I don’t know about you but the next two weeks on my calendar are sprinkled with pot lucks, lunches and cocktails. This is generally the time of year where I roll my eyes and find other things to do.
But this year is going to be different. I am looking at each get together as an opportunity to learn new things.
I am going to try not to gossip about people in other departments or complain about the weather. Instead, I am going to share positive and interesting stuff about my work.
For example, when someone asks me how things are going, my response is not going to be “so busy”. Of course I am busy. Everyone is busy. We would not have jobs if we were not busy.
Instead I am going to talk about one of the search projects I am working on. This opens the door for much more interesting conversation than “I am so busy”.
I am also going to avoid asking about people’s plans for the holidays. There are lots of people who are not going skiing in the Swiss Alps or dining with celebrities. While it can be fun to hear about those adventures, it can be depressing too.
I am going to ask about Netflix instead. I plan on some heavy binge watching over the holidays and I need some recommendations.
If I can stick to this plan, I should be able to come away from this holiday season with lots of new ideas and information which will be an excellent foundation for my big plans in the next decade.
I have often said that I talk for a living. Well, this week, it really has been true. I talked to a lot of people over the past week. Some of them were interesting. Others, not so much.
One of the really great stories came from a gentleman who had a long career in the world of finance and accounting. He was really keen on a role that I have working on for one of my clients.
As he was recounting the chapters of his career, I stopped him. He had just mentioned taking something new after more than 10 years with an organization.
I asked him how that happened. He said that he had been on the website for his professional association paying his dues when he decided to take a look at the careers page.
One of the postings caught his eye. He decided to apply right then. He did not go home to think about it or talk with a million people. He just applied.
(Kudos to him for keeping his resume up to date so it was ready to go.)
He got a call the next week and met with the hiring team. Everything went well. He got an offer that he liked. He resigned and the rest, as they say, is history.
This is not a fairy tale story. He was not an exceptional person. He was nice and all but he did not have extra sparkle or a fancy pedigree. He saw a job, applied for it and got it.
When something catches your eye, take action. You can always hit the brakes if something that smells bad in the process but you won’t be in the process if you don’t apply.
Let me just put this out there: there is no such thing as a forever job. Too many people, candidates and hiring managers alike keep talking about this idea.
Candidates tell me that they are looking for their last job until they retire. They want to settle in and have stability.
Hiring managers are rejecting candidates because they might not stay in a role for five or more years.
Get your head out of the sand, people.
The world is changing and so is work. The Canadian work landscape changed dramatically just last week and there is more change ahead. Can we predict it? Not really.
In realistic terms, we should not be looking for a job or an employee for life. We are looking for a role where we can learn, grow, develop and contribute while we earn a living. That’s about what it boils down to.
When you are examining your job prospects, these are the factors to consider:
- Is there room for you to expand your skills?
- Are there opportunities to move into other roles?
- Will your contribution add value to the company?
- Will that value be a point of pride for you?
Hiring a managers need to consider the same factors.
- Can this person grow beyond the role they are hired for?
- Will they add value on day one, day thirty and day ninety?
- Will you be proud to take the credit for hiring them?
We need to stop looking at five to ten year employment windows. Think about what you were doing ten years ago. Could you have predicted that people would be earning tons of money developing ipad apps in their basements? Or blogging about their dogs?
Keep your eyes on the horizon and your resume ready because you never know what’s around the corner.
Things don’t go well all the time. Even when you work really hard to do the right things the right way, shit happens. People who are angry or unhappy lash out and toss around mistruths or accusations. Sometimes the crap lands on people who have nothing to do with the problem.
When this happens, our tendency is to get bug eyed and then close the door and cry.
And that’s okay. Crying is good. It gets the shock and awe (how could they say that?) out of the way so you can move on to dealing with the problem.
We can’t control people who throw crap at us, but we can control how we deal with it.
Yesterday, when I asked a good friend how she was, she replied “Well, I spent yesterday crying but now I’m getting constructive.” Brilliant.
How you react behind closed doors is one thing. What you do in public, is quite another.
Sure, take moment to vent, cry, swear, whatever, but then sit down and make a list of damage control items. Consult a trusted advisor. Take a deep breath and take action.
