If you focus on the innovations happening around you, it can change your career. When an idea, technology or procedure is new, it takes a week to become an expert. A year later it takes a year to become an expert.
I became a database expert in a week when Oracle 1.0 (yes, I’m that old) came out. I talked my boss into springing for $100 to get a copy. I parlayed that into becoming a DB2 guru by buying a book. One book. I became a data modeling expert because no one else had a clue what that was. One innovation led to another, and my bosses had no desire to stop me. All the industry magazines and experts were using the buzzwords I could implement. I was on the leading edge. I was riding the wave of innovation. Every career progression was caused by taking two weeks to prepare for an upcoming, essential, mystifying technology.
Do a little internal innovation and focus on using other’s ideas and new technology. It is always easier to become an expert when technology and techniques are new. What is new in your field?
Something to do today
Try it again. The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Figure out what the buzzwords are that people are barely starting to define in your field.
Do you pick up money you see on the ground? Do you stop your career in order to do a menial project or take a job someone else should do?
Bending over to pick up a hundred dollar bill is a bad investment of your time if you are Bill Gates. He has averaged earning more than that every two seconds since Microsoft started. I did the math.
Imagine you’re the fastest pizza maker in the world and make the best pizzas ever. However, your name is also Tom Monaghan, and you founded Domino’s Pizza. Is the best use of your time to make pizzas and sell them? No. Not even close. No matter how good your pizzas are, or how many you can make, if you focus on making pizzas instead of making a corporate empire, you will be wasting your time.
Just because you are the best person for the job, doesn’t mean the job is the best opportunity for you.
Something to do today
What are you doing that keeps you from tackling more important projects? Who can you get to do that job for you?
How to engage the hiring manager in a conversation
The heroes in Men In Black have to stop a giant cockroach from leaving the earth. If it leaves, the earth will be destroyed. They are able to engage it in a conversation, sort of. They find out what is interesting enough to get the cockroach to come down and interact with (try to kill) them.
“Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you.” If you can engage the manager or their assistant in a conversation you will multiply your chances of getting an interview or a job. Here is how you do it:
First, make sure you want the job and that you are a decent fit. The Men In Black were the guys in charge of saving the earth. They were motivated and had the tools, they just had to figure out how to do it. If you are qualified to become a computer technician, audit manager or director of international sales, engage the hiring manager in a conversation. If you are not qualified for the job, just send him a resume through Indeed or ZipRecruiter. That way it only takes you 10 seconds to send it and the computer will automatically delete it for them. Conversation only works if you really want the job and really are qualified.
Now, write down the titles the hiring manager may have. Then call up the company and ask for that person. You may get through to him or you may get routed to someone else. If you get routed to someone else ask, “Are you helping (title) find the person for (job name)?” Push your way through until you get to someone who actually is helping him find a new employee. It doesn’t matter if it is them, the HR department or a receptionist. It has to be someone directly involved with the hiring process for that particular job.
When you get to the right person, say, “You are looking for a (job name). What has been the hardest thing for you to find in the right person?” Then wait. Engage them in a discussion of what they are having a hard time finding in a new hire. Make sure and ask, “Is there anything else you have a hard time finding?” Ask that last question again and again. Probe their answers. Find out what the problem is that they have to solve.
Another good question is, “For the (job name), what is causing you to throw away most of the resumes that you get?” Then probe that too. Add, “Is there anything else?” Listen. Ask more questions. Find out what can disqualify you.
Be helpful. If you find out you are the wrong person, offer to tell someone else who is qualified about the job. If you are the right person say, “I really fit that job, what is your email address so that I can send you my resume directly?” You have a 50-50 chance of getting their direct email address, and that will get your resume right on top of the pile. If you really are qualified, that is a great place to be. And you get there by engaging them in a conversation.
Don’t forget to specifically change your resume and cover letter to match their needs. Then call up an hour later and ask, “Did you get my resume? What more do you need to know?” You may just end up having a phone interview right then and there.
