Want a New Job?

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Well, sort of. As with many well known sayings, we know this one because it’s short and sweet and conveys a very generalized message. And, as with other well known sayings, we need to dig into the sentiment to find the value in the saying.

So let’s look at this. “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” If we took this literally, then only the most knowledge-hungry people would go on to earn degrees. Everyone else would be solely working on networking to get the job they want. Of course that’s not the case! You have to have the necessary job skills, knowledge, and experience to get the job you want. But is that enough? It depends.

If you are so specialized in your field and are one of only a handful of people who practice your skill, then what you know probably gets you the job. However, if you are in a field that’s more generalized or saturated and there are tons of applicants with similar skills and knowledge, then who you know becomes vital. But not in that schmoozey “I got the job because we belong to the same sorority” kind of way. I’ll explain.

I work for a company with over 200,000 employees. I have had hiring managers tell me they receive over 100 applications when they post a job opening. These are applicants that have already been screened by Human Resources and at least meet the minimum job requirements. A couple of months ago, I conducted interviews with a few high level managers to get their advice on getting the job. Here’s what I learned: It’s who you know who has witnessed what you know. In other words, to get the job, do these two things:

1. Get relevant experience. Take the classes, attend the webinars, do the job shadowing, and work on stretch projects in the area where you want to get the job.

2. Network. As in, build long-lasting, two-way relationships instead of just collecting business cards and reaching out to ask for a job.

While you’re doing the work of step 1 (taking classes, working on stretch projects, etc.), build relationships with the people teaching and taking the classes and the other people working on the stretch project — especially the ones leading the project who will probably be the hiring managers in the future!

So, yes, who you know is important, but how you know them and what they know you know is really the key.

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How Do You Eat an Elephant?

You’ve probably heard this before: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This happens to be one of my favorite sayings. I use it often to calm down and remind myself that any large project is possible when broken down into smaller pieces.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you take on a big task. And then you may fall victim to thoughts like, “Why did I agree to do this?” or “This is impossible!” First of all, worrying and engaging in negative self-talk are huge wastes of time and energy. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge you’re feeling worried, then take control of the situation by creating a plan.

Write down your plan on paper so it is not running on a continual loop in your head. You can make a detailed list of numbered steps, create a process map, or any method that gets your thoughts organized on paper. From there, you can take each step and add details such as who can help and what resources are available. (This works for planning a wedding, building a house, work projects, everything.) Add a target completion date for each step to hold yourself accountable. Move forward by completing one step at a time.

Tackling a seemingly insurmountable task is really an opportunity to develop mental and emotional endurance. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, revisit your plan and remind yourself you’re going to eat this elephant…one bite at a time!

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The Game of Life

Do you know exactly how many days, hours, minutes you have left in your game of life? Here’s why I ask.

As I watch my son’s soccer team play a game that they are losing 1-0, they are trying hard to tie it up. But when a parent calls out that there are only 5 minutes left to play, every player on the field kicks into a higher gear and becomes more intent on reaching the goal.

I watched my other son run a cross country meet this weekend. After 3 miles of running, I see the clock, I see him, and I yell, “You can still PR! Sprint!” And as if he had fresh legs, he did just that. Sprinted to his personal record for a cross country meet.

So this all got me thinking. What if the players didn’t know the time they had to play. What if the soccer teams took the field and didn’t know if they’d play 20 minutes or an hour? What if a runner had no clock or watch along the course? What if a golfer didn’t know how many holes were going to be played each round? How many innings for a baseball player? How many laps for a race car driver? Apply to the sport of your choice. My point is, how hard would athletes play if they didn’t know how much time they had to reach their goals and win their game?

Now, what about the game of life? Do you know exactly how many days, hours, minutes you have left? No! So what are you waiting on? Get your game plan together. Suit up. Take action. NOW. To reach your goals and win at the game of life!

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A Refresher on Coming From a Place of Yes

Writing a bit of a “throw back Thursday” post today. Sort of. You see, I first read Bethenny Frankel’s book, A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, when it was published in 2011. But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about and writing about saying yes to life, so I decided to read the book again. I expected to quickly skim the book to get a refresher, but I found that the messages applied in different ways now (7 years later) than the first time I read it, and I wanted to absorb the information in this new light.

