Archive for September, 2008

Job search in the new millenium

Gillian Kelly, on her “Dare to be you – personal branding” website has posted a really interesting piece on job search in the new millenium. 

Those job seekers who have been out of the job search market for a few years will gain a lot from her advice about why paper resumes are just one of the many tools in the job seekers toolkit these days.  For me, her most important point is the swelling awareness for candidates to have strong personal marketing and to be able to specify, quantify, document and articulate their employment value. Can you?

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Today’s career challenges

Not long ago, there was a predictable workplace where you could depend on continuous employment and job security. With minimal planning, your career and life ‘happened to you’.

Consequently, we’re unprepared for today’s career challenges.

In a workplace where change and competition raise varying levels of uncertainty, even the most confident individuals wonder “where do I fit?” and “what’s my future?” And the answers are not quickly forthcoming.

It is pleasing, then, to know that some people view this change as positive and rewarding. Like Pollyanna, we’ve put on our smiley faces and adopted euphemisms for the changes around us. We call the new career landscape a ‘mosaic’, people are expected to become ‘skilled at managing a portfolio of careers’, formulating ‘proposals for career moves’ and then ‘smoothly transitioning between jobs’. Now transition sounds so easy, so nice. One has visions of a graceful glide from one position to another – degree of difficulty 4.5.

It is quite unlike the reality of the working world.  What often happens is that people are casualised, destabilised and marginalised. Workers find out about their redundancy on the late night news or they are the ones who have sat at their same desk for four years and worked for three different companies only to find out that the urge to merge is closely followed by the urge to purge.

One woman I know likes to think of her career in terms of Lego. She says she’s very good at building a space stations that transition to ambulances.  I must say my attempts to build with Lego as a child ended up with my space station looking more like the shuttle disaster, where all the King’s horses and all the King’s men were unable to put it together again.

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HR secrets of Fortune 20 companies

In the most recent issue, Workforce Magazine provided some stats on the top HR leaders among Fortune’s 20 Most Admired Companies.  Jason Corsello (who writes Human Capitalist blog) analysed those statistics and uncovered some interesting facts:

  • Companies also appearing on the Best Companies to Work: 8 (40%)
  • Average HR leaders’ tenure at their company: 15.2 years
  • Years in top HR leadership position: 3.1 years (this is somewhat misleading as 50% of the leaders have been in their position less than 2 years)
  • Demographics: Male 11 (55%), Female 8 (40%), Undisclosed 1 (5%)
  • Average age of top HR leader: 48.8
  • Youngest HR Leader: 35 (Laszlo Bock – Google, 35)
  • Average age (male): 50.6 (52.2 without Laszlo Bock)
  • Average age (female): 46
  • Previous backgrounds: sales (Nordstrom, Goldman Sachs), legal (Target, UPS), product management (Microsoft, BMW)
  • Facebook users: 2 (both female)

Also, 66 per cent of the companies included use VP/SVP of Human Resources as their title of choice.  Interestingly, Google and Southwest are more progressive and use “people” instead of HR (goes back to yesterday’s post about “talent” v “HR”.

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Your boss is younger than you. So what?

With three generations of employees all working together, bridging the generation gap is something most of us deal with on a day-to-day basis.  But what happens when one of the younger employees becomes the boss of an older employee?

According to a study by US staffing company Randstad, one-fifth of employed adults in the States are older than their bosses. And that number keeps increasing as more and more older people stay in the workforce even after they hit retirement age.  But only about half of employees say they relate well to older workers. And more than three-quarters of employees say that younger workers don’t seek advice from their older, more experienced co-workers.

The Trump Blog (yes that’s right, Donald Trump has a blog) says that this is just bad business.  “Just like younger workers can bring fresh ideas and new techniques, older workers bring incredible insight and knowledge,” Trump says.

While it’s not uncommon to find tension in younger boss/older worker scenarios, there are several ways for both the boss and his or her employee to work well together.  Wikihow has a number of suggestions, such as:

  • For the employee: learn from your new boss. Treat your young boss like you would any other boss: with complete respect from the word go. Ask questions about new tactics or strategies and watch your boss to learn skills you don’t have.  And take stock of your own skills. Although your boss is younger, you have plenty to offer – experience, maturity and the knowledge of how things will often pan out.
  • For the new boss: learn from your employee. You have a great opportunity to learn from an experienced employee who has seen many different management styles and can provide great feedback and opinions to you.  Use the skills that your employees bring.  While you may know more about the latest and greatest technology, you may learn about networking or sales skills from your older employees.

Are you working for a younger boss, managing an older employee, or know someone who is? Let me know what you think.

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Barbie – the new millennium worker

Here’s someone who could be the perfect model for new millennium workers – Barbie.

You have to admire a woman who has expanded her career portfolio almost as much as her wardrobe!

Over the years, Barbie has undergone more than 500 professional career transitions. In what appear to be effortless moves, her official careers have included: fashion designer, flight attendant, rock star, astronaut, police officer, arctic explorer, gymnast, veterinarian, nurse, doctor, ballerina, dentist and aerobics instructor.

In fact, Barbie has starred in just about every conceivable profession including, most recently, as a new member of the Star Trek crew.

Barbie also appears to be financially independent. She owns her own sports car, Corvette, Mustang, moto rhome, speedboat, horses and houses. Let’s face it, this doll has a far more exciting life than most of us and has the work/life balance trapezium licked. She skis, surfs, rollerblades, rides horseback, plays volleyball, scuba dives, dances, ice skates, goes mountain biking and excels at gymnastics.

When Barbie is not networking with her working mates or working out, she goes to the movies, gives dinner parties, does the shopping, and even makes her own clothes, with her eponymous CD-ROM designer software.

Somehow Barbie made it all look so easy. Always meticulously well-dressed and accessorised, Dream House sparkling, solid relationship with Ken, Barbie never looks stressed from interviewing caterers, examining fifty fabric swatches, liaising with travel agents or researching landscaping techniques. And not a single annual planner, life coach or self help book in sight!

I’m with the bumper sticker: “I want to be like Barbie, that lucky bitch has everything.” 

I just hope Mattel continues to encourage Barbie to ‘transition’ her career.  How about politician Barbie with a contrite Ken and a best selling memoir?  Or Telemarketer Barbie with headset and cubicle?  The possibilities are endless – and that’s the whole point of life.

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