If you focus on the innovations happening around you, it can change your career. When an idea, technology or procedure is new, it takes a week to become an expert. A year later it takes a year to become an expert.
I became a database expert in a week when Oracle 1.0 (yes, I’m that old) came out. I talked my boss into springing for $100 to get a copy. I parlayed that into becoming a DB2 guru by buying a book. One book. I became a data modeling expert because no one else had a clue what that was. One innovation led to another, and my bosses had no desire to stop me. All the industry magazines and experts were using the buzzwords I could implement. I was on the leading edge. I was riding the wave of innovation. Every career progression was caused by taking two weeks to prepare for an upcoming, essential, mystifying technology.
Do a little internal innovation and focus on using other’s ideas and new technology. It is always easier to become an expert when technology and techniques are new. What is new in your field?
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Try it again. The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Figure out what the buzzwords are that people are barely starting to define in your field.
Do you pick up money you see on the ground? Do you stop your career in order to do a menial project or take a job someone else should do?
Bending over to pick up a hundred dollar bill is a bad investment of your time if you are Bill Gates. He has averaged earning more than that every two seconds since Microsoft started. I did the math.
Imagine you’re the fastest pizza maker in the world and make the best pizzas ever. However, your name is also Tom Monaghan, and you founded Domino’s Pizza. Is the best use of your time to make pizzas and sell them? No. Not even close. No matter how good your pizzas are, or how many you can make, if you focus on making pizzas instead of making a corporate empire, you will be wasting your time.
Just because you are the best person for the job, doesn’t mean the job is the best opportunity for you.
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What are you doing that keeps you from tackling more important projects? Who can you get to do that job for you?
Google puts first things first. They figured out how to rank pages by how they are connected. They put the page that will be the most useful to you at the top of your list. That saved so much time that people abandoned the other search engines.
Connecting web pages is a simple concept. A web page links to my website. Another site links to that first web page. Now, all three are connected.
There are simple and complex strategies to being ranked highly by Google. All of them are forms of networking. The two most common strategies are: 1) you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and 2) become the expert.
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours
You offer to list their web page on yours if they list your web page on theirs. That way you both get a lot of recognition.
It works in job hunting, too. Although it’s not as simple as with websites, the basic idea is to help as many people as you can, and they will help you.
Getting articles published in trade journals is one example. There are literally thousands of local, state, regional and national associations and publications that need authors. Call up one and tell them you want to write an article. Local newsletters are especially useful. If you do a great job, they’ll publish it. The people who get those newsletters will then consider you an expert. They may just call you to help them with a question. They may offer you a job.
If you have something interesting to say, and already know you are a good speaker, contact your chamber of commerce and get on their speaker list. If you would like to be a great speaker, contact Toastmasters. I know there is a club near you. Go to https://www.toastmasters.org/. They are the best speaker trainers in the country.
Become the expert
When you are the expert, everyone seeks to be connected to you. You can get to be known as an expert by getting certifications or doing consulting work.
Certifications are available for almost every field: sales, HR, accounting, real estate management, security, law, computers, etc. Often hirers search resume databases for the certifications and assume a good person will be attached to them.
Consulting work can really mean just getting a temporary job in the field. If you are unemployed, you have little to lose. Contact all the temporary staffing agencies and ask them if they place people with your skills on temp jobs as well as permanent ones. If they don’t, ask them who does. I was surprised that there is a market for temporary doctors in Antarctica, temporary electrical linemen in Alaska, and temporary environmentalists in Butte, Montana.
Figure out how to get connected to as many people as possible. It is a Google job search method that gets you in front of the competition. It could eliminate all your competition.
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Make a list of ways other people have connected to you in your job, even people who you might not have worked with directly. Track down how they got connected to you. Think of ways you can use that to connect with more people.
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.
Buzzards circle overhead. Struggling across the desert mile after mile, a hiring manager finally can walk no further. He starts to crawl. A candidate drives up in a jeep with 100 gallons of water. He offers the hiring manager a ride to a hotel and all the water he can drink if he’ll split the cost of gas. The hiring manager says, “I’ll only pay you for the water. You are going that direction anyway.” The candidate shakes his head and drives off.
Everyone wants a bargain. It is just a fact of life that candidates want more money and hiring managers want to pay less. Your lifestyle is affected if you earn less. Thus is the lifestyle of the hiring manager. Managers are evaluated based on overhead. Even if they are rewarded on output, they want to cut overhead. It is their nature.
There is no magic chart that tells what you should be paid as an employee. I know one programmer who got a 40% raise when he finally realized he was worth more. He went to his manager and said, “Everyone else on my team is earning $50,000 per year. I’m better than most. Why am I earning so little?” What bothers me the most is that the manager and the employee felt good about the raise. How about a bonus to make up for the previous years?
