Who is in control of your job search?

Do you have an external or internal locus of control?  No, I am not talking about some spirituality, mantra chanting, nonsense (my word for incense) burning, yoga bending ritual… I am asking…

Who Controls You?

Not that long ago one of my 9-year olds (we have three of them), once again, taught me an important lesson.  I asked (told) him to do something.  To which he said “You’re not the boss of me.”  He did not say this in anger or as an affront to my position as parent, but rather a statement of fact.  I said “Oh, really?”  He said “Yes sir, I am responsible for me.”  This is not all that unusual in my house.  We have many conversations that others find unusual for parents and 9-year olds to have.  The other day on the way to school we discussed the differences between punishment and consequences for 20 minutes.  But I digress…

Back to you… are you in control of your job search or are you a ship without a rudder being tossed about the sea?  You can either LET things happen TO you or you can MAKE things happen FOR you.  The red pill or the blue pill?  The choice is yours.

How to have an Internal Locus of Control

Freakonomics Radio recently released a podcast on How to Be More Productive.   In it Charles Duhigg, the Author of Smarter Faster Better:  The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business talks about how important it is that you have an internal locus of control.  Duhigg also explains how to use that to influence others and yourself.

Do you believe that you have gotten to where you are through YOUR hard work and determination or has it been by chance?  You must make yourself realize that you control your choices, which control outcomes.  Yes, unplanned things happen… cancer, death, heart break, job loss, etc…  But you and you alone control how you react to those things.  To say that I do not believe in predestination is an understatement.  I believe in free will and you need to exercise yours.

I Do What I Want

You need to realize that you do what you want.  As Denzel Washington said in The Book of Eli “there is always a choice.”  You do not HAVE to go to work.  You do not HAVE to take your kids to soccer.  The list goes on…  You GET to!  Saying to yourself and others that you GET to do things changes the locus of control.  I have a good friend who always says the same thing when he gets a weekend to himself.  I ask “what are you going to do this weekend?”  To which he replies “whatever the hell I want to” with a smile on his face.

So, what do you GET to do today?  Both in your life and in your job search?  Are you going to reach out those people who work at the company where you want to work or are you going to wait for the universe to come to you?

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.
Albert Ellis

Why you should apply online

I just read a article by J.T. O’Donnell from February titled The (Depressing) Truth About Applying To Jobs Online.”  J.T.’s post give a lot of great tips but there seems to be quite a bit of absolutism in advice these days.

Do this, Don’t do that

The truth is that most job search has merit but to shut-off any one area of your job search is to turn your back on those openings.  Let me stop and admit that I have skin in the game.  Not only do I hire people from the job postings but that is also how I came to work at Mspark.  It may be true that1% or less of online applicants end up getting the job but to that 1%, that is a big deal.

Let’s look at the dating analogy… How many times do online dating sites fail vs. succeed?  They fail a lot!  So should you stop using them?  Or how about first dates all together?  Most first dates fail if your goal is to find a life-long mate.  So, maybe you should stop going on first dates?  Sound ludicrous?  So does telling someone not to fill out an online application.

For some, online applications are a must

Did you know that if an employer is a government contractor you MUST be considered an “applicant” before that employer can consider you for a position?  That means to be considered for a position at most government contractors you must fill out an online application.  Don’t think this rule is a big deal?  Just ask someone in HR who has gone through an OFCCP audit… it’s a big deal with HUGE costs to the company if they don’t follow the rules.  Don’t think you want to work at a government contractor?  Think again, the government contractor list is HUGE and yes, Google is a government contractor.

One strategy is not enough

If you only use one channel in your job search you are severely limiting your options.  Let’s say you follow the advise of looking at companies you that sell products or services you respect and admire.  Granted, J.T.’s article does not say “only” look at those companies but I worry that many people would read it that way and could be ignoring a great number of employers.

Put together a marketing plan

By now you are asking, “What channels should I be using in my job search?”  Great question!  Here are some suggestions but the % you spend on each one is up to you and your job search criteria:

