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The first law of survival – corporate or wilderness

If your company or your job is falling apart, what do you do?

The first law of wilderness survival is:

“Strive to completely control that which you can control completely. Let God provide the rest.”

In a plane crash, once the plane is down, and everyone else is dead, you can’t bring them back to life.  You can’t fly the wreckage to civilization.  You can’t control the weather.  There is no way to control the rescue operation.

So, you set out to completely control that which you can control completely.  First you take care of your wounds.  Then you get to a safe location.  You have to figure out how to survive the weather.  Water is essential.  Food is important after a few days.  And how are the rescuers going to find you?

The same rule applies in a company disaster.  Strive to completely control that which you can control completely.  Let God (and the government) provide the rest.

Start controlling what you can completely control.  Use your energy on the most important things first.  Then expand your absolute control to things that are important but were not immediately necessary for survival.  Let God provide the rest.

The absolutely best part about using the first law of survival is that you will regain control.  You will feel better.  Your attitude will improve.  Stress goes down.  Creativity increases.  You make good use of all your resources.  You get help that will make a difference instead of panicking and investing in a $25,000 seminar that won’t help right now.

If you want help getting in contact with other people at your level to bounce ideas off of, let me know.  I have put together a few roundtables. I may be able to help.

Get complete control over what you can control.  You’ll survive.  Let God provide the rest.  You’ll feel happier and recover faster. You will regain control.

Need a job? Promotion? Rigged game. Play anyway!

Of course the game is rigged.  Don’t let that stop you—if you don’t play, you can’t win. (Robert Heinlein)

Need a new job? Promotion? Make a game out of it, keep trying

Games can be deadly serious

Winning is deadly serious.

Chess, poker, basketball and football are just games.  Some people study those games intently and never play themselves.  Others study the games and get into the competitions, contemplating victory and risking defeat. Those who watch from comfortable chairs and never participate, can never know the struggle and thrill of victory, nor the cleansing scourge of defeat.  The quiet careful critics will never grow a hundredth as much as the rankest loser grows.

Look at your job search like your favorite game or sport

That job or promotion you have applied for 5 or 10 times may really be out of reach for you.  That doesn’t mean you should stop trying.  At least you are in the game.  You will never win if you quit the field of battle.

Out of work?  Every job you apply for is a new game. Every time an employer calls you is a victory.  The next game is the interview.  Another game starts in the second interview.  Negotiating your salary is another game.  The day you start the job a new competition begins.

For a game you study techniques and practice them over and over. You also study the great winners and losers.  If you want to be great, you also study the mediocre masses because you have to find out why they are merely mediocre.  If you want to win, you have to know how to defeat each of your opponents. 

A coach is also essential. Your coach will be called a mentor, recruiter or friend. Find the most successful person you can and ask for them to give you advice on what you should learn, study and practice next. Practice, prepare and then execute.  If you lose 20 times it won’t really kill you.  Look at it as a game.  The only thing that really kills you is giving up and leaving the game for good.

If there is a job or promotion you want but just can’t seem to win, make a game out of it. Play. Have some serious fun with it.

Something To Do Today

Make your job growth a game.  How can you learn to play it at a Super Bowl level?  Who can be your coach?  Get back in the game. Play.

Out of work?  Job hunting?  Make it a game.

I don’t want to spend my money on training

Employers should pay for training for their employees, right?.  The employers get the benefit of employees being trained so it is only fair employers pay.

Books, Read, Learn, Literature, Old Books, Library

That’s true, except for one thing, you can leave tomorrow.  They cannot clean the training out of your brain and put it into someone else’s brain.  The fact that employers EVER pay for training is a tribute to their vision for the future.

I hear the excuse, “My employer should pay me to learn”, every week.  Many people won’t buy a book about their job. They won’t spend 2 hours a night studying for 3 months to pass a certification exam.  Some won’t even stay late at the company training center because they aren’t being paid to learn. There are many short sighted people.

When you get trained you have bettered yourself for the rest of your life. When you get a new job you get paid to keep your skills and your old employer loses out.  If you are in a hurricane and lose your house, computer and car, you get to keep your skills.  How much did you spend on your car and how much did you spend on your skills?  What will your car be worth in 10 years? It really does make sense to invest in your skills and knowledge. There is very little else that someone can’t take away from you.

Financial counselors say, “Pay yourself first.”  Make that first payment into your skills.  

Something To Do Today

Make a list of certifications, books, courses and seminars that would help you stay ahead of the gang in your field.  Why not start on one of them today?

Using new skills to re-enter the workforce

“I took 4 years off and started a business. It has been fun, but I want to get back into a real job. I programmed on the old mainframe computers. I don’t want to spend my money getting training. What do I do?”

