Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You Are the Solution

Someone sent me the link today to a good piece on resumes by Alison Green where she asks: What is the Number One question your resume should answer?

The question Green has in mind is: What did you accomplish in this job that someone else wouldn't have?

What Green is saying is, What has made you special so far in your career? What's your differentiator?

The clue is in the word accomplish. In an excellent resume, you tell a compelling story, about your skills and past achievements, that says to prospective employers, Here's what I can accomplish for you.

So, if the ultimate question in a job search is, Why should I hire you?, the answer is, Because I am the solution to your problem.

How do you become the solution and not just another dreary job hunter? The key is a mental adjustment, from pushing a Product to presenting a Solution to a Need.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 30, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

What Draws You In?

With the help of sitemeter, I can view the locations of people who visit this blog. They come from all over; for example:

- Israel
- Japan
- Ireland
- Canada
- Norway
- Russia
- Palestine
- Netherlands
- South Africa
- Germany
- Spain
- India
and all over the United States

My wife asked me, What are they looking for?

Good question.

According to Google Analytics, the Top Content that my visitors look at includes:

- the series on Organization Development
- the series on Employee Engagement
- the post on 70-20-10
- the post on RASCI
- the post on "sense of agency"
- the post on the 3 things you like most about your job


What draws you in?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your Interview Dashboard - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series called Your Interview Dashboard, we started designing a "mental dashboard" that a job hunter can install in his or her head for use during interviews in order to smoothly steer through the challenging waters of the interview.

Here are a couple more gauges:

- Your Answers Part 3: Are you conveying your Skills and Accomplishments? To do so clearly, succinctly, and powerfully, tell CAR Stories, using the Challenge - Action - Results format. Start with describing the challenge or problem you faced; then describe the actions you took; then detail the results you achieved.

- Your Energy & Pace: If you have ever taken a training class on Presentation Skills, you probably learned that How you speak is as important, if not more than, What you say. This How is comprised of many facets, including Pace and Energy, both of which are important in an interview. Let's look at each element.

Each of us has a natural pace that manifests in our movement and in our speech. Some of us are fast moving, fast talking. Others more methodical, slower in moving, slower in speaking.

In an interview, it's important to find a balance between being yourself and matching the pace of the interviewer. It's like a dance and you don't want to drag your partner down, nor step on your partner's toes.

Participating in an interview is stressful, demanding an energetic performance from you. You may find as the interview goes along, that your energy level varies. If your energy is draining away from you, so will your enthusiasm. It's important to monitor your energy level so that you boost it as needed to energize your answers.

An interview can run as long as an hour or more. And it's not unusual for an employer to string several interviews together in one day. By the end, you could be wiped out. How do you maintain your energy level throughout such a grueling course?

The best thing you can do is train. Like a runner. If you are a job hunter, get in shape. Start training. Practice and rehearsal are key.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Your Interview Dashboard

Preparing for an interview is critically important. It includes many ingredients, including: researching the company, writing questions that you will ask, and making a "dry run" drive to the site you'll be going to so you don't encounter "surprises" that could heighten your anxiety.

But what about during the interview itself? How do you steer through the challenging waters of the interview?

I'd suggest installing the following "dashboard" into your mental space, and keeping an eye on the gauges:

- Your Answers Part 1: Are you answering the questions advantageously? In other words, are you positioning yourself as the answer to their prayers? Since a job hunt is a sales campaign, think of an interview as a sales meeting, part needs assessment (i.e., the employer's needs) and part solution building (and the Solution Is You!).

- Your Answers Part 2: Do you know if you are answering the interviewer's question? Try asking: "Have I answered your question?" Answering is a balance. You don't want to under-answer, nor do you want to over-answer.

Remember: If you are invited in for an interview, chances are very good that you are a finalist for the opening. Don't disqualify yourself. Use these dashboard items to perform at your best. And win the job!

