Snacks, Dogs and Networking

There were snacks in the kitchen at work yesterday.  Aside from a nice, little afternoon pick-me-up, they provided great conversation too.  I found myself talking with two colleagues from other parts of the company.  As we nibbled bits of cheese and cut up fruit, we discovered that we were all dog owners.

One said she was working with a trainer to get her dog to be more social.  She talked about how she is enjoying walking her dog way more than before.

I causally asked if she was seeing the positive benefits spinning off into her work. She paused and thought about it.  Then she got a bit excited.  It seems that the dog trainer had commented on how much more confident she seemed and that she was definitely carrying herself differently.

Her manager and colleagues had noticed the changes as well.  We are going through a lot of change in our organization and it’s been challenging for Quite a few people. She has become the go-to person for helping to sort out problems and find solutions.

All from learning to be a better dog owner…..

There are two lessons to be learned here.

Keep developing yourself.  It could be an academic course, a sport, a craft. It does not really matter what it is as long as you are learning and pushing out from your “usual”.

Let the things you learn come out in all parts of your life.  Don’t hold back.  If you have mastered the art of squaring your shoulders when you snap the leash on your dog, you can do it when you get on the elevator at work too.

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#BellLetsTalk – Great but is it Enough?

Yesterday was #BellLet’sTalk day.  The day when we all spit out messages about mental health awareness and Bell makes a big donation to support research, programs and services.

Bell started the initiative back in 2010.  @Mary Deacon, a long time mental health advocate, was hired to create a plan to contribute $50 million over five years.  @Clara Hughes, Canada’s only dual-season athlete got behind the program early on and has been one of the main spokespersons for the program.

As of 2019, Bell’s contribution had been over $100 million.  This is huge.  It is a main source of funding for many programs across Canada.

Bell has a graph on their website that shows the increase in the number of interactions that generate the funds.  It has gone from 66 million to 145 million.  ( That’s a lot of tweets!

I am very, very happy to see this growth in awareness and people’s willingness to be vocal about their support for the need for increased mental health resources.

But it is not enough.  Awareness does not help someone with mental illness get or keep a job.  That’s where we still need a lot of help.

We still have enormous difficulty providing accommodations for people who think or work differently and this is so ironic because today’s current buzzwords are diversity and inclusion.

I really hoped that the adoption of flexible workplaces and working remotely would start to create space for people who don’t function well until after 11am or people whose moods go up and down.  This just does not seem to the case and it’s really disappointing.

The stats on Bell’s website say that 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer from some kind of mental illness during their work life.  That’s an awful lot of people – shouldn’t we be thinking about more than just awareness?

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2020 LinkedIn Makeover

If you are like most people, you have not taken a look at your LinkedIn profile for a while.  There is a reason for this:  we are too busy looking at other people’s profiles.

Think of it as a winter project.  Set aside 20 minutes each week to hit the edit button and take stock of what the world is seeing.

Let’s start from the top:

Does your picture still resemble you?  If it features your grade eight up-do or it’s a badly lit selfie, it’s time for a fresh one.  linkedin cracked button

Do you have a new title or responsibilities?  Let people know – you will be amazed at the messages that roll in after you do a job or title change.

Any new courses or certificates?  Those really add credibility to your experience.  If you put the time and effort in to learning something new, it should be reflected in your profile.

Are you doing any new volunteer activities?  They can be work-based or community-based.  It all counts.

Remember you are doing this so people can find you and learn more about you.  And not just recruiters like me (although it’s good for us to find you) but also peers, neighbours, and anyone else who might benefit from what you know.

In large companies, people don’t use the company directory to find out about their fellow employees, they go to LinkedIn to get the whole story, not just what’s in the directory.

So keep it fresh and real.  You never know who will land in your inbox!

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How to Talk Compensation with a Recruiter

No one likes to talk about salary. It has this mystical kind of voodoo quality. No one wants to give the wrong answer. It can become a game of who goes first and the real objective can get lost.

It is really not that complicated. Money is just one of the things that have to align for you to be considered a “fit”. If you are already making $100,000 more than the position pays, then the fit is not there. If you are way below the salary range, that does not fit either.

But this is not entirely about the money. It’s also about the risk and the culture.

Say you absolutely love a role so much that you would take a serious pay cut to have it on your resume. Sometimes this can work (and might be necessary) when you are taking a sharp turn on your career path. If you are a corporate lawyer and you want to leave that world to do more human focused work with a better life balance then this would be credible and might be considered.

