Archive for December 2010

Shyamalan’s “Signs” Provides a Lesson on How to Identify Your Dream Job (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 30, 2010

One of my favorite movies is Signs, a 2002 film by M. Night Shyamalan, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.  In the sci-fi thriller, aliens invade Earth in an attempt to take over the planet, and Gibson and Phoenix (brothers in the film) must find a way to save their family and the human race.

At the end of the movie, the aliens break into Gibson’s house.  However, when some water spills on one of the foreign beings (as pictured above), Gibson realizes that water is poisonous to them.  He then looks around his house and notices that his daughter has miraculously left glasses of water everywhere, a habit for which she had previously been scolded.  Gibson also remembers some of the final words uttered by his wife who had been killed in a horrific car accident several months earlier.  She had said to “tell Merrill to swing away.” 

Gibson then passes these words on to Merrill (the former baseball star played by Joaquin Phoenix).  His baseball bat conveniently happens to be mounted on the wall in the room where the showdown occurs.  As Phoenix grabs the bat and smashes the glasses, water is sprayed onto the aliens, and they are scared away for good.

I believe Shyamalan’s message is that everything happens for a reason and that the answers to our problems are often right in front of us. 

Gibson had not understood what his wife meant when she said to “tell Merrill to swing away,” and Gibson also didn’t know why his daughter kept leaving glasses of water around the house.  However, it all made sense in the end because it was part of the “master plan.”

I had my own “Signs” moment a few years ago when I was thinking of making a career change.  Before you think I’m crazy, I can assure you my experience did not involve any aliens!  Let me explain…

It was the evening of June 1, 2009, and I was frustrated and confused.  The year before, I had left my dream job in the NBA because I was ready for a new professional challenge.  However, the job I accepted had turned out to be a poor fit for my talents and passions.  It was clearly time for another change, but after an arduous process of self-reflection, career tests, and discussions with career counselors, I was still unsure what to do next.

Feeling defeated, I happened to glance at the book shelf in my bed room where I noticed over 100 books I had read for fun over the last few years on all sorts of topics related to personal and professional development.  I thought to myself how much I loved reading and studying those books.  Then, I thought to myself how cool it would be to have the same impact on other people that those authors had made on my life.

Bingo!

I then pulled out the dream job description I had created a few weeks earlier.  A career as a speaker, author, and entrepreneur would satisfy 16 of the 18 factors of my next dream job.   The results of the career tests I had recently taken also supported this revelation.

So, less than 1 month later, I resigned from my job and hired myself for my next dream job as a speaker, author, and entrepreneur.  While there have been many challenges with this transition, it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Like the glasses of water and baseball bat in the movie Signs, the answer to my problem (books and knowledge) was right in front of me in my house.  While I was reading all those books on personal and professional development, I had no idea why they fascinated me so much.  However, in the end, it all made sense.  I believe that I was born to be an author and a speaker and that I needed to read all those books to realize it.

Not sure what your dream job is?  Look around your living environment.  The clues for your dream job might be right in front of you as well…

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Author, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak nationwide to groups of students and young professionals.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

5.5 Sales Tricks for Success in a Telephone Interview (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 29, 2010

Employers often use a telephone interview as a preliminary screening tool before deciding whether to schedule you for an in-person interview.  If you treat a telephone interview like nothing more than a formality, you will never make it to the next phase of the interview process.  

I’ve made thousands of telephone sales calls for various businesses during my career after college, and there are many similarities between a telephone sales call and a telephone interview for a job.    Here are 5.5 sales tricks I have picked up that will help you get an in-person interview after your telephone interview:

