New Year. New No….

One of my favorite people in this world is fellow Cubs fan Brian Swanson. Brian is the Youth Pastor / Leader at Woods Chapel Methodist in Lees Summit & preaches in our Worship Center a couple of times a month. I stole the title of this post from his sermon, so I wanted to make sure he got full credit.

Brian’s point regarding “New Year – New No” was this – commonly used New Year phrases like “New Year – New Me” and “My New Year resolution is not to have a New Year resolution” or commonly broken resolutions “Exercise more, Eat better” are just that – phrases and resolutions we’ll probably break. Saying is not doing.

I’m going to start this year with a simple word – Action. My first action will be to look back on last year to answer two questions.

  • What action from 2015 should I be taking in 2016?
  • What action from 2015 should I NOT be taking in 2016, and what action will I take in 2016 to fill that valuable time?

The answers will provide my road-map for 2016 objectives.

Another over-used catchphrase is “easier said than done.” Typing those words was easier said than done because EVERYTHING is easier said than done. There’s no plan to post my answers to the questions. I’m just going to get it done.

Holiday Job Searching

It’s here. Christmas lighting up our neighborhoods and homes. Eight nights of lighting the Menorah and reciting blessings. The Feast of Sacrifice. The Winter Solstice. Camping out at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving eve with hundreds of others so you can buy a $259 55″ POS flat screen at four in the morning (what’s up with that anyway?)

Whatever you celebrate, this time of year is full of tradition.

Here’s another common tradition. “Nobody is hiring in December so I’m going to put my search on hold until the first of the year, right?”

While it’s true there will be more hiring activity after the New Year hiring does not come to a complete stop. I started my first job out of college the day after Christmas. During my 15 years at RiverPoint we’ve had double-digit Decembers on more than one occasion. Hiring DOES NOT stop in December, so neither should you. Quite to the contrary, you should use this time to double-down on your search for many reasons.

There’s less competition. Lots of people put their search on hold this time of year. They’re busy decorating the house, the kids are home from school, travel plans get in the way, etc… Why go to all the effort of making calls, networking, and connecting when everyone is on vacation? I’ll start looking after New Years. Get a head start on these people. Make the connections now and you’ll be at the front of the line when hiring decisions are being made.

There’s budgets to burn. Common thought is budgets are already spent, but not everyone is sitting at zero dollars available. They need to spend them now so they have them again next year. Why not put them in your bank account?

Holiday Hiring. Plenty of retailers would love to have you come in and help them through the peak season. Sure, retail doesn’t always pay great, and the hours aren’t the best, but $10.hr is better than zero dollars per hour. Even a low paying job can help put a few presents around the tree.

Time of Giving. This is a time of year when people are feeling more generous than normal. I’m not saying someone will think “let’s be charitable and hire her,” but people will be more helpful in making connections and generally helping you take a few steps forward. It’s also a great chance to get out to Harvesters, Hillcrest, Habitat or any of the many charities and help – lots of organizations do community service this time of year – never know who you’ll meet.

Don’t stop because it’s Christmas. If anything, increase your efforts. 2016 is right around the corner – with a smart strategy and some hard work you will have a very Happy New Year in your new job.

Merry Christmas everyone!

I Love a Parade

It was a day I will never forget. A day 800,000 – 1,000,000 Royals fans will never forget. It was the largest gathering of people in one place in city history. Bigger than the ’85 celebration. Bigger than Woodstock. All we needed was Hendrix to end it all with our National Anthem.

Our Story.

My oldest son had to work and he was very disappointed. My wife, youngest son, and a family friend left Lees Summit at 8:45am. We were very fortunately to have a relatively clear I-70 all the way to Manchester where we exited and took a completely clear Highway 40 all the way to the Paseo before hitting the early log-jam. Rather than join the masses, I turned north and went to 19th street where we were able to get unencumbered to within ½ mile of the parade route. People that left the house an hour later abandoned their cars on the interstate in order to get downtown in time. People that relied on the shuttles walked 3+ miles rather than wait in a 3+ hour long line. After we returned to Lees Summit and heard about the transit nightmares I was very, VERY thankful of our good fortune getting to and from the event.

From our parking spot 1/2 mile east of Grand on 18th we walked and eventually staked out a parade view on the East side of Grand between 17th & 18th at 9:40. The small gap we saw at 9:40 had completely filled in by Noon and had moved us forward until we were right up against the fence. The parade got to our location shortly after 1pm and I took some AH-MAZING pictures of  our World Series champs. We even ended up on a video from Johnny C’s Instagram account. As you can plainly see, he’s video taping…..

