Category Archives: Training

Every candidate could use a bit of polish

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.

You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip

A while ago I talked to a very good programmer whose skills are hopelessly out of date. She was hoping to get a job as an intern so she could upgrade her skills. She has only one problem in her job search.

Only antique collectors say, “I like things that are outdated, frustrating, inefficient and dangerous.”

Train, Railway, Old, Abandoned, Outdated

Luckily she knew she might only be hired as an intern. Some people think that they should be hired as rocket scientists even though they have outdated skills. I have people severely infected with archaic abilities approach me every week. They freely admit their problem and then tell me they deserve a great job, a raise and happiness without their own effort.

Bosses want to hire the best people they can. They aren’t social workers. Some companies train the people they hire, but they are going to try and hire the best worker who needs the least training. It is pure common sense; they hire the best person.

If you are a master of buggy whip technology, don’t expect a job at NASA. There will always be a few buggy whip makers scraping by, but you won’t get rich working for them. Invest in yourself. Get the updated skills you need to be employable. Get out of the buggy whip age and into the computer age. Leave the stone arrowhead tools behind and become an engineer. Learn to be an expert.

That means YOU need to invest in yourself. It may be as simple as asking your boss for training. More likely YOU will have to study on your own. Read a new technical, sales or business book each month. Subscribe to journals and websites about what you do. There are community and online colleges that you can use to get a degree or advanced training. 

You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip, but with time and patience you can turn a mulberry leaf into a silk purse. It takes specialized knowledge and a silkworm. Learn the specialized knowledge you need for your job. Go make a silk purse.

Something To Do Today

Think about what skills YOU have that are outdated. What can you do to update those skills or replace them?

How to AVOID Psychobabble and get useful self help tips

matches about to be lit by a single match

The right help can light a fire in your life.

This applies. Just give me a second.

I can light a match on a window, my pants, a fingernail and my teeth. Some people can barely light a match using the strike pad on the matchbox.  If someone cannot light a match on their teeth, it doesn’t mean the match is bad.  It doesn’t mean they are bad either.  It just means they can’t light a match on their teeth.

Psychobabble and useful psychology

Using a self help book can be a lot like lighting that match.  Just because a book works for someone else, but not you, doesn’t mean the book is bad or that you are bad. I have a whole list of books that helped me at various times in my life.  But, that was because they were the right book at the right time. If they are of no use to you, wait awhile and they may be.

The difference between psychobabble and useful psychology is often timing, need and preparation.

Here are some books that I’ve found exceptionally useful.  All are available from Amazon. They are in no particular order.

  • How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big, Scott Adams
  • Looking Out For Number One, Robert Ringer (Relationships that work)
  • Winning Through Intimidation, Robert Ringer (How NOT to be intimidated)
  • Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves, Robert Ringer
  • The New PsychoCybernetics, Maxwell Maltz (Freedom through reality)
  • The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale
  • How To Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie
  • How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie
  • Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl
  • Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers
  • Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

I’m always looking for more great books to read.  I’d love to get your list of the most life changing books you’ve read.

Something To Do Today

Make a list of books you would like to read.  My personal “to read” list currently has about 40 titles.  I read and listen to 2 to 6 books a month.

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Next:    Facts would be nice

Later:  Wrestlers in feather boas

Resumes, interviews and a baby’s grasp

Career killing shortcuts

3 different ways to go now

Choose your direction carefully.

The modern age has been characterized by a Promethean spirit, a restless energy that preys on speed records and shortcuts, unmindful of the past, uncaring of the future, existing only for the moment and the quick fix. (Jeremy Rifkin)

Lufkin is the premiere maker of the pumps sucking oil from Oklahoma’s prairies. In 1981 used Lufkin pumps were selling for more than new ones. Fancy business school graduates said Lufkin was nuts. They could sell the new pumps for much more. “Take your profit now!” they said. The owners of Lufkin said, “We’ve been here a long time. Demand goes up and demand goes down. We will service our customers the best we can. We won’t take advantage of them when they are desperate. When the bubble bursts we will still be here. We’re in this business for the long haul.” Today, after decades of recessions and some good times in their business, they still make a solid profit, now as a GE subsidiary.

