Monthly Archives: January 2009

Destiny or coincidence?

Destiny or coincidence?

When my Wisconsin license plates arrived for my new car, Zeus exclaimed, “New York! It’s a sign!”

Uh…

Four ways to find a job without a specific degree or experience

Consider getting an online Associate Business Degree to start building your business network and learn the basics of entrepreneurship.

Marketing jobs are all the rage despite the fact that marketing departments are one of the first to be cut in a recession. And I’ve always liked marketing, but I didn’t major it in college, and none of my experience has ever directly related to the topic. But my new job? It’s all about marketing.

Here’s how to transition into a field that you have no specific education or direct experience in:

1. Ignore your last job title. Titles don’t matter. Experience does. “Director” could mean any number of things – managing budgets, event planning, fundraising, etc. But instead, I made it to mean word-of-mouth marketing, building community, and member (read: customer) acquisition and retention when I interviewed for my current job.

Your experience is valuable whatever you do, so you need to learn how to talk about it in a way that matters. Good managers realize it’s not about your title, but what you did. My first boss out of college looked for candidates who had waitressing experience (note: I didn’t, but still got the job), because she believed waiters learned a valuable skill set.

Translate your experience into how it will be meaningful.

2. Network now, while you still have a job. When I announced I was leaving my last job, I received several emails that read, “What’s this all about? I thought you were you going to give me a heads up when your mind started to wander…” Too many people start networking after they’ve started looking for a new position. You should be constantly networking.

More than anything, constantly networking means doing your job well, representing your company with integrity, and letting other people see that. Like when people ask, “How’s the job?” be ready to list two to three key accomplishments – both personal and company-related – like, “It’s great! We’ve acquired two new sponsors, expanded our Board, and are starting the process for building our new product on Monday.”

And it doesn’t matter if you just started your job. After a conference last week, I followed up with the business cards I collected. One email I received back read, “Let me know when you’re ready to job-hop again. I need a good PR person for [company] to manage marketing our own business and brand.”

3. Please, start a blog already. Now that I work for a start-up company, people keep asking me how to get a start-up job. Especially those with no online presence whatsoever. Uh, yeah. The easiest way to prove that you’re serious, knowledgeable and competent in an area that you seemingly have no experience or education in is to write a blog on that topic. Because writing a good blog isn’t actually easy at all, it’s hard.

And if you’re serious about finding a job in engineering instead of accounting, or intellectual property instead of family law, or sports-casting instead of painting, you have to be serious. If you think it’s stupid to start a blog on the topic, then maybe you don’t want it as much as you think you do. I’m just saying. Be honest, and then put the work in.

4. Customize your resume to the company. Don’t insist on putting everything you’ve ever done on your resume. If you’re a real estate agent, don’t describe the job, but instead describe your accomplishments, how you stood out, and why your experience makes you stellar to the position you’re applying for. Writing a great resume preps you for a great interview.

The easiest way to learn how to do this is to review other resumes. Reviewing what other people have done is the quickest way to improvement because you’ll see how much information is irrelevant and how quickly you get bored. Here, you can start by reviewing the resume I wrote to get my current job. It was pretty awesome at the time, but only a couple months later, this version already makes me cringe. You should constantly be updating since you are constantly changing.

Apply the same customization and personalization to your resume that you expect when you get book recommendations from Amazon.

Transition mission.

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I heart my blog

I heart...

They were handing out these neat pins at the BlogWell conference last week, which made the stretch on I-90 where it took an hour to go six miles totally worth it.

My new job

My new job

The four truths of blog and social networks to use to your advantage

Last Friday, Monica O’Brien of Twenty Set wrote about how blog networks sucked and that there wasn’t any advantage to being part of one. I disagree and this post is my response.

Here are the four universal truths about blog and social networks, and how to use them to your advantage:

1. Network means it’s not just about you. Social media by definition is social and is thus a give and take world.Traffic will not magically be sent to your blog, nor will exposure magically occur.

Joining a network – whether that be a blog network like Brazen Careerist, a social network like Facebook or Twitter, or the professional network LinkedIn – doesn’t mean that all of sudden things will be easier for you. Really, it only means that your work has just begun. Hard work.

I mean, I get it. I’ve been there. We think that since we are letting networks have access to all of our writing – words that we have toiled over until 2:00 am and let sit until 2:37 am just to feel motivated and confident enough to even publish – that we should reap grand rewards. That just by giving away permission to our soul, great things should happen. I’ve been there, but that’s not how it works.

