My grandfather was a modern farmer in 1930. The local farm bureau agent came by and said, “The government will pay you to rotate your crops.” Grandpa replied, “That is the stupidest thing I ever heard. I already rotate my crops because I can grow more that way. My land doesn’t get worn out. It gets renewed.”
Grandpa was stubborn and wouldn’t take the government’s money to do something he knew he should already be doing. The guys from the conservation bureau had problems with him. He always implemented the latest ideas without waiting for them to come up with a program to get him to do it. Crazy old coot? Really, he was a visionary farmer.
Do you have to be paid to prepare yourself to earn more money?
Reading about your field, reading books, or even listening to audiobooks on your way to work is the best way to keep current in your field. College courses in the evening are a great way to build the basics you need for a foundation for growth. Enthusiasm will get you into seminars and conventions. Pay for it yourself if you have to. It is worth it.
Don’t wait for someone to come and tell you what you need to do and learn. Go out and learn it yourself before that happens.
Something to do today
Find new articles, books, or audiobooks in your field and write down a few things that stand out or are new to you. How can you apply that to your work?
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.
Something to do today
What are you doing that keeps you from tackling more important projects? Who can you get to do that job for you?
To stop a giant cockroach from leaving the earth, one of the heroes in Men In Black steps on some earth sized bugs. They are relatives of the big one. The giant one comes back down and “engages” the hero. “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you.”
If you can get a relative, friend or recruiter to help you, you multiply your chances of getting a job instead of a rejection from that hiring manager.
Let’s start the way we did in the last article. First, make sure you want the job and that you are a decent fit. You can only use friends and relatives two or three times. They are the big guns to use when you really are well qualified and motivated. If you are not qualified for the job, just send a resume through Indeed or ZipRecruiter. That way it only takes you 10 seconds to send it and the computer will delete it for them. Relatives and friends are too important to overuse. A recruiter won’t let you overuse them, so use recruiters as heavily as you can.
Once you identify the job you would be excellent for, you need to figure out a plan of attack.
First: who really respects you that can help? A recruiter who respects you is a much better reference than a brother who thinks you would bomb. The person who you know directly will hand your resume to someone you don’t know. The enthusiasm that is passed on with your resume is the big advantage you get from a friend, relative, or recruiter handing over your resume.
Second: figure out the final target who will be given your resume. Particularly if your friend works there or is a recruiter, they will have several options. If possible, have them give it directly to the hiring manager or their boss. If you cannot get it directly to someone making the decision, figure out who else it will be given to. Just handing your resume to the HR department may do nothing for you in a huge company.
Third: follow up. If you know the hiring manager or their boss got your resume, give them a quick call to verify they got it and see if they have any questions. You may only get their secretary, but you can still ask them if they have any questions. This is where you can reinforce your advantage. If a recruiter handed in your resume, ask the recruiter to follow up, and then you can follow up with the recruiter to ask what the manager thought.
Using a friend, relative or recruiter can get your resume put on the top of the pile of applicants. It will not guarantee you a job, but it will sure help you get an interview.
Use friends, relatives, and recruiters when you are prepared and the stakes are high. That is the best way to get a hiring manager’s attention.
Something to do today
Networking time. Identify the 5 companies and jobs you best fit and most want to fill. Start asking people you know, who they know who works there. You can invite that stranger to lunch with a friend. Scary? That’s okay. Invite them out to lunch anyway. With the friend along it will be more comfortable.
In the last article I talked about how hiring managers are NOT God. I even went as far to say, “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you.”
The hiring manager is not God. They are a giant cockroach.
You cannot assume that a hiring manager will glean 4 key words and 2 key points out of a 3 page resume. You get no points for length and thoroughness. You get no points for briefness. You get points, or an interview, for saying the key words and phrases that the hiring manager wants to hear. If you don’t shout those key words and phrases, the manager’s receptionist will shred your resume. Then the cockroach, the hiring manager, can hide in their office where you can’t get to them.
To find the right words and phrases you need to do some forensic language work. Like a crime scene investigator. Take 3 or 4 job listings on Indeed or ZipRecruiter for different jobs with the same company. Place them all side by side. Highlight all the phrases that are identical. Identify the stuff the human resources department puts around the description the hiring manager wrote. That fluff may possibly be necessary to get you past the HR department, but it won’t get you a job.
