Smarts Are No Longer Enough

At Google, GPA’s are no longer the gold standard for hiring. Laszo Bock (Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, went on record in a New York Times interview, “GPA’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring and test scores are worthless…we found that they don’t predict anything.”

This is a hiring paradigm shift that is true in many organizations today. Soft skills are at the the top of Google’s hiring attributes which include: leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn. My coaching experience with many hiring managers across a wide variety of business, confirms these are important to most companies.

Most tech professionals face a big challenge when it comes to career success. Excelling in math, problem solving, computing and analytics are no longer enough, they must also demonstrate they have “soft skills”, team and leadership abilities and emotional intelligence. Consider this quote from Google Executive Eric Schmidt “The smartest people in the room sometimes can’t really communicate very well,” adding, “We select not just for intelligence but for the ability to communication with each other and as teams, nobody is a solo actor at Google any more.”

My coaching guidance around Google’s 5 Top Hiring Criteria:

1. Leadership. Google defines emergent leadership as the ability to step in and lead when faced with a problem, while also being able to step back and relinquish power as a team player. This is the dance of leadership–sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow. What matters is your assessment of which approach is the right solution for the team (and business) and your ability to influence, persuade and help others engage.
2. Humility. This is a big challenge for superstars. Hanging on to “ownership” and promoting ones work, idea, process and/or product is often a slippery slope —it can be tough to let go. Many tech professionals wrap their identities up with their ideas and view any debate or challenge to their work or credit as threatening. Most tech companies prefer open minds to creatively explore (with their team) the best way forward or the next “new thing.” They need smart people to do it but when their corresponding egos prove problematic to team and collaboration they can decide the smarts they are getting aren’t worth the pain. High achievers can fight too zealously when their skin is in the game (aka, “My idea, I’m the genius”) My tip: identify solutions without attachment. Granted, confidence and being able to persuade others to get on board is critical to influence. But its a fine line between communicating a point of view and allowing your ego run and bite you because others perceive you as arrogant or not a team player.
3. Collaboration. You know it already–there is no “I” in team but do you behave that way? You simply can’t succeed in business today without the ability to work effectively with peers–all kinds and styles of peers. Every 360 review I conduct validates this. Collaboration is a give and take equation—sharing information while demonstrating respect for the opinions and expertise of others. Creative exploration of best solutions to complex problems requires collaboration. If this is your challenge area, invest in my coaching to develop your skills or risk your advancement potential.
4. Adaptability. In our today’s business reality of continual and constant change, its no surprise that adaptability is at the top of the list. Hiring managers want to hire (and promote) people who are flexible –not rigid. Creatively problem solving requires intellectual flexibility. Bulldozing change won’t earn you a reputation for adaptability. During stressful times, demonstrate emotional adaptability (embracing change vs. fighting it).
5. Loving to learn. Demonstrating you are a continual learner is a HUGE career advantage. A wise university leader once told me, “Our objective is to teach our students to learn, to develop a life long love of learning.” This turns out to be smart hiring prep, Bock affirms Google wants people able to “process on the fly” to draw smart conclusions from independent information. Being curious with a passion for learning is essential to career success.

It’s no longer good enough to have technical skills or academic smarts to get hired or promoted. You need more, as it turns out, much more, to succeed. On the plus side, these 5 attributes can be developed. But I never said it would be easy – having a coach for this kind of work is the best investment you can make in your future success.

How Not to Get Fired

JOB SECURITY has become a major workplace concern when the threat of layoffs is in the air.   How do you avoid being one of the “axed”?

Before deciding who will be laid off, most managers take a number of considerations into account. Common criteria include the evaluation of an employee’s work results and value generated relative to the employee’s cost to the company. Companies in “survival” mode are put in the difficult position of having to let even highly valued employees go.

To decrease the odds that you will be one of those laid off, my coaching advice is to become “indispensible,” making sure that management is specifically aware of your unique contributions (to the degree they realize how they would suffer without you).

Some suggestions:

Be flexible and adaptive. If signs suggest layoffs are in the works and you might be one of them, communicate your willingness to be flexible (consider a pay cut, furlough, shortened work week, additional job/role assignments, etc.). There are many alternatives worthy of exploration with your boss far superior to being laid off.

