Switching Up to a Career Seeking State of Mind

Alright, the economy really did a number on us as employees. Many of us have lost jobs or were in fear of losing it. We took pay cuts, benefit cuts, and worked extra hard to compensate for being under-staffed. Some of us had to take crummy jobs after crummy jobs just to make sure our mortgages were paid and there was food on the table. Some of us even wondered if we’d ever find a stable job again. I say- enough! I’ve been there before and I know it’s rough. But 2013 is a new year and with last month adding over 100,000 new jobs into the mix, we’re hoping things are looking up. With that being said, it’s time to switch gears and start getting career-minded rather than “job to get by”-minded.

Building yourself up to get ready for your career and achieving your career goals does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process. So, what should you be focusing on to help you get where you need to be? Here are a few ideas:

  • Personal Branding: resumes are becoming redundant and often highlight what you done rather than your career path intentions. It’s time to stand out of the candidate-crowd and get people to know you for what you WANT to be known for. Get involved in activities, groups, or conferences that can help you gain skills and network. Get exposure on social media. Start TALKING about it.
  • Be about it: maybe your personal brand won’t land you the dream job right off the bat, and that’s to be expected. Your relevant skills might be a bit rusty or maybe you need to develop new ones to keep up with the way the industry had changed. Internships, projects, and volunteer work are never below you- remember that. Some people’s pride and ego get in the way from taking on these seemingly innocent projects/roles. But the truth of the matter is; these situations help you build the skills you need to be an attractive candidate.
  • Learning is continuous: so be sure to add to your talking and doing by learning. Think of it as being extremely well-rounded. Your mind needs to be sharp and up to date. Be sure to find learning opportunities, whether it is to take classes, read business books/blogs, or simply join in a discussion relevant to the career/industry you’re targeting. This can keep you fresh and be ready to contribute useful ideas/insight when you have the opportunity to shine.
  • Build your network: doing all of these steps will be pretty useless if no one knows who you are, where you’re located, or what you’re striving for. It will also be useless if you have no idea what feasible options for you are. Build your network of contacts, get to know them and let them get to know you. Simply building and maintaining these contacts can help them reach out to you if opportunity arises or they can even help guide you so you can ensure you’re taking the right steps towards your goal. Your network will be your support, your mentors, your key to opportunity, or just a good conversation.

Your career isn’t a fleeting thing. It is your future, and a long-term future at that. Take care and pride in these steps to help you reach your goal in the most ideal way possible. 2013 will be the year that you will focus in on your potential and strive to be the best version of yourself. Take action!

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join #Tchat on Twitter on Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

#Tchat Recap

Storify : Lose job, keep career

5 Powerful Career Drivers for the Future of Work – Forbes article by Meghan M Biro

Photo Source

All Hail the Chief Culture Officer!

As I’ve mentioned a million times by now, I absolutely love Twitter chats. They’re an amazing source for information and also a great way to come up with some interesting topics to write about. This passed Wednesday, #TChat had a discussion about the Chief Culture Officer (CCO). Of course, this completely grabbed my attention because I love anything involving company culture and try to find other’s that are as passionate about it as I am. This chat helped shed light more on this particular role within an organization and also provided some great take-aways.

For those who are not familiar with this particular position or role, a CCO can simply be defined as the individual that focuses on cultural trends and applies them to the organization. For many years, this was considered a major missing component in maintaining a positive environment. Culture changes rapidly within an organization, so a CCO’s role is especially important in terms of keeping the organizational environment consistent throughout all of these changes, expected or unexpected.

I’m a huge cheerleader when it comes to company culture. It is important for so many reasons. Maintaining a culture is a full-time job and a company would seriously benefit from having a CCO to focus on this. Some positive reasons why having a good culture is imperative:

  • It creates trust among employees of all levels.
  • It helps employees to share and collaborate inter-departmentally and also cross-departmentally.
  • Good culture can increase productivity.
  • Can increase employee engagement.
  • It can increase employee satisfaction.
  • It can brand a company as “Best Employer to Work For” which can attract quality talent.
  • It promotes business growth and development.
  • It can reduce absenteeism and increase employee retention.

As I so eloquently said in the chat: if your culture sucks, what quality employees do you really think will stick around? Apparently, quite a few HR professionals agreed with this and consistently retweeted this sentiment. A CCO is the cultural fabric of your organization and helps the company shift seamlessly with change. Additionally, the CCO can really open up two-way communication with employees to determine what they want out of their employer to make their working experience a better one. I’m a firm believer that if you care about and invest in your employees, you’ll receive extraordinary results from them in return. What are you doing to ensure that you are their employer of choice?

Links:

TalentCulture #TChat Recap

The Rise of the CCO

The DNA Collaboration

A Job I Want Some Day: CCO

An Awesome Mashup that Justin Mass of Adobe Created of #TChat. Tweets from #TChat are spoken by Jocelyn Aucoin of WorkSimple, JD Dillion of Kaplan Higher Education, and myself.