  • Online Job Boards – The numbers that show your odds of getting a job just by applying online are similar to the lottery are skewed by TONS of non-qualified applicants who clog up ATSs daily.  Keep in mind that some jobs are only posted for 24 – 72 hours.
  • Company websites – Some companies only post on their website.
  • LinkedIn – Job postings and networking all in one.
  • Twitter – Great networking tool and good for company research.
  • Social Media – FaceBook, Instagram, etc…  Recruiters are moving to social media.
  • Networking – It is often times true… who you know is more important than what you know.
  • Direct contact with employers – Reach out to the employer directly.  Many times if you call the main-line for a company and ask for HR you can talk to someone.
  • Employee referrals – If you know someone that works at the company where you want to work, be sure to let them know.  Ask if you can put them down as the referral source when you apply for a position.  Many companies pay $500 – $1000 to their employees for referring someone who is hired
  • Career Fairs – Similar to job boards the percentages may tell you the odds are slim but you rarely get the chance to talk one on one with someone from the company.
  • Agencies – While agencies do have competing loyalties, they still provide a useful service to employers and candidates.
  • Associations – Look for industry or profession specific associations.  They may have job boards.  They are also a great way to network and get information.
  • Alumni groups – Is there a local alumni chapter from your University?  Be sure to reach back out to your school.  They may have resources you can use.  Even some major employers have alumni groups.
  • Externships – Try job shadowing.  This is usually easier for students or recent grads.
  • Volunteer – If you are not currently working then volunteering is a great way to network.
  • Market yourself – Go on the offensive.  Some people have posted ads for themselves on FB and other online places.  Start tweeting or blogging about your industry or profession.  There have even been stories about people handing out resumes at subway stops.  Get creative and get out there!

In short, don’t restrict your job search.  Think of it this way… you are the product.  You need to identify your top customers and marketing channels.  Then spend your resources (time) effectively.

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.
Coco Chanel

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

I heard this from Tim Ferriss’ podcast episode on The Man Who Studied 1,000 Deaths to Learn How to Live with BJ Miller.  This is so true in life and your job search…

You are your own worst enemy

We see it everywhere in quotes.  The power of belief or disbelief is staggering.  I even see it in 9-year old baseball.  If a kid walks up to the plate WANTING to hit the ball and BELIEVING they’ll hit it they are much more likely to get a hit.  The reverse is also true.  If they don’t want to be there and don’t think they will hit it they usually won’t.

In Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers he says the same thing is true.  The people who are successful, in large part, are successful because they believe they will be successful.  You can take the same thing to your job search.  You need to visualize what it will be like when you get a referral, the recruiter calls, you go on the interview, etc…  Call it karma, positive thinking or the power of God within each of us, it works.  But, just as with God’s timing, it is often times not on our time schedule.

Sekou Andrews puts it into perspective in Tim Ferriss’s podcast where he gives everyone in the audience a huge takeaway.  Sekou has everyone repeat after him… “at least I’m not trying to build a successful life from poetry.”  He goes on to say “I got no sympathy for y’all”  “I built my business off a dead art form you hated in high school.”

Today, take the time to write down all the things that are holding you back.  Say them out loud to someone else and get them out in the light where you can see them for what they are… they are agreements that you have made with the enemy that you are not enough.  Here is a tip… you are MORE than enough.

Take me off your Rolodex and put me in your calendar
Sekou Andrews

You need to have a sense of entitlement to do well in your job search

I am reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  In the book he looks at what makes great people (outliers) great.  I HIGHLY recommend this book.  One of the things that he talks about that makes a dramatic difference in people’s lives is whether or not they have a sense of entitlement.

 the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something

This is NOT the definition that most of us use.  Most of us use it when people get special privileges or when we describe financial help from the government.  Gladwell says that people without entitlement will not stand up for themselves, people with it will.

This is VERY important in the interview process.  I fear that companies often times hire good interviewers, but not necessarily good candidates.  This is an important distinction for every applicant to understand.  Think of it in the dating analogy…  How many times have you been on a date that went great but you later found out the person is a horrible match for you.  Or sometimes the reverse happens, you think the person is a self-absorbed half-wit but you later find out that they just have a wicked sense of humor.  The interview process is no different.  Unfortunately most people do not believe that to be true.

Many people believe that you can interview people in such a way that it determines who will be successful and who will not.  Don’t get me wrong, interviews do help in increasing the odds that there will be a good match.  Interviews can assist in determining who CAN be a good match but not necessarily who WILL be a good match.

Let’s look at how this affects you, the candidate.

Entitled people ask questions

Many times the person that does well in the interview is the person who asks questions.  If the company asks you a scenario or hypothetical question you NEED to ask questions.

  • Interviewer: What would you do if a customer refuses to pay?
  • Candidate: Before I answer I would like to know some of our (assume you already work there) policies and procedures around non-payment.
  • Candidate: What is the normal process for billing and where in that process did the customer refuse to pay?
  • Candidate: Have we already delivered the product / service?
  • etc…

If you do not have a sense of entitlement you will not ask those questions.  It really helps if are the type of person who does not have a problem asking questions.  Keep in mind, you need to ask enough but not too many.