Demonstrate initiative in your desire to provide value. Many companies are looking to get rid of their pretenders and “dead wood” in these difficult times. After layoffs, there are fewer workers to get things done. Your extra effort to get your work done ahead of schedule while volunteering for new assignments is a great way to be recognized versus those who will whine, complain, hide or rebel at being asked to step up. This is a great opportunity to stretch yourself and learn new career skills.

Be the one in the know. Many companies can’t afford to let go the people who have the “keys to the kingdom.” Workers who are uniquely knowledgeable about critical technology, systems and company “know-how” and maintaining key customer relationships that are critical to the company’s survival have increased job security. Being indispensable also means that you are recognized as the one who others need for help resolving day-to-day operational challenges and problems. Don’t be the one who comes to your boss only with problems. Be the one who brings the boss solutions.

Be seen. Many workers are too shy or humble for their own good. This is no time to fly under the radar or assume that others know what you do. Regular one-on-one reviews, status reports and critical project updates can be highly valuable. This may be a dangerous time to be telecommuting — remember, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Be efficient. You can’t afford to be seen as someone who doesn’t have enough work to do. If your attendance record is poor, or you are perceived as a clock puncher, expect to be among the first to go. Be seen as someone willing to do what it takes to finish important assignments or meet critical deadlines.

Be frugal. Manage your budget as if it were your own money. Identify ways to save your company money and be seen as a hero!

Be seen as both a team player and a leader. Some of the first let go will be those seen as “problem” employees or those who don’t get along well with others.

Polish up on your interpersonal skills and self development. You can still demonstrate leadership even if you aren’t in a “leadership” role. Show that you can take the lead on projects and inspire/

persuade others. Being the “chief morale officer” is an unlikely candidate for termination.

Keep your negative judgments and gossip to yourself. Most employers don’t look favorably on workers who are seen as gossips, complainers, whiners or blamers. If you wouldn’t want your boss or the chief executive officer to hear it, don’t say it. And for heaven’s sake don’t put it in an e-mail.

Learn to professionally communicate. If this is a real problem, your job may be in jeopardy and your best job security action step will be to access help and learn new behaviors.

Invest in yourself with a career coach – I am available to coach via Skype or Facetime anywhere in the world.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

 

How to Prepare for Job Interviews

The average worker over 35 will job hunt every five to eight years (those under the age of 35 every three to five years). Though most would agree that interviewing well is critical to securing a good job, a surprising number of job hunters are poorly prepared for the interviewing process — with predictable results.

Prospective employers have all heard the same claims: “I’m a self-starter, an excellent communicator, team player/leader and I work well with others.”

These general claims are no longer good enough to land a good job.

Job seekers today need to provide proof of their ability to do the job successfully.

Prospective employers know there is no greater predictor of potential future performance than past performance; they want solid examples — beyond your resume — of your past performance.

Eighty percent of companies today are using “behavioral” interviewing, which may be new to anyone who hasn’t been on a job interview recently.

Using this technique, interviewers ask potential employees open-ended questions designed to elicit specific examples of how you performed in the past.

Typically, employers identify a laundry list of specific qualities, skills and competencies that applicants must have to succeed in the open position. Examples might include displaying good judgment under stress, being a team player, demonstrating initiative and creativity or being able to resolve interpersonal conflict effectively.

The interviewer then asks questions to determine if the candidate can prove their proficiency with past work examples of the desired skills and qualities.

Job hunters who truly want to nail their interview opportunity need to anticipate these kinds of questions for the specific position they are seeking. The next step is to identify and prepare the best examples from your past to demonstrate success using these skills and competencies. Here are some examples of common behavioral-style interview questions:

  • Tell me about a workplace conflict or challenging issue with a co-worker and how you resolved it.
  • Give me a previous work example that demonstrates your initiative (or creativity).
  • Tell me a work story that sums up why we should hire you.
  • Describe the most difficult work situation you ever encountered and the process you used to resolve it.

Another interviewing trend is for prospective employers to ask candidates to imagine a difficult situation they believe the candidate will likely encounter in the new job. They pose the challenging scenario and then ask the candidate how they would respond. For example: “Imagine you have an irate customer on the phone yelling at you for an error, how would you handle it?” Some will even present scenarios and ask candidates to role play.

