Category Archives: Finding jobs

When failure is successful

failure can lead to success

Failure can be an outstanding success.

Being in an exciting startup company that fails can be great.  First a couple of success stories, then what happens with massive failure.

Success Stories

A handful of people I know have become multimillionaires.  People I have placed at their companies have gotten bonuses as high as half a million dollars.  Two companies were started and sold in less than 10 years.  One was for $200 million, the other for $400 million.  Not bad money if you can get it.

One company sells ads on the internet.  The other started out processing healthcare claims but quickly changed to selling prepaid credit card processing.  The company founders and key employees made a lot of money because they found “the next big thing.”

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it) but ‘That’s funny’ (Isaac Asimov)

When FAILURE is successful

For each company that reaches this level a hundred startups fail.  Still, half of the startups are absorbed into the successful companies that put them out of business.  The best people in ALL of the failing companies find jobs in the best companies.  People with experience in “the next big thing” are rare and not wasted by their industry.

The way to find what “the next big thing” is in your field is to ask.  When you have one minute alone with managers, top technicians and salespeople, ask them.  I guarantee that they have spent a few minutes trying to figure it out themselves.  They also will want to show their expertise by sharing their vision of the future with you.  In your job journal write down what you are told.  You can review the lists you come up with occasionally and extract some gems.

Another way to find the next big thing is to subscribe to weekly and monthly trade journals.  Most are free.  Again, go to the managers, top technicians and salespeople.  Ask them, “Which trade journals do you get in your email?  Which do you read?”  Have them forward a copy so you can subscribe.  Get your own subscription.

Once you have a few choices for the next big thing, exploit your knowledge.  If you are an adventurer, get involved in the beginning stages of “the next big thing.”  If you are more security oriented, look for an opening where there is already solid revenue, but lots of growth potential left.   The job you take could be at your present company.  Find out if they are planning to fund a startup division or if they already have something going.   The other alternative is to get a job in another company.

Chasing “the next big thing” is not an easy life.  There are fantastic rewards and great challenges.  There are also company bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions and layoffs.  But, I’ll say it again, the best people in those hot expanding fields are always absorbed into the competitors.  It is scary, but not as dangerous as it sounds.

Now, go do some dreaming.  It never hurts.  In your field what is “the next big thing?”

Something To Do Today

Do a survey.  Ask everyone you have a one minute conversation with what “the next big thing” will be.

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Next:     Psychobabble and usable psychology

Later:              Facts would be nice

Wrestlers in feather boas

He ignored $100,000,000 to get a new job – it’s magic

ace up his sleeve

Resume magic may get you a job.

I turned a $100,000,000 food scientist into a Java programmer. Seriously, I did. I used resume magic to give him a career change.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  He was proud of his PhD, and that was hurting him.  He had to stop emphasizing the $100,000,000 product revenue stream he had generated for his company.  Instead he had to emphasize his work in developing computer systems.  He had to finish getting his Java programming certifications. He also agreed to a 40% pay cut.

When we finished, he found his own job.

Writers fall in love with their work.  Every word is a work of art.  When you put together your resume, you are even more in love with your work because it is about you.  You can’t possibly leave out how you gave CPR to a chipmunk and saved its life. Leave it out anyway.

Now do something even harder.  Stop looking at the things YOU find most interesting.  Look in your career for proof that you can do the job you are applying for. Make a list of all the duties of the job you want.  Now make a list of all of the times you have done those duties.

That food scientist had helped design computer systems.  He had put together a few small applications to help him track data.  He passed the Java certification test.  We expanded those programming related accomplishments.  It took him a year, but he got the job.

Magic is the art of misdirection.  Illusion is achieved by getting people to concentrate on what you want them to perceive.  Put a little magic into your resume. Get rid of the things that don’t apply, even if they are your proudest achievements.  Emphasize what is important.

You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true.  You may have to work for it, however. (Bach)

Something To Do Today

Just for the exercise, take a job you want to apply for and create a ½ page resume for it.  Only leave your greatest accomplishments that apply towards that job.  I’ll bet you cut out a lot of fluff.

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Later:  Imperfect and highly paid

How fast can you find a new job and get your career back on track?

steam engine crashed out of a building

Getting your career back on track? It depends on where you are right now.

