mainly as a reason to justify smaller raises or none at all. In my particular environment, performance reviews were a “shell game” played out for the benefit of the company by, usually, unwilling participants. Performance reviews need not be this way.

In the past I have talked about work portfolios as a way of documenting your work and providing documentation when you are looking for a raise, promotion or a new job. This is a long term goal, though. Now I want you to focus a bit on the “mid-term” viewpoint of your work and career. What is being said about your work today and how will it be reflected in your year-end performance review? As I mentioned above, memories are faulty and often subjective. We often remember only those things we wish to remember and consign the rest to the cerebral dustbin. Who wants to remember times when we weren’t operating at our best? This is where the grade book can really help.

If you are a manager, you know how easy it is to forget the successes and failures of your team. Work comes at us all in such a frenzy that once a particular crisis is handled or averted, it is forgotten. You are on to the next 100 problems that need to be addressed. Then, almost before you know it, it is time for performance reviews. You sit, wracking your brain for information about each of your employees. Was it John who crashed the server back in March or was he the one who solved the issue with the network? Did Barbara complete her training yet? Wasn’t George out a lot last quarter? You do your best, but in most cases, your performance reviews are probably not as good as they could, or should, be.

Instead of trying to remember events that occurred months ago, why not keep a grade book from week to week. Even taking 10 minutes a week could significantly improve your performance reviews and give your employees the information and rewards they deserve. You can keep this grade book online or on paper, but bring it out as part of your weekly review. (You have read Getting Things Done by David Allen, haven’t you?). Make a quick notation about each of your employees and how they performed that week. If something extraordinary happened, make sure you note that, good or bad. This will surely be something you will want to address in their review.

Then, when performance review time rolls around, you won’t have to try to remember an entire year. You will have a week by week guide reminding you of nearly everything you need to address in the review. You will complete your reviews in a shorter period of time, suffer much less angst and worry AND increase the quality of these reviews.

For the employees out there, it is just as important that you do the same thing. Keep your own weekly grade book of successes and failures. It can be tough to note your own issues, but I can guarantee you will want this information when your review comes. Hopefully, your manager has been noting your performance over time, but it can’t hurt to gently remind them of the emergency service you provided in June or the major project you completed in September. You don’t want the review to become adversarial, but you need the ability to respond with specifics whenever something appears in your review that you find inaccurate.

Furthermore, keeping your own grade book will immediately begin to show how your talents are being used and rewarded, or not, in your company. It is too easy to float along in a job or a company that doesn’t meet your needs or desires, but when you are confronted with the stark reality of the printed page, it becomes all too clear.

Whether you are a manager or a staff member, keep a grade book like the best teachers. Note both success and failure so you don’t have to rely on your memories for something as important as a year-end performance review. You owe it to yourself and everyone around you.

***

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Career problems often stem from life problems — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

October 23rd, 2013 Comments off

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Life and career are intimately intertwined. We can try to keep them as separate as possible, but the fact remains that it is an impossible task. Our daily work life directly effects our life outside of work and vice versa. Instead of ignoring this connection, we all need to be aware how each side can cause issues for the other.


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When I am doing a one-to-one career consult with a client, I like to let them lead the conversation. I ask them directly what issues or questions are foremost in their mind. This usually leads to complaints or worries about their boss, their company and their work. As we talk further, though, more personal information comes to the fore. Perhaps they are having trouble with their family, their spouse or their children. Maybe their health is compromised in some way. What always surprises me, is how little they think these issues effect their work life. Any of these problems can have great impact on their work and collectively they can result in large challenges to their career.

Taking these consults as an example, I want to offer some advice on how you can better understand the impact of general life issues on your career and how you can work with them to improve both. If you focus on just one one side of the equation, you can feel frustrated and any attempts to change your life may seem futile. It need not be, though. Instead you need to look at the issues from a more holistic perspective.

Feeling Trapped

A common theme I hear when consulting with people is that they are feeling trapped in their career. They don’t like their work, but everyone around them, from their boss to their spouse to the rest of the their family is telling them they shouldn’t leave their job. In fact, I often hear the phrase, “you should feel lucky to have a job.” These life pressures can cause you to make some very bad decisions about your career.

