Wednesday, August 25

How Do I Pick My Major If I don't Know What I Want To Be (When I Grow up)?

Start with the end in mind. As with writing a speech, you determine what your objective is and what it is you hope to instill in your audience and only THEN do you begin to write your speech, make sense? Same with the job search and too, picking a major, internships, related clubs and activities, and more: You begin with the end in mind.

Every step you take, even in the moment, is another step on a path that will lead to one place or some other. Once you define you want to go north, south or anywhere in between, you can take out a compass and start down the path. I tell people just starting college that “job satisfaction years from now will be affected by the decisions you make today.” That being the case, why not try to define “job satisfaction” now? For many young people, the reason they don’t is that they don’t yet know what job they want. Nonetheless, without a sense of what “job satisfaction” may be to you, it will be very difficult to use a compass; so let’s start with that – defining job satisfaction; and I have a 5-step method you can use.

Your 5-Step Method for Defining Job Satisfaction

At the core of Job Satisfaction is an understanding of what you enjoy most. To understand what it is you enjoy most, you have to define ALL that you enjoy, and subsequently, what it is you enjoy most to least. This is an exercise that will help lead to a decision regarding not only a major, but internships and future job development. Sound tempting? That’s why we approach this not as an exercise to pick a major, but to define job satisfaction, beginning with the end in mind. Afterward, we will see how it can lead you back to defining your starting point, in your case perhaps your major. Let’s begin!

1. Where or from what might job satisfaction come?
Job satisfaction for some stems from the challenges in the job or a sense of purpose while for others it's more extrinsic and may be measured by the money they make; for some it may come from the learning that takes place or from knowing that their work matters; and still for others, simply having a job to go to everyday in order to have other things in life is fine, and it's from accepting that they derive their satisfaction.

2. Defining factors for YOUR job satisfaction: Defining the factors for your own job satisfaction requires you jumping all the way back to the beginning which could be your first job as, for example, a life guard when you were 16 years old, or a paper route at 12, and walking through your life right up to the present. However, instead of identifying duties, responsibilities, job descriptions, etcetera, as you might for a resume, look at your successes and the underpinnings of those successes. Underpinnings such as,

  • Instinctive skills – the automatic, the intuitive, creative skills that you drew upon at that time
  • Learned skills – that might be fielding phone calls, equipment inventory, basic accounting or program management

3. Other successes outside the workplace: When you take this “walk-through”, don’t limit yourself to jobs either. You have successes from other experiences outside a workplace that may be relevant and transferable. Maybe you led a youth group or did charitable work or went door-to-door promoting some cause; perhaps you edited a newsletter for your bowling league or helped a parent or friend put together a website for a small business.

Consider, too, alumni associations, community and civic organizations, councils with which you may have been involved (i.e. Habitat for Humanity, Scouts or a Theatre Arts Society), teams on which you played (sports; debate; moot court competitions) or Boards on which you served (Student Council or Yearbook or Save the World).

4. Success Attributes:
Once you have all these successes out on the table (achievements, accomplishments, contributions), you can identify (a) actual skills, (b) personal characteristics, (c) professional characteristics and (d) inherent or learned knowledge areas, all that you drew upon to succeed. These are the "underpinnings" I referred to, your success attributes, many of which may be derived from your innate or core competencies … your intrinsic know-how. Don't stop here!

5. Motivated versus Unmotivated successes: One a piece a paper, set up a “T-Chart” with Motivated and Unmotivated Successes written across the top of your sheet as your left and right headings respectively. Next, divide and list your “success attributes” defined in No. 4 above, into your two groups under the headings.

  • Motivated Successes – Those successes and their underpinnings that you are interested in perpetuating
  • Unmotivated Successes – Though they are successes, they are those which you have little or no interest in perpetuating

The motivated successes describe those skills, competencies, attributes… you not only work with and perform well, but enjoy – they motivate you. The other skills or competencies, with which you perform well, maybe even very well, just may not hold your interest; thus they do not motivate you. For example, maybe you're terrific at editing research reports but don't enjoy it. If you're caught on the job being good at it and consequently it becomes 20% of what you do, well...there goes 20% of your job satisfaction out the window, follow me? It also, perchance, may determine the level of angst you feel on the job, the most sever level requiring you to pull yourself out of bed in the morning and drag yourself to work. How many people like that have you met in your life? They live for Fridays and Sundays are the worst day of the week. Hey … Life’s too short!