How fast can you find a new job?  Let’s talk about the Beatles.  They were an overnight sensation….except for the years they spent playing clubs in Germany and England.  Years lost to the world.

I bet you know a guy who quit and had a new job a week later.  He wasn’t even looking when he quit.  He told you so, and he wouldn’t exaggerate.  So how long will it take you to get a new job? No one knows.

The best way to find a job (It actually speeds things up)

The best thing to do is keep your current job and start looking.  Use your network.  The first thing to ask them is not, “Find me a job,” but, “How’s the job market?”  Get the people you know to tell you how long it took for their acquaintances to find a job.  This will tell your network to keep their eyes open.

Be careful how widely you let it be known you are looking for a job.  If you are employed, use your network, recruiters and respond to ads.  LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and others are great places to put your resume. You have to understand that you will be getting calls for a year or two if you put your resume on the internet.

How long will it take?

Executives often look a month for every $10,000 in income they want.  If they are earning $120,000 then they may search for a year.  Technical experts are often either hired within days of their search beginning, or they take 12 months and then get 3 job offers at once.  Why?  They may have critical skills, but there is no job until someone else quits or a project starts. Then openings pop up as a mass of people all change jobs at once.

Your job search will be over much more quickly if you will commute a long distance or relocate.

The modern steam locomotive can cross the plains at the lightning speed of 15 mile per hour.  The only thing faster is a telegraph. (circa 1870)

Let’s get serious about money.  Are you overpaid?  Do you have golden handcuffs that will keep you from leaving?  Then you may never find another job without taking a pay cut.  If you are underpaid, you’ll get a new job quickly.  That’s just a fact.

How fast will you get a new job?  No one knows.  So it is probably best to start looking while you are still employed.

Again, here is the first step to finding out how fast you can find a job.

Don’t just ask your network to help you find a job.  Ask people how long it took for folks they know to find a job.  Search for stories of quick searches and also ask for horror stories.

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Next:      Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

Feel the fear, and¼

Signs you will be laid off or fired

How to get great desirable permanent employment

Flag behind a prison fence

In America great desirable permanent is available for you. Do you want it?

To have great desirable permanent employment, you have to look in the right places.  Here is how you make sure you are working at a permanent job.  My experience first.

Our company made a record profit.  The industry was booming.  The company was sold for an unbelievable amount because its future was so bright. Our new owners were literally brilliant and had built a powerhouse with a strong diversified cash flow.

95% of the employees were laid off by the end of the next month. We were in a boom no one thought was a bubble.  The bubble burst.  The company had to lay off almost everyone. I lasted until the end of the next month.

The only thing that make life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty, not knowing what comes next.  (LeGuin)

10 years later I was employed by a huge computer company.  The world was good.  This was a permanent job.  I had been there 9 years. I was safe.

Then I got a letter from a friend at corporate headquarters.  There were going to be layoffs in 3 months.  I asked my bosses. They denied it.  My contact said, “I read the memo.”  I quit for a new job one week before the layoffs were announced.

What has happened to permanent employment?

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.  (Ditka)

Permanent employment does exist.  It exists in your skills, networks and planning.

Union negotiations, trade laws and employment contracts are all useless against the tides of change.  Your guarantee of permanent employment comes only through your own efforts and flexibility.  Permanent is what YOU bring to the table.

Even people who have been in the same company for 20 years have switched careers 3, 5 or 10 times.  During my 9 years at EDS I had 4 very different job paths in 9 years.

Look at where you are.  Prepare for the changes that absolutely will come.  Learn new skills.  Pay for your own training if you have to.  Get certifications.  Pay for the tests yourself if your company won’t.  Get trade magazines for your specialty and industry.  Bring ideas to the table where you work.

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. (London)

The world is changing.  You can either benefit from the changes or lose everything you have.

Permanent success means constant change.  Make your job permanent, though your career changes.

Something To Do Today

List what you can do to become a “Permanent” employee.  Meaning you always have a job.

