Category Archives: Time management

Your choice: Inferior or vastly superior job

Kids always made fun of the way I dressed.  I had two shirts and two pairs of jeans for the whole school year.  That’s all.  I had cheap shoes.  For dinner our family had beans every night, literally.  We drank powdered milk.  I brought peanut butter sandwiches to school every day with homemade quince jam.  I was different.

We were paying a price.  It was worth it.  My friends had nice stuff while we saved and scrimped for every penny.  We did something they never did.  Each summer we went traveling in our VW Camper Bus.  We visited most of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Europe and Africa.  Most summers we left school two weeks early and got back into school two weeks late.

Being different is not being inferior.  It can be a distinct advantage.  Be different in a way that can make you superior.

How can you be different?  What can you do to dramatically improve over the long run?  I know two guys who never walk anywhere in the office without having a manual in their hands to read as they walk.  They are both considered a little odd, but they are both the undisputed technical experts in their field.  They are paid well for it.

Your goal should be to out-prepare and out-perform everyone else in critical areas.

Critical areas to stand out in are the most visible areas that: 

  1. Earn money
  2. Save money
  3. Improve customer service.

Here’s how you find the critical areas for your next promotion, raise, or job:  Ask.

Your boss wants you to be more valuable, he’ll help you.  The people you look up to at work will want to help.  Go ask them what you should excel at.

Then do it.  Do it in your own way. Eccentric flair or plodding dullness does not matter.  Just excel IN A WAY THAT MATTERS.  It will change your life, not just your pay and job title.

Cockroach resumes, paper resumes, and carpet bombing

An 18 inch cockroach is the best resume I’ve seen. A friend of mine was applying for a job as a programmer of railroad simulators. He knew that many programmers could do the technical part.  He also knew that the artistic part was just as important. Drawing is difficult, but sculpture is even tougher.  He sent a giant cockroach sculpted in great detail as his resume. He got a call back, the interview and the job.

A good resume gets you an interview. Electronic, paper, CD, metal, cloth, or clay.  If it gets you an interview, it is a success.

Sometimes I hate success.  Every time I get a paper resume I like, I have to ask for an electronic one.  I hate it.  Those few paper resumes are successes.  They get a call from me.  I hate those successes. The candidates love them because they work.

Should you send out paper resumes?  That depends.  Some places automatically trash paper resumes. At those companies paper is a waste.  How about a multimedia CD?  I get the resume off and then throw them away.  I don’t like those either.  But that isn’t the criteria.  Does it get you an interview?  If it does, it is a great resume.  And notice I said I get the resume off the CD’s. That means I had to browse them.

I suggest you send paper or CD resumes out in small quantities only.  Target your recipient. Follow up closely in case they require a different format.

Some people strongly disagree.  They will ask you to pay them a few thousand dollars to send out a huge postal or email blast of resumes for you.  I just heard sending out thousands of resumes called “carpet bombing.”  Some services carpet bomb recruiters.  Others carpet bomb companies. I receive carpet bomb resumes every day.  I’ve never made a placement from one, but I will admit I at least glance at them whether they are paper, faxed, or by email.

I do think ResumeRabbit is a good way to get your resume on a lot of internet job boards, if you really want broad exposure and know the downside. There is no other carpet bombing/resume blasting service in paper, electronic or fax media that I recommend.  Before I would spend money on that, I’d spend it on getting another certification to help my job search.  But I’m not you.  Just be careful with your money.

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Something To Do Today

Go through the list of companies you sent a resume to.  Are there some that really should have contacted you but didn’t?  Can you do anything to your resume to get a call back from them?

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Next:     Certifications – gold and lead

Later:              Recruiter motivation

sTumbling towards happiness

Where will you be in 5 years?  What if you don’t really know?  What if you don’t care?

Here is an interesting link that may get you thinking about what you really want in 5 years.

Fixing your career and job search: As intense as possible is more

The harder I work on me, the better my life gets.  But I can only improve a little each day.  So I focus intensely on one or two things that I want to be better at. That makes my career much better with the least effort for the reward.  It also improves your job search.

Light is very intense in a laser.  Laser pointers are under 1/200th of a watt.  Focus that pointer laser’s beam to the size of a period and you can burn paper.

Intensity at one small spot is the secret of lasers.  Intensity at one spot can also be the secret to advancement in your career.

