Sometimes Ships Are Too Long in Coming

Sometimes Ships Are Too Long in Coming

Look out over the horizon. See that ship coming in? The one carrying all your hopes and aspirations in the hold? The accolades for your work and the increase in your fortunes in the treasure chest?

So many ships crowding the seas

Yours isn’t the only ship out there. Your neighbor is standing beside you waiting for hers to come in. The one your sister expects to make landfall everyday has been a long time coming, but your cubicle mate got a hail from his last week. It should be coming ashore any day now.

Don’t waste time lamenting the good fortune of others

Days, weeks, months, sometimes years go by and you watch so many other ships come in while yours stays stubbornly out on the horizon. You’ve already done so much to curry favor with the winds but it just won’t budge.

Will it ever come in?

The sad fact is, some ships will simply never come to shore. Many people will spend their lives waiting and hoping. Others will abandon the wait and settle for whatever they’ve already achieved.

Then there are the ones who decide enough is enough. They strip off their day to day attire, slip into something appropriate for the water and swim out to meet their fortunes.

That means letting go of expectations for a certain outcome. It means trying again in a new way. Or starting anew from scratch.

Instead of focusing on things working out exactly as you wish, think instead about the outcome. What are you trying to ultimately achieve? Focus on different ways of getting there.

If you’re waiting for a raise and it’s simply not coming, then maybe it’s time to look for a different job. If you want someone to appreciate your poetry, put it online where people can see it.

Time To Face Up To The Things You Are Avoiding

Time To Face Up To The Things You Are Avoiding

There are things I must do every day. Things I absolutely can’t avoid because my job depends on them. There are others that I should do – also because my job depends on them, but are less time dependent. Beyond those are things I should do to advance myself personally as well as professionally. Things in the second and third category can get passed along for days or weeks or sometimes months at a time.

 

Always putting out fires

So often it comes to pass that the only way things in the second and third category get done is because they have suddenly moved up to category one. At that point I often I turn into Chicken Little, running around crying, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” I’ve avoided things to the point where it’s do or die and it actually feels like the sky is falling.

 

Putting things off indefinitely always catches up to you

Putting things off indefinitely is not a way to get them done. Avoiding them also, unsurprisingly doesn’t work. Eventually we must, as they say, pay the piper. Rather than facing tasks or obligations or goals from a position of stress and fear, learn to deal with them before the sky starts falling.

 

Make yourself accountable for your distractions

We all have fall back methods for avoiding what we should be doing. We might check email fifteen times a day instead of the three we actually only need to get through the day. Maybe Facebook is your weakness, or the ten or so online sites you like to check in on regularly.

 

It doesn’t matter what you turn for distraction, the key is noticing when you do it. When you find yourself drifting from what you know you should be doing, stop and ask. Why am I doing this right now? Recognize your tendencies and call yourself out on them.

 

What are you avoiding?

When we don’t want to do something on our list we automatically find anything else to focus on. When you find yourself tying up your running shoes, yet again, rather than face the task at hand, ask yourself why. Are you afraid of the difficulty of the task? Success? Failure? The time involvement? Once you define your reasons for staying away it becomes easier to break them down and get past them.

 

Take the first step

Once you’ve broken down the reasons behind your avoidance take one step forward. You don’t need to complete the entire task in one sitting, but you can certainly do something. Set yourself a time limit. Say I will work on this for fifteen minutes (or half an hour, or two hours). Make a dent. Show yourself that you can get past the walls you’ve set around yourself.

 

Eventually instead of looking at your Twitter feed you’ll look up instead. And see the blue skies, staying right where they are above your head while you are getting your work done!

Accelerate the Hiring Process

Accelerate the Hiring Process

The job hunting process can sometimes go on and on and on, but there are some things you can do to put some gas in that engine.

 

Remember one size does not fit all

If you’ve been on the job hunt for a while you might be tempted to just send out the same cover letter to every position that seems like a possible opportunity. Creating different cover letters doesn’t mean just changing the name of the company. It means researching the company you’re applying to and including specific information about them, and you and them in the cover letter. It means highlighting specific experiences you bring to THIS position. One size actually fits no one well!

 

The same thing goes for your resume. Tailor your experiences to what best match the job you are after. You might want to change the order of your information to best grab the attention of the hiring manager for each job you are applying for.