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Later:              $250,000 too proud

How fast

Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

6 things about being persistent in pursuing a single job

Moving a huge log

If you want a job or promotion enough to persist, you may get it.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.  (Coolidge)

Presentable, not pestilent persistence

True story: Frank’s interview was postponed, no date set.  I wasn’t able to set up the interview.  I couldn’t get him a “yes.”  I couldn’t get him a “no.”  His resume was in limbo.  So Frank said to himself, “What have I got to lose?”  Frank called the VP of HR (Human Resources) at the company every day or two.  For weeks he called.  Usually he left no message.  Frank just called, got voice mail and hung up. Finally the VP picked up his phone.  Frank was enthusiastic about the company and the opportunity on the phone.  No whining.  No complaining.  An interview was set up.  Frank performed a miracle using the power of persistence.

The facts that made it work:

  1. He was excited about this opportunity. This particular one.
  2. Abject failure was given a cost. No new job.
  3. A price was paid. Regular calls.
  4. Presentable persistence, not pestilent persistence, was employed.
  5. Enthusiasm was generated for every call. He knew he’d get through one day.
  6. He sold himself from the VP’s point of view. No whining, just positives.

If you really want a new job or promotion, you often just have to keep trying.  You have to make a positive impact through your persistence. When your opportunity finally comes you have to be ready to pursue it like it is the first time you tried.  You have to be all positive.

One last thing to consider.  While you are being persistent, continue preparing.  Learn something new every day that applies to the job or promotion you want. Win by superior preparation AND persistence.  That’s the sweet spot where home runs are hit.

Something To Do Today

Today is  Opportunity Assessment Day.

What job or promotion are you aiming for?  Do you really want it?  Really?  Do you want to do the work or do you just want the prestige?

If you really want the JOB, the WORK and the opportunity, make a list of things to do every day to prepare. Now do it.

Is there an opportunity you know of?  Now figure out how to be presentably persistent in chasing that opportunity.  Do it.

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Coming up:                                                            Premature withdrawal

Job security – what permanent means

$250,000 too proud

How fast

Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

How to find a job at a convention – Use those business cards

ace up the sleeve

A business card is an ace up your sleeve in your job search

Are you at a convention? If your boss is sending you to learn something, attend the seminars first.  If you have a booth, man the booth first.  And while you are doing your bosses work, collect all the business cards you can. Make a copy of every card for yourself.

Serious about your job search?  Sort the cards out into three piles by company:

  1. I’d love to work there.
  2. I’d consider working there.
  3. I’d never work there.

Contact everyone you have a card for.  Send them an email or give them a quick phone call.  Tell them you were pleased to meet with them.  Ask if you can help them.

Wait a week or two.  Now it is time to use the convention network you are creating to get a job.  Of all the people you contacted, which ones are most likely to know about jobs you want?  The people in pile “1” know about jobs in their company.  People in pile “3” are likely to be actively looking for jobs and know about jobs in good companies. People in pile  “2” are a combination of the other two.  So you should contact people in all three piles.

Why sort cards into 3 piles? Because you need to decide who to ask directly for a job.

Most of the people you meet cannot give you a job.  They can point you to a job, or pass your information along.  You don’t want to work with some of the people. Ask people to help you in the way that you and they feel most comfortable.  Call them up and say, “Jim, I’m keeping my eyes open for new opportunities. We talked a couple of weeks ago at the convention.  Who do you know who I should talk to about a job as a (job you want)?”

If they say they don’t know where you could go, then say, “Jim, I appreciate your thinking about this for me.  I’m going to send you an email.  Could you forward it to anyone you think might be closer to that job I’m looking for?  Thanks.  I appreciate your help.”

Now send him an email with a brief description of your skills. Don’t send a full resume.  Instead send a hard hitting 100 word message containing bullets of only your 3 greatest accomplishments.  Thank him for his help.  Ask him to get the email closer to someone who can help you find that job.

Want to get even more help?  Tally the jobs you are finding out about.  In 3 weeks send an email out to everyone you contacted and say, “I found out about 14 jobs thanks to the help you and a few friends gave me.  I haven’t made a decision yet on what I am going to do.  If any other jobs have come across your desk, I’d like to know about those too.  Thanks.”

This is networking at its best.  Of course you can use this in any job hunt.  Conventions are just very convenient for this kind of job search because you meet so many people so fast.