  1. Treat a telephone interview like an in-person interview.  Prepare ahead of time, do a mock interview(s) with friends or family beforehand, be on time for the call, follow-up quickly afterwards, and so on.
  2. Monitor your body language and verbal language carefully.  One thing I have learned from making thousands of telephone sales calls is that your body language “comes through” over the phone.  During a telephone interview, make sure to smile often, to minimize your fidgeting, and to sit up straight (or stand up).  You should also dress professionally for telephone interviews.  While the interviewer will not be able to see if you are wearing pajamas, you’ll project yourself much more confidently if you look your best.  In terms of verbal language, make sure to enunciate clearly, to choose your words carefully, and to minimize filler words like “um” and “ah.”   These filler words are much more noticeable in telephone interviews than in-person interviews, and they make you appear less eloquent and less confident. 
  3. Use the right equipment.  If possible, use a landline.  If not, make sure you take the call from a place where you get great service on your cell phone because you don’t want to deal with any technical difficulties during a telephone interview.  Either way, use a headset so that your hands are free to take notes or to move naturally. 
  4. Focus and optimize your environment.  It is very easy to get distracted when you are on the phone and not looking at the person on the other end of the call.  Make/take the call in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed; eliminate any potential distractions by turning off the tv or radio and by making sure no one is within earshot of you.  Focus and listen carefully during the telephone interview.  You should also have your resume, list of questions to ask, and other talking points in front of you.
  5. End with a call-to-action.  Just like a telephone sales call, you never want to leave your follow-up to chance after a telephone interview.  If you have decided you want the job, the goal at the end of the telephone interview is to be invited to an in-person interview.  End the telephone interview with a 30-60 second closing statement where you reiterate why you want the job and why you are the best candidate.  Then, ask when you can come in for an in-person interview.

5.5   Ace a video interview.  If an employer wants to interview you via videoconferencing (i.e. skype), the same rules apply as for a telephone interview or in-person interview.  However, pay extra attention to the environment you will be taking/making the call from (since it will be visible), and test your system ahead of time to make sure you know how to use the videoconferencing program on your computer.

Approach your telephone interview like a telephone salesperson, and you will be one step closer to getting your dream job!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

7.5 Fashion and Style Rules for Career Success (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 22, 2010

If you want colleagues, bosses, customers, and employers to respect you and take you seriously, you MUST take pride in your physical appearance.  Any chance of a job offer, sale, or promotion can be eliminated (no matter how talented you are) if you don’t look the part.

Here are 7.5 rules to make sure you dress for success in any professional setting, whether that be a day at the office, a career fair, a networking event, or a job interview:

  1. Dress for the environment.  Do some homework on what others will be wearing at your event/office, and plan accordingly.   In general, you want to err on the side of being conservative and overdressed.  However, you can lose points for over-dressing also.  For example, you would look ridiculous wearing a 3-piece suit with a tie and pocket square to an interview for a job as a video game designer or for a company picnic at a local park. 
  2. Match.  No matter where you are, make sure your entire outfit matches from head to toe (i.e. belt with shoes, tie with shirt, shirt with pants, and so on).
  3. Fit matters more than brand.  You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on the most expensive clothing lines, but you do need to make sure your clothes fit correctly for your body.  You already know you should not wear anything that is too tight or that shows too much skin, but you should also not wear clothes that are too loose.  Clothes that are very baggy make you look sloppy and like a little kid. 
  4. Shoes or lose.  Always wear a nice pair of shoes, and make sure they are not worn-out and that they are clean (and nicely polished, if they are leather).
  5. Keep it crisp and fresh.  Make sure your clothes are ironed, free of any holes or stains, and not worn out or outdated.
  6. Smell swell.  This sounds obvious, but it is worth repeating.  Wear deodorant and shower and brush your teeth as close to your work-day or appointment as possible.  If you are headed to a day of work in the office, shower that morning (not the night before).  If you have an evening networking event, shower and brush your teeth right beforehand.   (Yes, that means you might have to go home after work before you go to your evening event.)  Avoid heavy cologne or perfumes; it’s not a good thing if people can smell you from down the hall.
  7. Accessorize appropriately.  A sharp tie, a nice watch, or a classy piece of jewelry can be a great finishing touch to an outfit, but don’t go overboard.  Again, it’s better to err on the conservative side in a professional setting.

7.5 Phone-a-friend.  Still confused?  Get advice from a fashionable friend(s).

Take your appearance seriously, and you will feel better about yourself, and your bank account will thank you!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

How to Develop Your Dream Job Description (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 17, 2010

If you want to get your dream job, you MUST create your dream job description first.  You have to know what you want before you can get it.

2 years ago, I was extremely frustrated with the direction of my career.  I had left my dream job (with an NBA franchise) and accepted a position that was not a good match for my talents and passions.  One day, I decided to sit down and write out exactly what my perfect job would look like. 

