I was walking through the grocery store recently and looked to my left and saw the picture above of artificial sweeteners. It struck me in that moment that If you look at the products in the picture above it is a testament to many peoples outlook on life, not just their eating habits. I don't like to generalize but let’s be real for a second, many MANY people are looking for shortcuts in all aspects of life; School, health, career, relationships, etc. We ask, “how can I shortcut or hack my way through this process to get the results I want without the work?” While I admire and applaud finding more efficient and practical ways to accomplish goals that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about trying to get results without putting in the work to earn it!
In my mind there are a few types of people who are always on the hunt for shortcuts.
They include someone who routinely quits when things get tough, they never commit, they are untrustworthy, not goal oriented, lazy, undisciplined, always hunting for a get rich quick idea. Do you know any of those types of people? Have you ever been that type of person? I have been a shortcut hunter for sure. Especially when it comes to eating or working out. I have tried to get away with a fad diet, or workout in hopes I will get the results I want without paying the cost of success. These types of people are not the kind you want to be or be associated with.
The truth I have found has been that shortcuts can work! At least at first they can. The problem is they don’t last. Gimmicks aren’t sustainable, fads don’t last forever. Cutting corners is not a plan it is a flawed attempt to bypass the hard work others have done to achieve real sustainable results.
The times I have been most successful is when I have paid the price of success. What is that? You know what it is, deep down we all do, we just don't want to hear it. The price of success, is hard, disciplined work, long focused hours and relentless drive. Sounds like fun, right? It is simple but hard! The sooner you accept there is no magic formulas, and no tricks or shortcuts you can be on your way to getting real work done.
The other point I will make is to be wary of companies, media, and people who peddle shortcuts to you. They will try and sell you on their method, diet, or business plan, and it will sound real. However, if you poke around a little and look behind the curtain you will find out if it is a shortcut or not, and if it is you will know those people are not your friends and they are not concerned with your success, they are simply using you to attain their goals. Don’t fall for it. If an opportunity looks hard, requires self discipline and focus then it most likely is real. In those instances throw yourself wholeheartedly into it and you will be on your way (albeit long) path to success.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
This is part 2 of 2 discussing what your follow up steps will be if you don't get a job you apply for. In part 1 we discussed getting rejected from a job where you currently work. In part 2 I will discuss not getting a job at another company. You can find part 1 here: http://www.thedesignedman.com/my-career/what-to-do-when-you-dont-get-the-job-part-1.
1. Ask Why You Didn't Get the Job. Most likely the interviewer or recruiter will give you a call to let you know you did not get the position. In most cases they will be guarded about the reasons you did not get the job but it is still good to ask. Do not be pushy but try to find out as much as you can so you can use the information for your next interview. Be sure to be kind and courteous as you do not want to burn any bridges in for future.
2. Review Your Qualifications. Make sure you are applying for jobs you are a solid candidate for. I am all about stretching yourself but you also have to be able to gauge whether or not you are stretching yourself too far in the jobs you apply for. This is especially important if you have been rejected from several similar jobs.
3. Focus on Your Interview Skills. Having excellent communications skills is even more important when you are applying for jobs at companies you do not currently work at. Interviewers have a tough task in choosing candidates based off their first impressions at an interview. If you do not have good interview skills you are setting yourself up to be first on the chopping block. You owe it too yourself to practice interviewing with a friend. It may be awkward but it will be worth it. You could also look for a career coach to help you improve your communication skills.
4. Redouble Your Efforts. Job hunting is very hard and extremely tiring and it is easy to get discouraged. Hearing “no” over and over can be damaging to your psyche and make you want to quit looking. Try and reframe the situation by looking at the rejections as an opportunity for growth. Each time you hear “no” you have the chance to improve for the next round of interviews. If you do not currently have a job you have to view finding a job as your job. This is an 8 hour or more a day practice. Wake up, apply for jobs, work on your communication skills, interview, and repeat the next day. If you currently have a job you are going to have to put in extra time to focus on finding a new job. While it will be tiring, try and think of the reward of getting a job you love. When you look back on the long hours searching for a job you will be able to look back with pride knowing you put in the work to improve yourself and were ready when opportunity knocked.
