Triple Play

Networking. Exercise. A smart update for your resume. Why wait? Sign up for a fundraising walk this spring.

Choose a cause that is near and dear to your heart– and perhaps significant in your industry. Financial sector? Think CIBC Run for the Cure on Sept 30, 2012.

Healthcare? Try Walk for Life Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada. For Prevention, Education & Cardiac Rehabilitation 3 km & 5Kkm walk, 5 km run & 10 km cycle, May 27, 2012.

You can also combine causes – international + Non-profit = Running for Wells on May 26th in Burlington . A 5k and 10k run as well as a 3k Walk with Water. All proceeds go to HOPE International Development Agency to bring clean water to those who need it.

You can touch base with your professional community by contacting key members of your network for pledges – combined, of course, with a personal check in on how things are going for them at the moment. Perhaps you’d like to go a step further and create a walking group from your colleagues and contacts. You can also volunteer to help plan the event or participate on run day as an organizer.

Update your online presence with news of the run and share positive messages about the results you achieved. Then add the event to your resume under ‘Volunteer Contributions’. Employers and potential employers often support community causes as part of their social responsibility platform. When they see you are like-minded it helps to strengthen the values and mission bond between you.

And while you are at it, why not expand on the triple play by taking on a couple of walks in the spring. The results could be exponential.

What have you done for me lately?

We all need a little TLC now and then – some would say we thrive on it – and your career is no different. Maybe it’s become a little neglected as you’ve prioritized your job, your job search or even your personal life.

When you’ve been in one role or one company for a while it’s easy to fall behind on what’s happening in your industry. We lose sight of the bigger trends while we chase the day-to-day details of simply getting things done – and some days that means just getting the priorities to march along to the deadlines.

One of the best ways to stay ahead is to read – and I’ll go out on a limb here by saying ‘Read books’. Yes, the online world is incredibly rich in information and available instantly. That’s why it’s the default source.

My suggestion is that you be different. Enhance your online frame of reference with some deeper reading materials. By all means read with technology – your e-reader, iPhone and iPad can be invaluable for two reasons. First they’re fun and portable ways to get books into your life. Second, they’ll help you find the time to do it. (Just divert the time you’re already spending on them into a little sustained non-fiction reading). Want books free? Use the library system to download them. Want to keep them? Purchase online. The point is to get started.

What should you read? Anything related to your work and written by an expert that grabs your attention and builds your knowledge base. Try books on leadership, global trends, technology, management, finance, marketing, teamwork, time management, communication, corporate responsibility, fundraising…the list goes on. Here’s one site that will show you just how much selection there is

Also on the plus side, in your next interview when they ask you “What top 5 books have influenced your thinking and how?” you’ll know the answer.

(I’ll share some of my favourite reads in upcoming blogs – feel free to send your reccos along too.)

Ask Yourself This

When it’s time to step back and take a hard look at the job you have there are a few questions that come in handy.

Some are obvious. Is this a healthy workplace? Do I enjoy the people I work with? Am I being paid what I’m worth?

But here’s the main one – Would I interview today for the job I have now?

Let’s put it more accurately – If your current job was posted now would you be first in line to apply for it – or would you turn and run to make a clean getaway?

Sometimes the role we started with has changed so much that it’s almost unrecognizable. What looked appealing in the original job description, lots of people contact, some project work and a chance to develop new programs, has evolved over time into something else – more sales-focus, more analysis, more administration. You’ve adapted – even with a smile at times. You know business needs do change. So you’ve risen to the challenge and tackled the new demands. It’s professional growth after all, and that’s true to a point.

What’s also true is that the skills you are building now are the ones you will be selling to land your next job. So if they are not in line with what you truly want to do – or more importantly – who you want to become, it may be a time to reconsider the direction you are heading in.

We know careers are built one job at a time – make sure this job is still right for you.

While We’re Talking

Sometimes a client comes back from an interview saying “It wasn’t really like an interview at all. We just talked. I was surprised how relaxed it was.” Has that happened to you? You’re ready to pull out your polished answers to the most common interview questions and they are never asked. You go in geared up for the tough questions and they never happen.

What does happen is more of a peer-to-peer discussion that ranges over a variety of topics, none perhaps in much depth. “What did you like about your last couple of jobs? What are you like on the job?” Or general comments from the interviewer – “Quite an industry we’re in. – Lots of interesting clients in this business.” Sometimes the questions verge on the personal “I’m a cottage person myself, how to you spend your free time?” The conversation tends to take on a friendly ‘it’s just us’ tone and before you know it the meeting wraps up with a “Great to meetcha” and you’re out the door.

It feels like they threw away the rule book because they liked you and just wanted to get to know you better. It can seem like the resume did the trick selling your qualifications, so this meeting must have been all about your fit with the team, right?

Conversational interviewing is an off road adventure in keeping that informal, friendly tone going to build camaraderie – and – being alert enough to weave in relevant facts, figures, hard skills and examples to advance your candidacy. This is not a softer style of interviewing where you can leave it up to the interviewer to gather the key information. It’s an ‘over to you’ approach where you need to pick up the ball and run with it.

As casual as this style may seem, you are still in competition for the job. Know your marketing points before the interview and be sure you’ve covered them before you leave – using that same easy conversational style as your interviewer. Rapport and relevancy, that’s the approach to take in a conversational interview.