Archive for the 'Career Advice' Category

Thinking About an MBA? You May Want to Think Twice and Listen Hard in Kindergarten

kids-in-sandbox

Thinking about waiting out the recession by getting an MBA?  A recent Newsweek article may may you think twice. The article, Happy Birthday, Harvard B-School reported on an 18-month study on the state of the M.B.A. conducted by Harvard professors David Garvin and Srikant Datar. They interviewed deans, recruiters, faculty and alumni from several dozen top business schools.

Their conclusions?

At some companies, longer-tenured employees without an M.B.A. face better odds of getting promoted than newcomers who hold the degree, and some employers now dissuade star employees from returning to school for an M.B.A. at all. Recruiters say the M.B.A.s they do hire have learned little about such skills as giving presentations, navigating corporate politics or leading co-workers. “The M.B.A. degree may be at an inflection point,” Garvin says.

The article goes on to say:

In the symposium’s most thoughtful remarks, Civil War historian and Harvard president Drew Faust suggested that B-schools may teach their students to become so focused on competing against colleagues and tallying individual rewards that they suffer “a kind of blindness” to “the fundamental interconnectedness of humankind, of societies and of economies.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of higher business education.

Clearly, in the working world, being able to communicate and lead are two crucial “soft” skills employers seek.  Having written about the importance of being connected, I’m intrigued to note the focus on the “fundamental interconnectedness of humankind.” In his book, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi says, “…Community and alliances will rule in the twenty-first century…[success is] dependent on whom you know and how you work with them (291).” He asserts that living a truly connected life is a prerequisite to success. If this is true, it looks like the M.B.A. may not be the path of choice.

Could it be that all we really need to know are the lessons we learn in the sandbox? Is the poem “All I Ever Really Need To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten” turning out to be really true?

What do you think? When do we learn our most important skills – the sand box or the ivory tower?

Subscribe for free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt! Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need help to jump start your search? We can help you with a successful job hunt. Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interview? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

photo by patterbt

On Election Day – Remembering Tim Russert’s Lessons for Careerists

tim-russert-2On Election Day, I thought it would be fitting to re-run my post in memory of Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Meet the Press and influential political commentator who died in June.

As I watched and read coverage of Tim Russert’s death, everyone who worked with him pointed out his generosity of spirit and willingness to mentor colleagues. In fact, the quote on one of the memorial programs for Tim Russert reads, “No exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down to lift up another person.” I heard him described as someone who pulled others up and then held them there, nurturing and celebrating their successes.

My sense from the tributes memorializing him is that this quality, along with Russert’s reported love of family, work and life, may have contributed as much to his success as his tenatious questioning of political figures.

I’ve written about being a “connector” and what a great aspiration it is to become a networker who networks generously and links people for their advantage. Similarly, this is a great time to think about the value of a mentor. Being a mentor can raise your career aspirations. People who see your kindness and generousity of spirit will help lift YOU to higher career heights. How much easier will it be to find people to offer recommendations and references if you are a strong mentor? How much more will you enjoy your work life if you really care about the people who work with you?

For young people entering the working world for the first time, the lesson is to seek a mentor and to someday aspire to be one. Get to know the people who work with you. Care about their lives, their children, their sports teams. Connect because you care and people will respond. Your career and your life will be the better for it!

Subscribe for free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt! Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need help to jump start your search? We can help you with a successful job hunt. Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interview? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

Empower Yourself for Career Success – Job Action Day Blog

Today’s post is in honor of Job Action Day, a blogging event organized by Quintessential Careersto encourage service-oriented articles and blog entries that provide workers and job-seekers with information, ideas and concrete steps that they can take to secure their futures — both in the short-term and the long-term.

Secure your future for the short- and long-term – a tall order in today’s turbulent, fast-changing economy. According to former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 may not have existed in 2004. (Hat Tip: The Creative Career.) How can you thrive professionally when keeping up seems about as easy as holding water in your bare hands?