Egress after the parade was shoulder to shoulder and moving very slowly. It took about 15 minutes to walk 50 feet but once out of the logjam we were part of a herd going East on 18th back to the car. We were very lucky to avoid most of the traffic so it only took about 10 minutes to get on a once again fairly clear I70 heading east. Can’t believe how lucky we were going in and out and avoiding the transportation nightmares I saw on the news.

All in all there were only 3 arrests, and very few (if any) flaring tempers on the road or among the masses. We were there to celebrate a happy occasion and patience ruled the day. I’m so proud of this community right now. I wish we treated one another in this fashion every day. Today, we were all Royals. We were all Champions. I will never forget.

Can’t wait to do it again next November

Best Night in Kansas City in a Generation

Game Two

First complete World Series Game pitched since 1991. THAT is why Dayton Moore traded for Cueto.

GO ROYALS!

Patient Planning

Tonight is Game One of the Kansas City Royal’s second trip to the World Series in as many years. Any fan of the Royals can tell you how excited they are to see their team finally contend.

The Royals resurgence is largely the work of one man – Dayton Moore. His years in Atlanta taught him how to scout and develop players – the key to building a great farm. After taking over GM responsibilities in KC he combined Billy Bean’s “Moneyball” strategy with a mandate to put quality human beings who would be TEAM players on the club’s roster. It’s taken nearly nine seasons to pull it off, but here they are – repeat American League Champions and another shot at the title – because of Dayton Moore’s plan and the patience of the Royals owners and front office who were committed to the plan from the beginning.

There are many parallels to this story when searching for career opportunities. There is no overnight solution to finding the right place. You need to know how to apply your God-given abilities and education and/or experience to the market place. You need to bring passion, a strong work ethic, and a desire to win to every aspect of your search and career. You need to think critically about what you’ve done, what you’re capable of doing, and what will ultimately make you a happy and engaged member of the workforce.

Before Moore the Royals seemed happy with the status quo (no need to compete when you’re making money.) If your job puts food on the table and not much else consider making the same move Moore did with the Royals and change your career playbook. Just because you’ve been making or selling widgets for twenty years doesn’t mean that’s what you should be doing for the next twenty years. Sometimes pursuing the same career with a different employer is an easy move, but it’s not the right move. If your status quo isn’t fulfilling make a change.

Moore took the Royals helm in the midst of their fourth straight 100 loss season and in his first full season (2007) they broke that streak with a 69-93 record. While still a miserable record in baseball terms, Moore laid the foundation of a plan that has taken the better part of a decade to come to fruition. I’m certain that by exercising some patience you can put together a plan that will bring you to your ultimate goal much quicker.

What Book are you Reading?

I’m interviewing to fill an internal position at RiverPoint right now and the title of this post is a staple interview question. What are you reading and what are you learning? Personally, I just finished “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Stinek which is a book about leadership and building a great company culture. If you want to know what I learned you can go to my Shelfari profile and read my review.

Which brings me to the point of this post. YOU NEED TO READ!

I like Shelfari because it’s a portal not only to remind me what I’ve read and learned, but it also can be viewed by others as part of my “personal brand.”  What you read is important. What you learn is more important.

If you haven’t read a book in a while I challenge you to visit your library and grab something that looks interesting. Take an hour a day away from social media, television, or sports and read. Your brain will thank you.

Tolstoy never wrote a resume

I received a 10 page resume today. While not unprecedented, it is unusual. I get 6+ page resumes at least once a week, but pushing into the double-digits is something that happens only once or twice every three months. The worst offender in my 15 year recruiting career was a 26 page resume complete with a Table of Contents.

I have to review dozens of resumes a day. Without getting into the finer points of how to get my attention, I will tell you a 10 page resume gets enough attention to deserve a post. I won’t read it, but I will give you some pointers.

One: A resume is not going to get you a job so you don’t need to regurgitate every experience you’ve had since you were in junior high school.

Two: A resume is designed to spark interest. Figure out how to get my attention, build some curiosity about finding out more about you, and leave it at that.

Three: LinkedIn & a Blog are excellent places to put additional content that can build interest in your background.

Four: If you’re a fresh college grad your resume will have a different “voice” than if you have 20 years of experience.

Five: Most resumes are a recitation of tasks. I’m more interested in what you can do for us.

Six: Ditch the objective. They all sound like “Desire to use (talent / skills / background) to (add value / advance at / benefit) my next employer.”

Seven: If you can’t say what you need to say in 2 pages or less I’m out.