Even if you are the only person in the country who can save his company, the owner is going to look for a bargain. They just do. In the same vein, you will want a raise immediately after finishing training the company pays for. For some reason, a man dying of thirst still wants a bargain on a bottle of water. That’s why you have to be worth 10 times as much to be paid 2 or 3 times as much.
Something To Do Today
Where have you been out-bargained in your job search? What can you change about you, to be a better bargain?
“I am earning $115,000 per year. But I don’t want to be a food scientist anymore. I want to be a Java programmer. I’d like to earn about the same salary, but I’d consider less. Maybe $80,000 per year. I also want to move to Pennsylvania. I don’t like Texas. I almost got a PhD degree so I am sure someone will want me. Can you find me a job?”
At that time Java programmers with 2 years experience were earning $60,000 per year. They had no Java experience. They were studying it. Their goal was to get certified and then move to their new career. Their degree was unrelated to programming. Dropping from $115,000 per year to $80,000 per year seemed to them to be a sure way to interest an employer. I had to let them know that they weren’t worth anywhere near that as a programmer.
Their problem was that they wanted to be hired at top dollar before they had a track record. And, yes, he did get hired. Just not at those terms. They realized the reality of the situation.
No employer can stay in business when they overpaid their employees. If their expenses are high, they have to charge more. Then their competitors take all their customers away. No customers, no business, no jobs.
In order to be hired you have to be the best bargain of all the people who apply. You need to have proof that you will do more excellent work for less money than anyone else. That doesn’t mean you have to be the lowest paid. You have to be the best bargain.
A great salesperson will be paid three times what a mediocre one is. Yet, everyone wants a great salesperson and will pay for them. You may pay them three times as much, but they bring in 10 times the profit. That’s because high volume cuts your overhead costs. Great salesmen are worth a lot more. Did you notice the ugly fact that great salesmen are worth 10 times more, but are only paid 3 times more?
What about network technicians? If you can improve computer response time by ½ second per entry by 1000 clerks, you can save $100,000 per year for your company. If you can keep the computers of 1000 clerks from going down for 10 minutes each week, you are saving the company 166 man hours per week. That will allow them to save the wages of 4 clerks. A great network technician is worth much more than the one who allows network problems to continue. The ugly fact is that a great network technician is only paid 2 or 3 times what a barely acceptable one is paid, yet his contribution is 10 times greater.
You need to document what makes you great. Present it to your boss when you do it. When you are looking for a job, put dollars produced and saved in your resume. If you prove you are worth more than you are being paid, there will be less resistance to paying you more. Prove you are worth ten times more, then accept wages two or three times higher. It’s ugly, but that’s the way it works.
Something To Do Today
Think about what work you have done over the last week or two. What are a few things that can make you worth 10 times more?
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.”
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?
You are not trying to get the job of “minion” or “muscle”. Don’t pretend that exploiting your life experience is wrong. It is not the same as mugging someone in a back alley. The real reason most people don’t want to exploit their advantages is that they “want to stand on their own two feet”. It is a lovely macho phrase that means very little. Our society, families and personal lives all rest on the shoulders of those who came before us. Admit that no matter what you do, others have helped you. Get on with using the advantages that parents, teachers, friends, clergy and God have given you.
Here are some excuses people use and reasons to exploit them for your advantage.
I will not exploit my family connections to get a job.
Acorns don’t fall far from the tree. Employers need reliable hires. Getting someone from a good family is a much better bet than hiring a complete stranger. If they can’t hire you, but they suggest someone else hire you, they get brownie points from that other person. They win as much as you do.
My friends are too close to my heart for me to ask them for help.
If your friends object to helping you get a job, they don’t trust you with THEIR reputation. If you are going to let them down, you are not a friend. If they trust you and you will follow through, helping is what builds friendships.
I refuse to manipulate their emotions.
People always hire based on emotion. Always. Even if no one talks to you and they only give you a paper test, they hire on emotion. Paper tests are put together based on what people FEEL will give them the best employee. Your pay will be based on emotion – how well they FEEL you will do. Promotions are based on emotion – how do they FEEL you will do in the new job. Don’t be dishonest. Don’t be an actor. Tell the truth simply. The emotions behind the truth will help you Use them.
Inviting them to lunch is brown nosing and sucking up.
Actually it is called networking. In many companies senior partners and executives can be fired for not having lunch with enough different people. They are evaluated on lunch. Literally.
I won’t tell them I left because I was sick. I don’t want their sympathy.
You are fine now and it is relevant to understand your resume. If it will substantially help you get the job, tell them. Talk to a couple of job experts and get their opinion. If it will help, exploit it.
I want the job, but I don’t feel right pressing them to choose me
They want to hire the person with the best attitude. They want the person who will work the hardest. They want someone who they can promote. They want someone who is excited. They want to hire the hungriest person. How can they tell that about you unless you keep asking them, “When will you decide?”, and, “When can I start?”