Something To Do Today

If you are serious about finding a new job, conventions are great.  They are also a LOT of work.  Decide how much time you are really interested in spending on that job search.

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Later:  What to leave out

Persistence

Job security – what permanent means

$250,000 too proud

How fast

How to find a job at a convention – company trip, ethically

People talking at a convention

Convention job hunting can be as easy as hunting at the zoo

Some people get job offers at conventions, like this guy I know.

Two booths of software were side by side.  One was superior visually.  The other was better to use, and it had a salesman who was a whiz.  People were crowding around the great salesman.  The visually superior product kept losing crowds to that other salesman.  Finally the president of the losing company decided to try and eliminate the problem.  He offered a substantial raise, relocation package and perks to the salesman who was beating him. He turned down the job. I talked to that salesman later. It was a great moment in his career.

How can you do it?

As a programmer, brick layer or CEO the best way to look for a job at a convention is to be the best salesman for your company. That means helping everyone you can.  Get their cards.  Get 2 cards from everyone.  One for you and one for your company. During your free time go to as many booths as you can and get cards from other people.

Someone, anyone working for another company, is an insider. If you are serious about getting a new job, you will find an “inside contact” at every company whose booth you visit.  You don’t have to talk “jobs” with them at the convention.  What makes this even sweeter is that many of those people will come to your booth and initiate the contact.

After the convention volunteer to help your company’s sales force out.  Contact all the people you met while at your booth.  Give them the company line your salespeople want them to hear.  Keep notes about every contact you make.

Still serious about your job search?  Sort the cards out into three piles: 1. I’d love to work there.  2.  I’d consider working there.  3.  I’d never work there.

Don’t throw any of them out.  Tomorrow when I talk about what to do with each pile, you’ll see why you even want to contact people at places you would never work.

Something To Do Today

If you are serious about finding a new job, conventions are great.  They are also a LOT of work.  Decide how much time you are really interested in spending on that job search.

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Next:   How to find a job at a convention – piles of cards

Later:               What to leave out

Persistence

Job security – what permanent means

$250,000 too proud

How to find a job at a convention – you pay

I know of one consultant who flies to meet his clients for lunch anywhere in North America.  He lives in the small Colorado town of Telluride. He has chosen to live in paradise and pay the price of frequent travel.

waiting in an airport with luggage

Waiting for a job in an airport – convention job hunting

In your job search, instead of flying across the country to meet one person, you can meet with 100 potential employers. You will only pay for one plane ticket and 2 nights in a hotel.  So bite the bullet.  Pay up. Go to a convention related to your field of work.

But how do you effectively work, or network, at a convention?  Five steps:

  1. Get a list of all the exhibitors and speakers. Don’t be picky at this stage. Research and call every company that is close to the field you want to work in. Don’t ask for the HR department, ask for a manager, marketing or sales.  Talk to them about who will be coming to the convention.  Call the best contacts who will be coming. Tell them you’ll see them at the convention.
  2. Go to the convention and make your first pass in the morning of the first day. Quickly go to every booth on your list and collect materials and business cards.  Just explain that you will be back, but need to work quickly this morning.
  3. Go back to every booth on your list and talk in depth with the people you want to contact. Work a priority system.  Who is most likely to hire you? Ask them questions you have about their company and their field.  Make sure you have the business card of everyone you talk to.   Give them your card.  You are building a network.  You might discuss employment, but this is not the time to apply for a job.
  4. Enlist everyone in your job search. Everyone who made it to the convention has influence where they work. They have been talking to new people, finding things out about the industry.  Enlist them in your job search. When you get home, contact everyone you met OR WANTED TO MEET.  Call them.  Chat briefly.  Then ask if they heard of any openings for someone like you.  Ask who else you should contact.  What if they are a techie and you are a salesman?  Call them anyway.  They’re a CEO and you are an engineer?  Call them.  A conversation about the convention leads naturally to what is happening in your field and job openings.
  5. Send an email to everyone you talk to. Thank them for their time and ask them to forward the email to anyone who might get you closer to the job you are looking for.

If you work a convention aggressively you will find dozens of openings that aren’t advertised.  You’ll even find out about jobs at companies not at the show.  Why?  Because the people manning the booths are the best and the brightest.  They are heavily recruited by other companies.  They know which companies are looking for talent. Aren’t those the people you want in your job search network?