Now take your blue highlighter. Mark every misused acronym, word, technical term or technical phrase. Those are the words the HR person didn’t understand. They could very well be critical. You need to have an exact match on those words in your resume.
Continue marking with an orange highlighter. Again look for all the technical terms and acronyms. Mark them all. The orange words are the most likely to be used by a computer or receptionist to screen out resumes.
Finally, go back over the resume with a pink highlighter. Mark the skills that are the most difficult to find. What are the things in the ad that everyone wants and nobody has?
I bet those ads look terrible. That’s good. It means you have taken the time to study the exact words that will get you an interview. You need to include those words and technical phrases in your resume. They will force the screener to pass your resume on to the hiring manager. He will have to call you in order to see if you can do the job. You will prevent him from closing his door and hiding from you.
Something to do today
Get some highlighters and go through ads on the internet. Find the really key words and phrases. Alter your resume before you send it out. Make it so they cannot miss the things that are important to them.
The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (unknown)
The team leader I disliked personally the most was a good project manager. One redeeming social skill was that he knew about Doctor No. When he was asked to add just a little more to a project he would agree and then ask what he got to drop to make up for adding that little bit. He did it religiously. He didn’t just say, “No,” he used the Doctor No approach. He asked the person adding work to tell him what else he could say “No” to. He turned the person giving him the work into Doctor No, a healer.
I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster. The most difficult problem for firefighters is to say, “NO!” It is hard to refuse to carry a mountain as it is thrust upon you one pebble at a time by smiling friends. Still, you MUST gently refuse the pebbles. The best way I have found to refuse pebbles of additional work is to require the person handing you the pebble to tell you which other pebble you can drop. They become Doctor No and fix your time and resource problems.
The velvet glove on the steel fist comes in handy here. As the person trying to hand you the pebble tells you how small it is, you have to clearly tell them it will not get done unless they tell you what else to drop. When they say, “You decide,” tell them, “I won’t do your task unless YOU tell me what to drop.” If you absolutely can’t get them to let you drop something, you then decide to drop something. Tell everyone by voice AND memo what will not get done due to the specific additional burdens placed on you. Then “don’t do” what you said you wouldn’t do.
Does this apply to job hunting? Absolutely. I will give you more information on job hunting than they can possibly apply in a day, week or month. Doctor No is about prioritizing. If you ask me what order to do things in, I’ll tell you. Otherwise I expect you to figure out what is most important and drop the rest.
Doctor No is about setting priorities. It is a nice way to get the people overloading you to help unload some of the burden. Turn those people into Doctor No. Let them be the healer.
Something To Do Today
Most people are afraid to try the Doctor No approach. Try it out the first time with a smaller project, something thrust on you that really is not that significant. Don’t say, I’ll try to get that done and then stay late to finish it. Ask the person to help you figure out what to drop instead. If they won’t tell you what to drop, tell them it won’t get done until they open up a hole in your schedule for you to do it. Then don’t do it. Your pebble pushers need to find out you are serious.
I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to die in a fire of suspicious origin. (unkn)
“Jim barely went home for the last two weeks. He saved the Membership Project. Our customer was screaming because of the implementation problems. We are giving Jim a bonus and a week of vacation for his efforts.”
Jim is a firefighter and an arsonist. He led a project down the path of failure. When his inept leadership nearly sank the whole division, the manager two levels above him stepped in and salvaged the project at implementation. Jim worked like crazy. His whole team did. It really bothers me when guys like that get praised and rewarded. In some companies that is the culture.
Has an emergency caused you to work nights and weekends? Did a job you were the finalist for disappear because of a disaster? Was it filled by a firefighter who is an arsonist? Do your bosses know the arson root of a lot of job fires?
Root causes of job arson are going to be a continuing subject for a few days. Career building and job hunting both have firefighters who are also arsonists. Don’t think you are safe because you are job hunting. It is amazing how many job hunters destroy their own chances of success.
Something To Do Today
Make a list of the times you have had to work late and on weekends due to unforeseen problems or disasters. There is probably an arsonist somewhere. Who is it? Make a list of arsonists.
This list may help your job hunting. It can help you see how you aid and abet arsonists. That tendency may be why you have missed more than one job. People can smell it on you. People who worked with you will innocently let others know you are an arsonist. Are you?
The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men of good will. (Thomson)
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. (Goethe)
I got a furtive phone call from a candidate a decade ago, “Bryan, this idea can make you a fortune. I don’t want to tell it to you unless you promise me half the money you make from it. This will make you rich.”
