Tag Archives: self-promotion

5 Simple Ways to Refresh Your Social Media Activity

refresh

Everyone’s looking for ways to squeeze more miles per gallon (i.e., value, $$, etc.) out of their social media activity. But it’s easy to have that activity become a time sink that eventually consumes your waking hours. Here’s what I do to avoid that from happening (your mileage may vary…if so, let me know what you do):

  • Use a social media engagement management tool. It’s fairly common knowledge that most social media posts don’t get read at the first exposure; those posts need to be refreshed from time to time to capture more eyeballs. Some tools let you control the schedule when those posts should be refreshed. Some like HootSuite; others prefer MeetEdgar (I just started using MeetEdgar). Check out a comparison of the two tools. You’ll get some of your time back into your schedule.
  • Work your social media activities at the same time every day. I write my blog and posts to social media early in the morning. That’s my most productive time of day – before noon. Figure out what time of day is best for your efforts, but research the best time of day and days of the week to post on your social media platforms. I write 5 or 6 daily items for Twitter for 5 days at one sitting and I plan out new blog and LinkedIn posts for the week on Monday mornings. Then I schedule those activities in MeetEdgar.
  • Get involved in other writing-related and speaking activities. It’s another way to get your content and brand into other channels. I’m always working on one or two drafts of upcoming books, keynote speeches, ebooks, columns for professional association journals, and Powerpoint presentations. These activities are usually scheduled for after lunch for a couple hours.
  • Get involved with other creative pursuits. Activities that involve other areas of the brain (and body) often lead to creative breakthroughs. I play classical guitar and have my own recording studio. I perform mostly on Sunday mornings at churches around central Texas (I have a Bach repertoire and a few old hymn arrangements) or with my flute partner for public and private performances in evenings during the week or weekends on a regular basis. The idea for my book about classical guitar (Instrumental Influencess – another 2012 IBA Winner) came about while practicing one evening in my studio. I’ve also just re-immersed myself into painting seascapes and landscapes, following my father’s footsteps as a painting hobbyist.
  • Make time for your family with activities outside of social media. Be sure you support the people at home with your time and attention who are supporting you. While my wife and I schedule fun things to do on the weekend, we also have downtime to do whatever (for me, that may include some classical guitar practice or working on book drafts), but it usually doesn’t involves adding content to social media platforms.

My schedule is a busy one, but it’s a well-rounded one that includes my family life, interests, and goals. If you’re involved in many different creative pursuits because you have to be…I completely understand!

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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Why Video Résumés are a BAD Idea

video resume

“First Impressions Video”, “Video Cover Letter”, and “Video Résumé” all sound like creative and unique ways to be remembered by hiring managers. Before you whip out your Sony handheld, have you ever heard of Aleksey Vayner? As a senior at Yale, he created a video résumé entitled, “Impossible is Nothing” for potential investment banker hiring managers, and he never dreamed of the results.

He included clips of his weightlifting expertise, some dance moves that would make Baryshnikov blush (the dance moves – or the outfits – or maybe both), and his own unique diatribe about the ingredients for attaining success in the working world. One of those hiring managers emailed the video to his friends, and from there it went to YouTube, where it instantly went viral.

The media and bloggers everywhere ran the story, thereby making Mr. Vayner’s humiliation total and complete. You might find some YouTube parodies of Mr. Vayner’s video, but the original has long since been removed. Wikipedia and Google have documented Mr. Vayner’s self-absorbed career strategy beyond the video résumé and it makes for an interesting read. A wild and crazy guy for sure.

Besides the video résumé being an ineffective medium for getting a hiring manager’s attention (do you think attractive people might receive a different level of consideration vs. less attractive candidates? Wouldn’t you want to be evaluated on your expertise instead?), Mr. Vayner mistakenly believed that a résumé was about him, and not how his skills, knowledge, and experience could be positioned as the hiring manager’s problem solver.

I think the grammatically incorrect title of the video résumé should have been a clue to its contents – or maybe a warning.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER






Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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Do You Suffer from “Twitterhea”?

pepto in a spoon

You know how some pop music radio stations play your favorite song so much that you quickly get sick of it? When that happens, that song becomes the punch line of a joke. I remember when “Hang on, Sloopy” was such a big hit in the ’60s, and then the DJs ran it into the ground so much that the joke became, “Hey did you hear what happened to Sloopy? She let go…”

Well, I may be stirring the pot here, but the same thing can happen with too much of a social media presence. Many people suffer from it but are afraid to admit it. It’s a virus that affects the center of the brain that controls the compulsion for attention on social media like Facebook, but often shows up on Twitter. Nevertheless, some Twitter pundits recommend “3 to 5 Tweets a day” as a good healthy balance but it’s not the number of daily tweets that determines if you suffer from Twitterhea: it’s the number of daily Tweets that offer no content of value to others. That’s just a compulsion to be seen and heard.

