Career Employment Strategies

Friday, June 29, 2007

The limits of instant background checks

The ability to digitize information gave us the advantage of easy storage and
retrieval of massive amounts of data. The advent of the World Wide Web gave us a
way to share data while ignoring physical location. This complicates hiring
procedures. Although an instant background check can be done, the
quality is not always to be proud of or relied upon. But since an online instant
background check is the easiest and fastest to perform, it is now
standard practice among professionals and companies out to hire new blood.

The advantages should be first laid out, before working through or around the
pitfalls of an instant background check. It piles up information
to help an employer or a company to reach a more or less informed decision on
whether to hire or ignore an applicant. Since complete information on anything
cannot be had at any single time, decisions are sometimes made based on instant
background checks alone, if only to race up a project in mind, or
to fill in the ranks vacated by employees pirated or those who walked away.

Search engines will automatically abound with links to online articles, blog,
news items, photos, videos and so on about any name you punch in. Problems are
when the names double and lead to false info, such as aliases and forum names;
or when the info are grossly not updated. The links could be dead, the contact
numbers and persons those from another age. These are some problems with an
instant background search.

Offsetting these problems are the various servers and numerous website that
provide quality instant background searches. Some of them are free. The
better ones are not. These websites often have state of the art software that
"compose" for you a profile of the person you want checked, from identity
verification, criminal record sheet, driving history, credit reports,
verification of licenses, educational background, and who the references
listed on the resume are. One wonders about one's privacy these days.

These online investigative firms usually charge for a reasonable fee, and when
requested, info that are more accessible to on-foot investigation rather than
on-line ones can be acquired. So the best starting point, still, are the paid
online instant background checks, not the easy one you can do with
a search engine during a coffee break


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Power of Personal Perception

I was consulted to facilitate a seminar on diversity to a group of managers in the UK some time ago. With it being on human resource management and the treatment of diverse people in the workplace, I adopted my usual approach to check out perceptions. Plastic bag in hand, with a deliberate air of nonchalance, vulnerability and professionalism, I gingerly approached the receptionist at the venue. I asked for my contact and, while I waited for her, I explained that I was there for a seminar but deliberately did not say in what capacity.

The receptionist looked me up and down carefully, then pointed out that there were three seminars taking place that day. One was on diversity management for managerial staff, but that would not apply to me (she seemed certain); one was for technology staff which would not be for me, either, and the third was for local business advisors. Surprisingly, without even bothering to check whether I could have been an advisor, she naturally assumed that seminar would have no relevance to me at all. The amazing response was that she was perplexed as to which one it could be because none of them appeared 'suitable'. Had I got the right day, she queried helpfully?

She was so firm in her perception of who I could be, having formed her value judgement based on my gender, colour and appearance, she did not even bother to quiz me in any way. As polite as she was, she hastily sent me to wait for my contact and got on with her business. As luck would have it, she was one of the managers in my seminar. When she came into the room later on and saw me delivering my presentation, the look on her face was priceless. I have to hand it to her, though. When I began to talk about perception and how it affects our treatment of others, she readily told the group, rather sheepishly, that, without any precedence of a Black facilitator, she did not see me in that capacity. Knowing I wasn't a member of staff, she said it did not occur to her that I could actually be the trainer. Coming from the proverbial horse's mouth, it was an unforgettable admission.

For my part, I took being a consultant trainer for granted. Having been a pioneer in the subject areas I practise in, personnel development has been an integral part of my life and thus the norm for me. Often I did not stop to think that my role would be unusual to others who hadn't experienced it because we can never see ourselves as others see us. We so easily take it for granted that, just because we are part of the human race, we automatically share the reality of others, share their perspectives and, above all, share their perceptions. But we don't. That woman, being White, was judging me on the basis of her background, her colour and her experience. A natural thing to do. I was doing the same from my perception and expectations as a Black woman. As they were different from hers, not surprisingly, we did not meet in the middle.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Best Success Model For Excellence At Work

Here's a tried-and-true formula for achieving success. I call it the BEST Success Model for obvious reasons.

ABOUT BELIEFS -You create your own future. And each element in the above equation plays a pivotal role in how you do that. It's no accident the foundation of all success begins with your beliefs - because whatever you believe is possible for yourself IS.

There are two aspects to consider. The first is the belief you "can" achieve success—i.e., you've got what it takes. With the second being you "deserve" to have it. For many, the latter is the harder of the two aspects to master; with the end result being various forms of self-sabotage. But when you can recognize that is what you're doing to yourself, it's easy to self-correct. Should you find yourself desperately wanting success but sub-consciously don't believe you deserve it, it won't matter how hard you work for it, it will always elude you. The success game is 99% mastery of your own mind!

