Posts Tagged ‘Barry L. Davis’

As the holiday season bears down on us all, the pressing questions for the job hunter/careerist are: Should I take a break? Is anything really going to happen in the job market snowmanbefore the New Year? Don’t I deserve a respite from this brutal process and relax by the fire with a bracing cup of spiced cider?!

Well, YES and NO. To be sure, taking some time during the holidays to enjoy the delights of the season and appreciate those around you is an excellent idea. This is certainly NOT the time to pull out the plastic and run up a tab with the retail industry, but having a sensible, enjoyable holiday time with family and friends is something you DO deserve.

That being said, please allow me to make a case for maintaining a certain level of activity between now and the waning din of the noisemakers on the first day of the New Year.

1.There is no better time to network.

The holidays represent an extraordinary number of opportunities to see and be seen by family, friends and folks from all over. It would be foolish to not consider all of this “face time” as a resource to increase your “Positive Visibility.” Please understand the importance of your attitude and approach, however. Nothing can put the damper on a festive gathering more quickly than someone who is pumping the hands of the crowd for job leads, or who has the “deer in the headlights” look of someone whose career is stalled! Be sure to focus your contact with others in a positive manner, seeking information, advice and referral to investigate and consider alternatives. Remember that most individuals truly would like to help, but are at a loss on how to be of assistance. Allow them the luxury of simply giving advice rather than 1) feeling pressed to deliver that killer contact for you or 2) staring through you to someone, anyone at the other side of the room. My experience has been that, in such cases, most people will choose Door Number 2!

An additional word of warning: be sure that your solicitation of “next step” options and advice is not the first question on your list, nor is it the only item of conversation. Ease into these topics. Ask how they are doing, what is new in their lives. Show honest, genuine interest and concern for them as people, not as networking contacts. Also, help them realize that you are in the investigation mode, not desperate for a pay stub or a lead to that next great promotion.

2. Many decision makers are at home, not on the road.

One of the challenges of job search and networking is navigating through the maze of individuals who need to participate in any decisions being made. In mid-August, for example, it is often challenging to get the right people in the same room (or even in the same state) long enough to give their opinions, since Smitty is at Myrtle Beach and Ms. Jones just left for New England. This is not as true during the holidays!

Indeed, many people will be staying nearer to home, traveling less and becoming more accessible. Although staffing issues may not be at the top of the holiday list, there are still decisions being made, perhaps even more quickly due to the availability of decision-makers. In addition, the end of the year is often the time when budgets are being reviewed and finalized, and new business plans are starting to take shape. Remember: The best time to get connected is always the present.

3. Most individuals are more open to being helpful at this time.

Admittedly, this will not always be the case. Certainly I would not recommend an intense networking contact at the checkout counter on Christmas Eve! It is true, however, that many are more full of the “milk of human kindness,” more willing to share and provide honest insights and assistance to a well-placed question or request.

4. Your competition may be reduced.

This is one of my personal favorites! Many of your fellow careerists may decide that this is simply not the time to think career at all (for all of the reasons recounted earlier) and mothball their power suits until the New Year. As a result, there is high potential that your competition will dwindle. Why not take advantage of this “thinning of the field” to forge ahead? As others decide not to take any action until early next year, your well-placed voicemail, LinkedIn update, tweet or short e-mail may improve your standing. In addition, it’s much more effective to maintain a level of activity than attempting to ramp up again on January 2nd!

Finally, Pace yourself!

Now that I’ve made my unassailable arguments for burning up the snow-covered pavement with your career development, I want to introduce the other side of the issue – we ARE in the Holidays! Be sure to take time to care for you and yours, to be thankful for what you do have, to count your blessings. And perhaps, even sip a flagon of eggnog at least once in front of a crackling fire! Sounds good, doesn’t it?!

Happy Holidays and best wishes to you and yours!

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As are so many truths, the concept of “strength-based organizations” seems to be obvious. Why would any business ask their people to do something in which they are bicepless than an expert? To cite a quote (inaccurately, I am sure) from a Marcus Buckingham article I read years ago, “Companies should stop trying to make people things they aren’t and use them for what they are.”

So true, yet many organizations are struggling to simply stay afloat, much less seeking to devote the time and energy they would like to in developing the talent of their workforce. What’s the answer?

Here’s the shorthand for this quandary – YOU discover where you excel, what inspires and enthuses you, what causes you to lose track of time and space, etc., and then seek a way to do it for the company! If it doesn’t exist there, maybe it’s time to start looking. Or, if you “in transition” (what I refer to as Free Agency), invest time in discovering your “Best Stuff” (another one of my terms, and an area where I may be of assistance) and find somewhere to do it!

