Friday, June 29, 2007

Video Killed The Database Star

So I was reading today's Interbiznet Bugler where the lead piece was entitled Video Killed The Data Base Star.

As I read on, essentially John Sumser was making the argument that there was a coming tidal wave of video resumes despite the obvious issue of time that it would take for recruiters, third party or otherwise, to screen them nothwithstanding. God only knows they have issues enough dealing with electronic versions.

John finished off this piece by asserting that hiring managers would actually "want" video resumes because "there's something about live action that cements decisions." He also went on to say that all of this would "swamp the recruiting folks with the challenge of wading through years of video clips." Now there's a candidate for the understatement of the year award!

Maybe because it's Friday, a beautiful summer day, and I am more focused on a Tom Collins on the deck watching the boats come in from a sunset sail that I am assuming this piece was written tongue in cheek.

I mean I certainly realize with the advent of YouTube and MySpace, not to mention the official launch of the iPhone that video is going to be used in a lot of ways with much of it hopefully benefiting both our personal and business lives, it's just that I can't see video resumes being one of them.

Aside from the time factor and the ability to edit them to the point where they might be eligible for an Oscar special effects nomination, one wonders what the EEOC would have to say?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

In Search of the Perfect Job

I guess if I had the proverbial nickel for every book that has been written about how to go about a job search or just managing one's career in general, I could retire yesterday and not have to worry about the future of social security or anything else.

Furthermore, there are a number of the books out there that are, in my opinion, quite good. So why do people keep writing them? I think because as I learned to my own amazement some years ago, that while many people can write or talk about the same subject, we all come at it from our own personal experiences and "learnings" which usually means that how one communicates his thoughts on a given subject is likely to be different from someone else's and therefore will resonate differently with different people. The result? In one instance I come away and felt I have learned little, and in another I feel like I just had an epiphany of major proportions.

While we have never met, I have known Clyde Lowstuter both by reputation and phone almost since I became involved with ExecuNet nearly twenty years ago. Clyde has written a number of books and In Search of the Perfect Job - 8 Steps To The $250,000+ Executive Job That's Right For You while the subject is certainly not new, it is nonetheless very timely in that it is written for really senior level executives, and if you think it is easy to write something for a group of folks whose lack of attention spans are legendary, think again.

That said, I can promise you that some of its readers are going to rebel at some of the exercises that Clyde has built into the book, but that's only because they force you to think and don't come with a mouse you can click that promises to take you immediately to the URL that is going to answer every concern you have ever had and comes with a seven figure sign-on bonus. In other words, the real world, as we all know, doesn't come with pat answers.

Anyway, even if you cop out on some of the exercises, Clyde has a neat way of putting in light bulb type things to remind the reader of some of the key "learnings" and one that showed up very early on is one that I think many of us should print out and paste on the bathroom mirror because it wise counsel indeed no matter what is going on in your life as a leader:
"Authenticity is the single most important derterminant for personal and leadership success."
When I saw this little gem it reminded me of another quote that I've been told was attributed to Lincoln. I have never been able to verify that came from Lincoln, but even if it didn't, I have always liked it. It goes something like this:
"There is not a man alive with a memory good enough to be a successful liar."
Clyde, they are important values to live by ~ thanks for book and the reminder.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Qualities of a Successful Leader/Manager

Bells and Whistles is a blog about which I have had something to say on more than one occasion and given the contributions to it made by Amitai Givertz, and Eric Jackson both of whom are on the staff of RCI Recruitment Solutions whose company blog it is, the names are likely to show up here many times in the future as well.

Given the business they are in is probably one of the reasons they write so much about leadership stuff, but that isn't the only reason that the site is way up on my list of blogs to follow. The real reason is not what they are writing about so much as they impact (at least on me) of how what they have to say is so sharply focused.

Happily and another reason is that they attract readers who also are not only obviously very bright, but who also have a gift to communicate via the written word.

One such contributor is a fellow named Gil Keough who happens to be the Director of Corporate Training for a company called Toobeez International located in PA. Gil is an exceptionally bright and gifted writer.

Were I not a follower of Bells and Whistles as well as John Sumser and I am sure I would have missed Gil's powerfully put comments that he posted after having read a commentary of Eric Jackson's (also excellent) back in April titled Building Smart Leadership. Such is the convoluted and often very valuable "linkages" created by the net.

In any event, all of this is a long way to say that Gil's commentary which he simply called The Qualities of A Successful Leader/Manager is not only very much worth reading, but once you have, you might well be motivated, as I was, to print and place it in that folder we all have called: Lessons in Leadership I Don't Ever Want to Forget.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fear Induced Lethargy

Anyone of us who has ever found themselves "between portfolio assignments" or whatever other euphemism you want to use for looking for a job while being unemployed knows full well the range of emotions (very few of which are good) one experiences in the quest for the next gig.

Some of us talk about it, others write about it, most of us intellectually fully understand what we're supposed to do about it, but for a multitude of rationalizations often hold back desperately hoping that the world will finally feel the pain of not having us as the answer to their prayers and that one day our phone will ring and the person on the other end will say "Dave, I am so glad I finally found you, please just fill in the blank on this check, and come help us become #1 in our industry."

So why is it that so many senior level executives in a job search seem to find themselves waiting for that call, or who feel they are really having a productive day because they have sent of lots of emails with resume attached to job board after job board or if they were really on an efficiency kick, sent off lots of emails to jobs they found on one of the aggregator services that have been scrapped and published from the net thus saving themselves the click and loading time going from site to site.