J. Matthew King, Co-Founder
I am a huge proponent of mentoring and think finding a mentor is one of the best ways to fastback your success in any area of life. Given that fact i want to propose the next level of mentorship which I am calling a personal advisory board. Unfortunately one person isn't going to be an expert in all areas that you may need help with in order to reach all of your goals. An example would be someone who has career success you want to mirror but their spiritual life isn't at the level you aspire to achieve. This is a perfect example of where a personal advisory board can come into play. Another consideration is when you only rely on one mentor it can be a heavy burden for them to support you in multiple aspects of life. A personal advisory board spreads the burden across multiple individuals and gives you broader access to different types of expertise.
So, what would a personal advisory board look like? These are my suggestions but feel free to customize them to what works best for you and your unique needs. Identify 3-5 people you would like to be on your advisory board. Each of them should be an expert in the area you need their mentorship. Some suggested areas could be: Marriage/relationships, career, health, finance, spirituality.
Next, ask each person to serve on your board and tell them why you chose them and what your goals are for your relationship. It is very important that YOU drive the relationship and the goals for when you meet. You are asking them to invest their valuable time with you so it is up to you to be prepared for your discussions and use the time wisely. I suggest setting one on one monthly meetings with each person separately. Discuss your current questions or issues and keep meeting minutes you can refer to later. Make specific goals with each board member.
Ask each member of your board to lead one of the meetings every 6 months to evaluate you and your progress on the goals you laid out for the 6 month period and where they see your biggest room for growth.
Maybe this sounds crazy to you but excellence takes being willing to push yourself above your comfort level. You want to give yourself the best opportunity for success in all areas of your life and this is a great opportunity to get the personalized help you need to set yourself apart. Think about who you want on your personal advisory board, get to asking them, and start making progress toward your goals.
Matt King, Co-founder
This is going to be part 1 of 2 discussing what your follow up steps will be if you don't get a job you apply for. In part 1 I will talk about getting rejected from a job where you currently work. In part 2 I will discuss a job at another company.
Applying for a job you want can take some courage especially if it is a stretch job. When you get rejected it can be extremely disappointing and hurtful. Take a few days to regroup but don’t let it get you down. Put your plan in place so you can become a better prospect for the same job down the road or something even better.
J. Matthew King, Co-Founder
I am terrible with directions. It’s been an issue for some time now. Its almost laughable how bad it is. I basically have to drive somewhere 3 to 4 times before I remember how to get there. And anywhere beyond my usual daily route, I have to consult my GPS. So invariably, every so often I will be out and perhaps my phone may die, or its not getting reception and there I am, lost, with no direction. Most of the time I need step by step directions or I have no clue.
Just like with driving, in life, if you have no map and no directions, you are lost. You may be going somewhere, but you’re probably second guessing yourself, and not going fast. You may think that since you are working hard and have your foot on the gas that you are getting somewhere, but maybe you’re just driving fast in circles. To be successful, you must have a roadmap. First you need to identify where you want to go, and plan accordingly.
So, where do you want to go? Find out what you are passionate about, and what you are talented in, try to match these things together. Get a pen and paper out, brainstorm at least 20 ideas. What are your strengths, how can you leverage them, and what can you do with those strengths? In this idea session do not let yourself talk your way out of things, such as “Oh, if I want to do that I would have to get a doctorate”, write it down. You are going to have to get creative to get all 20 ideas down, but keep at it.
When you find where you want to go, now is the time to plan your route. Just like landmarks help you arrive safely when driving, you will need landmarks, or small goals to get where you want to go. Write down your goals, write 20 goals. Keep writing them everyday, after a few days stop consulting your previous list. Write what comes to mind first, when you immediately remember and write certain goals down, this may help you realize which goals you truly are interested in, and are eager to complete.
The third and most important step is to write out your day the night before, this helps you accomplish small goals. These small goals that you accomplish will turn into massive gains over time.
