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Career-Life Times, Issue #9 -- Creating Your Own Luck
September 28, 2004
Welcome to the latest issue of CAREER-LIFE TIMES! I hope you find this little publication to be informative, useful and entertaining!
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* Creating Your Own Luck
Losing my job in the last recession of the last century, I discovered firsthand the power of creating your own luck. A week later, I decided to locate an interim position while I looked for a "real one.
Accepting a temporary position at minimum wage in an industry I knew little about, I decided the way to enjoy the position was to learn everything I could and contribute all that I could. I poured over manuals in my down time, developed processes to expedite the work, trained new employees, volunteered for additional assignments, and did anything that needed to be done. Four weeks into a ten-week job, I was unexpectedly offered my first management position.
If I had listened to my friends cautioning me that taking a minimum-wage position was career suicide; if I had been concerned about accepting a job "beneath my education or experience level; or if I had only done what was expected, I would have missed an opportunity that led to five promotions in the next seven years.
It has been my experience over the years, while climbing the corporate ladder to Vice President of a multi-billion dollar company, that opportunity is everywhere and anywhere. Often, its in unexpected places for those who differentiate themselves in the workplace. People who do what is expected of them, do it very well "and then some, have opportunities arise that others never do. And people who set their ego aside, contributing everything they can to the task at hand, often create their own luck. Thats because initiative is a powerful commodity in the workplace.
People offering to do extra work only if they get paid for it, or take on extra responsibility only if their salary is increased first, have it backwards in my book. My advice: do the work, do it well, and then do it even better. Higher pay, greater responsibilities and increased opportunities follow individuals who are contributors. Anytime I looked to hire people, offer permanent positions to temporary employees or interns, start up new departments or businesses, or promote individuals, I looked for people doing their job well ..."and then some.
[Nan Russell has spent over 20 years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and Line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at www.winningatworking.com. Contact Nan at email@example.com.]
One of my clients, former job seeker Aimee Grosso, recently celebrated an amazing success. She got a fantastic new job and a starting salary that's $15,000 more than she requested!
What were Aimee's secrets to success? "Patience and prepare, prepare, prepare!"
Aimee's first step was being selected for the initial interview back in July. The final job offer came in mid-September after three intense interviews.
"It was a long process because they wanted to make sure they had the absolute right fit," she said. "In retrospect, I'm glad they went to such lengths and decided they wanted me to match perfectly. The targeted interview aspect was difficult and the waiting in between interviews was very hard to handle. But I decided it was best not to do follow-up phone calls more than once, as it portrayed patience."
In addition to patience, outstanding preparation was Aimee's ace in the hole. "I created portfolios of previous work in Word, Excel and Powerpoint, as well as presentional booklets for the interviewers that they could look over after my interview. In the presentational booklets I listed an overview of my accomplishments, educational background, and revelent experience and included my resume and references -- all in a binder with sheet protectors. I think that made me stand out above all other candidates. I did this for all three interviews, changing things around each time."
On top of all that, Aimee took an important extra step. "I also used their logo in my presentation booklets. This was an expense to me (both financially and of my time), but I hoped it would project my strong desire to work for their organization."
And, of course, she anticipated questions and was prepared with answers for each interview.
Aimee's advice for other job seekers is to be exceptionally well prepared. "This is what everyone hears, but it's so true! You must do everything you can to stand out among the very best! Show them you care, you want the job!"
The euphoria of getting a new job can sometimes be overcome by apprehension about what comes next. After all, you're "the new kid on the block," and there's much to learn--about your new job duties and much more. But here are some things you can do to make the process go smoother.
1. Dress for success. You'll want to look professional. Dress on the conservative side for the first week. Once you've got a good idea of what's appropriate and what isn't, you can adjust your style.
2. Be on time. You never want to start your new job by being late, so make sure you allow plenty of time for your commute. Plan the most direct route, but be aware of alternates in case of an accident or other traffic snarls.
3. Get to know people. Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet, whether it's the receptionist or the general manager. Introduce yourself, smile and make eye contact. Make a positive first impression. Ask about your coworkers' interests.
4. Ask questions. From "Where's the bathroom?" to "Which tool do I use for this task?" It's OK to ask for help! Your coworkers will feel good about doing whatever they can to assist you. Let them. It's always better to have to ask the right way to do something than to try to figure it out on your own, mess up, and have to do it all over again.
5. Remember your place. You may feel "qualified" to tell your new coworkers that there's a better way to do something, but be patient. Every workplace has its own way of doing things. Never say "That's not how we did it at my old company!" (You're coworkers may invite you to return to your old company!) Be patient and become an accepted member of the team before you make suggestions for improvements.