The “deer in the headlights” look to just about any question posed during a job interview typically won’t land you a good job. Preparation is key. Give some thought to how you will answer these kinds of questions in advance. Better yet, invest in yourself with a career coach to help you prepare.

Results and your ability to communicate your past achievements will positively impress prospective employers. Quantify your achievements when possible. Bringing samples of your work into an interview (portfolio, Web site links, strategic plan examples, etc.) can help you stand out as a doer and achiever. Many job hunters use memory discs as a “leave behind” with work samples.

Prospective employers are looking for those who can demonstrate they go the extra mile — like being fully prepared for a professional interview. Prepare well, do your research (on the company and the position) and leverage the available professional resources to help you secure what might be the most significant opportunity of your career.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I help prospective job hunters land jobs all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

New Job Dos and Don’ts

Congratulations — you got a new job! No doubt you are anxious to make a good first impression. You can bet your new co-workers and boss are anxious to see how you will fit in. Here are some tips to get you off on the right foot.

Dos.

  • Have a positive attitude. Attitude speaks volumes about who and what you are.
  • Get clarity early with the boss about your role, priorities and expectations. Ask questions, listen well and take notes. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are unclear about something, including where to go to when you get in trouble. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Request regular one-on-one meetings about how you are doing — and what you can do even better. Developing a “can learn” in addition to a “can do” reputation will help you develop a professional and positive rapport with your new boss.
  • Find a mentor — someone you respect, whose experience and opinion can help you grow in your career. Consider someone who has been there long enough to help you navigate the “political” environment. Find someone with whom you can speak freely with about workplace or career concerns (bosses don’t typically make the best mentors for this reason). Mentors can be critical relationships to your career growth. Most people are flattered and happy to help if you ask (particularly if you remind them of themselves). Remember: Having a mentor is a two-way street. Ask how you can help and contribute to their success as well.
  • Show up early (you don’t have to overdo this), and don’t sprint from your desk at 4:59 p.m. You don’t have to be the last to leave but don’t always be the first to leave. Demonstrate your willingness to stay longer to finish an important project on deadline. Believe me — others notice your work ethic. There is an old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. In a challenging environment it may make the difference between your getting going or simply being “gone.”
  • Convince your boss that he/she made a good choice in hiring you. Most new hires are in an unofficial “probationary” period. This “honeymoon” period is when the little things, including attendance and punctuality, are noticed. If traffic is unpredictable, leave earlier. Getting there early beats getting there late any day of the week. Starting off being habitually late and/or demonstrating a lackadaisical attitude leaves bosses wondering how committed you really are and whether he or she made a mistake hiring you.
  • Do what you say you will do. This is tried and true advice. Don’t promise tasks you can’t deliver. Track and honor any commitments you make to your team and boss. Deliver results that exceed commitments and expectations — consistently. Want a promotion — fast? One way is to become a “go to get it done” resource early on with both your boss and co-workers.
  • Demonstrate you are a team player. Pitch in on things like lunchroom cleanup, making coffee or replenishing the printer paper. Work hard to get along with all your colleagues — from the janitorial staff to the receptionist. You might be surprised about who has leverage with the boss when they hear you are well-liked (or not!) by your co-workers.

Don’ts

  • Don’t use company time to surf the Internet, send personal e-mails or stay plugged into your iPod (at the very least until you become more familiar with the company’s culture and tolerance or boundaries around these kinds of activities). Take care of your personal needs on your time. Take the initiative during slow or down time to research and learn something new you can apply to your job — there is always something you can be working on to improve or helping someone else out with.
  • Don’t establish yourself as the newly designated “water cooler gossip.” Stay out of personal issues and office politics for as long as possible. (Yes, I know it is tempting and human nature.) Avoid getting sucked in and coerced by the naysayers and complainers. You will be judged by your discretion, including those people you choose to surround yourself with — choose intentionally and wisely.
  • Don’t bring your boss problems without also offering options for a solution. Don’t say, “Sorry, boss, the printer broke so those handouts you wanted won’t be done in time for the meeting.” Instead try, “The printer broke. I submitted the materials online to Kinkos and am leaving to pick them up so you will have them in time for your meeting.” Demonstrating you are resourceful and capable of resolving challenges will help put you on the fast track.