 

Don’t just throw everything against the wall and see what sticks

Speaking of applying to everything that could possibly be an opportunity – don’t. If you are not suited to the job it’s a waste of your time and the interviewer’s for you to put in an application. Do your homework find jobs that suit your skills, experiences and aspirations and focus your precious energies on those.

 

Don’t forget your keys

As you know, there’s a lot of competition for jobs. Hiring managers read all kinds of resumes for every posting they put out there. By using key words you’ll ensure your resume and cover letter get more than a passing glance. To do this, look at what they wrote in the job description, then reflect their phrasing and words right back at them.

 

Look beyond your resume

Of course, you are going to update your resume with all your current experiences and qualifications. But that’s not the beginning and end of what a potential employer might see. They might check out what you’ve got on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. If you have a website, they will likely look at what you’ve got posted there. Make sure your online presence is as up to date as your resume!

There Will Be Closed Doors in Your Life But Many Others Are Open

There Will Be Closed Doors in Your Life But Many Others Are Open

In your quest to accomplish things you will hit upon many closed doors. Hitting such a door, you might be inclined to hang your head in despair and go home. If only you’d kept your head high you might have noticed other doors in the vicinity that were not locked. With a little effort those doors could certainly be opened.

Opening a closed door

Six years ago, I heard a call out for ideas for radio shows from our local radio station. I had an idea! It was a scripted radio drama. I started by writing the first two scripts of the six-episode show. I wrote the proposal and waited. Finally, the radio station got back to me. Good proposal they said, but we are no longer producing radio dramas.

I was crestfallen. By then I had fallen in love with the show and the idea of sharing it with the world at large. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much the show had come to mean to me. Then I realized just because the radio station said no that didn’t mean no for the show.

The world wants to help those who want to help themselves

I began auditioning and hiring actors. In the meantime, I started a fundraising campaign and raised enough to record it. I had never produced an audio drama before, but I found people who could help me with different aspects of the project. They became as invested in the show and as excited about getting it out there as I was. Six months later I had a show on iTunes.

Find Another Way

The good people at the radio station who were no longer producing audio dramas said no to me. Many other people said yes. When faced with rejection or negative responses you can take it as a dead stop or you can find another way.

Avoid Saying The Wrong Things During A Job Interview

Avoid Saying The Wrong Things During A Job Interview

Everyone knows there are things you can say during a job interview that will get you all kinds of brownie points.  For example, a demonstrated knowledge of the company you’re applying with that includes noteworthy facts you gleaned during your research. A well thought out plan for how you plan to evolve with the company that weaves your experiences in with the trajectory the company is already on.

 

Then there are things you can say that will essentially end the interview well before that final handshake.

 

Undemonstrated motivation

When asked about your positive qualities you definitely want to convey how motivated you are. However how you express that motivation can either make the interviewer sit up in interest or send them off into a daydream about lunch. If you say “I’m highly motivated,” and leave it at that, you’re essentially not saying anything of note to the interviewer. A truly motivated person talks about achievements. They talk about skills. They convey exactly how they are going to change the world around them to the best of their abilities.

 

Empty words

If an interviewer asks you about your weaknesses and you say you are a perfectionist what are they supposed to take away from that? No matter what the question, dig deep and find an answer that shines a light on your potential. Approach it from the standpoint of measurable improvement. What you did in a given situation, what you learned from it, how you improved, how you would approach a similar situation now.

 

Lack of interest

You know the interviewer is going to ask if you have any questions. Maybe the interview ends and you are totally satisfied with everything you heard. You feel great about what you said and you’re pretty sure you’re a shoe in for the job. So you answer, “No, I don’t have any questions,” and all your good work slams into a bad answer.

 

Having no questions indicates a lack of interest in the job and the interviewer – whether that’s what you actually meant or not. Always have questions ready to ask. Raise the expectations and interest as you close off your interview. Don’t bring them to a grinding halt!

 

Discussing vacations at the wrong time

Obviously, benefits like vacation time are important considerations for any job, however there is a time for that discussion and it’s not during your initial interview. If you bring it up too soon you’re telling the interviewer that you’re more interested in what the job can do for them than what you can do for the job. If there’s a second interview that’s the time to discuss vacation time, otherwise save it for negotiations.

