Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Art of Transitioning: Resist Putting All Your Eggs into One Basket

The Art of Transitioning: Resist Putting All Your Eggs into One Basket: "Three weeks ago I found myself well into the process of potentially secuing a job in which I was very interested. After two months of ..."

Resist Putting All Your Eggs into One Basket

Three weeks ago I found myself well into the process of potentially secuing a job in which I was very interested.  After two months of meeting with the recruiter, interviewing with key personnel, filling out questionaires and completing a rigorous leadership skills assessment, all signs indicated I was on the verge of landing a great job with a great organization.  During this same period of time other opportunities presented themselves to me as well.  While part of me wanted to just focus my time and energy on the job that appeared more and more imminent, another part of me thought it wise to continue discussions and follow up on leads with other potential employers.

I share this with you because in the end the "dream job" was one in which I decided to turn down.  In the final stages of making the decision, it became clear that while the job was ideal and well suited for me, it would have created an imbalance in my personal life and distracted me from giving my full attention to the job. And that would not be right for me nor for my new employer.  A difficult decision, yet one which I now know was the right one.

Fortunately, I listened to the part of me that challenged me to continue to follow up on every lead and referral.  So while I don't have a job lined up for the first of the year, I am in various stages of process with a few other employment opportunities.  Had I not taken that course of action, I would probably be approaching the new year with no job prospects, no upcoming interviews and no enthusiasm for what lies ahead.

While the road before me is still uncertain, one thing that is very clear is that until a contract or letter of agreement is signed, sealed and delivered I will continue to pursue every job lead, new conversation or creative thought that comes to mind.  Today I sent out my second update to my network of friends and colleages.  With the holidays upon us and after 15 weeks of transitioning, I felt it was the right time to reconnect with this important group of people so that they keep me top of mind.  I gave them some suggestions for what they could do to help and also provided them with a few examples of the type of jobs and professions in which I would be best suited.

The new year brings excitement of wonderful possibilities but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.  So keep in mind the immortal words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over til it's over!"

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rats! No one is Hiring during the Holiday Season

You have heard the expression perception is reality.   It comes about as a result of feeding the brain information which then gets sorted out and stored. We in turn consciously and unconsciously look for statistics and measurements to support our belief.  Take for instance the housing market.  When we think, hear and read that we are in a buyer’s market than as a seller we start believing we will get less for our house than it is really worth. We know this is true because realtors are telling us this is the case based on their expertise.  So what do we do? We decide not to sell and to wait until the market improves.  The fact of the matter is houses are selling, buyers are buying and people are still conducting wise real estate transactions during this period of time. 
Likewise, when we are in a job search and are told that no one is hiring during the holiday season we might logically believe this to be true and therefore play the wait and see game.  How foolish we can be.  What a waste of valuable time.  I suggest you rather go against the grain, challenge those naysayers, and believe the opposite is true.  Why?  Because the majority of people are believing this to be a bad time to look for a job, if you  stay active in your job search you will be more likely than not to find an opportunity waiting for you because there is less competition looking. 
The holiday season in the US between Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day is a five to six week period of time that has the potential to be ripe for picking or extremely depressing.   It all depends on how you look at it.  I see it as a time to work as hard as possible on pursuing your goal of landing the next job.  While many others make little or no effort because of the perception that hiring decisions aren’t being made during this time, you have an opportunity to stand out from the competition.  Use this time wisely, pursue every lead and continue to conduct your job search as diligently as you have had done in the past.
In recent weeks I have had the good fortune to be in the midst of several opportunities that I am pursuing, and almost each day I get a lead from my network of people and resources.  I don’t see this as a bad time to be looking.  I see it as a great time.  So my advice to those of you who are in the job search - get yourself refocused, approach the next several weeks with great optimism and you just might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Next week’s blog: Lessons Learned

Friday, November 19, 2010

Results and Next Steps

So you now find yourself in a bit of a dilemma. Thus far you have relied on your reputation, managed your network and prepared yourself for the interview. One problem.  You have not been called to come in for an interview.  The stress starts to mount, the pressure feels at times overwhelming and you begin to think that what you are doing is the wrong approach.  Something's not working.  It's time to regroup.

In situations like this I typically put on my creative hat and begin to ask questions.  What's been working thus far?  What am I not doing that I could be doing?  Am I exploring all my options?  Are there people I can contact with whom I can brainstorm?  How can I continue to move forward? 

