Sunday, July 31, 2016

Job hunting philosophy

For the last few months, I have been helping a number of friends in their job search.  This is a common request I get, given my background.

My general advice includes the basics: making sure your written materials are up-to-date and error free, having a sense of the targeted market and work desired,  an established baseline of salary (and benefits) and having a focused timeline with contingency plans if needed.

More targeted advice includes travel radius and relocation options, flexibility in work and company type, and research on area companies.

I strongly encourage job seekers to include in their search is a partner to ask thoughtful questions and challenge assumptions.  Many friends believe that a good resume, a couple applications and interviews later, they will be good. It can take more than this - and a thoughtful approach can make all the difference.

Who should that partner be? In Michigan, our Talent Connect has great resources and in-person support.  You can find specifics here.  You can lean on friends and family as long as they are experienced and give practical advice.  Many college alumni offices have individualized support for job seekers. Lastly, you can hire a career coach to walk along side you and support you through the process.  

Here's to your success!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dear Comcast

Dear Tom Karinshak,


I realize the probability of you reading this is slim to none; this is an important letter and I really hope you do take the time. So let's start at the beginning.  
In February of 2001 (yes, 2001), I moved to Grand Rapids and set up a Comcast account.  My husband was still deployed and out floating around the Indian ocean.  This is an important component to the story.  He didn’t set up the account.  He wasn’t even in CONUS.  
Fast forward to March 3. I called the Comcast call center for help. After going through the automated hoops, entering the last four digits of MY social security number, I speak with a representative.  After a few questions, the representative informs me that he can’t help me because, wait for it, I AM NOT ON MY ACCOUNT.  
Take a minute to let that sink it.  Oh, and this is the THIRD time this has happened. “This” meaning having my name removed from my account.  I don’t know that it’s happened until I call for help.  
So I have a couple options.  I can go next door and get my neighbor to pretend he is my husband but I have a fundamental philosophical problem with this. I shouldn’t have to lie to access my account.  My other option is to wait for my husband to return to put me back on my account.  
It’s like living in a real-life Monty Python skit.  
We both reached out to your office.  My husband received several calls; I didn’t receive any calls directly.  I did speak with Terry though she was trying to call my husband.
Terry informs me that we can add me back to the account and put the account back in my name if I fill out a form, provide identification, and undergo a credit check.  To get back on MY ACCOUNT.  I asked Terry if my husband had to provide all this information when they moved the account into his name and she doesn’t know.  I know.  He didn’t have to do this.  We were never asked for this information. Because we NEVER asked the account to be put in his name.
Part of my work is process and continuous improvement.  I asked Terry from a practical, problem-solving perspective, how does this happen?  How do I get dropped from my account?  She doesn’t know.  She wants to simply move forward and solve the problem; while I appreciate this, I need to understand how and why it happened, because if we don’t know how and why it has happened, we have no way of preventing it from happening  again.  I asked Terry what I would do if it happen again.  She said that my husband would have to call and put me back on the account.  
What I did learn from Terry is that your CRM software doesn’t track changes. She can’t look back at my account and tell me what’s been changed and why.  That doesn’t seem like good business practice to me especially when I have been dropped from my account three times.   Let me recap. I am dropped from my account. I don’t know that I have been dropped from my account until I call and ask for help.  You don’t know how or why I am being dropped from my account.  
I have no confidence that this won’t happen again. It is my hope if you really want to turn your customer service reputation around, you should start by asking why.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Summer Reading

I had a tremendous reading summer and have been on a bit of a non-fiction kick.  A few of the books I have read multiple times, they have been so good.

None of these books are career specific.  Each can apply to anyone in any profession and they are worth not only reading but owning.  I have purchased each of these books; they were not advanced copies or even gifts.

Just Listen
Mark Goulston is a psychiatrist with an incredible ability to not only listen but truly hear people.  He opens the book with a story of a hostage negotiator (how is that for a line grab?) and doesn't let up.  This is such a powerful book that I recommend it wherever I go.

The Happiness Advantage Shawn Achor
I borrowed this book from the library.  It was so good that I bought it.  In discussions with friends, we all agree that we aren't crazy about the word "happiness" but his research on happiness (at Harvard, no less) and its impact in the workplace is fantastic.  If you want to know a little more, watch his TED talk. Watch it a couple of times because he 1) talks fast and 2) is so hilarious that you will miss some of his jokes.

Fierce Conversations 
This is an author with whom I was unfamiliar.  I have read the book several times and started the user guide in back.  She outlines conversations, real authentic conversations that include be here, prepared to be nowhere else; obey your instinct; take responsibility for your emotional wake; let silence do the heavy lifting.  (I especially love this one).  I will actually be in conversations and hear in my head, let the silence do the heavy lifting.

If you have time to read and invest in yourself, consider these fantastic books.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

book review - Changing the Conversation

This review is LONG overdue.  For many reasons but mainly due in part because I have read it three times.

The full title is Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution by Dana Caspersen.

The first page is so good that I copied it and put it up in my office.  The author outlines the anti-principles of conflict and the principles of resolution.  In the principles of resolution, she divides it into three areas: facilitate listening and speaking, change the conversation, and look for ways forward.

The book is full of useful tips, stories, and ideas along with practical ways to practice.  And awesome advice like, "if you are making things worse, stop."

I laughed out loud at this. Because sometimes, we do make it worse.

Along with great content, the book is also beautifully designed.  And sometimes, she doesn't use capital letters and that makes me love the book even more.

This book is a keeper.  I was provided an advanced copy free of charge but it's so good that I recommend it without any hesitation.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The neurobiology of trauma

For international women's day, here is the opportunity for education.  Our brains change during trauma.  This is worth all 90 minutes.  Every single minute.