Eight: Ditch the business speak and use some of your creative writing ability. Read every sentence aloud – if it sounds off in the natural course of speech re-visit how you’re expressing your thought on paper.

Nine: Spell check doesn’t catch they’re / their / there type grammar issues. Proof read it, have someone else proof read it, then proof read it again.

Ten: Challenge yourself to get a job without using a traditional resume. There’s no rule that says you must have a Word document at the ready or there is no job for you.

Send a well thought-out and written one to two page resume targeted to the specific job and employer and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Cover Letters

I had a friend ask my advice on cover letters today & wanted to share the thoughts I sent to her.

Cover letter advice will be like resume advice. 10 people will have 12 different opinions. Here’s mine:

  • Most importantly keep in mind that much like a resume, a great cover letter isn’t going to get you the job, but a bad cover letter can cost you an opportunity. Ask yourself “do I need a cover letter in this situation?”
  • TARGET your cover letter to the company & specific job – if you know the individual who will be reading it even better.
  • If you’re emailing your resume the cover is the body of the email, not an attachment.
  • If you’re putting your resume into an ATS is likely does not matter because its 50/50 at best it will be opened.
  • In the rare case someone wants resumes snail mailed you want a cover.
  • If you are at a job fair or networking event you DO NOT need a cover letter. YOU are your cover letter in those situations.

This article from the MUSE has a comprehensive list of things you need to be considering when you sit down to compose a cover letter. Cover letters and resumes are only a piece of the overall marketing puzzle. Your LinkedIn profile & a blog are underutilized resources that can help you tell your story.

Off the Beaten Path

I wrote a post today over at my personal Fifty Again blog sharing a bit about a motorcycle ride yesterday. The Cliff Notes version is we left with a destination in mind, but no specific route. The ride ended up being a lot of fun and we ran across a couple cool places that will be worth checking out in the future.

The more I think about the ride, the more parallels I see between my time “in the wind” yesterday and a job search.

We knew our destination but we did not have a hard deadline to get there. As much as I know you would like to have a great job tomorrow, the process takes time. Keep moving toward your final target, but don’t get anxious when it doesn’t happen according to your schedule. If you’re in a big hurry you’re going to miss out on the good stuff.

We took a map. There are a lot of options to get to Excelsior Springs from Lees Summit. The direct route is up 291 to 65, but that’s no fun on a motorcycle.  You take the indirect route on a bike because Missouri is full of fun to ride county roads – some of it will challenge you, some of it will be a lot of fun. It’s easy to get lost on those roads – that requires a map so you can make adjustments in the middle of the ride. There generally is no direct route to a job. You’ll ride through a lot of curves and have a lot of ups and downs – some of it challenging, some of it fun. The ups and downs of the ride are necessary to get to the destination. You’re going to need a map (or at least some advice) when you get to a turn and aren’t sure which way will be your best move.

Discovery. I’ve found plenty of neat little places riding the back roads. These are the places that don’t advertise and they aren’t conveniently located off I-35. You would be amazed at the number of great mom & pop diners, lakes & beaches, parks, and other interesting attractions scattered across our state. If you’re searching for a job on the internet super highway you’re going to miss out on much of what the market has to offer. Get offline and seek out the places that aren’t advertising.

Gravel. I don’t like gravel. It’s loose. It’s unpredictable. It doesn’t take much to put you in the ditch. Inevitably riding means you’ll run into gravel. You can run away from the gravel (i.e. turn around) but that would have closed the door to a discovery yesterday. The more I ride dirt roads the better I get on gravel and the less likely it is to put me in the ditch. You’re going to have to do some uncomfortable things in a job search: Interviewing / Networking / Cold Calling. The more you do these things the more comfortable you’ll become and more doors will open.

Lunch. I could focus on the difficulties. I was pelted by bugs (big and small) for 100 miles, ran on gravel for 5 miles which got dirt all over a bike I had just spent several hours cleaning, got a sunburn because my sunscreen expired, and had a sore rear end from sitting on the bike for 2 solid hours. If that was the story I shared you’d wonder why I subjected myself to such torture, right? Well, all those things were true – but that’s part of riding and does nothing to detract from my joy in the journey. It was a great ride that ended up in a nice lunch where we got to watch the Royals walk off another win against the Twins.

Looking for a job is tough, frustrating work. You’ll have some battle scars. Rather than focusing on the wounds – focus on the victories (big and small.) Be thankful for what you learned, who you met, and what you saw along the journey. Before you know it lunch will be served.