It is greedy asking for more money.
If the offer is very good, take it. Don’t argue. Otherwise, ask for more money. If you really are worth it, get the money. If they pay you more, you will be less likely to leave for another job because of more pay. They win too.
Taking this job to get experience, when I plan to leave later, is wrong.
Hiring and training you does cost money. Companies that invest that money have already figured out how to profit from it. They will either give you a raise and promotion, or expect you to leave. They will make money. You won’t cost them a thing.
I’m a veteran, but it is not fair to use that to get a job.
The leadership, teamwork, calmness under fire, discipline and fortitude veterans develop is uncommon. Bring it up.
Your life experience makes a difference. Whatever that experience is. You need to use it and exploit it.
Something To Do Today
Think of these “excuses”. If there are any that you use, how can you use it to your advantage?
Do you mistrust “Positive Attitude” mentors? Do their programs sound good but make you depressed after a while?
The answer is found in liquid Helium vs Helium II.
Helium II is a very unusual liquid. In the next paragraph I’ll use two people to show the difference between liquid Helium and Helium II.
Jim applied to be a space shuttle astronaut. He practiced his positive mental attitude and visualizations twice a day for an hour. He knew that would get him the job. Somehow he ended up getting a rejection letter. Jim thought that being a 35 year old, out of shape, high school dropout out without a job or a desire to get one should have been overpowered by his “positive attitude”. A 77 year old man had more of a positive attitude than Jim, so he got the job. John Glen flew into space as an old man because he figured out a way to overcome the huge obstacle of age. It involved getting a job in congress and deciding how much money NASA got.
Attitude is really about preparing, contributing and finding your way around obstacles. Jim did not have a positive attitude. He just liked to think he did. John Glenn had a positive, unstoppable Helium II attitude.
Norman Vincent Peale, Maxwell Maltz and other attitude masters always said that attitude is NOT everything. Attitude just helps you figure a way around obstacles or a better direction to go with your energy. Positive attitude was never meant to be a replacement for reality and effort.
Helium II is an example of gas with an attitude. Helium II is supercooled helium that is not just a liquid, but a very special liquid. It will slip through molecule sized cracks in a container. If you leave it in an open beaker, it will climb the walls of the beaker and get out. Swirl it into a little whirlpool and it won’t stop swirling because it has no internal friction. It is practically unstoppable in many ways. The only way to really stop it is to let it warm up just a little bit. Then it becomes a normal liquid and all those fascinating behaviors stop.
You can have a Helium II attitude. Use your positive attitude to look for ways to escape the container you are in. Is there a crack you can exploit? If necessary, can you climb out of any career pit you have fallen into? If nothing else, you need to keep moving while waiting for your next opportunity. Don’t ever stop improving yourself and doing outstanding work. If you let yourself get hot under the collar about what has happened to you, you may become stuck right where you are, or slip even lower. Prepare and grow while keeping your eyes open for the next opportunity.
A while ago I helped a man get a much better job. For years he has been struggling with jobs that were below his skill level. The reason they were below his skill level is that he has always been educating himself. He has been spending his own money to better himself. His jobs have not measured up to his constantly growing skills. Since he was overqualified he decided to do the jobs he had exceptionally well. It wasn’t easy. But with his preparation I finally found him the perfect opportunity. I doubt he will stop now. He’ll keep studying and preparing. Pretty soon he’ll be too big for this job and have to find an even bigger opportunity. For now he’s just grateful he kept on moving and kept up a really positive attitude. The kind of attitude that always finds a way.
Something To Do Today
Writing in a job journal is a great place to start, you can write about what you want to do better. Writing it down rather than saying it reinforces your decisions.
I was asked, “I have been studying to get my programming certification after being out of IT for 5 years. People want to hire youngsters, not a grandfather from the Philippines. What do I have to do to get a job?”
It won’t be easy, but you can get that job.
First you have to understand the way competing for jobs really works. The concepts are not “fair”. In many ways they are not “nice”. They are all based on character, reality and results.
You can fight the principles just like you can fight the law of gravity, but gravity and these principles still apply. Contemplation of the principles may give you great insight. This is “The Art of Job Hunting”.
Over 20 years as a recruiter have taught me these basic principles, and I will do a post about each one of these.
Nothing beats a positive unstoppable Helium II attitude
People who are hurting are terrible employees and everyone knows it
You have to know your advantages and ruthlessly exploit them
The people competing against you must be known, measured, and either beaten, eliminated or enticed elsewhere
You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip
You have to be worth more than you are being paid
A man dying of thirst will still want a bargain on a bottle of water
Perception isn’t important, it is everything
Character really counts
Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way
Relax and you will get cleat marks up your back
Guess what I am going to be writing about for the next few weeks?
Something To Do Today
Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.