This is the second post in a series from the speaker, teacher, and consultant Joel Schwartzberg, who is covering methods to improve presentation skills at all stages of your career. A slightly different version of this post appeared earlier in the Huffington Post.
A job interview isn’t all that different from a public speech, except that in interviews you get to sit down, listen more than speak, and be the world’s expert on the topic (hint: it’s you). But one thing is true for both interviewing and speech-making: How you say something is just as important as what you say.
The “what” can be coached only so much, but the “how” is completely coachable. Here are some unique, real-world tips I’ve picked up over nearly two decades as a media industry executive, a national champion public speaker, a public speaking instructor, a collegiate speech and debate coach… and a failed Wheel of Fortune contestant. But don’t hold the Wheel thing against me — I just didn’t buy enough vowels. Read More →
Chances are that performance reviews aren’t anyone’s favorite aspect of the modern workplace, but that doesn’t mean they’re useless paperwork. In the Globe and Mail, Marjo Johne makes the case for them, quoting a partner in an accounting firm who says that a review “removes a lot of uncertainty amongst employees about how they are performing at work.” Johne also gets some advice on how smaller companies can do reviews effectively. She also notes that in smaller companies, it’s extra-important to make sure that reviews are constructive, with an emphasis on improvement rather than fault-finding.
Jim Hopkinson, the author of Salary Tutor, is writing a series of post designed to help you negotiate during some of the most important — and stressful — points in your career. A slightly different version of this post appeared on Jim’s website.
The person sitting next to you at work has been acting peculiar. Nothing dramatic . . . after all, you’ve shared the same workspace for years, worked on several successful projects together, and survived a round of layoffs in 2009, coming out fine on the other side.
Kelly Eggers has eight rules for networking effectively. The most important might be the last: follow up with your new contacts. “[Get] in touch — within 24 hours — to say you enjoyed meeting them.” [FINS]
The least creative place you can be is most likely where you’re sitting right now.
Like many people, I spend the majority of my workday in one room, sitting in front of a computer. And while my office may be on the more creative end of the spectrum — filled with all manner of interesting objects — it’s still the least inspiring place I find myself on a regular basis.
Workspaces are places of familiarity, but if you’re looking for inspiration, you actually need the exact opposite: an influx of the unknown and a sprinkling of the completely random. And there’s no better way to finding these experiences than just simply getting out of your environment.
For a year, Skull-A-Day, my daily art project, was my excuse to spend part of every day away from my desk. Sometimes it was just going to another part of my office to make something by hand, but very often it required me to get out of the building entirely and spend a some time really paying attention to the world around me. Read More →
Yesterday Top Gun Allison Hemming spoke to CNN.com about employees announcing that they are quitting in increasingly creative, if not downright showoffy, ways.
The splashiest recent example is Joey DeFrancesco. The 24-year-old’s video of himself quitting his hotel job with the noisy help of his bandmates in the What Cheer? Brigade, a hipster brass band, got nearly 2.5 million views after it was uploaded to YouTube on 12 October.
As Allison said to CNN, “Joey is the hero of all downtrodden workers because he is the embodiment of ‘take this job and shove it.’ He’s living out the fantasies of countless workers who also hate their bosses.”
This Thursday, October 27, The Hired Guns Academy will be hosting “What’s Your Story?,” our popular class on storytelling and elevator pitches. Below, the class’s instructor and creator, Larry Smith, talks about when he first realized that limits and parameters are your friend when it comes to creating a powerful, authentic story about your work life.
I was at a wedding this past weekend. The happy couple kissed. The dancing began. And soon enough it was toast time. One by one friends and family took the microphone to pay tribute to the bride and groom. And one by one those loving tributes turned into rambling disasters — often with no end in sight. “Somebody needs to wrestle the mic from him,” I heard a guest say at one point, in a less-than-hushed tone. Still, everyone was in a good mood and laughed off the hot messes who were doing their best to fete the happy couple.
After all, you’re allowed a certain amount of slack at a wedding. But when you fail to get your story straight when the stakes are higher — at a job interview, for example — the consequences are often much worse.
Sitting in a San Antonio bar with a business partner in 1967, the entrepreneur Herb Kelleher grabbed a (now-legendary) cocktail napkin and sketched out a simple triangle while posing this question: What if we were to create a small, local airline that connected these three cities? With that sketch, the idea for Southwest Airlines was born.
The next time you are trying to generate ideas, brainstorm a solution, or explain a complex idea to someone, why not use a cocktail napkin — or a scrap of paper, or a flipchart or whiteboard — and sketch it out!
Even if you don’t think you can draw, it’s not about artistic ability . . . it’s about getting ideas out of your head and down on paper so they can be shared succinctly with someone else.
Once, a new coaching client of mine, a regional vice president at an international pharmaceuticals company, was wrestling with a costly, complex, and incredibly challenging business dilemma that had been distracting him and keeping him up at night for months.
On my first meeting with him, I solved his problem in less than five minutes –- simply by means of a napkin sketch.
