COVID Career Pivots – The One Thing You Need to Know!

On a daily basis, I get messages from folks who are ready to make a pivot in their career, and with so many folks losing their job because of COVID the amount looking to pivot seems to be increasing. Career pivots aren’t a new thing. On average people change jobs like 358 times during their career or something like that.

Here’s how that conversation normally goes when I have a conversation with a friend who’s deciding on a pivot:

Friend of the Project: Tim! So, I lost my job (or I hate my job) and I’ve always wanted to be a Professional Puppy Petter!

Me: OMG! Me Too! I love puppies! So awesome!

FOP: Okay, so I’m currently making low six figures, like $127,350. And while I know I won’t make that same amount in my pivot profession, I still need to make $127,300. What advice do you have for me to become a Professional Puppy Petter?

Me: Don’t.

FOP: Haha! No seriously, petty puppies are my passion! I’ll do whatever it takes!

Me: You have to be prepared to take a pay cut of at least 99% (in reality, for most career pivots, it’s probably 30-40%).

The reality is, most of the actual examples are people asking me how to get into HR. They are usually coming from a sales job or management job where they are making $65-85K. Some even have an HR degree, but little or no experience.

That’s awesome. I love HR! But, you have to be ready and prepared for an offer around $40-45K for your first HR job, depending on the market. That means you need to adjust your lifestyle to make that career pivot. I find about 1 out of 25 people are willing to make that adjustment.

When I first jumped from agency recruiting to HR I took a 65% cut in pay to move into straight corporate HR. I actually lied about how much I was making because it was probably double what my new corporate boss was making. They never would have hired me knowing they were making me an offer so low from I was currently at. But, I truly wanted to make that pivot!

Career pivots take major sacrifice, but often they are worth it if you find a career doing something you truly care about. It’s easier to pivot at the beginning or end of your career. You have less to lose. When you are mid-career with a house payment and kids and a dog, career pivots are almost impossible, without major adjustments to lifestyle.

The one thing you need to know…

Career pivots have less to do with your ability to do the new job and everything to do with your willingness to take a major step back in life comforts.

Good luck out there my friends!

This Was Not Plan A!

My son Cam Sackett graduated from college in May from the University of Michigan. He’s an amazing young man.

His plan A was to start his career in Communications/Marketing/Social Media with a global media company (Viacom/Disney/Netflix/Apple/HBO/NPR/NBC/CBS/Etc.) in a great city like New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., San Francisco, London, etc.

He has an education. He has the internships at big brands, doing the right things, and getting the right experiences. He’s a thousand times more prepared and ready than his old man coming out of college.

This is not Plan A

It’s rare that you have once in a lifetime things happen. It’s called a one-hundred-year flood for a reason. It usually will only happen every one hundred years, and there’s a good chance it won’t happen to you. But, it’s going to happen to someone.

Millions of college graduates graduated from college this spring and early summer. They all have hope and aspirations of starting their careers in great jobs they’ll love and will stay with for the rest of their lives! This is their plan A.

Plan B – which we don’t talk about outside of maybe Mom and Dad, was they would accept a job outside of their desired companies, but still in one of my target cities and in their chosen career field. At which point, they would kill the game, and eventually end up at their dream company and in their dream job!

This is not Plan B.

Plan’s C – Z all suck. At least that’s what they believe. Plan C isn’t in the location I want or the company I want or the job I want. Nope. It’s a job. It’s a company that needs your help. It’s in a location that is where the job is. They might not even care that you went to college and graduated, or that you were Summa Cumma Laudda whatever.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson

Covid-19 is a world champion heavyweight boxer in his/her prime. And it’s punching the vast majority of folks right in the mouth.

So, you wobble back to your corner and you sit down on that stool. Head still ringing from the shot to the head you took. You instantly get pissed at folks around you. Your school. Your government. Your parents. Your friends. How could they not prepare you for that punch! Why didn’t someone tell you that you were going to get punched right in the face!?

The bell rings and you must get back into the ring and prepare yourself to get punched in the mouth again. There is no throwing in the towel. The older you are the more you smile at this. It’s because you’ve taken punches. You’ve got knocked out. You’ve gotten back up, and you stepped back into the ring. We all will take punches and it sucks! It sucks super hard! I’ve tried with all of my might and wisdom to put my kids in a position where they would not have to take a punch. God damn it! They still are taking punches.

