Archive for January, 2011
Inspiration Of The Week: Starfish
Monday, January 31st, 2011
Can you feel it? The do-good movement is gaining ground; volunteerism is once again in vogue.
More consumers are demanding that companies do good; employees too. And corporate social responsibility is no longer a conversation reserved for HR but rather a proven indicator of stock performance. A recent story in Forbes points to research that for many employees corporate irresponsibility is a deal-breaker:
- 83% of employees would seriously consider leaving their job if their employer used child labor in sweatshop factories
- 65% would seriously consider leaving their job if their company harmed the environment
- 32% would seriously consider leaving their job if their company gave no / little money to charity
At a personal level, organizations like Taproot and EPIC make it easy for marketers to donate our time and talent to help social service agencies that can’t otherwise afford marketing counsel. And websites like this one make it dead-simple to help a neighbor find a job.
If you are unemployed and on the job hunt the last thing on your mind may be how you can help someone else. But it has been my experience that the smallest act of kindness can lift your spirits, help you maintain perspective and send positive energy out into the world where it can multiply. Consider the timeworn story of the starfish and find a way to make a difference this week. However small, trust that your good deed does in fact make a real difference to someone.
“The Starfish Story” by Loren Eiseley
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.” “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”
Job Networking In The Digital Age
Saturday, January 29th, 2011
Networking gets a bad rap. The truth is, people have always engaged in social networking. If you’ve even been to a Rotary Club meeting then you know there’s a very fine line between the socializing and the networking.
Today social networking means you’re one of 940 million people who participate in an online community such as LinkedIn or Facebook. If your networking approach hasn’t kept pace, this is your wake-up call. I’m living proof that with a little effort, you too learn to ride the social wave.
If you’re a career climber or job seeker, becoming a savvy social networker is not optional. It may feel awkward at first but with patience and practice it will get easier. Need more motivation? Check out these stats and get with the program!
Image credit: OnlineSchools.org
What You Can Learn From My Worst Interview Ever
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Today I hosted a live teleseminar with career coach Charlotte Weeks on how to answer killer interview questions. At the end of the call I shared a personal anecdote about a killer question that stopped me dead in my tracks. At the time I had roughly five years of client-side marketing experience under my belt and was considering a switch to the agency side. I had a raging cold but I didn’t want to reschedule for fear I’d miss my big shot at what I thought was my dream job.
Mistake #1: If you’re sick you have to be smart and reschedule. Not only do people not like to be around your sneezing self but you will not be on your A game. I like to attribute Mistake #2 to the cold meds…
The interviewer was smarmy, distracted and generally did not send out a nice vibe. I remember sitting in his hip agency office with tissue poking out of all my pockets and thinking that I would not like working for this man. But geeze did I want this job! So after grilling me about my lack of agency experience he asks me the worst question I’ve ever been asked: Describe yourself in three words that begin with the letter C.
Softball. That’s what you’re thinking. Creative. Clever. Conscientious. Career-minded. Yeah sure now they’re easy to come up with but at the time my mind just went blank. I think I stammered out Creative… then maybe Courteous. Truth is the whole thing is rather fuzzy as I have desperately tried to block the event from my accessible memory banks. But what I do remember is my C #3. I looked right at this guy and said, “Well, it doesn’t really describe me but I’m going with Curmudgeon just because I like the word.”
Mistake #2: When an interviewer catches you off-guard, ask for a moment to collect yourself; admit that you’ve been thrown for a loop and you need a minute. Ask if they might move on to the next question and let you come back to it. If they have human blood running through their veins (not sure this guy did) they will likely give you some time to gather your wits!
Well Mr. Humorless was not impressed. I was mortified and long-story-short I was not invited back for another interview. I regretted my Curmudgeon answer for years until I came to realize a very important element of career management.
Mistake #3: It seldom comes down to one answer. It is a combination of skills, experience, cultural fit, interviewing savvy, presentation, recommendations and a host of other subjective measures that propel your career forward. Try not to beat yourself up for a single misstep, blunder or tactical error. Instead focus your energy on positive activities such as networking, rehearsing your pitch, improving your portfolio or role-playing with a peer.
But promise me one thing… if you ever meet a snarky agency fellow who asks you to describe yourself with three words that begin with the letter C, ask how he likes the word Curmudgeon.
Quick Fix For Interview Jitters
Monday, January 24th, 2011
The University of Chicago just published a study in the journal Science that shows students can combat test anxiety and improve performance by writing about their worries immediately before the exam begins.
I started thinking about how this might apply to my life… would writing for a few minutes each morning about the stress of running my own business help me power through my day with greater focus and less mind-freezing fear? Explaining the “choke under pressure” phenomenon Sian Beilock, associate professor in psychology at the University, says, “Despite the fact that people are often motivated to perform their best, the pressure–filled situations in which important tests, presentations and matches occur can cause people to perform below their ability level instead.” Beilock said. Curious to learn more, I gave the writing theory a try and you know what? I can’t point to empirical data but I think it’s helping!
And if it can work for me, why not for people who freak out before an interview? I say give it a try. Whip out a sheet of paper, grab a pen, set a timer and write for ten uninterrupted, mind-clearing minutes. Let it all out… the chest-clenching anxiety about whether you’re as prepared for the interview as you should be… how if you don’t get this job your unemployment may run out… or that if you have to spend one more minute working for your lunatic boss you may just completely lose it.
There. Now it’s out of your head and on paper, and your brain is free to access what scientists call your “working memory” and ace the interview. You can learn more about the stress-reducing writing theory on the University of Chicago website.
You’re Invited: Kellstadt Marketing Career Forum
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
As a DePaul MBA alum, I’m honored to announce that I will be speaking at the Kellstadt Marketing Group Career Forum on Friday, February 11th from 6-9pm along with Big Shoes Network founder Jeff Carrigan. Jeff and I will be sharing insights on how to Climb the Corporate Ladder. Tickets include drinks, hors d’oeuvres and networking with recruiters. Visit the Kellstadt Marketing website for event pricing and details.
Working With Recruiters (continued)
Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
Last month I shared some advice about working with recruiters that I gathered from my online network. Here are two more tips that I thought were blog-worthy from a Chicago-based recruiter who prefers to remain anonymous. You can see all the Answers on LinkedIn.
- Don’t kill the messenger…we all know that it is tough out there and certainly try to sympathize with those navigating the job search waters. BUT- we have a job to do and are paid by our clients to do that. So, don’t beat us up if we tell you our client will not consider your background for one reason or another.
- Please do not send resumes without any text articulating a bit about why you are reaching out. I get emails all the time with resumes attached and no text detailing why this person is sending me their resume. I am often working on multiple marketing roles so unless someone gives me some indication of why they are reaching out, I may not know what their intent is. The easier they can make our job, the better. Don’t make us figure out where you fit.
My advice? Remember that recruiters are people too. When you’re not qualified for the job, try to find someone in your network who is and make an introduction. Just like Marketing Job Wire, the good deed will come back to you!
Inspiration Of The Week: Joy
Sunday, January 16th, 2011
One of the most productive ways I have found to network is through volunteering. Giving of yourself is joyful to you and to those who receive. And I have found that by giving I am often at the front of the line when it comes time to “get.” With that in mind, I bring you this quote attributed to H.W. Sylvester:
Joy comes not to him who seeks it for himself,
but to him who seeks it for other people.
Best wishes for a joyful week ahead!