Take a step back and consider the definition of success. In today's consumer-oriented society, people tend to define success in dollars. However, you can be extremely successful and not have made a lot of money at all. Money is not success; it is only one (of several) by-products of it.

The definition I like best is "success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal". Earl Nightingale explains it all masterfully on a CD recording called "The Strangest Secret in the World". The valuable message it provides is this: Thoughts are things--We become what we think about.

At this time, all you need to do is consider where you are with your beliefs right now. Be very honest with yourself about this.

Just start from where you are now. Do you feel stuck? Do you want to move forward and make better use of your capabilities? Would you like to be able to react and communicate more appropriately, make better choices and have better relationships with yourself and others?

These things are only possible when you uncover and permanently remove the limiting beliefs affecting your creativity and ability to succeed. That's essentially the gift of support a mentor brings to you along with the bonus of being able to share knowledge and wisdom gained from experience to guide you in your own path.

For the moment, all you have to do is remember this: we all hunger for acceptance, belonging, validation, and love. These are the four drivers of all human behavior—on and off the job! Regardless of your station in life or your role in the organization, these four key factors underpin all situations (that is all actions and non-actions) and reactions to same. They affect everything that happens to you on your personal success journey. They affect every person you come into contact with. They affect YOU.

And, the better you get at recognizing these forces at play in the workplace and in your own relationships, the faster you will get where you want to go and the easier it'll be to get there. To get started, make a point of noticing what's going on around you. Pay attention to the words people use when they are telling about this or that situation that has happened to them. And notice how they speak about themselves in relation to others.

ABOUT EXPERIENCES—These 4 factors also make a nice lead-in to the next element of the equation: experiences.

The beliefs you hold about who you are, where you came from, and what you're capable of shape your experiences by providing a filter through which you see and feel all the things going on around you at work and at home. They influence how you respond to and interact with others you meet along the way to your success.

It's important to realize we don't ever see people as they are, we always see them as we are. It's critical you understand and accept this. Whenever a situation or a person is annoying the hell out of you, the universe is really holding up a mirror and trying to show you a part of yourself you desperately need to work on. And here's a little secret. The more annoyed you are, the more work on yourself you need to do.

This rule applies whether you are the boss or the employee, the parent or the child, the husband or the wife, the friend or the family member. Do yourself a favor by paying close attention to these feelings and be honest with yourself about them!

Always maintain an attitude of gratitude.You move along the path of your self-created success, by accumulating experiences. Some you want and need to have; others come along just to teach you what you need to know (see details above). Some you will welcome and be happy about; others you won't. Regardless, it's important to maintain an attitude of gratitude for all of the experiences gifted to you because it's only from this state that you can prepare yourself to receive success.

ABOUT STUDIES—And now I'm going to tell you something not likely to be very popular. Especially if you've recently graduated from school and have just started working… you are never finished learning. Learning opportunities are everywhere and it's in your own best interest to take advantage of as many of them as you possibly can.

Learners are earners! The more you invest in ongoing learning, the higher your earnings will always be. That said--no one knows it all. And the sooner you accept that, the better off you will be!

(FYI: You will meet people who think they do, and act like they do but they are delusional.)

It's up to you how much time you want to spend on your continuing education. And, by the way, piling up more letters after your name is not what this means. Some of your learning will happen on the job; the rest you commit to acquiring on your own time. Participating in mastermind groups and mentoring programs on your own initiative is an example of investing your own time in this regard. Taking courses offered by your employer after hours is another. Never miss an opportunity for more learning—especially if your employer will pay the bill for it.

If you are serious about getting ahead, a good rule of thumb is to devote 10% of your standard work week to additional learning. This amounts to just 3 to 4 hours or so. If you work in a fast-moving industry or want to rise through the ranks quickly, bump this up to about 8 hours per week. Now here's the best part…if you manage your work day productively, this won't cut into your personal life one little bit!

Opportunities to learn are everywhere. Open your eyes and ears. Turn off the tv. Watch. Listen. Read books. Take courses. Talk to people. Then volunteer for every opportunity where you will have a chance to try out what you've learned. The best learning comes with DOING!

ABOUT TESTS—This is the point in the formula where real success happens. Everything that comes before this is important but skipping this part (as most folks do) is what separates the wannabes and also rans from the fast-tracking superstars! The only way to tell if you are making the progress you need to make is to constantly be measuring and evaluating your own performance. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you. Be pro-active in monitoring yourself and in seeking feedback from others.