Sure there’s a proper balance, but what determines that balance is the value of  your content. The value of YOUR content is what separates you from others who simply retweet the content of others all day long. But even if you tweet your own high-value content, there’s still something to be said for “less is more.”

Using 140 characters to get out a message is just about as long as people’s attention spans can stand before they start thinking about their next meal (or their next Tweet). If you’re trying to build brand equity, first ensure what you put on social media is weighted more with your own insight and knowledge than totally forwarding the words of others. Mix it up but leave it heavier with your own wisdom and expertise.

You know best what your goals are for social media. Remain aware that building your brand relies more on your thoughts and ideas rather than echoing those of others (though there can still be value there too).

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

 

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Overcoming the Imbalance of Power in Job Interviews

imbalance of powerPerceiving others accurately is fraught with obstacles and difficulty. We each have our own perception filters  that visual signals must first pass through. This initial assessment is typically immediate and doesn’t allow for more in-depth evaluation in the moment, which is something likely borne out of biological necessity: Friend or foe? Fight or flight?

For a hiring manager meeting a candidate for the first time, the instantaneous assessment may include such questions as: Trustful or deceitful? Cooperative or hindering? Facilitator or obstructor? Achiever or just another employee? These are the types of “running the gauntlet” instantaneous appraisals candidates are subjected to before the verbal exchange of information begins. Once an individual passes that initial assessment, a more conscious effort kicks in to determine a clearer perception as provided through words and behaviors.

Your career strategy will benefit from the understanding that the candidate-hiring manager relationship is one characterized by an imbalance of power, whereby the hiring manager (with the power)  is assessing your ability to function as an agent for his or her organizational/business goals. You may have the skills, knowledge, and experience chops for the position, but if you don’t come across as someone who can further the efforts of the hiring manager, you may be perceived as an obstacle to those efforts. That means you’ve gone as far as you’re going to go in the hiring process.

You have to be able to demonstrate your utility for helping achieve those goals through:

  • Being genuinely likeable
  • Promoting the future benefits of your expertise
  • Serving as a facilitator for the hiring manager’s success
  • Affirming the positive contributions of others
  • Making yourself necessary by serving as a problem solver, game changer, solutions provider

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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Impression Management and The Science of Persuasion

persuasion graphic

I recently read an excellent article in the October 2001 issue of  Harvard Business Review by Robert Cialdini entitled, “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion.” He explains these six principles of persuasion:

  1. Liking: People like those who like them.
  2. Reciprocity: People repay in kind.
  3. Social Proof: People follow the lead of similar others.
  4. Consistency: People fulfill written, public, and voluntary commitments.
  5. Authority: People defer to experts who provide shortcuts to decisions requiring specialized information.
  6. Scarcity: People value what’s scarce.

I want to focus on No. 5 (Authority) and No. 6 (Scarcity) as they relate to managing impressions during job  interviews.

Here’s what Cialdini states (along with my take):

AUTHORITY
Example:
A single New York Times expert-opinion news story aired on TV generates a 4% shift in U.S. public opinion.

Business Application: Expose your expertise; don’t assume your expertise is self-evident. Instead, establish your expertise before doing business with new colleagues or partners.

My take: When you expose your expertise through articles in peer-reviewed journals, writing books on a subject in your profession, speaking at conferences, or teaching a college-level class, your authority builds and is promoted and polished by others. The more of these brand builders you have behind you prior to any job interview, the easier it is to continue forward through the hiring process. It’s amazing how opportunities seem to present themselves as your expertise and authority radiate outward in an increasing sphere of influence.

SCARCITY
Example:
Wholesale beef buyers’ orders jumped 600% when they alone received information on a possible beef shortage.

Business Application: Use exclusive information to persuade. Influence and rivet key players’ attention by saying, for example, “Just got this information today. It won’t be distributed until next week.”

