Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Evaluate Multiple Job Offers

If you are one of the fortunate few to begin benefitting from the slow-going jobs recovery you are in an enviable position.  Furthermore, if the offers number more than one you truly are in an exceptional position and can count your lucky stars for your luck, diligence, experience and brilliance.  In a recent New York Times editorial, Thomas Friedman opines about the factors necessary to get a job at Google.  Casting aside the importance of GPA and test scores, Mr. Friedman’s piece cites leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and a love of learning or relearning as critical metrics to assess success.  These same attributes likely are the factors that can help you evaluate multiple job offers. 

Here is how it might work.  First, employing your skills at Excel, create a spreadsheet that gives you a quick assessment table to compare and contrast the offers.  On one axis, list the offers that you have received whether it be one or many.  On the other axis, list the factors of leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and a love of learning.  You might want to also include other elements that are important to you in a job such as ethical behavior, salary, perks, health care coverage, 401K, free lunch, Friday beer bashes, free donuts in the morning, etc.  You get the idea.  Assign a point system to each of the cells and rank them based on fit and preference.  Once you have assembled your spreadsheet, evaluate each job offer based on the total points and see how each stacks up. 

For the first five factors I mentioned above, let me elaborate on what to consider and to pose questions you should ask of yourself..

Leadership.  Does the new position give you the latitude to both lead and learn new leadership skills?  Is the company itself a leader? Have the people with whom you interviewed demonstrated leadership to you.  Is your potential boss a leader and have you seen evidence of such skill?  You may want to scour the Internet, including Google to look for signs and validation. 

Humility. Does your moral compass resonate with that of the potential employer? Does the company seem to have the intellectual fabric to both learn from you and teach you new tricks?  Do you believe you are open to be accepting of new ideas and the means of accomplishing what you are being hired to do?  Do you have an ego that can be left at the door in the morning?  At the same time, have those with whom you interviewed struck you as being open and accepting?  Have they demonstrated an equal measure of humility and ownership?

Collaboration. Do you have the courage and mentality to team play?  Are you able to join forces with others in pooling your intellectual talents and creative ideas based on your experience.  Has the company and those with whom you interviewed demonstrated mutual commitment to both cooperative and collaborate through their word and/or actions in the marketplace?  Do you get a sense of team from your interview experience and from what others outside the organization say or write? 

Adaptability.  Does the company demonstrate operational flexibility?  Do they conduct their business with flexibility in both ideology and action?  What do their customers say about them both privately and publicly?  What is the company’s track record in the industry.  Has its record over the years demonstrated its ability to adapt to change.  There are many examples of firms able to adapt such as IBM, 3M, P&G and Google.   There is also an equal number of firms who have not. 

Learning.  How is your learning curve and thirst for new knowledge?  Do you sense that the role to which you have been offered includes a road map of learning at the firm?  Does the culture encourage expanding the employee knowledge and skills?  Does the company have a training department?  Does the company sponsor post college education?  Does it boast a high number of degreed employees and does it have ongoing relationships with academic institutions? 

While these are not the only metrics to evaluate job offers, they do represent an important basis to compare and contrast the characteristics that will lead to a good decision and selection. As you evaluate the offers based on the criteria, consider also your passions, interests and abilities.  Assess each position based on the characteristics spelled out in the spreadsheet.  Rate each one and when you have completed the exercise, tally the results.  In the outcome is your answer. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Career Lessons from Bridgegate: Don’t be a Savior or a Martyr

Time and again we are witness to crises of major proportion that often are unbelievable and defy a thinking person's logic. Bridgegate is one such example. How on heaven's green earth would anybody with an ounce of intelligence think that they could get away with creating a traffic jam on a major artery between New York and New Jersey and not get caught.  Moreover how could a senior executive in government service on the scale of New Jersey be so dumb as to think this was a good move for the Governor. Retribution, I suggest, is a dangerous playmate.

The career lessons learned from this debacle are rich, robust and many.  Here are just a few.  

Don’t be a savior or a martyr.  Be loyal but not stupid. Always have the boss' back but not at the expense of your moral compass and personal integrity.  Before you sacrifice yourself or try to save the day, let your conscious be your guide.  The life you save may be your own. 
Ethics rules.  Personal ethics matter. Ethical behavior is de rigueur for any career and critical to career survival and growth.   At the end of the day, all you have is your credibility.  Stay honest.

Play fair. Politics in the office can never end well. It is poison in the workplace and will never help you get ahead. Instead as we know from bridgegate you will very likely lose your head.

Retribution is a dangerous game. It never ends well and almost always comes back like a bad penny, harming the originator.  Your career and good reputation are not worth the risk.  If you have a beef, state it, discuss the dynamics, generate a solution and get past it.

Fess up. If you crossed the line in the sand on ethics or even made a mild faux pas, admit, apologize, fix and move on, all the wiser.