In the next post, we will look at Pacing and Energy.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Development Pyramid

At the ODNet listserv, OD consultant Roland Sullivan passed along a question from a student who asked:

"How would you integrate Executive Development, Talent Management and OD?"

I'd define the terms as follows, and represent them visually like a pyramid:

The Base is OD where OD is everything the organization does, as it pursues its goals, to continually adapt, change, and renew itself in response to its environment.

The Middle is TM where TM is everything the organization does to continually replenish its people assets and capabilities.

The Tip is ED where ED is the ongoing process of strengthening the capabilities of current, as well as future, senior level leaders.

Though it wasn't posed in the question, I'd add another layer, just under ED, for Leadership Development, where LD is the ongoing process of strengthening the organization's leaders at all levels.

Development Pyramid


Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Marketing 101 for Job Hunters

Today's job seeker has been thrust into a Sales & Marketing role that they may be completely unprepared for. The starting point, for a successful search, is self-realization:

~ the Product is the job hunter.

The job seeker has to develop a job search campaign, containing such elements as:

- an Objective: What sort of work does the job seeker want to do?

- a Target Market: For whom would the job seeker like to work?

- a Story: What "value proposition" will the job seeker convey?

To be successful in this campaign, the job seeker has to examine and get to know:

- the Self: What skills and capabilities does the job seeker possess?

- the Other: What does the prospective employer do? What does the prospective employer need?

To find and connect with prospective employers, job seekers must develop and utilize various skills, especially:

- Networking

- Communicating

- Consulting

If there's one person who has learned a thing or two about "getting gigs," it's today's job hunter.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Raising Consciousness - Donna Coulson


Recently I started a discussion on LinkedIn with this question: "How can we raise our consciousness and make the world a better place?"

I was inspired by another LinkedIn member, Lawrence Gelber, who had said:

"Consciousness can be raised in various ways, education being among the more obvious possibilities. Various meditative techniques have been found to elevate consciousness, and a committment to periodic self-review probably would not hurt. I am not a "guru" but it strikes me there are basic things we can all do to learn to accomodate each other with more grace, despite differences."

In a search for some of those "basic things" we can do, I asked my friend Donna Coulson to be a guest blogger. Donna is a coach, a consultant, and fellow graduate of Rutgers. Here are her thoughts, on some ways we can raise our consciousness, tailored for those affected by this recession.

Raising Consciousness by Donna Coulson

Although Change is in vogue and OK, you need to stop doing 32 things at once out of fear of losing jobs, losing money, and losing your self confidence.

You need to focus on Needs. Whether you’re new to a job or holding tight to an old one, be Conscious about the role NEEDS play in your life.

From a coaching approach, NEEDS are drivers -— not always positive. The need to find or retain a job is real. Is your need -—or fear-- driving you to work excessive hours or surf the net 24/7?

Key: Are you focused on the right things rather than just doing things right?

And you need Stillness. We need to still ourselves and make ourselves quiet for short stretches so we can gain insight into who we are, what impact we want to have, where we shine best at work in and in life and when we need to Say No or Say Yes to requests/work.

You need Perspective. Talk to a Great Generation person who lived through the 1930s Depression Era. They will tell you they have enough--food, money, friends and, if you will listen, they will tell you how to live through the toughest of times. 2009 is tough but this is the group that says about their youth, "We were poor and didn't know it." I find theirs a marvelous perspective and not at all insulting.

Finally, you need Direction. Are your needs driving you in the right direction? What’s your purpose and mission —-beyond finding/keeping a job-— for your life from this day forward?

Remember: You are a talented person of the universe! You didn't lose that in a Recession. Find the right place for yourself.

[Copyright 2009 by Donna Coulson. All Rights Reserved]

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 23, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For Father's Day

Consultant and blogger Mike Rogers asked a great Father's Day question at LinkedIn:

~ "What kind of leader was your father?"

My father, George James Seamon, was a leader: he was a policeman. A coach. An umpire. A teacher.

He had strong principles. He loved his family. He defended his country in WW II.

