It is February, and some parts of the country can begin to anticipate spring. We in the hinterland know that spring is still many weeks away. Ahh, but the promise is almost palpable. Spring reminds us of the pleasure of opening up the windows and letting the fresh air in. 

We are freshening things up at Genesis10 and just launched our newly refreshed website. We held on to our core principals, updated with our new stories and successes and gave it a new fresh look and feel. Please check it out!

Now is the time to do that same thing regarding your resume. When did you last look at your resume? I mean really look at it, not just add your recent project. Does your resume speak of who you are today, how you have grown as a professional, how you have kept up with technology? Does it  speak to the roles you want and are capable of doing? Ask a recruiter to give you honest feedback. Genesis10 recruiters are your advocate. Put us to work today!

For 20 years my husband and I  had hunted for an Airstream trailer. Not exhaustively or perpetually, but for all that time, I had harbored the fantasy of parking a small, vintage, silver Airstream on our property for a retreat by the lake.  A place for listening to the loons and telling stories by the camp fire.  As so often happens, the defining parameters of my fantasy were significantly expanded when Jim, my husband, announced that he had purchased a vintage 1977  31’ Airstream Land Yacht that happened to be in exquisite condition.

Airstream retreat at the Pointe.

We would “open up” the retreat each spring, and each winter Jim would cover the Airstream with an immense tarp and secure the perimeter with a series of bungee cords.  We would essentially abandon the Pointe to winter, making a brief inspection in November, during deer hunting season, and opening the venue again the following spring.

We lamented the “closing” event, as it signaled the end of the season, and conversely, reveled in the “opening” event, as we longed for spring’s arrival and the advance of blessed summer’s conquest over stubborn winter.  Each new trip, from the homestead to the destination Pointe, revealed some subtle nuance that we’ve come to innately recognize as nature’s calendar.

Last year however, the “opening” event carried us to another place.  During the winter, kids ice fishing or  snowmobiling on the lake must have gotten bored and cured their monotony by finding softball-sized rocks along the shore and smashing out the windows for sport. We were heartbroken and almost dumbfounded at this discovery.  Suddenly our sanctuary had been the victim of a physical assault and the psychological innocence was snatched from us with a violence that seemed somehow more personal than was probably intended by the perpetrators.  In the 144 years my family has lived on this property, this was the first time we had ever experienced vandalism.

After some serious soul searching directed at how to best identify the culprits, we removed our Airstream for repairs and continued to enjoy the Pointe without the associated beauty and creature comforts of our beloved Airstream.  We racked our brains for methods to protect the Pointe, from deer cams to informants, but finally came to the conclusion that we would probably never know who did it and could not risk returning the object of our desire to its remote and unsecured location without unwarranted risk. This troubled us more for the loss of freedom and aesthetic composition than for the actual loss of accommodations or creature comforts.  Who would do this and why, to what end, to accomplish what?

Finally we decided that what the vandals had not appreciated was WHO we were and WHAT the Pointe represented.  So we erected a sign that reads as follows:

MY ANCESTORS HOMESTEADED THIS, THE MURRAY FARM IN 1868

It has been continuously occupied by our family ever since.  You are welcome to enjoy the amenities we have labored on over these many years and hope you appreciate how beautiful they are and what they mean to us.  Please do not destroy or damage what you find here, it is important to us and represents many generations and descendants of the Murray Clan.  Thank you for understanding.

We are uncertain what the outcome will be or the effectiveness of our strategy.  In the end, however, we came to the realization that it is not really ours anyway.  We are only the current caretakers and not forgiving these troublemakers, would only cause us grief in the long term.  Therefore, we opted for the alternative: inclusion.

At the heart of the issue, I’ve noticed there is a correlation between this event and events that transpire in the workplace (and beyond).

How does that same situation confront us every single day in our work life?  Do we hold a grudge for a slight, whether real or perceived?  Do we help a struggling colleague, or choose to let them fail for self-promotion?  Do we ask a fellow co-worker how we can help when we know they are confronted with a personal issue or simply go about our idiosyncratic world oblivious to those in need around us? Do we seek to understand before placing judgment?