Rob’s Maxim: If you don’t think you’ll enjoy it, don’t get caught doing it!

Once you have defined and thus classified your success attributes, you have laid the groundwork and are well on your way to defining the "best fit" for what might be your first career position after you’re graduated. With that done, you may be able to back up to the moment, the present time, and with some guidance from people you know and trust (i.e. family, peers, your school’s career development office, a career coach...) you can begin to lay a path moving forward.

A friend once said to me, “If I knew that job satisfaction was so elusive, I wouldn’t have spent half my life looking for it.” I asked him to define what job satisfaction for him would be. He said: “I’ll know when I find it”; hence the reason it’s been so elusive.

When you know what it is you can do, and moreover, want to do because you enjoy it most, you are in the best position to capitalize on the opportunities that await you in school, outside and beyond; and why? We are at our best when doing that which we enjoy most.

Hope this Helps!!



Tuesday, August 24

Is My Personality Killing My Chances? ... I Mean, Really

If you feel that your enthusiasm and focus on being the best you can be, either in an interview or on the job, may be working against you, you may want to rein in your enthusiasm and moderate your intensity to some degree. Nevertheless, and more often than not, it is a matter of developing good communication sense.

Is my Personality Killing My Chances?

"Communication skills" and "communication sense" are not the same. Good communication skills is the foundation, underpinnings, for developing communication sense, just like knowing the functions of the pieces on the Chess board is ultimately necessary for executing strategy. Pieces don’t win the match, how you manage them does; and perhaps that's all you need - a better strategy for managing your communications or Sound Communication Sense.

Here are some tips to help:

Truism: (You read this before) You create a more meaningful connection by becoming interested in others before trying to interest others in you.

  1. Set up "informational interviews" with knowledgeable and/or influential people with the specific intention of gaining job information. Informational interviews are also great low-risk practice grounds for developing your communication sense.
  2. Don’t oversell yourself: Talking to much is perceived as over-selling. Focus and listen and show the interviewer that h/she matters.
  3. Two ears, one mouth blah, blah, blah…”
  4. Seek out “referrals which results in less stressful interviews for all parties. When you are referred you enter the interview “pre-sold” to some degree and thus less burdened.
  5. Don’t bury your listener with incidentals and unnecessary details of a situation. When showcasing your value, if it’s not relevant to a result, drop it!
  6. Use simple language when talking with others. Don’t make your listeners plow through too much jargon, since “too much” can be a turn-off.
  7. Use brief anecdotes to communicate your value and strengths; keep each under 30-50 seconds and invite interviewer questions. (People will remember your anecdotal stories more than a litany of duties and responsibilities).
  8. Don’t rush. Stop and wait to see if there are any follow-up questions after responding to a question.
  9. Finally, target "spot opportunities". Spot opportunities are typically unadvertised, unpublicized opportunities that are triggered by some activity or event in the business community: Plant openings; new business developments, diversification or product introductions; mergers, acquisitions, divestitures; IPO’s, LBO’s, etc.
  10. Use your Informational interviews, referrals & spot opportunities gain other networking opportunities; leads to jobs or actual openings that you can get to before of the crowd.

Effective communication continues to grow more and more important in our information-intensive world. How you manage your verbal communication in networking meetings and interviews will directly impact not only the quality of the meeting, but the number of meetings that arise as a result (networking), and consequently, the outcome of your job change or career search. These 10 tips are helpful, but general. You may want to consider looking at some online “communication-style” and or “personality-style” quizzes to learn if your communication/personality style is helping relationships or causing problems. Entering meetings forearmed with that information plus the 10 tips herein will be a winning combination – and it makes good communication sense.

Hope this helps!!