While there is much we as individuals cannot control (e.g., the stock market, whether or not the industry we chose for our career will thrive in tomorrow’s economy and if layoffs will be necessary in our company), careerists still have a lot of power. My advice for those who expect thrive in today’s marketplace…

Seize control of what you can! Don’t be a victim of circumstances. Drive your own career bus. Steps to take:

  • Draw your own career map. 
  • Design your vehicle.
  • Take the keys and start the ignition.
  • Don’t let fear drive you.
  • Back out carefully, but do get rolling…

Draw Your Own Career Map
Identify your goals. You can’t get anywhere until you decide the destination! Stop and evaluate. What characteristics and traits make you special? What are you (or do you hope to be) known for in your field?

Review trends and industries with career potential. See if there are matches between your skills and interests and the fields and organizations most likely to have opportunities. If not, consider re-focusing slightly without altering your dream.

When setting your goals, be open to the possibilities that new industries provide. Consider the glass “half full.” Instead of cursing a business with a shrinking job market, be willing to re-adjust, re-tool and re-train to take advantage of possibilities coming down the road.

Design Your Vehicle – Brand YOU!
Once you identify a destination, you need to drive there! Take the time and effort necessary to learn how to position yourself as the expert in your field of choice. Use all of the tools at your disposal to create a “vehicle” (your brand) that will drive you where you want to go. 

If you haven’t looked for a job in a while and/or aren’t tuned in to managing your “digital footprint” – what comes up when someone “Googles” your name – it’s time for a quick lesson in social media. The long and the short of it is this: an online presence is key to how people will perceive you. Presenting yourself well both online and in person will help open doors that seemed closed to you.

Dan Schawbel, Personal Branding Expert, suggests these steps to get you started: “Buy yourname.com to secure your brand, make a video resume, start a WordPress blog, use Google Reader, participate (comment on blogs and link to them), get on Facebook and LinkedIn, network and more.”

The key is to become the “go to” person in your field. When you leverage your expertise online and become part of the social networking community, doors will open that you otherwise would never have even considered knocking on!

Take the Keys!
The key to a successful career is to network generously. There is nothing more important or more useful than networking. In our digital, Web 2.0 world, success will depend more and more on your ability to broaden your professional circles and to reach out to a diverse socio-economic group of people representing a mix of opinions and beliefs. Professionals who habitually introduce people who otherwise may not meet earn goodwill and reputations as valuable resources and colleagues. Become that professional to help you overcome obstacles to career success.

Start the Ignition – Communicate Your Value
Your ability to promote, communicate and connect your value to colleagues and superiors is crucial. Hone this “soft” skill – practice your writing, emailing, speaking, interviewing and presenting skills. Join Toastmasters. Make a point to learn how to communicate well. There is no doubt that the superior communicator in a field has the best chance to win the job. When you can articulate why your role is vital, you will certainly help secure your future.

 

Confidently Forge Ahead – Start Rolling
Adjust your rear-view mirrow, but keep your eyes on the road! Move forward with your plans knowing that you DO control your career. Is it as easy as reading these steps? No, but if you follow this plan, you will be on your way to managing your job hunt and/or your career with finesse and aplomb!

 

Have other ideas to help empower job seekers and workers? Please share them in the comments. I also invite you to review an updated list of Job Action Day participants and to visit their blogs.

 

You’d love to drive your own career bus, but it sounds like a lot of work? I can help you! Contact me at results@keppiecareers.com to discuss how to get your career bus moving in the right direction!
I’d love to have you as a regular reader! Subscribe for free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt! Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need help to jump start your search? We can help you with a successful job hunt. Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interview? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

photo by gwen

Ask for What You Want At Work. Or: Don’t Ask for Orange Juice if You Want Grape Juice

Have you ever known someone who doesn’t ever seem to know just what he or she wants? I know someone like that. In fact, I know him really well. He’s my 2-year old. He is in a constant state of not knowing exactly what he wants. A typical conversation:

Him: I want peanut butter and jelly. On bread.

Me: You want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Can you ask in a nice way?

Him: No. I want a waffle. (He proceeds to start removing an apple from the refrigerator.)

Another typical conversation at our house:

Him: I want orange juice.

Me: What’s a nice way to ask? (Pouring orange juice.)

Him: Please! No, I don’t want orange juice. I want GRAPE juice. In a cup.

I think you get the picture. If I’m lucky, he changes his mind before I prepare what he initially requested, but more often than not, I’m faced with trying to convince him to eat what he originally wanted or starting over. If I had a dollar for every time I say, “Oh…I should have known that when you asked for orange juice (and took it out), it really meant that you want grape juice!” – I would be on some island somewhere – someone would be serving ME drinks!