My take: This doesn’t apply to insider trading or passing along intellectual property secrets, obviously, and Cialdini goes to some length in his article about deceiving others into compliance. That said, being in a position of authority often gives you access to information that, while not broadly available, could help promote your case, argument, or initiative to others.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

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Lose the “Vocal Fry” if You Want to be Hired!

vocal fryWe’ve all heard it…that affected, grating enunciation of words, usually at the end of a sentence, that has been made popular by certain Kardashian offspring and some pop divas. It’s called a “vocal fry” and is know by such other technical terms as pulse register, laryngealisation, pulse phonation, creak, croak, popcorning, glottal fry, glottal rattle, glottal scrape, or strohbass. Whatever you call it, it’s like fingernails down the blackboard to the ears of most other people – especially hiring managers and recruiters. It is the ugly, illegitimate offspring of Valley Girl talk that nauseated us in the ’80s.

If you want to progress through the hiring process – especially past the job interview – lose the vocal fry if you have acquired it because as hiring managers are under more pressure to do a better job with candidate selection, they are looking for any excuse to say “no” to you as a candidate. And if you believe you are terminally stricken with this glottal rattle, consider hiring a vocal coach – or better yet: an exorcist.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).

 

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5 Tips from Impression Management Master Class

PresentationLoad-Selfpresentation-PowerPoint_640X330In previous posts, I have written about the importance of impression management and the relationship psychology involved with job interviews and an overall career strategy. In my Career Strategy Master Classes, I dig a little deeper on 5 critical issues in shepherding hiring managers to settle on you as their candidate of choice. Here they are – but remember, these are techniques of persuasion, not argumentation:

  1. Given the various presuppositions, prejudices, and preferences hiring managers bring to the hiring process, realize that for some individuals, persuasion may be a challenge for you. A hiring manager with a death grip on an issue or opinion is likely so engaged based more on emotion or beliefs than fact or reason. He or she is operating from a own blind spot where they are blind to their blindness. The strategy here is to employ a series of nudges rather than one big push to gradually move them off their fixed position.
  2. The core of your impression management strategy is always about the hiring manager’s needs and issues, not yours. Your series of nudges must resonate with what is important to the hiring manager; otherwise, you won’t make any progress with self-aggrandizement language.
  3. Remove disparaging rhetoric from your impression management language. Eliminate any thoughts or verbiage that denigrate ideas or individuals. I was once part of an interview team that was vetting a software programmer who was asked to draw on a whiteboard how he would code a particular programming problem. When one of the interviewers asked him why he didn’t opt for a different code approach (one the interviewer preferred), the candidate sneered, “Why go that route? That’s a stupid approach…” and then failed to explain why it was so.
  4. Determine what concerns or issues might prevent the hiring manager from considering you further for the position (he or she may offer that information voluntarily in the interview), and acknowledge his or her concerns. But don’t acknowledge that they are issues. Remove those concerns by focusing on the future benefits of your expertise in a sequence of nudges. Remove the objections one nudge at a time.
  5. Incorporate storytelling into your impression management strategy.  Some hiring managers may ask you to relate an experience where you solved some problem –  or failed to resolve it. That’s not quite what I’m talking about here. Storytelling is a powerful form of persuasion that provides a different perspective or context outside of the “raw data” that’s so typical of interview data collection. A black-and-white fact has a greater impact when it is couched in a colorful story that reinforces the fact – especially when used near the end of the interview.Moby-Dick author, Herman Melville, was a master storyteller. Entertaining Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife one evening, he related a story of a fight he had witnessed on an island in the South Seas, in which one of the Polynesian warriors had wreaked havoc among his foes with a heavy club. Striding about the room, Melville demonstrated the feats of valor and the desperate drama of the battle. After he had gone, Mrs. Hawthorne thought she remembered that he had left empty-handed, and wondered, “Where is that club with which Mr. Melville was laying about him so?:” Mr. Hawthorne maintained that that he must have taken it with him, and a search of the room revealed nothing. The next time they saw him, they asked him what happened to the club. It turned out there was no club; it had simply been a figment of their imagination, conjured up by the vividness of Melville’s storytelling.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).

 

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Protecting Your Brand: Do You Suffer from Ultracrepidarianism?

 

expert

No, it’s not a disease your doctor should screen for, nor is it last year’s National Spelling Bee stump word. But ultracrepidarianism is something that we all suffer from now and again: giving opinions, advice, and prognostications on issues outside of one’s competence or knowledge domain.

Wherever there is more than one side to an argument, there will be those who practice ultracrepidarianism. Researchers wrote about it in The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, and Steven Levitt and Stephen Dunbar wrote about it in Think Like a Freak, where they quoted two psychologists who stated that:

Despite spending more time with themselves than with any other person, people often have surprisingly poor insight into their skills and abilities.

