Archive for the ‘Job Search Survival Skills’ Category

  • Your Professional Emoticon

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    Happy Birthday Emoticons!  A picture is worth a thousand words and you’ve been telling stories for 30+ years.

    The father of Emoticons — or emotional icons — was Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 1982, he proposed that the following character sequence be used as a joke marker:   : – )

    These characters were quickly added to the lexicon.

    The emotional characters spread like wildfire, capturing every conceivable expression with a keystroke or 2 or 3…

    Simple as they are, these pictures convey a lot (maybe not a 1000 words but a lot) about what you’re trying to say in your communiques.  In the same way, your photo on a site like LinkedIn is your professional emoticon, and it behooves you to think with care about what the photo you post conveys.

    First and foremost, “professional” is the key word here. Whether you’re looking for a job or connecting with professional colleagues, you can be sure that your photo will be seen. The question is “how” will it be seen.

    Save the cute puppies, your precocious toddlers, wild dancing, and fashion bling shots for the family album – hopefully tucked safely away in some trunk in the attic. Remember, there is no such thing as privacy online. Your photo is part of your brand, and unfortunately, a goofy picture may turn the people you hope to reach off before they ever get to the brilliant words with which you have crafted your professional acumen.

    For some valuable, practical advice, check out this article, 11 Tips for Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo, by Norine Dagliano at CareerRealism.com.

    1. Don’t use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because the profile photo is from 10 years ago (or longer)!
    2. Use a photo of YOU in your profile — not an object.
    3. Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.
    4. Photos should be professionally done, if possible (but not glamour shots).
    5. Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but avoid patterns.
    6. Don’t have other people in your photos (and don’t crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your online photo!).
    7. Make sure the background in the photo isn’t distracting.
    8. Relax. Look directly at the camera.
    9. Take multiple shots and ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
    10. Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, or busy/crazy patterns.
    11. Tips for Women: Wear something you feel comfortable in. No t-shirts or big/busy patterns. Soft, dark v-necks look great. Black always works; avoid white.

     

    You don’t need to hire a professional photographer. Find a friend who’s good with a camera, with whom you can relax and smile with confidence. You want to be accessible and engaging so those finding you online will be eager to hear what you have to say.

    Emote yourself!

  • If Only Employers Could Think Like These Casting Directors

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    This Fast Company article, 6 Tips For Hiring Star Talent From A Top Hollywood Casting Director, by Mina Hochberg describes how the particular genius of casting directors is showcased in “Casting By,” a documentary which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Wisdom from that film and from top casting director Ellen Chenoweth,” Hochberg says, “shows you what Hollywood casting can teach you about finding, interviewing, and hiring your next star.”

    When Hochberg writes, “A film’s success depends on perfect casting just as much as a company’s success depends on hiring the right talent,” I thought these six tips should be posted in every HR office.

    1. Don’t wait for candidates to come to you.
    2. Don’t always go with the most obvious candidate.
    3. Don’t dismiss a promising candidate based on a bad interview.
    4. Fight for your first choice.
    5. If possible, take your time.
    6. Look for strengths that the candidate might not even be aware of.

    See the film if you can, but, until you can get to a screening, read this article, try to put yourself in the casting/hiring director’s shoes and imagine what he or she is looking for in a star and make it happen!

  • How to Frame Your Career So Your Resume Does Not Read Like an Obituary

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    Your resume is your story. To bring it to life you must maximize your focus, relevancy, particularity – and, as always, your authenticity. Keep in mind Ernest Hemingway’s wisdom: “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

    I’ve recently read three unique pieces with key insights for this task.

    The first is NY Times‘ columnist, David Brooks’, The Power of the Particular.” Brooks describes a Bruce Springtseen concert he attended in Spain,

    “The oddest moment came mid-concert when I looked across the football stadium and saw 56,000 enraptured Spaniards, pumping their fists in the air in fervent unison and bellowing at the top of their lungs, ‘I was born in the U.S.A.! I was born in the U.S.A.!’”

