From Experience Paradox to Opportunity

Is the experience paradox keeping you from doing what you love?  The situation usually goes something like this.  You have aspirations to move up in your company, but your employer requires specific experience that you are not able to gain in your current role.  You have expressed your desire for professional development, but the opportunities for growth simply are not available to you. You know that you can prove your capability if given the chance, but, despite your best efforts, you have hit a ceiling that seems to be made of diamond-coated steel.  At first glance it seems your choices are dismal.  They include:

  1. You can remain in your current position, knowing that you have gone as high as you will go within your current company, hiding your frustration behind an “at least I can pay my bills” smile. WARNING: It will become increasingly difficult to hide your frustration, and you run the risk of becoming the miserable coworker everyone avoids, further decreasing any possible growth opportunities.
  2. You can remain in your current position, while attempting to explain to your leadership that they have dropped the ball when it comes to succession planning, which will ultimately cost them in the end.  WARNING: Although an option, this particular tactic is risky.  If the concept of succession planning is lost on your leadership, it is not likely they will embrace your attempt at managing up.
  3. You can search for a job outside of your company, but your lack of the desired experience seems to be a barrier to any position that interests you, leaving you the only option of leaving your current role for something similar. WARNING: Making a lateral move can set your career back years.

None of the options listed above are likely to serve you well.  But, that does not mean your search for a more rewarding career path is futile.  Sometimes, all it takes to find the desired path is a simple change in how you view the terrain.  Let’s tweak JFK’s infamous words of wisdom a bit and relate it to your experience paradox, “Ask not what others can do for your career, but what you can do for others and help your career.”

Looking at it from this perspective, a fourth option appears, and the paradox becomes an opportunity.  Help others, so that you can help yourself.  There is no shortage of non-profits who are operating on very little capital.  They may have computers, but not the technical skills to run them properly or to use them to their fullest potential. Consider offering your IT services to the charity of your choice.

You can hone your skills while helping out a good cause.  Gain the experience that you currently lack, while also adding your service in the community to your resume.  Once you have proven you are now capable in the area you previously fell short, your career options are broadened.  You will have not only added the required technical skills, but also shown that you are a leader, and committed to helping a cause greater than yourself.  You may even find that you have become a better person in the process.  Not a bad side-effect of taking charge of your own professional development.

Link to non-profit listing

GuideStar

Innovation Cultivation

Most people, when asked, will express a desire to work in an innovative environment.  Google the word innovation and you will get 112,000,000 results. Just about every CEO, in every industry, speaks of the need for innovation and the plan to achieve it. We have all been struck by innovation’s cupid it seems. So, why are so many employees left scratching their heads wondering “Where oh where has innovation gone?”

One starry eyed candidate after the next has jumped from the security of their current position to accept the offer from a competitor who claims to have a cutting-edge approach to industry solutions. The lure of innovation cultivation is just too much for the creative soul to forgo. When promised an environment that embraces original thought and stepping away from the status quo, the choice to move on seems so clear. Yet, the promise often never comes to fruition. Why? Most companies simply do not know how to cultivate innovation, but don’t silence your inner-Edison just yet. There are some that do. There are things you can do to realize your dream of making an impact and leading change in your industry of choice.

If you want to work for a company that provides you with the tools to let your inner creativity shine, you need to know what to look for when evaluating your next employer.  Do your standard homework before any interview, but also use the interview as an opportunity to evaluate the culture, and determine if it is truly an environment that allows innovation to happen. What should you look for when evaluating the likelihood your prospective employer walks the innovation walk? Here are five indications that a company may very well have what it takes to deliver on the promise of innovation cultivation.

  1. Diversity that is NOT apparent in a photo.  Intellectual diversity is where innovation happens. Four Americans who grew up in Boston, received engineering degrees from MIT, and have 10 years experience at the same firm, are NOT diverse. This is true even if they appear to look very different in a photo. Diversity in background and experience will increase the likelihood that new ideas will occur. Look for teams whose members have diverse backgrounds, rather than those whose resumes seem to be interchangeable.
  2. Failure.  Failure is a key component of innovation.  Ask what was the last project that failed, and when it took place. If discussing failure seems to make the interviewer uncomfortable, it is a sign that innovat
    ion will be stifled. Truly innovative companies know that failure is inevitable, and that it serves as a springboard for future success. If the last “failed” project is an embarrassment, rather than an opportunity to learn, or it occurred a very long time ago, innovation is not likely to happen in that environment. Leaders committed to innovation will even have awards for people who have led innovative projects that failed.
  3. The word we. It’s common knowledge that employers desire a candidate who uses the word we, because it is said to show that said candidate is a team player. The term can also be used when evaluating a potential employer. When an employer uses the word we, it shows commitment to collaboration, which is key to innovation. It can also indicate that top-level employees have not removed themselves from the collaborative experience. Which brings us to #4.
  4. Accessibility to top-tier employees. Innovative teams are great, but without top-level support, projects are often killed. Companies, who are committed to innovation, allow for open communication at every level. It is not uncommon in innovative environments for an employee to reach out for direct input from their senior leaders who may be three or four levels above them. If this type of stepping outside the traditional hierarchy is non-existent, so likely will be innovation.
  5. Small teams that aren’t stagnant. Are special project teams created on a regular basis, or does the company stick with pre-defined teams with the players rarely changing? Statistically, creativity in teams increases when a few of the members are replaced with new members. Teams that have worked together for years will hit a wall of creative, innovative thought, thus welcoming the status quo.