Don’t go through your life lost, how soon are we to consult our GPS or ask someone for directions when we are lost on the road. Should we not more importantly know where we are going in life?
Jonathan King, Co-founder
An NFL Running Back has less than one second to determine the best route for him to run. In this split second of chaos he must hastily choose a plan of action. He takes it all in, 11 men on the opposing side are trying their best to stop him. Even though he has 10 other men on his side, the running backs decision making and effort will make or break the play.
I was watching highlights of some of my favorite runners the other day, the legends of the game such as Barry Sanders, Leveon Bell, Jamal Lewis, Marshawn Lynch, etc. And I realized in all of their dazzling array of skills, there are a few lessons to be learned from them about how we approach our life and career.
Make Decisive and Determined Actions
In conclusion, the main skill we can take from a runner is that he is adaptable, and shockingly fast at his adaptation. He has no time for error and executes his move without hesitation. Obstacles are the norm for a running back. They go over them, through them, past them. Keep the running back in mind next time you find yourself faced with a difficult problem in your life or career. Remember to trust your instinct, always keep moving and fighting, make decisions and act on them relentlessly.
Jonathan King, Co-founder
The other day, I must admit, I was jealous. It all started while listening to friend talk about a possible promotion. Internally, I had mixed emotions: I was happy for my friend, but I kept thinking, “What about me?” After some reflection, I realized that I was not jealous of the potential position, but rather jealous of my friend’s confidence; they knew what the next steps were in their career path and I did not. So, I thought: “What am I chasing? What are the next steps for my career?” A new focus allowed me to view the future of my career in a whole new light.
Now, I ask you: Are you chasing after a particular career path? A next expected step? A dream of your parents'? A paycheck? Recognition? Fame? Societal expectations? Or are you just sticking to what is safe and familiar with no risk involved?
We all are chasing something. By having your career path outlined, you have taken your first step towards giving your path direction and purpose. However, let me suggest that you outline it in pencil and in not pen. As we gain more experience, our ideas and dreams can change. So, do not be afraid to erase or modify the outline to fit your needs.
It is possible that when you reach your original goal, you may realize the packaging is deceiving, the day-to-day operations are not suited for you, or your goal was simply based on someone else's expectations and not your own. If you remain flexible and open to new opportunities, you will be able to overcome this disappointment, and steer yourself in a new direction. For example, the moment I realized that I did not want the job my friend was being offered, I was able to release myself from the disappointment that weighed me down and clung to the opportunities around me.
What are you chasing? If you do not already know, find out! However, be warned! Set your sights on the right goals for you. And it does not stop there. Once you know what you are chasing, figure out why you are chasing it. Be ready to answer these questions to a potential employer, but more importantly to yourself. Then, start running.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
In my job I look through hundreds of resumes a week, and also communicate by text, email, or phone call with a large quantity of those candidates. In essence, I am the first line that a candidate must get through in order to obtain a position with my company. Below are some of the tips I have to help you in your career search, and getting past that first line or what I like to call, getting past the gatekeeper.
The first thing you will need in finding a job is to have a quality resume. A resume is usually the first glimpse a hiring manager or recruiter will have of you so much like first impressions, you want your resume to be good.
First, you need to build a template resume. This is the resume you will have with your main headlines such as work history, education, technical skills, dates of employment etc. This is a generic template; so, with your work history do not go into detail yet about what you did there, just put the workplace and your title. Once you have created your template resume, save it; then, when you have a specific job in mind, you can edit the document to cater to the job. The most important thing to remember about a resume is that you must tailor the resume to reflect the relevant details of your job history or education to the job that you are applying for. For instance:
If I wanted to apply for a job at XYZ company for a position as a “Community Marketing Specialist” I would want my resume to reflect that role. Let's say you just graduated college. That means the hiring manager will most likely not care at all if you put down “team member” at McDonald's. Is that good experience? Yes, but it won’t get you that job. However, if you were a president of any clubs, or led any community service projects, or maybe you pitched ideas to the city chamber of commerce for one of your classes etc., those community leadership experiences would be great things to highlight. Of course, it is important to list your McDonald's job because HR likes to know you can hold down a position, but don’t stress it. Stress the community activities, as those actually relate to the job.