Run a tight ship. Manage your career well and with rigor. Follow your moral compass and always do the right thing. Be honest and open. One of the side benefits is you need never stretch the truth or orchestrate highway havoc.

Learn the lessons of history.  How many examples does the world need to benefit from faux pas of the past?  The books are littered with example after example of screw ups, indiscretions, bad behavior and man’s inhumanity to man.  Let’s start benefitting from lessons learned people.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Year Networking: How to be Dr. Jekyll and not Hyde

Networking is the oxygen of the connected economy.  It is the currency of consumer collaboration.  Unless you are a monk, getting through life in the 21st century is a challenge at best if you have no network.  Virtually every job today is gained through the network.  If you are selling storage, soup, semiconductors, software, soap or self requires relationships and relationship building skills.  Blogs are created just to highlight its importance.  Books are written to amplify its necessity.  Porter Gale’s nearly five star tome “Your Network is Your Net Worth” is one such example. 

I get it.  And my network has steadily grown over the years driven my appreciation of networking’s value and veracity.   My number and position as the 62,086th person to join LinkedIn speaks to the priority I have long paid to institutionalizing relationships and assuring my ability to stay in touch, pay it forward, pay it back and be known in my field.

The bottom line though, networking requires work.  And there is an inherent obligation and responsibility to reciprocity meaning networking can only be successful if it is a two way street.   The essence and value of successful networking demands that it be give and take.  So why am I placing an emphasis on this point?  It is often lost on people that networking requires two people with mutual interests, someone who needs a hand and another who is willing to reach out and help.  It also requires a memory that is permanent and a commitment that is sustainable.

The unfortunate fact about networking is that it can be abused and misused.  I think of it in terms of Jekyll & Hyde.  As you will recall, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel explores the dual nature of man, one driven by instinct and the other reason.  The reasonable man, Dr. Jekyll is concerned about reputation and doing good.  Mr. Hyde lives on instinct, doing what is expedient to self, regardless of consequence.  The point is that successful networking requires sacrifice.  It requires acts of selflessness regardless of outcome.  It demands doing something for others without expecting anything in return. Ultimately, selfless networking has its rewards.  If you have doubts, give it time.  Your generosity is likely to be returned many fold.

With this all said, there are some rules of the road to insure that selfless networking is sustainable.  Herewith are some gems to consider and keep in mind to insure maintenance of the virtuous circle of networking.

You are never too important to respond.   Moving up the corporate ladder does not lesson the obligation to help.  There is the occasional tendency to think that because you have succeeded in an endeavor in life or in your career that your obligation to help others is null and void.  If you benefitted from the generosity of your network, there is always the moral duty to return the favor whether you are CEO or OCD.

Remember the Alamo.  Always keep in mind the kindness paid to you during a tough stretch.   The passage of time does not lesson the need to pay it back.  So often people become so occupied by their career success that they forget what it feels like to be in the queue or facing the future with no prospects .   Institutionalize your nature to help.  And always pay it back.  The life you save may be your own.

It works both ways.  Networking is not a one way street.  You cannot expect to receive the benefits of your network unless you are willing and able to give.  It may be possible to take advantage once or twice.  But eventually your network will find you out and the brick wall of hesitation and inaction will make an ugly appearance.  Be responsible by being responsive.

All Cues, All the Time.  The network does not take a vacation.  It is real time, all the time.  The network does not start and stop.  It is just there for the use of its beneficiaries.  It functions all the time and performs best when all the players use it for the best reasons.  So like the network, once you start don’t stop.  We are in an era where networking is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Wine-ing not whining.   People respond to genuine requests for help.  They won’t respond to a litany of complaints.  Always view the world as glass half full not empty.    The only whining allowed is one without the H.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to Electrify Your Resume

Even while channels proliferate to communicate your passions, position and career preferences, the resume remains firm as your calling card and one of the essential documents that helps you define who you are, what you do and the value you bring to the table.  I know, there is much talk today about the importance of the resume or the declining value of it.  The fact remains that the resume is still used by the majority of talent hunters in today’s hotly competitive job market.  It is what can get you in the front door, if done well, or prevent your entry, if not.

I have written extensively about the resume over the years including these posts, It's About the Accomplishments,  Is the Resume Dead, Constructing a Compelling Resume , Rebooting Your Resume,  among others.  I have also advised employing your resume as the basis for your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.  This assures consistency, repeatability and better search engine optimization by focusing on your essential and core competencies.

So given the continuing importance of the resume, it is vital to keep the resume fresh, vibrant, interactive, enticing and engaging.  The following simple techniques can help to accomplish this and serve to electrify or bring your resume to life with your legacy, life and professional longings.

Opening Salvo.  Include the urls to your Google+,  LinkedIn and Facebook profiles at the top of your resume along with your email address.  Make certain they are hot links so the hiring manager can easily dive into your data that resides on these social infrastructure platforms.