He was very handy and did a lot of home repairs himself. My knowledge (such as it is) of tools is all due to watching him at work when I was a kid.

He was a great singer, who sang in choirs, which stimulated my love of singing, which has now been passed down to my son Dave.

Proud of his Irish heritage, he was a faith-filled Catholic who never missed Mass.

He never spoke much about his experiences in the war. Though he never liked camping as a result of what he went through over there in Italy.

His idealism and his experiences as a city cop gave him a very cynical view of politicians who he deeply distrusted.

Yes, he was somewhat resistant to change. But he had a very big heart, and went out of his way for his friends.

I miss him.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 21, 2009

Waiting For the Phone To Ring?

Are you "waiting for the phone to ring?"

Currently, I am working as a career transition consultant, helping people, who have been "tossed out" by their employers, to galvanize their job search.

One of the principles we try to convey is "Don't sit around waiting for the phone to ring."

It's part of a larger philosophy about change, in the context of career transition, that says:

~ Take Charge.
~ Be proactive.
~ Identify your target companies.
~ Research them and identify their needs.
~ Pursue them.

We teach our clients to craft their personal brand. To adopt a sales & marketing attitude about themselves and their search.

We say, "When you are in a job search, you are in Sales. And the product is You."

Today, I've been a participant in a conversation on the OD Network's main discussion list, called "Why Don't More People Call Us?" In other words, why is the phone not ringing?

The question itself is a symptom of what's wrong. OD consultants need to alter their outlook.

They need to galvanize into action, as my mother used to say.

They need to get hungry, like job hunters, and pursue their quarry.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 20, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fast Start to Re-Employment Part 2

Continuing the "Fast Start" series, here are a few more ideas for galvanizing a job search.

5. Objective - Do you know what you want to do next? For whom? Where?

>> Fast Start Idea # 5: Set a job search objective that includes Role, Company, and Geography.

6. Positioning Statement - There are a lot of job hunters on the market right now, some with skills and experiences that are similar to yours. Do you know how to differentiate yourself?

>> Fast Start Idea # 6: When you are asked "Tell me about yourself," be prepared to deliver a positioning statement that goes like this:

~ About You Professionally (e.g. "I am a Human Resources professional with over 15 years experience in leadership roles...")
~ About Several of Your Key Capabilities (e.g "...with key capabilities in Training & Development, Performance Management, and Change Management...")
~ About Your Objective (e.g. "...looking for a challenging Talent Development opportunity in the pharmaceutical sector in NJ.")

7. Profile - With so many people on the market right now, hiring managers are being deluged with resumes. Do you know how to make yours stand out?

>> Fast Start Idea # 7: Have a strong professional profile statement, on the top of page one, right under your name and contact information, that follows this outline:

~ About You Professionally (e.g. "Seasoned HR leader with over 15 years of leadership experience...")
~ About Several of Your Key Capabilities (e.g. "...with key capabilities in...")
~ About A Special Quality or Achievement (e.g. "Author of..." or "Recognized winner of..." or "MBA from...")

8. Business Card - Do you have a professional business card ready to go when you are networking or interviewing?

>> Fast Start Idea # 8: You can get business cards for free at vistaprint.com or 123print.com. All you pay is shipping and handling.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fast Start to Re-Employment

Yesterday, I got an urgent request from someone who just lost her job. So I offered four "fast start" ideas:

1. Target Companies - Is there a company or other organization that you would like to work for next? Several? Do they know you are interested?

>> Fast Start Idea # 1 - Go directly to these employers and communicate your interest. Identify key decision makers inside these companies and send them an introductory letter. Then call them.

2. LinkedIn - Are you on LinkedIn.com? If not, consider doing so right away. It's the world's largest online professional business networking platform. And it's free. It provides you with a way to connect with others, research companies, look for jobs, and more.

>> Fast Start Idea # 2 - Connect on LinkedIn with people you know and then connect to people they know who can help you network into your target companies.

