Monthly Archives: November 2013

6 Things Successful Women Do Differently…

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They ask the right questions

Asking the wrong one is like using the wrong key in your front door.  Successful women learn to ask the questions that open up discussion, ease communication and get the right answer.

They focus on continuous learning

By investing in their own development, the highest-performing women are well prepared for that next rung up the corporate ladder.

They’ve mastered the “little voice”

The “little voice” inside our head is sometimes onside, but often the saboteur. Successful women have learnt to master it, and focus on their strengths and accept their limitations. It is okay to say NO!

They’ve learnt that courage comes first

Successful women know to fake self-confidence till they make it. They summon the courage to step up beyond their comfort zone. courage brings action and action brings confidence. I know that when I was younger, so many people thought that I was super confident because I was loud or they thought I was arrogant because I didn’t speak to them-little did they know. To this day I am still building on my confidence (and am still loud!), but due to stepping out of my comfort zone so often and from the success I have had from doing this, I have increased my internal va va boom!

They value their contribution

If you don’t value your contribution, why would anyone else?  Valuing yourself will help others to. What follows is the right respect, the right opportunities and the right rewards.

They take imperfect action

Women suffer from perfectionism, aiming for 100% at all times in everything and putting enormous pressure on themselves.  Waiting for that perfect moment slows progress. Being successful is about taking imperfect action.

(ref: Jacqueline Frost, womeninbusinesssuperseries.com)

Millennials see the reality-Steady jobs are the booby prize!

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This generation — roughly those born from 1980 to 2000 — may be self-absorbed, but they aren’t lazy. They came of age during one of the worst economic crashes in history, in an era where no job is secure and the education system is no longer delivering in the way it should, among other huge shifts. And they’ve adapted incredibly.

Conventional wisdom says Millennials want it both ways – they want to make money and keep their flexible lifestyles intact.

How dare you, Millennial ingrates? How dare you want to keep your life whole and earn an income, too?

The problem with Millennials is that their jaundiced-beyond-their-years view of the traditional working world shines a light on what’s broken in the corporate and institutional working world.

Millennials saw their parents’ security blanket vanish overnight, when that blanket was the semi-promise of long-term employment with one employer. Anyone still clinging to the idea that he or she will retire from his or her current employer needs to wake up and smell the talent-market coffee. That world is gone.

Millennials see the reality. They’re adjusting their career plans accordingly. Who would tell a kid to climb onto the corporate treadmill when so many have been thrust so violently off it without warning? You’d have to be crazy to follow the Mad Men-era Corporate Ladder path when the fabric of full-time employment has frayed so badly, right in front of Millennial babies’ eyes.

The problem with Millennials is that their career expectations challenge the rest of us to acknowledge that the emperor of lifetime employment has no clothes.

After that “Aha!” moment the next question is “So why am I killing myself in this job?”

Millennials who set their own boundaries are role models for their calcified elders. We can learn from the kids who say things at work like “I don’t understand the logic behind that policy. It doesn’t seem to make sense.”

The Millennial appetite to reinvent crusty systems for a human-powered era is exactly what our organisations need. Can we build Human Workplaces that will use the powerful fuel Millennials bring? Can we break enough frames to add their young voices to the symphonies we’re composing?

Work needs to be re-invented for people. This is happening and Millennials are helping to guide the battle bruised corporate veterans and their crusty systems into the ‘new world’ of work.

Flexiworkforce.com is on a mission to ‘Make work…work’.

We are helping people to get jobs with organisations that deserve their talents, and we help employers re-imagine their recruiting and leadership practices to snag and hang onto amazing people.

(The truth about Millennials- Liz Ryan)

De-stress Yourself by Smashing Stuff up?

This club in Buenos Aires certainly offers a novel way of dealing with frustration and stress! However, if you feel that you’re so stressed that you need to SMASH stuff up then perhaps you’d better consider a less exasperating job!

Excessive stress and anxiety is a huge occupational problem in our fast-paced modern society. Employers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of their staff, so if you feel like you’re under excessive stress, why not request flexible hours?

Flexible working can make a real difference in your work -life balance and can even make a difference to your health, as long hours and excessive workloads are the chief causes of chronic occupational stress.

Do something about it now, requesting flexible hours is a right of all UK employees.

Flexible Working Makes your Pension Stretch Further!

Three piggy banks with retirement savings messageIt seems as though almost every day brings more updates on the ongoing issue of pensions in the UK. The group most directly affected by the issue are the Baby Boomers, who represent the generation born after World War Two, from 1945 until early 1960s. It is true that the Baby Boomer generation is one of the richest demographics in our society, with this generation owning close to £500 billion of the UK’s assets, equal to four-fifths of the entire nation’s wealth. However, as the Baby Boomers approach retirement age, many face concerns over the extent to which their pension will keep them afloat in old age.