That is how you get a hiring manager to talk to you.
Something to do today
Make a list of a few jobs that you really want and are qualified for that you have not already interviewed for. Whether or not your resume has been sent in, call them up and try this out. Change your resume after your conversation and highlight things you didn’t know were so important. You just may get that job.
In the last article I talked about how hiring managers are NOT God. I even went as far to say, “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you.”
The hiring manager is not God. They are a giant cockroach.
You cannot assume that a hiring manager will glean 4 key words and 2 key points out of a 3 page resume. You get no points for length and thoroughness. You get no points for briefness. You get points, or an interview, for saying the key words and phrases that the hiring manager wants to hear. If you don’t shout those key words and phrases, the manager’s receptionist will shred your resume. Then the cockroach, the hiring manager, can hide in their office where you can’t get to them.
To find the right words and phrases you need to do some forensic language work. Like a crime scene investigator. Take 3 or 4 job listings on Indeed or ZipRecruiter for different jobs with the same company. Place them all side by side. Highlight all the phrases that are identical. Identify the stuff the human resources department puts around the description the hiring manager wrote. That fluff may possibly be necessary to get you past the HR department, but it won’t get you a job.
Now take your blue highlighter. Mark every misused acronym, word, technical term or technical phrase. Those are the words the HR person didn’t understand. They could very well be critical. You need to have an exact match on those words in your resume.
Continue marking with an orange highlighter. Again look for all the technical terms and acronyms. Mark them all. The orange words are the most likely to be used by a computer or receptionist to screen out resumes.
Finally, go back over the resume with a pink highlighter. Mark the skills that are the most difficult to find. What are the things in the ad that everyone wants and nobody has?
I bet those ads look terrible. That’s good. It means you have taken the time to study the exact words that will get you an interview. You need to include those words and technical phrases in your resume. They will force the screener to pass your resume on to the hiring manager. He will have to call you in order to see if you can do the job. You will prevent him from closing his door and hiding from you.
Something to do today
Get some highlighters and go through ads on the internet. Find the really key words and phrases. Alter your resume before you send it out. Make it so they cannot miss the things that are important to them.
A giant cockroach steals the hero’s gun and swallows it, So the hero taunts the cockroach until it eats him. A few minutes later the cockroach explodes and our hero is standing there holding the huge gun the monster ate a few minutes before. Men In Black was a lot of fun. In that case the only way to save the world was to survive in the stomach of a giant bug.
There has to be at least 5 great job hunting analogies there. Create your own, then read mine. I bet mine is different.
The giant bug wants nothing more than to get into its spaceship and get away. Of course the earth will be destroyed if it gets away, but that is not the bug’s problem. The two puny humans must do everything they can to keep it from leaving. They taunt it, harass it, insult it, and step on small earthly cockroaches (relatives and friends) to get it to delay its departure. They figure out what the bug can’t ignore and get it to come back and deal with them.
Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you. Take three lessons from the way the Men In Black fought the giant bug:
You have to find the right words
You have to engage them in conversation
A relative or friend may be able to get them to talk to you
Over the next three articles I will show you how to do each of these things. The giant cockroach, the hiring manager, will give you all the hints you need. I’ll show you what those hints are.
Something to do today
What do you need to do to get a hiring manager to need to talk to you?
Google puts first things first. They figured out how to rank pages by how they are connected. They put the page that will be the most useful to you at the top of your list. That saved so much time that people abandoned the other search engines.
Connecting web pages is a simple concept. A web page links to my website. Another site links to that first web page. Now, all three are connected.
There are simple and complex strategies to being ranked highly by Google. All of them are forms of networking. The two most common strategies are: 1) you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and 2) become the expert.
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours
You offer to list their web page on yours if they list your web page on theirs. That way you both get a lot of recognition.
It works in job hunting, too. Although it’s not as simple as with websites, the basic idea is to help as many people as you can, and they will help you.