Feedback is the "breakfast of champions". Without feedback you're working mostly with assumptions and a pile of guesswork. You can't manage your career effectively that way. More importantly, you can't make course corrections when they're called for or needed. Winners keep score!

Now you might think you only need to read a lot and you'll "get it" by osmosis. If you take that route you'll be shortchanging yourself. Nothing beats doing. We need less talk. Less thinking. More doing.

Remember this very powerful formula. If you are not working this way now, don't despair – there is always time for change. But don't try to do a 180 and change everything about yourself overnight. Let these new ideas into your mind; then be patient and let the new behaviors evolve. It takes time to come around to new ways of thinking. New ways of being.

It takes commitment. It takes practice. You will make mistakes. That won't matter. At the end of the day, there is no failure, there is only learning.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Small Business Stress Management - Worry Creatively About Money

Only fools and dead people have no worries. Human nature being what it is, all of us worry about money. We worry about money when we have too little, when we have enough and when we have extra. But not everyone worries equally.

Those who worry well about money are relatively stress free when it comes to money management, no matter whether the concerns are about too little money or how to best manage adequate and surplus funds. Those who do not know how to worry about money are nervous wrecks and consider finances to be a headache producer.

I suggest three rules of thumb about how to handle the financial concerns that go with every business and that are usually pressing concerns with small businesses.

First: organize the worries. Financial matters fall into a very few categories such as cash flow, debt management, credit development, receivables, taxes and asset management. Each have their own considerations and need to be well-organized, carefully filed and accurately tracked. For example, with cash flow it is important to have cash on hand to meet daily expenses and payrolls. With credit is is important to develop lines of credit, the longer the better. But aside from writing legibly and making careful notes and entries, none of these money matters merit non-stop attention.

Translating the worries into organized tasks that can be accomplished is a way of acting on the worries instead of worrying. If organizing the worries into action is step one, then step two becomes scheduling the dates on which the actions occur. Change the worry to action, schedule the action, and live worry-free during the interim.

Second: schedule the tasks and do them faithfully at the proper times. Get the taxes done on time. Be sure to make payroll on time every time. Organize debt payments to be automatically deducted or do them manually on the same date each month. It might be that the various tasks related to financial management of the business require a total number of hours each month equal to less than one work day! By organizing and scheduling the financial tasks a new perspective becomes possible: financial management of the business is not a big headache, just a collection of routine tasks!

Third: worry about the finances on purpose. Remember, we are all humans. It is human to worry. The manager of a small business and indeed of any-sized business will worry about finances, no matter how well-organized and efficient the company's management of financial tasks and policies. The goal is to be worry free in between the tasks you have organized. But the human mind does not always adhere to schedules.

Ridiculous as it may seem, commit yourself to worry on purpose when you "feel it coming on." Just be sure the worry session has a beginning and end before you get into the worrying. Keep it short: ten minutes is far more than enough to worry yourself sick and get it out of your system. This is a different approach than being half-worried or a little worried or stuffing down the worry.

Nagging worries simply produce a sense of unease. By comparison, an all-out bone-rattling worry acts like a strong storm: it clears the atmosphere so calm can return. Venting out fears, worries and anxiety is a cleansing antidote as old as human nature. Use it as often as needed. It won't let you down.

Managing a small business brings with it plenty of financial problems and challenges. It is human nature to sit up and take notice of financial problems. Just remember, they never really go away, they only mutate. Managing worry is the best approach: organize the worries, turn them into tasks and schedule the tasks. When you need to worry do it with abandon. The rest of the time enjoy successfully managing the financial aspects of your business!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are You Living Your Passion

As I interviewed thousands of people over a 20 year period at the Executive Recruiting Firm I owned in Phoenix AZ, I discovered that the majority of people are NOT living their passion. Instead they are showing up for a "job," collecting a pay check, counting the days until the weekend or counting the months until their next one week vacation.

Let me share a couple examples of a few clients that learned how to design a lifestyle and a career so they could "have it all" and start living THEIR Passion.

Consider Mary:

She just turned 40 has three children ages 3, 8 and 12 and works part time out of her home as an executive recruiter earning approximately 30K a year. Mary wanted and needed to take her business and her income to another level but wondered if she had to get an office to do so or hire an assistant. That was not necessarily what she wanted to do. Her real passion was teaching, communicating and helping others.

Mary had her "Aha" moment during our first consultation when she realized that she had the knowledge and tools to share with other Moms who wanted to stay at home, work part time, while contributing to the family finances.

