Friday, 26 August 2011

Building alliances

If you look anywhere at information about how people find jobs or work the data will tell you that somewhere in the region of 70% of people get their jobs through networks or contacts. So the building of those networks is critical.  The old adage 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' holds true.
So how does one build alliances with others? 
Networking is all about reciprocity.  It's not about what can you do for me but what can I do for you. It's not about can you give me a job but about how I can help you along your journey so you can help me. If networking is about finding information, it’s also about giving it.
Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s  'How to Win Friends and Influence People' and it’s message stays with me. There are great wisdoms here, whether you are networking in the real world or virtually. So here are some of those great words of wisdom
Don't criticise, condemn or complain
Give honest and sincere appreciation
Arouse in the other person an eager want
Become genuinely interested in other people
Remember the other person's name
Be a good listener, encourage people to talk about themselves
Talk in terms of the other person's interests
Make the other person feel important- and do it sincerely
The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
Show respect for other people's opinions. Never say ‘you’re wrong’
If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
Begin in a friendly way
Get the other person saying 'yes  yes' immediately
Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
Let the other person feel the idea was theirs
Try honestly to see the other’s point of view
 My other advice is.. do small goods along the way. That is the way that you will get remembered.
Now let’s be honest I can’t say that I do all of those all the time but I try. 
So when you are looking for networks and seekig information remember good old Dale and embrace his principles. They might just help.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Thoughts on a rare and beautiful thing ..a One-77

Last night when driving home from Devon, we were overtaken on the motorway by an exceptionally rare thing of beauty. An Aston Martin One -77. Well I would not have known what it was.. I just said 'what on earth is that?'. And a lovely russet colour it was too. I knew it was something unusual. Now my petrol head husband thought it might be a One -77 and so we had to get up close behind it so that I could take a photo from my phone. Later he went on the web to verify the sighting. I believe he put something on another website too. It is so rare we are famous by our association of being on the same motorway.
And the point of this.
  • Class stands out. I knew that I had seen something different and exceptional.
  • You don't have to be an expect to recognise beauty. I could see it was lovely.
  • The car did not have to show off. It was not going fast or some dreadful Lamborghini yellow
  • The details required verification. No one makes a decision on one swift glance alone.
  • I think this car, as with talent needs to be nurtured and lookd after.. it would not look the same dirty!
  • Association with such an exceptional object conveys some glory

    There were only 77 ever made. It cost £1.2m new. I'll never buy one even if I could afford it; to spend that much on a car is just not conscionable.
    I've got the photo if anyone would like to see it but the whole experience made me think about talent. we can see it, recognise but still need to verify it. Talent can be expensive but it has to be affordable too or we will just walk on by. It is so far out my reach I don't even lust after it...But just by being close to great talent we can bask in shared glory and maybe even learn something!

    Just a few thoughts.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Should I use a personal profile statement when I write a CV or resume?

Should I use a personal profile statement when I write a CV or resume?

I’m often asked this when I am coaching and helping people write a CV, an my response has always been formed by my years as a headhunter… I never read those two line introductions. Well, that’s not quite true, I only ever read them if I couldn’t make any sense of the cv itself. That says it all? So on that basis the answer to the question would be no?  well actually the answer is maybe; it depends what you put in the profile.
Given that we know that recruiters spend very little time looking at a CV before they make a decision whether to read it; (not the wording, carefully chosen) you need to make every word on that first page count. Every word needs to add value. So if you are applying for a senior finance role in a public sector organisation having spent 20 years working in finance in the public sector: what does it add to your CV to describe yourself as ‘senior public sector finance professional’? Nothing, the reader will see that from the jobs you have had (all nicely highlighted in bold so they stand out).
According to Linked In research the following are the most common words that people use to describe themselves:
  Extensive experience
  Proven track record
  Team player
  Problem solver
Great words, which describe a great employee but if you string half a dozen of them together it will say nothing distinctive about you as an individual.
So is it worth while putting a personal profile on your CV at all? It can be if you use the space well: to add value. Firstly it can explain what you bring to the role if your career history does not explain that very clearly. But be careful, part of the reason that I ignored such statements was that  they are assertion and  public sector recruitment, or any recruitment using competencies requires evidence not assertion. Your body copy in the CV must support your profile statement.
Secondly this is the opportunity for you to promote your uniqueness, to spell out what makes you tick, to ensure the recruiter sees what will make you stand out from all the other ‘suitably  qualified and experienced professionals’. This is your personal brand statement.
When I do career coaching with individuals I spend quite a lot of time working with them to identify what it is that they actually do bring to a role, what is different because you are involved in this work, what combination of skills and attribute make you worth employing. Personal branding is a growing element in job search. Using the common words will not make you stand out, having a very clear sense of yourself and what you can do for a new employer can attract the recruiters attention. They may not read it, but if they do and you’ve created a powerful message, it may tip your CV from the ‘bin’ pile to the ‘in’ pile.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Are you feeling a fraud? just waiting to be found out?