This can create a Win-Win scenario for all involved. The employer gets the very best Return On Investment from you as a worker, and you won’t be calling Wednesday “Hump Day!”

Hello my name isIt just happened! You are negotiating a group of strangers in a self-titled Networking get together, and one of the attendees saunters up to you cautiously. After the obligatory mention of the weather, the size of the event, or other noncontroversial topics, your ears are subjected to the terrifying query:

“So, what do you do for a living?”

OH, NO! What’s your answer? More importantly, what’s the RIGHT answer? A misspoken word can doom this conversation, inspiring your listener to glance around the room for the door marked EXIT.

Although I cannot with confidence provide you with your specific answer, I do have some guidance for negotiating this interrogatory minefield:

It should NOT be a job title, nor should it be recounting the panoply of duties listed in your most recent job description. What it should be is a short description of you and your most deeply passionate contributions in the workplace.

Allow me to emphasize this concept in a single sentence:

“What you do should be who you are!”

If your response to this inevitable question sounds like a memorized “elevator pitch,” take the time to inventory your strongest interests, deepest values and most enthusiastic skills to come up with a short, passionate statement that sounds like you, the “you” you want to be. If you’re not quite sure how to compile such a list, an accomplished career coach may be able to assist (one comes to mind immediately!).

By the way, here is my answer (just in case you ever meet me in a networking setting):

“I help people discover and practice their God-given abilities in their work and lives.”

If you don’t shoot, you’ll never score…

Shots on GoalCommon sense, of course, but seldom acted upon. I like to call this “UNcommon Sense!”

My research (I am an unabashed “data junkie”) recently identified a significant statistic quoted during hockey games: “SHOTS ON GOAL.”

It’s not hard to figure out why this is a critical measure of success. IF YOU DON’T SHOOT, YOU’LL NEVER SCORE! To be sure, you want to develop some skill in executing these shots, but waiting for the perfect line for that killer slap shot that’s featured on SportsCenter ™ will likely keep you from ever scoring!

In the same way, if you choose to take limited action in advancing your search, your career explorations, your professional and personal growth, etc., you’ll likely end up with exactly what you put into it: BUPKISS (nothing, or precious little of value)! To quote The Great One, Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”

So, exactly what is the “shots on goal” statistic for your career development?

I continue to be amazed by the words I read on my screen from individuals expounding their views on Social Media! I am perplexed by these passionate remonstrations, statments that I doubt that they would ever utter in person, yet are happy to commit to a medium that is accessible to virtually anyone with a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer! Their lack of discretion reminds me of my favorite “quote quote” – “Never say ‘Quote, unquote,’ because once you have said it, there’s no way to make it go away!”

Oh, I realize you can go back and edit it or delete it, but it’s probably already been seen! Allow me to make my case by taking you to the hallowed halls of jurisprudence:

I can see it now…an emotionally charged court room. A deafening hush has fallen over the entire spectacle, from the anxious, restless jury to the thrill-seeking spectators.Image

The Prosecuting attorney strides up to the accused perpetrator, extends a critical finger in his direction and almost screams: “Isn’t it true that you and the victim were involved in a Ponzi scheme some 10 years ago?!”

Defense bolts out of her seat. “Objection, your Honor! That question is irrelevant and immaterial!”

The wizened old judge responds. “Objection sustained. The jury will disregard that question.”

Oh, REALLY?! (We’ve now left the courtroom, by the way). Do you really think that, as a result of the judge’s directive, the jury will now totally ignore the question, not even considering the possibility that the victim and the accused had a history of illegitimate dealings?!

Of course, forgetting the question is exactly what each and every juror must do, but here’s the sticky bit: They all just heard it! Of course, they can (and should) consciously seek to ignore this potential bit of “evidence,” but the seed has now been planted by the wily Prosecuting attorney.

THIS is why you should never say “Quote – Unquote.” Once it’s been heard (or read), it’s too late. Oh, you can back pedal a bit, work up some reasonable explanation, provide some additional information to soften the blow or assuage the damage that’s been rendered, perhaps even recover somewhat from your verbal (or written) faux pas…

But wouldn’t it have been better if you’d taken a little more time before you opened your mouth or started typing? I sometimes think we should invoke the “7 second delay” used by radio stations to allow time to expunge inappropriate words, etc. before they get on the air.