    “My best theory,” Brooks says, “is this: When we are children, we invent these detailed imaginary worlds that the child psychologists call ‘paracosms.’ These landscapes, sometimes complete with imaginary beasts, heroes and laws, help us orient ourselves in reality. They are structured mental communities that help us understand the wider world.”

    “We carry this need for paracosms into adulthood. It’s a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes. Millions of people around the world are ferociously attached to Tupac Shakur’s version of Compton or J.K. Rowling’s version of a British boarding school or Downton Abbey’s or Brideshead Revisited’s version of an Edwardian estate… Millions of people know the contours of these remote landscapes, their typical characters, story lines, corruptions and challenges. If you build a passionate and highly localized moral landscape, people will come.”

    “It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.”

    ***************************************************************

    “Shall I compare thee to a newscast spot?”

    This workshop on how to create one minute radio spots by Phyllis Fletcher and Robert Smith from New Public Radio helps us fine tune other aspects of our storytelling to achieve high impact particularity. You can tell a lot about yourself over a great deal of time, but if you need to capture someone’s attention quickly, you need to capture what counts in a minute.

    Their tips to achieve compelling brevity are:

    • Focus on one subject [in this case it's you].
    • Use vivid language and concrete examples.
    • And if you can get away with it, make sure there’s a turn in the piece. (Poets call it the volta, a little shift in tone. A question is answered. A problem is solved. Perfect for news [of what you can do as demonstrated by what you have done].

    Now we know that particularity and brevity are important, but they are meaningless without authenticity and relevance.

    ***************************************************************

    Martin Zwilling writes in Forbes about John B. Montgomery’s new book, “Great From the Start,” which highlights Mark Zawacki’s  five rules of relevancy.  Zawacki’s rules, while focused on business startups are equally apt for the startup of your new life:

    1. A startup needs to be relevant and stay relevant.
    2. A startup needs to find a voice relevant to its ecosystem.
    3. A startup must gain traction.
    4. A startup must form partnerships and alliances within its ecosystem. 
    5. A startup must maintain a laser focus.

     

    You’re not ready for a tombstone yet, so chuck that old resume and create a dynamic and vital new blueprint for the next stage of your life.

     

     

  • How to Avoid the “Over-Qualified” Rejection Blues!

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    Courtesy, Artfulrabbit.com

    You spend your life trying to get experience – then suddenly have too much!

    Employers don’t care about past experience. CEOs care about business outcomes and profitability; they want to know what you can do for them now.

    You need to translate or reframe your experience to demonstrate how you can solve today’s business problems. And be passionate – it is key to your being hired over someone who has the skills or experience but could not care less.

    These are just a few of the points David DeLong discusses in this outstanding video produced by an equally outstanding project called Over50AndOutofWork. David DeLong is a research fellow at the MIT AgeLab, founder of David DeLong & Associates, author of Lost Knowledge:  Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce and co-author of the study Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?. DeLong provides very specific recommendations and strategies for older jobseekers to maximize the success of their job search – and the good news is that he is optimistic about the future for older workers.

    This is a 30-minute video – don’t miss a minute of DeLong’s valuable tips!

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  • Optimizing Failure

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    Courtesy of waltsense.com

    Wile E. Coyote – did you ever know a character more inured to failure? The Critter deserves a medal for resilience, but just think of the havoc he could have wrecked if only he had learned from each disastrous, failed attempt to snag the Road Runner.

    In a recent post, Penelope Trunk, in her blog  “Advice on the Intersection of Life and Work” writes about starting your own business:

    She says, “Feeling stuck? Uninspired? As though your New Year’s resolutions have no spark? Maybe it’s time to start your own business. It’s likely you intuitively know if you’re actually an entrepreneur stuffed in a corporate cubicle. … don’t be stifled by your age or lack of experience. Just make sure you have the right personality for success and the right attitude toward failure.”

    “The right attitude toward failure” – that’s the phrase that struck home with me because it is something you can apply to your career as well as a new business start-up. As she said in an earlier post, “in this day, we have the ability to gather information quickly and move quickly. But why do we only apply this idea to [new] companies? Why not also apply it to our careers? We can constantly gather information, ask questions, and readjust our goals.”