It’s not that I’m so brilliant — in fact, I really didn’t fully understand all the complexities of his situation (that actually might have worked to my advantage) — and I can barely draw. But my napkin sketching ability saved the day. Read More →
We just nabbed exactly our kind of project, a soup-to-nuts redesign of a top TV brand’s website that includes total social media reengineering, and the team will be made up entirely of Hired Guns. Here are the kind of Guns we’re looking for … make the jump for any role that sounds like you!
This week in viral promotions and digital marketing: Take This Lollipop, a creepy, Facebook-soaked video to make you even more worried about online privacy than you were already. Or maybe it’ll just remind you to find a better head shot and update your status once in a while. [More on it from The Next Web and Slate....]
Hired Guns blogger and Get Your Blog On instructor Bill Brazell inherited polycystic kidney disease, aka PKD, from his dad. The disorder often causes elevated blood pressure in those that have it, and it can also cause kidney failure and early death. PKD took the life of Bill’s first cousin when he was just 35, leaving two young children behind. And Bill’s sister and brother both have it as well.
Although few people have heard of PKD, it’s relatively common, affecting roughly 1 in every 500 people. This means that more people have it than have muscular dystrophy, sickle-cell anemia, Huntington’s disease, Down syndrome, hemophilia, and cystic fibrosis combined.
There’s important research being down right now, and experimental drugs are helping to slow the progression of the disease in some patients. Bill and others want to make sure this important research continues — especially during tough economic times like this one.
To help raise awareness, as well as the money needed to find a cure for PKD, Bill dresses each year as a giant kidney and Walks for PKD. (He also made a music video to the tune of a Weezer song — see below.)
The world of work’s not quite so friendly anymore (just ask the Occupy Wall Street folks), and knowing who you are and what to say when (and to whom) has never been more important to your career. Having a clear, consistent message is essential to landing — and keeping — your job.
That’s why on Thursday, Oct 27, back by popular demand, the Hired Guns Academy will be hosting “What’s Your Story?,” our popular class on storytelling and elevator pitches. It’s taught by Larry Smith, the creator of Smith magazine and Six Word Memoirs.
At the Hired Guns, we don’t do programming as usual. This course isn’t just about being able to glad-hand people at a cocktail party (though you will get to do that as an exercise during class).
It’s about learning your story and how to “flex” it so that you can handle any common workplace situation, including what to do when you get a new boss imposed on you. Check out how The Office‘s Dwight Schrute got sized up in two seconds flat by the new CEO, Robert California:
Terrified after watching? Good, then this class is for you. Book a slot — they’re going fast!
One major misconception about Agile product development is that there’s no long-term planning, and that everyone just does that they think should be done in the moment.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Successful Agile shops are ones that put a strong focus on strategy and know exactly where they want to go. Being Agile means that you outline your high-level business goals first, that you think about the six-month and twelve-month plan, that you focus on problems over solutions, and, ultimately, that you abandon timelines and allow yourself to adjust priorities as you go.
Unfortunately, this is where most executives struggle; “How can you not have a timeline? When will things get done? How will we plan?” It’s understandable that executives want to know how time and money is being spent, and timelines and Gantt charts have their place in certain kinds of businesses: see my previous post on Waterfall vs. Agile approaches. But in the world of web development, timelines equal compromise, and compromise equals failure. When you commit to the dates on a timeline, you might as well let everyone know right off the bat that you will either miss the date, or that you will compromise the product to hit the date.
But what’s the right way to do long-term planning in an Agile environment so that executives (and everyone else) feel comfortable with the plan? The answer is a road map based not on deadlines and wants, but on priorities and needs. Read More →
In addition, “underemployment,” which combines the unemployment numbers with the percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work but can’t get it, is also down. That rate, 17.5%, is the lowest it has been since last December, when it was 17.2%.
The Department of Labor’s stats for October, which are calculated differently and aren’t directly comparable, won’t be available for a few more weeks — let’s hope this upswing shows up there as well.
Have you noticed any other good signs in the job market?
Recent articles in the New York Times and elsewhere about the possible downsides of taking extra doses of dietary supplements have had my clients grilling me about vitamins. Not whether to take them or not, but whether or not to stop taking them. The article referred to two new studies that showed that taking vitamins may be harmful to your health. One study, which focused on vitamin E and selenium, found that men who take these vitamins had a slightly higher risk of developing prostate cancer. The other study found that women who took multivitamins and other supplements had a higher risk of dying than those that did not.
So how do I answer my clients? It seems legit to be fearful after reading a study (or two) like this, but my answer hasn’t changed. Read More →
We’ve all heard them — and maybe even we’ve said a few. Now The Hairpin is running a bracket contest to judge “Amusingly Horrible Things Bosses Have Said.” Here’s a taste: “It’s good for you because now you can spend time with your boyfriend,” said to someone who was just laid off from a senior-level job.
The end of this year’s Advertising Week brought word of the rise of “front-running”—basically putting merchandise out way early. So it’s not your imagination — lots of Halloween candy really was available before Labor Day this year. [NYT]
The IRS seems to have begun taking a tougher stance on who exactly can be classified as an independent contractor, rather than a full-time employee. If in doubt, you can ask the IRS for a ruling, but as Forbes contributor Robert M. Wood puts it, “remember the old adage, ‘Don’t ask the question if you can’t stand the answer.’”
