Alexandra Levit spoke to The Recruiting Animal about the potential negative effect of blogging on your career. This was recorded on October 15, 2011 during the Occupy Wall Street movement. She wrote a book about this and related topics. It's called Blind Spots.
Johanna Rothman's "Manage Your Job Search" is a comprehensive guide to everything involved in the job hunting process.
It's well-written and easy to read and I enjoyed her use of examples from her own life even though I can see that she's smarter than me so you might think that her example would not be applicable.
But that's the appeal of this book. She wants to tell me how to be like her. And what's she like? She's like a de-cluttering expert, a project manager who navigates her way through every challenge with a simple, structured approach and she wants to teach you to do the same.
If you're a confusenik that's a lot to ask but, you know, some people join a religion to learn a structured way of living so I'd say that this is getting off easy.
What impressed me the most? Well, Number 1 was The Personal Kanban. Johanna starts off the book with a long section on managing your work flow. I found that surprising but smart. She's concerned that in a state of desperation or shallow optimism you're going to set too high a goal and become discouraged when you fall behind.
Studies of willpower show that your ability to commit to a task is reduced when you are under stress and job hunts are stressful so it's very important that you moderate your pace in order to maintain it and, personally, I think there's great value in reducing your task size, limiting your work and doing the easy stuff first. And, if you don't believe me about willpower, google Roy Baumeister.
Number 2 was Knowing What You Like. Everyone is always stressing the importance of finding a company that is a good cultural fit for you but although lots of people talk about culture they are often quite vague about what it actually means.
Johanna isn't vague. She uses an analytic tool called The Career Line to help you figure out what you liked in the past and what you didn't and this information gives you questions to ask an interviewer to see if the company meets your needs.
Number 3 was Know What You Have To Offer. Moving on to self-presentation, Johanna insists that you have to know your value and she isn't talking about an exercise in ego enhancement. She means that you have to be prepared to explain every item on your resume and she's absolutely right.
I'm a recruiter and if I ask you a question about something you've listed on your resume, you'd better have a clear answer so, Johanna tells you how to analyze your work to draw out all of the relevant information.
Being able to tell a story about every project you worked on gives you something substantial to say in the interview. You don't want to overtalk but you don't want the interviewer to have to drag the relevant information out of you either. This advice might seem obvious but I interview recruiters about their best practices on my radio show every week and they have a lot of trouble telling me what they do on a daily basis because they haven't thought it through.
Number 4 was Networking. That's what Johanna calls real hands-on job hunting. She provides thorough instructions for working with social media but warns that sooner or later you will have to pick up the phone. I think it's important, therefore, to know how to sound good on voicemail so let me tell you my ideas about that.
No one feels like talking to a mumbler or dead fish so, if you're not used to introducing yourself, it helps to write a little script and practice saying it into your own voicemail 20 or 30 times. You record a 15-second message, listen to it, delete it, and do it again and again and again. Once the basics of your message become automatic, your presentation will sound more natural and you will be free to adlib whenever you want.
The fifth thing I liked was the discussion of Common Errors. Johanna ends the basic job search guide with a long section on the mistakes job hunters make. For instance, if a recruiter calls you out of the blue with a good job, you might feel torn by a commitment to your current company that your employer doesn't feel towards you. That's a serious issue that anyone who wants a progressive career is going to encounter.
The final chapter handles special circumstances for people who are very junior, very senior or who want to make a major change in their careers. She doesn't advise middle-aged people to dye their hair or hide the dates on their resume but offers more practical tips to deal with ageism.
All in all, the book is a good, up-to-date guide that I would recommend. Or, to put it another way, Johanna is a smart person, she's been around a long time and the book is a good opportunity to hang out with her.
Khazan's separation of conceptualizers and experimenters is also made by David Galenson in reference to the arts.
The Experimenter has imprecise goals. Cézanne, for instance, revisited the same subjects again and again, waiting for perfection to emerge.
The conceptual artist knows exactly what he wants to communicate. Picasso is an example. He expressed himself fully in one style and then moved on to something else.
