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The ? Of The Unrealistic “JobStar”

16 Aug

“I have a few questions I would like the answers to before we go forward,” says the great candidate for the job.  I recruited the individual for a position down the road.  I interviewed, qualified and re-qualified.  Felt good about the answers.

Person came back with questions -typed an email even – they seemed legit and I liked the effort.  Questions you might have, questions we hadn’t covered yet – “Why is the job open?  What is the bonus structure?”  I knew most of the answers but just needed to clarify a few details with the client.  The candidate was worth getting the specifics for and I like to prove I am different from other recruiters -so…bottom line – I had enough doubt I just wanted to make sure on a few things. I went and got the answers.

I had already failed at this point.

You may know where this is going.  Let’s cut to it.  I get all the answers, we review them and then, ” I AM NOT INTERESTED.” (definitely all caps from my recollection) I pretty much heard a game show buzzer and a large WTF? appeared on the wall in front of me.  I was rather miffed… but not really.  Honestly, this had been an exhaustive search and I was more disappointed in my recruiter optimism than anything.  I was lacking a wise perspective at this point – more pissed than miffed.  Maybe miffed but from the pissed sort of genre.  Ah..emerging clarity.

The real clarity on this conflict came on Saturday morning from my 3 year old.  My wife had taken the 7 year old to the American Girl Store in Chicago that weekend so it was the least I could do to take my 3 year old on a similar outing.  We chose Dunkin’ Donuts.  Seemed like a fair response to the shopping spree in a Dad sort of way.  Between the two outings, we spent $304.99.

You take the 3 year old for donuts – you know you are all about assorted donut holes, varying sprinkles and chocolate milk (see Donut handbook).  What you don’t expect between the donut hole collage and chocolate milk bottle repeatedly teetering on table’s edge is a recruiting mentor to emerge?  The colorful sprinkles needing wiped from her mouth, mouth full of cake donut, chocolate milk drip on her chin and all in a milk throat kind of voice – my Lucy says, “What else you got, Dad?”

I had come full donut circle at the teachings of Lucy Skrentny Leffkowitz.  The candidate’s emailed questions were crystallized into one gigantic question –

“What else you got, Recruiter?”

Big time learning from the smallest recruiter trainer.  Look for her training modules soon but don’t expect candidates wielding this concealed question to resign in the near future.  While the 3 year old in her discovery ASKS the question – the wannabe masks the question with tire kicking, counts a healthy bonus potential that hasn’t paid out in 3 years as income and clings to unreciprocated loyalty with a value system that worked well for his parents.

I failed because I should have re-re-qualified him specifically for his seriousness level – I did not – those darn unvalidated assumptions.  I wish good blog posts came from the victories and not all these learnings.  Now that you know the official question of the unrealistic – You need the song of the unrealistic because I know you wannabe a “JobStar!”

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Mental Health Day

29 Mar

Clearly, you need a break from your job search.  Where are you going to find it?  I am so glad you asked.  You know I am music fan.  I tend not to gravitate to the genre that engages the likes of Yanni and Zamfir – but that would seem to be a miniscule subset of the music arena, yet I do have an affinity to Andreas Vollenweider and Enya.  So..maybe..anything will do.

Here is today’s career advice – head down to your local electronics dealer and purchase an Ipod, or a Zune, and the really expensive BOSE headphones right now.  Today.  If you already have one, treat your self to a gift card for tunes, tunes and more tunes.

But I thought you said – Monster,  Careerbuilder,  or some niche job board?  Indeed… dot wrong!!  We are talking a mental health day, Jobseeker.   Remember those when you were employed?  A fun-filled melodic, frustration escaping, head banging or not so much, anti-jobsearch diversion-filled afternoon on the lawn at a Lilith Fair/Ozzfest direct from Itunes or the Zune Marketplace where you won’t find a career opporunity but you will find a well-deserved getaway. 

Why?  Because you and I occasionally need to grab hold of a big ol’ dose of Sublimation.  What?  Look – not only has this blog saved my life on occasion, I consider it my no cost Employee Assistance Program and… sublimation?  Well, sublimation is my personal therapist at a buck and some change per song.  Most therapists are by the hour, mine are like – by the mix tape.

I almost forgot to share the definition of the day –

Sublimation is the transformation of unwanted impulses into something less harmful. This can simply be a distracting release or may be a constructive and valuable piece of work.

When we are faced with the dissonance of uncomfortable thoughts, we create psychic energy. This has to go somewhere. Sublimation channels this energy away from destructive acts and into something that is socially acceptable and/or creatively effective.

