The Word is Hustle

This month I wrote a guest post as part of a contest for the popular career site, Job Mob. Here is a taste:

Looking for work is, well, hard work.

This is especially true if you are currently unemployed or fresh out of school. The lack of a paycheck makes everything more stressful. The whole process can be daunting. You need to target your resume, keep your LinkedIn profile updated, network, apply for jobs, practice interviewing, apply some more and on it goes.
After a few weeks, it is easy to develop a pretty poor attitude about the whole job hunt. But complaining about it won’t get you that job.

You know what will?


Read the complete article here

This contest is sponsored by:

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7 Characteristics of a Digitally Competent Job Seeker

Even if you do not work in a tech field, technology has become an integral part of just about every job. If you want to prove to potential employers that you are digitally competent make sure you can back up the following 7 characteristics in your interview.

1. You can integrate everyday digital skills into the workplace. If you can shop online then you can work online- and who hasn’t bought something on Amazon at this point? Here are a few key things you should be comfortable with:
  • Cloud storage options
  • Working collaboratively on a doc or presentation
  • Basic research skills beyond simply Googling.
2. You are open to experimentation. There are new digital tools becoming available to us every day. You should be comfortable seeking them out and implementing ones that will work for you. This doesn’t mean you have to be an early adopter of every new digital innovation that comes down the pike, but you should be able, and willing, to try new things that have proven to be helpful to others in your field.

3. You are comfortable with digital communication. Do you know the different between a status update and an instant message? Can you identify a retweet from a direct message? Do you know the rules of basic email etiquette? Being able to communicate effectively in the digital age means being comfortable with a variety of digital platforms. If you are not already there be sure to spend some time getting up to speed on the basics: email, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

4. You can evaluate digital sources. One of the great things about the internet age is that so much information is just a few clicks away. The bad thing is so much of that information is misleading, biased or just plain wrong. Today’s digitally competent job seeker needs to be able to discern what constitutes quality information and how to avoid the rest.

 I recommend for professionals the same strategy I use for my students: C.A.R.S.
  • Credibility- Does the writer have the background to legitimately offer thoughts on the topic?
  • Accuracy- Does the content appear factual?
  • Reasonableness- Steer clear of politically motivated rants.
  • Support- Are the sources listed? Des the writer link to further information?
The C.A.R.S. checklist isn’t fool proof, but it will go a long way to weeding out the misinformation strewn about the digital landscape.

5. You understand and respect privacy. At this point everyone should be aware that privacy is basically nonexistent online. Don’t make things worse by being digitally careless. If something is shared privately with you keep it that way. Don’t hit reply all unless you really need everyone in on a conversation. Regularly check the privacy settings on your various accounts as companies change their policies frequently.

6. You are a good digital citizen. Good behavior online is the same as good behavior offline. You know how to be respectful, appropriate and professional. Make sure you follow common courtesy rules in all your interactions, whether digital or in person.

7. You have a balanced attitude. Digital isn’t everything- unless of course you are applying to a tech firm, and then you should eat, sleep and breathe digitally. For the rest of us though, don’t let your enthusiasm for technology overshadow your competence and passion for your actual field.

I have seen this happen in my field, education, all too often. Educators become more interested in the toys and being tech pros than they are excited by working with children. Remember your core. Digital tools should be a compliment, not a focus.

So before you email that next resume, or post a new update on LinkedIn make sure to perform a quick self evaluation. Do you have the 7 characteristics of a digitally competent job seeker?

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Want To Grow Your Career? Try This.

Go grab a cup of your favorite coffee. This article is going to be a long one.

Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
All set? OK, let’s get started.
What if I told you there was a relatively painless way to guarantee both your personal and professional growth?
What if this method required absolutely no monetary investment?
What if you could do this in as little as 2 hours a week?
Well, such a technique does exist  and just about all of us had it mastered by the time we got to second grade. Have you guessed it yet? That’s right: Reading. There is no more sure-fire way to get better at doing your job than by some strategic reading of books, magazines and blogs in your professional area.
The cost? Nothing, as long as you have a library card and an internet connection, and if you’re reading this you must have internet- even if it’s only -shudder- dial up. If you don’t have a library card, then shame on you. You first job after finishing this is to go down to your local library and remedy this situation. Not sure about the value of a good library? I’ll let Neil Gaiman  convince you otherwise.
Yes, reading is that important. Not only will you make sure you are up on the most cutting edge research and techniques in your field, you’ll also be better prepared to have the kind of networking conversations, both online and off, that get you noticed.
For those of you whose idea of reading is pretty much limited to what shows up in your daily feeds let me help get you started. Here are 3 things to keep in mind when reading for career development.
1. Cast a wide net: We live in an age of information. Everywhere you turn there is more written content to take in. If this were 20, or even 10, years ago I would have advised you to subscribe to some professional journals and newsletters and that would be that. However, the internet has birthed a thousand new voices in every field imaginable, both in terms of online writing in web magazines and blogs as well as new books that are supported by those online platforms.
Search far and wide for the best material. Ask those a bit higher up the food chain than you who they read. You’ll be surprised by how willing people are to share writers whom they value.
2. Be intentional: While all reading is beneficial, if you want to get the most out of your professional reading, spend a little time creating a list of what is important in your field. Just because there are thousands of new voices, that doesn’t mean all of them are worthy of your time.
Fortunately there are a lot of tools to help you do this. Search your profession in Amazon and look at the top ten best sellers. These are the books people in your area are reading and talking about, so start there . Some other great tools for online content are Google Blog Search and Technorati. Type in your field and see some of the best blog authors out there discussing your very profession. Make a list of books and sites that are interesting and influential in your profession and make this your reading list.
3. Make it part of your schedule: If you are really going to get the most out of your professional reading you need to be sure it is a regular, non-negotiable, part of your week. For those of you who are regular readers this will not be a big problem, but not all of us are readers, and that is OK. If you need some motivation to kick-start the habit I suggest penciling in 2 hourly sessions at the local library. This way you have to leave your house and go someplace where distractions are minimal. And if you are going to spend an hour reading- what better place?
OK, so at this point, hopefully, I have convinced you that some intentional reading is worth your time. But I don’t want to leave it there. I want to give you some concrete advice as to where to start. Below are a few of my personal all-time favorites that can be helpful to you no matter what your career.
Book number one: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink. This book was truly a game-changer for me. For those who don’t know, by day I am a middle school English teacher, and Drive completely changed how I view student motivation. But this isn’t a book just for teachers- in fact, there is only one short chapter on education. Most of the book deals with motivation in the business world.
Money quote: “One source of frustration in the workplace is the frequent mismatch between what people must do and what people can do. When what they must do exceeds their capabilities, the result is anxiety. When what they must do falls short of their capabilities, the result is boredom. But when the match is just right, the results can be glorious. This is the essence of flow.”
This book is especially useful for managers and supervisors- or those of you who want to eventually be managers and supervisors. I guarantee you’ll get more out of your staff, and make them happier about it in the process.
Book number two: Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work. At first blush this looks like a book for creatives. (Yes, I just used the word ‘creative’ as a noun. Upping my hipster cred.) However, the advice to engage with your network, be generous and share, cuts across a wide swath of professions. It isn’t just artists and writers who can show their work. It’s all of us.
Money quote: “The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning in front of others.”
Want an easy way to start? Create a simple blog and start keeping a log of what you read. Share a quick thought or two. Put up quotes that strike you as important. Then share your posts on your social media of choice. That’s all there is to it. You are now putting yourself out there as a professional who wants to improve, who wants to grow. I guarantee that is exactly what employers- and your supervisors- want to see.
Book number three: Start: Punch fear in the Face, Escape Avergae and Do Work that Matters. I know, the title is a bit much, but what you’ll find inside is solid advice to level up your career. Trust me, if you really want to move on to the next level of success, this is the pep talk you need.
Money quote: “You don't need to go back in time to be awesome; you just have to start right now. Regretting that you didn't start earlier is a great distraction from moving on your dream today, and the reality is that today is earlier than tomorrow.”

I hope this article has inspired you to do some quality, career-boosting reading. Do you have a book you’d recommend? I’d love to hear. Hit me up on twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and let me know. I’ll make sure to share your suggestions with my audience. (Giving you credit of course. See? Networking in action!)