While you may have to accept that you did not get that job or that your colleague took credit for your idea, you do not have to let it end there. You can send a gracious note to the hiring manager letting them know that you respect their decision and that you would be open to considering other roles in the future. You can find a way to mention your contribution to the project while your boss is listening.
But it takes clear thinking and a desire to rise above it, to let the world know that you really do care about what you do and that a little crap thrown your way is not going to change that.
Do you have any military veterans in your work group? Are there any in your company?
As we stop and pause on Remembrance Day at 11:00, we need to think about not just the veterans from the Great Wars but from the more recent wars.
Every year more than 4,000 men and women leave the military and transition to civilian life. Their average age is 37 and they have a lot to contribute.
Veteran Affairs Canada has a really neat guide that describes some of the resources that are available to help employers reach these great candidates.
Did you know that a Combat Engineer is responsible for building and maintaining roads, airfields and bridges? We may think that road work is tough in our hot summers. I bet it is nothing compared to doing it in Afghanistan.
Supply Technicians take care of purchasing, warehousing and inventory control of food, fuel, tank parts, clothing and a host of other items required to keep a large group of people at optimal performance in crappy conditions.
These are big jobs being done far from home with pressures and obstacles that can be daunting.
We would be hard pressed to have employment conditions that are as difficult no matter how fast our company is growing or how much pressure we feel from the investors.
You can check out the Veterans Affairs web page for more details and for information on different programs being offered to employers to help connect them with former military folks.
There is a really cool program called Helmets to Hardhats that is supported by construction companies and unions. The program works to remove barriers and increase awareness of the skill sets that are available in this remarkable group of people. You can read more about it here.
We owe to veterans and to our companies to talk more about this. They have already served us. Now it is our turn to serve them.
I had a lovely retirement party last week. Yep, retirement party. Not from my day job. There are quite a few years left on that journey. No, I retired from my volunteer gig.
I have been part of the Women in Nuclear board for six years and was on the leading group of my local chapter before that. The members of our group are men and women in all parts of the nuclear industry across Canada. It focuses on communicating the benefits of nuclear technology (energy and therapeutic) to the public. Our meetings and programs offer professional development and networking.
There have been times where trying to live up to my obligations in my day job, my family/household and the Board seemed impossible. But you get through. You work with your volunteer colleagues and get things done together.
And so, as I move to my status as “just a member”, I can step back and recognize that while balancing may have been tough, the rewards are so worth it.
I have a shimmering network of cool, intelligent, giving people. People that I would never have had the chance to meet, let alone get to know. I have had the chance to learn from subject matter experts on many of the forward aspects of the business. When I use this knowledge in work conversations, people really raise their eyebrows as in “wow, you really know what you are talking about”.
Maybe the coolest thing is watching the people who are taking my place. I have watched them develop as they sat on committees, took on projects and now they are taking the lead. This makes me feel pretty proud.
I love my real job but I have to say that I have found tremendous value and satisfaction in my volunteer work too. Together it’s a powerful combination.
The next time someone asks you to sit on a committee or join in on a project outside of work, you might want to say yes. Don’t let being busy be an excuse. You might be missing out on so much good stuff.
I just read a really fantastic interview with Sallie Krawcheck the founder of Ellevest. She has been recognized as an icon but I think there are some really good lessons for regular people in regular jobs too.
Prior to creating Ellevest, a company that encourages women to get educated and participate in the investment market, she was fired TWICE and each time, it was splashed all over the Wall Street News.
She left her small town to go to New York City to start her career in finance but for the first eight years, she felt like she was floundering. She said it took quite a while for her find her way to doing analysis and research where she found her niche. When asked why she stuck with it, she said that she was never going to go back home and tell everyone that it just did not “work out”.
When she found herself between jobs, she said her energy was fueled by anger and determination. She told herself to move on. She said that there are a thousand opportunities for success every week, every day, every month. That’s a lot of drive.
You can read the full article here – it’s got a lot of good juicy bits – including how spending time with her kids actually added value to her role as opposed to being a distraction. You can find more about Sallie on Twitter and LinkedIn.