I ended up with a list of 18 factors.  Unfortunately, despite being compensated very well and working for the best boss I ever had, my current job only satisfied 5 of my 18 ideal variables.  It was clearly time for a career change.  As I looked at my list, I realized that a career as an author, speaker, and entrepreneur would satisfy 16 of my 18 variables.  (Note: I’m still working on the last 2 factors!) 

If you are in a job search or considering a career change in 2011, make sure you identify what you want BEFORE you start looking.  I made the mistake of not doing this in 2008, and that’s how I ended up in a job that was a very poor fit for me.

To develop your dream job description, here are 6 key areas to address, along with 16 questions you should ask yourself:

1. Office Location. 

a. Would you rather work in a major city, in the suburbs, or in a rural setting? 

b. How close to home do you want your office to be? 

c. Are you willing to relocate from your current location?  If so, how far from where you are now?

2. Schedule. 

a. Do you want a “9-5” job where you are in the office with a routine every day or do you want to have a schedule with much more variety? 

b. How much travel do you want to do for work (or are you willing to do)?

c. How many hours are you willing to work per week?   

3. Work environment/culture. 

a. Do you want to work in a quiet setting that feels like a library or an environment that resembles a Wall Street trading floor in terms of action and unpredictability? 

b. Do you want an environment that is very corporate and professional or one that is more playful and laid-back? 

c. Do you want to be managed very closely or do you want more freedom on how to do your job?

4. Job function. 

a. What skills do you want to use on a daily basis? 

b. What kinds of impact and results do you want to achieve through your work?

c. Do you prefer to work in isolation (i.e. at a desk in front of a computer) or do you want to interact with other people for most of the day?

5. Employer information.

a. What industries and sub-industries interest you?

b. Do you want to work for a well-established, larger entity or do you prefer to work for a smaller, more nimble organization?

6. Salary/benefits. 

a. What types of income requirements do you have, and how important is salary to you? 

b. How important is it that your compensation is tied to your performance?

There are no right or wrong answers, and you will probably feel strongly about some areas more than others.  However, it is imperative that you answer these questions BEFORE you start your job search.  You will then know where to look, and this exercise will make it easier for you be objective about potential opportunities as they arise.

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

6.5 Tips for a Higher Salary and a Better Compensation Package (by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 16, 2010

Whether you just got a job offer or whether you are already employed and seeking a raise, salary negotiations make most people cringe.  Here are 6.5 tips to negotiate a higher salary and better compensation for a new job or a current job:

  1. Know your market value.  Before you start a job search or a seek a raise/promotion, do your homework on typical salary ranges for someone in your position, background, and geographic location.   This gets harder to measure as your specialization increases.  Salary web sites have their limitations, but they can give you a range of what to expect.  My favorite web site to use for salary estimates is the free salary calculator offered by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).  You can also find out what you are worth by talking to other people in your industry, although this is a delicate topic, and it is hard to use such informal data in negotiations with employers.
  2. Look your best.  As I have written before, looks matter.  People pay MUCH more for products that look good, including employees.  If you want a higher salary, you must first look your absolute best on paper; quantify and tailor your achievements and accomplishments in your resume, cover letter, and other written documents.   Then, improve your online identity by cleaning up and enhancing your social media profiles, and be sure to look your best in-person as well through your attire, grooming, and body language.  If you want to make a 6-figure salary or more, you have to look like you are worth it first… 
  3. Do great work and be irreplaceable.  When you deliver top-notch results and possess unique skills, knowledge bases, or business relationships, you gain leverage in the negotiation process.  The best way to get more money is to be so good at what you do that your unique value cannot be ignored.  Great people are hard to find, and any intelligent employer does everything in their power to find and keep the best people.  If you think you are entitled to more money just because you have worked a certain number of years in an industry or for a company, you will be sadly mistaken.  It’s all about results!  If you are not constantly improving yourself and the value you deliver, then you do not deserve to make more money.  Sorry!
  4. Consider the entire compensation package.  While base/starting salary is a significant factor in your compensation, most people ignore the other components of a compensation package.  These include growth potential, performance-based incentives (i.e. commission and bonuses), your title, your office space/location/environment, flexibility in your hours, insurance coverage, 401k/financial packages, vacation/sick days, expense accounts, and other non-tangible benefits, such as the personal enjoyment you will derive from the job.   Throughout my career, I have negotiated new titles, my own private office, more vacation/sick days, and a variety of other perks.  There is a lot of room for creativity here.  If an employer is not willing to raise your salary, they may be very agreeable to other forms of compensation that could have even more value to you. 
  5.  Ask when the time is right.  If you are currently employed, the best time to ask for more money is after a great performance review or a highly profitable project when your success and results are very visible.  If you are in the interview phase, the best time to discuss salary is after the company has expressed strong interest in you (i.e. after you have shown the tremendous value you could deliver).  Don’t be the first one to throw out a number, and never accept the offer on the spot.  You should get a minimum of 1-2 days to evaluate any offer.  If the company is not willing to grant some time to think it over, they don’t want you badly enough, and that’s a major red flag.
  6. Offer to be more valuable.  If you want a company to pay you more, you should be prepared to deliver more value for them.  Offer to take on more responsibility or a new project, to mentor/manage more people, to implement a new program, and/or to enhance your education or knowledge base through courses, classes, or seminars.