Now, this means you will be creating several resumes. Literally for every job you apply for, make a relevant resume. It takes time, but it is worth it. (Remember your template resume can save you some of that time.) Look thoroughly through the job description, find the most key elements to the description and reflect them in your resume. Does the job call for someone with experience in business analytics? If you have that skill, highlight it, spell it out, and put it in the forefront. If the job calls for someone who is knowledgeable in a particular program, highlight that as well. Remember to be truthful, yet highlight your relevant skills. It’s amazing how many times I have spoken to candidates who had a particular skill, but had not included it on their resume; it was not until I picked up the phone and asked them, that I learned of this skill. The problem is, you can't afford to wait to be called. Most employers will reject your resume unless everything is spelled out for them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when building your resume:
1) What is different or intriguing about you?
Recruiters do not want to read your life story, but if you have any cool interests or skills unrelated to the job, it can be intriguing. For instance, I came across an applicant who was not the best match, but I ended up calling them because they had served 5 years in the Peace Corps. It turns out that their experience overseas stood out and was very applicable to the position I was seeking to fill.
2) Is your resume visible online?
Don’t just post your resume on one website. Utilize as many job board sites as you can; for example: monster.com, careerbuilder.com, and indeed.com. Some recruiters only work on one job board, so spreading out your resume’s between sites will help you get more visibility.
3) Are you applying for positions for which you are qualified?
Make sure that your qualifications closely match the position. If you have 2 years of experience in marketing and the job description calls for 4 years, go ahead and apply. But, if the job description is for a registered nurse, and you are a medical assistant, don’t waste your time.
4) Is there anything grammatically incorrect or inadvertently funny about your resume?
If your resume is rampant with grammatical errors, no one will pass it on to HR. At the same time, make sure there isn’t anything humorous about your resume. You might get noticed if you have “ball care coordinator” as your current job title ("Ball" as the name of the company and "Care Coordinator" as the job title).
5) Are you highlighting the important skills on your resume?
Recruiters and HR managers spend a great deal of time looking at resume’s, which means they scan them very quickly. Therefore, you want the important things to be noticeable; for example, list the most relevant skills first.
These tips are designed to get your resume noticed and passed from the gatekeeper to the hiring manager or recruiter. In my next post, we will discuss the next steps in this process.
Jonathan King, Co-founder
Have you ever tried doing anything different than what the people around you would perceive as the norm for you? Perhaps it would be a new hairstyle, clothing choice, hobby, etc. Perhaps it was met with some enthusiasm, but more often than not, it was most likely met with looks of disapproval. Many times those who are closest to us can be the biggest obstacles to our success. Many times our biggest dreams and aspirations are broken upon the walls that our closest friends and family hold up. Perhaps you have an idea for an entrepreneurial venture that you have been thinking of for some time and want to finally tell someone about it. Many times that person, not purposefully will doubt the idea or down play it, and in so doing, douse the fire that you had for it.
The challenge that must be met is that no matter how out of your comfort zone, no matter other people doubt you, and no matter all the negative energy around you, if you truly want to make something happen and reach for success above the ordinary rat race, you must block them out. How can you do that?
1. Put blinders on. Sometimes you may have to stop associating with those negative individuals for a time.
2. Talk to like-minded people. Make sure to surround yourself with successful people and dreamers like yourself. People who make positivity a way of life.
3. Remember people think differently. Remind yourself that other people do not think like you, they are not trying to doubt you, or make you feel down, but are trying to help in their own way.
4. Relentlessly pursue your goal. Don't let anything or anyone get in the way of accomplishing your goal.
In the movie “Troy” there is a scene that, although rather cheesy, illustrates a good point. The great warrior Achilles is called to go meet the champion fighter of another army. Before he goes out to meet the challenge a young man speaks to Achilles. He tells Achilles details of how massive and strong the enemy champion is, and finally tells him that he would not want to fight the champion. Achilles calmly looks down at the young man and replies “that is why no one will remember your name.”