That is not Plan A, but it is the plan you’ve got. Welcome to the show, kids.

Dream Gigantic!

I love this concept. It feels hopeful and aspirational.

I don’t do this enough. I don’t count myself as a dreamer, but I encourage my children to do this.  I want them to be the MLB Shortstop, the famous Fashion Designer, and world-renowned Environmentalist.  They have Gigantic dreams.

I will do everything I can in my power to help them reach those dreams.  I tell myself I won’t be the parent who tells them they are unrealistic.  I won’t be the parent to tell them they are far-fetched.  I will not be the parent to tell them that their dream is out of reach. I have to keep telling myself this because as a parent it’s hard.

I have a career that has taught me to be pragmatic.  I’ve seen the best and worst of people, sometimes all in the same day. When people ask me for career advice I give them the safe answer because I know the reality of life, their dreams are longshots and most people are not willing to come close to the effort they need to exert to reach their dreams.

So, I give them options I think they are willing to work for which are usually less than Gigantic.

Every day I have to consciously turn this off as I drive home.  You see the reason we have dreams is that we have a belief that there is something more, something better.  Dreams can be Gigantic and you reach them through Gigantic effort.

Are You Struggling to Find Happiness at Work?

In 1942 Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, was taken to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents.  Three years later, when his camp was liberated, his pregnant wife and parents had already been killed by the Nazis. He survived and in 1946 went on to write the book, “Man’s Search For Meaning“.  In this great book, Frankl writes:

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

What Frankl knew was that you can’t make happiness out of something outside yourself.  Riding the Waverunner doesn’t make you happy. You decide to be happy while doing that activity, but you could as easily decide to be angry or sad while doing this activity (although Daniel Tosh would disagree!).  Frankl also wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I get asked frequently by HR Pros about how they can make their employees or workplace happier.  I want to tell them about Frankl’s research and what he learned in the concentration camps.  I want to tell them that you can’t make your employees happy.  They have to decide they want to be happy, first. But, I don’t, people don’t want to hear the truth.

Coming up with ‘things’ isn’t going to make your employees happy. You might provide free lunch, which some will really like, but it also might make someone struggling with their weight, very depressed.  You might give extra time off and most of your employees will love it, but those who define themselves by their work will find this a burden.

Ultimately, I think people tend to swing a certain way on the emotional scale.  Some are usually happier than others.  Some relish in being angry or depressed, it’s their comfort zone.  They don’t know how to be any other way.  Instead of working to ‘make’ people happy, spend your time selecting happy people to come work for you.

In the middle of a concentration camp, the most horrific experiences imaginable, Frankl witnessed people who made the decision to be happy. Maybe they were happy to have one more day on earth. Maybe they were happy because, like Frankl, they discovered that the Nazis could take everything from them except their mind.

Provide the best work environment that you can.  Continue to try and make it better with the resources you have.  Give meaning to the work and the things you do.  Every organization has this, no matter what you do at your company.  Don’t pursue happiness, it’s a fleeting emotion that is impossible to maintain.  Pursue being the best organization you can be.  It doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not.  Just be ‘you’, and find others that like ‘you.’

Interview Pro Tips: The “You” Show!

A bunch of folks have been doing some work at home or furloughed at home, or some laid off at home over the past few months. Depending on your situation I’ve been hearing more and more from people who are out interviewing for the first time in a long time and looking for advice.

JDP did a survey recently and found out that the average candidate preps for 7 hours to prepare for an interview! I’m not sure I buy into that piece of data, it seems like there might be a bit of exaggeration going on from candidates who want to make you believe they actually did way more than they actually do.

Let’s be honest, you looking at a companies website and reading reviews on Glassdoor doesn’t take you seven hours. It probably takes you about 30 minutes, and I would bet my career on the fact that is about 99% prep that happens for most candidates.

How should you prepare for an interview? 

There are two types of candidates I see in an interview. The first type just lets the interview happen to them. They basically react. I’m here, you have questions, let’s see how this turns out.

The second type of candidate, which is much rarer, come prepared to put on a show. I’ll call it the “You” Show! This candidate comes in and has prepared to show you why they are the person for this position. They risk that you might be the type of person who won’t like this, but more times than not I find leaders are actually impressed by these candidates.

