Tag Archives: good attitude

Guerilla gardening, jobs and job searches

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” (I found it!) but “That’s funny.” (Asimov)

I was down to 5 blueberry plants.  I had more in the past.  I love blueberries.  Because of the varieties I have, I get to pick them for 2 months each year.

I decided to plant.  I didn’t have the $200 in my budget for the plants I wanted.  So I looked up how to grow my own blueberry plants.  The instructions included mist boxes, planting medium, hormones, infections, mold and other horrible things. I wasn’t about to grow them that way.

Guerilla gardening was the only real possibility.  I spent a couple of months thinking about the problem.  I looked up some things about houseplants and roses.  That spring I gave some fresh ideas a try.

I cut 22 budding branches from blueberry plants of 6 different varieties. I dug holes in the deep leaf compost of the blueberry garden and planted them.  Then I covered the cuttings with jars. The jars keep the moisture level high around the cutting.  It gives the twig a chance to develop roots.

I took off the bottles a month after planting the twigs.  18 of the 22 blueberry cuttings looked like they would survive.  Alas, they didn’t.  I took the jars off too early.  But guess what?  I’m going to try again.  This time I will leave the jars on another month or two.

Guerilla gardening triumphs again. Not only will we save $200, the new plants will grow just as well as mail order plants.  Mine won’t be yanked out of the ground and sent by mail to us.  They will just keep on growing where they are.

Can’t get a reply on your resume? Why not come up with a guerilla campaign – a series of things you can do to get a job.  Do something more than just sending a resume.  Pick a company or 3 that you really want to get into.  Now figure out how to get to know the people who would be your coworkers and hiring managers.  Emails, phone calls, mailing them a bag of M&M’s or inviting them to lunch can all be a part of the campaign.

Unable to get the resources you need at work? It could be an opportunity to shine.  Think of ways to get the job done at low cost.  What resources can be diverted for your project? Study alternate ways of getting the job done. In Spanish “guerilla” means little war.  Figure out how to win each project as a little war of its own.

If your project succeeds, tell your boss in your weekly report.  If it fails, tell him all the alternate approaches you considered.  Let him know you are trying to get essential tasks done with less resources.  He will appreciate it.

If you are job hunting, the guerilla projects that succeed go on your resume.  The companies you apply to will want to know how you can make projects succeed without a budget.  They are eye catching advertisements for your intiative.

Something To Do Today

Take a project you want to do, but don’t have resources for.  List 10 possible ways to make it a guerilla project. Do some research and list 5 more ways.  Is the result worth the effort if it works?  Then make the effort.  Succeed or fail, you will learn something.

3 ways to do a thank you horribly wrong

HR said, “We are still going to bring George in, but his Thank You note wasn’t professional at all.”

I cringed as she told me the problem.  Then I decided to do a survey of managers, directors, and HR folks to see how a Thank You can be done wrong.

The 3 biggest mistakes:

  1. A text message thank you
  2. A sloppy ugly note
  3. Spelling and grammar errors

A text message thank you

Nothing says I didn’t really want to send this message as much as a text message.  The short, compressed, choppy text message can only give a bad impression. An email is the most common thank you note.  Email is fine but text messages reek of insincerity to many hiring managers.

A sloppy ugly note

A clean typewriter paper page with a short handwritten note is great.  A card from the store with nothing inside but your neatly written thanks is wonderful.  Typed is okay if your handwriting is bad.  Short is best.

Paper ripped from a spiral notebook is horrible.  A napkin with a note — please, don’t even consider it.  A pen that skips and was restarted on the page, don’t send it! A card printed from your PC – don’t!  They just don’t look professional.  We are going for professional here.

Spelling and grammar errors

If you have any doubts, don’t send it.  Hand it to someone who is good at spotting bad grammar and spelling.

In a nutshell

You will be judged by what you send.  If it looks professional, heartfelt, and personal, you will be judged well.  If it looks unprofessional, so will you.

It is best to send a nice professional looking note.  If you can’t, sending nothing is better than broadcasting your incompetence.

The hours game – how to avoid it

A coupla months in the laboratory can save a coupla hours in the library. (Westheimer’s Discovery)

A friend sold me a chainsaw cheap.  She was doing me a favor.  She admitted that it ran, but it did not cut well at all.  I took the chainsaw home and reversed the chain.  It works great now.  A little while ago my son decided to cut some monstrous tree roots with the chainsaw.  Suddenly it wouldn’t cut anymore.  The dirt on the roots had horribly dulled the chain.  I took it into my basement and spent half an hour sharpening it.  Now it cuts again.

The career trash heap is littered with the bodies of people who thought 20 MORE hours a week at work would get them promoted. While they were slaving away, someone else reversed the chain or sharpened the saw.  The thinker and planner got promoted.

You need to do your basic job well.  Other than your basic job, what will set you apart?  What will make you the best?  What will make you the natural leader?

Your boss wants to look good and get a raise and promotion.  What can you do to help him? Is your working more hours the only thing that will make him look better?

Your company wants to make more money, spend less, and keep the customers happier.  Can you do something a little better while you are doing your basic job? Can you get involved in highly visible projects?  How can you set yourself apart?

