Category Archives: Job Search

Posts particularly helpful to those seeking or changing employment

Do we ask a potential hire what their parents told them when they spilled milk?

It wasn’t Sigmund Freud, but the 19th century poet William Wordsworth who said, The child is the father of man. But Freud, of course, would have agreed in that he argued that most, if not all, of the foundation for who we are as adults is cast in the first five years.

So, what are we to make of this? Are we stuck with our pre-verbal responses to authority, to failure, to success, formed long before we have conscious memory or control? After all, most of us neither remember nor had any say-so over what happened to us when we spilled our milk, refused to be potty trained, tried to please our parents, or told an untruth.

Still, one tenet of psychology is that to understand who we are today, we must understand who we have been. What shaped us to respond so viscerally to criticism and praise, to be driven to achieve or content to do little, to be fiercely independent or reliant on others?

This is where cognitive behavioral psychology makes it debut.

The idea is simple. We tune-in to what we are saying to ourselves in the moment, when we feel unfairly criticized, unappreciated, inadequate, excluded, reviled. When we do, chances are we will actually hear those old messages programmed into our operating systems, long before we had choice. Continue reading Do we ask a potential hire what their parents told them when they spilled milk?

What to do when the hiring manager says: “Name your terms!”

“What will it take to hire you?” These words may be music to your ears, but how you respond makes a big difference. Take your time, collect your thoughts, and follow these seven tips to make the most of the opportunity:

  • Decide you want the job. Make sure you like what the organization does and that the people you would work with give you energy and get energy from you. If you do not like and want the work, or if you do not look forward to spending time with the people every day, a job at any pay will turn into a grind. If not, politely let them know and move on…it is a waste of their time and yours to do otherwise. If you want the job ask for a day or two to discuss it with advisers before getting back to them.
  • Know your worth. Research the web and ask around to learn the current market value for your basket of skills. If you think you might undersell yourself, do some digging to arm yourself with up-to-date information and boost your confidence. On the other hand, be honest with yourself to avoid an inflated sense of worth. Make sure your expectations are reasonable given your compensation history and relative to those with comparable scope and scale of responsibility, experience, and results in your location. Do not go just by job title. For example, a first-time manager of a six-person team is not worth the same compensation as a 15-year veteran who has successfully led a 30-person team over multiple years, even though both are called Project Managers.

Continue reading What to do when the hiring manager says: “Name your terms!”

Top leaders tell everyone: “Never do what you are told!”

I tell everyone who works with or for me that they are never to do something because I told them to do it.  I do not want or expect anyone to do what I ask just because I told them to do it. Instead, I insist they do what they do because they understand what they are doing, they know why it makes sense to do it, they believe that what they are about to do is the wise and right thing to do, and they want to do it.

The objective is to make them (as opposed to me!) accountable for what they do and to help them grow through the experience. Soon I will not have to ask them any more because what I want done will be internalized and we can move on the next stage of growth. If I ever ask them to do something that they do not understand, agree with, or want to do then I beg them to tell me about it so that we can talk it through.

An approach that demands people to do something but that does not take time to be sure those being told understand and agree with doing it may seem more like what a CEO should do but it is not. Here is why:

  • When things do not go quite right it is too easy for the person to let themselves off-the-hook as they say, either out loud or to themselves, that: I only did it because the boss told me to.
  • It is human tendency to do what you are told to do by persons in positions of authority.  However, when you follow an order, you do not necessarily have to:

Continue reading Top leaders tell everyone: “Never do what you are told!”

3 Truths and 6 Power Skills to Master Organization Politics

Organization Politics GroupOrganization politics make a lot of people uncomfortable. The untrained hope is that if politics are ignored, and if a job is done well, then well-earned rewards will come. Things rarely play out that way.

Organization politics is defined as anything done at work to increase the odds of success that has nothing at all to do with the work itself. Master executive coach and workplace psychologist, Dr. Dory Hollander, presents three unassailable truths about how things work in organizations and Six Power Skills for mastering the art of career enhancement.

Unassailable Truths

Truth 1 — There is Insider-Outsider Sorting

  • All organizations continuously sort people into insiders or outsiders.
  • There are things that distinguish insiders from outsiders among various stakeholder groups.
  • Insider/outsider status is subject to change.
  • Being an insider in one group is no guarantee of being an insider in another.
  • Leaders can help newcomers transition to insiders or let them struggle. The former makes more sense

Truth 2 –There is Clashing of Self-Interests among Stakeholders

  • Clashes between people and groups with differing self-interests are normal; not nutty.
  • It is best to spot and manage inevitable stakeholder conflicts, clashes and fallout; avoiding them is rarely wise.
  • A thick skin and solid negotiation skills put a leader, or anyone else for that matter, in position to address emerging conflicts with confidence.

Truth 3 — There are Hidden Alliances

  • Co-workers, friends and even enemies will bond together in hidden alliances to win resources, rewards, and advantages.
  • Staying in touch with what is going on in the trenches to learn where these alliances are helps a leader avoid being blindsided.
  • Hidden alliances are revealed through frequent communication with diverse groups, aggressive relationship management, and strategic stakeholder interventions.

Power Skills

In light of these three truths Six Power Skills help leaders, and everyone else, to be politically savvy and to master the art of career enhancement:

Power Skill 1 — Become an Insider

Continue reading 3 Truths and 6 Power Skills to Master Organization Politics

Three Tips for Early Stage Professionals Seeking Their Next Job

Your first job out of school is NOT a life sentence.  The best move might be to take what you have learned so far and step out to complement it with a whole new set of experiences  before deciding to settle-in somewhere for the long haul.  

While it can seem daunting, if you remember that it is a job to find a job, read all the posts in the Job Search category of this site, and follow these three Tips for Early Stage Professionals, the results may well be worth it:

  • Put your education at the bottom of your resume once you have any work experience. Education is most important only in getting your first job out of school.  From then on it is about what you have done in previous jobs that support and make a case for what you say you want to do next.

Continue reading Three Tips for Early Stage Professionals Seeking Their Next Job