So, what does this have to do with the topic at hand? What does it have to do with your job?

Think about it – Do you really know what you want? Are you like the 2-year old who is asking for orange  juice, but really wanting grape juice? Are you impulsive, asking for (or wishing for) the first thing that comes to your mind? Unlike my 2-year old, whose only real consequence for his indecision is needing to say a few extra “pleases” or being stuck with whatever he first requested, there are real consequences for professionals who either don’t know what they want or don’t know how to ask for it.

What to do? Stop and think! Tiffany Monhollon writes that you should “stop, listen and move.”

It isn’t always easy to figure out what you really want. It certainly isn’t easy to decide to make a major change in the hopes of accomplishing what you really want. It is worth it, though. Don’t let life, or your job, just happen TO you. Stop. Listen. Move. If you want grape juice – don’t just ask for it – do what my 2-year old does when he is really desperate and I’m taking too long – get it out and pour it yourself!

Realize that you are ready to leave your job? Subscribe for free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt! Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need help to jump start your search? We can help you with a successful job hunt. Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interivew? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

Stress on the Job and Looking For Work: Tips to Manage

It seems as if every time I turn around, the economic news gets worse. More people are being laid off. Recent college grads are having job offers rescinded. Retirees are going back to work because their investments took such a hit. No question that this is a stressful time.

If you are lucky enough to be currently employed, but are in the midst of a job hunt, you have a whole different set of stress factors to manage.

Your career is your responsibility. If you look around and don’t envision yourself in the same organization for the long haul (or even for the short haul), it is up to you to take steps to find something new. No matter how difficult it is or how little time you have, if you don’t take the wheel, you can’t drive your own career bus. My colleague, Alphonse Ha at Tele-Ressources in Montreal asked me to share some tips to help the busy employee who leads a double life as a job seeker. This appeared on their blog yesterday, and I’d like to share it with my readers as well!

So, some tips to help the busy employee who leads a double life as a job seeker:

Do NOT – I repeat – DO NOT conduct your job search while AT work. Even using your employer issued computer on your own time is iffy. If you don’t want to be shown the door before you are ready, conduct your search on your OWN time. What? You don’t have any of your own time? That’s the reason you are looking for a job? Carve some out. Searching online job boards, blogs (!) and sending emails applying for positions from your company computer is risky. Just don’t do it.

Manage your time. You need to take a break from work. If that “break” also involves spending some of your “down” time prepping for a job hunt, so be it.

Invest in yourself. Hire someone to help you or put in the preparation that you deserve to ensure that you know how to look for a job and that your materials represent the best you have to offer. Do not sell yourself short by sending around a resume that isn’t optimized. The investment you put into your search at the outset will pay off for you in the long run with a shorter hunt.

Network! Open your eyes – networking opportunities are all around. Soon,  holiday parties will begin. Family get-togethers are in the offing. Take advantage of social situations to grow your network. Too busy for parties? Social networking (online) will fill in the gaps. I recommend a dual-prong networking strategy that involves in-person and online networking for full exposure. Investigate Twitter. Optimize your linkedin profile.

Keep connected and engaged in your current job, no matter how difficult it is. Sporting a positive attitude will help make you desirable to potential employers (and make it easier for you at work). Even if you have one foot out the door, don’t start acting as if you are already off the payroll. When’s a good time to tell your colleagues that you are looking for a job? When you give your notice! Turn to non-work friends for support during your search.

Gather information. If you interview for a job, be sure to ask about their timing. You want to know if they will be making a hiring decision soon or if you are the first of 100 interviews! Having information will help you manage your search. Ask questions that will help put you in the driver’s seat down the road.

Above all, recognize that the positive steps you take now to manage your own career will pay off in the long run. Don’t wait. Don’t let stress or fear get the best of you. Take the wheel and turn the key.

Ready to make a move? Subscribe for free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt! Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need help to jump start your search? We can help you with a successful job hunt. Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interivew? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

photo by Georgie Sharp

How Important is Your Resume?