3. Indeed - Do you use an aggregator job search site like Indeed or SimplyHired? With thousands of job boards on the internet, the aggregators are a one-stop site that spiders over all of the others and delivers consolidated results that match your search terms. And it's free.

>> Fast Start Idea # 3 - Use the refinement filters on the left side of the results pages to find your target employers or similar organizations.

4. Recruiters - Do you know a few good recruiters (aka headhunters or executive search firms) who specialize in your field and industry? If not, ask your trusted colleagues who they would recommend.

>> Fast Start Idea # 4 - Contact several specialist recruiters to find retained searches.

In the next blog entry, I'll continue the Fast Start process with a few more ideas.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 13, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Give to Get

The Buddhist concept of karma says, in part, that all of our deeds have effects. These effects are the fruits of our actions. And we may not realize the far-reaching nature of these fruits.

In the West, there's an old saying, "What goes around, comes around" that I think has a resemblance to karma.

The karma of the job search says, If you want to receive something, first you must give something. Freely give your time and talent to others. Give without expectation of getting anything back.

My wife will often say, "You reap what you sow." Again this bit of wisdom has a resonance with karma.

And the lesson for job hunters is clear: You must give to get.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 12, 2009

Volunteering

Under the heading of "areas that job hunters overlook," a high-value activity is volunteering. This can take many diverse forms...

- from offering your time at a soup kitchen
- to serving on a committee at your place of worship
- to heading up a subcommittee in a local chapter of your professional society (e.g. ASTD, ODNet or SHRM for a Training & OD Guy like me)
- to starting your own local job search support group
- etc

Or all the above.

I have found in my own personal experience, that the more of the above that you do, the more you get from it, in relationships, connections, visibility, and ultimately job leads.

Fellow HR & networking expert Abby Kohut has a great blog entry on this.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 11, 2009

Terrence Seamon's Job Search Tips

I have started a new feature on twitter where I'll be tweeting tips on the job search. The first one is:

~ Get Busy. Stay Connected. Be Visible. - #seamjobhunt

Each one will be followed by #seamjobhunt so that you'll be able to search for the unfolding list of tips.

Feel free to add your favorites.

Here at my blog, Here We Are. Now What?, I'll expand upon the cryptic nature of these tweets with more info.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lay Me Low

Yesterday was a sad day, with the news that someone from my church congregation had died. A fifteen year old who, without warning, passed away while sleeping.

Last night, my wife Joan and I attended a concert by Caritas, a wonderful a-cappella choir from our area. They sang a solemn yet lovely old Shaker hymn called "Lay Me Low," that goes like this:

~ "Lay me low, Lay me low, Lay me low, low,
Where Mother can find me,
Where Mother can own me,
Where Mother can bless me."

I don't know whether my interpretation is correct, but the feeling I get from this tune is that of a mother laying her baby in a crib. Lovingly. Carefully. Soothing her child to sleep.

As a parent of two boys, I remember the experience, when they were little, of laying them down to sleep. It's a sweet memory that I cherish.

Now, my friends are getting ready to lay down their son to eternal rest.

Rain is thundering down on central New Jersey this morning as I write this entry. It's dark and stormy, the rain pounding on the roof.

In time, however, the clouds will roll on, and the sun will return.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 9, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

On Networking

Much is being written about networking these days. And it's a good thing because networking is a critical part of an effective job search campaign.

But networking continues to be a challenge. Many don't understand it. Some are afraid to do it.

To help overcome this, and encourage job hunters to give it a try, here are three basic ideas about networking.

1. It's not about asking someone for a job. Networking is not begging. Rather it's about asking someone for information, for advice, and for referral.

2. It's an exchange , a conversation where each party participates and benefits. You are seeking to learn about the other person's organization or industry. They are seeking to learn about you and your goals.

