Goliath was the best thing that ever happened to David. (Weed)
Okay, Goliath tried to kill David. But it was how David reacted to Goliath that made him famous.
How horribly bad stuff can eventually help you have a great job
Some people claim that the best thing that happened to President George W. Bush, was that terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center towers. There is even an apocryphal account of Bill Clinton saying, “If only that attack had happened on my watch, then I would have been a great president.”
How about these:
- Not getting a job you really want.
- Someone else getting the promotion you worked for.
- Being laid off.
- A terrible job performance review.
- A letter of reprimand in your file.
Disasters? Yes. Setbacks? Yes.
Setbacks make me think of the two richest families in our neighborhood when I was a kid. One ran a gas station. The other was a plumber. They couldn’t get great jobs, so they took opportunities no one else wanted. The gas station manager now owns 10 car dealerships. The plumber started his own company and employed a host of people. They took stock of their situation and decided to move forward.
Evaluate why you really suffered a setback. Ask the easy questions and the hard questions. What did they do to me? What did I do to me? Where can I go from here?
One of the oldest books on the subject of success is Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. Every other book on the subject just steals his material and puts it in different words. His book can help you gain perspective and focus on what you can do.
Are you dealing with a Goliath? Then make sure you DECIDE how to react.
Today is always the time to start your future. Yesterday is past. Today you can make tomorrow a little better. Focus on what really caused your current situation. Then go forward with a plan. The world will change around you.
Something To Do Today
Get a copy of Think and Grow Rich and read through it. It’s a classic.
Later: The job supermarket
Rigor Mortis – signs of job death
My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today, I knew it then as purpose. (Davis)
Can your job search be like General Grant’s assaults on the Confederacy? You certainly can’t start from a worse personal position than he did.
Robert E. Lee said, “We all thought Richmond, protected as it was by our splendid fortifications and defended by our army of veteran, could not be taken. Yet Grant turned his face to our Capital, and never turned it away until we had surrendered.”
Abraham Lincoln was strongly urged to remove Ulysses S. Grant from command by Grant’s two senior leaders. Lincoln replied, “I cannot spare this man, he fights.”
Grant’s first army unit as a General had driven away two other Generals in the previous month. The unit was insubordinate, untrained and outright rebellious. Yet they followed Grant.
The year before the US Civil War, Grant was an alcohol abusing store clerk who only kept his job because he worked for his father-in-law.
What changed in Grant? Passion, focus, and high purpose.
Do you have a career plan? A job search plan? One that really suits your talents and skills? If one plan of attack fails are you willing to immediately switch to another? As the job market changes are you ready to take advantage of previously unseen opportunities? Are you constantly preparing?
Your passion may be your family, church, job, or club. It is probably a combination of them. If you take the time you spend on your job, concentrate, plan and execute, you can do wonders. If you slackly follow orders, give the minimal possible and expect to get a raise before you work harder, you will stagnate.
Where can you go to succeed? What can you do? Do you have to relocate your family? Do you need a new job? A new career path? What can be your great purpose at work?
Acres of Diamonds can give you some directions along that path. You can read it or listen to the author tell it at this link.
Something To Do Today
Read or listen to Acres of Diamonds . Read it.
Later: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Eventually every great plan deteriorates into hard unexpected work. The trick is to get credit for it, and a raise.
A newly minted Psychologist went to a new elementary school. Her job was to help children develop strong characters, overcome problems, and become fulfilled individuals. At 11:15 that morning the Principal poked her head in and said, ”Come with me. We need your help.” A crisis intervention? Her training would really pay off now. They both went to the lunchroom. The Principal took the Psychologist over to the milk cooler and told her, “At lunch you sell milk to the children who bring lunches from home.” That Psychologist said she nearly quit. It took her weeks to realize that every job has some work that just needs to be done. Someone has to sell the milk.
She works for the children. She really does change their lives, just not always the way she expected to.
You work for people. Your boss is one. He is a customer. Your coworkers are customers. The people who see and use your work are customers. The people who buy your company’s products are customers. Are you giving them what they need and want? Are they satisfied? Can you prove it?
In a job journal you can keep track of how you have served your customers. Tracking what good you have done will improve your performance. Telling your boss exactly what you contribute each week will get you a raise as you improve. If your boss doesn’t give you the raise you have earned, your job journal will help you get a new job.
So, who did you help? What was their problem? Did your answer save time, money or frustration? Write down and report on your expected duties. Also report on the times you just have to sell milk.