Getting articles published in trade journals is one example. There are literally thousands of local, state, regional and national associations and publications that need authors. Call up one and tell them you want to write an article. Local newsletters are especially useful. If you do a great job, they’ll publish it. The people who get those newsletters will then consider you an expert. They may just call you to help them with a question. They may offer you a job.
If you have something interesting to say, and already know you are a good speaker, contact your chamber of commerce and get on their speaker list. If you would like to be a great speaker, contact Toastmasters. I know there is a club near you. Go to https://www.toastmasters.org/. They are the best speaker trainers in the country.
Become the expert
When you are the expert, everyone seeks to be connected to you. You can get to be known as an expert by getting certifications or doing consulting work.
Certifications are available for almost every field: sales, HR, accounting, real estate management, security, law, computers, etc. Often hirers search resume databases for the certifications and assume a good person will be attached to them.
Consulting work can really mean just getting a temporary job in the field. If you are unemployed, you have little to lose. Contact all the temporary staffing agencies and ask them if they place people with your skills on temp jobs as well as permanent ones. If they don’t, ask them who does. I was surprised that there is a market for temporary doctors in Antarctica, temporary electrical linemen in Alaska, and temporary environmentalists in Butte, Montana.
Figure out how to get connected to as many people as possible. It is a Google job search method that gets you in front of the competition. It could eliminate all your competition.
Something to do today
Make a list of ways other people have connected to you in your job, even people who you might not have worked with directly. Track down how they got connected to you. Think of ways you can use that to connect with more people.
Google is one of the most outrageously priced stocks in the market today. They give away services that competitors charge an arm and a leg for, and they make a profit. Google is the best company in the world that is in the attention business. If you are looking for a job or a promotion, you are in the attention business too.
Google started out as a search engine. It was a simple catalog. Then the owners started selling simple ads, but in a different way. That difference changed the internet.
Go out and Google “jobs”. Everything you see on that first page is a response to your attention. There are a few ads at the top and to the right of your results. The results you see on the first page were also paid for by savvy marketers. Your interest and attention to “jobs” is a valuable commodity. Google is in the business of finding out what you will pay attention to, and serving it up with the least fuss and the most profitability. Google finds out what interests you and then shows you ads you really want to see. Their ads solve your problems.
Now the scary part. Can anyone find you? My query about “jobs” produced 5,320,000,000 hits this morning. Even Google is selective about the information they present to me. They sell more by presenting less information. That’s why there is a first page of Google.
Let’s cut down the competition. Google “biomechanical engineer” in quotes and you get 69,600 hits, and a lot of the ads disappear. Google your name inside quote marks. I got 18,800 hits on “Bryan Dilts” because I am a blogger and businessman. Can anyone find you? Google is expert at finding what interests me and presenting the most important information in the first page. People can find me, can they find you?.
This is why you are in the attention business. To get a job, you have to get a hiring manager’s attention. You have to be at the top of his employee search. There is a huge amount of competition for his attention. He has to stop and look at you as a person. He has to call you, bring you in for an interview, and introduce you to the team. Then he has to decide to stake his career on hiring you. He has to pay a lot of attention to you. Are you doing what is necessary to be at the top of his search?
The next few days are about getting the attention of people who will hire you. Google is going to play a big part in the discussion, so go out and have some fun with it.
Something to do today
Cut a paragraph or phrase out of your resume and Google it. Do the same with a job ad. Have some fun.
Every few years a hiker in the United States finds a large raw diamond. Usually it was carried down by glaciers from Canada when sheet ice covered the north. A raw diamond is interesting, but not exciting. To reach its true value that stone must be turned over to an expert. It will have scores of facets polished into it until it catches the light and sparkles with fire. It is the expert polishing that makes people cherish diamonds. Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way for long after they are discovered.
My old partner got a Thank You note from a candidate she first placed 20 years ago. She convinced a bank to take a chance on him. He has worked his way up the corporate ladder and gotten promotion after promotion. He was a diamond in the rough.