Photo Source

If you’re interested in learning more about TalentCulture, be sure to join #TChat on Wednesday at 7PM EST

The Right Kind of Selfish

Last night, a group of my friends and I were discussing our work situations. Some of us have had some really great circumstances but majority of us had horror stories ranging from: unexpected lay-offs; bullying bosses that killed our confidence; businesses closing; black balling; being unable to move up; and managers lying to us about the job description so they can pay us less. Some of us have moved on to greener pastures, while the rest of us just felt stuck. But are we really?

After that conversation, I recalled something I wrote from two years ago regarding the cut-throat business mentality that seemed to dominate the area I grew up in. I was tired of being surrounded by selfish, “Machiavellian” type people. So I decided to move out of the area in hopes of finding a more honest, down-to-earth option for a career. To my dismay, I soon discovered that I was going to deal with these scenarios everywhere. At that point, I made a choice: I would stop allowing myself to be the victim. I needed to be selfish, in the right way.

I wrote the following about this realization and the things I learned along the way:

“I decided that there was a type of selfish that was fine- being selfish of yourself. Sometimes you need to put yourself first for once, as long as it doesn’t take advantage of other people. I started to care about myself and because of that, things changed for the better. I missed so many opportunities to fulfill dreams of mine because I was too busy putting other people first. This time, I didn’t let anyone hold me back and I’ve done so much because of it. I’m actually proud of the things I’ve accomplished because I finally allowed myself the chance to achieve them.

With each accomplishment came an increased sense of self-worth. I began feeling good about myself. I believed that I could do anything I wanted if I tried hard enough to make it happen. I learned how to make sure no one made me doubt my abilities or question if I was good enough. I became self-assured and felt that I was someone worthy of great things; that I had more to offer–that I was more than average.

With that self-worth, I was able to handle life’s curve balls: I learned that giving people the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean they won’t disappoint me. However, when that situation arises, I could now deal with things much better. I also realized that when something goes wrong, two things can happen: I can let the situation control me or I can determine the end result. Earlier in life I would get so wrapped up in the negativity of the situation that I’d be consumed by it. But now I know how to take it for what it is, figure out a solution, be proactive, and move along. There’s so much good out there, why would I waste another second on something that clearly isn’t?

This selfishness allowed me to grow as a person. When I believed I hit a brick wall, I now realize that there’s ways to get around it even if it takes a bit more effort. I learned that sometimes life doesn’t just hand me things and that it’s up to me to make opportunities happen.

It wasn’t until I finally took the time to care about myself that I realized not all selfishness is bad. This way of living has helped me become a better version of myself and, in turn, allows me to offer the best I can to those around me. Maybe if more people took the time to focus on themselves and strive to reach their personal goals, they wouldn’t need to use others to get ahead. Wouldn’t that be quite the concept?”

I know that many of you out there have had rough situations like the ones mentioned earlier. I know there are also plenty of you that are burnt out and beat up from lost job opportunities and dead-end interviews. Sometimes it’s hard not to question if you’re good enough if you’re dealing with rejection after rejection. It can also be hard on your confidence and ego if you weren’t even given the opportunity to be rejected. But you can’t let that define who you are. Otherwise, you’ll portray a lesser version of yourself and others will judge you based off of that because that’s all they’ll see.

Get your self-confidence back, that way you’ll be able to put your best foot forward in your next interview. Take a break from checking the job boards and take some time to build yourself back up. Set personal goals for yourself, even if it’s a small one. In my eyes, an accomplishment is an accomplishment no matter how big or small. Building that confidence back up could allow you to handle the set-backs better and know how to react in a way that can bounce you back in a favorable direction. I believe that you can find what’s right for you if you try these suggestions.

As of right now, I don’t know what the future holds for me. However, I am confident that if I take the time to do these things, then I will be paving the way to the greatest future possible.

Links:

Network with me on LinkedIn
Like my Facebook Page
Follow me on Twitter

Is your Company “Perky”?

Last night, I was introduced to the #tchat on Twitter. It was the first Twitter chat that I’ve been involved in, so it was pretty interesting to see how ideas and feedback could be effectively expressed with only 140 characters. I was really impressed by all the great responses the members gave during the chat session that it actually helped spark the idea for today’s post, which is about company perks.

The basis of the chat was about companies with “extreme perks.” Now, I’m used to the usual perks of health care, Employee Assistance Programs, and paid time off. But in order to really get an idea of an “extreme perk”, I had to dig a bit deeper. I researched the 100 best companies to work for in 2012 and narrowed my investigation down to the top companies for the best unusual perks. Below are three companies from that list and the extreme/unusual perk that they offer:

1. Google (obviously)- If you’re a dabbler, you’ll enjoy their perks of: free gourmet food; an outdoor sports complex; “nap” pods; a bowling alley; celebrity visitors; and free android devices.
2. NetApp– If you’re “working on your fitness”, you’ll be sure to enjoy their perks of: basketball courts; massage rooms; exercise classes; outdoor sand volleyball; and the hub for different sporting tournaments.
3. Zappos.com– If you’re preparing for a “superhero” lifestyle, their version of “Employee of the Month” program is a perk for you: employee is named “Hero” of the month; a parade in their honor; noise makers and the “I Need a Hero” song played for them; a covered parking spot (Nevada is hot!); a Zappos gift card; and of course, no hero can go without a cape.