Some examples:

  1. Some programmers study 20 different programming languages.  As a recruiter, it is almost impossible for me to find a job for someone who has only worked a month or two in 20 different programming languages. It is easy for me to find a job for someone who has studied and worked in one programming language for two years.
  2. In accounting it is easier for us to find a top paying job for an internal audit specialist CPA, than a job for an uncertified general accountant.  Finding a high paying job for a legal secretary is easier than finding a high paying job for a regular secretary.

You cannot get better at everything at once.  An hour a day carefully spent studying a single skill that is in high demand will turn you into an expert in a few months. An hour a day studying new subjects each day won’t help your career nearly as fast..  Now is the time to start narrowing your field and increasing your intensity.

I had learnt to seek intensity – more of life, a concentrated sense of life.  (Berberova)

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Something To Do Today

What is the hottest skill in your profession?  What is the most important bit of that skill?  Study it an hour a day for a month. You will be an expert.

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Next week:  When I ask what time it is, how can someone look at their watch and give me the wrong answer?

Later:  Put your feet up on his desk.

Sunshine collecting

Job and job search help I saw at the library

My email signature is, “The harder I work on me, the better my life gets.”  There is only one person I can control.  There is only one person I can manipulate into changing.  Me.

Years ago I decided I can work on “me” an extra 30-45 minutes a day.  I converted brain dead commuting time into learning time.

My local library is as large as an average two bedroom house.  Small.  So, I decided to go to a much larger library 10 miles away.  I expected to go in and find a few dozen books on tape.  That’s not what I found.

The library had thousands of books on tape and CD.  There were courses in physics, history, philosophy, music, foreign languages and a hundred other subjects.  Novels, biographies and non-fiction books that have been bestsellers filled bookcase after bookcase. I can even order them by inter-library loan from our little library.

Invest in yourself.  Your mind is the only thing the government can’t take from you.

I listened to a book on how to think.  What makes a genius like Leonardo Da Vinci a genius, different, and great?  Another series of books was on Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Napoleon, and others.  I listened to Freakonomics.  I’m learning.

“If you want to be truly successful invest in yourself to get the knowledge you need to find your unique factor.  When you find it and focus on it and persevere your success will blossom.” (Sidney Madwed)

I’ve got the next 30 years figured out.  I’m learning something. I’m going to invest in myself.

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Something To Do Today

What is your dead time?  How can you most easily transform your dead time into head time?

“Ash breeze” can fix your job search

Sometimes your job search just isn’t working.  Fix your job search using what the old sailors called “ash breeze”.

You won’t go anywhere in your sailboat if you are becalmed, no wind.  Sailors on the old 3 mast boats used to dread finding themselves where there was no wind.  There are places in the ocean where you can go weeks without a breeze.  The old mariners often had only one way out, “ash breeze.”

When becalmed, a rowboat full of men would be sent out tied to the front of the ship.  They would take their ash wood oars and start rowing.  Progress was always painfully slow.  Any breeze would move a ship faster, but “ash breeze” was better than dying becalmed.

Are you becalmed?  Are you stuck in a company or job that just isn’t getting you anywhere?  The book, Carry On Mr. Bowditch, is the story of one of the greatest mariners of our age.

Bowditch was stuck in a nowhere job.  Born in 1773, with little formal education and  apprenticed to a storeowner, Bowditch became an expert bookkeeper.  He wasn’t where he wanted to be.  He studied mathematics and astronomy on his own.  Eventually he became a sea captain, author and educator.  He received an honorary PhD for his accomplishments.  His book on celestial navigation is still used at the US Naval Academy.

The most important thing you have is your attitude.  Couple attitude with an intense desire to better yourself and you cannot be stopped.  Start preparing now for the job you want to have in five years.  Learn what you need to learn.  The more you work on YOU, the better your life will get.

The harder I work on me, the better my life gets.

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Something To Do Today

Read the book, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Latham.

Tomorrow:  IBD and what’s hot

What if there are 6 ads and you really want the job?

You see 6 ads for one job you really want.  It is so good you would quit you’re your current job just to apply.  What do you do?

High Priority Jobs

Getting your resume into the hiring manager’s hands is your quest.

First gather information. 

Is there anything that makes you think the writer of one of the ads knows the hiring manager personally?

Check the date on all those ads.  When were they posted?  What day did they appear?  List when the company and each agency first advertised.  Did an agency advertise before the company itself?  They may have a close tie to the hiring manager.  Have the ads been going on for months?  The company is either getting a little desperate, has decided not to fill the job, or the job is full but recruiters haven’t bothered to pull the ads yet because they are still getting lots of calls.