At the bank he first decided to stand out less while working more. He watched closely how others dressed and acted. How did they succeed with sales and politics? Banks are calm on the outside, but full of opportunity and excitement behind the façade. Mentors appeared as he looked for them. Some were his managers, some were higher up or lateral to him. They gave him advice and helped him acquire polish. Over the years he kept on polishing new shining facets into his skills and character. He learned management and leadership. He figured out ways to fix problems instead of just enduring them. Instead of being noticed for his rough exterior, he now stands out for his ability to make things happen and his polish.
If you get a job based on being a diamond in the rough you will only progress a little if you don’t acquire some polish. You may have to get rid of the nose stud or the blue jeans you always wear. It may be your technical skills that need work. Effective management and leadership abilities need training and practice. Look for mentors, people above you who can lift you up. Move away from the group that is stuck in a rut. Find the stars that are rising and do what they do. Learn constantly.
You can tell a human diamond in the rough from an average person. If you truly are a diamond in the rough, you will embrace change. You will actively seek polish and improvement.
Something to do Today
Where can you polish up your skills? Write ideas down and think of ways to polish up on those skills.
A woman teaching my daughters held up a copy of a magazine with scantily dressed women on the cover. She asked, “What do you expect to find inside?” The answer was, “Pictures and articles about sexy dressing and attracting men.”
She handed the magazine to a girl and said, “Open it and read from any page.” Inside those covers was a religious magazine. The teacher made the comment, “If you dress on the outside like the women on the cover of this magazine, no one will bother to find out that inside you are a woman of character. They won’t even consider it a possibility.”
In the last article I wrote that perception really is everything. How you are perceived is always critical, especially to yourself. Over time your character is altered by all the little things you do. At first you act to give an impression, but eventually you act from the bone deep character you have developed while impressing others.
Benjamin Franklin was brought up short one day when he realized he had developed a less than brilliant character. He was a smart, hard working man, and becoming successful. He had noticed that some people would cross the street to the other side when they saw him coming. He realized he had a poor reputation in many things. In his autobiography he describes his plan to improve his character. The simple device he used thrust him forward to prominence in the fields of writing, science, diplomacy and politics.
As Benjamin Franklin started working on his character he wrote, “I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.” He found that if he pretended to have a virtue long enough, he developed it as a part of his character.
There are 10 extremely ripped bodybuilders making $1,000,000 a year teaching others to exercise. Each year a hundred men and women get PhD’s in exercise physiology and they will only become high school gym teachers. The guys making the big money work hard every day on how the world sees them. Perception really is everything in their world.
Actors and Actresses? They have personal trainers, chefs and makeup artists who make more than most business executives. They won’t leave their house without 2 hours of working on how you and I will perceive them. Perception is everything to them.
In every job there are people who, “Don’t care what others think.” They are rarely the best paid person in the shop. The ones who do care about “what others think” either succeed wonderfully or alienate others beyond belief. The ones who succeed make sure their bosses know what they have accomplished and what their team did. The ones who fail tried to grab all the credit for everyone’s work, not just their own. They fail because the perception becomes that they are conniving, scheming and untrustworthy.
Who do you respect? Did they earn that honor? If you respect a computer programmer because he “never sold out”, hasn’t he sold that perception? A musician who is famous for “never going commercial” cultivated that precise image. They all care for their image as carefully as Hulk Hogan of pro-wrestling fame. A great salesman who never counts his commissions carefully implants that perception in his customers. That is what he sells: perception of himself as only interested in the customer’s success.
Figure out how you want to be perceived. Be that person. Prove to your boss that you are that person with weekly reports that show it. That same proof can be applied to your resume. Show what you have caused to happen in the past and you’ll get the chance to do more in your next job. Perception will be reality.
Something to do today
Ask a coworker or an ex-coworker how they perceive you. How do you want people to perceive you? What can you do to attain that new image?