Skype and similar services have been making inroads as yet another way to do remote job interviews, reports the Globe and Mail. Many employers believe that they get a higher quality interview, with fewer of the distractions that come up in a phone interview — people dress for them and treat them more like “real” appointments. As for potential employees, the use of Skype might hint that a company is up-to-date and open to “telecommuting and working remotely.”
Some red-blooded advice from Ere.net on what makes good recruiters tick: “Recruiters are big-game hunters, and having the mindset to hunt and be relentless until the hunt is done is a priceless skill set.”
Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper are the authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How To Use PR Techniques To Get Noticed, Get Hired & Get Rewarded At Work. It’s targeted at job-hunters, entrepreneurs, and any worker who wants to stand out and get noticed in the right way.
Most people struggle with how to promote themselves without coming across as boastful or aggressive. Representing your own business or product is tough enough, but there is an additional set of challenges when you’re trying to build your personal brand within the confines of a bigger company. How do you put yourself out there without upstaging your boss or looking like you’re trying to land a better job elsewhere? Here are some tips for how to navigate being your own best publicist in the workplace without alienating those around you:
Position yourself as an expert…for the company. If you’re interested in leveraging your expertise to do media interviews and speaking engagements, talk to your supervisor and suggest that you take some things off his or her plate and serve as an alternate spokesperson on certain topics. It might be that your boss gets a ton of such requests, and he or she will be happy to have the help. At the same time, you’ll be building up your reputation as a go-to expert.
Volunteer to train others. A couple of years ago, Jessica’s staff, who handles public relations at Hearst Magazines, realized that social media had become an integral part of communications and decided to develop a presentation about the dos and don’ts of social networking to share with others at the company. They presented it to all the top executives at Hearst and the entire digital team. Though social media wasn’t their direct responsibility (the company already had a vice-president of social media), they were able to put themselves forward as a resource on the subject and raise their visibility across departments. Read More →
Kidneys and Eyes, the moving blog run by a mom and marketing executive who happens to be named Julia Roberts, was started to help keep friends and family up to date on her two kids, who were three and five years old at the time. This wasn’t just a place to post the occasional snapshot: both her children had been diagnosed with a rare form of polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition for which there is currently no cure or treatment. Read More →
Steve Jobs “did what a CEO should: Hired and inspired great people; managed for the long term, not the quarter of the short-term stock price; made big bets and took big risks.” — Walter Mossberg
The Metropolitan Museum recently emerged from an extensive redesign of its website, with new itineraries and lots more coverage of its holdings.
Purdue University has dropped out of the running for opening an applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island. This project, estimated at costing at least a billion dollars, is one that the Bloomberg administration is supporting through a promise of up to $100 million in infrastructure funding from the city — Purdue said it wasn’t enough, given the likely total cost. Roughly 26 other schools are still interested in the proposal, including Cornell, Stanford, NYU, and Columbia. [WSJ]
I was at the Business Insider Silicon Alley 100 event last night when news of Steve Jobs’s death hushed the room. People began to whip out their Macs and iPhones and stared at the news in disbelief while the glow of the very devices that Steve Jobs created washed over them. After the initial shock, the conversation quickly turned to the impact he made on the world and on individual lives.
Right now, with all the economic despair in the air, the European debt crisis gyrating daily, and Wall Street being occupied by the unemployed, it’s natural to feel paralyzed and out of control. And it’s easy to look at the loss of a leader like Steve Jobs and think that this really is the end of days for innovation in America. What’s next? Read More →
Last year, New York City’s tech employment finally outstripped its previous record in 2000, during the first tech boom: there were 47,300 people employed in technology in 2010, as opposed to 45,000 a decade before.
Recruiters have done a 180 from the doldrums they were in just a year or two ago: some of them can now be seen going after software developers and other techies with a devotion that borders on the stalkerish.
Now that you’re a big, important manager, you’ll probably be called on to interview job candidates. Despite what the experts in Human Resources and Legal say (cough — who cares — cough), the whole issue of what constitutes legal and illegal lines of questioning is blown waayyy out of proportion. Some people are just too uptight.
Nonetheless, here are a few things you might want to say to reassure job candidates that you’re “in sync” with HR and Legal on those touchy topics:
I just want to let you know that we wouldn’t mind hiring a really old person such as yourself. Your generation has done so much for our country, particularly in World War I. The fact that you even showed up today is pretty amazing, when you think about it. I mean, your kids are probably on Social Security by now, right? Ha-ha. No, but seriously — I know you probably didn’t even get that joke, and that’s okay, because I know you’re a little slow mentally. I just want you to know that we’re willing to sacrifice productivity a bit by hiring you. Can I call you Grandpa?
We’ve built The Hired Guns to help the digital creative class expand their potential far beyond the 9-to-5, bringing their expertise to companies in unexpected and exciting ways and guiding their careers through transitions from freelance gigs to fulltime jobs and back again.
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