How could you not want some significant milligrams of that?  Being self-employed – or unemployed with a business card and a website as I like to think of it, I have my share of frustrations and I need an outlet – for instance, a place to channel my urge to hang up the phone violently after leaving the nineteenth slightly, different worded positive voicemail about a great candidate in a salesy voice with a question inviting a call back that is coming at I time I wish I knew.  While waiting for the call, I simply dial up Linkin Park’s – In The End and find out “it doesn’t really matter.”

Perhaps I find solace in an oldie but a goodie by Limp Bizkit when I want to “Break Stuff” or simply try to answer everyone’s oft asked rhetorical question “Who’s Gonna Give Me Some Sugar Tonight?” with solid counsel from Kid Rock.  I don’t have to schedule an appointment and even though there is a CVS or Walgreen’s on every corner, or one currently under construction – this is over-the-counter laced musaceuticals and I am happy to participate in the clinical trial.

Whew – enough of my rant.  Seriously, step away from it for a few.  You need to disengage and realize this job seeking is tougher than job having.  We talk alot about personal branding  – just accept that right now.. you are more of a brand competing for a position than a person that holds one.  I know that is tough to soak in sometimes – it is just a reminder that your resume, your online profiles, your cover letters, your written communication and the interwoven touchpoints need fine tuning. 

While the selected tunes above are on the raucous side – on the lighter side, we look at a Paul McCartney and Wings song from back in the day and I offer a paraphrased, parody perspective – right now – you are a – Brand on The Run.  What direction are you heading?  Get your clarity from a mental health day or two and head that direction.  Maybe Paul wasn’t talking about your job search – but imagine he was – know that YOU will not be “stuck inside these four walls, sent inside  forever.”

What Are You Doing, Daddy?

27 Mar

My little Lucinda, or Lucy as we call her, is the sweetest little 2 year old terrorist I know.  She is just the best and I absolutely love her.  What she continues to show me is that she is watching and listening and asking questions or at least – a question.  Along with the word doggy being uttered thousands of times per week – she loves asking – What are you doing? So, for Lucy’s sake – WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Let me tell you what you are doing – you are either living in fear right now or you are living in abundance.  Based on the discussions I have had over the last few weeks – most of you are the former.  I am tired of it.  Absolutely sick of the effing negativity.

The problem with this negativity is that it is the type of negativity that is causing most people just to sit on their ass and do nothing.  Some of these conversations are increasingly difficult as many of you have to remove the ventilator from your mouth to put words together.  Where is the THINKING?  Where are the IDEAS?  Were they lost in your portfolio as well?  I am down 20% and damn if all my business sense isn’t gone right with it. 

So I am at Starbuck’s the other day and the handwritten sign says, “We are listening.  It is our goal to serve the absolute best beverage everytime with lightning speed.”  Let’s learn from this.  How does this apply to you?  Allow me to be your Career Barista for a moment. 

Rather than going all negative and doing nothing – let’s get on the road to abundance.  We need thoughtful activity right now.  We need to be doing one of two things right now – REINVENTING (let’s lump that in there with upgrading) OR getting BACK TO BASICS.  Maybe both.  I like both.  The problem is not uncertainty and tough times, or the economy, or Obama or Geithner  – the real problem is that we are having to work harder instead of coasting, having to make calls rather than take calls, having to think instead of maintain, having to make tough decisions rather than see all that black ink on the P and L.  We can resent it or accept it.  Act or bitch.

I realize it looks like I am getting all preachy – in reality this is more of a personal journal entry than a blog post.  I am pretty much writing this one to myself.  The road to abundance is paved with good people, operating with good systems, working hard and having fun.  I am blessed.  What are YOU doing?

I Want To Go Back

8 Mar

Eddie Money gave us the lyrics – “I want to go back and do it all over but I can’t go back…”  and Johnny Paycheck, a country artist with more of a cult following – gave us the working man’s anthem – “Take this job and shove it.”

Speaking of shoving it, how about the punctuation in the paragraph above?  That sucks.  What are you going to do?

The past.  Some long for it.  Some can’t remember it.  Some spend way too much time dwelling on it.  Some are stuck in ’82 like Uncle Rico.  My oldest sister is one of them.  TV Land has saved her life.  She loves Mayberry yet Green Acres is the place to be and when it comes to radio there is always WKRP.  All great shows but hard to discuss in the workplace when others are discussing LOST and you are just that.  What is Grey’s Anatomy and what about The Office – aren’t we here everyday why do I have to watch it at night?  Huh?