Thursday, July 15

10 Rules For Beginning Your New Job On The Right Foot

Securing a new job is akin to a successful product launch! After all the time spent running a well-organized marketing campaign, you product has landed in the market. Similarly, you’ve landed your new job: The Product is in the Market! … And just as with the product launch, you want to continually work on positioning and posturing for long-term success … YOUR long-term career success.

10 Rules for Beginning Your New Job on the Right Foot

1. Get to Know the Company’s Key Players. Producing long-term results is more important than an immediate impact. Depending on the company and the reason for your hire you will have a settling-in period anywhere from 30-90 days. Use that time for wisely and get to know people and their roles; network; build alliances, etc.

2. Remember Names and Try to Use Them from Time to Time; and always with a smile. It is important to always Project a positive. Most people when introduced to others immediately forget names. If this happens to you, look them straight in the eye and say, “I’m sorry, could you tell me your name again?” and then practice using it once or twice a week –it’s also flattering.

3. Do Not Over-Do Conversation. Your weekend, evening, lunch, visit... was always “Very good” quickly followed by “and how was yours?” People ask, but they aren’t necessarily interested in more than that. If they get more than that before they really know you they will steer away the next time.

4. Observe How The Company Gets Things Done: The Company’s management style, your boss’ management style; leadership; company culture… Become a student of your managers and their leaders. I once heard said, “The best classroom is at the feet of an elder”. The bell has rung; so now take a seat and really pay attention.

5. Be a Class Act. Don’t get drawn into the chitter-chatter of gossipers. Smile, nod in agreement if you must, but do not gossip. If you do people will not put their trust in you. Practice being a good listening and consider everything you hear, even if it plainly is gossip, as if it were most private. Bite your tongue and you won’t go wrong.

6. Gain The Confidence Of Others. Give credit to others up and down the line. Be humble when given credit and say only “thank you”. For the first few weeks defer to others for advice; defer to your boss’s lead. After you have gained the confidence of your boss and others, maybe 30-60 days, you can start making recommendations.

7. Keep Your Boss Informed. This too is part of gaining his/her confidence. Make a point of asking a couple of questions from time to time. Be careful not to phrase your questions in a manner that sounds like you are prematurely criticizing people or procedure.

8. Show Your Boss You Are Serious. State your intentions within the confines of the job as it is currently described (save “posturing” for after the first 30-60 days). On day-one, arrange a series of short meetings for over the course of a few weeks to ensure that both of you remain on the same page; and that your actions support both your objectives and his/hers.

9. After Your “Settling In” Period, Schedule and Subsequently Plan for Your Review. In the meantime, keep a diary of what you see that can be improved, changed, accomplished and NEVER share this with co-workers – someone might steal your ideas or shun you for having some.

10. Keep Your Resume Updated. From day-one, be mindful of any and all your accomplishments, even the most subtle: Situations you were in; Opportunities you saw or sought; Actions you took; and Results! (Your S.O.A.R. Technique for story02telling). In doing so, you will be better prepared for your first Review, just as you had been for your interview. You will be forearmed with the information you will need to take an active part in the outcome of the Review. Since most employers take a very passive approach to Reviews, this tact will likely be most appreciated.

Wednesday, January 20

10 Steps to Preparing Top-Notch References

It Pays to Groom Your References

Grooming your references is essential; knowing exactly where you stand and avoiding surprises can be the make-it or break-it in a search. A little time with a reference can result in great returns.

10 Steps for Preparing Your References to Work for You
(Yes, another '10-Stepper')

1. First, phone or visit your references. Demonstrate the importance of your request my investing your time.

2. Ask for their permission even if you feel it goes without saying that they will help. Get a commitment for an enthusiastic endorsement; but make sure they understand it is okay to decline and it can still be business as usual (if not now, perhaps another time).

3. Compliment your reference. Communicate a sincere recognition of their accomplishments or their importance…that you think a lot of their success. You could say something like, “I’ve always admired your professionalism in business and hold the highest regard for your contributions to the industry.”

4. Most people know only a part of your background, so consider different references to speak to different areas of your background, experience, skill sets and accomplishments. Be sure you know who’s who and what before you meet, so you can be sure to give each the appropriate overview.

