Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Doing the Wrong Thing (When You're Stressed)

Thanks to fellow Twitterer @WRY999 I've just read Dr Marsh Lucas’ blog item, “The Toothpaste-Tube Wars: Relationship Battles and the Brain,” suggesting mindfulness meditation as a way of exercising my brain to modulate my reactions to stressful situations. She promises to write more about mindfulness in future.

I Know How To Do The Wrong Thing

A few years ago a lady with an accent unlike my own interviewed me for a job by telephone. I wasn't thrilled about this because, as far as I am concerned, telephone conversations are only a little better than conversations conducted using email or instant messaging. They provide only the scarcest of cues about one's conversational partner, or about his or her surroundings. And this was a job interview. I found myself struggling to gather as much information from auditory cues as I could, and I could feel my stress level rising. However, eventually this agony was coming to an end and I thanked the interviewer. Except that my voice came out in something resembling the interviewer's own accent.

I can laugh heartily now, especially since I have just read that this failure of our cognitive systems is not altogether unusual. In fact, rehearsing what we see when these failures occurs is the basis of some kinds of humour. Enjoy: How to Think, Say, or Do Precisely the Worst Thing for Any Occasion.

But now you are saying: OK, Bill, what can we do about it? To a question like that, let me give you a firm "I'm not altogether sure."

I do not think that suppressing the untoward thoughts will help. Suppressing them might actually make them more likely to intrude. The most promising approach that I know of involves what has been called "mindfulness." I don't need to say much because there's a collection of videos on youtube that you can watch.

Here's one that I like: Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn. You can poke around on youtube for items that might appeal to you more.

If you do try this approach I'd be very interested in hearing how well it works for you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Now This is the Truth

“Some of these recommendations seem like they are common sense, but they are just not that common. People don’t have strategies, they don’t assess their plans, and they don’t think about their strategies and reflect on whether it’s working or how to make them work better. They just don’t do it,”

Daniel Turban, professor and chair of the Department of Management, University of Missouri.
Read the full article, Staying Positive Helps in Job Search.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Possible Future Directions

Technological innovations of various kinds have made short production runs of many items economical for some time now. For example, you can place an order for a single copy of a book to be printed. Presumably this trend will continue.

Here's a video that mentions a few related trends that will inevitably result in occupations for some people—evanescent though those jobs may prove to be. Think open source hardware, solid printing, and so on.

Note, incidentally, that this is an example of an Ignite presentation. On 27 November there will be an evening of them in Waterloo, Ontario.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Landing a Job: Four People ... Continuing with this line of thought

Someone asked for my advice about changing careers a couple of days ago. She wanted suggestions about how she could use her experience in one field to gain an entry-level job in a related field.

Most clients won't use advice of the kind I'm about to offer. (But you're far too polite to ask me why I continue to give it, right?) My advice was for her to watch the video in the previous posting on this blog to identify suitable candidates for interviews and then to rebrand herself. Here it is in a little more detail.

The first suggestion I offered was that she watch the video, identify at least one person in each of these rôles, in the kinds of organisations in which she wants to work, and then ask each of these individuals for their advice about what they prefer or demand in candidates. The usual game plans for information interviews would apply: no job solicitation, go prepared with questions, etc.

With the results of her interviews in hand I suggested that she take a critical look at her own qualifications and think creatively about how she could rebrand herself. She was to look at each requirement that she had learned about and to write a description of herself, using some combination of her own abilities, skills, aptitudes, qualifications, etc that approximated it.

Then I added that, before she did any of this, she should see if she could find out whether there are enough jobs in her target occupation to make all this worth her effort.

Perhaps the following message belongs in every blog entry about finding a job: The single most likely thing that will happen when you submit a job application to an employer is NOTHING. Not only is this discouraging, it is uninformative; it tells you nothing about why you lost the opportunity. The time to do your learning about the employer, about the market, about yourself, about everything necessary to grab the job, is before you apply for it. There is little profit in post mortems. Trust me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blog Item for Over-40 Job Search

Can you tell, just looking at my photo, that I'm over forty? Be honest now.

Anyway, in the gruesome circumstances foisted upon me by all-too-rapidly advancing age I take special interest in stuff with titles like 100 Tips & Tools For Job-Hunters Over 45. Pretty good list.

Brought to my attention by Mr. Arash Ahmadi on a LinkedIn group. Have I mentioned that LinkedIn is good for you?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Google Chief Economist: Statistics Becoming More Important

Google's Chief Economist is Hal Varian. Hear him interviewed 15 minutes into this radio programme in the BBC Math series “More or Less”.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Document Design Course from Carnegie Mellon University

A résumé is a document.

Here's a free, online course called “Visual Communication Design” from Carnegie Mellon about designing documents. Although the blurb for the course says that it’s about technical documents almost everything in it applies to résumés.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Internet is Killing Stuff

Glance over 50 things that are being killed by the internet from the Telegraph's site and notice number 28 particularly. Now if people think they can second guess physicians based on what they read on the ‘net what does this tell you about how life must change for career developers?

If, like me, you found the other 49 items interesting too, what can trends can we predict on behalf of our clients? Obviously:
  • Businesses that dispense information in any of its forms—sound, video, money, insurance, books, betting slips, news, and so on—must adapt.
  • The kinds of information gathering, storing and processing abilities and skills that a person or organisation is valued for are changing.
  • We will expect to store information differently.
  • We will expect games and amusements to be much more complicated.
  • The boundary between work time and personal time might become less distinct.
What else?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

YOU are a business

Apologies for shouting. I'm not the first to make this observation either, right? Nowadays each of us is like a little business. Each of us, like it or not, is responsible for marketing and managing him- or herself as a business enterprise.

In this connection here is the KickStart scorecard, a self-assessment for use by business that was devised by a Canadian marketing agency, MarketingMasters. The value in it for career developers is that it serves as a checklist of the areas that an individual, single-person ‘business’ must consider to be successful.

I couldn’t resist thinking through how the items translate. Can you? Give me your thoughts in the comments, will you? I'll mention what I think in another posting.

Incidentally my thanks are due to fellow twitterer @hjarche who made me aware of the American Express Idea Hub where I found an article by Elizabeth Walker of Marketing Masters.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Internet Problems for the Past Few Days

Someone in my neighbourhood cut a telephone cable whilst mowing his lawn a few days ago and the consequence for me was the loss of both telephone land line and internet services. Without those I was unable to keep the job listings up to date.

I'm sorry about that, and hope it didn't cause too much trouble for anyone.