We can’t always change the outcome and we certainly can’t turn back the clock.  But we can change our responses and chose to move forward in a positive way.

In this holiday season, let us let go of past slights, embrace those less than normally embraceable and attempt to reach out and go a bit further, to see our own failings, and not to pass judgment on those around us that may be weighted or challenged, with what we know not.

Happy holidays to everyone, safe travels and may 2013 be a rich and rewarding year for you all! I am thankful for everything I have been blessed with in 2012, even the hard things that hold in them a perspective-altering lesson. These lessons are there to be seen, if we just take the time to look.

During election seasons we have become accustomed to being inundated with commercials, print and online advertisements, brochures, billboards, sound bites, et al., touting why one candidate or platform is right and increasingly, why one candidate or platform is wrong.

This election season hasn’t been any different. We are exposed to a constant stream of politically charged rhetoric that is often emphatically presented to us as fact.

However, technology is changing the game, or at least leveling the playing field for those of us on the receiving end of these messages. Our ability to immediately check the facts related to any statement puts transparency, honesty and integrity into new light. This does not mean that lies, omissions and half-truths are things of the past, but it does make politicians more accountable for the statements they make.

If you are a student or recent graduate, you know that as easy as it is to copy and paste someone else’s work and present it in as your own, just as easily a professor can determine the originality of students’ work through the use of anti-plagiarism software.

The same holds true today in your job search.

Your online presence is as important, if not more important, than your resume. Your online profile makes it very easy to verify dates and access your current and former colleagues or connections even if they were not provided as a reference.  Your weekend activities, good and bad, are visible.  If you tweet, your interests and views are there for the judging.

Contrary to what is most likely popular belief, a recent article from the Harvard Business Review, ”Digital Staffing: The future of recruitment-by-algorithm,” says the Web can make recruiting less biased.

According to a 2012 survey by Jobsite, 54% of recruiters use Twitter, 66% Facebook, and a whopping 97% LinkedIn, as recruitment tools. 

The big implication is that you need to invest a considerable amount of time managing your digital reputation. The only thing worse than not having a profile is having an undesirable profile. Indeed, your chances of being headhunted online are inversely related to the amount of inappropriate self-disclosure found in your Facebook or Twitter profile. Egosurfing — self-googling — is now more important than updating your CV.

Just as technology makes it much easier for journalists and citizens to determine whether statements made by politicians and elected officials are true, and just as professors use technology to determine the validity of students’ work, recruiters and HR professionals are increasingly using technology to determine if a candidate’s resume and professional presentation matches up with their online persona. Make sure that how you are presenting yourself professionally is mirrored in how you are presented online. Don’t wait, Google yourself today.

I am privileged to know Jeri, the Executive Director of the Dress for Success organization in the Twin Cities, www.dressforsuccess.org/twincities.  This outstanding, international organization helps women end the cycle of poverty by providing business attire, interview skills and job retention support. Jeri is dedicated to changing how her clients see themselves, as well as how they are perceived by others. I find her work to be inspirational and encourage you to consider supporting Dress for Success or similar organizations. Click here to see if there is a Dress for Success chapter where you live.

As an organization like Dress for Success can attest, perception is a powerful thing. So powerful, that others’ perceptions of you can impact your reality.

Have you ever felt trapped or limited by the perceptions that others have of you?  I spoke with a young woman early in her career. She was frustrated because she felt that she was always looked at as the junior person on the team.  She felt trapped in the role because people didn’t see what she was capable of doing and in fact, what she was doing.

In some cases perception can be kept like a snapshot frozen in time. Imagine some of your high school friends—I bet there are a couple you thought based upon who they were back then – “Class Clown,” “Party Animal” – would never make it. Yet look at them now, they have ended up in significant, high-profile roles. Somewhere along the line, they were able to greatly change how they were viewed by others.