If a company does not display the five characteristics listed above, it is likely not one where innovation is able to thrive.

The Phone Interview Toolkit-Supersized

We recently shared the basic model of our Phone Interview Toolkit.  Now we are releasing additional information that will supersize your toolkit and fine-tune your savvy phone interviewing skills.  Utilizing these additional, simple tools will further increase your chance of making it to the short-list of high-potential candidates. Simply review, implement, and then clear your calendar to accommodate the plethora of impending face-to-face interview requests.We recently shared the basic model of our Phone Interview Toolkit.  Now we are releasing additional information that will supersize your toolkit and fine-tune your savvy phone interviewing skills.  Utilizing these additional, simple tools will further increase your chance of making it to the short-list of high-potential candidates. Simply review, implement, and then clear your calendar to accommodate the plethora of impending face-to-face interview requests.

Capture

Now that you have beefed-up your toolkit from
the basic model to the more sophisticated supersized 2.0 version, it won’t be
long before you’ll need the latest tools for success at the next level. No need
to worry. We are here to help. We will be releasing the Face-to-Face Basics
Toolkit later this month.

Tango Traffic

Picture1Situation: You found the position that is a perfect fit for everything you have prepared for throughout your career, and you have successfully navigated the process of scoring the coveted face-to-face interview. To ensure that you arrive on time with your A-Game, you allow an extra hour of travel time, despite traffic reports that all routes into the city are problem-free. You should have plenty of time to park, have a cup of coffee, and mentally prepare to blow the competition away. Your adrenaline pumps with excitement as you congratulate yourself for preparing so well for this moment. You got this. All of your instincts are telling you that this is the interview that will result in a win for you, and you won’t allow anything to get in your way.

As you get onto the highway you see gridlock just a few miles ahead. A tractor trailer overturned, and it is now blocking the entire road. It is in your way, and you will not allow it. You have to decide which alternate route to take, and you need to know within the next few minutes so that you take the appropriate upcoming exit. The clock doesn’t stop to wait for the traffic report that will not come on for another five minutes. You have to make the play, so you take a shot at guessing which would be the best route. Unfortunately, you choose the same route as the majority of the displaced commuters, and end up sitting in traffic for the next 90 minutes. You arrive out of breath, and fifteen minutes late for your interview, without a moment to mentally prepare. Your A-Game is still back on Route 76 stuck behind the overturned tractor trailer.

Achieving an Alternate Ending: How can the above scenario end up in you choosing a better travel option and arriving on-time with your A-Game? Now there is an app for that. Yes, an app that will help you arrive at your destination without ever missing a beat.

tango

Hello Tango
We love Tango Traffic, and are sure that you will too. Tango is an app that delivers up to date, on-demand traffic information in 10 major cities. It is the only app of its kind, and its consistent performance has us doing the Tango all over town. Thanks to this app, there is no more waiting for others to decide when you can hear the latest traffic update. We were thrilled at having the option to choose when we wanted to get the most current traffic update, but it gets even better than that. You can also customize how you would like the information by choosing from the following options:

Audio – Instantly hear up to date traffic reports for your region by simply hitting the play button.

Cams – Want to quickly see snapshots of current activity for a specific route? Simply select a route and then click the arrow until you find the desired location on your chosen route. The pictures are updated approximately every 2 minutes.

Maps – Not sure which roadway is best? Click on the maps section, which uses your GPS location to help navigate through your options.

Video – As an alternative to the snapshots shown in the Cams option, the video selection allows you to view the current activity via video streaming with no time delay.

Tango Traffic is free and can be downloaded on both Android and iOS5 and later. The reports are available on tangotraffic.com as well.