What does the “You” Show script include?

It starts off with an introduction that includes a good story that will instantly get those in the room on your side. It might be funny, might be inspirational, but it was definitely planned and prepared. Anywhere from three to five minutes of this is who I am and why I’m unique, and why you should like me.

The You Show candidates have also prepped by doing research on those who will interview them. They probably know more about the people interviewing them, then the people interviewing know about you as the candidate. They’ll stalk your LinkedIn profile, your social footprint, Google name search, people from my school who work there, etc. I want to know my audience if I’m putting on a show, so I at least have a chance to producing a show they’ll like.

If I have one hour, planned, for the interview, I want them to hear 55 minutes of me, and very little from them. I want them leaving that room, call, video conference being wowed! Being of the mindset that we really don’t need to interview any longer, since we just found the person.

The “You” Show is probably an exaggeration of your true self. Kind of like, “Hey, this is the best me” and while I might not be this person every minute of every day, when you get the best of me, this is what you can expect. The “You” Show is high-energy, fully caffeinated, I’m going to energize you and when I leave you’ll feel better about yourself.

As you get ready for your next interview ask yourself if you would want to watch you do that interview. If your answer is “no”, it will probably be “no” from those interviewing you as well.

5 Traits That Make Your HR Business Partner Great!

I use to think the title ‘HR Partner’ was played out and it probably was for a time.  There was a point a few years ago when every HR Pro had to change their title from HR Manager, HR Director, etc., to HR Partner.  It always made me feel like we were all apart of a bad cowboy movie, ‘Giddy up, Partner!’

I’ve actually grown to really like the “Partner” in the title of an HR Professional.  While many HR Pros just changed their title, I’ve met some great ‘Partners’ in HR who have changed their game, to match their title change.

What makes a Great HR Partner Great?  Here are 5 things I think makes them game-changers:

1. Great HR Partners know your business.  Now, wait.  I didn’t say they ‘knew their own business’, they know the business of who they support. But wait, there’s more!  They know the business of who they support, the way the person or team they support knows it. Say what?!  It’s not good enough to know the business of your organization.  You have to know how those you support know and support the business.

That could be different, based on the leader.  One leader might be ultra-conservative in their business practices, another risky. A great HR Partner knows how to support them in the way those they support, want to be supported – while still being able to do the HR part of their job.

2.  Great HR Partners have a short-term memory. Great baseball pitchers don’t remember one pitch to the next.  Each pitch is new. Each pitch has the potential for success.  If they remembered each pitch, the last one, that was hit for a home run, would cloud their judgment about the next pitch.

Great HR Partners are willing to change their mind and try new things.  They don’t carry around their experiences like a suitcase, pulling them out and throwing them on the table each time those they support want to try something new.  Don’t forget about your failures, but also don’t let your failures stop you from trying again.

3. Great HR Partners allow risk.  A great HR Partner is able and willing to accept that organizations have risk.  It is not the job of HR to eliminate risk, it is the job of HR to advise of risk, then find ways to help those they support, their partners, to achieve the optimal results in spite of those risks.  Far too many HR Partners attempt to eliminate risk and become the ‘No’ police.  Great HR Partners know when to say “No” and when to say “Yes”.

4. Great HR Partners don’t pass blame.  If you are a great HR partner and you work with great partners, you will all support each other in the decision making process.  A great HR Partner will never pass blame but will accept their share as being one of those who supported the decision to move forward.

This doesn’t mean you become a doormat.  Behind closed doors, with your partners, you hash out what there is to hash out.  When the doors open – all partners support the final decision that is made.  A Great HR Partner will have the influence to ensure they can, and will, support that decision when those doors open up.

5. Great HR Partners don’t wait to be asked.  A great partner in any capacity is going to support those they support with every skill they have available to them.  In HR we have people skills – so when those who we support have issues, we offer up our ideas on what we can do to help the team.  Great HR Partners don’t stop at HR advice!  In a time of brainstorming and problem solving the idea that goes unshared, is the worst kind of idea.

I might not know operations, and I will say that up front, but I’m going to put myself out there and tell my partners that eliminating the rubber grommets on the bottom of the widget is a bad idea because while it saves us $.13 per unit, it also makes our product slide around and that ultimately will piss off the customer.