If you feel the perception that others have of you may not be accurate – if you want to change how you are perceived to move your career forward, you can’t wait for others to notice. You have to change the picture:

 

  • Show the facts. Don’t assume the leaders in your organization know those details.  Remember they are likely busy.  If you want them to know, show them. Look for opportunities to share in writing what you have done.
  • Offer to take on projects to show what you can do. Look for opportunity to demonstrate what are capable of doing, then do it well.
  • Change your outward presentation. People may think you are junior because you dress like you are still in college. Or they make think you are too senior because you haven’t updated your glasses in 10 years.  Small things can distract from you real talents.
  • Learn to professionally toot your own horn.  This is hard one for most people, but you can practice ways to do bring visibility to your success. For example, “I had set a personal goal to get my MBA, and I did it! I completed my degree this month.  I just wanted to share my good news with you.”  Or “ I just  learned that  I am in the top 10% of my colleagues.  This is a milestone I really wanted to achieve. My next goal is to be on the top of the list!”  “Although this role was titled a project coordinator, it was highly complex. I had the opportunity to lead this work stream on my own and it was of XX size, scope and value.”
  • Ask specifically what you need to do, or target to achieve to be promoted.  It could be that your manage doesn’t even know you want more.
  • Engage a sponsor in your quest.   Find a mentor or a coach within the organization who can help you through the politics or be on the lookout for opportunities.  Enlist others to help you. It not only can help you achieve your goals, but theirs as well.
  • There are times that the only way to change the picture is to change the organization, department or company you work for.  Be sure your resume and your interview style reflect what you can and want to be.

I’d love to hear your personal experiences with this topic. What are some actions you’ve taken when you’ve felt that others’ perceptions of you weren’t accurate? What was the outcome?

This year was my first morel mushroom hunt. And I became quickly addicted. The thrill of the hunt is precisely what makes “morel-ing” so exciting.

Morel mushrooms only grow in the spring when the temperature, humidity, variance between nighttime and day time temperature, soil acidity and many other factors are just right.

Prior to the hunt, I studied up and watched YouTube videos to gain wisdom and aid my search.

Searching for morels requires using a stick to move grass, leaves and plants that may be hiding the morels from view. From my experience, I learned you have to get down into the thick of things to really find the treasures. During the hunt, I tried to channel my great grandmother, who folklore tells had herbalist skills.

My efforts were rewarded, but not at first.  There they were, right in front of me, I just couldn’t see them.  My eyes weren’t yet trained.  It took a while, then I figured out a pattern.  It is imperative to take your time so as not to step on any mushrooms or brush up against poison ivy.  When collecting the morels, it is important to carefully pick them so as not to damage them, and it is also important to  put them in a mesh bag so that the spores might replenish for more mushrooms later.

When the hunt came to a close, I took the advice from the more experience morel hunters on the best way to prepare morels. There is nothing like the gift of something in season, at the height of delicious perfection.

Maybe it is the same reason I love recruiting.  As recruiters we are always trying to find the treasures who are available at just the right moment.  We are constantly trying to figure out where candidates are hiding. And when we do, we work hard to handle our candidates with care and as we understand their value and the importance of timing.

I would truly love your feedback on where you “hang out” professionally.  Recently LinkedIn bumped Apple out of the number one spot of fastest growing tech companies.  Twitter is everywhere.  Let me know your thoughts on how you keep your professional network strong and when you want to be found—where are you?

Although our new year celebration has come and gone, the Chinese New Year has just begun. In China, new year’s is traditionally one of the most important holidays of the year, and because they use a separate lunisolar calendar, their new year lasts much longer than ours—15 whole days (January 23 through February 5 this year).

My husband Jim travels all over Asia for his work.  He has logged a lot of time in China, where very early on, he learned that to be successful doing business in China, you have to stop thinking in Western terms. And while it can be very difficult for someone born and raised in the United States to think like a native Chinese, you can triangulate between Eastern and Western thought. For instance:

  • Do as much as you can to understand the richness of the culture and key historical events
  • Don’t expect them to adapt their business practices to yours – or you may be sorely disappointed with the outcome of your venture.
  • Don’t spend precious energy getting frustrated over a system that may or may not make sense to you.  It doesn’t have to make sense to you; it is after all, their system, not yours.  