It is not hard. It’s a great plan. It just takes a little work.
Something To Do
Do you have a job journal? Create one for as far back as you can remember if you don’t have one already. Unemployed? Create one for your last job. Write down what you accomplished. What things are better because you were there? Did you save money, earn money or keep a customer? Write it down.
Here is the gutsy part if you have a job. Managers need to know what you accomplished, but most are afraid to admit they don’t know what you do every day. Submit a report to your manager in a format he can use to show his boss. Do it every week. Give your manager something to brag about every week.
Write down your failures in your journal too. That way you can show how much things have improved later on. Report failures along with how you have fixed them and how much money your improvement will now save.
A job? No. This is war.
My old partner Karen Woodworth was accused by a candidate of ”Just being in this for the money”, and submitting other candidates.
She wrote the following email to describe exactly what she did to fill that job. Changes to protect privacy have been made.
I have a client (an HR Rep) who calls me out of the blue with a problem. She needs to fill a position in her IT department, a position that they have been trying to fill for several weeks/months with no success. When I try to get some of the unwritten needs described I’m told that I need to talk to the department manager who’s out of town. Oh yes, and the HR Rep is going out of town next week as well so I’m to chat with Phyllis (someone I’ve never spoken with) when she gets back.
In the meantime, I search my files. (Picture this! Resume by resume I go through several hundred, maybe a thousand, each file is opened and examined page by page.) I actually have not spoken to Phyllis yet, so I am searching without full disclosure of her needs. I find a number of candidates who can do this job. I narrow it down to what I feel at this time are the best from which to select my finalists and begin to contact them for further qualification. Now, all this time I’m thinking Julie Beck, Julie Beck… I gotta talk to Julie Beck, I think she’s perfect for this but I know that Bryan’s been marketing her to Arizona. Out of respect for her desire to go to Arizona and Bryan’s working in that direction I hold off contacting her. (“Hell, Julie and her husband are ready to become permanent snowbirds, she won’t be interested.” I tell myself for days.) And I’ve not yet spoken with Phyllis.
So when Phyllis returns I get to ask some questions and find out that I really like this lady. I like her upfront simple responses and lack of playing games. I begin to submit what I think are the right kinda folks and she steers me into a finer appreciation of what she’s really looking for and I’m not on the mark. (God, I want to do this right. I want to serve the HR Rep that called me for help, but more than that, this opening is becoming a full time search. No, more like an obsession. I’ve set my mind on it… Other recruiters have failed at filling this and I wanna do it! Damn, I want to be the one who heard and understood and succeeded.) And, if I could only talk to Julie, oh hell, she’s working on something for $135 an hour, she won’t even talk to me. Geography’s wrong and salary’s too light. Don‘t even bother to call her… But she’s so perfect…
So I begin to refine my search and submit a couple more guys who can do the job. Telephone screening goes badly, I’ve not hit the mark but I’m still thrashing around the files and putting it out on the net and sharing my needs with cooperative recruiters I trust…
Now Phyllis’s sister-in-law dies and she has to go out of town again. I’ve submitted a couple of guys that she’s not seen cuz she’s gone. And in desperation, I finally screw up the courage to call you, Julie. (If you tell me to get lost, I deserve your rancor… I know you’ve got bigger fish to fry.)
You and I decide to look at this… And I feel like I finally have a serious candidate in for consideration. At this same time, if you don’t get or take this job I’m still, and even more committed to filling it! Damn am I committed! Intellectually and professionally I need to succeed here because others have failed.
And all at once, I’ve managed to give Phyllis three serious candidates… I haven’t told the others, but my money’s on you.
And, girl friend, the money has nothing to do with it! This is personal! It’s my ego!
Do I want you to get the offer? YUP! Do I want you to get the best offer I can get for you? YUP! Do I expect to do the negotiating? YUP! I have 25 years of experience in this job that has proven to me time and again that I can and will get for my candidate a better offer than my candidate can get for him/her self. In that you’ll need to trust me.
And, at some point, I would like you to believe in me, and not compare me to another recruiter you’ve dealt with before. This is my profession, not my job. I’m here because I can do what others fail to do.
I’m not here for the money! That happens to be a by-product not a score card.
Would you trust the above recruiter with your resume? I would. That is the kind of recruiter you want to find and keep in contact with for your whole career. She may not help you get every job she submits your resume for, but if she finds you a job, you will love it.
Something To Do Today
Write down what you got done this week. What things are better because you were there? Did you save money, earn money or keep a customer? Write it down. Submit a report to your manager in a format he can use to show his boss.