You should never stay in a job you hate for any reason and anyone who suggests it needs to be questioned as to their motives. In most cases, your spouse and family are simply afraid. They are afraid you will never find another job — ever — and pass this fear on to you. In many cases, they don’t believe in “building the career you deserve” but instead that work is only meant to be tolerated until retirement arrives. This is a common viewpoint, but one that I wish would be abandoned. If you were able to get your current job, then you should be able to get another — even better — job. You should never make the decision to change jobs lightly, but neither should you be dissuaded from it when it makes the most sense for you.

Be aware of your family’s attitudes, bias and fears. Listen to their advice and then make the best decision for you.

A disinterested third party

Both in my own life — and in my career consulting — I have learned that we can all benefit from consulting a “disinterested third party” when we are trying to make large life and career decisions. When someone is discussing their career with me, they are free of the “baggage” of family and spousal relationships. Since I am not directly related to them, I am able to focus on their needs, their career, their success. When talking with family members, your needs can get overwhelmed by the needs of others. You can end up making the best decisions that please your family instead of decisions that please — or best benefit — you. It is a common trap that stunts many careers. It is at times like this you need to seek out your most understanding friend or a professional consultant to make sure you are seeing the situation clearly and making the best decision for you, your life and career.

Life and career are inextricably linked. You can’t effect one without effecting the other. In fact, you will often find that addressing and solving issues in your life can directly help to solve issues in your career and vice versa. Taking these issues together, as a whole, can be a great way to build the career you deserve.

***

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Archive: Don’t treat everyone like a criminal, or an idiot — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

October 18th, 2013 Comments off

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How are you treating those around you? How do you treat your customers? Are you letting your day-to-day interactions with them cloud your judgment and effect your behavior? This is one of the most insidious problems you can experience as you build your career and yet it is something we experience every day in our work and in our lives. Despite our best efforts, if you deal with certain problems frequently enough, you can forget that people are still individuals and should be treated as such.

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I first noticed this problem in friends and acquaintances that work in law enforcement or as attorneys. Confronted daily with the reality and cruelty of crime, they begin to see all people, regardless of their actions, as potential criminals. They have been over-exposed to the baser sides of life and begin to believe that their friends and neighbors are just as capable of murder as anyone else they encounter in their work. Observing this attitude from the outside, we can see the inherent fallacy in these beliefs, but when you are immersed in it, it can seem very real.

Eventually, these folks can come to believe that there is no “good” in the world anymore, only a progression of threats to be avoided. In the worst cases, you will find people withdrawing from friends, family and society. What a sad situation, made all the more so by the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way.

While this is an extreme example, I see similar behaviors in those people engaged in less life-threatening daily work such as customer service and support. The causes may be different, but the results are strikingly the same. Even more, whenever you begin treating everyone the way you would treat the worst of society, your career is in danger.

I see this all the time, and I am sure you do, too. Almost every sales and support interaction in my day, and yours, is colored by behavior like this. We suffer tortuous return policies at some retail stores because someone else has abused their previous policies. We ask a perfectly valid question, only to be treated rudely by someone who has answered that same question a hundred times that day. A sales associate treats you badly because she was treated rudely by 10, 100 or 1,000 other people that day. I call this “the punishing of the innocent.” Some people’s behavior is rude, stupid or evil and everyone else must pay.

These employees, and possibly you as well, are preparing for the unemployment line, if this behavior continues. Offending and mistreating your best customers and clients will drive them away, reduce profits and perhaps even destroy the company. Your day-to-day behavior has a direct effect on the future of your job.

So, how do you avoid this pervasive problem? First, you need to start treating each person, each customer, each client, as a unique individual again. You need to stop assuming that they were placed on this Earth to simply make your life more difficult. Yes, of course, there are people who will try to abuse your policies, rip you off or willfully remain ignorant, but there are many others who are simply trying to return a product that did not work or ask a very simple question. Notice when you, and your company, are punishing the innocent and do everything in your power to stop it.

Having previously worked in help desk operations and even in my current computer consulting role, I know it can be frustrating to answer the same question again and again, but instead of getting angry at the customer, why don’t we explore why the question keeps being asked? What flaw is causing the question and what can we do about it? Getting angry is simply giving up.

No career can be built on a structure of annoyance and contempt for your customer. If you have started to see everyone as the enemy then your career will be a slow progression of disdain, anger and cynicism. In this world, everyone treats each other with such contempt that the world becomes an increasingly difficult place to live and your career becomes a burden instead of a launching pad for a better life.

