This site is changing

All of my personal development blogs that do not specifically address personal networking and career development have been moved here.

The intent is to focus once again on the original purpose of this site: learning how to network professionally. As I read, learn and experience… I will post here.

Got an idea for a post? I’d love to hear it and possibly incorporate it.

For more information or contributions, click here.

I got a job!

I got the offer letter today in the mail. It was better than holding a wad of cash.

It is such an exciting prospect: Getting to do what I love for a group of people who are clearly grounded, hard-working and close-knit.

Also, it means being a productive member of society again!

5 More Tips for Surviving Unemployment

April of last year, I posted an entry about surviving unemployment. It was relevant at the time because many friends were facing unemployment. It seemed essential, albeit basic, for survival.

Thankfully, all of those friends were able to find good work. I, on the other hand, am now in a reversed role. Last Friday, I was antsy. I was couped up – sick with a sinus infection – and bored. Tired of reading, tired of writing, tired of movies and Facebook and job hunting. Even tired of blogging. I just wanted to get up and sprint, like a kid across a playground. Like a couped up puppy antsy for her owner to return.

Courtesy of Critteristic.com

Upon reviewing the entry, I realized that there is a bit more to it all. The addendum is below:
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A Facebook Makeover

Have you googled yourself lately?

It sounds kind of dirty, but it’s a necessary part of the process of controlling your online identity.

Photo courtesy of icanhazcheezburger.com

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How to Spot an Employment Scam

I was recently at an “interview” for a turn-and-burn outfit in the financial services field. Below are the red flags. I am sharing these with you in the hopes that this information helps you make wise decisions.

1) They called me. 

What reputable institution has to find candidates in this glut of available workers? I was leery and asked a lot of questions during the initial phone call. Of course, I like to be open to opportunities and there was no harm in checking them out. If nothing else, it was good practice.

2) Who is selling to whom? 

Thanks to a marketing background, I recognize the tricks. I’ve avoided a lot of timeshare-like presentations. The whole thing felt like a sales pitch. This is when I got nervous and began to consider the experience a scam. Good companies know that hiring is what it is: paying someone to do a job. If someone wants to do the job, they will. If they don’t, you let them go. They don’t need to sell the process. It’s the core essence of business: give and take.

3) They take up a lot of your time.

Interested employers may keep you in for a long interview but their time is valuable and they will not waste yours. One of the shadier sales tricks is to run the clock out on an interested buyer. The more time one spends on an activity, the more that person feels subconsciously tied and indebted to it. This is how those timeshare investment sales pitches trick you, too.

4) They rush you.

I have never gotten a job in less than a week. I consider it a rule of thumb. Even when I worked at Target in high school, the process took about four weeks. Employers want to make sure you are a viable candidate and that it is a right fit. This takes time. If the employer rushes you to make a decision or sign paperwork, consider it a red flag.

5) They have a cult quality.

Shady business operations, pyramid schemes especially, have a way of making you feel like you’re part of an elite club but only if you give a lot of time, energy and money.  They make you feel like you have bee specially selected. It’s a mind control tactic and if it does not give you an icky feeling, it should.

Sure, a lot of good companies require a lot of time and energy but they reward you for it. The schedule for this job was literally 12 hours a day of work and they spoke about being a family, while conveniently encouraging work-life balance. Honestly, work-life balance means having interests beyond work and coworkers. Like sleeping, exercising and seeing your family more than once a year.

6) Google says bad things about them.

I went home after I got the bad feelings and typed, “I hate [the company]” into the search engine. Things did not look good. This was a dealbreaker.

7) Noone knows who they are.

This is really a secondary red flag as a lot of small businesses are virtually unknown. Consider the nature of the service/product the company provides when addressing this concern. I was able to contact a former coworker in the financial services field and she confirmed my suspicions.


8) They ask for money up front.

I went along with the process to see what would happen. They continued to make it seem exclusive, even though I could clearly see the scam they were running. In my “final interview,” the woman did not really listen to me or care about my answers. She, crazy-eyes and all, was just working me through the process to ultimately ask the question: Do you have the money to pay for licensing? Good companies know they have to invest in their employees, to get the most out of them. This situation would place all the financial risk onto the so-called employee and leave the “employer” out very little cash in exchange for a wealth of money from your unsuspecting family and friends.

I lied (turnabout is fair play, after all) and said yes, then lied again when they asked, “If we call you tonight, what will your answer be?” When the call came, I sent it to voicemail. The man who had run the majority of the sales pitch -er- interview process left a message requesting I call him back. His voice sounded tired and burdened. Just as I suspected, he knows it’s a scam but he’s stuck in the cycle: making good money and completely indoctrinated in the belief that he is helping people.

Additionally, any job that is advertised on a freeway overpass, boasts lots of money with very little detail or advertises via flyers on your windshield is likely a scam.

Please be careful in your job hunt and know, without a trace of doubt, that good business practices are apparent in every aspect of the interview process. The only thing a respectable employer will ever require of you upon hire is an application, a resume and a commitment to be there bright and early Monday morning.

Back In – and On – Line

“When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” – Joseph Campbell
While there is no physical unemployment office, picture me back in line. A week into unemployment, I feel  like an old pro. While some might dwell and begin to think, “Is it me?” I know and have friends who can confirm that it was not me, my skills or lack thereof that put me in this situation. While I did not lot love my last job, I gave it my all and they still cut me loose. I’ve never worked that hard before in my life; I ate at my desk, stayed late and even dreamt about my boss’s shoes.

These circumstances do give one pause, though. Why am I here? Is there some greater plan? What should I be doing?
So back to writing I go. Freelance writing in exchange for exposure on TalentZoo.com, which is a unique opportunity to read, research and become an expert on the latest branding knowledge. It has also given me an opportunity to work on my anonymous blog. Both are a joy and serve well in distracting from the state of the economy and my career.

Elevator Speech

Twice in the last week, I’ve been in a roomful of people competing for the same job as myself. The first time, there were 25 people in the room, selected from a larger pool of 300 who submitted resumes. The employer described the job and benefits and gave each person an opportunity to present him/herself. It was like a live reenactment of the sifting that is going on in Human Resource offices nationwide.
All of the people in the room were qualified but from those 25 people, only about 6 in the room stood out. These people, of course, had qualifications closely matching the job but also were able to tailor and clearly articulate those skills without fear in a large group of people, at the drop of a hat. Most of the candidates were quiet, insecure and unprepared.
Bottom line: What really matters in these situations is one’s own degree of confidence, ability to speak and make eye contact. The secret to this is to have an elevator speech ready.
An Elevator Speech is Public Speaking 101. Typically, it is a 30 second-long blurb explaining your best strengths as an employee and any relevant examples in our work history that might appeal to, say, a higher-up that you encounter while riding in your office elevator. They are also useful at work conferences, networking events, annual reviews, office retreats and while standing in line at Starbucks.
You have to know what you are made of to effectively share it, so make a list and think long and hard about it. Once you know what you want to share, practice your speech alone in the mirror or in front of a friend. Hearing your own accomplishments out loud will boost confidence and you will be that much more ready when an opportunity to sell yourself presents itself. The more you think about it, the more natural it will seem. Finally, as time goes on refresh and rework what you have to offer. There’s no way to know when it will come in handy, but if there is ever a place to expect it… it’s your next job interview.
For more great tips, click here.
PS: Remember, it’s not boasting if it’s designed to explain how you can make things better for the company and the bottom line.