Good News You Have A Job Interview Coming Up! Bad News You Were Fired From Your Last Job

Good News You Have A Job Interview Coming Up! Bad News You Were Fired From Your Last Job

The bad

You went through a rough patch last year. Your dad was sick and you ended up missing a lot of work because you had to help take care of him. You were worried and distracted. Things fell through the cracks at work. You made mistakes you would never make under normal circumstances. Rather than being understanding or sympathetic your boss was impatient and annoyed. Eventually you got the sack.

 

The good

All of that is in the past now. You took an online time management course. You won’t go off track again in the future. Your dad is better and you are mentally and physically recharged and ready to get your career back on track.

 

The great and the not so great

You’ve lined up a job interview at a place you where you’d be super excited to work. Your experience lines up perfectly with the job description and the company culture is exactly what you’re looking for. If you were never fired you’d be a shoe in. As it is, you’re not exactly sure how it will pan out. You know the question about previous employment is going to come up. What do you say?

 

Be clear and honest

Explain exactly what happened, quickly and succinctly. Don’t go into long explanations or create excuses or start blaming anyone. My dad was sick last year. I lost my focus and I was let go. Take ownership of what you did or didn’t do then move on to what you learned from it and the steps you’ve taken to ensure nothing like that will happen again.

 

Be confident and positive. Wow them with your all the things you bring to the table and exactly why having you as part of their team is going to strengthen the team in so many ways.

 

Our past does not define us. We are defined by what we do afterwards and going forward. There are actually a few upsides to being fired. Being fired helps put things into perspective. It makes you reassess what you’re doing and your motivation for doing it.

 

It brings hard questions you didn’t want to face to the forefront. Was that the right job for you? Do you need an attitude adjustment? What exactly do you want from life?

 

Answering those questions can put you on a whole new path. Often a much better one. And that’s the perspective/attitude you bring with you into the next interview!

Learn To Cultivate Your Luck

Learn To Cultivate Your Luck

Did you ever notice how some people have especially good luck? Things just seem to go their way. Fortuitous circumstances open up like blossoming flowers before them. Their work is chosen above other comparable work.

My friend Hoda islike that. Hoda applied for a job last fall. She didn’t get it. However, a few months later when the position opened up again. Rather than re-posting the job they just called and asked if she was still interested.

People contact Hoda over Facebook or Twitter and ask if they can work with her. It’s not like she’s famous or well connected, but doors seem to open as she passes them by.

Prepare the ground so seeds of success can flourish

The thing about Hoda that I haven’t yet mentioned is that she is also one of the hardest working people I know. She is an artist and a story teller. When she gets home from work, rather than letting what ever is happening on Netflix entertain her, she entertains herself by cultivating her craft. Instead of using her weekends as downtime she pursues her passions.

Hoda doesn’t do these things specifically to get work. Rather, she does them because it makes her feel good about herself. Watching herself and her work evolve is fulfilling and rewarding in and of itself.

Hitch your wagon to a star

When people meet Hoda, they invariably want to work with her. Part of that is because her work is good, but that’s just the beginning. Beyond that they can see she isn’t going to stop doing what she’s doing. Hoda is bound for success. Because Hoda is obviously going places, others want to attach themselves to her to get carried along for the ride.

To someone who doesn’t know what’s going on behind the scenes it might look like Hoda is a magnet for luck. Those of us who know her realize the force behind the magnetism is hard work.

Prepare Your References At The Beginning of Your Job Search

Prepare Your References At The Beginning of Your Job Search

You are on a job search. You will most likely eventually be asked for references. The time to prepare for that is now, before your interviews start. Not in a knee jerk response for a request.

 

The basics

At minimum a potential employer will want to confirm you had the job you say you had. They’ll ask about your dates of employment and title. They might also ask what you were like as an employee. Were you punctual? Did you take initiative? What was your attitude like?

 

If you provide a reference that will only give the basics, then don’t expect any fireworks on the part of your prospective employer. You want your references to be able to speak highly and positively about skills and experiences, but you also want them to hold credibility. The singing praises of your cubical mate aren’t going to get you far. The same words from a supervisor are good. If your previous boss is willing to vouch for you that’s even better. If you are a recent grad a professor can attest to your abilities and drive. In general, you want to have two or three professional references you can count on as references.