Link it live.  Use your summary or qualifications statement to bring your elevator speech to life.  Make it a live link to either an audio file of you reciting your elevator speech or an on camera rendition.  You can accomplish both tasks using the video function on your smart phone or other tools such as Skype for the desk top or Google+.  Upload the resulting audio or video file to your YouTube channel allows you to institutionalize it for all to see and hopefully marvel.  If you do not have a YouTube channel create one.  It is on this platform that you can create and store original video and audio content for immediate access through links in the resume.

Embed links to owned/earned content.  Employ direct links to your online content within your experience section to provide evidence and validation of your accomplishments or contributions to your employers.  For example, if you wrote copy for an online annual report or the script for a mini documentary, provide the direct “hot” link in the description of the accomplishment.   If you have quantitative data showing the result of a campaign or increased revenues link to an infographic that visually tells the story.  This will help you keep the copy succinct on the resume while providing an easy way to see the full content.  Even if your contribution is a successful pitch to a journalist, provide the link to the actual story.  Adding links to content enhances your resume without needlessly making it lengthy.

Don’t Forget School.   Live linking to your education and professional affiliations can also add further dimension to your background and experience.  When listing your academic credentials, make hot links to your university and degree so that with a simple click an interested hiring manager can see directly the detail about your credential and the curriculum you mastered.  The same is true for professional affiliations you maintain or certifications you hold.  Make those live as well to the associations web site and the detail of your certifications .

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Eight Questions to Answer Before Accepting an Internship

Once again internships are prominent in the news.  Just last week we learned from an article in the Atlantic that barely one third of the U.S. Senate pay their interns.  The White House also was recently chided about not paying interns.  Even the foundation of the COO of Facebook has finally and reluctantly relented and has announced that the foundation will begin paying interns.    

I have written before about the internship on behalf of the Public Relations Society of America and have not changed my opinion one iota.  Internships are legitimate work and should be compensated.  PRSA is so adamant about the issue that it published nearly three years ago an advisory for its 30,000 members about internships.  As noted in a past post  on internships, PRSA believes it is ethically improper to employ anyone who adds real value to a public relations agency or department without compensating them for their work – whether that compensation is monetary or in the form of educational credits. If billable work is being performed by an intern, he or she deserves some form of legal compensation.
There was a time many years ago when internships were employed by organizations to give back to society by offering summer employment to students in disciplines related to their academic studies.  Later the internship evolved to a way by organizations to solve interim staffing issues.  On the candidate side, the internship was a way to get practical, real world experience in the field that would supplement academic training.  Somewhere along the way, internships started to be viewed as a volunteer function and organizations treated them as such.

Let’s be clear though what constitutes volunteerism.  Helping a charitable organization tend to the needs of the underserved is volunteerism.  Assisting an organization to sell books or some other product or service is not.

As young professionals, your goal is to secure a full time professional position in public relations.  If you decide to go the internship route while you job hunt, exercise caution in doing internships that do not help fulfill your career goals and strategy.  Here are several metrics for evaluating the efficacy of internships after you have graduated.
1.   Is the internship a paid position?  And is it well above minimum wage?  This is a critical question for which the answer is simple.  If it is not paid, steer clear.
2.   Is the compensation reasonable for the role?  You should expect no less than $25 per hour, particularly if the job involves in content creation, including writing releases, case studies, blogs, speeches, tweets, Facebook posts and yes, even questions for Quora or content for Pinterest.
3.   Is the internship/job a 40-hour gig and/or are you expected to put in inordinate time that is not compensated?  Most jobs are reasonably 40 hours a week or at max 50 hours.  Investigate if there is the opportunity for paid overtime or compensatory time.
4.   What is the probability that the internship will lead to a full time position?  Assuming you excel in the job, will the employer agree to put it in writing ahead of time?  As Ronald Reagan once said “trust but verify.”  If a permanent position is not in the cards, make certain other conditions are sufficiently compelling to make the internship worth your time and labor.
5.   Is the organization a leader in its category, whether a non-profit, corporation, institution or agency?  Your credibility, integrity and personal brand are all built on your associations.  Make certain that the organization is a thought leader or at least “reputation safe.”
6.   Will the internship help to appreciably increase your skills, broaden your understanding of the field and augment your network and sphere of influence?  These are all vital characteristics that should be inherent in your investment in the internship.  If they don’t contribute, think hard and long before you accept.
7.   Can you use the content you create as part of your portfolio?  Will you be able to take credit publicly for your intellectual labor and resulting product?  It is wise to have some evidence that you can use to validate your accomplishments.
8.   Will your employer give you time for other pursuits including volunteer work, professional affiliations and networking?  Don’t be chained to your desk.  Make sure there is adequate freedom to network, volunteer and attend to other professional endeavors.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What to do if your job sucks!