In addition to being better, you have to get noticed, respected, and appreciated. Give your boss a weekly, monthly and quarterly report of exactly what you did better.  Then in your next annual review, you have ammunition.  And if you go job hunting, you have proof.

Take a careful look at your job.  Can you reverse the chainsaw chain somewhere?  Can you just sharpen the saw?  What do you need to do that will move you forward the fastest?  Is just putting in more hours really the most important thing you can do?

Ask your boss how HE is evaluated.  Now ask yourself how can you help HIM get a better evaluation?  Sharpen your chainsaw, don’t just work more hours.

Halloween and your job search

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 so people to call you back.
  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!

Laser intensity – job search and advancement

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

As little 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.

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 an uncertified general accountant. 

3. Finding a high paying job for a legal secretary is easier than finding a high paying job for a general 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.

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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.

Mortal combat: win every time

I exhort you also to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of life, and greater than every other earthly combat.  (Plato)

If you job hunt (or go to work) expecting mortal combat, where the other guy must lose, you will fail.  If you have a strong attitude that, “The company, my manager and I are going to win big,” you will succeed.  In mortal combat you must defeat the real enemy every time. You will lose every time if you fight your allies.

Are companies idiots for not hiring you?  Is every interviewer prejudiced?  Let’s look at your job.  Do you assume that your workplace is run by fools?  Do you know more than your boss?  Do you hang around the complainers and whiners at work?  Are you the ringleader?  Are people out to get you?

People really may be out to get you if you have a bad attitude.  A hiring manager wants someone who will help and support him.  Promotions come to people who help raise team spirits and achieve goals.  Raises are given when a person is worth more than they are being paid. 

Often you have to train your manager.  She doesn’t have your perspective on problems.  You need to constantly bring things to her attention that she may not know. You need to train her patiently, the way you would like to be trained. 

Would you like to get pats on the back for the good things you do along with the occasional pointer on how to correct a mistake?  Do the same with your boss.  Positive reinforcement sets the stage for your negative comments to be heard.  Take an attitude check today.  Are you saying 5 positive things for every negative you voice?  Keep track.

Are you job hunting?  Can the interviewer tell how you engage in destructive mortal combat?  Is that why they are avoiding you?  If the right attitude shines through, they will hire you.

Business really is mortal combat.  You have to plan on winning every time.  Are you going to defeat stupidity with perfect logic and rapier sharp attacks?  No, you will lose.  Do you plan on patiently helping everyone learn, grow and win?  Your victory is assured.

An attitude of constant improvement will win. Constant carping criticism loses every time.   

If you need help getting your job search moving, I’m giving a resume seminar next Tuesday called Your Resume Reeks Worse Than An Outhouse.  It is free and I’ll put a replay up here the next day.  Or let me help you with a 5 week plan.  www.agicc.com/5-weeks.htm

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Something To Do Today

Keep a notepad with you.  Make two columns.  Put a check in one column for every positive thing you say.  Put a check in the other column for every negative thing you say.  Do the positives outstrip the negatives by 5 to 1?

Down Syndrome vs down syndrome part 2

Understand the emotions and actions, ignore the words.

Merrilee has Down Syndrome.  At 9 years old she could read 150 words.  She understands only very simple sentences.  Yet, she is brilliant.  She understands very clearly what people are doing and feeling.  She is not distracted by their words, clothing or cars.

Job seekers with down syndrome communicate verbally and in writing much better than Merrilee.  Their down syndrome, however, makes it very difficult for them to understand, interpret and act on the emotions and actions of others.  

Attitude really is everything in job hunting.  A hiring authority told me, “I hire almost entirely on attitude.  It’s easy to train someone if they have a good attitude.”  If a job hunter has down syndrome it doesn’t matter what they know, they will be a problem employee.

Job seekers with down syndrome assume the people around them are mean spirited, harsh, cruel, difficult and/or unfeeling.  When an HR department fails to respond to their resume, they assume rudeness.  When no one gets back to them after an interview they figure the interviewer is a rude jerk.  When they are probed about why they left their last job they think it is an unnecessary mean streak. Having down syndrome causes you to find the worst no matter what happens.

When Merrilee, with Down Syndrome, is told, “No,” she understands the word.  She doesn’t understand explanations so she figures out what the other person’s real emotions are.  She understands that mostly “no” means not now.  She can feel when “no” means not for a long time.  She gets it when “no” means she could get seriously injured.  

Your job hunting will be much more successful if you focus on what people are feeling and watch what they are actually doing.  Make it a habit to never take offense.  That company may literally have 500 worthless applications for one job and cannot reply to each applicant.  Your interviewer may be impressed, but unable to hire you.  He probably told HR that you have been turned down and HR is swamped with other work so they didn’t call to let you know.

Keep trying to get into the jobs and companies you are most interested in.  This month I called a manager about a job he filled the previous month.  He said, “That job is open again.  Can you help me fill it?”  One month later someone new will be hired.  Those who already gave up are out of the running.  His previous “no” meant “not now.”

Something To Do Today

If it has been over 3 months since you talked to someone at a target company, time to get back in touch.  Things change.  Find out what is happening there today.