 

Credibility factor

When thinking about people we could call on as references, it’s important to consider how much weight their words will carry. If your reference is an expert in something related to what you are applying for that’s amazing. Someone who has seen you do (and excel at) a variety of different things will be able to speak confidently about your abilities.

 

Prepare them well in advance

The time to let someone know you are including them as a reference is early on in your job search. Give them time to think about you and what you can bring to the table. When you know they might be called on, give them a call. Let them know the kind of job you are applying for and the sorts of things you would like them to focus on. Confirm when it would be convenient for someone to contact them so they have time to give the reference their full attention.

 

Now that you’ve prepared your references, go out and get yourself in a position to need them!

To Do and Not To Do Following a Job Interview

To Do and Not To Do Following a Job Interview

You had a job interview and you’re pretty sure everything went well. You had done your research and had noteworthy things to say about the company. You showcased your accomplishments well with quantitative examples of how you brought your experiences to bear in your last job. Now that the job interview is done, should you just sit around and play the waiting game?  Not quite. There are things you still need to do and others you should definitely not do.

 

Thank you

The thank you note isn’t something you  do post interview. It is the final step of the interview.  Always do send a thank you note. Whether you think the interview was a success or a failure, send it. Within twenty four hours of the interview.

 

Follow up with references

Do remember to follow up with your references. The last thing you want is for an excited prospective employer to call up a reference and for the reference to have to scramble for something to say!

 

Use social media as a sounding board

Maybe the interview didn’t go as well as you hoped. Or you weren’t impressed with the company or the person interviewing you. That is information you either keep to yourself or possibly tell a close friend in private. It is absolutely not anything you should ever post on social media for the world at large to see. If there is anything you wouldn’t be very happy for a potential employer to read that you said or did, do not put it on social media for someone to find. Make sure your online presence is a professional as your professional presence.

 

Maintain professional interactions

Following the interview, you may want to follow up with the prospective employer. Maybe they seemed really eager and you can’t understand what’s taking so long. Beware of being too aggressive in your follow up. Also, don’t take the chill vibe you felt during the interview as an indication that it would be alright to get all informal during your post interview follow up.

 

All interactions with prospective employers must be as professional as they were the first moment you stepped through the door the first time.

 

Until you have an offer in hand keep looking

Based on your amazing interview, you might think you’ve got this whole job offer thing all sewn up. Until someone contacts you with an offer you are as unemployed as you were before the interview. Don’t sit back and wait for an offer that may never come. Stay proactive and ensure one does come!

 

How much of your time do you spend looking back?

How much of your time do you spend looking back?

All of us have things in our lives we wish we had done differently. Times we should have turned right when we turned left. People we wish we’d spent more time with. Others we wish we had steered clear of altogether. Opportunities we believe we should have pursued. Chances we should have taken and ones we shouldn’t have. Sometimes we call them regrets. Other times learning experiences.

 

Learning experiences and just experiences

Other things are just experiences– either ones we could have done without or ones we embrace with our full hearts.

 

Every day we go forward adds more regrets and triumphs to the reservoir that makes up our past. As we’re trying to go ahead and create our future, the past is like a small child tugging at our shirt sleeve for attention. The regrets imploring us to be wary and pursue with caution or not at all. The triumphs crowing over their glory.

 

 

Those are a lot of demands for our attention. The thing is, the past has happened. There is absolutely no changing it, no matter how much we dwell on it. There is no re-living it, regardless of how much time we spend there. One of the most important things we can do in our lives is learn to stop giving the past attention it doesn’t deserve.

 

Leave the past where it is, In the past

 

In regards to regrets, remind yourself you did what you thought was right at the time. It simply didn’t work out. The real regret from today’s stand point is every moment wasted dwelling on what was. Pledge to never take those same steps again and move on.

 

The glories of our lives are great–in the moment they’re happening. The time spent remembering them or reliving them afterwards are just about as debilitating for our future selves as the time spent dwelling on regrets. Either you will beat out those glories with better ones or you won’t. Regardless, the most important moment is now because it’s your chance to do what you’re here to do. Live your life appreciating each moment for what it is while striving towards the great ones.