How are the ads different?   Does one include a lot more in-depth information?  Is another extremely short?  Look closely.  Do any of them make you feel like the writer talked to the manager?  You want to talk to someone who has the hiring manager’s ear.

Second work your network.

Call the people you know at the company, or invite them out to lunch.  Call up recent employees. Connect on LinkedIn to everyone at the company you can.

What can you find out about the job?  Is there someone who can personally take your resume to the hiring manager?  How about to the hiring manager’s boss?  This is still the research phase.  Don’t give anyone your resume yet.  You only get to submit it once.

Is there a recruiter you trust?  Find out what information they have.  If they can bypass HR (Human Resources) or have other great connections then work with them.  For instance, there is one company I work with that requires all recruiters to submit resumes through their online system.  But I call the HR manager and tell her when my candidates go in so she can immediately extract them.  She is afraid of missing a truly hot candidate.  Other people who submit themselves are first sorted through by the receptionist.

You really do have to quiz recruiters about their connections.  If you answer a particular ad when there are 6 ads out there, you have a right to ask why you should send a resume in through them.

Third decide how to apply.

If the job is not exciting, it doesn’t matter how you submit your resume.  Just do some quick cosmetic changes and submit it through an agency or the HR department.

For the job that really turns you on, figure out who should submit your resume.  For any company it could be you, a friend, a recruiter or an acquaintance.  Choose in this order:

  1. Someone who can hand your resume to the hiring manager and personally recommend you.  It doesn’t get any better.
  2. Whoever can get your resume past HR and talk to the manager.
  3. The person that can talk to the HR manager or screener and get you past the first cut.
  4. At this point all submissions really are equal. Do it yourself, have an employee there submit you to HR or let a recruiter you trust and who gets back with you do it.

Fourth get your resume perfect

Put the bullets on your resume in order of importance.  Put a few key words in bold to make sure the screener and manager sees them.  Get rid of bullets, lines and sentences that do not apply to the job!!  A two page resume is fine for most jobs, but the second page may never get read.

Do the 10 second test with several people.  Hand your resume to a few friends and ask them to read it for 10 seconds.  Time them.  Take it away in 10 seconds.  Ask what they remember.  Do they mention your most important qualifications and accomplishments? If they do, it’s a winner.  If not, change it.

The 10 second test is critical because most screeners and managers give all the resumes a 10 second review to try to find the best ones first.  They will probably throw out your resume without further reading if they can’t see what they want in that first 10 seconds.

Fifth submit and follow up

Submit your resume.  Call up and find out what happened two days later.  Did your resume arrive there?  Did the manager see it yet?  When will he decide?

You really want that job? After your two day follow up call send a thank you note. Give them a nudge, short and friendly.  It is amazing how a thank you note can get someone to personally try one more time for you.

Keep calling back at least weekly.  Sometimes it does take a couple of months to fill a job.  Keep your candidacy alive until it is pronounced dead by someone who knows.

Take Your Best Shot

If you really want a job.  Go all out.  There may be 100 applicants.  In some cases there may be 1000.  Use personal contacts to set yourself apart from the herd.  Make sure your resume instantly says, “I’m qualified.”  And follow up in case you somehow get missed.

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Something To Do Today

Start prioritizing all the jobs you can apply for.  On your written list make sure the jobs you crave stand out.  Treat them differently.  It is worth the extra effort.

Next week:  Recruiters and the hair on the back of your neck.

What to do if there are Six Ads For One Job – part one

You see 3 job board ads with almost identical wording for a job in the same suburb.  You go online and find 3 social network ads that are almost identical from 3 more different companies.  It has to be one job, not 6 different ones. What do you do?

First decide how much you want the job, then give it the time it deserves.

You have to set your priorities first.   Would you quit your job just to apply for it?   Then it will be worth a few phone calls and some research.   Is it so marginal you would NOT quit your job if it paid 5% or 10% more than you are earning today?  Treat it differently.

Low Priority Jobs

Look at all the ads.  Are any by a recruiter you know and want to work with?  Give them a quick call.  Often you can get more information from a recruiter than from the company itself.  Ask them if you have a chance at the job.  Do you want the job?  Commit the recruiter to submitting you for the job.  Then call up in two days and ask what they have heard back.

If you can figure out who the primary employer is and don’t want to work with any recruiting agencies, just apply directly.  For low priority jobs it isn’t worth stressing out about whether an agency or a direct submission will work best.  Call the company in two days to see what happened.

High Priority Jobs

This is more involved.  We’ll talk about it tomorrow.

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Something To Do Today

Look online and find a job with more than one ad. Figure out which ones are from agencies and which is from the actual hiring company.  Make this a habit.