It works by not only allowing more people into your world, but by listening to them, hearing them and responding. It works by participating and figuring out how you win with your post and how the community does too.

2. You can’t be found without showing up. A blog network is not your blog. Think of a network as the meeting place – a community house, a bar on a Friday night, the lunchroom at work, whatever. Your blog, in contrast, is your home. You’re the same person – and your posts are the same – in both places, but different people show up and different conversations occur.

If you stay at home, people will find you, but the majority won’t know you exist. Similarly, if you go to the bar and just sit in a corner, that girl is not going to magically give you her number. So you can’t just blog in a vacuum, nor can you join a network and expect that to be the final step if you want to build exposure and traffic. People don’t just find you – you find them.

And that isn’t a theory just for beginners; it’s a commandment for established bloggers. The fact that Penelope Trunk syndicates the heck out of her blog is no coincidence to her success, nor is the fact that Chris Brogan shows up to every social media event imaginable. You don’t stop working ridiculously hard when you’re established. You work harder.

3. Use their network to build your network. A blog network is not promising you a product like cereal, but is selling you on relationships. Before Brazen Careerist started, the sense I had of the Gen Y blogging world was limited; I knew around twenty-five Gen Y bloggers. Now I know and have access to hundreds, not only because Brazen Careerist helped discover those people, but also because Brazen created, inspired and facilitated that particular market to be part of the conversation.

I take advantage of the Brazen network by looking at the community profiles in the same way I look at who my favorite Twitter friends are following, or who my real-life friends and I have in common on Facebook.

And when people comment on a post of mine on any network, I don’t just hope that they subscribe to my blog, I’m proactive. I check out their blog, reply to them, comment on their posts, link to them and begin to build a relationship. I get interested in what they’re doing, because they’ve shown interest in me.

I can’t imagine how I would find these people – those that are interested in my topic – in an easier way. That’s called building community and it’s what social media is all about.

4. Blog networks do give special treatment for two reasons. The first is to attract a lot of traffic from good writers. Want to be featured on the front page of a network? Be a good writer. You could be among the most-hated participants but if you write well, you’ll still be featured.

The second is to reward the people that they have relationships with. This isn’t unfair, it’s smart. Relationships make the world go round. I personally have no idea how blogs are picked to be on the front page, but there’s an easy way to circumvent whatever process the blog network has installed. That is, build a relationship.
Email the community manager if you feel you have an especially good post to, 1) promote yourself, 2) begin that relationship, and 3) make the community manager’s job easier.

I guarantee that a better attitude to success is to ask not what the network can do for you, but what you can do for your network.

Collective truth.

Why Generation Y should job-hop, even in the recession

There’s buzz in the media that Generation Y is finally being put in our place. The recession won’t play favorites and Gen Y will see just what Gen X and the Boomers have been talking about. Besides this being ridiculously sad – honestly, are we really a society that beats down optimism? – it’s also completely erroneous.

The Economist reports that “the touchy-feely management fads that always spring up in years of plenty (remember the guff about ‘the search for meaning’ and ‘the importance of brand me’) are being ditched in favor of more brutal command-and-control methods.” (h/t The Schiff Report)

Except companies that operate according to the latest trend and resort to command-and-control methods are neither Gen Y-friendly, nor anyone-friendly. You cannot have one set of values one month and a different set the next, because what makes individuals productive in one economy does not change in another.

If you value an open, collaborative approach, that shouldn’t change when times get tough. Especially when Gen Y values are so beneficial to everyone.

The Economist goes on to say that Gen Yers “have labored under the illusion that the world owed them a living. But hopping between jobs to find one that meets your inner spiritual needs is not so easy when there are no jobs to hop to.”

Except that those who can perform will always be able to find a new, exciting position. And Gen Y knows how to perform, especially under pressure. We’ve been multitasking since we could make a to-do list and we readily embrace change. We came of age during 9/11 and as Nadira Hira argues, “corporate America often appears just as scary and unstable (and untrustworthy) as the world at large, if not more so.”

Just because we’re experiencing an economic meltdown for the first time does not mean that we’re going to hide in the corner. We’re not going to settle. Really, we’re not surprised. We saw all this growing up– lay-offs, bankruptcy, politicking – and it’s exactly why we wanted to change the workplace in the first place.

As the Financial Times reports, “today’s younger generation are better prepared for economic hard times than their parents or grandparents: they were not expecting jobs for life… switching jobs and reconsidering careers are second nature to them.”