Every once in a while, career experts get ourselves all wrapped up in the raging controversy: How important is your resume? The question – is it key to your search, or, with linkedin and other online tools, is it as outdated as a rotary phone?

In the past, marketing guru Seth Godin’s post suggesting that if you are exceptional, you don’t need a resume, got everyone buzzing, and there is new buzz on the Career Hub site, with my colleague Deb Dib’s post on the subject.

I recently quoted executive recruiter Thad Greer, author of The Executive Rules, as saying that the resume is“probably the most important professional document you’ll have in your entire life.”

So, which is it? How important are resumes for job seekers?

If all job seekers fully engaged in the type of networking that enhances their ability to use the “pull, not push” job search methodology, it is true that the resume would become less important as a first-line contact point.

I advise my clients to participate in Web 2.0 strategies to “pull” interest from potential employers. LinkedIn has become the absolute “must have” online presence and Twitter is a terrific way to share information, network and yes, promote your “brand.” Facebook, when managed well, has a lot to offer as a third-line strategy.

For strong writers, I suggest (1) authoring a blog and/or (2) leaving smart comments on blogs related to your industry. These are terrific ways to showcase your knowledge and expertise.

Then, of course, there are all of the in-person networking strategies professionals should use to enhance their profiles in their fields.

So, if you are good enough at using these strategies (or, as Seth Godin has said – if you are exceptional), you may be invited to apply for or interview for a job before you’ve provided a resume. However, as noted above, most organizations will request a resume at some point in the process. The likelihood is that it will be at the same time they ask for you to apply. (As in – “We are very interested in learning more about how you can contribute to our organization. Please forward your resume to….”) As noted above, recruiters clearly need to see a resume.

Does all of this mean that the resume is less important? Ultimately, I don’t think so. While it may not always serve as the employer’s first impression, it is still key to support the positive view a job seeker needs to promote. The fact is, most people will still rely quite a bit on the resume if they want to get the call for an interview.

If you want to receive free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt, Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interview? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

photo by zen

The Executive Rules – Tips to Find A Job Today!

A position becomes available within an organization when someone finally says, ‘I need help now!’ Whether or not you get the job depends on how well you convince that person that you can come in and make a positive impact.” – Thad Greer, The Executive Rules

Thad Greer is a nationwide executive recruiter and his book, The Executive Rules, offers job seekers real-world, practical advice and strategies to increase the odds of finding the right job.

I was particularly interested in the fact that The Executive Rules focuses quite a bit on what Thad calls the “Evaluation” aspect of the job hunt. The book offers a number of great resources to help the job seeker self-evaluate, including personality assessments and skills assessments. He reminds job seekers that basic needs, such as “environmental preferences” (commute, work schedule, office environment, etc.) are not small factors in a job search.

With so many job seekers anxious for a job – ANY job, Thad reminds readers that the most important thing for job seekers is to know what they offer and how to market themselves.

Long-time readers know that I love when other career experts offer advice that agrees with my own. I was delighted to read that Thad refers to the resume as “probably the most important professional document you’ll have in your entire life.” He goes on to say that you should not write your own resume and advises that “a comprehensive, keyword-rich, professionally written resume is mandatory if you want to compete in today’s job market.”

Much of Thad’s advice echos what you may have read here on my blog.  For example, he suggests starting a blog and leveraging your social network (with care). In addition, he offers plenty of great tips to help job hunters take advantage of job boards (with some fascinating advice regarding how to evaluate if an online posting is worth applying for), how to follow-up with a potential employer and why some interviews are over before they even start.

Thad advises job seekers to “Reach out to a person, not a company.” He describes how easy it is to make a positive impression on the phone, even in a cold call to a potential employer, and offers terrific tips about  following up and avoiding getting trapped in the HR maze.

Thad’s perspective as a recruiter who knows what employers expect, like and dislike is valuable for job seekers who don’t want to look like deer caught in the headlights when asked something along the lines of, “Were you to accept this position, is this a role you feel you would enjoy doing every day for the next five years?” (Hint: an enthusiastic reply in the affirmative is considered a good answer!)

Thad’s practical tips and expert advice are great additions to any job seeker’s arsenal! I highly recommend you give it a read! The Executive Rules is available at Amazon.com. Look for it at your favorite bookseller soon!

If you want to receive free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt, Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interview? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.


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