This cultural comparison got me thinking about the staffing and consulting world. A client once told me they couldn’t stand the seemingly arrogant consultant who comes into their 100-year-old Fortune 500 company and tells them on the first day how to run their business. “Have a little humility and respect for the smart people that built this successful business,” he said. “Seek to understand first, then help us be even better,” he continued.

He made a very valid point: It is important and practical to understand first, then work to add value where we can.

In the consulting world, there are many instances where frustration can peak because we are only seeing something from our point of view.  For example:

Candidates are often frustrated when recruiters can’t provide meaningful feedback after a client interview because the client only told us they selected another candidate. We try, but often can’t make someone gives us feedback.

Recruiters are frustrated when client rules prevent us from getting additional detail directly from a hiring manager.   

Hiring managers are frustrated when their day is interrupted by 12 vendors calling them to ask the same questions.

It is important to recognize, some things we can influence and change, some things we cannot. Focus on adding value where you can – like finding another role where that candidate will shine!

It is the time of year when I remind myself to first seek to understand the reasons behind a rule, process or system and then decide what I can influence and the manner in which I will take action. During this time, I seek to understand how I can adapt, use my strengths and time in a way that adds value, and to choose not to deplete energy and time on things I cannot change.  It is the time of year to put critical focus on the outcome and put positive energy into that desired outcome.

Best wishes and good luck in 2012—this year of the DRAGON!

Integrity, honesty, truth, honor, veracity, uprightness.

It seems so simple doesn’t it? When I on-board new recruiters to Genesis10, we review expectations, and one of those expectations involves ethics. We don’t lie to our candidates or consultants or manipulate or mislead to make a placement. That short term payoff is always costly in the end. How you start the relationship sets the tone for all future interactions, and interactions that start with anything other than best intentions never have a happy ending. They just won’t.

It is our goal to truly understand the candidate and their motivations and strengths and match those motivations and strengths with a client’s needs. Simple. Yet, the human dynamic makes that complicated at times.

It can be hard to resist the urge to rationalize less than honorable behavior or actions. But we can’t say we value integrity and then not honor our agreements because something might negatively impact our personal pocketbook.

I like to think over the years I have honed my skills in reading others. However, I have had a couple recent situations where candidates have told elaborate stories when declining an offer. We are talking car accidents, head trauma causing short term memory loss, family illnesses, etc. While I understand unforeseen circumstances do arise from time to time, they thankfully, are not the norm. And when I have a candidate decline an offer, I will take a simple and honorable, “I have taken another offer” over any sensationalized story.

I have had candidates tell me with pride that they have downloaded their company’s database or taken a confidential work product with an assumption I would value that, when what they are really telling me is that I can assume they will steal from me as well.

The IT community is small. Our personal brand is fragile. We can all take a wrong turn, make a mistake. But we can all choose the honorable path however hard it may seem and in the end, act with integrity.

How have you handled the crossroads in your career when your integrity has been challenged and you have to choose a path? What did you do when tempted or encouraged to act less than honorably? Now, that is the “story” I would really like to hear.

It is fall on our farm in Clear Lake, Wisconsin. In another week or two, the leaves will peak in color and will all too quickly fall, leaving the barren branches of winter. It is such a dichotomy to me. I lament the end of summer, and yet, I am filled with regret that I didn’t play enough in the sun nor spent enough hours being lazy in a hammock. At the same time, I revel in the blaze of orange and yellows against the crystal blue of the autumn sky. Without the end of summer, there is no beauty of the fall.