Figures from 2009 showed that the value of private pension was severely damaged by the credit crunch and the recession, with the recession contributing to a devastating erosion in value of millions of savers’ pensions throughout the UK. The recession also brought about a fall in contributions to pensions as a result of economic downturn.

Many rely on protection from the government in the form of the basic state pension. However, the state pension is relatively low amounting to £110.15 a week for a single person in 2013/14. It is reasonable to question whether this really is enough to cover council tax, utility bills, insurance and groceries. Furthermore, not everyone is entitled to the full amount, and if a person has not accumulated the qualifying national insurance years, they will miss out. The situation is worst for the 1.7 million pensioners who are estimated by charity Age UK to live in a state of serious deprivation.

One response is to cut down on luxuries- scrimping and saving in order to save enough before time runs out. The Baby Boomers faced austerity after the war throughout their childhood, with rationing continuing until 1954. Is it fair that their retirement should represent a return to hardship and frugality? The situation may become more and more unmanageable for those affected, with advice bureaus warning: ‘The longer you put it off the more you’ll have to play catch up and make bigger sacrifices to fund the retirement you want’.

However, an answer to the pension dilemma is emerging. Currently, around 10% of people already continue working after reaching the age of 60 or 65, some remaining with their employer full time, others enjoying flexible working, or taking up new or self-employment either through choice or necessity. A change of law in 2011 means that compulsory retirement after reaching ‘the default retirement age’ is now a thing of the past. Britain already has highest post-retirement-age working populations in Europe, and it is fair to assume that this trend will continue into the future.

Like many other countries in the West, Britain’s population is aging, and it is more than likely that in the future working past retirement age may go from being a lifestyle choice to a necessity for the growth and maintenance of our economy. In the meantime, however, flexible working represents a real safety net for those in need of pension top-ups, and may act as a means for greater independence in one’s twilight years.

At Flexi Workforce we understand the UK’s growing demand for flexible employment to meet the needs of different demographics. We are keen to support this optimistic trend towards flexible work, and we look forward to enabling skilled older workers to find the independence they require in order to support themselves through their retirement.

SUPERMAN doesn’t apply for jobs-Clark Kent does.

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Dear Liz,

Where do you suggest I run my job ads to get a better caliber of applicant? I am having the hardest time finding qualified candidates to fill our open positions. I work in a startup company and our managers load up their job specs with requirements.

Some of the responding applicants have half the qualifications we require. Some have less than half, but they apply anyway! We need smart people with a lot of experience. The Engineering managers are on my case every day. We are desperate! There are new product releases riding on these hires.

I need some new ideas for getting these positions filled. What career website should I be posting job ads on? Any help will be appreciated!

Thanks,

Alisa

Dear Alisa,

I am sympathetic. It is not easy to have people breathing down your neck. I don’t blame you for being frustrated. You’ve got hiring managers asking for the world. You’re doing your best and still coming up short.

Here are a few ideas to make your burden lighter.

First, I must share some news that may startle you. You have been brainwashed, or are in the process of being brainwashed. People are trying to brainwash you right now. They are not doing it maliciously. They have been brainwashed themselves, and are only perpetuating the mind control they’ve been subjected to themselves.

Your hiring managers are desperate to get new products out the door. When they think about their task, the pressure on them and the risk of failure, they slip into a common human condition called fear. We have all felt fearful at one time or another. Some people stay in a state of fear for most of their waking existence.

To allay the fear that they feel as they think about the mountain of product-development work ahead of them, hiring managers write job specs. They invent superheroes in their minds and describe them on paper. They lose touch with reality. On the page or the screen, they describe a Superman or Aqua Woman with magical abilities. These people do not live on the real planet Earth. If they did, your inbox would be full of resumes from ‘qualified’ applicants right now.

That’s where the brainwashing comes in. Once a hiring manager has brought Superman to life in his own mind and on the job spec, only a person who shows up looking like Superman is deemed ‘qualified.’

You are being brainwashed to believe that qualification to build products for your company has something to do with hitting all the marks on a fear-fueled, unattached-from-reality job spec.

There are qualified people all over. Some of them are receiving “no thanks” letters from your company right now.

I’m sure your organization has people in it who design parts into products. Does your company allow a parts designer to say

“I’ve spec’d a cool new part into our latest device! It’s made of dragon tail and stardust and has a mean time between failures of sixteen billion years. It is impervious to heat, cold and pressure, costs one-millionth of a cent and plays Frank Zappa tunes when you turn it on. Wicked, huh?”

