Category Archives: Career Management

Are you popping buttons on God’s vest?

When you do the most what you do the best, you pop the buttons on the vest of God

Max Lucado

Max Lucado is clear. There is something that you could be doing that would make God very proud. Presumably if you were already doing what that was you would know clearly. No doubt you have met other people who seem to know that they are doing what makes God proudest of them. And if you don’t feel that way too, you may very well wonder where you took a wrong turn. And you may suppose that it is too late for you to get back on track.

I can relate. When you are a minister’s son, you meet lots of folks who knew what they were “called to do” in their teens. They became nurses and ministers, teachers and doctors. They headed off to university and the rest is history. They couldn’t imagine doing anything else and everyone agrees that they are doing the thing that fits them perfectly. Continue reading

6 Job interview questions a blogger should welcome

We all dread certain job interview questions, but with a good answer ready you can actually look forward to any question.

Successfully launching a blog is not easy and just the fact that you have a blog that is in any way career related gives you a conversation starter and icebreaker. But your blog can provide much more than that. Here are a few questions that you can respond to by drawing from your blogging experiences:

Provide an example of your problem solving skills:

If you have successfully launched a blog and sustained it for a significant amount of time, you have solved many problems. So every time you solve a significant problem, write down a short description. Note the nature of the problem and the implications it has for your blog’s availability or effectiveness. Describe exactly your problem solving process. what you did to solve the problem (e.g. use Google, phone a friend etc.). Specify clearly the outcome of the action you took and what you learned if anything. Tell the whole story in less than 60 seconds if possible in a way that is easy to understand. Continue reading

Try Social Media Cross-training for new skills

A couple of days ago I provided a few examples of lessons I have learned through my experience posting photographs on Flickr. After buying my first digital SLR I was looking for a venue to share my photos and to learn about photography. Flickr has provided exactly that. But you don’t draw attention to your photos without learning a few things. Like finding others who find the same things interesting. Here are a few more things I have learned, all of which translate to blogging!

  •  I began photographing sunrises for one simple reason. I can take some nice photos right out the window of my 15th floor condo as the photo at right demonstrates. I found that there are other Flickr members who enjoy these photos (and don’t bore of them too quickly) by joining Flickr groups particularly focused on sunrises and sunsets. I also learned from participating in those groups exactly what other people respond to most strongly. I can recognize other photographers whose photos are clearly superior to mine and ask them to critique my work. Ditto for blogs. Continue reading

Social media cross-training: let Flickr make you a better blogger!

Social media cross-training could give your blogging skills the boost they need. Posting your photos on Flickr can teach you essential social media skills and strategies more quickly than blogging!

The usual advice is this: focus your attention and energy on one specific strategy and refuse to be distracted. Great advice much of the time, but not necessarily when it comes to blogs and other social media. Concurrent social media pursuits can actually be beneficial.

You create traffic in one by spending time in another. Your Pinterest presence sends blog visitors. Facebook activity pumps Twitter traffic. As you probably already know, this is not just wise, it is essential.

But are you aware of the learning benefits? Lessons learned in one social media site apply elsewhere. The skills and habits you need to thrive on Flickr readily translate to the challenge of growing your blog. And those essential lessons that I find hardest to learn with establishing my blog came more intuitively to me on Flickr. Continue reading

5 simple career blog strategies for a first-time blogger

Launching a new blog it may seem like an intimidating project but it doesn’t need to be.

In my last post, I listed 12 benefits of a career-related blog. They are just a start.

If you aren’t sure how to get started on a blog to boost your career out of its rut, there is lots of help available. Start here with a great post and podcast from Michael Hyatt.

What subject matter you could write about might be a mystery for you.

6 ways to find blogging topics: Continue reading

Consider blogging your way out of a career rut

Establishing a blog related to your career can cure a lot of ills. Feeling stuck in a rut is just one. It has never been easier and the benefits have never been clearer.