Tomorrow:  Job Boards:  What if there are 6 ads for the same job? – part two

What can I do to double my income?

Here is the truth no politician, few economists, few teachers want to tell people, and that few people want to hear: certain jobs are only worth a certain, maximum number of dollars per hour, whether you’ve been there doing it for one year, ten years, or thirty years. Longevity does not necessarily merit more money because the individual’s length of time on the job does not necessarily increase the real value of getting that job done. (Dan Kennedy)

Many helpdesk people would be happy to get their income up to $35,000 per year. They are doing a helpdesk job that requires a few months of education and some ability with computers. 

I am doing a search for a helpdesk person who will earn $75,000.  If I can find the right person, they will be hired in 2 weeks.  There will be no quibbling about the salary.  It really is just a helpdesk job.  But this job requires experience setting up security between servers and applications.  This helpdesk person is going to be helping experts. 

I know CPA’s who are Controllers earning $45,000 per year and others earning $250,000 per year.  Some of those $45K Controllers work longer hours than the ones earning $250K.

The difference is that the people earning less are easy to replace. They have prepared themselves only so much, and demand only a little from their jobs and themselves.  Those earning the big bucks have taken risks, educated themselves, taken responsibility, and proven that they will make or save a lot of money for their company.  

How you double your income is to prepare yourself for a job where you will be hard to replace.  And you will have to be willing to change jobs, if not companies. You have to become a people person and a problem solver.  If someone believes you will make them $4,000,000 in profit this year, they will pay you a $250,000 salary without blinking.  If you work for a company with total revenue of $250,000, you couldn’t possibly be worth that much in salary.  If you can be replaced by a smart person with a month’s worth of training, you will probably earn less than $40K, no matter how good you are.

You can double your income.  I have seen it done in one or two years by people earning $20K and $100K.  It took, training, people skills, hard work, focus on what’s important, and earning or saving their company a lot of money.

Hallowe’en and your job search, really.

I know it is not Hallowe’en.  Humor me.

Tips for job seekers and Halloween trick or treaters are just about the same.  Think about how each of these directly applies to looking for a job.

  1. If you are scared, get your dad (a coach) to help on a few doors.
  2. Dress for success.  Look the part from your hair to your shoes, bag and greeting.
  3. The neighborhood you call on defines the size of the treats you get.
  4. Not everyone is giving out one pound candy bars, but they are all worth visiting.
  5. The more houses you call on, the more likely you will get a one pound candy bar.
  6. Go BACK to the biggest house with the best candy later.
  7. The most successful trick or treaters plan their routes and run from door to door.
  8. If you don’t knock, they won’t answer.
  9. If the porch light is out, you won’t get any candy, but you may get advice.
  10. Some of the scariest houses give the best treats.
  11. You get more treats if you start early and work late.
  12. Asking for candy in the traditional way works, ingenuity may get you more.
  13. Helping a little kid can double your take.
  14. Always say thank you.
  15. Sometimes they just ran out of treats, sorry.
  16. Going with friends (groups and social media) can make a scary neighborhood safer.
  17. It is a night of cold calling, even if you know the people.
  18. Trade candy (leads) afterwards to get what you really want.
  19. If you go to a party instead, and complain, you won’t get a big bag of candy.
  20. Don’t blow out the candle in the pumpkin.
  21. Do it again next year, only better, now that you have experience.

Wow!  I could write 21 articles based on those points.  Let me make a few quick points instead.

  1. Planning and preparation.  If you want the best chance of quick success, take 15 minutes each day and an additional 4 hours each week to review results, make lists, THINK, and plan for the coming week.  And make sure you have resumes that are attractive and get people to call you.
  2. Work hard and fast.  Actually do what you plan.  Make calls and contacts daily.  It is amazing how often luck follows hard work.
  3. Go back again.  You should be talking to your best prospects at least monthly.  If you spend 15 minutes thinking and looking for a reason to call, you can usually come up with a helpful reason to call almost anyone.
  4. Work together.  Share leads.  Offer to critique other’s resumes.  Suggest websites, books, and other job search ideas.  A lot of people find the perfect job in the castoffs and contacts from someone else’s search. Go to someone else’s house and both of you make calls at the same time.
  5. Be polite. Just because they say “No” doesn’t mean they hate you.  Say thank you and contact them again if it is a company you really want to join.  Never burn bridges or “blow out the candle” with anyone.

Have a great Halloween, and an even better job search.  Good luck finding that one pound candy bar!