J.T. O’Donnell, Influencer
CEO, CAREEREALISM Media & CareerHMO | Employment Branding | Career & Job Search
I was chatting with our Community Manager this week and she commented on the significant increase in emails and calls she was getting from people in their fifties and sixties who were struggling to find work. Each one starts with, “let me tell you my story…” and ends with, “it never used to be this hard to find a job.”
While their stories are intensely personal to them, and heart-breaking for us to hear, the truth is, they all say roughly the same thing.
Every story goes something like this:
1) In the early years, I climbed the career ladder, but didn’t truly love what I was doing.
2) When I reached a certain point, I had ‘golden handcuffs’ and decided to just do the job because it paid decently, I was good at it, and I could focus on other areas of my life that needed attention (i.e. family, etc.).
3) Then suddenly, the market changed, I got laid-off (or fired), and now nobody wants to talk to me. I think I’m being discriminated against because of my age.
Looking back, it’s easy to see where they went wrong…
As the saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20” – and for these folks, it’s not hard to see where they went off-course in their career journey. The sad part is, they were doing what they were told to do: make peace with your career and take care of the other areas of your life. Sounds like good advice, but in reality, not focusing on the career that gives you financial security and a sense of identity can come back to haunt you. Especially these days, when the average length of a job assignment is two years and changing jobs frequently is the ‘new normal’ in career development.
Don’t want this to be your future? Do these three things:
For those of you brave enough to read this post, here’s what you should do:
1) Don’t mentally put the career on hold. Life naturally gets busier as we age (i.e. you buy a house, get married, have kids, take care of sick parents, etc.), and that can make us want to put the career on auto-pilot for a bit. We justify it by saying, “I’ve worked hard to get where I am, I can take the gas off the pedal for a bit.” But in reality, you can never, ever stop learning and growing in your career. The moment you chose to slow down, you are putting yourself in a category of people who are seen as on the down-trend in their careers. Employers hire rising stars, not falling ones.
2) Figure out your specialty. As we get seasoned in our careers, employers expect us to bring more value in the form of a specialty. We are the aspirin to their pain. The more we can prove we will alleviate their bigger headaches, the more they’ll pay. Job security is about building up an expertise that is in-demand. It’s up to us to follow the emerging trends in our field and to build up our skills so they can help employers solve the pressing problems they face. There’s nothing worse than waking up one day and realizing your skills aren’t valuable to an employer. Your earning potential immediately plummets – as does your job security.
3) Network consistently. As we move along in our careers, it’s easy to say, “I have enough professional contacts, I don’t need any more.” This couldn’t be more wrong. Just ask anyone who has tried to get references from retired managers or companies that are out of business. Your network ages out of the marketplace if you don’t focus on acquiring new contacts to backfill the ones that fall out. That means reaching out to people your age or YOUNGER, to build partnerships and stay connected in the industry. Not to mention, it helps you to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and can instill you with the youthful energy and excitement for your industry that may have long since left you.
Blaming employers won’t help.
I’m sure some of you reading this feel employers should take responsibility for all the older workers they laid-off and are no longer looking to hire. I often get asked, “Where’s the loyalty?” However, neither you nor I can change the way business is going right now. The fact is, employers are no longer offering full-time long-term employment to anybody. The rate of change in business today makes it impossible for them to make that of employment promise. In fact, studies show 1 out of 2 professionals in the workforce are expected to be Independent Contractors by 2020. The trend towards “every professional for themselves” is part of the re-defining of the employee-employer relationship. Getting mad won’t fix it. Finding a way to leverage it is the only way to get what you want.
NOTE: Disruptive life events are a different story.
For those of you that had a major life event derail their career (i.e. illness, long gap of unemployment), your situation is different and will require a different approach. Employers want to know you are back on track. There’s an entire branding process you should go through (which I will discuss in a future post), in order to get hiring managers to consider you. Do that first, and then you can focus on re-building the career trajectory.
If you made these career mistakes, it’s not too late.