It’s not who you know, it’s who will help you that counts.
New networking techniques triple effectiveness
I have tripled the effectiveness of my network in the last week. I have gotten more referrals than I have been able to process. Here are the basics:
Yesterday I wrote about Nebraskan networking. Key points are:
- Ask the right question
Always ask: Who do you know that can get me closer to the individual I need to talk to? People want to help. This is a non-threatening way to give help without being 100% correct. You’ll be surprised how this gets people to relax and help you.
- You get more help from higher income people
Ask for help from people above the level you are working at. Managers, experts, directors and CEO’s use networking every day. They know the importance of sharing help. Often they will do much more for you than you ever expected.
- A driving purpose or important result is necessary
In the Milgram study an extremely impressive document was being sent. The perceived importance made people want to help. Carefully script your request. Make your need critical, important for others to help with, and non-threatening. Make sure they know that the next person in their network chain will feel honored to help.
- Give people a way to report back
Make sure the person you ask for help has a way to tell you how they helped. Send them an email with your request.
Here’s an example of an email I have sent that got me more help than I have been able to keep up with:
Subject: I need your help …
I need your assistance. I know you’re not geographically placed right for all these, but you know people
If you don’t know of someone you can refer to me, would you pass this on to a friend, colleague or associate whom you consider to be closer to this person? Then they can open the door of opportunity for the right person.
One of my top clients is looking to expand its sales channel by hiring three people:
an Employee Benefits/Health Insurance Producer in Harrisburg, PA;
a Property and Casualty Insurance Producer in the Harrisburg area;
and a P&C Producer in north Philadelphia.
Sales opportunities are “teed up” for these producers by telemarketers and rainmakers.
P&C producers at the company over 3 years are all earning in excess of $200,000 per year. EB are all well over $100,000/yr. Base salary, benefits, etc. like you would expect.
Can you get this request closer to the right person?
I sure appreciate your help.
That’s a simple letter and has been extremely effective. You can create one as effective for your urgent need.
Something To Do Today
Figure out how to follow the 4 steps above and ask for help to get closer to someone who can help you.
Next: Who do you work for?
Before computers, 196 people in Nebraska were sent a package and asked to forward it to anyone who might be able get it closer to a named stockbroker living near Boston. All they had was a name, an occupation, and a very general location. Milgram, a researcher, assumed: 1. Nebraskans know no one in Boston, 2. they would never complete the task. Amazingly, those Nebraskans eventually got the packages to the stockbroker.
It took an average of 5 mailings to get each package to the right place. Each mailing was to someone they thought might be closer to the final intended recipient. That step is called a degree of separation. This experiment is the basis that people use to claim you can get to anyone in the world in 6 steps.
Here is some more information that makes this study usable in a job search, sales or your career.
Milgram stacked the deck in his studies. In previous experiments, lower income people often ended sending chains. Milgram recruited higher income people to start these chains. He made the package as impressive as possible by using a fancy Harvard document richly signed. He asked each person in each step to send a reply card to him to track progress. This was an experiment in getting strangers to help.
Tomorrow I will show you how I have been using these facts and results to expand my network effectiveness dramatically.
Something To Do Today
Go over your network list. Who do you know. How many people do you know. Tomorrow I will show you how to dramatically increase your network effectiveness.
You might have fun reading about Milgram’s studies. This article is the closest to the original documents that I can find. Wikipedia has information on the the different iterations of the experiment.
The first step to making your job search 50% more effective, is to really know what is happening. Yes, get a job in half the time. Let me give you an example that changed my life that applies to your job search.
I was overspending by 20% every month. I had an absolutely fixed income. So I bought a notepad and kept track of every expense. In one week it was obvious where the money went. In a month it was unavoidable. The truth? 20% of my very limited income was going for lemonade from cozy little shops in Murcia, Spain.
Your time is very limited. You only get 24 hours a day. You can’t buy more time. Do you really know how you use it?
Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace. (Sawyer)
Buy a small notebook. Exert incredible discipline for one day each month. Every time you shift tasks, write it down. A phone call is a shifted task. An internet link can be a shifted task. Write it down.
It may help to create 15 minute intervals on the paper and write down what you did for each 15 minute period.
Now get out the chainsaw. What was really REALLY productive? Do you spend 2 hours daily trying to avoid offending people by chatting amiably or reading their useless emails. Cut out the unproductive stuff.
