Friday, December 17, 2010

Navigating Office Politics

Every company has the sub culture known as “office politics” and I believe we’ve all worked with someone who was politically savvy. They knew how to maneuver their way through an organization. For some individuals the stakes are quite high when it comes to office politics – succeed and you get to keep your job or get promoted- lose and you may be pounding the pavement looking for a new job. The majority of people tend to be in the middle, trying to navigate through it with out taking to many risk or just ignoring it.

I was reading an article the other day that talked about dealing with office politics. It listed tips like: keeping to yourself, avoid sharing personal information with co-workers, and not discussing disagreements publicly. After reading I was so disappointed in the author because what they were essentially doing was setting up individuals to fail in the majority of corporations. Being politically savvy is part of striving for break through performance. According to the Lominger competency model, people who are politically savvy accept this as the human condition and deal with it. Political savvy shouldn’t be confused with being “political” which is what we think of most elected officials- a lack of trust and no substance. On the other hand political savvy involves getting things done with the least amount of resistance and the maximum amount of benefits.

So here are a few things you can do to navigate office politics:

1) Learn to deal with conflict

2) Know what you are trying to achieve and be sure those around you know. (Open Communication)

3) Focus on your circle of influence – there are often issues which we have very little control over. Don’t focus your efforts on things you can’t change and realize that complaining about them doesn’t help, instead focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation. (for more information read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits)

4) Be aware of what is going on around you but don’t get involved in everything.

These are just a few tips. What can you add to the conversation?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are you visible to recruiters?

As a recruiter, I love the thrill of the hunt. I get excited when I type search strings into Google and find great candidates. Creating an amazing Boolean search string to me is like being a little kid in a candy shop. But recently, I was conducting a search and wasn’t finding very many qualified candidates. I was able to go into cyber sleuth mode and find a couple, however, I wondered how much easier it would have been had these couple of candidates optimized their online presence. Creating your online brand and persona is the buzz right now and not just for HR.

The adoption of social media is on the rise and individuals are using it on a regular basis. In other words, we are embedding it into our daily or weekly routines. So I began to wonder about the four big new media tools, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. I’m sure in due time someone will come up with a return on investment formula to calculate the amount of effort needed to go into your online brand in order to be found. But for now take advantage of the sites were you have created a profile to better position yourself to be found and take full advantage of search engine optimization and keywords.

Most individuals, including myself don’t take full advantage of creating profiles that are meaningful to our network while also allowing those outside our network to find us.

Help recruiters find you:

1) Create complete profiles that have targeted keywords. (i.e. fill in all of the blanks and not just the required ones) Tips for your LinkedIn Profile

2) Post a digital resume somewhere on the internet and create links back to it from various sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

3) Make new connections online with individuals with similar interest and not just friends to expand your network.

4) Be a reference for someone and let them list you. Sometimes recruiters may not be interested in a particular individual but they will be interested in one of the references listed.

5) Be active and engaged with new media tools and don’t be afraid to branch out into something new.

I would be interested in hearing about some of the ways recruiters have found you online.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It’s never to early to learn to network

My oldest child started kindergarten this week. He has been excited about going to school and making new friends. But he seemed to fall into the routine that most of us do when we are put in social situations with unknown people. We tend to clam up or only speak to those that we know. What I did observe are some practical ways to make networking easier for you if it doesn’t come natural.

Learn a persons name and use it: My little guy wanted nothing to do with his new teacher even though she seemed like the nicest person in the world, until she used his name. The minute she called him by his name he immediately perked up and began to listen to what she had to say.

Learn something about them: After his first day of school, we were getting ready for the next day and he said he wanted to wear something purple because it was his teacher’s favorite color. When you are willing to share information about yourself, people are willing to make the connection and sometimes help you out.

Have an agenda: In the days leading up to the start of school there were several planned events for the kids. I challenged my son to come back with the name of one new friend from each event. He didn’t know it but I was helping him to set an agenda and get out of his comfort zone to meet new people.

Have an introduction: I would always introduce myself and then try to get my son to introduce himself. This was the toughest part to him because; he didn’t have a connection to the teacher, parents or other kids. To him they were all strangers and like most kids, they don’t talk to strangers. For him, his introduction was simple, first and last name but in most situations you need to make it a little more exciting. Who are you and what are interested in or what is on your agenda.