Metropolitan areas in which Tango is currently live 24 hours a day:

Atlanta
Boston
Chicago
Detroit
Los Angeles
New York City
Philadelphia
San Diego
San Francisco
Washington DC

Toolkit for the Unexpected Phone Interview

Situation:  You are at your computer researching open positions in your field when the phone rings. When the caller identifies herself as Human Resources for the company you applied to last week, you take a deep breath, so as not to show your hand by screaming “YES YES YES! I was hoping you would call.” However, your excitement quickly turns to panic upon realizing that the call is not to set up an interview, it IS the interview. You break out your resume and begin to read aloud your list of qualifications. Your panic escalates as you detect obvious boredom on the other end of the call. When the conversation is over, you are fully aware that this will be the last call you receive from the company. You feel slighted. You didn’t even know you were getting the call. You weren’t ready for an interview. Disheartened, you return to your online job search.

Alternate Ending:  In a world with many more applicants than positions, more and more companies are screening candidates via impromptu phone interviews, in an effort to efficiently create a short list of candidates to interview in person. How can you stand out from the other applicants when most candidates look the same on paper, and your only shot is an unexpected phone conversation? You may be near the end of a long line of calls that a recruiter is making.  In order to differentiate yourself from the many other potentials who have experience that resembles your own, you must be diligent in your preparation.  Prepare, and stay prepared, so that you are not caught off guard when an unexpected opportunity arises. Experience that you listed on your resume is what got you this far, it is your insight that will separate you from the pack and get you to the next level.

Your Toolkit

Keep an updated list that is visible to you at all times. The list should contain two columns – Insights and The Basics. Insights will serve as a tool to help you remember what you would like to emphasize that you feel best represents your value add. The basics will serve as a reminder for proper phone etiquette, and both verbal and non-verbal behavior that will be “heard” by your interviewer. It is important to maintain a professional “appearance” over the telephone so that the interviewer is not distracted from the message you are trying to convey. The columns should contain the following information:Toolkit

Be sure to write as few words as possible. They are only to jog your memory, not serve as a script. You should be able to look at it, find the response you need, and respond within a few seconds. Speaking in front of a mirror will also help to reinforce the suggested body language.

In addition to having the above information displayed in front of you, you should be prepared to answer the “unexpected” questions designed to test your ability to adapt. The ability to respond to this type of questioning, by providing an answer with substance, shows you are able to think on your feet.

Examples of unexpected questions:

  • What do you consider your weakness? – Be prepared to discuss how you overcome this, or use it to your advantage.
  • What is it that you do NOT want to be doing 5 years from now?
  • What is the biggest misperception others have of you? – When thinking of your response, include how you address the misperception.

Finally, don’t forget the “ask.”  When the conversation is over, be sure to thank the interviewer and ask if a face to face meeting is possible.

Making IT Happen–Slide Shark Update

Like all great innovators, BrainShark did not wait for the competition to catch up before enhancing its recently launched, already impressive, SlideShark app. When we first blogged about the cutting-edge features that SlideShark offered, we had no idea that we were in for even more surprises. Now, with little effort, voice can be added to any presentation, and shared for on-demand play on any device.

We love our technology, but remain true to our skeptic mentality. Voice to PowerPoint in minutes? On-demand presentations with only a few mouse clicks? No associated fees? There had to be a catch. What kind of trap would we be lured into, and would there be a way to escape? As always, we decided to find out for ourselves so that we could make known the appropriate warnings.
What we found, is that the only valid fear belongs to SlideShark’s competition, or, more accurately stated, SlideShark’s latest meal. That’s right. BrainShark’s latest brainchild has no competition at this stage of the game. The individual users will enjoy every moment of swimming alongside this dominant force in the world of cutting-edge presentation tools.

The process really is as easy as following these simple steps:
1. Sign into your free BrainShark account.

2. Click on the “My Content” tab and upload an existing presentation.

3. Tag the presentation with the appropriate terms for improved searchability.

4. Then record by either dialing into the number automatically provided, or using your computer’s built-in microphone. Select from the options to record slides individually, or straight through the entire presentation. Once you are finished, you can activate the file and share it and/or embed it into your site.
We anxiously await whatever it is that BrainShark will offer us next.

Check it out at http://www.brainshark.com/

Making IT Happen–Recordium

The free app Recordium, which hit the IOS market on May 25, instantly soared to the top of tech round-ups all over the web. We admit, we were intrigued, but would it really color our world? Our basic rule for an app to remain on our devices is that it must be more than cool. It must serve a purpose, and serve it often. Forever skeptics, we doubted that this would be something more than another amusing app with little practical use to most people, but there was only one way to find out. We downloaded it immediately, and began to conjure up ways to apply it to everyday life, daring Recordium to prove its worthiness, or end up in the trash bin with so many other fad-apps.