12 benefits from a career-related blog:

  1. Blogging  gives you, not your employer or anyone else, total control over the heart of career management, your personal brand.
  2. Here’s your chance to broadcast the experience and wisdom you have accumulated in your professional career. You can answer those questions that no one ever asks or provide the advice to a newcomer that you wish someone would tell them. Continue reading

Support Your Inner Careerist

“Nobody ever warns us about behavioural drift” .. Dr. Joshua C. Klapow

Every September I made the same vow. “This year will be different. I’ll be the ideal student, starting assignments the day they are assigned, ask for extra problems in Math, outlining “The Tempest” for English and practicing my Latin vocabulary. Long before Cal Newport wrote his first book for students, I had it all clear in my mind. If I acted on those plans, my high school career would have been stellar. But like many others with good intentions, I drifted and that fall ended pretty much the same way as the previous year did with a mix of Bs and Cs. Usually by early October I had abandoned the dream. It wasn’t until I was a university student that I learned the habits that deliver a consistently high GPA and ultimately earned an MBA.

For a label that describes my high-school pattern, I turn to Dr. Joshua C. Klapow, author of “Living SMART: Five Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever” Apparently, I was experiencing “behavioural drift, going back to my old patterns despite a genuine desire to make a substantial change”. Continue reading

To attain excellence, first learn to recognize it

Describing a skill on your resume in a manner that grabs the reader’s attention means credentials or endorsements. The best endorsements are provided by the most discriminating judges in the discipline. In most fields, the criteria that discriminates top-notch performance from mediocrity is not arbitrary, but well-known and accepted. If it is your ambition to be judged as excellent, expect your performance to be critiqued against those criteria, whether you choose to pay attention to them or even acquaint yourself with them. First, then, learn and competently apply them in assessing your own work and that of others.

In photography, an excellent photo must be sharp where it should be sharp. That means discarding many otherwise interesting shots, including this one of four turtles. Most of the 50 photos I took one afternoon looked OK in the camera viewer, but not full-screen on the computer monitor. I didn’t use a tripod and it shows. The statuette nearby is still life, but not the turtles, especially their heads. Even with a tripod, hundreds of attempts might be needed to obtain one photo presenting four well-focused turtles. My impatience won out. I liked the composition and posted the photo at right on my Flickr page. Does it matter? It does if I want to be taken seriously as a photographer. If my personal brand includes consistent excellence, this photo must be discarded, so I reluctantly deleted it from Flickr. And that is the third lesson. Continue reading

Lesson 2: My camera taught me to be teachable

It was too easy at first. Jump out of bed, grab a quick shot of the beautiful sunrise, post it on Flickr.com and marinade in the compliments. Repeat daily. At first, Mother Nature provided enough variety to ensure that, like snowflakes, the sunrises weren’t exactly identical. But there got to be enough similarity that I needed to do something different. Anyway, I was shooting fish in a barrel. A 10 mile drive to Toronto lake shore changed the perspective and my viewer count surged temporarily. A suggestion from a regular visitor from Scotland jolted me out of my duffer rut. By letting the Toronto skyline remain out of focus, I achieved the result displayed at right. That photo reached 200 views in a couple of days, quadruple my previous high. My Scottish visitor was delighted that I welcomed his advice, apparently something that is rare in his experience. And that is the second lesson. Continue reading

Career Management Lesson 1: Don’t be a Duffer

When your manager asked you to present an important new project to the corporate budget committee, you suggested that she ask Freddie, your extrovert colleague in the next cubicle. You are hands-down more technically knowledgeable and Freddie isn’t actually even a great presenter but he is still better than you. Freddy probably didn’t even prepare but he delivered what was needed, won approval of the project and fended off the threat of layoffs. Everyone is grateful, and you know it could have been you. A couple of promotions are anticipated next quarter and Freddie now looks like a shoe-in and you don’t. So as you sit in your favorite leather chair at your favorite Starbucks nursing your favorite beverage, a Caramel Macchiato, you recognize decision time when you see it. Your presentations on a good day are “not so bad for an introvert” and that is costing you. So will you remain a “duffer” who improves at a glacial pace, even after company-sponsored training? Will you now initiate decisive action for quantum improvements or continue to cede the limelight and the payoffs to the extroverts? When the pain of watching while the Freddies land your dream job becomes sufficiently unbearable, you just might be willing to leave this career-limiting comfort zone. Continue reading