Strategy, Chess, Board Game, Win, Champion

It is not hard for skills and tools to become obsolete in 4 years. There are a couple things you can do:

  1. Keep looking for a job that wants your legacy skill set
    1. Start at beginner level wages and learn a new skill set on the job
    1. Pay for your own training

Depending on what you do, the first option could be a sure thing or a miracle. ColdFusion programmers? That might be hard. Cost accounting? Easy enough. If you’re stable enough to wait a long time, go for it.

If you know how to market yourself, number one gets easier. Keep in touch with the companies that you’d like to work for if your skills aren’t used as much anymore. Talking to the hirers on LinkedIn in those companies every month is an easy way to keep yourself aware of any opportunities.

Number two is totally fine. If you’re okay taking the time to get up to your previous level, you will get there eventually. Learning new skills keeps boredom at bay.

Paying for your training will get you the most pay over the next several years. I’ve had people tell me “I’m not going to learn a new skill unless my employer pays me to learn it!” and then wonder why they never get a raise. Taking your own time to learn new skills and get updated certifications will get you a better job faster than other options.

Something To Do Today

Write a plan. What would you do if you were struck with an illness and took three years to recover?

OR

What is a skill you’d like to learn to help you in your job hunt? Research classes to help you learn that skill.

Why I don’t care when you say you’re a fast learner

Two easy reasons: No one is ever going to say they’re a slow learner. Second, if you’re needing to learn to do the job, you’re not properly qualified.

That’s not to say being a fast learner is bad. It’s incredibly useful. But, it’s not going to get you a job unless you learn it to use the tools you need for that job.

Race, Track And Field, Running, Sport, Sprint, Olympics
The first person to the finish line is the person holding it

Instead of saying “I can learn quickly”, show what you learned, or what you will learn. If you can really learn quickly, it won’t be an issue to learn something to show. “What did you learn” is a lot better than “what can you learn” because a hirer doesn’t want to have to teach you to do a job.

“I’m a fast learner” is an easy save when the employer asks about a qualification or experience you don’t have. It’s almost expected to hear it. It’s so average they won’t really hear it when you say it.

So… don’t say it. “I don’t know much about that, but I’d love to spend a few days learning what I can and write a brief report on it for you. It seems incredibly interesting”.

That’s an engaging statement. “I can learn quickly” is a boring statement with no development. Better yet, it encourages them in the interview to talk to you again in a few days, further securing a second interview.

42% of people never read another book after graduating college. Read books and learn. It’s better to be a steady learner than a fast learner. Pick up new skills and knowledge every year, or the industry will move on without you, leaving you wondering what happened and why no one offered to train you.

Go and learn for yourself. It’ll help you more than being a fast learner. Once you learn the skills, you’ll get that raise or job you want.

Something To Do Today

Write what advanced or unusual skills you have picked up on a piece of paper. Learn the list well. If any are outstanding, put it on your resume. Keep track of any new skills you learn to brag about them.

Bonus points: pick up an educational book. Read it cover to cover.

How to job hunt in recessions, panics, and disasters

The best advice for job hunting in a recession is to not go job hunting. That’s not always going to be an option.

Unemployment has been near record lows for the last several years. The quit rate (leaving a job without another lined up) was near record highs at the same time. Is this going to turn into a recession? Maybe. We’ll find out over the next six months. That’s not what I know.

What I do know, is how to job hunt in recessions and panics like this.

  1. Try to find jobs where someone quit or was fired so there is an active, painful gap in the company
  2. Avoid openings that are looking for expansion, or are always open like a general low-level sales position
Success, Business Woman, Career, Jump, Risk, Reach, Job

It’s not necessarily bad to look for expansion positions or the like. However, they *will* waste your time if they’re not actively hiring. They might set up a couple interviews just to keep you warm and never hire you. If you’re truly an amazing candidate, they may still hire you.

Additionally, budget cuts and savings are going to be especially attractive on a resume for obvious reasons. Anything you have (even minor) in regards to that should be on your resume.

Last thing: Be prepared for things like background checks. Employers get far more nervous during a recession. This is doubly true when they’re not able to do in person interviews due to something like COVID19 shutting everything down. Employers want to be protected from a bad hire as much as possible.

Something To Do Today

Prove that you’re the best value for their buck. What shows that you would save them money compared to another candidate? Put that front and center on your resume.

How they determine your starting salary

“I won’t tell you what I am earning now. I want to be paid according to what I’m worth. You get me an offer and I’ll tell you if it is high enough.”

I always reply, “No, I don’t work that way. I have to know what you last earned. I never make an exception for anyone.”

Entrepreneur, Idea, Competence, Vision, Target

Most people think that there is a chart in the hiring manager’s office he uses to determine the pay rate of a new hire. The skill level is carefully matched to years of service and a scientifically determined salary is offered.