Make sure you do what is important. Education is essential. Networking is critical. Talk about the NCAA tournament with Larry—don’t kid yourself. That email of funny things kids do—delete it.
I tried it. I found I was spending hours each day with candidate email that wouldn’t do any good. I did a 2 month experiment. I took all my job openings off the internet. Instead I started calling up people. In the recruiting business that is taking a chainsaw to your daily schedule. Nothing neat and clean, I just cut 25% of my time wasted. I have since added back some job ads, but not where everyone else advertises. Now I get better candidates and less time wasters.
Create the log. Keep it for a day or a week. Get your chainsaw out. Cut off the termite riddled, least productive part of the log. Use the time you save to get the most useful things possible done.
Something To Do Today
Create a time log. Use it for your job or your job hunting. Keep it. Analyze it. Chainsaw it.
Next: Unbelievable networking facts.
Later: Take unfair advantage of those networking facts.
Useful work or administrivia?
One of my managers told me, “Bryan, you don’t work hard enough. I put in 60 or 70 hours a week. Even if I’m just in here filing stuff, I’m getting more done than you.” I couldn’t answer him. I was too amazed. He took my silence for the deep pondering of a well taught student and left. I am grateful he could not read my mind.
The hardest working people I know are paid about the same as others who work steadily and put in 40 to 45 hours a week. Both the 70 hour week and 45 hour week people are VP’s and directors. They are paid the same.
The people working seventy hours a week focus on the 3 do’s differently. They focus on working efficiently or hard. They want to get a lot of work done. At the end of the day they point to the fact that they did the work of 3 people in only 70 hours.
The 3 do’s
- Do it.
- Do it right
- Do it right now
The people working 40 to 45 hours a week also focus on the 3 do’s. But they first prioritize. They try to avoid adminstrivia, the things we are asked to do that don’t really help.
One director I worked for said, “When my boss asks for a new report, I faithfully send it to him for 3 weeks. It is always a masterpiece. The fourth week I prepare it for him and don’t send it. If he calls and asks for it I apologize and he has it in his hands in minutes. Most of the time he never asks for it. I prepare it for a couple of more weeks just in case, then I stop entirely.” He was one of the most highly rated directors in that company.
Now lets get something straight. 45 or 90 hours of wasted time will get you nowhere. Solitaire, internet poker and reading the news don’t count as well spent time. You have to be doing what’s most important for 40 hours each week to beat out the person working 70 hours.
In your job search or your job this lesson applies. Are you only putting in the time or are you focusing? Are you doing the hard things that will have the biggest impact, or are you spending your time in the same online job boards praying for miracles?
Do it. Do it right. Do it right now. Don’t get distracted. Focus on what is most important. Then take some time off with your friends and family. They’re important too.
Something To Do Today
It is time to figure out what you are doing. Really. Make a list of the things you do at work or in your job search each day and each week. Think about it. Are you consistently working on the most important stuff, or are you merely focusing on activity?
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:
- Earn money
- Save money
- 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.
Many recruiting offices have a button that rings a bell. You can only push the button when you make a placement. Some recruiters live only to press that button. When they do press it, they keep their finger down for a full minute. It drives everyone else nuts with envy. Recruiters are competitive people.
Placing someone in a job motivates recruiters. Sure recruiters want money. That’s not their base motivation. Their whole job is centered on making placements.
Want to motivate a recruiter? Convince them they can place you quickly.
Some things that help:
- A great resume showing accomplishments, not responsibilities
- A positive attitude
- Talents that are in strong demand
- Winning interview skills
- Reasonable salary expectations
- Motivation to take a new job
- Little job hunting done on your part already
- A list of companies you would like to work for
- An exclusive relationship with the recruiter
- Your spouse and kids back you in the move
- Willingness to relocate or commute
- Ability to interview at a moment’s notice
- Great references that can be checked immediately or that are already on LinkedIn
- A current job
If you bring me all of the things above, I’ll start salivating. I’ll drop everything I am doing and find you a job. So will any other recruiter worth his salt. With that list, you should find a recruiter who will market you. Get his commitment to report back how his marketing is going. If he won’t commit, he is the wrong recruiter.
The way to motivate a recruiter is to be a great candidate. If you have a motivated recruiter, soon you’ll have a new job.
Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game. (Trump)
Something To Do Today
Go back over that list. Can you figure out how to line up more of those things for your next job hunt? Ask a recruiter for his honest opinion, AHow marketable am I and what can I do to make myself irresistible to employers? You can, get a commitment from your recruiter of how much he’ll do and when he will call you back to report on his results.