    Trunk recommends we, “Fail quickly and move on. Most business leaders fail once or twice before hitting it big. Think of failure as a necessary career step and move through it quickly and assuredly – recognize when things are going poorly, fail fast, learn, and respond to new information about what really works for each of us.”

     

     

     

     

     

  • Artist or Biologist: Career Switching Made Easier

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    Courtesy www.stuffintheair.com

    Whether you are looking for a new line of work because the old stand-by has become boring and meaningless or because you’ve been laid off and can’t find work in your “field,” a new career may need new strategies to find and secure it. You may be attuned to approach a recruiter or to diligently scour job titles in the want-ads with unrestrained vigor, but we respectfully recommend you redirect your energy. If you’re eager to use your existing skills in different ways and are not sure where to begin, go to an online job board such as CareerBuilder.com – not to find the job of your dreams but rather how to translate your experience and job skills into new career options. Skip the job titles and go directly to the “key word” search engine. (This by the way is the same way any employer or recruiter worth his or her salt, will scan online resumes.) Using CareerBuilder.com’s “key word” search engine, type in “Art” and just look at the variety of companies that pop up: insurance, banking and financial services, healthcare, retail, auto companies, and even the Art Institute!

    Type in “Biomedical Research” and, among the zillions of medical hits, you’ll find the A & E Television Network! You get the picture. Your skills may fit in places you never dreamed of – or maybe you have thought of them but figured you were not a good fit.

    Next you can “narrow your search” via Category, Company, City and State. Narrow is the operable word if you are looking for the same old same old kind of job, but since you’re not, skip the actual job postings they offer and take some time to scroll through all the options under “Category” and “Company.” Don’t jump in to the “City” and “State” options yet, even if you think you’d like to relocate in New Mexico. You’ll be amazed to discover how some of your finely honed skills can be applied to unique and exciting new careers.

    Still flummoxed… Stop and read Studs Terkel’s classic book, “Working.” Terkel interviewed hundreds of American workers. Men and women from every walk of life spoke with him, telling him of their likes and dislikes, fears, problems, and happinesses on the job. The book is a manifestation of Terkel’s belief that our work is a search for “daily meaning as well as our daily bread.”

  • What Do Long Distance, Red Eye Flights Have in Common with Your Job Search?

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    Courtesy: www.izismile.com

    Check this brilliant, blow-by-blow, visual “Red Eye” diary from Christoph Niemann.

    From the fight for armrest supremacy, stacking peanuts to make the time pass more quickly, the flight progress monitor, seeking alternate positions, coveting your neighbor’s seat, discreet dental hygiene, swollen ankles and visions of grandeur in the clouds – it’s all here.

    Best of all, as painful as the process can be, we do finally land and with any luck it’s not our bag that ruptured during the flight, spreading our “wee personals” over the luggage claim belt.

    Bon Voyage!

  • Beware When Your Resumé Looks Like Your Passport: the Date Stamps Cover Where You’ve Been But Not Where You Want to Go or Why?

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    Courtesy of Mark Ashley at www.upgradetravelbetter.com

    Resumés do a great job telling people where you worked and what you have accomplished.  Like passports, they play a role as you venture forward. In some jobs where the HR department rules, they are required. But – and this is a big BUT – they are all about your past. One career consultant, Joshua Waldman, even calls them “obituaries!”

    As we’ve discussed before, traditional resumés need to be replaced by “working resumés.” You need to create a document that captures the value you bring to the future. How will you solve the organization’s problems in ways that are unique, innovative, practical and sustainable?

    Employers – just look at BP, for example – are not looking for a temporary fix. Equally important to how is the why you wish to solve the problem.  Perfection without passion is not going to get you very far. Again, using BP as an example, Tony Hayward, CEO at the time of rig explosion and subsequent horrific oil leak had stellar credentials. His past accomplishments looked great on paper but a critical component was missing: compassion.  Without a sense of empathy for the victims or the environment, all his skills came to naught. His replacement, Bob Dudley, is equally talented and has that extra dose of compassion that allows him to express not only how he is going to solve the problem but why and that makes him far more valuable to BP today than the former CEO.