Something To Do Today

You need a list of conventions.  Most people forget to include the association conventions they can attend that are less than 200 miles away.  Go back over your list of conventions and add a list of local and regional association conventions you can attend.

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Later:                  How to find a job at a convention – as an exhibitor

What to leave out

Persistence

Job security – what permanent means

How to find a job at a convention – part 1

boxing-100733_640-pixabay

How do you find boxers? Go to a boxers convention.

Why search for a job at a convention? The people who are there are real.  People who talk like you do. This old boxer puts it beautifully.

I look at ordinary people in their suits, them with no scars, and I’m different.  I don’t fit with them.  I’m where everybody’s got scar tissue on their eyes and got noses like saddles.  I go to conventions of old fighters like me and I see the scar tissue and all them flat noses and it’s beautiful.  Galento, may he rest in peace.  Giardello, LaMotta, Carmen Basilio.  What a sweetheart Basilio is.  They talk like me, like they got rocks in their throats.  Beautiful!  (Pastrano)

There are three different ways to work a convention to find a new job:

  1. Pay for yourself to go and work it for all it is worth.
  2. Go there as an exhibitor (and also find a job)
  3. Go there on your company’s dime to do research (and also find a job)

All three can be done ethically, and that’s a key.  No one is going to want to hire a louse who uses his company’s resources dishonorably to search for a job.

The freewheeling job search you can engage in when you pay for yourself contains elements beyond what is acceptable under the other two.  Tomorrow I will start discussing the details of how to find a job at a convention….ethically.

The first thing to do is to find out which conventions are the most important in your industry.  That’s easy: ask.  Ask your boss and his boss.  Call up leaders in the industry and ask which conventions have the most movers and shakers attending.  Ask experts in your field where the most dramatic new products are introduced.  If anyone asks you why the sudden interest, tell them the truth, “Learning more about our industry and competitors will help me advance my career more quickly.”

Be prepared.  Your company may offer to pay your way.  If they do, you need to be ethical about the whole process.  We’ll deal with that problem in a few days.

Something To Do Today

Make a list of the most important conventions in your field.  Find out when and where they will be held.  Check to see what an exposition hall pass costs.  Quite often it is free to visit the advertisers, but you have to pay to listen to speakers.

 

 

The Mythical Man Month

sand sculpture of a sphinx

The mythical man month is another impossible beast.

I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster.  “Leaders” sometimes think that if one woman can have a baby in 9 months, then surely 9 women can have a baby in one month. Those leaders/firefighters create career death marches for their subordinates and coworkers.  Too often they are rewarded for being able to get so many hours out of their team.

The Mythical Man Month is a great book about the fallacy that projects can be infinitely divided and finished sooner.

To increase productivity on a 2 person project by 50%, you have to add 2 more people.  Adding one more person does little.  More time is spent communicating and coordinating than the person adds to the project.

A 9 month project with 7 solid, committed, experienced programmers will take as long to complete as the same project with 25 engineers, a manager and 4 team leaders.  Why?  Because communication becomes a major burden in a large project.

One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. (Elbert Hubbard)

In any complex project, adding people in the last month rarely speeds things up.  The folks who can finish the project have to train the new people, supervise them, and check their work.  The experienced people lose all productivity and the new workers are marginal no matter how strong their background.

In your job do you know how people really work together?  Do you know the cost to productivity of adding more people to a project?

For your job search

Are you making your job search more complicated than it needs to be?  Are you dooming your search with lots of undirected activity?

Are you spreading your search efforts so broadly that you are depending on luck?  Contacting 500 recruiters is rarely as productive as closely working with one or two or ten.  Spamming 1000 companies is not as effective as calling 10 managers who may be able to use you or refer you.  Networking with 5 CEO’s or Directors beats lunch with 50 production line workers.

What really gets more done?

Something To Do Today

Find a copy of The Mythical Man Month.  It is a classic.

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More firefighting problems:    The Elmer Fudd job hunt

Doctor No

Dead fish

Poisons

Liars

The incredible strength of weak connections

And later:        How to work a convention