If you can recognize and accept what’s happened, you can make changes and get back in the game. You’ll need tools and resources to help you re-brand and market yourself properly, but it can be done. Seek any and all information on the new realities of job search. [You can start here with a video tutorial series called, “8 Ways Job Seekers are Shut Out of the Hiring Process.”]
Henry Ford should be our inspiration.
I find myself using this famous phrase by Henry Ford a lot lately, “If you think you can or you can’t – you’re right!” In this case, you must believe that you can get back on track. It’s up to you to make the effort to adjust your perceptions and close your gap in knowledge, but if you want it bad enough, don’t give up.
I wish job seekers of all ages the best. You are a business-of-one who needs to invest in your success. Believe in yourself. It’s the only way to win!
Laszlo Bock, Influencer
SVP, People Operations at Google
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote a prayer that many of you will recognize. It goes roughly: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
What does this have to do with looking for a job?
There’s a ton of unfairness in the job search process. As a candidate, you can’t control whether a company requires a work visa, whether some executive’s kid has an inside track on your dream job, or whether your interviewer has some private or unconscious bias that will hurt your chances. I’ll write about some of these — especially unconscious bias — in the future.
For now, I want to focus on the most controllable element of a job search: your resume. The sole purpose of a resume is to get you past that first screen and into an interview. In my last post, “The Biggest Mistakes I See on Resumes, and How to Correct Them,” I covered the all-too-common mistakes that knock applicants out of consideration at many companies. Let’s assume you’ve read that post and scrubbed your resume so it’s concise, error-free, legible, and honest. You’re already better off than at least half the applicants out there.
But how do you make your accomplishments stand out? There’s a simple formula. Every one of your accomplishments should be presented as:
Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]
In other words, start with an active verb, numerically measure what you accomplished, provide a baseline for comparison, and detail what you did to achieve your goal. Consider the following two descriptions of the same work, and ask yourself which would look better on a resume:
- Studied financial performance of companies and made investment recommendations
- Improved portfolio performance by 12% ($1.2M) over one year by refining cost of capital calculations for information-poor markets and re-weighting portfolio based on resulting valuations
The addition of the “12% improvement” makes the statement more powerful. Adding “($1.2M)” anticipates the reviewer’s question about whether 12% is a big deal or not. If you improved investment results by 12%, but that meant going from $100 to $112, that’s not too impressive. But adding $1.2M to the starting portfolio value of $10 million is huge. Explaining how you did it adds credibility and gives insight into your strengths.
Several examples inspired by actual resumes will show you what I mean. The first bullet is typical: not bad, but certain not to stand out. The second is a much better version of a similar accomplishment from a different resume. My own suggestions are in italics.
College student who is a leader in her sorority
- Managed sorority budget
- Managed $31,000 Spring 2014 budget and invested idle funds in appropriate high-yielding capital notes
- Managed $31,000 Spring 2014 budget and invested $10,000 in idle funds in appropriate high-yielding capital notes returning 5% over the year
College student participating in a leadership program
- Member of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT)
- Selected as one of 230 for this 18-month professional development program for high-achieving diverse talent
- Selected as one of 230 participants nationwide for this 18-month professional development program for high-achieving diverse talent based on leadership potential, ability to contribute to this MLT cohort, and academic success
Finance or consulting professional
- Responsible for negotiating service contracts with XYZ
- Negotiated 30% ($500k) reduction in costs with XYZ to perform post-delivery support
- Negotiated 30% ($500k) reduction in costs with XYZ to perform post-delivery support by designing and using results from an online auction of multiple vendors
Sales support associate
- Achieved annual business plan commitments for volumes, model mix, wholesale revenue, selling expenses and brand
- As a team member, contributed to 21% increase in advertiser spend by achieving 158% of target number of customer contacts (80 contacts per week)and 192% of target interaction depth (20 minutes per customer)
Candidate with skill-based resume
- Skills: Excellent customer service skills. Friendly and positive attitude
- Skills: Excellent customer service skills and positive attitude as demonstrated by receiving employee of the month in four consecutive months in 2014
