Archive for September, 2011

Quality before Quantity – keeping your team manageable

September 30, 2011

Leander Kahney reports that Steve Jobs kept the initial Macintosh team at 100 people.  If someone was added, someone had to leave.  What a concept!  The recent article in Newsweek, identifying work traits of Steve Jobs, has given me food for thought.  Does this limited-number team have anything to offer the job seeker?

I”m inclined to say no.  Can a network be too big?  Can you have too many friends?

No.  And yes.

How many emails can you answer in a day and have the correspondence meaningful?  I am not talking about mass mailings here.

I remember asking a friend about someone on her connections list on LinkedIn, and she said that she couldn’t quite remember who that person was.  Maybe someone recommended by someone else.

Okay, that’s too many connections for me.

Jobhunters, let’s try to strike a balance between two confidantes and two hundred.  If you can speak honestly with someone, give some great information, and ask for help, that’s great.  It’s even better if you can thank that person by reciprocating:  sending new business, forwarding an interesting article, something personally appropriate.

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The Seventh Commandment: Keep your Secrets

September 27, 2011

I’m referring to The Ten Commandments of Steve, a fascinating portrayal of the principles of Steve Jobs, recently retired CEO of Apple.  Author Leander Kahney has put Jobs’ various practices under a microscope for us to see, and I’m wondering if the same wisdom might apply to job seekers.

Principle #7, Keep your secrets, was a practice that allowed product development in secret.  This helped create excitement over that latest desktop, smartphone, or tablet.

Would it work for you?  Would it be effective to talk to one reference about your work with him and another reference about how you co-authored that manual?  Well, maybe.  Maybe everyone doesn’t need to know everything.

I know someone who is changing  jobs, and he found an opening that sounded appropriate.  In his excitement, he confided this to a colleague.  Imagine his amazement (polite word) when a few days later, that person mentioned casually that she, too, had applied.  Oops!  Jobs might have smiled at the naivete that let one to share the news of an opening.

This is a tough principle.  And I’m not sure it represents universal wisdom.  When I’m looking for a lead in a new direction, I want my potential mentors to know as much as possible about me.  Is that too much?

Jobs might think so.

What do you think?  Does secrecy pay in a job search?

The Sixth Commandment: simplify

September 22, 2011

Not those commandments from Mt. Sinai.  Author Leander Kahney identified Ten Commandments of Steve Jobs, the sixty of which is Simplify.

The result is that the artistic aspect of Apple products is breathtaking in its original, simple presentation.  Can the same be said of your job search approach?

What is a simple resume?

I think it’s one that reads well, that is unpretentious, that tells a story.  It makes the reader want to meet you.

What is a simple interview appearance?

One that is memorable by being a supportive player in your appearance.  Not the earrings that reach your shoulder, or your fingernails that defy the concept of work.  Not the cologne or aftershave that arrives before you do and that lingers in the room when you are gone.  Not the watch that beeps or the cellphone that rings.

What is simple gratitude?

Gratitude is your thank-you letter that is genuine, straightforward, and timely.  Gratitude is that handshake and warm statement at the conclusion of the interview that conveys thanks for the time and attention.

What is simple good luck?  

Luck is what happens to people who work to create it.  If you don’t believe me, read John Krumbholtz’s book Luck is No Accident.  

Learn something!

September 16, 2011

Continuing our comparison of Steve Jobs’ elements of success to job search strategies, I again draw on the imaginative article by Leander Kahney in the current issue of Newsweek.  The fifth commandment is this:  Never stop studying.  

Jobs must have been a bit of a detail freak.  His quest for perfection included the weight of paper and the fonts used on it.  Etc.

What does the job seeker do with this insight?

  • How about studying the transportation options that will get you to your interview (earthquake and hurricane notwithstanding)?
  • How about the care and feeding of your references?  You cannot do enough for them, notably in saying thank you and in reminding them of the projects you did together.
  • The organization’s website – how much time have you spend perusing it?  Read it again.  Identify a question or two you could ask from its content.
One result of continual learning is that you can maintain your enthusiasm.  Otherwise, without new information and ideas, you’ll appear as tired as yesterday’s mindset.  Thank you, Steve Jobs, for leading the way in innovative thinking.  Job changers will do well to follow.

Don’t only hear the obvious!

September 11, 2011

Shun focus groups.  This is a trait ascribed to Steve Jobs, recently departing CEO of Apple.  Leander Kahney writes in Newsweek that Jobs would take a new product prototype home and use it for months before continuing production.  This must have heavily weighted his decision.

Talk about trust in yourself!  With vast resources at stake, would you trust your own reaction to a new product before giving the go-ahead to production?

A confident person would.

So what about the job search?

The tests you’ve taken say something.  Feedback from counselors says something.  Articles about occupational outlook say something.  So that should add up to wisdom, right?  Then there’s that pesky matter of your own heart.  A whiny, insistent little voice keeps saying, “but I want…..”

As one of those career counselors who gives feedback on assessments, I want you to listen to conventional wisdom.  I want you to explore the Bureau of Labor Statistics for job outlooks.  But most of all, I want you to listen to yourself.

Ruthless when Necessary

September 8, 2011

Leander Kahney writes that Steve Jobs is proud of the products he dumped as well as the successes of Apple.  I think that is an amazing gift to the rest of us.  What do you do with failure?

In that job interview, are you prepared to talk about what when wrong and why?  Can you describe what you learned?

We all possess the trait of risk-taking to some degree.  Do you use it?  Could you use it more to be more successful in looking for satisfying work?

According to The 10 Commandments of Steve, Jobs has it sufficiently to inspire the rest of us.  How does risk-taking pay off for you?

If you find yourself stymied by these questions, you might consider running some ideas past a career counselor or coach.  We love to help you restate your experiences in a way that shows new maturity.

According to Jobs: Tap the Experts

September 5, 2011

In Newsweek’s The Ten Commandments of Steve, Leander Kahney has reminded us that Jobs hired the best designers and marketers.  It worked for Apple.  Can it work for you?

Are you seeking help from the best?  Or your brother-in-law?  (nothing personal, sir)

Do you ask advice from an expert?  Or did someone tell you you’re just not going to make a living in your field anyway?

Who says your resume is great?  Did you visit the career center of the local community college or your state’s employment services or a certified career counselor, coach or resume writer? These are all great resources.

Who helped you pick out your interview outfit?  I hope it was the top sales person in the best store in town.

Jobhunters, think about your team of advisors.  I hope you can identify the expertise of each of them, and why they deserve to be listened to.

It worked for Jobs.  Think about it.