6.5   Remain reasonable and professional.  No matter what you do, never make threats, pit companies/offers against each other, or make unreasonable demands.  Job offers can be taken off the table, and bridges can be burned for good.  While you should always try to get what you are worth (or a little more!), never sacrifice an offer or a professional relationship for a little more money.

Do you want to have a higher salary and a better compensation package?  Of course you do.  Make sure you know what you are worth, look your best, do great work, consider the entire package, ask at the right time, and offer to be more valuable.  If you remain professional and reasonable, a bigger paycheck is just around the corner!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

7 Actions You Must Take BEFORE You Start a Job Search (by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 15, 2010

There are certain actions you must take BEFORE you start a job search to ensure that you get a better job faster.  Regardless of the type of job you are looking for, here are 7 ways you can set yourself up for success during your job search:

1.  Prepare yourself mentally and find your motivation.  A job search can take 3-6 months or more, no matter how talented or well-connected you are.  Be psychologically ready to deal with inevitable rejections, setbacks, and frustrations, and don’t internalize these challenges.  Keep your eye on the prize: a better job that fulfills you and pays you what you are worth!  Make sure to identify why you want a new or better job.  What positive results will you experience when you get that new job?  Will you be able to provide for your family?  Will you feel better about yourself?  Will you be able to help other people somehow?  Identify a significant “why” and you will eventually overcome any obstacle.

2. Be thankful.  Make a list of at least 25 things or people you are grateful for, and review this list every morning and night and when you need inspiration.  Your career might not be where you want it to be right now, but you certainly have lots of things to be thankful for, including family, friends, your health, education, fresh food to eat, a warm house, and freedom.  It is easy to take for granted how fortunate you are.  Gratitude helps your attitude, and a great attitude is essential for success in a job search.

3. Identify a teammate(s).  This could be a career coach, a friend, and/or a family member.  Many job-seekers make the huge mistake of looking for a job on their own.  Find at least 1 person you trust who will be there to help you brainstorm ideas and to support you weekly through ups and downs.

4. Analyze your financial situation.  How much money do you have in your bank account?  What are your monthly expenses?  How long can you go without making any money?  Do you need to get a part-time job to pay your bills in the meantime?  Financial stress can be a huge obstacle during a job search because it can make you appear desperate, a huge turn-off to employers.  If you can’t afford to be out of work, get a “stop-gap” job in the short-term, such as a job at a restaurant or retail store.  Being aware of your financial situation will help reduce stress about money and allow you to use your energy on getting a job. 

5. Stay active.  Take on a volunteer or part-time position connected to your career, and get involved in a group, course, seminar, or class related to your career.  While you might need to get a part-time job to pay some bills in the short-term, make sure you also get some experience or add some knowledge related to your career.  For example, there are thousands of non-profit organizations who would gladly accept any services you can provide on a volunteer basis.  Then, you can reference that work rather than saying you are unemployed.  Employers don’t want to hire “unemployed” people.  Do something that shows initiative and that keeps your skills and expertise fresh.