So, even though it’s an older book, I still recommend reading it. Bethenny Frankel has a personal story that is interesting to read and I am a huge believer in saying yes! (You can also reference my posts Say Yes and Sorting Out Why to Say “Yes” and Why to Say “No”.) Here are my top takeaways from reading A Place of Yes this time around:

  • “Seek what’s true for you, rather than for the people around you.” From Rule 2: Find Your Truth. “Unless you know what you want, you’ll be making decisions and living your life on somebody else’s terms.”
  • “What’s the next chapter of your life going to be about? Don’t just plan it. Start making it happen even before you’ve figured it all out…Make it happen. Make something happen.” From Rule 3: Act On It. “It all comes down to saying yes. Acting on it – making real things happen in real life – comes from a place of yes.”
  • Everything that “happens to you has the potential to open new doors.” From Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. Everything happens for a reason even though you might not know how it all fits together in your life at this moment. “When you are following your truth…everything you do will eventually get you where you want to go – or someplace even better.”
  • Also from Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. “You should always bet on yourself. People often bet against themselves – don’t do that. Don’t let anyone reduce you or your passion to a number. The horses picked as the favorites hardly ever win the Kentucky Derby. Odds are nothing. Instead, follow your gut, because it knows better than the odds. What if you’re a long shot? If you want something, you have to go for it. If it goes badly, you’ll learn from it. If it goes well, then you win, odds be damned.”

Those are my biggest takeaways this time around, but there is so much more to this book that might relate to you. For example, Bethenny writes about “breaking the chain” and not being the woman her mother was. She writes about lessons she’s taken from her childhood and how her childhood shaped her. She writes about her other relationships too and the lessons she’s learned about how her personal issues impacted those relationships. She also has good sections on “noise” – the chatter in your head that can throw you off your game if you let it, and a chapter on making everything you do your business. In other words, whatever you are doing, do it well. You never know who is watching or what opportunities can open up from something.

Obviously I like this book and see value in reading it (since I read it twice.) I like it and suggest it because, whether you like Bethenny Frankel and care about her story or not, Bethenny puts it all out there. She shares all of her mistakes and not just her victories. A Place of Yes is about learning who you are and owning it. It’s about always moving forward, trying something, and not being complacent about your life or giving up on your dreams. Say yes to your life!

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Stop Stressing Out About Work-Life Balance

I made a post on Instagram Saturday morning in which I said instead of work-life balance, we should have Work-life Awareness. (I don’t know if that’s a term anyone else uses yet, but I’m using it now. If it becomes a thing, I’m claiming it as my own.)

Anyways, I was making the point that “balance” doesn’t have to be taken literally. I mean if we took it literally we would spend 12 hours at work and 12 hours for ourselves, our friends, and our families. I hear people trying to achieve this balance of time and energy on work and personal and then stress out that they can’t achieve it.

I have to suppose that when the term “work-life balance” was first created, it was meant to remind people not to be workaholics and try to get ahead professionally at the expense of their health and their relationships. But over time, it seems to have become one more measure that people have added to their checklist of “if I do this I’m closer to perfection.”

I am proposing work-life awareness and measuring happiness instead of perfection (whatever THAT is.) If you’re ready to make the shift to work-life awareness, start by asking yourself two questions at the end of the day or week or whatever time period feels right for you:

1. Am I happy?

If you spend 80% of your time working and you LOVE your work, you’re probably happy. On the flip side, if you only gave about 20% of your time and energy working at a job that’s just a job and were freed up to be fully present with friends and family, you’re probably happy. Just be aware of that.

2. Will I regret these choices of how I spent my time a year from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now?

Not to rain on the happiness parade, but ask this question because you may be happy today, but later you don’t want to either regret spending so much time in the job you love that you missed your kids’ milestones or regret not spending enough time working on a career and feel like you’ve missed your calling. Be aware of that too.

Whether you want to call it “work-life balance” or “work-life awareness” or any other term you coin, it’s really just semantics. But please, stop stressing out about it and find your sweet spot, your happiness, your zone…whatever you want to call it.

