Pop culture references & job search
By Matt Tovrog, associate partner of Bell Oaks
OK, I’lll admit it. If I have a choice between reading a book on business leadership and watching a rerun of “Seinfeld” that I‟ve seen a dozen times, I often opt for “Seinfeld.” I‟m a self-admitted entertainment fanatic and enjoy it all – movies, TV, books, sports, etc.
As an executive recruiter, I engage with candidates who are looking to advance their careers and clients who seek my help to attract and hire top talent for their organization. Professionals need advice on achieving a better position, and I do my best to provide that. Clients look for guidance on how to attract “A players” who aren‟t necessarily looking at job boards. I often draw on real life success stories including other candidates and clients I have worked with, and even my own career to prove a point.
Recently, I was watching the movie, “Swingers.” It was the scene where Jon Favreu‟s character, Mike, calls a woman 11 times in a row. He gets her answering machine and leaves a message every time (warning: foul language at 2:19 mark). It is painful to watch, but there is a nugget of wisdom in that scene. I immediately thought this would be a great example of how candidates should not follow up with prospective employers. Instead, they should send an email expressing their interest in a position and wait three business days. Calling and leaving multiple messages only displays desperation and can jeopardize the chances of another interview. In Mike‟s case in “Swingers,” the woman picked up the 12th phone call and chewed him out.
It dawned on me that there had to be other examples via the entertainment world relevant to the job search. Here are eight pop culture examples that provide lessons that can be applied to job search and hiring, after which are real life takeaways and action items. I realize some of these are greatly exaggerated (it is Hollywood after all!), but my hope is these unintentional moments of wisdom through pop culture provide some fresh ideas for job seekers and job holders alike.
- Cosmo Kramer becomes a ball-boy (at the 3:00 mark): “It‟s ball boy, not ball man.”
Age bias is one of the most common objections candidates face in the marketplace. They are either under qualified or overqualified and I maintain that the only way to overcome this obstacle is to get in front of the hiring manager. Had Kramer submitted his “résumé,” he would have been immediately dismissed due to his age, but instead Kramer got in front of the decision makers and let his actions do the talking. With today‟s technology and information access, hiring managers can be readily identified through keyword searches on LinkedIn, company web sites and other research tools. I recommend identifying these individuals and seeking a way to connect with them in person rather than hoping a résumé somehow reaches their desk.
P.S. How do you know if your resume is good? Take this Resume Quiz to find out how to keep your resume out of the trash can.
What do you get your boss this year for the holidays? How do you handle gift giving but also the donations so to speak your office requests for gifts etc, now and throughout the year. Here’s how you can handle what your office asks for during the holiday season, with grace and greater comfort… Thank you to Terry Wynne, one of our associate certified career coaches, for this article!
‘Tis the season for holiday time at the office and the office wants you to contribute more money than ever. For the office party, gifts for the boss, gifts for co-workers, gift wrap sold by co-workers’ children, the homeless, the needy, the less fortunate, and the monthly birthday club. You want to be a team player but if you have more bills than you can afford already to pay, what do you do?
First of all, decide which requests you think might be “noticeable” or “trackable.” For example, the Human Resource department contacted one young bank officer saying his monthly pledge to their company-wide “combined giving” charity was less than any other officer. Of course, he was humiliated. Hopefully, you won’t be humiliated if you give something, however small, to any “noticeable” or “trackable” requests so you will be considered a “team player.”
For all other requests, ask co-workers the amount they plan to give and to which requests. You’ll probably find you’re not the only one who does not plan to contribute to everything or who needs to make small contributions.
Lastly, ask yourself how you can cut back in order to afford the contributions you do need to make. For example, could you bring your lunch to save money from eating out, not buy the new clothes you wanted, or take the bus instead of driving to work?
Under the best of circumstances, budgeting can be difficult, but your goal is try to be a team player, be discrete, choose when to say “no” to multiple requests, and if necessary, volunteer your time instead of money. For example, offer to help plan the company office party if you can’t contribute to it. After all, giving of your time counts just as much as money – and in some cases, even more so!
P.S. Be sure to check out our LinkedIn Consulting Program where you can learn how to effectively leverage your LinkedIn account for your job search and ongoing professional development.
Check out my latest video as I share four red flags to look out for during an interview that could be signs of trouble. You’ve landed the job interview, now how do you know if the employer is worth working for? Remember that when you are interviewing for a new job, you are checking out the company and prospective boss as much as they are vetting you out!!