Lastly, don’t get defensive or upset when your boss offers constructive criticism or feedback. Instead, take feedback as a learning opportunity and thank your boss for helping you become more aware.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach to either get, keep a job or get promoted! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and coaching abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

Finding Right Fit Job

Estimates are that the average young worker today will change careers (not jobs) seven times in his or her professional lifetime. While searching for a better-fitting job can be time-consuming and frustrating, here are some fundamentals that can increase your odds of landing the job you seek.

First, it’s always easier to find another job while you are still employed, and your odds are better still if you stayed long enough to accomplish something outstanding.

If you are unemployed, make finding a job your job. Put in your 40-hour work week on your job-seeking plan.

Start with a realistic self-assessment (you may want to invest in a career coach for help). At a minimum, this assessment should include:

  • Your top strengths and weaknesses.
  • Your unique “transferable” skills, talents and abilities.
  • Your career interests: passions, purpose, what you enjoy/are good at and long-term career objectives.

Establish your criteria for a “right” fit position/company. Research companies of interest. Consider investigating “great companies to work for.” Search company Web sites, recruiters specializing in your field and job boards. Investigate the company before your interview; find a way to demonstrate your knowledge of them during the interview. Be prepared to answer the common interview question: “Tell us why you would fit in here?”

Market yourself. Be creative — potential employers appreciate innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers. One clever job hunter took out a billboard on a busy metropolitan intersection and landed a great job! Millions of job seekers use Internet job search sites such as Monster (a recent survey: 89 percent of all job hunters are registered with Monster), Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, etc. (Don’t forget Craigslist.) There are Internet chat rooms, message boards, user groups and networking sites that offer job search opportunities. But don’t put all your eggs into the Internet job search basket; surveys say only between 2 percent and 4 percent of job seekers find jobs this way. Still, posting resumes on these sites makes it easier for employers and recruiters to find you.

Network. The best jobs are often never advertised. Most companies look first to their own people for recommendations (many companies report between 40 percent and 50 percent of jobs are filled by internal referrals from staff). Surveys show that most people find jobs via colleagues, associates, friends and referrals (some estimate more than 80 percent of jobs are found this way).

E-mail and talk to your list of co-workers, industry/association colleagues, friends, alumni and neighbors. The more people that know you are job hunting, the better. Communicate your job needs and ask for help from those who know you and your work. Don’t forget networking sites such as LinkedIn. These sites are growing exponentially, are often used by recruiters and can keep you in touch with your networking contacts.

Set up “informational interviews.” Offer to take people in the field to coffee or lunch. Use these meetings (remember, they are not job interviews!) to learn about a company, job or industry.

Don’t leave without asking any networking contact if they know someone else who they would suggest you talk to; informational interviews can lead to those who might be hiring.

Update and revamp your resume for the digital age. You may want to hire professional help, someone who can fine-tune your resume and make it scannable and searchable.

Google yourself. Warning: This may be painful. Many savvy potential employers are using the Internet to find out all they can about a potential hire. Recent college grads, be forewarned: All those comments or photos you posted on networking sites or blogs are public and can come back to haunt you. Your potential employers may not be too impressed by your gambling or beer guzzling hobbies listed on MySpace.

There are firms that specialize in “erasing” anything you wouldn’t want your mother, or your potential employer, to see.

Prepare for interviews. You simply won’t get a good job without a good interview. First impressions are critical — you won’t get a second chance to make one. How you dress, articulate and speak (your tone of voice is like your second face), your attitude, professionalism, energy, eye contact and confidence all matter. There is expert help to prepare for interviews, particularly if you know you don’t interview well. Career coaches can offer constructive feedback on your responses (i.e., are they clear, too short, rambling or missing the point?).

Here are areas career coaches can help you develop for interviews:

  • Your talking points
  • What stories best convey why they should hire you
  • Your unique selling proposition (what distinguishes you from others)
  • Your answers to questions such as, “Why did you leave your last job?”
  • Questions you should be asking them
  • Any blind spots you may be missing (or what you need to do if you aren’t getting any second interviews, etc.)

The good news: If you are good, companies want to hire you.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you land the right job.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com