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Say Yes

In my last post, Sorting Out Why to Say “Yes” and Why to Say “No” I pointed out that you should assess and understand why your initial reaction to an offered opportunity is yes or no, and I noted some good reasons why you might choose yes or no in a particular circumstance. In this post, however, I am going to advocate for saying yes — especially if it interests and/or scares you. Say yes, get out of your comfort zone, and see how you grow!

If you want an illustration of how saying yes can impact your life, I recommend watching the Jim Carrey movie from 2008, Yes Man. I recently watched this movie again (I had seen it years ago) and still enjoyed it. Of course, it is a little silly in some parts, but the message of saying yes to open yourself up to life’s possibilities is carried out well. The premise of the movie is that the main character, Carl, promises a self-help guru that he will say yes to everything and if he breaks the promise he’ll be cursed. This promise takes Carl well out of his comfort zone, but he does begin living life (to the extreme) instead of merely surviving day after day.

So in real life, how do you say yes to things that are out of your comfort zone? What if you just don’t have the confidence? Well, you’re in luck because it takes courage, not confidence, to get out of your comfort zone. Confidence is built from getting out of your comfort zone! Here’s an example. If public speaking is out of your comfort zone, then it takes courage to say, “you know what…I will try my best. I will get through it, and I will be stronger for it after having this experience.” That’s how you gain confidence — because the next time you do something out of your comfort zone you can say, “well, I survived that public speaking thing, so I can survive this too.” (This reminds me of the workout t-shirt that says “but did you die?” I think anyone who tries something out of their comfort zone should wear one of these shirts!)

I challenge you to give it a try. Be courageous and do something that is out of your comfort zone this week. Strike up a conversation with the other person in the elevator. Take the dance class. Accept the job offer that gives you butterflies in your stomach. Just saying yes and getting out of your comfort zone is a success! Repeated success builds confidence, and then guess what — you’re not just surviving; you’re thriving!

Sorting Out Why to Say “Yes” and Why to Say “No”

Lately I’ve noticed that there is somewhat of a conflicting message on whether to say yes or no to new opportunities. If you are focusing on “work life balance,” the message is to say “no” more often. If you are focusing on personal or professional growth, the message is to say “yes” more often. Here are a few thoughts on how to think through your situation and each opportunity that comes your way.

First, assess why your immediate reaction to new opportunities is usually “yes” or usually “no.” If your immediate reaction is usually “no,” is it because you’ve been saying “no” for so long that you don’t even think about it anymore? Do you say “no” because you’re afraid? lack confidence? accept your limiting beliefs as truths? (“I’m not good at speaking in front of groups.” or “I can’t take any time away from my family.”) Be careful – after you say “no” to someone a few times, they’ll stop asking because they assume your answer is always going to be “no.” Of course, there are good reasons to say “no.” The opportunity might not interest you or maybe you need to wrap up some other projects before you have time to commit.

If your immediate reaction is usually “yes,” why? Is it because you want people to like you? you don’t want to let anyone down? fear of missing out? Be careful – if you’re stretched so thin working on things you don’t really want to be doing, you won’t have time for opportunities you  really want to be involved with when they come along and you could burn out all together. Some good reasons to say “yes” include that the opportunity sounds fun or interesting or that it is a wonderful growth opportunity.

Once you have an understanding of why you are currently a “yes” or “no” person, you can be more conscious of what you’re really feeling when presented with an opportunity. Instead of giving your usual answer, pause. What is your body’s (gut or heart, however you like to think of it) first reaction? Is it excitement or dread? For example, you could be offered a chance to spend a month working in a foreign country and your very first physical reaction might be excitement. Remember that…because the next response comes from your brain. Your brain’s job is to keep you safe, so it is going to run through all the potential downsides (where will you stay? who will you know? who would watch your pets? etc.) You have to be conscious of your thoughts and counter all the downsides with the potential upsides (your company is paying for the travel, it’s a huge growth opportunity, an adventure, there are friends, family, and professional services to help you handle things while you’re away.)

Obviously each person’s circumstances are different, and some people are naturally more inclined to say “yes” while others say “no.” But the point of this post is that we should at least be conscious and deliberate in our responses. Understand why your initial response is usually an immediate “yes” or “no.” Question it. One of my favorite sayings that applies here is “nothing changes if nothing changes.” We have to question our thoughts and behaviors if we are ever going to grow and change.