That would be nice, but it is totally wrong. What you will be paid at a new job depends mostly on two factors: what you were earning before, and how well you interview. Your last pay rate is critical because it shows what someone who worked with you daily thought you should be paid. If you convince your hiring manager that you are underpaid, you will earn more. If he’s convinced you are overpaid, you’ll earn less. There is no magic, just gut feeling and guesses.

Your job interview is critical. In sales and managerial jobs you must show your ability to deal with people. In more technical positions you might be paid well even if you can barely speak, but still get the point across that you can do the job.

Your resume gets you an interview. Your interview and previous pay determine your pay rate.

Something To Do Today     

In a separate page in your job journal keep a list of what you earn each year. Track your raises. Bonus points if you compare them to inflation.

Post-it Note Goals

Making a goal a constant irritant is critical. Anyone can set a goal and then forget it. An effective tool for making goals a constant irritant is Post-it notes. Write a single achievable goal on each note, then:

  1. Post your achievable goals on the bathroom or bedroom mirror
  2. Carefully read them when you get up and when you go to bed
  3. When you accomplish a goal, paste it in a permanent record

All three steps are critical. You have to use them as an irritant and as a reminder that you can meet the goals you set. You’ll find that you want to put up goals you are going to meet.

The most common pitfall is going to be glancing over the note and ignoring it. Stop and stare at it. Take 15 seconds at least. Moving the note, rewriting it, and changing the wording can all help.

Remember the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: the mere act of measuring changes the thing being measured. Putting those goals on your mirror, measuring yourself against them, then cataloging your successes can change your life.

Something To Do Today

Take a pad of Post-it notes home. Write achievable goals on 3 of them. Make at least two of them very short term. Create an archive where you can keep all the Post-it note goals you achieve

When looking at the results changes the results

A biologist told me, “One chipmunk was trap crazy. That’s a technical term. Every time I set out an array of traps that one chipmunk ran right into one of the traps.” Wildlife biologists have to deal with the strange changes that happen when they measure something.

The mere act of measuring changes the thing being measured. That is the basis of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Tracking performance alters what happens. For instance, I worked on one set of computer programs where the programmers were paid per line of each program. Those were the longest programs I have ever seen.

As a salesman I was once rewarded for each call I made. I made a whole lot more calls but sold no more of the product. I was gaming the system. I was winning the contest and losing my job.

So how does this get you a new job or a raise?

Bosses want performance. They use reasonable, useless, and ridiculous metrics to decide what your performance was. That is true whether it is a hiring manager at a job you want, or your present boss.

First: Figure out what is the most important measuring stick

Second: Figure out what will keep your boss (or hiring manager) happy.

You should know and care about every measurement of your performance that your boss takes. It is absolutely critical to decide which are the actual critical measurements. Most fall into one or more of three categories.

  1. Metrics that your boss cares about
  2. Metrics that a future employer would care about
  3. Metrics that are measured and essentially useless

Be prepared to fail on the minor measurements to win a spectacular success on the critical measurements. Keep a record of how well you do on the most critical measurements.

Try to find how to turn your metrics into something your boss cares about or a future employer would care about. Sometimes this is changing the language to being more generally applicable. Other times, it’s showing how useful having that metric is.

What YOU decide to pay the most attention to will change how you work. You have to concentrate on the measurements that will get you to your end goal. Again, the mere act of measuring will change the thing being measured. That is the basis of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Figure out how to use that to reach your goals.

Something To Do Today

Do you know what you want out of your job? Money, a promotion, free time or a place to hang out? Write in your job journal what the most critical measurements are to help you reach that goal.

Showing awesome customer service on your resume

I’m almost a broken record here. You can serve the consumer better than anyone else in existence and no one will notice. People notice numbers because it quantifies how good they were.

Image result for peter drucker quotes quality

What have you done that a customer is willing to pay for? What did you do that went beyond those expectations?

Big killer: what did your company get out of it?

Customer service is great, but you have to be able to show what it did for the company.

  1. It kept a customer around that was considering leaving
  2. It got a customer to recommend the company, getting new clients
  3. It got a customer to increase their spending with the company
  4. You were able to charge more for the service
  5. Cut down wait time for customers (increasing worker efficiency)

These are just a few. Make sure you attach a specific numeric value to each of these. Exact numbers catch eyes on resumes. If you started a change in the company that led to any of those, include that as well. Take credit.

Whenever you make a change or improvement, record it. When there’s a problem, write down how you fixed or improved the situation. Even if you’re only following what others suggest, take credit.

Something To Do Today

In your job journal, track screw ups and how you improved service. Report it to your boss.

By the way, have you been giving reports to your boss? Go back over last week and write a report of how well you did and turn it in. Now do that every week. Your boss will appreciate getting information he can use to show how well his team is doing.