So, stop listening to those who say Gen Y won’t survive the recession. Here are four ways to really feel secure in today’s economy –

1) Turn down job offers. My mother was horrified and I was elated when I turned down a job offer a couple months ago. But it is one of the most empowering career moves you can make because you get to practice negotiating, you get feedback, you’re in control and you have the option of using it as a bargaining position later.

2) Get paid what you’re worth. I’ve increased my salary 60% since my first position out of college. If you’re keeping track, that’s a 20% raise each year. Silvana Avinami, a self-proclaimed strategic job-hopper reports on Brazen Careerist that she does even better than that, averaging a 30% raise with each hop (see comments).

You simply cannot do this by staying at the same job unless you’re there for a very long time. You just can’t.Loyalty is about delivery,” and when you deliver, you should be rewarded accordingly.

3) Over-perform. You probably don’t love what you do. And if you don’t like your job, even a little, you’ll start performing badly. That’s bad because high performance is the key to a successful career.

“It makes sense,” Penelope Trunk argues. “If you don’t need to get another job anytime soon, then you don’t need to perform well in the next six months. You can coast. Job hoppers don’t coast or their resume will look bad.” Job-hopping allows you to find out what you like and figure out your strengths by forcing you to make an impact quickly.

4) Risk everything. Because safe is boring and maybe that’s good when times are easier, but they’re not. Safety doesn’t create innovation. But innovation does create new jobs and new opportunities. Innovation creates new markets and cures for illnesses and ideas that make us excited to get up in the morning.

You really want to help the economy? Put yourself out there. Risk everything. Do it for you, your family, your friends. We’ll all thank you.

Recession proof.

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Nine Gen Y blogs to watch in 2009

I love my blog for two reasons – 1) It’s my space to do whatever I want in, and 2) I get to share that space with an amazing community. I’d like to start 2009 with turning the spotlight on to that community.

This isn’t a list of my favorite Gen Y bloggers, or the most established, or the best or even the most under-appreciated.  And I haven’t included a lot of people I really like. A lot. But looking into the Gen Y crystal ball, I see these fellow bloggers making waves in 2009. Here we go (in no particular order):

1. Politicoholic
Nisha Chittal is becoming rapidly well-known in the Gen Y blogging world. As an extremely talented writer, she easily won the Brazen Careerist blogging contest with this post.

2. Employee Evolution
Speaking of Brazen Careerist, the guys at Employee Evolution have had a tough time maintaining their blog since co-founding the company. But in 2009 that will change. Look for Ryan Paugh to split off and start his own blog here, and for Ryan Healy to re-commit to Employee Evolution with renewed energy.

3. The Schiff Report
Jaclyn Schiff illuminates Gen Y by discovering and commenting on interesting press clips, and more importantly, consistently providing a thought-provoking point of view.

4. WorkLoveLife
It would be hard not to include Holly Hoffman on this list. And it would be hard to imagine the Gen Y blogosphere without her snappy and sensational writing on oh-so-many revealing topics.

5.  FeverBee
Richard Millington talks about ideas for building online communities. I discovered him through Chuck Westbrook’s “Under-Appreciated Blogs” series. Look for Millington to become the Seth Godin of our generation. Seriously.

6. Personal Branding
The real power of Dan Schawbel comes not from his blog, but his incredible passion which makes him one of the hardest-working Gen Y bloggers around. Watch for his book Me 2.0 to come out in early April of this year.

7. I Hate HR
Both witty and wise, Rachel Robbins’ posts are a short and cohesive snapshot of the HR world, something that I could care less about, but that she manages to make interesting.

8. The Office Newb
I love that Jacqui Tom challenges my opinions and forces me to synthesize my ideas. No, really, literally. And while I don’t always agree with her, she makes appealing arguments as a clever writer.

9. Girl Meets Business
It’s been easy to overlook Angela Marino‘s consistently practical and solid advice, but with the launch of her fun and innovative 2009 YP Rockstar series, I know she will gain well-deserved attention.

Wait, one more…
10. Modite

I’m totally cheating. I know. Putting my own blog on my own list is completely self-involved. But I hear you when you say you want me to post more. And I will.

And finally a note about…
The Almost Royal
Sometimes people do things I don’t understand and should stay out of. Like when Sarah Pare deleted her blog. But I want her to come back. She was a favorite. Come back, Pare, we need you.

Who will you be watching in 2009?

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