An insurance ad I have been watching has a young lady bemoaning the accident that totaled her beloved car Brad. She and that car had been through so much in the 4 years she owned it…2 boyfriends, 3 JOBS!

Welcome to the new job market, Sports Fans! The Rules have clearly changed!

Let’s remind ourselves of the Old Rules:

  • Get training in a field where there is work.
  • Find a good job with a solid company in that field.
  • Do what you are told.
  • Take every promotion they offer you.
  • Stay until they present you with the “Gold Watch.”
  • Retire and then go do what you want!

WRONG! I would respectfully suggest the following “Rules” for the New Workplace that has taken over:

Be prepared for change at all times.

Only two things don’t change – God and change. As a company, stay flexible, forward thinking and open to adjustments for you, your industry and your personnel. As a worker, you need not fall in love with change, but you’d better learn how to handle it. Change happens.

Act as if you are self employed.

One of my favorite sites to follow is Careerealism (http://www.careerealism.com), which touts the tagline “Because EVERY Job is Temporary.” Well, it is. As a company, don’t assume that you will be ordering gold watches at a volume discount. Help your employees see themselves as integral parts of the solution. As an employee, take action at work as if your paycheck is directly related to your contribution (because, ultimately, it is!).

Never stop learning.

Employers should provide opportunities for employees to acquire new skills, knowledge and expertise that enhance them as individuals as well as enabling them to contribute at higher and higher levels. Employees should be seeking these opportunities continually, even if they must do it on their own. To borrow a title from another one of my blogs, your workers may be saying “Play Me or Trade Me!”

Continually add value to your work.

“What have you done for me lately?” sounds very ungrateful, but it’s a Fact Of Work these days. The best way to stop advancing in your job is to simply do what is expected of you. Employers, create opportunities for the employee to contribute more to the position. Employees, never be completely satisfied with your performance. Always seek to improve. I’ve coined a term to describe this mindset: “Professional Dissatisfaction.”

Take charge of your attitude.

When I’ve been called in to work with employees, it is never on how to use a spreadsheet or fill out a time card. It’s to teach them how to “play well with others!”  Employers should seek to enhance the communication and team building skills of staff through modeling the appropriate behavior as well as providing training and support in these areas. Employees should invest time and energy into enhancing their interpersonal skills.

Is it a New Workplace? You bet it is!

STOP USING THE OLD RULES.

I recall a conversation with a young lady near completion of her undergraduate degree in aKids in careers general business subject. I asked her what her next steps were. “Graduate school,” was her prompt reply. “What will you major in?” – I inquired. “I don’t know,” was her immediate response.

Perhaps as a parent myself, my head was spinning as I thought of the time, money and energy that had been expended to reach the response “I don’t know.” The cost of education continues to spiral upward and the number of career options before our young ones is growing exponentially.

What is a parent, grandparent, guardian, mentor, etc. to do? Education should be an investment in one’s future, not a repository for disposable income (if indeed any of us have it anymore!).

Here are some suggestions as to how to help those under your charge to consider what they want to be “when they grow up.”

PAY ATTENTION…

Even at the earliest ages there are often hints as to natural gifts and talents. I have a son who, at an early age, was constantly taking things apart (and occasionally putting them back together). A non-traditional student, he ended up in a successful career as an automobile technician, learning and doing things that are well beyond my meager mechanical skills. Those “hints” were so present at a young age that my father used to call him “Fingers.” Watch what fascinates and engages your young ones, looking for clues as to their natural aptitudes, fascinations and skills. To quote the great philosopher Yogi Berra, “You can see a lot by just looking.”

EXPOSE THEM…

We are constantly surrounded by people in a panoply of occupations, from delivery drivers and store clerks to banking professionals and business owners. Reading books, watching television, enjoying popcorn at the movies, browsing on the Internet, etc., all provide opportunities to identify and discuss potential careers. When Henry Ford built his first automobile, you could choose only one color: black. Careers in the new millennium are a virtual rainbow of opportunities. Do your best to introduce them to the vibrant colors that make up this new vocational landscape.

CONSIDER EXPERT GUIDANCE…

Although there is no assessment instrument out there to tell any of us what we should be “when we grow up,” the judicious, professional use of sound assessments can provide excellent insights regarding your child’s interests, skill confidences and values and how they relate to occupations and careers. This information is best used to investigate alternatives using my next suggestion: “Get Feedback from the Street.”

GET FEEDBACK FROM THE STREET…

I am constantly amazed how people spend so much time and energy in “due diligence” as they shop for cars, homes, technology, etc., yet they decide to become accountants simply because they are good at math (no disrespect meant to accountants, by the way, I need them desperately)! Use your network of contacts to find people in fields of interest to your kids and let them “shadow” them for the day (if possible), ask questions (I have an excellent list I can share with you), learn what it’s really like to be a _____________. No one knows better than someone who has been there.

KEEP OPTIONS OPEN…

Even as your young one moves ahead in their career decisions and vocational tracks, be sure to help them keep an eye on the shifting landscape that is part of the new career model. I am now reading that, rather than changing jobs 3-5 times in a lifetime, our kids may be changing careers as many times. This presents an excellent argument for helping them understand themselves and how what I like to call their “Best Stuff” relates to the vocational opportunities before them throughout their lives.