But here’s the risk: six months in, when the honeymoon is over and you have are driving home after a bad day, you are really going to feel that haircut and suddenly, your job will not seem as great as it did before. You will start to question your decision and that could have a negative impact on your work and life.

Here’s the other thing to consider: not all managers can handle knowing that one of their team members made a lot more money in their last role. It can create all kinds of negative vibes and really mess up a team.

So when money is the topic, be candid and clear about what you are used to and what you are looking for. Don’t try to get away with “Oh, it doesn’t matter” or “We can discuss it at an alternate time”. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an opportunity only to have the whole thing fall apart at the end because the salary is not appropriate for you.

So spill the beans. It is the only way they can be counted.

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Dealing with the Job Market in 2020

It’s a new year and the way things are going, everyone will be part of a hiring process.  At some point in the next twelve months, you will almost certainly interview for a job and be part of a team that is hiring for a job.

This means we all have to learn to handle rejection.  Not just the rejection you feel when you learn that someone else was offered the job you wanted but also when the best candidate turns down your job for another one.

These things are going to happen.  The key is not to let those feelings fester.  Take time to process.  Ask if there is anything you could have done differently. Go for a walk and absorb the disappointment. Call your coach/mentor/partner/friend to share the news.

Then do everything you can to move forward.  Make some notes.  Close up the file.  Put it away. Shake yourself off.  (don’t laugh – it really works!)

Find where you were in the process and get back to doing the work.  Send more notes.  Make more calls.  Keep your focus on the end game.

The worlds or sports and theatre are filled with stories of super athletes not making a team and famous actors who did not get the part despite a fantastic audition.

“Everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end.”

John Lennon




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Top Ten Gifts for Job Seekers

It’s that time of year again – the time of year when we fill the malls looking for the perfect gifts.  Is there a job seeker on your list?  It’s unlikely you can find them a job to wrap up and put under the tree but here are some gifts that they might really appreciate.

  • A new dress shirt and scarf/tie – these are things that are bound to make them feel better as they step into their next interview
  • A month of LinkedIn Premium – you can read about that
  • A couple of hours with a career coach
  • A compilation of the best career podcasts or TED Talks
  • A gift subscription to a magazine. A real magazine that comes in the mail.  That way when they go to the mailbox, there will be something good to look at instead of just bills.
  • A gift certificate from Vistaprint for business cards or personalized thank you notes
  • Resume review with an experienced resume editor
  • A fancy pen or folio to complete the accessories for their interview outfit
  • Guest passes to a couple of yoga or meditation classes
  • Coffee gift cards. There will always be time to use up before interviews and wrapping your hands around a hot cup of coffee or tea is a lovely way to deal with that.  As an added bonus, if they meet someone randomly, they can offer to take them for coffee without worrying about having cash.

Have fun shopping!

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Tooth Fairies, Hogwarts and Comics – Get Ready for the New Year

I was talking with one of my friends the other day and she was bemoaning the state of her career.  She felt like she was at a cross roads and she did not know what to do.

Naturally, I asked her what she really wanted to do with her life.

“Well”, she said, “I want to move to Palm Springs and be a Disney Princess but that’s never going to happen.”

That was a bit of a shocker for me.  I never really pictured her as the “princess” type. But then, I have also had people tell me that they would like to be the Tooth Fairy or take up residence at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Sure, when you get to a certain age, you feel like writing off those seemingly far-fetched dreams, but you don’t have to.

There are, for example, quite a few wish-granting charities.  They hire people in all kinds of professions.  That would be kind of princess-like wouldn’t it?

J.K.Rowling did not start out as a writer.  She came to it after doing other things (like having a child).  Maybe there is a novel in you.  How do you know if you don’t try?

Enriching your life outside work often has unexpected and positive benefits for your day job.  I took a course in stand-up comedy because some day I want to be a comedian (a real one that gets paid).  That really was the only goal – to get a better understanding of how the business works to prepare for later.

Here’s the funny thing: after I took the course, I started doing my job in a more effective way. The things I had learned had an immediate and positive effect on how I presented material and suddenly, my work was more exciting, and I felt more successful.

I had no idea that was going to happen, but it did.

So, keep the dreams coming and take some time to figure out how to move towards them.

If it helps, I will send a sparkly wand to anyone who comments on this post.

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