Experimenters build their skills over the course of their careers, while conceptual artists express an idea and then drop it altogether. So, naturally the Experimenter tends to be older when he discovers what he wants.
From the cub reporters imagining themselves as the Woodward and Bernstein of All the President's Men to the forensic science students inspired by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, young people flock to careers made suddenly glamorous by dramas that highlight professions' importance and downplay their tedium.
Glamour according to Postrel is an edited vision of the world that highlights its exciting parts and hides the rest. Young people, she notes, are particularly susceptible to glamour - because, I assume, they lack experience so they are easily taken in.
One could say, perhaps, that all sales people are in the glamour business, putting their best foot forward and trying to hide the rest. And that's what Job Search Coaches teach their clients to do, isn't it?
Here's Postrel again (edited).
Glamour is an illusion. The image is not entirely false, but it is deceptive. Its allure is created by obscuring or ignoring some details while heightening others. That selection may reflect deliberate craft. Or it may happen unconsciously, when an audience notices appealing characteristics and ignores discordant elements. In either case, glamour requires the audience's innocence or, more often, willing suspension of disbelief.
European nations began World War I with a glamorous vision of war, only to be psychologically shattered by the realities of the trenches. The experience changed the way people referred to the glamour of battle; they treated it no longer as a positive quality but as a dangerous illusion.
"The best photographers are the best liars," said the 20th-century fashion photographer Norman Parkinson, who was known for the glamour of his work. Even when it arises unintentionally, glamour presents an edited version of reality.
Comment: My friend, the Funny Banker, told me that all sales is lying and in this sense that's true, too.
I want to share with you the unique law I use to guide my life: Fix the lifestyle you want. Then work backwards from there.
There are many other words of wisdom but they don’t direct you to a life that you’re happy to live. My advice does.
What do I mean by lifestyle? A detailed feel for what your day to day existence would be like. Some questions to consider:
How much control do I have over my schedule? What’s the intensity level of my job? What’s the prestige level?
What’s the importance of what I do? What type of work?
Where do I live? What’s my social life like? What’s my work life balance?
What’s my family like? How do other people think of me? What am I known for?
Using these types of questions to guide you, construct an image of the ideal future you. Notice, specific jobs don’t need to enter the equation. They can if they help you visualize, but they aren’t necessary.
If the image makes you happy and gets you excited, you’ve hit on a good match.
Comment: You might not have a good idea of what a job is like before you are in it. Virginia Postrel notes that some jobs seem glamorous because of the way they are presented on TV. All of the tedium is edited out. But the closer you get to anything glamorous the more certain you are to see the mundane reality.
Here's an example of narrow vision. When you're young, you might not think much about money and family but when you're older and you are are married with a family and you're short of money, you're idea of a good job might be different.
At the age of 40, Weinberg started working as the bandleader on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He then followed Conan to The Tonight Show.
The musician voted best drummer in the 1986 Rolling Stone critics poll can’t read music.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the music business?
No matter the path, the journey has to start with a hungry heart.
If you have a vision for your life, make it a reality. Work everywhere and anywhere.
When the E Street Band was disbanded, I took bar mitzvah gigs so I could play the drums.
What can you say about your experience with Conan?
He reminds me of the parable: He got what he wanted, but lost what he had.
He thought the grass was greener before midnight.
He made a rash decision to blow up his career and did not care about the collateral damage.
What did you learn from the incident?
Listen to your wife. When we moved out to Los Angeles, my wife wanted to rent. I said let’s buy. It is “The Tonight Show.” What can happen?
How did you land the gig with Conan?
I hadn't played in several years but I wanted to get back to drumming. I wanted to get out of the business life that I was leading. So one day my wife and I walked out of a deli in New York, and right at the corner was Conan waiting for the light to change.
About a week before he had been announced as the new host of NBC's Late Night, replacing David Letterman. So I went over to him and started to talk to him.
He was in the beginning process of putting the show together and we started to talk about music right there on the corner. That led to a series of meetings and he asked if I would audition, so I quickly put a band together and auditioned.
At the audition, on our third song Conan leapt out of his seat and started dancing to it. So I knew at that point that we were in pretty good shape. Literally, a week later, we were on the air.