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Starfish, JobAngels and Making a Difference

Over the holidays, I took a sunset walk on the beach with my nieces and family friends. The South Carolina winds were cold enough to require my thickest fisherman’s sweater. But the sea was calm and the light was spectacular. With less than a week before the New Year, we set out with thoughts of good cheer and optimism.Starfish

This was a familiar beach to all of us, and we were looking forward to finding conch shells and sand dollars, stepping over jellyfish, and watching periwinkles dig deep back into the sand as the tides receded. Instead we found thousands of starfish washed up along the beach at the edges of the shore.

I began to throw the starfish back. One at a time, I pitched many of them back into the sea as far as I could toss them. (Truth be told, I don’t have a long reach with my pitching arm.) I threw the starfish back because someone told me to: I remembered reading a story many years ago, about a boy who encountered a similar situation of countless starfish along a beach and a grumpy elder who said, “you will never save them. The boy replied “but I made a difference to that one.”

So I threw many of the starfish back as far as I could hurl them. After watching me for about ten minutes, my niece Amelia, turned to me and said, “Aunt Chandlee, I think you are playing favorites—you’ve only tried to save one gray starfish. All of the others you’ve thrown have orange spots.” I have to admit that she was right. I was naturally drawn to save the orange ones because they looked more alive than the gray ones. So I started to throw back the gray starfish, too. I hope that I made a difference, but it’s quite possible they were all already dead—victim of extreme weather conditions or a change in tidal patterns. (The local paper reported that about 50,000 dead starfish also washed up on an Irish beach in November.)

I’ll never know if my “made a difference to one” starfish campaign worked, but I do think it provides a great metaphor for this month’s Career Collective theme of making the most of the New Year: What will happen if you could make a difference for another person?  A year ago on January 29, 2009, Mark Stelzner (@stelzner) asked a simple question on Twitter, “Was wondering what would happen if each of us could commit to helping one person find a job? Are you game?”  Three hours later his question had become the #JobAngels movement on Twitter, by November over 1,000 job seekers had secured new jobs as a result of the collective outreach. (To learn more about JobAngels and to sign up as a volunteer or job seeker in need of a little help from a friend, visit www.jobangels.org)

While you may be reading this post in an effort to help yourself, I challenge you to seek out ways to help another person out along the way. It might lead to new opportunities for you as well, and it may just help make you feel better. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

This is my thought for on2010, see what my colleagues had to say here:

Follow us on Twitter with our hashtag #careercollective and read these posts:

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Art of Being Gracious: Much Needed in Today’s Job Search,”

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes,  Career Trends and Transition 2010

@heathermundell, life@work, Kaizen and the Art of Your Job Search

@barbarasafani, Career Solvers, Looking Into the 2010 Careers Crystal Ball

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog, The Resume and Your Social Media Job Search Campaign

@kat_hansen,  Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, New Year: Time to Assess Yourself and Your Career

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, Help for job seekers in a rut

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, Job seekers: 5 tips for making the most of 2010

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution, Ya, but

@ErinKennedyCPRW, Professional Resume Services, Advice to Job Seekers in 2010–learn Yoga?

@Chandlee, The Emerging Professional, Starfish, JobAngels, and Making a Difference

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, Is Your Job Search Strategy a Snore?

@debrawheatman, Resumes Done Write, Making the most of a new year

@walterakana, Threshold Consulting, Starting anew – tips for truly managing your career

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, The Year of the Tiger

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithIllness.com, Dogs Can Do It, Can You?

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, Lifelong Learning for Career Security

@AndyInNaples, Career Success, What Are You Getting Better At? Make This the Year You Become the Best You Can Be!

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, A Flash of the Blindly Obvious


Building Your Personal Brand: 4 Tips to Tell Your Story

This is a guest post from Matt Wilson at Under30CEO.com

106351903_39a2eceae0Building your personal brand is all about getting the word out. It doesn't matter if you are the most talented personal on earth if nobody knows about it. If you want more people to hear about you, you need to start telling you story as often as possible. Make your story compelling enough and people might just tell their friends.

Start with a Problem

Great companies solve a problem in the eyes of the consumer. The bigger you make the problem sound the better story it makes. This is the story that people tell themselves every time they make a purchase and it's the one they tell their friends about your product or service. Great people should also solve a problem in the eyes of their employer. Figure out what a company lacks and offer that to them, whether you are an independent contractor or employee.

Tell Your Story Early and Often

Make up your story now and tell it to as many people as possible. If the story is well received than you have a much better chance of getting known. The more people you tell the story to the better--get feedback, learn how to answer tough questions, perfect your pitch and practice persuading those in doubt. The more people you tell your story to the better chance it has at spreading. You never know who you'll meet when you are out planting seeds. Each person you talk to has the potential to introduce you to someone, or tell your story to a friend. Every seed you plant has the ability to help spread that story.

You'll Never Get Discovered Hiding in your Basement

Want to meet your significant other? Get out there. Want to make a name for yourself? Get out there. In the old days, celebrity entrepreneurs were the only ones to launch a brand around their stardom. They controlled the big stage and because they had thousands of followers to tell their story to. Today, everyday people are launching brands easier than ever, growing their followings online and telling their story over and over. Better yet, this story has the ability to spread with the click of a button via social media.