Religion, politics – especially politics – , and business are full of ultracrepidarianists. The whole idea seems to be linked to our worldview presuppositions which can cloud our ability to understand the real truth behind divisive and emotionally charged issues, but that’s too deep for this post. Let me bring it back to career and job strategies.

In the workplace we often encounter “Yes, but…” people who have the insatiable impulse to always interject their opinion or advice no matter how relevant or germane to the question or matter at hand. I once worked with a fellow geologist from Mississippi who always began his contribution to any conversation – regardless of the subject matter – with “Well…taint only that…” Around the office he earned the nickname, “Taint.”

Such out-of-his-league bloviating damaged how receptive any valuable ideas or suggestions he had could have been to others. People began tuning him out as soon as he started talking. Any real or perceived expertise he possessed was discounted because of his urge to always be the “answer guy.” Saying “I don’t know” or even just being quiet was too high a price to pay, so he opted for offering a misguided or totally incorrect opinion.

Knowing what ultracrepidarianism is will score you points at the next cocktail party, but avoiding it will help you preserve your professional brand that you have worked hard to establish.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).

 

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What American Idol Can Teach You About Job Interviews and Networking

I’ve seen so many parallels between how people audition on American Idol for a chance to continue their quest toward fame and fortune for a trip to Hollywood, and how people approach interviewing for a job. On American Idol, the people who are really talented rise above those less gifted, but even among the very talented, there are significant differences.

You can almost spot the “Top 10” contestants by how they handle the audition. The ones who find the most favor in the eyes of the judges understand what the judges are looking for. They are looking for not only “the look” and great vocal chops, but how a contestant gets lost in the moment of the audition. Or, better, yet: how that contestant is on his or her game when they deliver what the judges are looking for.

Do the beggars and pleaders ever make it through to the Hollywood round? Rarely, if ever. If they do, they usually are gone by the end of Hollywood week. They just don’t understand the nature of the audition. They are controlled by the emotion of the moment—perhaps overwhelmed by the celebrity status of the judges—but then they rely on the beneficence of the judges, hoping they will respond to their tearful pleas to get them to the next round. They have allowed their immediate surroundings, the presence of the judges, or other external factors to exert more control of the audition instead of being in control of it themselves. Such behavior quickly and clearly labels these hopefuls as amateurs, and usually disqualifies them for further consideration in the competition.

Your job interview is your audition. When your game is on, you focus on what the hiring manager wants and needs, and you own the audition—the interview—and the space in which you find yourself, rather than feel sucked into it like a semihelpless victim.

Beware of Feckless Schmoozing Disguised as Networking

I empathize with the American Idol judges when contestants subject them to the tearful drama for some special consideration after a poor audition because I have experienced it in the hiring process and with individuals who abuse the idea of networking. There’s nothing worse than getting an email or phone call from a former colleague—perhaps someone I hardly knew to say “hello” to in the halls—who wants to meet with me over lunch for undisclosed reasons. Being reluctant to offend, I used to agree with a modicum of enthusiasm because I knew what was coming: feckless schmoozing, or an outright plea for a job, or a good lead to one—or all three. So now, I don’t accept the invitation unless I first know why. If the person is favor shopping, it’s OK to tell me up front; but to disguise it will always result in losing my respect and assistance in the future.

I call this approach “noxious networking” because it always leaves a bad smell behind. It’s a sign of desperation, whereby professional decorum takes flight before I’ve ordered an appetizer. Such people are interested only in what they can get out of the relationship, and not in how they may be able to help others. It’s a surefire way to ruin a potentially great networking contact.

Networking works best when it’s about building and maintaining mutual relationships—with a focus on the word, mutual. Those relationships are best nurtured well before you need to use them; otherwise, it is simply a selfish, selfabsorbed, oneway strategy others will detect quickly, and you’ve likely just burned what could have been a key contact for your job or career search.

Nurturing professional networks requires time and energy. You want to ensure you are creating mutual professional relationships with someone you feel you can help and who can help you. Sometimes, the perceived benefits of such contacts are greater than the actual ones.

Be Honest with Network Leads

Back in the mid1990s, the division manager to whom I reported wanted to bring in several of his friends and former employees to interview for a vacant technical writer position that was available on my team. We reviewed the résumés of the three individuals who had extensive experience in the aerospace industry with writing and illustrating technical specifications. They were actually more engineering draftsmen than technical writers, but the boss insisted we interview them. Members of my team knew before the interviews that none of them qualified as microprocessor technical writers and editors, and we would very likely pass on recommending them for hire. All the candidates worked in DOS-based environments and didn’t have any experience with the Windowsbased applications we used.