By the way, this process works for “grownups” as well!

In his excellent book ”Go Put Your Strengths to Work,” Marcus Buckingham introduced what he describes as 3 critical myths regarding strengths. Whether you agree with his premises or not, they are certainly worth considering.

Ready? Here they are:

1) As you grow, your personality changes. Individuals certainly make adjustments, have new experiences, mature, acquire new skills and knowledge, etc., but the core of the person stays pretty much the same. You should become intimate with what I like to call “Your Best Stuff,” because that’s where you will be the most accomplished and satisfied. This is why I chose the name “Gift of Self Career Services” to describe what I do. What you do should be who you are!bicep

2) You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness. As a consultant, I used to tell people “It’s not a weakness, it’s an opportunity for development.” True, to some degree, but it’s still a weakness! Spending an inordinate amount of time working away to turn a weakness into an ability that is barely adequate cannot begin to match the contribution when one is using their strengths to contribute to the organization. This does not mean, by the way, that you get a pass on your weak areas, just that more time should be spent on growing “Your Best Stuff.”

3) A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team. If this means finding the areas in the task, project, assignment, etc. where each team member’s strengths can contribute the most, this is a true statement, If, however, it means that individuals who are less talented in certain areas should step into these tasks, both the team and the individuals suffer. A good team member will help the entire team to identify and assign duties to match the strengths of each member for the task before them. That’s when the true ROI (Return On Investment) can take place!

Interesting take on strengths and weaknesses, is it not?

social-security-card-baby-boomers1OK, I admit it. I was born smack dab in the middle of the Boomer Generation. I can’t help it; I was not privy to the decision for me to enter the world.

I did a quick Internet search this morning on the term “Millennial”, came up with over 1.6 million hits. Wow! And I am constantly hearing about how the New Workforce is so disloyal, impatient, in it for themselves, etc., etc., etc.

Some time ago I read the following (don’t ask me where, I read all the time): “If you give a Boomer another task, they see an opportunity. If you give the same task to a Millennial (or any of the new terms out there for the emerging work force), they see MORE WORK!”

I’ve been puzzling over that distinction for some time now, asking myself “Who is right here?”

I think I have the answer: They BOTH are!

Another task IS more work, and it is ALSO an opportunity to demonstrate value, acquire more skills, expand one’s influence, etc.

Having read a number of books and countless blogs on this topic as well as working with individuals whose birthdays place them in virtually all the work groups out there today, I feel I have some practical insights regarding these shifts in the workplace. A client once told me that his son challenged him for his unwavering commitment to the company that decided to show him the door, suggesting that it was a waste of time. My client was able to see the other side of the coin as well, noting that his extensive experience, qualifications, skill sets, etc. were a direct result of his years with the company. As a newly minted “Free Agent,” he can now take all of his expertise out into the wide and woolly world of new employment opportunities.

So, opportunity and more work can happen simultaneously.

What can we do about this, as either an employer or employee? Is loyalty completely dead?

Thoughts for the Employer:

A former co-worker has suggested that loyalty in the newer workforce is not dead, but it now wants to be earned, not simply given immediately. Take steps to demonstrate that they are valued, allowed to have a life outside of work, seen as real “Human Resources” to be tapped into, nurtured and developed (reference my blog, “Play Me or Trade Me” for more on this). Help them discover and develop their natural talents and capabilities, rather than simply insisting that they merely “do what they are told.”

Insights for the Employee:

Identify what I like to call “Your Best Stuff,” the God-given abilities, interests, values that drive you and seek opportunities to practice them in your present job and in your career development. This is why I borrowed the phrase “Work as Gift of Self” from Marsha Sinetar in To Build the Live You Want, Create the Work You Love.

After all, wouldn’t it be great if “doing what I am told” and “getting to do what I do best every day” were the same message?!

I was introduced to this extraordinary word while listening to an interview with Dan Pink on his manga masterpiece The Adventures of Johnny Bunko. As Dan was recounting the key lessons learned by Johnny through that True Gritwinsome sprite Diana (no spoilers here, you need to get and read this book!), he introduce me to Rule #4 – Persistence Trumps Talent. Dan went on to describe how the world was littered with competent, talented people who never realized their potential because they simply gave up, while others pressed on (perhaps even with less ability) to excellence.

Enter Angela Duckworth, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and her research on a personality trait she calls “GRIT.” She describes grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” In one paper, she noted that “the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”

Her research showed that the West Point cadet’s grit score was the best predictor of success in the rigorous summer training program known as “Beast Barracks.” It eclipsed more obvious traits such as intelligence, leadership ability or even physical fitness. In another example, the grittiest contestants at the Scripps National Spelling Bee were mostly likely to advance at least in part because they studied longer, not because they were smarter or even were better spellers!

As a marathon runner, this reminds me the anonymous paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 9:11 – The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.

How about you? Do you, like Marshall Rooster Cogburn, possess “True Grit?!”