Steal these Strategies to Tell Your Story

Start a blog: write good content and people will read. Write really good content and it'll go viral. Network on Twitter: every person you connect with on Twitter has the chance to hear your story. Tell it in 140 characters. Get on Camera: host a uStream chat, post your videos on your blog, or start your own show. Broadcast your story to the world! Connect on Facebook and LinkedIN or Under30CEO.net and make your profile tell a story!
 

mattwilsonAuthor Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO, challenging people to defy the 9-5, stop doing stuff you hate and get innovative. Wilson graduated from Bryant University after leading Bryant University to becoming the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization of the year and being named National Student Leader of the Year.

Are You Ready to Tell Your Story?

Tell me about yourself.

If you've ever attended an interviewing workshop, or found yourself head-to-head with this request in an actual interview--you may be well acquainted with the sweaty palms and heart palpitations that often accompany these four little words.

The natural inclination is to respond with the basics, "My name is ______________. I am interested in ___________. I majored in ___________." The same kind of information that you can find at the top of your resume; the same facts and "vital statistics" that your interviewer may have already received before you sat down for the interview.

But (and you likely know this already), you don't want to tell someone exactly what they already know. Instead, you need to engage your audience.

Answering this question well is a perpetual challenge: You need to engage the interest of your audience without going "off topic" (what brought you to the interview in the first place) or repeating the "known knowns."

Enter Narativ, a Manhattan-based company that focuses on the art of storytelling. Co-Founded by Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker and cultural anthropologist, Murray Nossel and his childhood friend, Paul Browde, a psychiatrist and executive coach, Narativ offers a one day seminar designed to help you tell your story with ease.Narativ_logo

I recently participated in the one day workshop myself, and I don't know that I'll ever tell stories the same way again. It was--quite simply--a transformative experience, and I highly recommend their methodology if ever you've found yourself tongue-tied or wanting to improve your ability to connect with an audience.

While the workshop wasn't designed to help participants answer job interview questions, several of the strategies shared spoke directly to the job search process. Here are two tips you may find helpful..you'll have to attend the workshop to learn more:

1. When you tell a story, be specific in the details. For example, if you want to do marketing and you need to speak about your long-term interests in the field, provide details.

"My first promotion was ___________. The challenge was ______________ for our client. I remember cutting and pasting physical mock-ups with an orange pair of scissors and a glue stick. The project involved over 20 drafts and revisions. The end result was ____________."

Concrete details will help engage your reader more than if you simply said, "I developed my first flyer for a program at school when I was 12."

2. It's okay to pause, and it can actually help engage your audience--provided you can "restart" without missing a beat.

Many candidates "derail" when faced with an interview question they did not expect. (One of my favorite questions, "What is your second biggest weakness?") If you find yourself with a stumper, take a deep breath--pause, and don't be afraid to clarify the question.

For example, if you were asked a question about managing a large project at work and you don't have any experience with that in your internship experience but do have student government experience, you might say, "I have not worked with large-scale projects in my formal work experience, but I have managed significant projects in student government." Which experience would you like me to discuss?

For more information about Narativ, see their website, consider signing up for a workshop, or get tickets to see Narativ's co-founders, Murray Nossel and Paul Browde in their Off-Broadway production, "Two Men Talking."

Does Your Hobby Have A Home on Your Resume?

Cue the song that never ends for this post: There are a few debates about resumes that never end. The one I'll focus on today:

Do outside interests matter?

 

Call me evasive, but my answer generally comes with a bit of a shrug, "it depends."Trapeze_catch

 

In some fields, interests matter quite a lot to employers, and they actively seek to know them. Recruiters filling positions in corporate finance and investment banking often place a high value on sports--they often look for accomplished athletes who've demonstrated discipline, the ability to compete, and the ability to work with a team. Employers in high tech and engineering often look for musical talent and an interest in sound engineering: Did you know that there's a high correlation between musical ability and quantitative ability?

But what if your hobbies have nothing to do with the skills you use at work. Do they still matter?

I recently asked this question on LinkedIn, and sparked a heated debate. Here are highlights from some of the answers I received:

 

My philosophy is that if outside interests further the client's goals then I include it. If it/they do not, then no. With a 2-page resume now the "new norm" even for senior executives, every word becomes even more critical.  

Executive Coach

Generally, I believe they detract. In my experience, the "interests" section has a reputation among recruiters and hiring managers as being too "fluffy" or a space filler. In short, they are a turn-off. The exception, of course, would be if the interests truly add significant, easily identifiable value in matching the resume to the job description. However, even in that case, I would would suggest building it into another section of the resume.

Marketing Manager

 

Personal interests show that you are well-rounded and are great conversation boosters. It's another way to connect with your interviewer.

Technology Director

 

Interests are no longer represented on the resume. During the interview the candidate can direct conversation to their highlight interests.

  Professional Development Consultant

I received over 20 responses to this question, with similar sentiments expressed throughout. My take-away? It's up to the you--as a job seeker to decide how and when to incorporate interests in your resume. There's no right way or wrong way; incorporating interests is a matter of personal preference. As you conduct your job search, seek out opinions from others who can help you. After all your resume isn't merely a summary of your past experience; a great resume also showcases your fit and expertise for the role you've got your sights on next.

And with that, I'm giving the last word to a senior career consultant from Denver, who answered my question with another question:

Rather than debating the merits of including...outside interests on a resume, it seems to me that [job seekers] ought to be using networks associated with those interests to facilitate connections with the organizations that [they] want to work for. That might be the best use of those ancillary interests.

 

I'd love to hear your take on this. Have your interests ever helped or hurt you in the job search? Share your thoughts, and let me know if you have any other questions "up for debate."