Learn more in this article as well: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-recruiters-look-at-during-the-6-seconds-they-spend-on-your-resume-2012-4
The holiday office party is coming up, and whether you dread it or look forward to it – you can actually use it to your advantage instead of having it just be a chance to blow off steam. The party can be an opportunity to schmooze with higher ups, get noticed, or develop new relationships or smooth out rocky ones. Here are some things to keep in mind to be pro-active about your party and use it wisely to climb the corporate ladder…
1. Connect on the personal level. I believe stronger connections can be made when we connect with someone personally as well as professionally (without crossing the line of course!) Think of topics to discuss – a recent movie you saw, a local art exhibit, something new about your kids – something personal to share that shows a different side to your personality. This could also be something you use to find common interests with someone you’re speaking to at the party, to connect on that personal level as well.
2. Define your goals. In advance, determine your goals for the party. Yes, your goals. Do you want to meet a specific person who can help you with a project you are working on? Interested in establishing a firmer connection with your bosses boss? Need to smooth out that rocky relationship with Ramona on your team? This can be your chance to do so. Determine what you want to accomplish and, think about work-related points you want to bring up as well. Is it an idea about a new project, an apology you need to make, an invitation to take someone new to coffee so you can brainstorm project strategy together or just a comment on a recent contract they won just to get the conversation started? If you want to open the conversation by asking advice, ask a question even if you already know the answer. Find a way to stay in touch with them by asking them to lunch, or connecting with them on Linkedin.
3. Prepare for shop talk. Yes many people will be talking about work, so in addition to determining the personal things you can share, think about work related topics as well, including things outside the company within your industry that show your intellect or interest in your field as well.
4. Show your softer side. Sometimes the party is a chance to demonstrate your soft skills like your sense of humor, communication, or another side to your personality like personal interests. You may need to be more buttoned up at work you can let loose a little and socialize with people allowing them to get to know you on another level but also learn that you have these other soft skills so to speak.
5. Follow up. Don’t let the connection go to waste. Be sure to follow up. Connect with them on Linkedin, shoot them a quick email saying great to meet you, can you meet for coffee next week? Or if there is no specific action step needed, a simple, great to meet you hope we can work together soon. For someone higher up, consider a handwritten thank you note or holiday card dropped off at their office. Do something afterwards to solidify that connection.
6. Don’t dread it. See the party as an opportunity to further your career in some way, even if the results are not immediate. Someone may approve you for raise or help you with a promotion – great. But at a lower level, they might give you recommendation on LinkedIn or help you on a project. Either way, it can be a positive career move.
7. Act professionally. We all know this, but some people still end up being the story from the holiday office party for 6 months after it’s over. The whole time you are there, keep in mind, people are always evaluating you even if they are not doing so consciously. Whether or not you know it, or they do, they are thinking about what you are like professionally; whether you should be promoted, whether you’re a reliable person to work with, etc. You’re always on.
8. Don’t be a brown-noser. Yes you can try to make an impression on higher ups in order to get that next promotion but, don’t over-do it. Be authentic and be yourself first. Find a way to make that positive impression in a manner that fits your personality.
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In my latest video I share two things to ponder to prepare for your job search. Here are two things to think about over the holidays to help you prepare for a career transition in the new year. How can you put yourself out there more as part of your career change plan?
It’s written by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. Two things that I wanted to piggy back on from his comments which are thought provoking, and accurate:
#1: Passion is important. I still believe wholeheartedly that professionals in career transition need to find the passion. But there are two things to consider here as well. One, some people do not feel passionate about anything, or not very much. The things they do feel passionate about, they do not want to work in because either it will ruin that passion for them by making it a chore instead of a pleasure. Or two, they just do not want to define their work that way. They would rather enjoy their work, be successful at it, and they do not feel the need to be passionate about it. That is okay. More than okay actually. It is about what works for you. How you want to define work, how you want it to fit into the rest of your life, and where you want to derive your fulfillment from every day. It could be in the personal realm, and that is ok.
#2: Passion will wane with disappointment and failure. I would not love what I do as a coach if my business had bombed after five years. It would not be fun anymore; more of a frustration and I would have moved on. A lot of my success is hard work, not just passion, and I have had some luck along the way. Scott is right, you can be passionate about something that just is not a good business idea. You can love to do something you will never make money at. So it is not just about finding the passion, it is about finding something you enjoy, or are naturally curious about, or are great at, and working hard at it.
Combine the passion or enjoyment or curiosity with success and you have a winning formula. I hope this is helpful to you.
P.S. Are you in the ideal career for you? Find out if you’re in the right career with our Ideal Career Quiz.