- Reduce cost of goods sold strategy: Five years of line and supply chain management experience at XYZ distribution centers and managing outsourced third-party logistics providers
- Achieved 30% logistics cost savings by reducing returns, use of overtime, excess and obsolete inventory and targeted outsourcing
- Achieved 30% logistics cost savings ($900k) over five years by reducing returns (-8%), use of overtime (-7%), and excess and obsolete inventory(-5%), and through targeted outsourcing (-10%)
- Studied the branding and marketing strategies of XYZ. Analyzed the pricing strategies of XYZ in comparison to competitors
- Led cross-functional 10-member team to develop and implement global advertising strategy for $X million XYZ brand
- Led cross-functional 10-member team to develop and implement global advertising strategy for $X million XYZ brand resulting in 25-point increase in brand recall, 12% improvement in net promoter score, and contributing to 18% year-over-year sales improvement ($XM)
Veteran transitioning to the civilian sector
- Worked as a trainer with deploying units to ready their medical personnel for combat action and trauma medicine
- One of three officers selected to lead comprehensive redesign of the XYZ training program for X,000 Marines and sailors, increasing measured unit proficiency by 20% [This one is great — I wouldn’t change a thing!]
You might feel like it’s hard to measure your work, but there is almost always something you can point to that differentiates you from others. Back when I was a waiting tables at the Olive Garden, I would have written, “Exhibited the spirit of Hospitaliano by achieving 120% of dessert sales targets (compared to an average of 98%) and averaging 26% in tips per night.”
Well, maybe I wouldn’t have mentioned the Hospitaliano….
And even if your accomplishments don’t seem that impressive to you, recruiters will nevertheless love the specificity. “Served 85 customers per day with 100% accuracy” sounds good, even if the customers are people you rang up at a grocery store. It’s even more impressive if you can add, “…compared to an average of 70 customers at 90% accuracy for my peers.” Providing data helps. Making it meaningful with a comparison helps even more.
Niebuhr said to change the things you can control. I agree. You can’t control the biases and attention span of whomever reviews your resume. You do control what’s on the page in front of him or her. Use the formula “accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]” and recruiters will take notice.
The business world is rapidly changing. In this digital economy, businesses must cater to consumers on the cusp of fully embracing and demanding the Internet of Things. This makes for an environment in which businesses can end up struggling to stay afloat while delivering a viable product.
As a business owner and CEO focused on growth and longevity, I know I have a triple bottom line to account for: on the financial, environmental, and social fronts. When I refer to social accountability, I mean not only giving back to the community but also factoring in ways to increase employee satisfaction, which in turn can translate into better serving customers. Without doing both things, a business likely won’t be sustainable.
That’s why I’ve made it my mission as a CEO to deliver the best experience ever — for my customers and staff. I believe that if a business owner has engaged employees, satisfied customers will follow.
Leaders have a responsibility to create a company culture that’s engaging and satisfying. Nonetheless, last year’s Gallup State of the Global Workplace report found only 29% of employees in the U.S. and Canada are engaged. While some people might find this statistic shocking, perhaps business leaders will be prompted to change their approach.
Typically if employees are good at performing a certain work role, they stick with it. There is nothing wrong with this, but what excites someone today won’t necessarily excite the person tomorrow. This is why companies need to stop confining employees to specific roles but rather let them explore and expand their interests.
This stategy may seem unconventional, but if implemented correctly, it can increase employee engagement. Employees rarely switch departments within an organization because once they excel at performing a certain role, their manager wants them to stay put. But what does that mean for the employee who has been working on the same team for the last three years. Sure, she may be an expert in a specific area, but is she still as engaged as she was at the start? To really succeed at their jobs and give customers the best experience, employees need to be passionate about what they are doing.
Allowing employees to try new things at work keeps them from getting bored.
Encouraging employees to explore what interests them, whether a new position or a fresh project, will empower them to be more successful. The people who end up thriving and prospering in a job over the long term may well be those who were most excited about it, not the ones with the most experience. This isn’t to say employers should encourage employees to hop around between departments every year. But if an employee has been with the company for a period of time and is a proven hard worker, it might be worthwhile to allow the person to try doing something new.
