Okay, I’m an author and I love books, but I was thinking it would be fun to share thoughts on a book that has made a difference to us, whether now or in the past. It could be related to stopping burnout, or tips on how to find your next job. Or, it could be fiction–a story that grabbed you and stayed with you. So here’s mine:
“Singletasking: Get More Done One Thing at a Time” by Devora Zack. First of all, it’s a riot. Here’s how it starts:
To my dearest reader:
You are hereby released from the temptation to overachieve. Your friend, Devora Zack
P.S. You’re welcome.
That gives you a sense of her tone, but her witty and light hearted approach is backed up by impressive research. She quotes major business leaders as well as neuroscientists–all to support the radical idea that we can only do one cognitive skill at time. (Yes, you can fold laundry and talk on the phone at the same time since the folding is not a cognitive skill.)
So if you want to do yourself a huge favor, read this book. Keep it on the front passenger seat of your car. Reread a paragraph before rushing into work. It could just change your life, and will help you stop burnout and have the best year ever.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Took a wonderful hike along the beach at Watch Hill (RI) Saturday, and although it was warm, it was clearly the end of summer. A few brave swimmers were in the water, but my husband and I kept our shoes on and admired it from the safety of the beach. After a long, hot summer, it felt like a gift. Because it’s well past Labor Day, dogs were allowed on the beach and it was fun to watch them playing in the water and chasing each other.
This got me thinking about change and how, although I resist it, it almost always opens a door. There is a phase with change that always causes me trouble, and that’s when it’s clear the old is going away or not working, and the new hasn’t shown up yet. As I used to tell my clients when I worked as a career coach, knowing what you don’t want is a really good beginning. That can be a good time to stop, observe, not feel pressured to jump into the next thing. (Advice I’m very good at giving to others, and not so good at following myself.) Why is that so difficult? Is it because we define ourselves by our work?
For me, having a project, whether it’s writing a book or preparing to speak about stopping burnout, gives me purpose, direction, and focus. I feel useful. I’m excited. But the in between times, the not knowing, makes me anxious and sometimes even crabby. And I think this is because I have to let go and trust. I have accept that a transition is exactly that–it’s leaving one thing for another. And to be ready for the new thing, the next phase, requires pulling back, waiting, listening. To use a gardening analogy, it’s preparing the soil.
The waves were crashing, the sunlight sparkling off the water and my husband and I decided it was the perfect moment for a “selfie.” We wanted the ocean in the background, so we stood just beyond where the waves were breaking and snapped a few shots. But before we were finished, a big wave swept in and filled out shoes with sand and water. We laughed and made our soggy way back to the parking lot
. Okay, I get it. The summer is over.
I had the great pleasure of speaking on how to ace your interviews last week in West Hartford at the Schmoozer’s Networking Group. We covered many aspects of this unpredictable process, from how to prepare, to making sure your body language reinforces your message. But one thing, that I learned from a client of mine a few years back, we didn’t have time to cover. And that is to ask for the job.
In Chapter 28 of my interview book, “Closing the Deal”, I tell Elliott’s story. Here’s a shortened version. Elliott writes: “At the end of the interview, I generally close by first stating that I am extremely interested in the position and sometimes bluntly stating that I want the position….When the hiring manager tells me that he or she has: (a) just stated the process, (b) is looking at a number of other candidates…I directly (with a big smile on my face) ask the hiring manager what it would take to persuade him or her right now that I am the right candidate.”
Has your blood pressure just spiked? This is not easy. But Elliott learned that it was an effective way from him to demonstrate confidence and interest in the job, and it worked. He went from being the “almost candidate” to getting an offer. So in your own words and your own style, see if you can find a way to tell the person interviewing you, “I’d really like this job.” And of course, in your previous answers you’ve provided proof that you can do the job, and your physical energy shows you’re excited about it, so this is really just the icing on the cake. Give it a try. What do you have to lose?
Being responsible is good, right? We like people who take care of things, do what they say they’re going to do, and so on. We get points for not letting things slip through the cracks. But it’s interesting, in speaking to many people (individuals and audiences) about burnout, that this is a touchy subject. It’s a bit uncomfortable to look at ourselves and ask, “Am I being overly responsible here? Am I owning a problem that really isn’t mine?”
In my role as a career coach, I realized a similar phenomena with loyalty. So many of my clients were incredibly loyal to the companies they worked for, and then were hurt when they were let go. They’d ask me why the loyalty didn’t work both ways–why they were dispensable? And I often told them that there’s smart loyalty–you make a commitment but also take care of yourself–and dumb loyalty–a blind allegiance. So I think the same can be said for responsibility, that it’s a matter of balance, of degree, and that we can liberate ourselves and help prevent burnout by not being overly responsible. (In my case, this means understanding that there are many things I can’t control–including the weather!)