In the 1960s  a couple of US therapists invented a term for a severely debilitating and self limiting condition: the fear of being found out suffered by high achievers. People who felt that they were imposters, that they did not deserve their success, that they were not really qualified for the job they were doing. These were not people who suffered the odd wobble of confidence but people whose lives were being  riven  by constant terror of being exposed.  

Since the 1960s there has been considerable research into ‘imposter syndrome’. Research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds; other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like fakes at one time or another. "Some people, the more successful they become, the more they feel like frauds," says one researcher. 

Most likely to affect  people whose lives have been an uninterrupted string of successes, they  feel a fake, discount praise, dismiss their achievements, focus on their mistakes and finally attribute their success to luck or chance.   The consequences   include a tendency to over perfectionism;  the individual puts in more effort, studies obsessively, practices every detail compulsively,  works and reworks the report in the small hours. This strategy  increases the chances of success but re-inforces the individual’s sense that they are not really talented, they have only achieved the success because of the extraordinary amount of work. So they repeat the efforts. Alternatively the imposter fails to prepare thoroughly or work hard. They then attribute the success, not to an ability to ‘wing it’ but to pure luck, a fluke, to the fact that no-one spotted the flimsy nature of the work. 

Imposters will go to great lengths to ensure they are not ‘found out’.  They work harder than others, they don’t ask questions in case it is seen as exposing their ignorance, they don’t ask for help as it will expose weakness, they can be belligerent when challenged and turn aggressive if offered help. Often they won’t apply for promotion, they don’t ask for pay rises, they underestimate their abilities and they suffer constant anxiety as they continually benchmark their efforts against those of others. 

Suffering from this is debilitating and self limiting, managing someone who suffers can be challenging and frustrating as they decline additional responsibilities or obsess over details. So can the cycle be broken?  

·         Give detailed feedback on precise things that the person did that made the work a success
·         Point to the skills or talents needed rather than the effort
·         Help the person to make the causal connection between what their talent and the end result 
·         Draw comparisons between them and those who can’t do what they can (they will be comparing with others who can do it better)
·         Help them value what comes easily to them, to recognise their accomplishments
·         Help them identify their development needs constructively
And if it is you that is suffering: take this medicine for yourself, review your successes in detail and explore your precise contribution and ask ‘what would have been different if I had not been there?’ Get support from a third party to identify what you can do, understand that the small things add up to big things and be kind to yourself.
Ps The very early research did find that imposter syndrome was a feminine thing more recent research reveals that it is equally distributed between the sexes.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Number 1 reason for wanting to change jobs is now money.

Number 1 reason for changing jobs is desire to 'increase pay and benefits'

This is a reversal from last year when 'improving job satisfaction' was cited as the top reason for employees wanting to change jobs. The CIPD latest Employee Outlook survey reveals that job satisfaction has been relegated to second place behind pay and benefits, as the rising cost of living bites. The survey finds that 36% of employees report their standard of living has worsened over the previous 6 months, compared with 29% saying this was the case last summer.