So what does this have to do with the customer? Engagement correlates to declines in absenteeism and turnover and also to increased customer service, productivity and sales. The last thing an employer wants to do is put an unengaged employee before a customer. Part of creating the best consumer experience is building a relationship in which clients feel comfortable and respected. To achieve that, help employees feel engaged, interested, and satisfied with their jobs.
There’s the phrase “happy wife, happy life,” but for those working in the service industry it’s more like “happy worker, happy customer.” Giving employees the opportunity to explore their interests within a company will not only help forge the best experience for them but will also create the best experience for customers.
Searching on Google is not just about putting in the right keywords, and you definitely don’t need to understand what Hummingbird is all about. Google’s search application is a powerful tool that can do a lot of things. Moreover, you don’t need to be a geek or a computer genius to use these features. They are often as simple as copying and pasting something onto the search bar. Here are 10 tricks that are super easy, but you may have missed them.
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1. Search on specific websites: Did you know you could do this? You can use Google Search to search through specific websites. So, for example, if you don’t like the search tool on our website, you can just open Google and type site:efytimes.com followed by whatever you want to search for. Google will search our website for you.
2. Reverse Image Search: You all know that you can search Google using Images, no not the Image search, you can actually insert an image on the Google Search bar. What many miss is the amount of information that you can find using this. Instead of checking the Google image results, check the normal search results that come. You can find the source of a picture through this. It can also be used for finding things like recipes of certain preparations etc.
3. Autocomplete wildcards: Autocomplete is a very handy feature on Google Search, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Like other advanced search engines, you can put blank in the middle of your search terms, which signifies ‘anything’. Google will show wildcard suggestions for the term that can be put there. So, if you’re searching for ‘how to learn English’, you can remove the word ‘learn’ from the string and Google will give you suggestions about what all can be put there.
4. Search for free downloads: Remember these search tools: inurl, intitle and filetype. If you need to search for a free Android APK, then search using inurl:htm/inurl:html intitle:”index of” apk. This will show you the indexes of all stored apk files.
5. Find alternatives for websites, products etc.: We’ve all searched on Google for comparisons between various websites ad products. But what do you do when you don’t know who the competitor is? It’s simple, if you want to search for a competitor to the iPhone 5S, just write ‘iPhone 5S vs’, and Google will show you suggestions for popularly searched competitors.
6. Google cache: The cached link to different websites on Google is highly useful. It can be used to access a website when it is down or getting around a SOPA blackout. But, you don’t always have to click on the cached link, you can simply write cache: along with the URL for the site and you will have what you need.
7. Google proxy: You can use Google search to bypass security features, paywalls and downloading files by funnelling through websites using Google Translate or Mobilizer. Just like the cached option, you can also access this directly, as long as you have the URL available.
All you have to do is add the URL to the end of the Google URL. For example, http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&u=http://example.com/.
8. Google Images to look for people: When a person’s name is the same as that of an object, it often returns conflicting results. To get around this, you can just add the &imgtype=facethe to the end of the search URL. The search will be redone and only those with faces will be returned.
9. Time-based search results: Google Search already provides a filter for getting time-based results, but if you want to be more specific, there is a way to do that too. All you have to do is add &tbs=qdr: to the end of your URL. You have to specify the time too. Here, h5 signifies five hours, while n5 signifies five minutes. For five seconds, write s5. So, if you want to search in the last ten minutes, you will write add&tbs=qdr:n10 to the URL.
10. Advanced operators: The AND or OR operators can be used on Google to search for multiple terms. But you already know that. What you may not know is that you can use the AROUND operator too. This operator provides results that are about halfway to or from the search term(s). So, you can write AROUND(2) for using two search terms, which ensures that the two words that are used are close to each other. The number in the parentheses can differ.
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Making “initial-scale=0.9” and “maximum-scale=0.9” will make the screen stable on small screens as well.