5. Provide a copy of your resume and go over the area of experience you feel they could endorse most enthusiastically. Prepare ahead to talk to them about the specific area and ask for their suggestions and advice. It’s flattering, even elevating, to be asked for advice.

6. Share. Together, shape the key selling points you want your reference to discuss. This will increase their retention and combine nicely with your resume. It’s also helpful to discuss types of roles and companies that are of interest to you and show them how your resume can be a script when they “perform”.

7. It will be helpful to develop a list of likely questions potential employers may ask. One (scary) question could be, “Can you explain to me the circumstances around h/her leaving your company?” You better be in sync! Another question may be, “Can you give me a general idea of the direction you see h/her career heading?” ... or ... “Would you rehire h/her?” Prepare careful answers and discuss them. After all, this will make helping you a lot easier for them.

8. Your references are likely to be busy people. Assure them you will respect their time and might only use them a few times, now and then…and mean it! They will not be very enthusiastic on the tenth call.

9. Avoid giving references to employment/personnel agencies. Personnel people may see them as potential targets for their own business and you could find yourself with “burned bridges”. Remember, you need to protect your references. At the Executive level it is different, and you should expect to provide references to Executive search companies; but then, only if mutual interest has been established.

10. Finally, after you call or visit, send a follow-up letter expressing your appreciation and highlighting a few of the key (positive) points that can be said about you. After that, remember to keep your references updated during the interview process with a call or visit, if and when you submit their name so they aren’t taken by surprise. You may even suggest they keep your resume by their phones to make it easier for them to respond quickly and too, save them time. They will appreciate that.

The easier you make this for your references the happier they will be. Everyone likes to help others, they just don’t always know how. Although they will do their best, it isn’t always best for you. The 10 points herein will help them help you and create good chemistry along the way. When the chemistry is good between you and your references, odds are they will be much better references. Again, grooming your references is essential. You must know exactly where you stand and they should too, so that surprises are avoided.

Hope this helps!


Rob Taub


Wednesday, December 9

6 Steps for Product Marketing Me: Strategy for the “Unpublished” Job Market

The best way to introduce yourself to a company with which you would like to work, find a company for which you think you’d like to work or to target companies for the purpose of networking into a position, openings notwithstanding, is to know the “What, where and how you can help the company”. I can give you a better-than-even chance of getting in the door to introduce yourself and possibly creating a job which is right for you. It’ll take some time and careful preparation but it’ll pay dividends. Here are 6 steps to follow:

Step 1 – Begin by listing all your functional strengths. Some examples are marketing, financial operations, research and development, information technology, engineering, strategic planning, etc. Some people have one while others may a few or even several. List as many as you can across the top of a page; and the more the better.

Step 2 – Next, determine what the strengths in step 1 qualify you to do, everything. Write these “qualifications” under each functional strength listed. Do this for ANY organization, not just those you might want to consider today. Of course not every organization needs help in every area but you still need to know what you have in your armory. To do this you need to think in terms of the employers’ needs and not just in terms of your strengths.

Step 3 – Think like an employer; think in terms of problem-solving. For example, under “Marketing” you may list; Identifying new markets for new products Finding new usage for existing products; Improving corporate-client communications; Stimulating internal communications; Evaluating expansion opportunities; Stimulating sales; writing brochures; coordinating events, etc. Some or all of these may be what your functional strength at the top of the page enables you to do for any employer. Think in terms of problems and opportunities and you’re thinking like an employer.

Step 4Carefully consider your experience and your interests, and give equal consideration to both. There may be experiences you have where you performed well but didn’t enjoy yourself. No sense focusing where job satisfaction will be lacking. Your experience may be in the Pet Supply Industry but your interests in “Marketing” may lie more in strategic planning and logistics and tied less to a specific product category. Perhaps you may enjoy more service-oriented environments, organizing people and moving them forward smoothly and well and this may suggest other organizations; or maybe your perspective turns to the client-side suggesting a very different set of companies.