Starting kindergarten is big life transition but my little guy got off to a great start by just being himself. Networking requires the same effort; you just have to be yourself. For some it comes more natural but for others it requires getting out of your comfort zone and that’s okay.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Night & Day

After multiple interviews this week, I feel as though I’ve seen two extremes in candidates that I think is important to call out. On one side there was a candidate that had a very solid background and she was able to articulate specific examples; however she was lacking passion and energy (i.e. no personality). The other candidate was the extreme opposite, she was full of energy and engaging but she lacked solid experience and was not able to articulate the key measures of success for the position. These two candidates were night and day in comparison to each other and what I needed was the best of both of them.

When you go into an interview be sure to put your best foot forward and bring the complete package. You want to be engaging and conversational but you want to make sure the employer knows what you are capable of doing. Follow these tips to help you through the interview process:

Build rapport quickly: Rapport is more than “how’s it going and tell me about yourself”. A good interviewee is able to connect with their audience and adapt their communication style, gestures, and examples to meet the situation. An interview is a conversation, so be interesting and engaging to keep the listener’s attention. A good interviewer will pick up on this and reciprocate or try to guide you along.

Read the job description: Focus your examples and conversation on what the job requires as a starting point; but then be ready shine and show what else you are capable of doing.

Think before you speak: Take a few seconds to collect your thoughts before you begin to answer the question. The silence is okay and is not as long as it may seem. The time you spend gathering your thoughts will help focus your response.

Be professional: Remember that you are in an interview and it is important to be yourself but also to remain professional in your conversation. You should try to remain positive when speaking about others or providing examples from your work experience.

Ask questions: the best candidates have a list of questions ready to go when they are given the opportunity to ask. It is always great to see a candidate come in with a written list of questions. Don’t be afraid to jot down notes based on the response to your questions.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Own Your Career

Recently I attended a networking lunch with multiple company executives and they were sharing their experience with personal branding and career development. Below are some of the insights that I thought were worth sharing.

“Make sure that your personal brand does not come at the expense of the team”

“Define how you are valuable and then live it out; your brand should speak for itself.”

“Fight for what you believe is right but listen as if you are wrong”

“Don’t become complacent, learn to do things differently and to do different things”

“Develop a mentoring network that will be honest and hold up a mirror to you”

“Worry less about yourself and more about people”

“Don’t wait on someone to provide you opportunities for advancement, ask for the job.”

“Only you can chart your career path, take control early and own it.”

“Do something uncomfortable”

What tips can you provide on career development?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Do Something Exciting

"What is it that you like doing? If you don't like it, get out of it, because you'll be lousy at it."
--Lee Iacocca

What are you passionate about? What makes you want to high five someone? If you can answer this then you are on the way to finding your ideal job. Most people aren’t working in their ideal job because they have other priorities (school, family, bills, etc.), but if you can start off identifying what excites you early in your career then you can be on the path to career bliss. Discovery is only part of the equation though, you then have to take action and make it happen. You should begin by doing what you enjoy in your current job more or finding a new one altogether. A great resource in this area is Marcus Buckingham and his work on playing to your strengths.

What are you passionate about and how do you incorporate it into your job?

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. -- Theodore Roosevelt
Photo Credit: Kevin Derman

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Invest in Yourself

I’ve been working on developing some training material for our campus ambassador program. One of the topics that I’m covering is “Communicating our value proposition”, which lead me to do research on employee value propositions.


General Mills: “a great place to start, a great place to stay. . . We are highly committed to an environment that supports the varying needs of all our employees inside and outside of work.”

Accenture: “some of the most creative, forwardthinking people in the business world from a wide range of cultural, educational and geographic backgrounds able to work in a dynamic and professional environment that values each person's perspective

Google: “Into being challenged? Into having fun? Want to change the world? If the answer is yes, then you've come to the right place.”

Companies with successful value propositions are able to source from a much deeper pool of talent. The truth is that the better you brand your message and live the brand the more people want to work for you. And if the brand isn’t built from the inside, few may believe it on the outside.

I believe the same principal applies to candidates. There is buzz going around about branding yourself. There is a lot of merit in the discussion but it is actually very simple. The candidate that is able to present a complete package with a concise message is more likely to get job leads and further in the interview process. What I mean by the complete package is: quantifiable results from work and life experiences + tangible skills+ clear communication (written & verbal). You can have a great resume but if you aren’t able to successfully articulate the experiences on the resume or worse if there really aren’t solid experiences to back up the text on a resume then it’s not going to get you very far.

A job is in an investment. It is all the experiences and tangible skills acquired that piece together to create a career. Even if it’s not your ideal job you should be thinking about what skills you are going to develop in that job to help you obtain your next job. Invest in yourself so that others will invest in you. How are you developing the experiences to create your value proposition?

*Sartain, Libby: Brand for Talent (2009)