You are into the 11th month of your new job.  There is no psychological lift from your work. The boss is a serious micro manager.  You are not having much fun.  You are at your wits end and see no relief ahead.  What should you do? 

This scenario likely applies to more people than one might imagine. Perhaps even you. Rest assured you are not alone. The good news is that the situation is not fatal and there are ways to manage the pain. Here are some ideas.
1. New gig.  Well you could look for a new job but in the current environment, job searches are lengthy at best.  It is an option that exists but it is not certain.  And as the saying goes don’t put all of your effort and thinking into one basket.  So while you are looking here are other means to an end.

2.  Relax.  Take a deep breath.  Count to ten. Take a 20 minute walk around the block. Take a sprint on the beach.  Sit back. Decompress and come to your senses.   

3. Endure. Don't quit.  The job market is still in turmoil.  You have a paying gig and are still able to pay for the roof over your head and three square meals a day.  Consider yourself fortunate. There are 11.8 million Americans without gainful employment.  Be thankful you are not one of them.

4. Divert. Find other outlets for your creative energy and drive. Volunteer with non-profits who likely could benefit from your talents. Join your professional trade association and get involved.  Head a committee, run a meeting, staff a conference, add to your network, mentor a student.  The list is likely endless of activities to engage and be engaged.

5. Enhance and improve. So the job is not what was promised. The boss is mean and never lets you run with it.   You are weary of just taking orders. Well back up and take a fresh look at your performance, your habits and your demeanor. Are you delivering at your level or just getting by?  Are you cutting the boss a break and giving her or him the benefit of the doubt.  
6. Focus.  Look at the glass half full, not empty. Maintain perspective. Consider a strategy under which you try to help the boss see things your way or at least in a different light.  Take her or him to dinner or lunch.  Encourage them to talk about their passions and motivations. This may give you a clue about how to influence their hot buttons.  It might even set the tone for improving how the boss treats you.  In any case it's worth a try. 

7.  Change the scenery.  Look for opportunities to move.  Are there other positions in the same company that fit your professional skills and aspirations?  Now that the real estate market is on the upswing look at renting a new apartment or buying a new house, preferably one with a view that enables you extend your vision beyond four walls. A perspective with a wide vista might just open you to new possibilities.
8.  Shock. For extreme therapy, visit an outplacement center, unemployment office or job fair.  See how the other 11.8 million are adjusting to life in the "slow lane" or "no lane."  It likely will give you some fresh perspective on your life in the faster lane. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seven Acts of Random Courtesy After You Land

As I reflect on my years and experience as a career coach and a mentor I once again am reminded that there is an obligation to return the favor for the kindness and generosity of the network in securing a new gig.  This critical fact hit me like a brick the other day as I reached out to a couple of mentees on their successful landing following their arduous job campaigns. I was woefully disappointed at their lack of response to my message on their new gigs.   The silence was deadening. Their courtesy and good sense seems to have been lost in the shuffle of the new change in their fortunes.

With this in mind, I have highlighted the following acts of courtesy and kindness to consider in the aftermath of a successful conclusion to the journey for a job. It bears remembering that the career you save may be your own.

1. Say thanks.  Express your deep gratitude to those who helped you along the way particularly to those friends and colleagues who gave you leads, tips and advice on your resume, interview style and people and companies to contact.  Also pay attention to those patient folks who listened to your questions, rants, pleas and whines about being unemployed. 

2. Pay it forward. Now that you have landed, try to help others who have yet to secure employment.   Please don't ignore their requests.  Remember you were in the same boat without a paddle.  Lend a hand and a kind word or two.

3. Sympathy reigns.  I appreciate that you want to focus your energies on the new job.  You do need to give 150% to validate your value to the new employer. But don't lose sight of the desperation and uncertainty you experienced during unemployment.  If someone asks for your help, be sympathetic.

4. Sustain the network. You have been working your network for months, even years.   Stay the course. You never know when you will be back in the unemployment line again. The fact remains that people have long memories when it comes to kindness or lack thereof.

5. Remember your roots. Never lose sight of your origins, where you came from and how hard you have worked to get to this place in time.  Friends, colleagues and acquaintances likely will emulate what you have achieved.  Your model of behavior will be an example for others.

6. Update your content.  Keep your platforms and content current.  There is nothing like sending the wrong message by overlooking the need to update your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, and other platforms on which your profile lives.  Make sure folks know how and where to get in touch.

7. Spread the word. Tell your network about your new role and company.  Explain how it occurred and what were the chief factors in your hiring and your acceptance.  Friends, family and colleagues will appreciate the insight.  You will be telling them not just “what” but “why,” highlighting your distinguishing characteristics.  And don’t just inform your friends and colleagues, make sure those with whom you are peripherally connected know about your good fortune.