Being an ‘HR Partner’ has very little to do with HR.  Those you support expect you have the HR expertise. What they don’t expect is how great of a ‘partner’ you can be.  Great HR Partners focus on the partnership, not on the HR.

When is the time to work hard?

“Never! Work smarter not harder!”

Shut it. I wasn’t talking to you idiot.

I tend to try and surround myself with people who are “hard” workers. Who sees stuff that needs to be done and they just do it. In fact, they can’t even turn themselves off if they wanted to. Maybe all the work that you, or I, or they do isn’t “hard”, however, you define hard work, but it’s work and it needs to get done.

Every successful person I know is a hard worker.

Being a hard worker doesn’t mean you almost always work more than everyone else, but when work needs to get done, they get it done. But, don’t discount time and success, most successful people work more and harder than none successful people. It’s super rare to find a lazy successful person.

At what point in your life should you work the hardest? 

No, it’s not all the time, unless you’re young, then yes, when you are young you should be working hard all the time! That is the time to build the foundation. That is the time you have the most energy. That is the time when you have the least to lose.

The time in your life when you should be working the hardest is when you are young. 18-35 years of age, should be a work fest, followed by brief interludes of some trips and stuff.

I often get into conversations with young people who want to retire young, be super successful, but they have yet to work 50 hours in a full week in their life! They should be working 80-100 hours per week. This is the time you can work that amount and make it count.

But girls (and boys) just want to have fun, Tim!

Yeah, you know what’s not fun? Being a greeter at a mass retail store at 68 years old because you can’t pay your rent. The world is a young person’s game because you are fun. You have the time, the energy, you as nice looking as you’ll ever be, you have the fresh young person smell, all of the world wants more of you!

To be successful you must work hard. Part of that success comes from working hard all the time when you are young. As you age and gain experience, you begin to find out when exactly you need to turn it on and when you can shut it down for a bit. If you’re young and you think you already know when to shut it down, you’re a moron, or at the very least you are only getting to a fraction of the success that you are capable of.

If you just graduated high school or college this month, it’s not the time for a break, your life is just beginning. Right now, today is the exact time you should be working hardest and you should be doing it all the time!

 

The Single Biggest Factor in Finding Your Dream Job!

I’ve been given the opportunity to speak to a number of high school and college graduating seniors. The one common question from both groups, I get frequently, is “how can I get my dream job?”  It’s a simple question, with about one million possible answers.  Which makes it a tough question to answer in front of a group.

I think I might have found the perfect answer to this question.  From Penn State football coach, James Franklin, when asked at a conference how does a graduate assistant move up in the college football coaching ranks:

“It comes down to people and opportunities for growth. I always tell people to stay broke for as long as possible.  When you have a car payment and other things like that, it becomes a factor. Keeping money out of it allows you to chase your dreams longer.”

Stay broke as long as possible.

Internet personality, Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee), says basically the same thing when people ask him how they work at something they just love to do. He will tell them you need to then live the lifestyle that affords you the ability to do what you love. If you love to pet puppies all day, you can’t live in a mansion! You’ll probably live in a box.

But, if that’s truly your passion in life, then that’s what you need to do to make it happen. What he finds is people who are willing to lower their lifestyle to do what they love are usually the ones who end up making money doing what they love. The theory being they found a way to live doing what they love, and little by little, they’ll find a way to make money doing what they love. Most people are unwilling to change their lifestyle to do what they love.

I remember back to when I first got out of college and was making $20,000 at my first job.  The reality was, I could have gone almost anywhere and made $20,000.  The money wasn’t the draw of the position, the opportunity was.  If it wasn’t for me, I could go and try something else. I had a crappy car and a $400 per month apartment. I didn’t have life obligations that were going to stop me from chasing a dream.

Fast forward five years and now I have a new car, a new house, and a new kid.  Chasing a dream would be much more difficult.

You hear it all the time, chasing dreams is for the young. Not because the young necessarily have better dreams or are better equipped at chasing dreams, it’s because the young can ‘afford’ to chase their dreams.  They, usually, have little holding them back, financially.  The older you get, the more responsibilities you have and the larger tax bracket you’re usually in.

Leaving a $20,000 job to chase my dream wasn’t going to be a problem. Leaving a $100,000 job to chase my dream was going to be a problem.