Questions like these are important to ask because they often trigger a thought, gut feeling or action to consider.  In my questioning this past week two actions resulted.  For one, I scheduled a meeting with one of my colleagues/coaches so that we could do idea sharing and exploring.  That meeting triggered some additional action steps that I had not previously considered.  The other idea I had led me to research connections my current contacts might have within organizations I am pursuing.  The results of these two actions enabled me to find a connection who I have subsequently reached out to for help. The more you work at it, the more you can develop new paths and directions to pursue.

Fortunately, my hard work, persistence, patience and a little luck are beginning to pay off.  I had an interview with executive leadership at one organization last week and I have anoher scheduled in two weeks.  In a matter of days, what was looking pretty bleak has turned into a situation which is moving in the right direction. I am thankful to my network for helping me, I am grateful for the family and friends who extend an encouraging word and for my colleagues who genuinely want to see me succeed in this process.

Speaking of thanks, next week we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US.  It is a very special day for my family and I so my blog will not be published until the week of November 28th.  I wish all of you all the blessings that this Thanksgiving Day will bring to you and your families and I thank God for providing me with a loving family, caring friends and new opportunities in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Radiance at the Interview

Radiance at the Interview

Your hard work has paid off and you've accomplished something which occurs far less than you expected when beginning this transition journey - you landed an interview.  The big question now "Am I ready to shine and be my best self?" Unfortunately there are many people who spend so much time searching, networking and chasing leads that they spend little if any time along the way preparing for what all that work is designed to do which is to be a stand out in front of the interviewer(s). 

In order to have the best chance to succeed, here are some preparation strategies I have discovered in my journey.  

Physical preparation
Develop a routine that builds into each day time for fresh air and exercise. You have got to keep those endorphins exercised so they work for you in providing the energy necessary when you need it most.  It's no different than preparing for a marathon. You need to establish a plan of attack, a smart strategy that will enable you to be in the best shape possible.  It is actually not too complicated a task, but many people fail to make this a part of their daily routine.  Join a gym, walk a mile, ride a bike, get outside, rake some leaves, smell the flowers.  Do it everyday and your body will be in the best shape to work with you not against you the day of the interview. 
Mental preparation
Eat plenty of brain food everyday - veggies, fruit, foods with natural color are usually the best. Arrive at the interview prepared with lots of stories about past events and circumstances in which you had to assess a given Situation, identify Tasks to accomplish, create a plan of Action and monitor the Results.  This is called the STAR methodology and my friend Ron Petineo tells me he has used it successfully on many occasions. Your goal is to be as ready as possible so that your mind is focused, your answers clear and concise (or pithy and profound as one of my grad school professors insisted) and your questions stimulating and thoughtful.
Spiritual preparation
Last Fall my wife and I replaced our wood deck with a new stone patio complete with a path that led to a small pond I had installed many years ago. We named it our soul space and determined it would become a place for private reflection and for gathering of our close friends for spiritual enrichment.  Little did I know how handy it would be for me during my transition.  This sacred space has become a place where I go to begin, end or take a short break during the day.  It provides me with a time to reflect, vision, create and pray.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop conducted by Steve Snyder In coaching executives, Steve urged them to make time each day to go to a sacred space. It can be a physical space like my patio or in many instances it can be a special space in your mind where you can go to at anytime no matter where you are. Steve said he routinely drinks a lot of water and every time he takes a gulp he closes his eyes and mentally goes to his special place.  Tying in his daily routine of consuming water with mentally escaping if only for a few seconds at a time enables him to reflect, rejuvenate and be spiritually renewed many times throughout the day.  

I encourage you to find that special space and go to it on a regular basis.  It could be a fond memory of your favorite vacation spot, a childhood place that has special meaning or some other place that will enable you to escape for a short while. You will be amazed at the results.

Emotional preparation  
You want to make a positive emotional connection to those who you meet in an interview.  Whole the steps outlined above will certainly help, but there's a bit more to it than that.  Your job is to learn as much as you can about the culture and values of the organization you are pursuing. This could potentially be the most important step in your preparation.  