Years ago, I had a college professor, Dr. Carl Cassell, who admonished us to “never say ‘Unquote,’ only say ‘End quote’,” since once it’s out there, you can’t make it go away!” It’s simply not possible to “unquote” something that you just “quoted.”

This sage advice should apply to all communications, from phone conversations, tweets, blogs, online posts and emails to networking meetings, presentations, and interviews, all creating your Personal Brand. As I have tweeted, “Measure twice, cut once” is not only good advice for carpentry. How about this? “Think twice, speak (or type) once.”

I even found corroborating evidence from the Apostle in James 1:19: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak.”

Good advice. And you can quote me on it!

There is an interesting little book on my shelf by Dr. Richard Wiseman, the author of “The Luck Factor,” a great treatise on harnessing cognitive therapy techniques to increase serendipity (my review is on Goodreads and Amazon, if you’re interested). ThisInterview chairs new work, “59 Seconds,” offers a myriad of suggestions on happiness, motivation, relationships, decision making, et al, all of which can be accomplished in under a minute (I hope I don’t have to tell you where to find my review!).

One chapter, Persuasion, includes some fascinating insights on how to have your best performance in a job interview. As is always the case with Wiseman, the three suggestions offered are backed by empirical research. While admitting that virtually all interviewers are seeking to select the candidate who best matches the requirements of the position, there are clearly significant subjective factors that interviewees should consider to improve their chances.

Ready? Here they are . . .

Be likeable. Take the time to learn things you like about the organization and mention them in the interview. Seek to connect with the interviewer in areas of related interest. Feel free to be complimentary to both the individual and the company. Show enthusiasm. Smile frequently and maintain appropriate eye contact.

Be honest. Research seems to bear out that you are better sharing any shortcomings you may have early in the interview, not near the end. This type of open, up front communication tends to boost credibility. Also, save some of your strongest qualifications for the finish. It not only demonstrates modesty, it provides a strong close to the interview.

Don’t panic. Do your best not to overreact if you feel you’ve really made a major mistake. In most cases it is likely more noticeable to you than to the interviewer. Apologizing extensively or focusing on a faux pas tends to accentuate, not correct the mistake. Simply acknowledge it and move on.  For example, one of the experiments cited under this theme involved individuals wearing Barry Manilow T-shirts on a college campus. As embarrassed as the the test subjects were, only 20% on average of the people who saw them even noticed what they were wearing!

As important as qualifications are, research consistently highlighted the following question, per Wiseman: “Did the candidate appear to be a pleasant person?”

You may feel that these suggestions are not worth mentioning. Doesn’t everyone act this way? The short answer: “No, they do not!” This is what I call “uncommon sense.”

See, your mother was right when she told you to “Be nice!”

I recall watching an episode of The Mythbusters (yes, I am an unapologetic and rabid fan, now enjoying it in reruns) where Adam Savage – Mythbuster and cohost with Jamie Hyneman (the hirsute Hoosier) – was intensely recording data from one of their typically unique experiments (it related to the possibility of Jack and Rose surviving on a wooden plank left behind in the detritus of the Titanic, as I recall). In the middle of capturing the information, Adam looked up at the camera, flashed one of his signature impertinent grins and espoused the following:

“The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.”  

“Wow!” – I cried out immediately. “What a great quote!” And, is often the case with my unusual thought processes, I found a corollary between this insight and endeavors in our careers and lives. Here is why I say “Write It Down.”

Writing it down makes it real.

Experts tell us that journalizing, committing thoughts to paper, recording ideas and impressions is extremely helping in focusing, working through alternatives, reviewing, revising and considering options. When it makes the trip from between your ears to appearing immediately before your eyes, it becomes more genuine.

Writing it down makes it active.

Now you have something to look at, to argue with, to challenge and revise, retrofit, even throw away and start over. As it bounces around in your mind, it is more likely to stay in the subjective realm. That “thought” staring back at you on a piece of paper or on a screen challenges you to do something with it.

Writing it down makes it measurable.

You’ve made it real. You’ve made it active. Now you can take action and see if it works. When our thoughts remain our thoughts (for most of us, at least), it’s difficult if not impossible to tell whether they will work (or are working) or not. Write it down with a number, a timeline, a date, some kind of benchmark to revisit what you’ve done and decide whether or not to continue or, if necessary, write something else down and go with that!

So the next time you have an idea, formulate a plan, consider a course of action, etc…. Write It Down!

Thanks, Adam!