Step 5Identify your target companies. Once your have completed the first 4 steps in this exercise, you are ready to identify the sorts of companies that would be most appropriate for you, and at which time you can begin to find the names of the companies and decision-makers you know are most likely to need you. This part can be easily accomplished with minimal Internet savvy. Once you have identified companies and decision-makers likely to need you, you are ready to prepare your approach. (If you already had a company or companies in mind, the exercise of completing steps 1-4 is still invaluable in developing your personal introduction as a “solutions provider” so take the time to start at the beginning).

Step 6Design your Direct Contact Letter. As you may already know from job search experience, your initial approach should be a letter targeted to a decision-maker and written as though it is written only with that person in mind. This is known as the Direct Contact Letter; one of the more frequently used letters in the job search and one that is most likely to “sell” you as a stand-out among any competition.

With this you are ready to launch. Again, it will take some time and careful preparation but it will pay dividends. I am hopeful you can succeed!

Hope this helps!


Rob Taub





Wednesday, December 2

3 Concepts for “Job Search Marketing Made Simple”

Job Search Marketing is a lot of work but is doesn’t have to be complicated. Comprehensive, “yes”; complicated, “no”, yet so many people cause themselves a lot of difficulty and stress. I’m going to try to make the concept of job search marketing simple for you to understand. I won’t be able to make it simple for you to undertake, however. It will always be hard work. Nevertheless, with understanding, maybe you won’t feel as though it’s an uphill battle.

By Rob Taub

The 3 Concept for click here to continue

Monday, November 16

Whether or not you take advantage of opportunity depends upon whether or not you believe you are free to choose
Notice how seeking lures your attention out of the present moment, toward an imagined state of completeness and satisfaction
Every journey is just an imagined path from Here to Here. You always have been and are right now – right Here, at Home

Thursday, November 12

7 Steps to Climb to Open a Career Door

By CAREEREALISM-Approved Expert, Rob Taub
November 3, 2009 by sparktalk

The best way to introduce yourself to a company that doesn’t appear to be actively looking is to know the “What, where and how you can help the company”. I can give you a better-than-even chance to get the door to open to be able to introduce yourself, perhaps even create a job that is just right for you. It will take time and careful preparation, but it will pay a dividend.

Step 1 – Functional strengths: Begin by listing all your functional strengths across the top of a sheet of paper. Some examples of ‘functional strengths’ are, marketing, financial operations, research and development, information technology, engineering, strategic planning, recruiting, training & development, etc. Some people have several; some only one. List as many as you can.

Step 2 – Core competencies: Next, under each functional strength you listed, write down anything and everything it qualifies you to do: Qualifies you to do for any organization, not just those you may be considering today. Of course not every organization needs help in every area but it is good for you to know in any event what you have in your armory. To do this you need to think in terms of employers’ needs, not just in terms of your strengths.

Step 3 – Think like an employer: To think like an employer requires that you think in terms of solving problems and recognizing opportunities. For example, if “Marketing” is your functional strength, under it you might list Uncovering new markets; Identifying markets for new products; Finding new usage for old products; Improving internal/corporate communications; Stimulating client communications; Evaluating expansion opportunities; Stimulating sales; Writing brochures; Coordinating events, Community outreach, etc. as ‘competencies’ tied to your that strength and where problems and/or opportunities may be found. Hence, you are thinking like an employer.

Step 4 – The “big picture”: You will need to develop a big picture perspective for targeting employers. First, carefully review your experience and your interests, giving equal consideration to both. There may be experiences you have where you performed well but didn’t enjoy yourself. No sense focusing where job satisfaction will be lacking. Next, with an open mind review all your experiences trying not to lock yourself in to traditional position or industry boundaries. Take the “blinders” off … broaden the scope. For instance, your experience may be in the Pet Supply Industry but your “Marketing” prowess extends throughout “supply chain” or maybe it lay more in the program management and strategic planning side and tied less to a specific product category. Or perhaps you may enjoy service-oriented environments, organizing people and moving them forward smoothly and well. This may suggest other organizations. Maybe your perspective turns to the client-side suggesting a very different set of organizations such as ad agencies or associations, councils … or consulting firms, for example.