In the recruiting business one recruiter said, “I take people out of one rut, and put them into a different rut.” Some recruiters don’t care. I do. I find people in good jobs who could do significantly better. I then place them in a job where they can more quickly meet their career goals. I help people shave years off of their career growth. I move them into a better long term opportunity.

Be mindful of how your resume looks. People who have changed jobs 3 times in 2 years have a hard time getting a great job. Later, even after 3 or 5 years in one job their resume is tainted. The manager hiring for a great job wants someone who will be there a long time. He knows he can attract bright stable workers. Why should he settle for someone who may be gone in 6 months?

A new job should give you a significant LONG TERM advantage. It should help you take charge of your career. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times. In 2005 he only won one day out of 21 racing days. On one day he was 20 minutes behind the fastest bike. But he was always mindful of where he was in relation to his competition. He made sure he had the best bike and the best team even if he wasn’t getting the glory of being first over the finish line. Looking for the long term advantage is how he won.

Find the best team and opportunity you can. Get in it for the long haul. Go win. You cannot speed up your career by taking a lot of shortcuts.

Something To Do Today

Write down your career goals in your job journal. Where do you really want to go? Can your current team get you there? If not, time to change teams.

How To Be Imperfect and Highly Paid – 3 things 

unique girl in a crowd

What makes you stand out? Worth more?

What about you is unique? Amazing? Unemployable? Mediocre? Inspiring?

My daughter Merrilee has Down Syndrome and is low functioning within that group, but she is amazing.  My son James got a perfect score on the SAT Advanced Calculus II college entrance exam. He is amazing. Each can do things the other can’t.  We look at James and say, “He can do anything!”   No, he can’t.  He doesn’t have the patience his sister does.  They have different realities and infinite possibilities.

The highly paid people I recruit all know their strengths and weaknesses.  When I call up their references, every reference lists the same strengths and weaknesses the candidate lists.  Often the poorly paid people give me a list of strengths and weaknesses that bear no resemblance to what their references think.

Really knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to do three things:

  1. Play to your strength
  2. Get someone to cover for your weaknesses
  3. Turn your weakness into a strength

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.  (Pascal)

Stephen Cannell flunked three grades in school.  He is severely dyslexic. He can’t write readably. He also won two Emmy awards for his writing. He created 40 television shows and 6 novels.  He has learned to compensate for his severe problem. He plays to his greatest strengths, creating fun characters and complex plots. His assistants translate his unreadable typing into the words he wanted to put on paper.

Figure out what your talents really are.  Do you have one or two real weaknesses that prevent you from exploiting that talent?  Find a way to compensate.  Get help. Find out what others have done to overcome that weakness.  You may have to adequately do the part of the job that the weakness prevents you from doing excellently. Better yet, can you get someone else to help with your weakness?

No one can do everything.  Figure out what help you need to achieve your dreams.

Something To Do Today

Take an aptitude test and a personality test.  Free ones are available at your local Job Center.  Some are available online. Do you know anyone who would dare to tell you what your real strengths and weaknesses are?  Ask them.

Make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses.  Are you exploiting your best qualities?

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Later:     The most common interview questions – about you

Other most common interview questions – traps, money, intimidators

How to read while you are driving

child reading

You can read while driving a car.

I love talk radio, but it doesn’t lift my spirits. It gets me perturbed.  Music on the radio doesn’t engage my mind as I drive.  I listen to books instead.  I love books that teach me and help me get a better attitude every minute.

The best source of books to listen to may be your public library.  Our main library has hundreds of books and college courses available on audio tape and CD. And all my favorites are available for free through interlibrary loans.

MIT has the vast majority of its courses available for free online.  Yes, free.  In most cases the lectures, notes, and everything you need to learn is available online and free.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.  (Toffler)

Audible.com is a great place to get books on MP3 inexpensively. I use my phone.  You can use any MP3 player.  I like the quality, selection, and prices.  Getting a monthly subscription is the way to go. And if I am reading a book on my Kindle, the audio version and the Kindle reader sync with each other.