If your values and those of the company are not in sync, most likely the job will become tedious and stressful. It is critical that you come into the interview fully prepared with your own set of questions the answers to which will help you to determine how you will be treated in the actual workplace. What does the company and the people it hires value as most important and how is that exhibited in the day to day work life? What do others say about their personal experience with the organization? Are the written values of the organization congruent with your observations of the people you have met in the interview process? These and other questions like them are critical to ask so that you can determine authenticity and alignment with your own values.  

In the coming weeks I am hopeful to participate in several interviews of jobs I have been pursuing. My goal is to put into practice all that I am suggesting above and report back the results I have encountered. Stay tuned.... and wish me some luck!

For additional tips and strategies to be in the best shape possible for the interviewing process check out Conor Cuneen's humorous yet insightful book SHEIFGAB the World - 8 Building Blocks to Better Teamwork, Productivity and Collaboration -

Next blog entry
Results and Next Steps 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Revitalizing Your Network

Just when you're beginning to feel pretty good about what you are doing to manage the job search, you hit a lull.  It may not be so obvious at first, but it is bound to happen. Several unexpected things begin to occur. There's the emotional drain that hits as you continue to come to grips with your job loss and with it the security of a paycheck every two weeks. There's the physical drain that occurs when you put so much effort into your daily activities -the numerous phone calls, the research on the Internet, the meetings, appointments and coaching sessions you know are important to attend. There's the tension in the family that occurs when your new routine disrupts the life as they knew it.  And last but not least, there's your valuable network of family, friends, business associates and colleagues who were so gung ho in the first few weeks but who now seem to have disappeared back into their own jobs, careers and personal lives. It's not because they don't care about you, it's just that they too have pressures, distractions and issues that need to be resolved.

So what's a guy or gal to do?  That's the question I asked myself last week. As I pondered and spent time exploring my options, it occurred to me that I needed to take charge and get my network reinvigorated. They genuinely want to help and I need to give them something tangible to do which would not take much effort on their part. With this in mind, I crafted a "Potterton Update" email blast to the over 200 people in my network. The purpose of the email was to succinctly, in bullet point fashion, identify the highlights and results of my job search which now was entering into its third month. Included in this correspondence was a call to action inviting my network to continue to keep me in mind. 

What transpired since the email went out is truly remarkable. Phone calls and emails came flying back from literally all over the world. Two of my business associates wrote back from China where they coincidentally were both on assignment. Others wrote letters of recommendations to people they knew in the companies I indicated I was targeting. Several sent me new leads of job openings that they had recently come across in their own companies or through others who had sent them leads.  I had one person send me headhunters she highly recommended whom i did not know.  Many, many more sent encouraging words expressing how impressed they were by the work I had done and the subsequent results that I had experienced thus far.  

Through this recent effort, I have (re)learned the value of keeping people informed about what Potterton & Associates (that's me) has been up to.  People genuinely want to help and will do even more when they see you are working your tail off.  They like to be around winners and will do whatever they can to help you achieve success.  Just like it is in any great organization.

So go for it. Take the time to revitalize your network. It will do wonders to give your emotions a boost, it will energize you to face the physical challenges of the job search and even your family will show new signs of encouragement so that you can stop disrupting their comfortable routine.  Bottom line, working with your network is a heck of a lot better than doing it on your own. Let them be your sales force by giving them the tools to succeed.

Next week's blog entry: Radiance at the interview    

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Power of Your Reputation

In my experience with seeking paid employment, I have discovered by accident something that my parents drilled into my head from the time I can remember - your reputation is important to uphold and you are the one who has control over it. What I have quickly learned in this process is that your reputation provides the power to open doors and meet with influencers who genuinely want to work with you to help find you a job that is a great fit.

For me, this period of transition has been a blessing. It has provided me the time to connect with my network to share ideas and listen for advice. Because I have built a solid reputation in my past I now have at this critical stage many, many people who want to help, who are rooting for me, cheering me on, directing me and building my confidence. It is truly remarkable and quite a humbling experience.

As you continue on your life's journey, take time to honestly evaluate what you have done to build your brand, to establish your reputation. If your reputation is less than stellar, than start making changes now. Don't wait until you are most in need of people to support you. That's too late in the game and will make the job of looking for employment very tedious and painful.

Fortunately for me, I am actually really enjoying this period of time. I am connecting and reconnecting with so many people in my life who are genuinely interested in seeing me succeed. If I could figure out how to make a living by being in transition it would be a great gig!