The interviews lasted about four hours and, as expected, we didn’t recommend any of the candidates for hire. The division manager thought he was helping his friends and former coworkers by scheduling interviews with my team, but the ultimate effect for these folks was just another disappointment that was becoming evident in their faces as the interviews wore on. My team felt uncomfortable going through the interview motions knowing we wouldn’t be making job offers, and I disliked being put in that position with people’s livelihood.

Just as it’s wrong to pass no-talents through to the next level in American Idol, so is granting interviews to candidates you have no intention of hiring.

Are You a Job Applicant or a Job Supplicant?

The overt nature of begging and pleading for a job smacks of misdirected energies as well. The very term “applicant” has synonyms such as “aspirant,” “contender,” and “claimant” that imply some degree of intent, concerted effort, or purpose. People apply for vacant positions, or they fill out job applications. The individual who must resort to pleading is known as a “supplicant,” which has as synonyms, “requester” and “petitioner.” People who resort to supplication when seeking a job either are not considered seriously for the position or may have to work harder to earn the respect of co-workers, if they are hired.

So, if supplication is your preferred approach, just remember how so few American Idol pleaders have heard one of the American Idol judges say…

“You’re Going to Hollywood!”

Shortsightedness is often the reason American Idol hopefuls fail in their auditions. Many of the finalists put “being the next American Idol” ahead of the love of music and making music for the enjoyment of others as so many first-round wanna-be’s confidently proclaim to the viewing audience and the judges. Sometimes in the hiring process, shortsightedness comes across in candidates embracing the “I need a job” mindset rather than seeing themselves as the hiring manager’s problem solver. It’s a matter of focus that makes all the difference in the approach to an audition/job interview.

A Final Word

Whether you are seeking a job within your industry or are considering a complete career change, heed the advice from American Idol finalists:

  1.  Play to your strengths and know your limitations
  2.  Maintain an approachable, likeable personal style
  3.  Show some personality
  4.  Understand what the judges are looking for and need
  5.  Above all, it’s talent

As with American Idol finalists, the person who outperforms the competition, who brings to the open position the skills, knowledge, and expertise the hiring manager needs for the position—and promotes that expertise throughout the hiring process—is ultimately the person who carries the day.

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Keep a Log of Project Successes

This sounds like obvious advice, but far too many people think of their project accomplishments only when it’s time to update their résumé, often years later. By then, important details may have escaped their memory. Keeping a weekly log of project accomplishments and challenges helps keep you on course throughout the journey through minor adjustments, rather than having to make a major “dead reckoning” midcourse correction or as the project comes to a conclusion.

Here are just a few reasons why you should maintain a detailed project log regardless of the size of the project.

  • A log of past project accomplishments not only helps with crafting an attention-getting résumé, but serves as a project history and reference guide for when you encounter the same or similar projects later.
  • A detailed project log helps capture your thought processes and how you assimilate, formulate, and execute your ideas throughout the project history.
  • When you need talking points for an annual review, promotion opportunity, or job interview, you have the details handy.
  • A detailed project log shows you the dead ends you may have been down once, and can avoid them in the future for similar projects.
  • It helps you frame your participation as a contribution to the higher strategic objectives of the organization rather than as a “task completion” if you update your résumé further down the road.
  • A detailed project log helps you calculate reliable quantitative data (dollars earned, costs avoided, percent improvements, etc.) that further demonstrates your value as a solutions provider to the organization.

Participating in internal process improvement initiatives can pepper your résumé with notable accomplishments.

My friend Stan Smith was part of a division publishing initiative at a former employer where seven people were charged with designing a new plan for creating, managing, and disseminating technical information to address emerging changes in the publications world. While the cost to implement the 18-month plan was between $1.5 and $2 million dollars (in 1998), the initiative was projected to save $2.3 million dollars in publishing costs and overhead each year after implementation.

Even though Stan wasn’t responsible for the entire initiative, his contribution is mentioned on his résumé. In fact, his detailed weekly log entries were a significant component of the final published study that was presented to upper management.

My wife  kept a project log of how she prepared for taking the exam for the “Certified Fraud Examiner” designation. During the lengthy practice test and study sections, she noted which sections were harder than others, and mnemonics she created to help her memorize key information, terminology, and formulas. Her notes were later published through the certified fraud examiner association website as a study tool for others to use as they prepared for the hugely comprehensive exam.

If you are in the habit of keeping a project log, keep doing it; if not, today’s a good day to start.

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