***

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Those who “need” your help, but don’t really “want” it — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

October 15th, 2013 Comments off

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It is important to remember that every job, every career, involves some aspect of customer service. In some cases we might be supporting our outside customers while, in others, we are supporting our fellow, in-house, coworkers. Whatever the reason, though, it is often part of our job to help others do theirs. As someone who has made a career out of customer service, I would like to warn you about a frustrating situation that can occur — people who “need” your help but don’t really “want” it. I know that can sound very odd, but I think you will recognize these people in your life and work when I describe them and their behavior. These people can make your work very difficult if you don’t understand how to recognize and deal with them.


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I can almost guarantee you have run into people who don’t want your help if you have worked for others for even a short time. They are usually pretty vocal about their displeasure or trouble with something and this makes them easy to spot. They are different, of course, from most others, though, in that any advice or support you offer is almost universally refused. They will quickly have a reason to reject, dismiss or refuse your advice. “That won’t work because of… I can’t do that because… That doesn’t apply to me. My situation is totally different.” If you continue to try and offer alternatives, the person will often move from dismissing your ideas to outright anger, finally turning away in a huff and proclaiming, “You just don’t understand!” Sound familiar?

That fact is, these people don’t want help, advice or ideas. They simply want some way to vent about their problems. Now, that isn’t all bad, as we can all use a good listener in our lives for those times when we just need to get something off our chest, but this is an entirely different role from the one we normally play. When someone asks us something, or comes to us with a problem, out natural behavior is to offer help and suggests to ease their burden. These people don’t want that. They only want to be heard. Unfortunately, this also often means that they can be seen as complainers who only want to gripe about something instead of making the changes that are required to solve the problem. Trying to help someone in this situation becomes an exercise in futility. It wears you out and often leads the other person to dislike you. Recognize this behavior and distance yourself from it before it damages your work and career.

An odd sidelight to this behavior can be a sense of resentment from those who need your help, but don’t really want it. As a computer support consultant, I have seen this quite often in the past. Customers can resent that they need your assistance at all, being unable to solve their issues on their own. They come to see you as a barely necessary evil and will often place the blame for computer failures on your shoulders instead of blaming the failing software or their own lack of knowledge about how to use the computer. Granted, computer support workers can often make people feel stupid, often without really meaning to, but resentment at needing help — and therefore at you — can often be an underlying issue.

So, how do you deal with such behavior, once you recognize it? First, stop offering ideas, advice and opinions. Listen, nod politely, but don’t give them any more opportunities to create excuses for themselves and their behaviors. Recognize that there is little you can do unless the person themselves really wants to change. Engaging with them only makes them more determined to prove their point that there is no solution. It also makes you a target for their anger and resentment. There is no way you will come out of the conversation in a positive light if you continue. Walk away as soon as you can, secure in the knowledge of how to deal with this person in the future.

Finally, when possible, avoid these people and their behavior. In some cases, this can be difficult if they are a close co-worker or important client, but for sheer self-preservation of your own work and career, you need to limit your exposure to them. In the case of a freelance client, you may need to “fire” them instead of letting them take your time and energy to no good purpose. Dealing with many of these people can sap your energy and drive to work for others, damaging your overall success. Learn to recognize quickly when you are in a futile situation where someone might “need” your help, but not really “want” it and react accordingly. Your state of mind, your own happiness and your career will all benefit.

***

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Audio: Organization: The 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

October 2nd, 2013 Comments off

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Read and Listen to the Introduction to this series, The 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist.

When most of us think about organization, we think about calendars, address books and to-do lists, but organization, as it relates to your life and career, is so much more. We all know  from personal experience how unorganized people and companies can make our lives much more difficult than it need be – sometimes to the point of chaos. Why would we wish to inflict this on others ourselves? If you want to have a successful career, you must become organized – at least in some basic way. Thankfully, and despite what you might think, it’s relatively easy to be organized. Even more, the slightest bit of organization, will help you to stand out among those who haven’t yet learned that lesson. Organization can be an excellent way to build a very successful career.


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The first step in getting organized — and staying organized — is to CAPTURE EVERYTHING. Too often – in work and life – we simply ignore or forget when we are given the events, action items, and creative ideas that need to be accomplished. There’s no way you can hope to smoothly make your way through life, if you don’t remember what needs to be done and when. Yet again though, through personal experience, we know that people do this every day. Instead of organizing themselves, they rely on others to constantly remind them what they should be doing.