I answered, “You want half of my business for an idea? Great ideas are wonderful. I have them all the time. What I need are people who can execute great ideas. Will you quit your job and risk everything to make your idea work? Will you be content to be rewarded only after your idea is making money?”
“Well, no. Listen Bryan, if you do it, you will make a fortune. You only have to give me half.”
Unable to keep the idea to himself, he eventually told me that his idea was to bring cheap programmers from India to the United States. It was a great idea. One I was approached with literally every day by phone or email. And many people made their fortune doing it. I just needed someone daring enough to take the idea and run with it. I needed someone to execute the idea.
Do you have a great idea? If you have the guts and energy to gather supporters around you and execute that great idea, you will have the ride of your life. It can be done in your present company, a new company or your own company. Make sure the idea and your plans are big enough. As many companies fail from a big idea executed in a small way as from a small idea executed in a big way.
Write down your plans. Get people to critique the idea. Use criticizers to figure out how to do things better. When someone says, “It can’t be done,” consider the source. Go out and make things happen. Life will never be the same for you.
Something To Do Today
In your job journal write down all the great ideas you have. Do it in a separate section. Discuss your ideas with people who can help you make them happen.
I believe that every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity an obligation, every possession a duty. (Rockefeller)
With up to 9 kids (we have 10) at home, we drink a lot of milk. There isn’t enough room in our 2 refrigerators to keep enough fresh milk. We use powdered milk instead.
Every morning I get up early and write. When I am done I make breakfast for myself. The milk is usually gone. Sometimes I grumble a little. Why is it always me? Everyone uses it. Can’t they make it too? Then I go ahead and make the milk. Occasionally I remind my wife that I made the milk. She can’t leave me for another man. He might not make the milk in the morning. (Truth be told: she makes it more than I do, but I can’t have her believing I am totally useless.)
Do you “make the milk” at work? Are there indispensable chores you do? Then you need to remind your boss of them every week or at least quarterly. Put them in your weekly, monthly or quarterly reports to your boss. He needs to be reminded.
Since you are reporting what you do as routine every week, you better add what the extra things are that you do every week. Write how you saved money, speeded things up, or made a customer happy. Don’t forget to include training you gave or received.
There is no way that your boss can possibly know all the important things you do. He has his own job. Giving him a weekly, monthly and quarterly report reminds him. It also gives him a weekly opportunity to think of new projects to give you. It forces him to think of your career.
Make the milk. Then make sure you get the credit. It really will help your career.
Something To Do Today
In your job journal make a list of the things you do every day, week and month. What do you take care of so your boss doesn’t have to worry? Keep adding to the list. Friday, write up the list and give it to your boss. You may just surprise him with how much you did this week. Okay, maybe not this Friday, but how about tomorrow?
(I wrote this years ago. Laura and I still have 9 kids and grandkids living at our house. We are down to one refrigerator. I make milk every morning for my daughter Merrilee to have on her cereal. The other kids can fend for themselves, and do very well at it.)
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.
If you are scared, get your dad (a coach) to help on a few doors.
Dress for success. Look the part from your hair to your shoes, bag and greeting.
The neighborhood you call on defines the size of the treats you get.
Not everyone is giving out one pound candy bars, but they are all worth visiting.
The more houses you call on, the more likely you will get a one pound candy bar.
Go BACK to the biggest house with the best candy later.
The most successful trick or treaters plan their routes and run from door to door.
If you don’t knock, they won’t answer.
If the porch light is out, you won’t get any candy, but you may get advice.
Some of the scariest houses give the best treats.
You get more treats if you start early and work late.
Asking for candy in the traditional way works, ingenuity may get you more.
Helping a little kid can double your take.
Always say thank you.
Sometimes they just ran out of treats, sorry.
Going with friends (groups and social media) can make a scary neighborhood safer.
It is a night of cold calling, even if you know the people.
Trade candy (leads) afterwards to get what you really want.
If you go to a party instead, and complain, you won’t get a big bag of candy.
Don’t blow out the candle in the pumpkin.
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.
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.
Work hard and fast. Actually do what you plan. Make calls and contacts daily. It is amazing how often luck follows hard work.
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.
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.
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!
My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today, I knew it then as purpose. (Davis)
“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,” reminisced Robert E. Lee.
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?