Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't be Costanza.....Interview Inspration from George Costanza

My first week in California is almost done, lots of time watching bad TV....but I’ve been catching up on a ton of old Seinfeld reruns....which got me thinking.  They talk a lot about hiring and interviewing on the show...usually it’s George who’s having issues.  I saw a couple of episodes this week that made me think....we can learn something there.  So, here we go:

George is interviewing for a job with the Yankees...Cushman is the hiring manager.

Cushman: Why don't you tell me about some of your previous job experience?
George Costanza: Alrighty. My last job was in publishing. I got fired for having sex in my office with the cleaning woman.
Cushman: Go on.
George Costanza: All right. Before that, I was in real estate. I quit because the boss wouldn't let me use his private bathroom. That was it.
Cushman: Do you talk to everybody like this?
George Costanza: Of course.
Cushman: My niece told me you were different.
George Costanza: I am different, yeah.

So, a few things....don’t sleep with people in the office (obviously) and the whole private bathroom thing is just weird.  What’s interesting to me, is that different can be and in many cases IS good when it comes to interviewing.  You can don’t want to be Costanza different.  When you’re interviewing you want to show off why you are exceptional and what makes you different from the rest of the candidates.  Got it?

Ok, later in the interview George gets to meet Mr. Steinbrenner...

Cushman: I gotta tell you, you are the complete opposite of every applicant we've seen. Mr. Steinbrenner, sir. There's someone here I'd like you to meet. This is Mr. Costanza. He is one of the applicants.
George Steinbrenner: Nice to meet you.
George Costanza: Well, I wish I could say the same, but I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past twenty years, you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduced them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego.
George Steinbrenner: Hire this man!

One thing you want to do in interviews is speak your mind.  Tell the truth and then really answer questions as truthfully and honestly as you can.  No doubt.  However, George pretty much attacks Steinbrenner here.  It’s honestly a hysterical exchange if you have the chance to see the show.  Very rarely will someone say “Hire this man” after being assaulted verbally like this.  Answer truthfully, be direct and if you’re the right fit....someone will want to hire you.

More soon, I’m trying to write a ton and as always good luck out there....having a great career isn’t easy

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A few thoughts on having a great career and loving it

By the time I post this, I'll be moved to the Bay Area…crazy, but excited by the challenge.  This blog is one that I'm excited to write, @TedVessenes commented on a recent post of mine about finding something you love for a job..even better, having a career.  Ironically, I've been thinking a ton of the top of not only doing something you love for work but also moving beyond "jobs" and into having a career plan/trajectory.  It's probably a book, but who am I kidding I've got no time to write a book at this point.

So, a few thoughts on finding something you love and doing it for a career.  No matter where you are in your career…hopefully you'll be able to take a few of these nuggets with you.

1) It's hard…like, really hard to have a great career - Honestly, how many people do you know who've had a spotless beautiful and amazing career?  I'm guessing not that many.  Why? Because it's hard.  In order to have a great career you've got to work on it all the time and focus not only on kicking ass today…..but how to prepare yourself to kick more ass in the future.  Tough stuff. But, eventually you can figure it out.  I don't think I realized I truly loved recruiting until about 7 years ago.  I always enjoyed it and the checks clear if you know what I mean……but now, I'm a recruiter and it defines me.

2) Your early aspirations likely won't matter in the long haul - You probably won't hear this advice in the Career Services office but most likely what you "think" you wanted to be when you grow up ….will be very different from the "real" you that you'll become.  I went to school wanting to be a teacher….got into politics and wanted to be a lobbyist….and have been recruiting for 15 years.  In 1998, I had no idea what a recruiter was or why anyone in their right mind would want to be one.  Unless you have a VERY specific education or training….your career is likely going to be a wild ride.  Buckle up and enjoy…no doubt it will be crazy.

3) Passion comes in many shapes and sizes - In order to have a great and fulfilling career you need to do something you love. Well, maybe.  I mean, sure I'd love to have a career based on listening to heavy metal and watching football……but it's not likely to happen.  Thankfully, I love helping people with their career and pushing the envelope of recruiting…but work is work and metal is metal to me.  I honestly think you can have a great career doing something you enjoy, but doesn't have to be the ultimate passion of your life.  It helps, don't get me wrong…..but as long as you can do something you enjoy and do it well you can have a great career.

4) Jobs are for suckers - When I write a book, this will be the title because it's true.  Look, everyone needs a "job"….but if your looking at a job as an "end" you're a sucker.  Jobs are experiences and each experience should in theory lead you to a better NEXT job.  Fifty years ago, you took a job at a company and they took care of you for life….those days are over.  Figure out what you want your career to look like….and then get jobs at move you along that path.  Simple advice that will change your life.

4)  Bad experience, is eventually good experience - Every now and again you have to have a crappy experience to really appreciate the good ones.  I've seen a lot of crazy stuff in my career, but honestly some of my failures and train wreck experiences have made me stronger and better than I was before.  You don't want your whole career to be one crap experience after another…..but every now and again a little does of WTF will help you grow.

5) Coworkers matter - Your coworkers are ridiculously important when it comes to long term career success.  Why?  Two things..first they'll teach you new things and push you to do better.  Working in a vacuum will never get you to the next level, only great coworkers will do that.  Second….your current coworkers are likely to lead you to your next job.  Anyone who's read this blog before knows how much I preach the gospel of networking……your current awesome coworkers are tomorrows invaluable networking connections.

6) Company culture matters even more - I've had the luxury of working in some of the best corporate cultures in my career..and some that were not so the best.  A great culture will really help you achieve great things and enjoy your career.  A great culture pushes you to succeed but understands when you fail.  A great culture rewards strong performers and ruthlessly gets rid of bad behavior.  A great culture values you as a person and respects your work/life balance.   When you find a great culture, and a great team….doing work you love….you are in the zone to really focus on your career and get things going in the right direction. 

7)  If your job sucks or doesn't align with your career goals…..get a new one - Life is too short to be miserable at work.  I've said it once and I'll say it again…..don't settle for "ok" or "fine"….don't settle for a crap job and keep looking until you find one you love that helps you accomplish your carer goals.

That's it for this post, sorry if it's a little scattered……writing on a plane is not a personal strength!