Another way to look at this is that our strengths often get us into more trouble than our weaknesses. That’s fun to think about! Share your thoughts and together we’ll get smarter.
Anybody feel this way? If your job search has gone on for a bit, you may be wondering if anyone will ever hire you. In my Boomers Back to Work! Class we talk about obstacles, and there are so many it’s hard to list them, but common ones include: age, salary, career change, not being up-to-date with technology, and worst of all, wrong strategy. By that I mean not conducting a smart search. So here are some quick tips to help you help Santa get that job in the pipeline (and if you’re not in transition, these are good to know anyway.)
- Resumes don’t get jobs. They’re an important tool but are frequently overused. Have a good one and provide it when it’s asked for.
- Create a list of companies where you’d like to work. Don’t get hung up on openings–just list 10-20 places where you think you’d enjoy working. Use this list as a key networking tool and ask your contacts if they’d take a look at it.
- Have a networking spreadsheet or keep your contact list in a notebook. Follow up is often where the good stuff happens, so be careful not to let possibilities slip through the cracks.
- Ask for advice. It’s magic as we all love to give advice. This is much more productive than asking for a job.
- Be creative. Talk to your local reference librarian, reach out to some stretch contacts (maybe the author of a book you like), shadow someone in a job that you don’t know much about.
The crazy thing about looking for work is that it’s unpredictable. A strong lead fizzles out, while a so-so interview turns into an offer. Keep light on your feet, connect with others, search smart and my bet is you’ll be working in the new year.
P.S. For more ideas, see my book, “Eliminated! Now What?”
Got the summer blues when it comes to looking for work? Wish you were on vacation, not figuring out how to get to the decision makers who can hire you? If yes, you’ve got lots of company. Job search is rarely anyone’s favorite activity, but instead of letting the summer get you down, why not take advantage of it?
First of all, as you reach out to people in your network, they tend to be a bit less busy, so have time to help you. Secondly, smart companies are gearing up for the fall. Third, there are lots of family and community activities in the summer so it’s easy to get together with others. Here are a few tips to help you:
- Plan an adventure that doesn’t cost much. Maybe it’s a trip to a park or national forest, or to a local beach. Give yourself time to enjoy what summer has to offer.
- Get off your computer and get outside. Take a walk, ride your bike, swim–and if possible do it with a friend. This gets you exercising and gives you much needed social time.
- Make a list of ten places where you’d love to work. See if you know anyone at any of these organizations–through LinkedIn, your personal network, friends, neighbors, family. That contact should be able to help you determine the best way to approach the hiring manager.
- Take classes at your local Department of Labor/Workforce Alliance office. Where I live in Connecticut, there are many wonderful, free classes that help job seekers succeed.
Let me know what works for you, and be a smart job seeker and keep at it during the summer. You’ll get there!
Having worked as a career coach for more than twenty years, I started to dread warm weather because many of my clients jumped to the conclusion that it would be impossible to find a job over the summer. Let’s set the record straight–it’s not true! Jobs are found throughout the year and in fact, summer is one of the best times to network.
Why? It’s easier to meet people as we’re outside more than during the winter. There are family and neighborhood get togethers, and while some hiring managers may be on vacation during the summer, the job market is not dead. In fact, smart companies often hire over the summer so that they’re in good shape for the fall.
Summer is also good for most job seekers as it’s such a wonderful time of the year. So get out there, enjoy the park, the beach, the mountains and make sure you’re proactively letting your network know what you’re doing and where you’d like to work.
For more help on this, check out my new program with Avanoo, called “Turn Off Your Computer and Get a Job!” You can watch the first three segments for free on this link: https://www.avanoo.com/first3/527
It was such fun presenting at the Connecticut Library Conference in Groton yesterday. It was a pleasure to help those who do so much for our communities. I mentioned in one of my talks that I’ve just launched a creative, new program with an organization called Avanoo. They’ve researched the way we learn best and have come up with month-long programs delivered online in short, 2-3 minute segments. My program with them is called “Turn Off Your Computer and Get a Job!” Please take a look at the first three segments below and you’ll see how meditative they are with time lapse photography and music.
If your library would be interested in this program for your job seekers, please let me know. I can get the price reduced in half for any library, and Avanoo will take care of all the administrative details: signing users up, giving them passwords, as well as tracking both usage and effectiveness. They then will share that data with you. Hope the rest of the conference was as wonderful as yesterday. Jean
So nice to meet a large group of job seekers last night at the Simsbury Library. We had a lively discussion about why you need to “turn off your computer to get a job.” Lots of good questions and feedback. So here are a few follow-up questions:
- You made a pie chart to highlight where you’re putting your search efforts. Made any changes?
- What’s the best thing you learned from this talk?
- Can you create a list of companies where you’d like to work and share that with your network?
Congrats to the two winners who went home with a free copy of my books. I wish you all the best with your job search efforts. Jean