She started designing an internet based company to sell the "how to" formula that has worked for her for the past 13 years. This was using her creativity, her natural ability to organize, and her teaching skills. She discovered she did not need to go out of her home to make money.
She called her new business

I think it is important to brainstorm with others until you find your "aha" moment about how you can start living your passion. You owe it to yourself to find out what is right for YOU to do with the rest of your life. To discover your passion and purpose.

Another client Ted (38)…… had been building an insurance agency for the past 15 years. When his wife asked for a divorce his world changed. He started asking himself "what do I want to do now, I never did love the insurance business." However Ted also had what I consider the golden handcuffs ….How do you walk away from something that affords you a great lifestyle like Ted had?

You Don't!

You keep that business going and growing as it always has even if you have to hire some part time or temporary employees to get you through the transition, but then start looking at what YOU really want to do?

Ted worked through the process of getting to know what HE really wanted in life. What he realized was he needed to be outdoors, and work in the soil, of course his insurance sales position never allowed him to do that. He started one little step at a time just by adding outdoor activities to his every day life while his cash cow continued to work for him.

Giving himself permission to be outdoors and working in the earth, Ted is now developing a part time landscaping company that he works in on the weekends.

I am sure the end of this story for Ted we will find him happier and more fulfilled than he has ever been in life because he found what makes him happy at the core of his being.

The days of working in a career for 50 years (as my Dad did) receiving a gold watch and retiring until it is time to die are gone forever.

One question I get asked all the time is:

How does a person know if they are on the right track with their career and if they are possibly living their passion?

Allow me to ask you 4 simple questions to know if you are on the right path.

1. When you tell others what you do for a living are you proud of what you do?

2. When you are at work does time fly by until it is time to go home?

3. Do you feel creative and productive when you are at work?

4. Do you generally look forward to going to work each day?

These are just 4 out of hundreds of questions to ask yourself so you can begin living your passion. One of the keys to future success with anyone's career is finding out what you really want and who you really are. It all begins with simple questions and answers about You, Your needs, your desires.


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Friday, June 08, 2007

Job Interview Strength and Weakness

During a job interview, it seems that a ton of questions fly all around – and they generally do not mean a thing to you. However, the answers may be more important than you first think. One of my most memorable jobs also had a very memorable job interview. I had applied to be a teacher at a local preschool, and now sat across a desk, being interviewed by my future boss – the director of the school. "What would you consider your weakness?" she asked, once the introductions were made. "I am a very shy person when I first meet other people," I answered, smiling a little. "It becomes a bit detrimental, because it gets misconstrued as snotty, or a better-than-thou attitude." She nodded and laughed. "I have had that same problem!" She answered. "I have had a ton of people tell me that they thought I was a witch when they first met me!" Of course, the "witch" word she was talking about had actually begun with a "B".

Do not be afraid of your weaknesses, but do not make one up, or use one that you may have heard before. The most played out and abused "weakness" would have to be the saying, "I am too much of a people-pleaser!" You would certainly have to wipe the brown off your nose after that one! In addition, it probably just made you seem fake and unconvincing to the interviewer.

What clinched my interview for the teaching position was a lot more unexpected than I thought. I was asked an excruciatingly simple question that almost made me wonder, "What is this lady getting at?" The director gazed at me seriously, cocked her head to one side, and inquired, "If I needed to send you into a room by yourself for a few minutes, and you were not familiar with the classroom or the children, what would your first reaction be?" I laughed and answered, "Probably try to appease them and keep them busy by playing the Hokey Pokey, or some other kind of game."

Amazingly, I was told later on – once I had been a teacher there for a while – that the answer I had given to that question was what had landed me the job. Apparently, my strength was the insane, shameless way I could embarrass myself in front of a bunch of children! Who knew? Once again, asking friends and family for advice on describing your strengths and weaknesses, will give you great insight into yourself. Usually, you may have to put up with a little bit of ribbing from them – especially when it comes to your weaknesses. Just laugh, and tell them to get serious – it is for a job you are looking into. Be sure, however, to limit your strengths and weaknesses to the job you are applying for. An interviewer at the local department store is not interested in your strength to withstand tickling under your arms, just as much as they are probably not too interested in your weakness for cheese!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

7 Jobs Which Make Your Legal Job Look Great

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Home Business Basics

So you are thinking of starting a new business? Well, that's not that difficult especially if you start it from home. Indeed, there is no need to hire office space if you are the only employee in your company. Moreover you will benefit from the comfort of your own home and save some cash. Once your business starts to pay and you need to hire staff, than you can think of moving to a professional office.