Perks can be a great thing for your company if used properly. They can attract talent or potentially help talent choose your company over a competitor. They can make the workplace more enjoyable to be at, thus reducing absenteeism. They can be used to recognize employees’ efforts, making them feel appreciated. It can help reduce stress in employees’ personal lives if they work long hours (i.e. on-site dry cleaning, cafeterias, on-site baby care). And it can be a tool to motivate employees to reach company goals.

Although these are some great ideas, they are only possible if you are a giant in the business world. If your business is not quite on that level yet, there are plenty of other options you can choose that will be better suited for your company. Some suggestions from #tchat’s members were:

• Doughnut or bagel day on Fridays.
• Gift cards given to an employee that went “above the call of duty.”
• Tickets to local sporting events.
• Giving a few hours of “free” PTO to the employee of the month.
• Randomly allowing “casual days” throughout the month.
• Creating a company team for your local sport and social club.
• Company events such as a picnic, in which employees can bring family and loved ones.
• Public “Fuzzies” (saying thanks to a teammate during a meeting).
• Or simply just saying thank you to your employees and giving specific reasons why you appreciate their work.

No matter how extreme or simple your company perks are, they can make all the difference to your employees. You may find it wise to ask your employees what they would want for a perk and try to incorporate it in your plan. Test a few out and see the positive difference it can make.

Links:
Google Perks
Zappo’s Heroes
NetApp’s Sports Hub

Company Branding to Attract Talent

Today’s little blog is going to talk about the importance of company branding and marketing. Although any company would give a big huge “duh” about that fact, I’m going to focus more about branding your company to attract talent. I do believe that more companies need to focus on this type of a branding for a few reasons.

1. Savvy job seekers will spend time researching a company before applying– A good portion of job seekers are getting a little crafty in their job searches. Instead of simply going on job boards and submitting an application/resume, job seekers are taking time to do their homework. A good portion of job seekers in this economy probably have dealt with unstable work environments, bad company cultures, or lay-offs. Therefore, to avoid being in a bad situation again, job seekers will take the time to find any and all information on a company to help them get a clear idea of what the company is about.

Some companies, such as GlassDoor, make it easy for employees or candidates to post information, salary, and reviews about their past, current, or future employers. Additionally, companies have taken the extra step to post on highly visible social media sites, write blogs, or even create videos posted on YouTube. For example, some local businesses by me have posted some great videos about their culture: Benefitfocus and PeopleMatter. These two companies give great examples on how to attract future employees. Their videos are engaging, entertaining, and get you really pumped up about working for them.

2. If you brand your company well, your employees will be sure to brag about how great it is– With social media today, it’s easy for people to post about how great or awful their employer is. It’s also extremely easy for people to read these posts. For example, I saw multiple employees of the following tech companies blow up my news feed about how they’re proud to be an employee of one of the 25 best tech companies to work for in 2012. Also, LinkedIn had a video of their HQ that made people completely awestruck over how amazing it is. How did I learn about this video? LinkedIn employees started posting it stating things like, “Reasons why I love working at LinkedIn.” Soon afterwards, I saw non-LinkedIn employees posting the same video with statements like, “Why I want to work at LinkedIn.” (Totally guilty of being one of those people).

Not only will employees talk about the company, but they’re also free advertisements. How many times have you heard of Apple employees talking about how excited they were for the new i(insert product name here) coming out? Not only are they talking about it, but some may even buy the product and show others. Simply put: get your employees engaged in your company/product/service; get free marketing. Not to mention, they’d be the ultimate marketing tool because they can respond to inquiries from their friends, social media acquaintances, and family in detail and in real time.

3. You’ll attract talent and create a workforce that dominates the world– Not sure how much detail I can go into this one: if you brand it, they will come. Eventually, you’ll attract a ton of talent and have a pool of candidates ready to give their left arm to be in your company. Before you know it, you’ll be like Google and be rated a top employer for a bunch of years in a row. You could even get cool enough like them and make your company have a “verb” of itself. How would you like it if your company name became part of everyday vocabulary? I’m sure Google is loving it.

Seasoned companies and start-ups should take note of this. It would be smart for any company to invest time and resources to create a company culture that they would be happy to boast about in their branding. Employees that feel like they are working for a great company will be happy to work hard for them to ensure they stay employed there. Great candidates with exceptional talent will flock to you. The business world will be yours, at last!

Links to look at:

Employee engagement: http://www.business2community.com/strategy/the-importance-of-employee-engagement-for-high-performance-results-0144924

Benefitfocus culture: http://www.benefitfocus.com/culture/

PeopleMatter culture: http://peoplematter.com/company#article-604

25 Best Tech Companies: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-25-best-tech-companies-to-work-at-in-2012-2012-6?op=1

LinkedIn HQ video: http://www.businessinsider.com/linkedin-office-tour-2012-7?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=linkedin

Companies mentioned:

http://www.glassdoor.com
http://www.benefitfocus.com
http://www.peoplematter.com
http://www.linkedin.com
http://www.apple.com
http://www.google.com
http://www.youtube.com