For those who share our app-mantra, which clearly states “If you aren’t going to help me, get off my IOS,” this is one app that you will want to keep, no matter what your lifestyle demands. When we began using Recordium in May, we applied it to every aspect of our world. We found more reasons to use it the more we took advantage of all it offered, such as:
• Highlighting important places in the recording
• Taking snippets of the important portions of the recording to be placed in a separate file
• Audio format options such as AIFF, WAV, CAF and MP4
• Audio Quality options
• File sharing options
• The ability to make annotations associated with a specific section of the recording

Yes, the tech-angels were singing, and we danced to every beautiful note. We could find no aspect of life that Recordium couldn’t improve upon.
For example:

  • The text of an email can now be replaced with an easily recorded message playable on any device. Emotions no longer needing to be relayed with emoticons and creative punctuation. This brings business and personal relationships to a whole new level.
  • Soldiers stationed in foreign lands, far from familiar faces, can play back the message at any time and find comfort in the familiar voice of a loved one.
  • Colleagues can reduce the chance for miscommunication that occurs with the written word, without waiting for a time all parties are free to hold a live conversation.
  • The voicemails that some keep for legal purposes, or because they hold sentimental value, can now be played and recorded through Recordium for eternal preservation.
  • The meeting that one knows from experience is going to be, yet another, painful 90 minutes, can now be discreetly recorded and edited later for the only 15 minutes of content that really matter. With the aide of some acting talent, other work can be accomplished while the presenter drones on, reading slide after slide. Participants need only to set the recording, and APPEAR to be listening intently through strategic use of the occasional eyebrow raise, appropriate chuckle, and obligatory head-nod every so often. Presenter is none the wiser, and participant need not suffer any more. Yes. We know. This thought alone brings tears of joy to the eye. Please take a moment if you need it, but only a short one.

There are many reasons to download this app, but none we could find that justifies waiting to do so.

NOTE: If you haven’t downloaded it yet, be aware that this “free” app, was scheduled to be available at a cost as of June 1, but has yet to have made the switch.

LinkedIn: It’s a PROFESSIONAL Networking Site, People

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. It’s not Facebook and it’s not Twitter. It’s meant for one thing – Business Networking. LinkedIn is NOT the place for personal pictures. A profile picture should be a simple headshot – not a family photo, not a crazy face, not a vacation shot and not even your beloved pet. Just you, looking professional. This is all. I love my cat, too, but our pics are on Facebook, not LinkedIn.

Once your photo is set, it’s time to review that profile. Your profile should basically be a condensed version of your resume and any good employer or recruiters will verify this, so make sure your dates and positions match up. Things that should not be in your profile would include ad hoc commentary about your past positions. Potential employers/recruiters do not to see your opinions on why you left, what you liked/disliked about the company, etc. There’s a place for this commentary and it’s called Glassdoor.com – LinkedIn is not the place for this unless you want to discourage folks from considering you for positions!

Now that we’ve covered a lot of what LinkedIn is NOT, let’s look at what it is. LinkedIn is a great place to show off your professional chops! All those compliments you get from past colleagues/manager? LinkedIn is the place to display them – ask for a recommendation and post it to your profile! LinkedIn is the place to provide just enough professional info to attract recruiters and to enable previous colleagues to track you down. Ever heard the saying “it’s who you know”? That phrase is absolutely accurate and you want the folks you know to be able to find you when they want to work with you again! LinkedIn is where they’ll look, so don’t disappoint them by having an unprofessional profile.

Follow these simple tips (they may seem like common sense, but take it from a person who spends more time on LinkedIn than you can imagine – they bear repeating) and you’ll have a profile that will make employers want to contact you!

Making IT Happen-Google Admin App

blog_googleadmin_0701

Android–Free

With its launch at the end of May, Google Admin for Android gave “Super Administrators” (those with API access) the ability to exercise their power from anywhere, with little effort, a feature even Superman would envy.  Less than one month ago, suspending the employee gone rogue meant Super Administrators had to stop what they were doing, power up their laptop, and deactivate the former employee who posed a potential threat. This generally takes place at a time when most people are done work and beginning to relax for the evening. Now that Google Admin for Android has been released, all that is required is a brief pause to access the app and shut the user down with a few swipes on a smartphone.  Happy hour need not be disrupted; neither tights nor a cape is required.

Managing logins and passwords, adding users, and viewing audit logs and domain settings has never been easier.  The app even has a feature that allows administrators to call and email the users directly.  If needed, contacting support is just as effortless. Google continues to dominate by knowing what users want before the users even have a chance to recognize the need and ask for it.  Just weeks after revamping the console and launching the new Admin SDK, Google Admin for Android was put to market, strengthening the power of Super Administrators everywhere.  “The Man of Steel” never had it so good.  He was often required to leave Lois Lane at the most inopportune times to exercise his power for the good of the whole. Imagine how different the story would have been if only Google had been around with “an app for that.”  Thankfully, Google Admin has arrived, changing the story for Super Administrators everywhere and anywhere.