My past.  Talk about something you don’t want to know about.  How about this?  In the last 5 years, I pretty much cheated death – seriously, lived with my sister in a small apartment, got a divorce, started my own business, had a 120 day stretch where I had a pulmonary embolism, what they thought was heart disease, flatlined after a procedure, had a tumor removed that was benign but thought was Hodgkin’s, and pretty much started much of my adult life over.  Those are just a few of the lowlights from a season that was sometimes pretty dark.  I share that because when bitterness still occasionally rears it’s head in my life – I celebrate that I survived it came out SOOOO much better, meditate on a few of those facts, smile and think of some of the former conditional friends in my life and fantasize recounting that story and screaming F U repeatedly in their face really loud yet very articulate.  (By the way, I go over the top in my writing but all that crap I just noted is true – also true I have some issues given that last sentence)

Wow that is alot more poor punctuation to stomach above but you must admit – while poor on form, strong on substance.  Now that you are glad you weren’t me – here is what you want to do.

The victories in your career really need to be documented.  You forget that stuff.  This is a very cool site, developed by a friend of mine, who has dropped some serious cash to get this to the marketplace.  Use it to look back on what you have done, document your successes, store critical career docs, a whole bunch of cool features – FREE.  Check out CareerScribe.com.

The bitterness in your career needs to MAYBE be documented.  Check out JobVent.com.  I think many of you probably need to write the entry and then delete it but one thing is for sure – you need to purge it.  It is only hurting you.  Incidentally, you can also document positive things from your workplace.  (FYI – talked to the guy that runs the site – he has been threatened but never sued – I am not responsible for your spewing of the facts.)

I am really not big on touting websites but I think these two are absolutely solid especially when they converge at the intersection of Eddie Money and Johnny Paycheck – maybe you want to go back and do it all over and maybe you just need to let someone know how you feel.  I don’t want to go back but I don’t want to shove it either – with the exception of some of those alleged friend’s faces.  I better stop.

Let’s Get This Thing Moving

29 Jan

Happy 2009!  Can I still say that?  Wow, sorry I have been in the basement a little too long.  I have appreciated the encouragement via emails to get you a blog entry and I think I will proceed with that.

The job environment, the whole thing is kind of swirling with negativity and bad news.  I would be lying if I told you that doesn't get to me some – however, I have the key, the solution, and the panacea for the downturn.  Are you ready for the solution?  I mean, really.

The answer in your life, in your career search, in your quest, is PEOPLE.  You need to be talking, sharing, networking, and taking stock of the relationships in your life.  You need PEOPLE and they need you.  I mean, people who need people – aren't they supposed to be the luckiest people in the world?  Sorry.  Anyway, this fear that has many of you completely gripping needs to be vanquished with some networking and reassurance.  Where do you get some of that?  PEOPLE.  You need some people in your life that will listen to you.  Who are they?  Can you list them? 

Some of you need to get some new customers.  The relationships that have dried up – let's make more.  This is not a time sit on your ass.  So if you are in sales or looking for a career move, perhaps it is not only PEOPLE but PROSPECTING.  I know I need to be careful not to sound parental but let me digress and I think it is time for a new paragraph.

Many of us make the mistake that PEOPLE care.  Some PEOPLE do.  Some PEOPLE don't.  Again, who are they?  Before we launch into some fear gripping, economy sucking, my career is tanking, what about my credit rating conversation – let's ask ourselves – does this person really care?  Shouldn't you know that.  Shouldn't the level of concern you want the intended listener to possess be in direct relationship with the transparency of the bitching?  Many of you are looking for compassion and empathy in your sales call or on the job search.  And yes, I have made this mistake before.  Does your customer really care about YOUR lack of production?  Probably not.

Does the HR generalist care that you are desperate for a gig?  No – she has a job.  FYI – you can bitch to HR about your premiums going up once you are employed but don't bitch that you have to complete an application, even though you are an exempt six figure dude or she won't give you the chance to bitch about your premiums going up.  She just won't.

I am not even sure where this blog started or what it became but I came here, I said it, you read it.  Dare, I say – I think you may also want to PRAY in this time.  Not that – please – geez – how about this nugget of wisdom?  Christ said in the book of John – "…in this world you will have trouble" – wow – no kidding, eh?  My point is – perhaps as you navigate the tough times - start with some PRAYER or whatever you call it, maybe for the strength to do some PROSPECTING for better relationships, the right PEOPLE, whatever PEOPLE you need.  The right PEOPLE are the key for you and me in this marketplace and any marketplace.  So go find them.  

Be the Job Description

13 Nov

I have always gotten a laugh when some of you people (I love saying – you people) in the higher pay grades ask about a job description.  Why do you do that?  Don’t do that.