As previously stated, although cheesy, it makes sense. Someone who shies away from challenge and adversity, someone who does not press their goals, will not be successful. Rise up to your goals and challenges, and make sure to block out those who do not see your vision.
Jonathan King, Co-founder
Once I graduated with my undergraduate degree, i wrestled with what my next educational steps would be. Should I jump straight into a Master’s program, or should I try and gain work experience first and work on my Master’s degree later? Of course, I also thought about the fact that, after I gained work experience, I might not need to get a Master’s degree at all — depending on the career I chose. I sought out many sources of information and returned with many different answers.
In today’s world, we are blessed with great resources. Sometimes, however, all of the information clouds our heads and makes decisions even more difficult. As the cost of graduate school increases, potential students wrestle with knowing if going into debt will be worth it. One option I did not consider is foregoing a Master’s program and instead taking MOOC (Massive Open On-line Courses). Over the past few years MOOC have become an option for students who are looking for a lower cost option than pursuing an MBA. Currently MOOC focus primarily on business courses, but in the future I would expect these types of courses to expand into other fields as well. Before we go any farther, let me define exactly what MOOC are.
MOOC are open educational resources that are available through top colleges such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, CalTech, and others. MOOC are also available through education companies such as Udacity, Coursera, and eDX. The courses are often able to be taken at your own pace, and often include a certificate of completion. Most courses are free or offered at a low cost. One person at the forefront of this change in education is Laurie Pickard. Laurie is the owner of the website NoPayMBA.com, and has been featured in numerous publications (including Entrepreneur and Fortune magazines). Laurie was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about MOOC and how they have impacted the current education climate.
1. Why do you think MOOC has become more of an option for students the last few years vs. traditional MBA'a?
“I think people are recognizing that it is possible to learn valuable skills outside of universities. I do think universities have a real role to play — they're the ones creating these courses, after all — but especially for people who already have university degrees and are already working, it makes sense to learn in a just-in-time fashion, taking courses as they are relevant and putting the skills into practice immediately on the job.”
2. I think one of the fears of going the MOOC route is that an employer will not take you seriously if you do not have a "real" degree. How would you help calm those fears, and how does an employee prove to a hiring manager their MOOC work is valid?
“I think it's all about marketing yourself, telling a compelling story, and giving the hiring manager the ability to see for themselves what you are able to do. I created the portfolio feature on my site for precisely this purpose. If you just list a bunch of course titles at the bottom of your resume, that's not a great strategy for having employers take your MOOC education seriously. But if you have strong, relevant work experience and can demonstrate how you used MOOCs to build on your previous education, and importantly how you used the new skills (even if it wasn't for a paid assignment), then you make a very good case that you should be hired partly on the strength of your MOOC education.”
3. Where do you see the future of education going in the next 5-10 years?
“I think we'll see an explosion of certification options, which may make things confusing at first - things like microdegrees, open badges, and other non-degree credentials, which are already becoming more common. I think we'll start to see some of these credentials emerge as leaders in terms of employer perception and preference. I also think we'll start to see more employers using MOOCs for in-house training of their employees. And I think more hybrid programs like ASU's partnership with edX will emerge, programs where you can do at least some of your university education via MOOC.”
While the practicality — and even validity — of taking MOOC instead of going the traditional route is still up for debate, it is definitely another option to look at when you are deciding whether or not an MBA is right for you. Especially as Laurie pointed out — it can be a great option for employees already working but wanting to develop more expertise and set themselves apart from their coworkers.
When deciding on your next step regarding education, the most important thing to remember is that becoming truly educated is up to you as an individual. Whether you go to a prestigious college, take MOOC, or don’t pursue a formal degree at all, you can still become educated. It all depends on your level of commitment to learning.
Please take a look at Laurie’s website if you are interested in finding out more about the No-pay MBA, and tell her thanks for contributing to our article on her Facebook page!
Matthew King, Co-Founder