SFail Hashtagince I’ve had the privilege of working with a plethora of job hunters over the past twenty plus years, I thought I’d share some insights on the downside of the search adventure: How to FAIL in your job search. I can almost guarantee that following any one of these rules exclusively will increase the likelihood of your catching all the episodes of  “The View” and “Judge Judy” as well as completing “to-do lists” for everyone on your block!

Are you ready? OK, here we go…

MISTAKE 1: STICK WITH A SINGLE JOB SEARCH METHOD

There are a lot of job search techniques out there and I’m frequently asked which one should be used. The answer? Use ALL OF THEM! If you restrict your search activity to any single method (including excellent ones like research interviewing or networking), you severely limit your opportunity for success. For example, the ads in the Sunday News are real jobs, not hallucinations. The Internet does list employment opportunities through sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, Careerbuilder, and others. Some companies do have “NOW HIRING” signs on their front lawns. Talking to friends and relatives about your interests can help identify employment opportunities. Recruiters and agencies, used intelligently, can be helpful. Social Media applications (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are becoming exceptional search tools. Although I recommend that you invest most of your time in activities that tap into the “hidden market” through research, social media and networking, an effective job search campaign is probably one that uses all available methods to unearth opportunities.

MISTAKE 2: APPLY FOR EVERY POSITION THAT YOU FIND.

When you reduce job hunting to the lowest common denominator, it’s basically a numbers game, right? So it stands to reason that the more times you apply, the more chances you have for success. Logic then dictates that every time you see any job that you’re even remotely qualified for (e.g., I’m not a brain surgeon, but I have a brain), you should go for it. Well, not really. First of all, you’re likely to experience an even higher level of frustration when you’re not considered for most of these positions, chipping away at your already fragile self esteem. In addition, you’ll probably invest a significant amount of time with little or no results. Finally, sooner or later you’re likely to be labeled in the employer community as someone who would do “anything for a buck.” Would YOU hire someone like that? Neither will they!

MISTAKE 3: TELL EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME THAT YOU NEED WORK.

Similar to the above technique, this process will certainly gain you some visibility… as damaged goods! Although the vast majority of people will be willing to help, most of them will quickly tire of your contact as you continually bemoan your lack of a paycheck. OK, I know that’s not what you’re doing, but that’s what your approach will seem like to them! It won’t be long before the word is out for everyone to avoid you at all costs – crossing the street when they see you coming, getting caller ID, spam-blocking your e-mails, ignoring your LinkedIn connection request, turning you into a job search pariah. There is nothing wrong with staying in touch with others to assist you in your search, but you should be seeking information, advice and referrals, not pumping innocent bystanders for job leads.

MISTAKE 4: SPEND ALL OF YOUR TIME JOB HUNTING.

You’ve probably heard that “looking for a job is a full-time job.” I respectfully disagree. Looking for a job is NOT a full-time job; it’s much more that that! Looking for work is, for most of us, much harder than the most difficult job we’ll ever have. Be sure to schedule some downtime, fun activities and recovery time from the wear and tear of presenting yourself to potential employers. If you don’t, you’ll probably end up as a worn-out interviewee, barely able to sit up straight in a chair, not to mention being totally unable to sell your qualifications to the company. To quote a cartoon in my files, “My name is Bob and I need a job!” Be sure to schedule some relaxation and recreation with friends and family along with all of your search activities. You’ll be a better candidate for it.

MISTAKE 5: USE A RESUME THAT SAYS YOU DO IT ALL.

Since you don’t know exactly what a company may need to know about you, be sure to include every single job, experience, class, volunteer activity and project in your resume to make them aware of all of the marvelous ways you could contribute to their organization’s bottom line. This gives you the highest potential to connect your skills with the employer’s needs, right? Wrong! This will more likely turn your resume into an unread epic poem destined for the shredder or recycle bin. And if someone decides that he or she needs something to read before dozing off, it will show you to be an unfocused candidate who will happily take the first position offered (and just as likely to move on for something better as soon as the opportunity arises). Resumes need to be targeted, honest and focused to the needs of the industry, the market and the company.

I trust you get my point: the sooner you decide NOT to follow these rules, the sooner people will be able to send you “Congratulations!” on your new position!

 

“We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing. “ – Robert E. Lee

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

“Make excellent mistakes.” – Dan Pink (via Johnny Bunko)

“Failure is always an option.” – Adam Savage, Mythbuster

“Oops! I didn’t know THAT would happen!” Have you ever spoken those words after attempting something that “crashed and burned” before your eyes? I know I have.

Here’s another question: Did you learn anything from it? (Hint: The correct answer should always be “Yes.”) Some of our best lessons emerge from dismal failure. We all know the story of Edison who supposedly said of his lack of success along way to developing the incandescent light, “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Every “failure” is an opportunity for significant insight, if we will only pay attention.

Please allow me to quote the sprite Diana from Dan Pink’s The Adventures of Johnny Bunko (if you have not read this excellent little tome, you should, it takes only about 15 minutes!!): “the most successful people make spectacular mistakes – huge, honking screwups! …each time they make a mistake, they get a little better and move a little closer to excellence.”

So, get out there and make a mistake! You could LEARN something!