The books on my listening list include: Man’s Search For Meaning (Frankl), Theodore Rex (Morris), Love is the Killer App (Sanders), Networking With Millionaires (Stanley), First Things First (Roger), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey), The One Minute Millionaire (Hansen), The Millionaire Mind (Thomas), and The Millionaire Next Door (Thomas).  I didn’t realize I am so fixated on the word “millionaire”.  These books have great “can do” themes.

Some books I love, but can’t get at Audible yet are The Power of Positive Thinking (Peale), How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (Carnegie), and Think and Grow Rich (Hill). And don’t forget to check out your library and interlibrary loans.

Something To Do Today

Engage your mind. Lift your spirits.  Listen to books that get your spirit soaring while you drive or exercise.  You’ll love it.

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Later:   Down by 20 at halftime

Feel the fear, and¼

Signs you will be laid off or fired

Creating reality – what to do with those dreams

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

Rigor Mortis – 10 signs of job death – 7 job CPR fixes

Job death is NOT a bad thing.  It is a part of your progress.  Once you are dead, just get on with your life.

Rigor Mortis – signs of job death –  job CPR fixes

When your job is dead you have a decision to make: keep it or leave?   If you keep it, perform CPR on your job whenever possible.  If you decide to leave, check for rigor mortis before you give up hope.

Signs of job death and rigor mortis:

  1. Dilbert cartoons posted over the company goals
  2. No one notices your 2 hour bathroom breaks…3 times a day
  3. Facebook used more than all other applications combined
  4. No raises in more than 2 years…even for your boss’s mistress
  5. You try to organize a union and there already is one
  6. Surgery required on bitten tongue after your annual review
  7. Quality program of the month comes from a federal agency
  8. A job with the State Department of School Taxes sounds exciting
  9. Members of the beef and whine lunch club get food poisoning
  10. Spouse uses an electric cattle prod to push you out the door in the morning

CPR for your job:

  1. Learn new skills…pay for it yourself
  2. Turn in weekly, monthly and quarterly job reports to your boss and possibly his boss
  3. Go to lunch with enthusiastic people, find out why they are that way, contribute
  4. Get involved with Toastmasters…guaranteed excitement and comedy, some of it on purpose.
  5. Find out everyone’s birthday and decorate their cubicle
  6. Ask the people everyone respects how you can make a bigger difference
  7. Help a customer without permission

There is always something you can do. What is it?

Something To Do Today

Time to write your weekly report in your job journal if you didn’t do it Friday.  Make a copy in a format your boss can use to send to his boss.  Give it to him even if he protests he doesn’t need it.  There is no way he can know all the good things you have done unless you tell him.

Check out www.toastmasters.org .  Go to a meeting at 2 or 3 different clubs.

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.

2 ways to use certifications to FIND jobs-especially if you don’t have any

Certifications can definitely get you a job interview.  They can also get you laughed at.  BS, MBA and PhD are all certifications.  So are CPA, CISSP, MCSE, MCAD, MCST, CNE and CPC.

The most amazing certification chameleon has been MCSE-Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.  At first it was a sure key to a quick job and pay raises.  Then schools popped up all over and it became a joke. People with no aptitude nor experience in computers applied for a job as an MCSE.  Now, MCSE is regaining its luster if you have a good solid background.

You should find out which certifications will help you get a raise, a new job, or a promotion.  The best way is to ask.

WAIT! Don’t just ask, network.  This is a great excuse to network. Ask to talk with your boss and his boss about it.  If there is a company you would like to work for, find managers there and ask them to lunch.  Make appointments to talk with experts for 10 minutes of career help.  Find out what certifications and education they prize.  Call up recruiters and ask them.

So, those 2 ways are….

  1. Put the certification on your resume so the recruiters find you.
  2. Network by asking which certifications would help you the most.

Even if you think you know the answer, call one person a day to ask which certifications would be most useful for you.  It is a GREAT question that hiring managers will want to answer for you.

Once you find the certifications that will do you the most good, get one.  Then call everyone back you asked about certifications and let them know what you have done.

The right certification will turn those networking leads into gold.

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.  (Bohr)

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Something To Do Today

Networking time.  Call some managers, recruiters and people you respect.  Ask them what certifications would be best in your field.  Ask them which certifications will get you the NEXT job you want. Track every single person you talk to so you can get back to them later. Now go find out how you can get those certifications.

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Next:   Recruiter motivation