Recently, my husband and I were coming back from a walk through our woods to the point on the lake where we canoe and watch the eagles. In that moment, I began to reminisce and play back the snapshots in my head of my childhood: running through the fields, exploring the forest. I told my husband of my first spiritual experience laying on my back in the snow in the bitter cold, examining the snow flakes and realizing for the first time, they truly are all unique—that no two are the same and being overwhelmed by their extraordinary beauty. Without the bitter cold, there would be no snowflakes, nor promise of spring. The cycle of life springs from, and is dependent upon, change.

I recounted to him how my great Aunt Ida would come to visit her sister’s homestead farm once a year from Idaho. My grandma would walk her around the farm and Ida would, invariably, reach down and pluck a four-leaf clover from the sea of three-leaf variety stretched out endlessly before them. I was amazed at this talent and spent untold hours trying to recreate her effortless ability.

As I spoke these words, I instinctively bent over a patch of clover and picked one myself! Neither one of us could comprehend this immediately at that moment, as I had just found my first ever four leaf clover! Without the weeds, there is no promise of opportunity and sometimes, it can take a very long time to realize your dreams (no matter how small).

Inspired by the change of season taking place around us, this brings me to one of the most important characteristics of a consultant (or a recruiter): adaptability. The ability to adjust to a changing environment, new tools, processes, technology, industry, company culture and moirés sets an extraordinary consultant apart from the average. The ability to see through the clouds of change that make employees feel uncomfortable and help them not only manage it but embrace it for what it can become, the beauty of a new season and the promise of a four leaf clover.

Change is not only inevitable; it is part and parcel of the recipe for life’s next adventure. Don’t merely accept it, revel in it—and those around you. They will mirror that energy back; from one, many.

That day, to celebrate our good fortune and embrace the transition to autumn, my husband and I picked apples at the height of perfection from the heavily laden tree at the homestead and baked two apple pies. Change is good—and sometimes tasty!

Everyone wants to hire the “A” player.  So what makes someone an “A” player, and how can you demonstrate that you share the characteristics of an “A” player during an interview?

Recently, I was standing in my yard in northern Wisconsin when overhead went one of the largest and noisiest flocks of Canadian Geese on their northern trek.  It was fascinating to watch the “V” formation (or sideways “A”).  I watched as one member broke rank and slowed to take the place of the leader within another group. 

The geese had an innate ability to be so attuned to their flocks that they knew instinctively when they needed to change positions for the good of the group. This really exemplified what it means to be a good team player.

Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow and both positions are critically important.  That is one of the key characteristics of an “A” player.  Top performers constantly keep their skills in shape, pay attention to their surroundings, contribute in any way they can to keep the group moving forward making progress.

When have you been that kind of utility player?  When have you moved with ease from one position to another and added value that kept your project moving forward? Something to think about, as the answers to those questions could be important in your next interview.

About a year ago, I was sitting on the couch with my husband Jim watching “The Blue Planet” on the Discovery Channel when they showed the Iguazu Falls, one of the three great waterfalls of the world located at the confluence of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Inspired by the TV show, Jim declared, “We’re going there.”

Well, Jim and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. WOW, what an experience! 

While sitting outside, at a café table in Iguazu City, my husband and I noticed a young woman sitting alone. We overheard her speaking English and assumed she was from the U.S. We struck up a conversation and discovered she was just finishing a four month trip traveling through and exploring South America.  She offered that she would be heading back home in about five days to job hunt and start her career.

We talked about what she wanted to do, and I shared a bit about Genesis10 and our G10 Associates Program, go figure.   The program, designed for new or recent graduates, provides training and mentoring into the world of consulting.   

I was immediately smitten with her spunk, intelligence and ability to form an intimate bond.  Anyone that can travel through a series of foreign countries alone possesses the unique characteristics required to navigate new client environments, adapt and learn new business cultures. I gave her my email address and I said, “Send me your resume.”

I sincerely hope she does. You never know how life will connect you to people and it is important to be ready and open to discuss who you are and what you want.  If it is the right role and opportunity and we hire her, she and I will have an incredibly engaging story about how we met. 

My Advice: Make every interview an incredibly engaging story and always be prepared to seize the opportunity to engage a unique individual to your mutual benefit.  You Never Know!