One of the best answers to this behavioral phenomenon I found in the musings of John Reinke (who in the interest of full disclosure is a member of ExecuNet) and who among his myriad activities has a blog which he calls Reinke Faces Life.

John came up with the phrase "fear induced lethargy" in a communication he was sending to one of the many folks who come to him for free advice regarding their search. John, who, like many of us, has far more experience in looking for a job than he would like, has what some might consider a pretty cynical outlook on a number of things. Said differently, the advice he dispenses from what is clearly a very giving and compassionate heart is neither "warm" nor "fuzzy." It falls much more into the Howard Cosell school of career management circa 2007. Hence the phrase "fear induced lethargy."

When John used these words he was really trying suggest why it is that many of us take the easy way out (and hope) rather than putting our time and energy into those aspects of a search that are much tougher (e.g. really trying to think about and articulate what it is that I really bring to the table and being able to communicate same in a compelling and confident fashion.)

Fear of rejection is indeed a very powerful motivator for inaction.

It is for this reason and lots of others (but this one will certainly suffice for now) that when people ask what ExecuNet is all about that one of the answers I will give is that we are in the career management education business for senior level executives and professionals.

When the lethargy takes hold, it's as if all of our self-confidence and self-esteem resided on only one side of the desk, and for many that perception is in fact the reality.

So, what helps to change all that and make what John calls "fear induced lethargy" morph into result producing proactivity and action? For me, the hold a gun to my head one word answer is information.

When the "what" seems overwhelming, often it is only because we don't have the information that provides us with the knowledge of the "how". Once I know how, somehow or another the self-confidence adrenalin kicks in and it is for that reason that we spend the time and energy we do on the "how" and I have to say the feedback we get helps me to understand why many teachers love what they do.

Why Do This?

A month or so ago, I got an email from Steve Levy who was going to be on a panel on blogging at the Kennedy Conference in Las Vegas. To prepare, each panel member contacted a number of bloggers and asked them to respond to six questions regarding what they were doing, why they did it, etc., and what impact it had, if any, on their business.

The conference came and went, and while I wasn't able to attend, by all accounts it and the panel of which Steve was a part were both well recieved.

I really hadn't thought about it much since I responded to Steve's request for my thoughts on the subject until today when I noted Kent Blumberg's post on the same subject. In reading Kent's post, and since over time I too have been asked, and as my friends who keep telling me to "get a life" continue to ask me about it, I can save myself some desparately needed time and send them this link. So for all four of you who have asked, not counting immediate family, here's what I sent to Steve:

1. Why do I blog? At first I just thought it might be fun to try since I had not done anything like it before, although since I write an internal newsletter every day that goes to everyone in our company lots of staff members here felt I would find it a natural extension. I also felt it was another channel to communicate with our members and other professionals interested in various aspects of career management at the executive level.

Since we are an organization that has been preaching the value of building a personal and professional network based on members helping each other for the past 19 years, when blogging came along it seemed like another opportunity to try and help as well as learn from others in the field.

2. What do I prefer to blog about? For good or for ill, I have been running around in the career management/HR/Staffing World for more than 45 years. Worse, I have never been known to lack an opinion (although I certainly can’t express them with your clarity or humor). That said, I tend to blog on topics where most of us are still searching for answers (e.g. what is effective leadership really?) or on subjects about which I feel strongly (e.g. education, business and personal ethics). My readers are concerned about a variety of provocative topics (e.g. age discrimination, job security, and compensation.) I try to keep them up to date with what we’re learning from our vantage point. My favorite topics are those that have the potential to really help readers improve their professional lives – even if it’s a tip that just gets them home a half hour earlier or a little saner after a long meeting with their boss.

3. Where does the inspiration come from? Much of it comes from the 45+ years on both sides of the hiring desk and the observations and “learnings” that come from the mistakes we have all made along the way. Much of it also comes from our members. The issues I talk with them about both by phone and email cover the waterfront and often have to do with effective career management in a digital age.

4. Who do I blog for? I approach my blog the same way I approach the networking meetings that we have around the country and in Canada. The blog is a forum that is open to anyone, ExecuNet member or not. Our meetings have always been that way. All we ask is that people come in the spirit of sharing and helping others. The blog is the same as far as I am concerned, it is one of the reasons I like the idea of allowing people to comment and add their own thoughts. One of the factors that make groups such a powerful force in problem-solving is because people bring different sets of experiences to bear. Blogs can be another forum that enables meaningful connections to be made.

5. How has blogging impacted the business/brand, etc.? I honestly don’t know, probably not a lot, although we certainly have received some very nice comments and commentary from many in the blogosphere who feel it makes a contribution, so that is great for the ego. In terms of our business, ever since we started in 1988 the vast majority of our members have come to us by referral, and I’m pleased to say that is still the case, so while it may be that the blog has caused some people to become aware of us who weren’t before, usually they have talked to a current or former member or a search consultant by the time they get to us.

6. When do you find time to blog? Now there’s an issue! Often I don’t and by the time I come up for air, the issue that got me thinking about saying something I sometimes feel is “old news” so I pass. Where folks like you and others on your panel find the time I have no clue, but I stand in awe, that’s for sure. All that said, I usually try to find time at night or on the weekend. It is very hard for me to blog during the business day. I have to find time to put my thoughts together, and for me, that means some quiet time.