Capturing everything doesn’t require any technology more expensive than paper and pencil. Sure technology can help you capture and manage more information, more easily, but the basic factor in organization is a change in behavior, not the addition of more technology. Developing an understanding of organization and the methods involved will allow you to use whatever is available. Here are 3 basic concepts to get you started on the road to organization.

To begin, there are three capture “triggers” that you must learn to identify and act on the moment they occur. Sure, you will eventually need, and want, to collect even more trigger items, but these 3 are the most basic and important.
Dates and Times – Put them in your calendar

Even in our modern and technologically advanced world, our lives still follow the calendar of days, weeks, months and years. Each season still brings common activities and themes in our work. Just as we pay attention to the movement from Fall to Winter or Winter to Spring, we need to pay close attention to the events that pass through our calendars.

Whenever you are given a date or time for an event, stop – immediately – and capture it. It doesn’t matter if the date is specific or vague, near or far, large or small. Dates are important markers in our lives and in some ways they allow us to see into the future, knowing what must be done and when. The simple act of capturing these events allows us to prepare and plan.

Capturing events in your calendar also directly sends a message to those around you. If you are speaking with someone and you stop for a moment to put that date in your datebook, calendar, wherever, you are demonstrating to those around you that you are committed to being organized.Your simple action of writing it down, or entering it into your phone, sends a clear and loud message — “I Care!”
Don’t worry if the date is vague, or might change in the future. Put it in anyway. You could always move it, if it changes. It is far more important to capture all the events, rather than trying to sort out which ones are useful or not.

Next, when you’re given a prepared calendar for a school, company or organization, take a few moments to enter in any and all dates that are of interest or importance to you, your family or your company. This might include days off from school, holidays, teacher meetings, business conferences, ends of fiscal years, tax filing deadlines, etc. If it’s a date — and has any meaning or interest to you — capture it.
As a parent, I find this step particularly important. It can be hard to juggle multiple calendar when both parents work and high school age children begin to have their own unique calendar. Pickup must be arranged. Practices for theater and sports teams must be considered, along with homework, tests and other events. Capturing the bulk of those events at the beginning of the year can make your entire year run much more smoothly.

While capturing these items is a starting point, there is an advanced method you can include once the basics are working. Whenever you enter an event, take a moment to think about what needs to be done to prepare for that event and then capture those date and put them into your calendar as well. If you need to make cookies for a bake sale, or create an end-of-quarter presentation, add an event 1-2 weeks ahead to remind you to prepare.

Action items

After dates and events, the next important capture trigger are the “action items” that make up your life. These action items can be given to you by others, driven by your calendar items, or action items you give yourself. Just as with calendar items, you need to capture these items immediately, so that nothing falls in the “cracks” of your work and life.

As with calendar events, when you are having a discussion with someone, listen for action item triggers and capture them as they occur. If you hear the words “I need” or “I want”, it should immediately send you into capture mode. Those around us often give clear indications of what they want and need us to do, but if we fail to capture them, it is as if they were never said at all. This can lead to large disagreements both in life and work. Capturing these action items can go a long way towards smoothing and speeding communication with those around you.

You can capture action items in a simple list, organize them by project or category, or in whatever way makes the most sense for you personally. It’s far more important for you to capture them, then the methods you use to capture them. That said, capturing action items in one place is best. This can be a notebook, paper journal, phone or computer, but I would advise against scattering them across a bunch of sticky notes or scraps of paper. In that form, they are far too easy to misplace and make it difficult to review these items when needed.

Thoughts and Ideas

The final capture trigger in this basic organizational strategy is your own thoughts and ideas. We all have thousands of ideas and thoughts each day and yet, if you don’t capture these ideas — good, bad or indifferent – most will be lost forever. These ideas could be the basis for dramatic changes in your life and career and — in some ways — failing to capture them is like throwing away money. Your ideas are important and deserve to be captured. They are the fuel that drives your work and career. You can never tell what ideas might be useful or important in the future, so your job is to capture as many as possible and review them on a regular basis.

Rinse, Repeat and Review

That review, of course, is the final piece of this organizational strategy. You will find that calendar items, action items and your own ideas will naturally generate even more items that need to be captured. It will become a never-ending cycle of organization and productivity. The simple act of capturing these items, puts milestones along the road of your life. You can’t help to grow and improve in your work and life, because the simple act of capturing these items will constantly remind you what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.This basic and easy-to-use organizational strategy lays an excellent foundation for building the career you deserve.

***

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