Setting up your home business lies in a few simple steps. First of all arrange your home office. Choose quiet space - it may part of another room or a separate room. Many people situate their home office in the living room, other - under the staircase or in the garage. Once you have chosen the home office space, get the furniture. As a home business beginner it is not required to go for expensive furniture - a simple but convenient desk will be enough. Add a few shelves and a cabinet and you are done. The same rule applies to the equipment. Obviously the equipment you might need depends on the type of home business you are running. Buy the most important ones first and try to find the optimum solution. Once your business starts to make a profit you can replace it with better one.

With all of the above ready your home business is set and ready to go. The next thing to consider, and in fact the first one before you even decide to run a home business, is to make a business plan. Think carefully about the projected incomes and expenses, budget everything and follow the plan strictly. That's the most important and really the vital part of running a home business. Unfortunately many statistics show that almost 90% of all home business fall during their first year. Of course the reasons are various but the most common one is bad planning and budgeting.

Finally - stay focused. Keep a clear vision what is your initial idea and seek ways to reach it. Your strongest advantage is that you are your own boss ad can set your own priorities. Moreover your home business is much more flexible than any other business - you should learn how to use this as your weapon during any hardship that may cross your way. Make a contingency pan just in case and never let pessimist take over you. Starting abusiness is a brave but uneasy step. However it is never early to succeed and if you work hard you will see the fruits of your work soon.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Time Management & The Home-Based Business - Daily Habits Every Effective Leader Should Know

I had worked for someone else as an employee for my entire former career. I would wake up early in the morning, drive to work, put in 8, 9 or more hours, with an hour for lunch in the middle, and then come home. My day was scheduled out for me. I did this each day by habit. I was accountable to my boss, who expected me to be there at a certain time and perform my assigned duties. Not so for the home business entrepreneur.

You started a home-based business to be personally and financially successful. Perhaps, like me, you were looking for some time freedom, desiring more time for yourself and family. As a home business entrepreneur, you are the boss. You don't answer to anyone but yourself (or maybe your spouse!) You are responsible for your own results. If you work your business, you will reap the rewards; if you don't... you know the saying.

So, do you just wake up in the morning, go to your home office and start prospecting or marketing from sunup to sundown? Absolutely NOT! It is important for you to establish daily habits that allow you to work your business effectively and also enjoy the freedom that you were looking for.

The main activities that effective leaders do each day can be grouped into a few categories. Create a schedule for yourself incorporating each of these activities for you will follow each day.

Income Producing Activities: Consider the hours you will actually do the income producing activity of your business. This may include making phone calls to prospects, marketing, placing ads, etc. Morning? Afternoon? Or a couple of hours during both. Decide how many hours you will spend each day of the week and stick to your plan. This will prevent you from overworking yourself.

Networking with other Leaders: This would be the time to connect with other leaders in your business. This might be a quick phone call to an associate in your organization or a company conference call.

Personal Development and Training: Spend some time working on yourself and developing your mind. A successful attitude breeds success. Read a book. Listen to an empowering audio. Keep a journal and make an entry. Even spending 15 minutes a day at this will make a huge difference in the results you experience.

Visualize and Focus on your Goals: Set aside some time to focus on your daily activity goals. This will help you understand your tasks for the day. Also visualize your short and long term goals. Imagine the feelings you will experience upon accomplishing your goals. This can be done in 30 minutes or less. You can do this in the shower! These can be your business goals as well as personal goals and results you are going to produce. Defining your goals and knowing where you are going will propel you towards them!

Have Fun: This one is most often overlooked because people don't think this is part of their business. But it is! You started a home-based business to have time freedom to enjoy your life more. Well enjoy! Do the things you have wanted to do but couldn't when constrained by the hours of a traditional job. Pursue your interests. Forward your calls to your cell phone and get out of your house. Go to a Movie. Play Golf. Do some volunteer work in your community. Start living the life you desired! Not only will it make you feel good, it will make you more attractive to your business prospects when they call you and you are at the tennis courts!

As a home business entrepreneur, managing your time and establishing balance between work time and personal time is important. Unlike the regularity of a conventional job, the home business entrepreneur must manage his own time. Overwork can lead to resentment. Prevent "burn out" by creating a schedule of the main activities that effective leaders do each day. Make these your daily habits. Doing so will allow you to work your business effectively, have a greater sense of accomplishment, and enjoy the time freedom that you a home business can provide.

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