    But passion is also a critical factor in non-Fortune 500 boardrooms. Last month, Alastair Macaulay published a dance review in the NY Times in which he  critiqued Canadian choreographer-dancer Paul-André Fortier ‘s 30-minute solo, “30 x 30,” performed at noon each day for 30 consecutive days in the open air at 1 New York Plaza.

    Macaulay writes,

    “His dancing is site-specific and multidirectional. He faces, by turns, up past the surrounding buildings to the sky, across to New York Harbor on the horizon, down to the ground, and out to the more immediate vicinity, which now and then includes members of the audience, with whom he makes brief eye contact.

    “There’s a constant contrast between the sleek lines of the shapes and lines he demonstrates and the gaunt, severe tension of his face and hands. His energy is always contained; he performs with the distanced air of a mime artist or a teacher; and there’s no particular pleasure to be had from his physical tone.

    “Coolly he shows us one movement idea after another. Most of them are fairly interesting or agreeable. …Frequently he implies some kind of mime content, so that I found myself labeling one section ‘Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses,’ which made the next passage, in which he seemed to hurl a few curses at the financial district, slightly more interesting. But the carefully measured tone of Mr. Fortier’s movements stopped any of this from having any force or from being absorbing. His quality of teacherly reserve places a curious distance between his solo and himself. It’s as if he were presenting something in which he didn’t quite believe but feels ought to impress us anyway.”

    That last line, “presenting something in which he didn’t quite believe but feels ought to impress us anyway,” is devastating!  According to this trusted dance critic, Fortier has the skill required but not the passion necessary to transport audiences to other realms – real and imaginary. Does this sound like your resumé? We hope not.

    Meshing our work and our passions is key to making our lives works of art.

    Courtesy of z_zozole

  • Squirrels: What Senior Job Seekers Can Learn from the Furry Critter’s “Phenomenal Elasticity of Body, Brain and Behavior.”

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    Courtesy of Multiverse.org

    The more I discovered about the much maligned squirrel in this fascinating article, Nut, What Nut? by Natalie Angier, the more I realized the creature’s feisty spirit and resilient demeanor are the very attributes intrepid job seekers need.

    Did you realize:

    “Squirrels can leap a span 10 times the length of their body, roughly double what the best human long jumper can manage?”

    “They can rotate their ankles 180 degrees, and so keep a grip while climbing no matter which way they’re facing?”

    “Squirrels can learn by watching others — cross-phyletically, if need be. In their book Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide, Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell of the Smithsonian Institution described the safe-pedestrian approach of a gray squirrel eager to traverse a busy avenue near the White House. ‘The squirrel waited on the grass near a crosswalk until people began to cross the street,’ said the authors, ‘and then it crossed the street behind them.’”

    “’Its primary visual cortex is huge,’ said Jon H. Kaas, a comparative neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University, ‘A squirrel’s peripheral vision is as sharp as its focal eyesight, which means it can see what’s above and beside it without moving its head.’”

    “A squirrel has the benefit of natural sunglasses, pale yellow lenses that cut down on glare….’Gray squirrels use their sharp, shaded vision to keep an eye on each other,’ reports Michael A. Steele of Wilkes University in Pennsylvania. Steele’s research team observed that, ‘when squirrels are certain that they are being watched, they will actively seek to deceive the would-be thieves. They’ll dig a hole, pretend to push an acorn in, and then cover it over, all the while keeping the prized seed hidden in their mouth.’”

    Amazing as these traits are, they amount to peanuts compared to this extraordinary eye-witness account of Squirrel daring do captured by Angier:

    “I was walking through the neighborhood one afternoon when, on turning a corner, I nearly tripped over a gray squirrel that was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, eating a nut. Startled by my sudden appearance, the squirrel dashed out to the road — right in front of an oncoming car. Before I had time to scream, the squirrel had gotten caught in the car’s front hubcap, had spun around once like a cartoon character in a clothes dryer, and was spat back off. When the car drove away, the squirrel picked itself up, wobbled for a moment or two, and then resolutely hopped across the street.”

    That’s resilience! Just the kind needed to launch oneself into the job-seeking orbit and survive!


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