The design person has to work with parts that actually exist. If he or she wrote up requirements for parts that didn’t exist, the parts guy would soon be fired.

For some reason, we allow hiring managers to go hog wild when they write job specs. We don’t require them to write job requirements for people who resemble people we have met. We compound the damage when weeks go by, hundreds of people apply for the job, none of them is found to be ‘qualified’ and we say “Maybe we should try another careers site.”

We pride ourselves on our logical brains in business. Yet we hire people using an unbroken chain of magical thinking from the creation of the job spec to the offer letter.

Of all people, engineers – the hiring managers you’re talking about – should know better. If you sit down to write a job spec and can’t think of two dozen people you know who could pass the resume screen, walk into the role and perform it perfectly (and for the salary you’re planning to pay) then your job spec is out of touch with the real world. It may be merely fanciful. It may fall all the way into delusional territory.

It is your job as the HR person on the case to gently bring your hiring managers around to reality. You don’t have to use the line I used when hiring managers brought fanciful-bordering-on-delusional job specs to my office. (My line was “Pull the needle out of your arm.”)

You can say “I think we have too many requirements in this spec. We’ll drive good candidates away if we post a job ad with all these bullets. I’ll be the person doing the resume screening, and I’m afraid that if we keep the job spec so stacked with requirements, very few people will get through the screen.”

It is a disservice to say or to think that people who don’t meet the qualifications your managers have established are unqualified or low-caliber candidates. That is part of the problem we launched Human Workplace to address.

In the United States and elsewhere we have a massive, yawning gap between what is really needed to succeed on most jobs and what we say and do in our corporate, institutional and start-up hiring practices.

Just when we should be at our most expansive and broad-minded, meeting talented people and brainstorming with them about opportunities and challenges, we get all weenyfied and procedural.

There are tons of people in your area who are qualified to do the jobs you’re looking to fill.

Some of them don’t want to work for you, in part because of fussy, overly linear processes like your company’s bullets-over-everything system.

Some of them are consulting. They got fed up with just the sort of B.S. – an acronym for Bureaucratic System – we are discussing here.

Some of them are absolutely brilliant and would make wonderful additions to your team. They applied for the job you’re trying to fill, and they got tossed out of the pipeline. Yet your managers say they’re desperate to fill jobs. How desperate can they be, when they squander the talent that shows up to help them?

Side note: a fellow came up to me at a conference last month.

“I need Ruby developers asap!” he said.

“How much Ruby experience do you need?” I asked.

“Six months,” he replied.

“How long have you been looking?” I asked him.

“Well over a year,” replied the entrepreneur.

And there you have the problem. He could have trained all the Ruby developers he needed in that time via on-the-job training. Anyone with programming experience could have come in as a Ruby on Rails apprentice and come up to speed in a snap.

Our creative brains shut down when we think about hiring. We revert to our three-year-old selves.

“I have a job opening!” we wail in the manner of frustrated pre-schoolers. “I have money to pay! I should get what I want.”

Our hiring processes are so broken, they are pathological. We have drunk gallons of toxic lemonade that has convinced us a certain degree, number of years of experience or weeny-ass technical certification makes a person magical. We are adults. We should know better.

Here’s my prescription for you, dear Alisa:

Lose the job specs, the job ads, and the hunt for a magical careers site where all the best applicants hang out. There isn’t one. Amazing people are everywhere. There will be several of them in the checkout line at the grocery store tonight when you stop to get Trix, toilet paper and butternut squash on your way home.

Host a job fair at your office. Invite everyone who’s ever applied for a job at your company and all their friends. Serve mixer-type refreshments and invite your CEO to talk with your guests about why your company’s product is cool.

Your hiring managers, face-to-face and in conversation with some of the incredible people your B.S. recruiting program screened out earlier, will get a second chance. In a different context — a friendly, low-key mixer after work doing double duty as a hiring event – I guarantee they’ll spot several people who can help you get your products built.

Above all, shake off the brainwashing that equates ‘qualified’ with ‘meets the fear-driven endless list of published job requirements.’ People who have more of the bullets on a job spec are not higher-caliber people. I know you’ve heard that term, ‘high-caliber,’ applied to job applicants in connection with their formal qualifications, but the term used that way is insulting.

If we want to talk about lower-caliber and higher-caliber candidates, let’s assign the term ‘high-caliber’ to the candidates who know who they are, what they bring and what they’re looking for. Those are the people you want.

Forget the bullet points, Alisa, and go in search of people who will resonate with your mission, and vice versa.

Best,

Liz