3. It's a two-way engagement. It's connecting and the synergy can benefit both parties.

Think of networking as sowing seeds. Lots of them. All will bear some sort of fruit. Some will be opportunity.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 8, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009

How Leaders Can Make A Difference

The 1960's song "What the world needs now is love" was prophetic. Fast forward to 2009, and what the world needs now is Love, Hope, and Change.

At LinkedIn Q & A, I recently asked, "How can leaders make a difference? What can leaders do to make a real and lasting difference in the world?"

Here is a sampling of the answers:

David Scott: "You can't say you're committed to solving world hunger and then sit on the couch eating Cheetos while watching Simpsons reruns."

Erik Skar: "Getting involved in your community by giving back to local charities and organizations. Leading by example so that others can see and learn from actions that true leaders take."

Lawrence Gelber: "It is only when human consciousness gets raised on the individual level, and thinking thereby becomes clearer and more life-supporting, that change will come. Lasting change is the responsibility of each of us, not our "leaders."

This answer from Lawrence Gelber then triggered a follow-up question: "How can we raise our consciousness and make the world a better place?"

A sampling of the many answers:

Shankar Barua: "I do believe that it is enough to *sincerely* wish to do so, because the rest will flow from that."

Greg Cramer: "Influence your circle of known people every day. You cannot do everything but you can do something."

Terri Maurer: "Like others, I don't feel this is rocket science...it's a matter of just opening our eyes, looking around and finding a way to make someone else's day easier...open a door for them, pick up something they dropped, smile and mean it when you ask someone if you can help them, give away what you don't need to someone who does."

Susan Schwartz: "One step at a time, commit random acts of kindness, common acts of courtesy, and take some time to look at the sunlight. Turn off one lightbulb. Pick up one piece of litter. Close one faucet. Speak gently to someone who's asking for help. Give honest directions. DON'T walk on by. Buy yourself a rose. Repeat as long as it takes, or as long as you live."

Ed Rankin: "A Native American myth recounts that the Creator gathered all of creation and said, "I want to hide something from humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they can create their own life and their own reality." The eagle said, "Give it to me; I'll take it to the moon and hide it there." But the Creator said, "No, one day they will go there and will find it." Then the salmon said, "Give it to me; I'll hide it in the bottom of the sea." "No," said the Creator, "they'll get there too." The buffalo came and said, "Give it to me; I'll bury it in the plains." The Creator said, "No, they will get there. They will cut into the skin of the earth, and they will find it even there." But then Grand Mother mole came, the one that has no physical eyes to see on the outside but has spiritual eyes and the capacity to see on the inside, and she said, "Put it inside them; they'll never find it there." And the Creator said, "It is done." Self awareness is the key to consciousness. Be mindful. Be aware, Be fully present for others."

Sujatha Das offered two favorite quotes:

~ "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein

~ "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" ~ M.K. Gandhi

In closing: "The place to improve the world is in one's own heart" - RM Pirsig

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 7, 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009

In the Crucible

Some of the changes we go through in life are subtle, like hair gradually turning gray. Other changes are like a crucible: a situation where the heat is turned way up. A trial where we are severely tested. From which we emerge different, hopefully stronger and wiser.

One example: the many workers that have lost their jobs due to downsizing, who are now "in transition," and are looking for their next gigs.

Where will they land? Back in corporate roles? In smaller companies, such as start-ups? In completely different jobs, such as teaching? In non-profits? Perhaps some will go into consulting. Or start their own small businesses. And some will go back to school to re-skill and re-invent themselves on a new career path.

Whatever the outcome, all of these individuals are now striving in the crucible of change.

They will emerge different, but how? Will they have greater self-awareness? Will they be smarter? Will they grow in wisdom? Will they be more caring toward others? Will they be stronger in the face of adversity?

For Organization Development practitioners, this is opportunity, since what OD is all about is Change. Transition. Resilience. Learning. Adaptability.

We OD practitioners have a lot to offer to those who are in the crucible. We should be focusing on ways that we can support the strengthening of these critical capabilities as people experience the crucible.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 4, 2009