6. Be careful about office politics. Pay attention to the grapevine, but don't contribute to it. Do not accept at face value what one employee says about another; form your own opinions based on your own interactions and judgment. Never complain about anyone at your old job or your new one. Figure out who has the real authority to give you work to do, and who is trying to take advantage of your newness.
Above all, keep a positive attitude, do your work to the best of your ability, and keep an open mind. Before you know it, you'll be climbing the career ladder and giving advice to newcomers!
Many workers have lost their jobs due to the popular business trend of "outsourcing" and sending jobs overseas. It's a trend that isn't likely to go away. If you're considering a new or different career choice, you might want to consider ones that are "sticky" and unlikely to be outsourced.
According to Forbes.com, here are ten of the
A new survey by the Department of Labor verifies something us gals have known forever: the average working woman spends about twice as much time as the average working man on household chores and taking care of the kids.
But men spend more time than women at their jobs. (To get away from chores and kids?)
These "startling" revelations are based
on a survey of 21,000 people that asked
each person to record how he or she spent
a typical 24-hour period. Other findings
The average adult devoted 20 minutes of leisure time per day to exercise and another 20 minutes to "relaxing and thinking."
The average working woman spends 1.5 hours a day caring for family members; the average working man, about 55 minutes.
The average working woman spends 1.4 hours a day on household chores; men spend 0.7 hour.
66% of all women said they prepared meals and did housework on an average day; 19% of men said they did housework, and 34% helped with meals or cleanup.
Are you one of the gazillions of people who enjoy earning a few extra bucks by selling items on eBay (or other online auction sites)? Would you like to turn this fun activity into a profitable online business?
The people who are making the most money on eBay are selling large numbers of items they've found through wholesale suppliers. They buy low and sell high. And now you can do the exact same thing!
My friend Andre and his business partner Randy have created something that will show anyone how to profit from wholesales in a very big way. It's called "The Trader's Multi-Media Wholesale Guide." It includes an 80-minute video that provides step-by-step instructions on how to get started in this lucrative business.
Not only will you discover how to master the wholesale process like a pro, but you'll ALSO discover 4 places to locate tons of hungry wholesale suppliers ready to forge a lasting and mutually-profitable relationship with YOU.
For more information, click here: Wholesale Guide
One more thing... Andre tells me he and Richard have reserved 250 copies of their Multi-Media Guide at a special low price. So don't wait; check it out now by clicking on the above link.
Federal Grant Money. Did you know that 15 million people get grant money for job training every year? A grant is not a loan; you don't have to pay it back. Two million entrepreneurs get money to start or expand a business every year. Five million people get money to invest in real estate. In total, about one trillion (with a t!) dollars are given away every year to over 35 million people from all walks of life (even the rich)!
Find out how you can get some of this money. There are several online resources, but one of the best is FederalGrantSource.com. Click here for more information: FederalGrantSource.com
where I can make a meaningful
contribution with my skills,
knowledge, and talent.
Just that simple difference
in attitude helps immensely
(even when weeks can go by without calls)."
Tell me how much you get done."
My first job was working in an orange juice
factory, but I got canned... couldn't
I'd fire Trump! Are you watching the new season of "The Apprentice"? Well, you should be, because it offers many lessons you can learn and apply to your own career -- whether you're an executive or a janitor. Everyone who works interacts with other people. This programs shows you the best -- and worst -- ways to do this. It is truly educational (and it's even entertaining!).
On the second episode, one person made a decision that I think was dead wrong. No, I'm not talking about the poor guy who heard "You're fired." I'm talking about the guy who said that.
Trump fired Bradford, even though he had just told him "You're the best person in the room." Bradford had done a fantastic job with the weekly team challenge. Why was he fired? Because, according to Trump, Bradford made "a stupid mistake." During the previous week's challenge, Bradford had won immunity from being fired at this session. But in an impulsive move to show solidarity with his teammates, Bradford gave up his immunity. He knew he'd done great work, so he didn't think there was any real risk in this action. After all, the person who gets fired is supposed to be the one who did the worst job, right?
Trump, however, thought Bradford's act was just "stupid" -- so stupid that he ignored the advice of his two boardroom cohorts, George and Carolyn, ignored the incompetence of the team leader and the disruptive actions of a member disliked by all -- and instead of firing one of them, fired "the best person in the room."
If Bradford had been the CEO of a company, with employees and stockholders depending on him when he'd voluntarily put himself at risk, then yes, I would agree with Trump that this would've been a very stupid move. That was Trump's reasoning. But it was wrong to apply that theoretical situation to the reality of what happened. In this instance, Bradford was just a worker-bee with no one depending on him for their livelihood. His strategy had been to build a sense of trust and teamwork. I personally think those are very worthy goals, and Trump was an idiot to fire him for what he did.
Want a shortcut to acing your next interview and
getting a great new job? Check this out:
Job Interview Success System
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