There is no job description.  You ARE the job description.  But I would like to know what I will be doing, what I can become.  OK.  LISTEN.

You know I struggle to come up with new flavors of kool-aid for you but – wow, you got to stop asking this question.  Bottom line it isn’t about the job description is it? – what is it?  your insecurity?  Your need for a piece of paper?  Your desperate need for reassurance because you don’t really want to leave where you are?  Your need for some level of job security that your grandfather knew in days gone by?  Let’s just call it something like that or we can ignore it if you like.  Wait, we can’t ignore it.

The job description that you desire looks more like a crystal ball.  In lieu of said ball – let’s just mix in questions that reveal what you would be doing and note the answers as you look in the whites of the boss’s eyes.  Let’s just file away the boss’s expectation as to what you will need to do.  Do you trust this potential boss?  Then, let’s believe it.  Let’s have a philosophy check – do they align?  Look at the environment.  The people.   If you need over reassurance, stay with the devil you know. 

Let’s look at Peyton Manning for instance.  I was very interested to learn that the Colt’s Offensive Coordinator calls in a “concept” not a play.  Can you imagine #18 going now wait a minute – is this a run or would you like me to pass?  They pay Manning to decide what it should be and your company does the same.  Manning knows one thing – he has his concept and 11 guys are looking to kick his ass in a few seconds.  You know, just like your typical workday.  

Do you want a commodity job or do you want to make an impact?  Commodity jobs have really good job descriptions.  Career changing opportunities are for people you can’t really describe.  They are just good.  There assessments show it and they know it.  They know who they are.

Hey, Mr. Job Seeker – I have your real job description right here – the philosophy and expectations of the boss that you uncover through REAL discussion and – the mirror.

Apparently, I am just not ready

14 Aug

Timing really is a key to so many things in this life.  Are you ready?  Are YOU ready? 

I have never really considered getting a tattoo – really what I would get? where would I want it on my body?  and the permanence of it – geez – this is serious business.  Apparently, I wasn’t aware of it but I already have one.  Did this happen on some drunken binge recently?  A spring break back in the day?  I am not quite sure but it is true – I already have a tattoo and it is smack dab in the middle of my forehead.  It says – "Tell me about your multi-level marketing opportunity."

The catch is not everyone can see it – did I pay extra for this?  Is that like a hologram tattoo or something?  Can you only see it when I turn one way or the other?  Well, look I didn’t pay for this tattoo but I paid for it alright.

So, in walks this acquaintance with the ability to see my tattoo.  I am not aware of her skill.  She is disguised as a caring former recruiting professional with an interest in returning to the biz and by that – I mean – not really.  Given her alleged empathy I probably shared a little more of the frustration of my job than I normally would.  Regardless she has the customized solution – and by customized I mean for anyone in the freaking world that will listen, pay $49.95 for some kit, and is willing to lose their soul. 

Yes, I want more time.  Yes, I want to spend more time with my family.  Yes, I want to travel. Yes, I want the fast car, killer motorcycle, all that material shit that I can get.   YES!  YES! YES!  Unfortunately, I also want to enjoy all those things with my friends who I would probably lose if I chose this path.  I will admit to you that I somewhat enjoy the presentation because it does sound SO good.  The promises are alluring. 

Being the occasional thoughtful guy I am – I really wanted to give her a thoughtful answer – a substantive one because I know she is armed with some objection handling skills that are going to be fired upon me and actually she is a nice lady – I care what she thinks.  However, when you say "NO" here comes the kicker.  Here comes the emasculation.  "Andy, I was wrong.  Apparently, you just aren’t ready," she said smugly.  I was ready alright – ready for her to shut her mouth now that my manhood had been ripped from me. 

I was firm and thoughtful in my "thanks but no thanks" and in turn I am shamed, ridiculed and challenged.  I think the good news is my no must have been convincing and in her manual if you get the convincing no – it must say – "When encountering a firm and principled no – rip manhood immediately.  Let prospect know the only way to get it back is by paying $49.95 and they can have it in 2 days via Fedex."

I am happy to say I have come up with the solution.  I will never have to say no again to these people.  I realized that – by the time I realize people with her skill are in front of me – it’s too late.  I am trapped.  You want to put your head down and scream "No, why me again – the tattoo."  So, I am getting another tattoo.  What..huh?  Yes, the Lord blessed me with additional canvas to be inked up on my bald head.

So…now – when this occurs I slowly put my head down into my hands and they will see – "Shut the hell up.  I have no interest."  Finally, a tattoo with purpose and an objection that renders you speechless all rolled into one.  Apparently, I wasn’t ready but she probably won’t be ready to read this either.  Nice.      

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