Step 5 – Targets: Once your have completed Step-4, you are ready to identify the types of companies most appropriate for your strengths, experiences, skill-sets and competencies, and you can begin to find the names and decision-makers of such companies, with the confidence that those you uncover are also those most likely to have need for someone like you. (This part can be accomplished with a minimum amount of Internet savvy). Once you have identified companies’ names that are likely to need you, and the decision-makers, you are ready to prepare your approach strategy. (If you already had a company or companies in mind, take the time to complete steps 1-4. The exercise is still invaluable for developing your personal introduction as an “individual solutions provider”).

Step 6 – Ready … Aim … MARKET! As you may already know from job searching experience, your initial approach should be a letter targeted to a decision-maker and written as if you had only that person in mind. Since you want to position yourself as an “individual solutions provider” and not a “job searcher” – one from the masses – a resume is not included. In place of the traditional ‘cover letter and resume combo’ you can style a letter that incorporates some of the language and elements of your resume. This is your Direct Contact Resume Letter; one of the more frequently used letters in job searching. This format is more likely to help you stand-out as an “individual solutions provider” and “sell” you. It will look something like this example letter:

Mr. Farley Ranger

Pheasants Forever

444 Olde Mill Road

Port Hercules, MI 55555

Dear Mr. Ranger:

Anyone in our industry knows that a company like yours in today’s market is anticipating a period of rapid growth. This will require an outstanding effort on the part of its people. As an avid environmentalist and a small farm owner who has worked extensively in establishing and developing habitat in partnership with conservation services, and has helped to build an organization in the same industry, I believe I know something about what that will take.

Unless I miss my guess, your anticipated growth has probably created needs in a number of areas already, and I believe I can help. For example, you may need help in controlling the direction of the company so that your growth is smooth, profitable and lasting. Acquiring, training and motivating new personnel may be an area where you can use my help. Another may be shifting some of your administrative burden to give you more time for other pressing matters that an executive in your position may face; and there is likely more that you are considering at this stage where my help can give you an edge..

In addition, I led men and women in groups of 30 to 500, built teams and managed budgets in the millions of dollar as an officer in the United States Army for the last 20+ years; and working for the government I needed to be innovative in order to stretch those dollars for they were usually shy of what was needed for the objective. I also worked with foreign leaders often contrasting ideas for achieving the objectives and had to build consensus to accomplish the common goal. I have learned how government and bureaucracy work and know what it takes to make things happen.

Having recently transitioned out of the military I have returned home and I am interested in working with your company; and when I say that I believe I can help you, I speak with conviction that comes from having done it. I will call next week to see if we should arrange a meeting. A short conversation will no doubt tell us whether or not we have the basis for getting together. I look forward to it!


Step 7 – The Follow-up: When you call to follow-up on your letter you will likely connect first with an administrator. In preparation, call the company’s main number and ask for the name of the decision-makers administrator. When you call, use the person’s name and simple state: “Good morning, Ms. Smith. This is Rob Taub calling. I promised Farley Ranger last week that I would follow-up this week with a call. Is he in?”

When you get to the decision-maker, be direct. Your research told you that this is a company that has needs for your talents and experiences. You are not on the phone to ask for a job interview but to propose a mutually beneficial get-together: An opportunity. Reference the letter directly and ask for the meeting. If you encounter any resistance it will probably be something like this: “Can you tell me again why you are calling me?” or “Why I should be getting together with you?” Reference the letter and reel off about three or four key areas where he needs your help and quickly follow-up asking if he feels there’s any room for improvement, advancement, stepping-up… in those areas and when he replies “yes” (because there’s always room) you set the meeting. If the response is still negative – if you feel you hit a road block – you will need to employ strong telephone technique. Part of your initial preparation is to become familiar with telephone techniques. You can read my October 21st career advice piece “Overcoming Phone Phobia” at CAREEREALISMBecause EVERY Job is Temporary: You can also find other useful telephone techniques there and on other career sites.

In conclusion, many people assume that if a company isn’t actively looking then there is no job. It is the experience of many job searchers familiar with the steps listed here, that tells us otherwise. Take the time and carefully prepare and you, too, may say otherwise.

Hope this helps!


Rob Taub