Entitled people believe what they say

One thing that will sink an interview very quickly is a being flip-flopper.  No, I don’t want someone so committed to a belief that they will pursue even in the face of evidence to the contrary.  I mean the people that change their answer because they think you have a different opinion.  In a HRGrapevine article  Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, it seems he wants people WITH different points of view.  The article talks about how Kalanick talked to a candidate (they call it a “30 hour interview”) off and on for weeks about a variety of topics.  My thought is that if the candidate had changed his answer when pressed, it would have been a MUCH shorter process with a very different outcome.

You need to be OK with having a different opinion and be able to back it up.  You need to defend your viewpoint and argue without being argumentative.  Many people cross the line and let their emotions rule them when confronted.  But entitled people don’t get emotional.

Entitled people are persistent

How many times have you been told “apply online” only to wait and wait and wait with no response?  If you are entitled you won’t just sit there, you reach out to people.  I see it all the time… the entitled candidate follows up with me.  They stop by my office.  They reach out to me via social media.  In short, they have the winning attitude of “if this company does not hire me, it is their loss but I want to show them how great I am.”  Again, this is confidence without arrogance.  It is persistence without nagging.  It is a fine line that is walked and it is not a straight line.  This takes what Gladwell calls “Practical Intelligence.”  What is Practical Intelligence?  Gladwell defines it as ““knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect.”

We all need to be a little bit better at being an advocate for ourselves, that is what Malcom is saying.  If you don’t believe in yourself, why should others?

Believing in yourself if the first secret to success.
Disti Amalia Pusparanti

Top 10 list on how to be a bad co-worker

There are a lot top 10 lists out there so I thought I would add one to the multitude:

Top 10 list on how to be a bad co-worker

You know, those people that want to do their jobs poorly.  Please note the pervasive sarcasm in this post.  Yes, that person that wakes up every morning looking forward to doing a bad job at work.  You probably have or have had a coworker or two who you think wakes up and asks themselves “how can I make my coworkers and boss miserable today?”  You might even think that HR and hiring managers like this type of person because they keep hiring more of them.  Or maybe, you are tired of having people want to work with you.  It gets old winning awards and knowing that you are doing a good job… it’s time for a change!  You want to join the ranks of the ne’er-do-wells.  This post is for you.

1. Show up late… to everything.  This shows EVERYONE that you value your time more than theirs.  Way to go.  There might not be an “I” in team but there is a “ME.”

2. Gossip… A LOT!  You know people LOVE bad news, so why not spread some.  Or even better yet, create your own.  You saw your boss go into a meeting with the CEO… that MUST mean layoffs are around the corner, you better start telling people.

3. Don’t clean your dishes in the break room.   Don’t they have cleaning people for that?  I mean seriously.  If you cleaned up after yourself you would be taking work away from someone else.

4. Take personal calls at work and speak LOUDLY.  Everyone else is so focused on work they won’t even notice when you talk about how your family puts the fun in dysfunctional.

5. Don’t do what you tell people you will do.  The Bible even tells us that if you put your faith in anyone but God you will be disappointed.  So why not allow them to learn that lesson through you?

6. Deadlines are for suckers.  You can’t rush creativity and most deadlines are artificial anyway.  If they were real there would be consequences for missing them.

7. Don’t eat breakfast until you get to work.  Your employer knows you don’t work well when you are hungry so it is a good idea to clock in at work before you start making your breakfast.

8. What dress code?  Even if you know the dress code, they don’t really expect people to adhere to it.  Your coworkers understand and maybe even enjoy seeing your underwear, bra, belly or any other item or part of your body some people consider “personal.”

9. Wear a lot of perfume or cologne.  Better yet, wear a lot of Patchouli Oil.  Everyone enjoys the same scents you do and if not… well, they just need to get over it.

10. Do what you want, when you want, where you want.  You have your rights, don’t let people take them from you.

11. Don’t follow directions.  If someone asks you to do a top 10 list do 11 or 12 if you want.  They will appreciate that you think “outside the box.”  All those haters need a “paradigm shift” to see things the right way… your way.

12. Personal hygiene.   Bathing is optional and bad for the natural oils you produce.  Just use more patchouli oil.  Fingernails and toenails?  If you decide to clip them why do it in the privacy of your own home?  Clip them at work in the break room or in your cube.

Feel free to add the ways YOU can be a bad employee in the comments.  These people need all the help they can get.

The employee who steadily smiles and peak performs while having to work with a difficult and sometimes toxic coworker, proves that he/she is in control of their happiness and peace of mind.
Ty Howard