No one really wants to tell you this in their ultra-motivational writings and speakings.  “Go chase your dream! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you!… Just be prepared to have nothing for a while!”

We never get to hear that last part.

Want to be an NFL Referee? It’s a great gig! You just have to put about 15-20 years in at being a referee at every other level where you make peanuts and have to work other jobs to make ends meet. Yes, you can get there.  No, you won’t get rich getting there.

You can definitely go out and work towards getting your dream job.   Being broke will help you with that.  It takes away the fear of failure and losing what you have.  If you have very little, losing it doesn’t seem as bad.  If you have a nice life, giving it all up, seems extremely hard.

Being broke, in a very ironic way, gives you more options, when it comes to a dream job!

The Fight Club Recruiting Rules!

Great talent and great hiring are about getting the best candidates to respond to your messaging. It’s our reality as talent acquisition professionals that we have candidates who apply to our jobs, some of whom might be great. We also have to go out and find great talent and find ways to get them to respond to our overtures.

It’s the number one job of every talent acquisition professional. I would argue it might be the only job of talent acquisition. Get great talent to interact with you!

The first rule of Fight Recruiting Club is you need to get candidates to respond!

The second rule of Recruiting Club is you need to keep trying to get talent to respond to you until they actually respond. Wait a second, Tim! You mean we have to reach out to a candidate more than once!? I mean, if they don’t respond to me after my first outreach, that’s their loss! No, it’s your loss! You need that talent!

The third rule of Recruiting Club is you need to interact with candidates in themedium they are most comfortable with. I like it when you text me, most people do. It gets a high response rate. Some folks like email, phone calls, Facebook messenger, handwritten notes, etc. Find all the mediums the candidate likes, not your favorite!

The fourth rule of Recruiting Club is it’s not about you. It’s about them! “I’ve got a great career opportunity for you!” How do you know what I want? Stop assuming you know what I want when you don’t. How about you first to get to know me a little. I mean, you don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date!

The fifth rule of Recruiting Club is….(there are ten in total, click through to the rest of my post over on Saba’s Blog)

Is Love Greater Than Fear?

The most famous quote from Machiavelli’s book “The Prince” is:

“Better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

Uh, oh, Tim is quoting Machiavelli, this blog has jumped the shark!

I heard this quote recently in a virtual HR event. HR speakers seem to come in two types:

1. Love is greater than fear. This is popular and most fall into this camp. It’s a feel-good play. The first rule of HR speaking, it’s always better to make the audience feel good, than to give them something they actually need.

2. Machiavelli’s assessment, It’s better to be feared. Less popular take, but I do hear it in the form of stuff like, “I’m not here to be your friend, I’m here to get results!”

I also have smart friends who pull Machiavelli’s name out anytime they want me to feel like I’m on the wrong side of something, “How ‘Machiavellian’ of you, Tim!” Okay, I get it, you’re smarter than me, how ‘Machiavellian’ for you!

The normal breakdown of leadership goes like this. You would rather be a beloved leader than a feared leader. Those leaders who are loved will be more successful than those who are feared. You have to be one or the other. Or do you?

I think all leaders deep down in places we don’t talk about at parties (A Few Good Men reference!) want to be loved, or at the very least, well-liked. It’s human nature. No one really wants to be hated. It’s stressful, people don’t want to be around you, it makes for uncomfortable hugs, etc.

On the love side, love can make you do some crazy things, but so can fear. I would drive all night to help my wife or kids with something if I thought they really needed me, even if they or I could probably find another alternative. I would also probably work all night if I thought I might lose my job and I need to pay my mortgage. Love and fear are powerful in getting us to act.

I think fear is bigger when it comes to crunch time scenarios. I might ‘love’ my boss a ton, but when the project is on the line and the company might lose a major project and cost us hundreds of jobs, fear is driving the truck, not love. Love won’t bring those jobs back, fear might just win those jobs back.

As leaders, this our dilemma. I want my team to love me, but I also need a touch of fear on the edge. It’s an imperfect balance.

What I know is love isn’t the only answer, no matter how many memes you make or posters you put it on. I don’t know if Love is bigger, it’s definitely more popular, for obvious reasons, but great leaders have used both. I want you to love me, I need you to fear me a bit, in the end, I’ll probably use both to get the job done.