6. Control your inputs and physical environment.  Make a list of the 5-10 people you spend the most time with.  Do they usually lift you up or drag you down?  For those who don’t inspire you, make sure you reduce your time spent with them as much as possible.   In addition, stop reading the newspaper and watching the news, except for topics related to your industry.  Most press is negative, depressing, and completely irrelevant to your life and career.  Lastly, read something inspirational every morning and night, and any time you need a boost.  Click here for 10.5 of my favorite inspirational books and magazines. 

7. Identify a job search “office” and get the right tools.  Select a location where you will conduct all (or most) of your job search activities.  It could be a local Starbucks or your town library.  I’d recommend using a location outside of your house if possible.  It’s always healthy to have some separation from work and home, especially during a stressful job search.  You should also go to Staples or any office supply store, and grab some high-quality resume paper, a notebook, a portfolio pad and/or briefcase, index cards, thank you notes, envelopes, and stamps.  You can also have business cards designed for yourself at a very low price through web sites like vistaprint.com, fiverr.com, or elance.com.  The right tools will make you much more efficient.

Set yourself up for job search success with the right attitude, support system, environment, and tools, and you will get a better job faster!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

9 Ways to Overcome Worry and Fear (by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 14, 2010

Your mindset controls which way you go...

The 2 greatest obstacles to the achievement of success, happiness, fulfillment, and inner peace are fear and worry. 

Not talent.  Not effort.  Not money.  Not intelligence.  Not personality.  Not other people.  Not luck. 

The key to creating your ideal career and your ideal life is to learn how to develop a winning mindset and control worry and fear.

As someone who has spent many more hours worrying than I’d like to admit, I’ve learned that I can control worry and fear in my life rather than letting it control me.  I’m definitely not immune to bouts of worry and fear (hey, I run 2 of my own businesses!), but I have gotten much better about minimizing their impact, and so can you.  Here are 9 ways to overcome worry and fear, so that you can enjoy your life:

  1. Plan.  The first step to overcoming worry and fear is to develop a plan to gain control over whatever is bothering you.  Enlist a friend or family member to help you brainstorm some solutions.
  2. Take action.  Once you have identified a few proactive ways to overcome worry and fear, take action immediately and consistently.  Small steps add up quickly.  Action kills fear and builds momentum and confidence.  Inaction (aka procrastination) leads to more fear, guilt, and paralysis.
  3. Take breaks.  It can also help to put some distance between yourself and whatever is weighing heavily on your mind.  Go for a walk outside, hit the gym, watch/listen to something humorous, or do something else that’s fun or relaxing to you.  You’ll feel rejuvenated.
  4. Get inspired often.  Read, watch, or listen to something inspirational, or call a friend who has a knack for making you feel good.  Another idea is to look in the mirror and give yourself a short pep talk.  Sounds goofy, but it works.
  5. Remember past successes.  You have probably achieved much more than you give yourself credit for.  Remind yourself of times when you have overcome obstacles in the past.  You have done it before, and you can do it again.
  6. Give yourself options.  You’ll feel less pressure.  We often feel worry and fear when we feel like everything is riding on 1 event, project, interview, person, etc.
  7. Regain perspective.  Find a way to help someone in need or who is less fortunate than you.  You’ll realize how blessed you are, and your “problems” will probably look less significant.  You should also count your blessings every day; it’s easy to lose track of everything you have to be thankful for.
  8. Use comparisons wisely.  Worry and fear often result from feelings of inadequacy when we compare ourselves to other people who we think are “better” than us.  The only time it’s healthy to compare yourself to another person is if you look at someone “ahead” of you as a source of inspiration.  Otherwise, just focus on yourself.  We all have strengths and weaknesses.  That person who you think is “better” than you could probably find something they envy in you as well.
  9. Stay present.  We usually worry about potential events or circumstances in the future that probably won’t happen anyway.  Stay in the moment and just focus on today.  In his best-selling book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie refers to this as “living in day-tight compartments.” 

The key to success and happiness is to learn how to develop a positive mindset and control worry and fear.  EVERYONE has worries and fears, and you can control how you respond to these emotions.  Plan, take action, take breaks, get inspired often, remember past successes, give yourself options, regain perspective, use comparisons wisely, and stay present!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.