How to Diversify Your Career (Like Your Portfolio)

Financial advisors will tell you never put all your eggs into one basket.

Brilliant advice, but why does it need to stop there?

Having one source of income is risky.

If you’re working corporate and get laid off/fired you’re in trouble.

If you’re an entrepreneur/freelancer and lack predicable paychecks you’re screwed.

You and I have been told to choose something for your career then focus all your time and energy there, but what if that isn’t great advice?

What if I told you can have both? (have your cake and eat it too!)

There are pros and cons to choosing working for someone else vs. working for yourself, but if you manage your time right and stay organized there’s no reason you can’t sustain two or more options.

You may be hesitant to monetize your passion, which is fine, but is there another side project you can earn money from?

If working a salaried position within a company, “full-time” needs to be defined up front (ask in the interview process). The scary part is once you’re on salary you’re not being paid for the hours worked, but essentially based on the needs of the company (translation: overtime is not optional or compensated for).

Remember full-time is technically 30 hours and if you’re dealing with a startup you can negotiate this ahead of time. In fact it’s refreshing that most people working in startups actually encourage you to have side hustles.

Google made “side projects” cool by promoting 20% time. Employees get 20% of their work time to spend collaborating with others trying to create new products/services. Now everyone doesn’t work for Google or a company of that stature, but we all have the same amount of time in week to use accordingly.

For instance if you’re working a 9-6 job plus have a family, set aside a few hours a week after putting the kids down to draft out and test your ideas. If you’re single or dating, you really have no excuses.

Maybe you’re waiting for permission or inspiration, but like most things in life consistent practice brings results. Ask most successful entrepreneurs how many times they failed and the number is far greater than those who haven’t tried.

In the gig economy your “job” will change more frequently so if you’re not learning new skills or polishing your current ones, you’ll be left behind.

My point is don’t rely on one source of income to sustain you. In a fast-paced, changing world it’s better to have options in case something doesn’t pan out the way you anticipated it to. Life comes at you fast. Be ready.

Diversify your career. You have a better chance of succeeding that way.

The Best Job Site You’re Not On

In follow up to my previous post, finding jobs that are a good fit are easy. Getting in contact with a recruiter is hard.

LinkedIn is the preferred site for most recruiters and job seekers because professional profiles are easily accessible (plus more updated and better looking than resumes) and normally there’s a listed job poster you can send an invitation to connect with.

The challenge with LinkedIn is most people will accept your invitation to connect, but go silent. Back to the cat analogy, recruiters will contact you when they want something, but when you desire to reach them they’re nowhere to be found.

A month ago someone contacted me on AngelList about a role and I forgot I signed up on their site. It was a position I was interested in so I contacted them back. *Crickets* but this story has a happy ending…

Once I started browsing around I liked the company profiles, job listings, visible salaries/equity and most of all the application process. If you select the apply now button you can send an optional message to the person posting about why you are interested in the role.

After understanding the functionality, I updated my profile since that’s what companies see (not a resume or application questions). Once sent you wait until the poster contacts you to state there’s a “match” or mutual interest.

Now you’re in contact with the decision maker. The process is very similar to Instagram’s DM where you can contact a company without any prior connections made.

As someone without a technology background this site has been more helpful than any other job site I’ve used. So if you do have tech experience or making a career change into tech AngelList is where you want to be seen.

Most job sites have filters based on keywords so your application and resume may never make it to the intended destination. Let’s be honest, people don’t get hired for written applications/resumes. Interviews separate the men from the boys.

By lowering the barrier to entry AngelList minimizes the middleman and allows job seekers to contact employers directly. Removing gatekeepers makes it easier to connect the right people. AngelList may not be the most popular job site out there, but it’s the most efficient/effective.

Why Job Search Is A Vicious Cycle

Changing careers is not a trend, it’s the norm.

For skeptics or old timers, it doesn’t have much to do with loyalty, but more so with getting bored.

80% of college degrees don’t set you up for the job you want. Companies usually hire based on experience or skills that universities don’t provide.

Millennials are too inexperienced, Gen X are over qualified and Baby Boomers can’t compete.

Most likely the job you have currently is making you wonder if the grass is greener on the other side.

The problem is the most attractive candidates are passive, not active. Translation: similar to dating you’re more in demand when you’re with someone than not. Nothing screams “stay away” more than a desperate job seeker.

So once you’ve come to the conclusion you’re settling or realize paying bills has become more important than your happiness, here are your options:

Keep applying for jobs while you are working OR start your own (side) business.

Instead of choosing one, why not do both?

The gig economy is here to stay and with the majority of future work going to freelancers is reality.

The benefits of working for someone else is health insurance, perks and steady income. Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, provides autonomy, passion and the ability to network freely.

Until resumes completely disappear and job seekers have more power than recruiters, changing careers will continue to suck. The mental shift you need to make is looking at your career similar to success – as a journey, not a destination.

Regardless if you choose to go the corporate vs. freelance route, your network will always be your greatest resource.

It takes on average applying to 200 jobs to land one, yet only 10 connections to find new employment. If that stat doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what can.

The job search process will always be challenging so instead of waiting until you’re ready to move on, never stop looking for what’s next even if you’re in your perceived dream job.

5 Modern Networking Tools For Millennials to Get Ahead

As a millennial, take advantage of the fact that you love trying out new methods, apps, and technologies for just about everything, especially for your career and professional life. Let’s face it, we spend a majority of our lives working, so we might as well utilize new technologies that let us work in creative ways and make our professional lives simpler.

Networking is a great opportunity to use new technology that will help you connect with professionals easier and stand out against the stack of resumes they’re digging through. The goal of networking is to connect with others, offer value, and see if you can create a win-win situation with your potential business partner. This will always be the goal no matter what happens with technology.

What we care about is HOW to connect with colleagues in a modern, unique, fun, but still professional way. Here are 5 underutilized tools to make you stand out as a young professional and network effectively.

1. Instagram

I already know what you’re thinking… “Instagram? You mean just try to get followers or follow professionals?”… Not exactly.

As of right now, you can direct message any person on Instagram without having to follow or send a request ahead of time. Reaching out to someone you want to build a relationship with on Instagram direct messaging shows them that you are up to date with modern technologies and different. A nice little personalized message to get your foot in the door would more likely get noticed than another email in a sea of unopened emails.

Here are some more tips for how to network with Instagram from Gary Vaynerchuk, an industry leader in digital and social media marketing.

2. Linkedin

I’m sure you already know the importance of Linkedin. Build an amazing profile, show off your talents, experience, and credentials, and then build your network. Linkedin is essentially today’s version of a resume, and it’s much easier to point to your Linkedin page instead of having to tailor a bunch of different resumes for different people with different needs.

Start connecting with people in your industry on Linkedin to learn more about their work, interests, and educational history. That way, when you reach out to message them, you have plenty of talking points from their profile.

3. Shapr

Shapr is the Tinder of networking. Yes, you heard me right. Shapr connects you with professionals in your area based on location, common interests, and fields of work. Check out their profile and swipe right to “meet” the person or left to pass. If you both swipe right, you can start a conversation right in the app.

It’s really easy to sign up because you can link your account to your Linkedin profile. Once the account is linked, just add a short bio and choose a few interests, skills, and industry keywords to find relevant matches looking for you!

4. Email Hunter/GMass

Even if a lot of professional people’s inboxes get loaded with messages, networking through email can still be effective. Now that Gmail categorizes our mail with spam, promotions, and social, there’s a lot more room in the inbox for your message to at least be seen. And almost everyone checks their email daily.

Use GMass and Email Hunter chrome extensions to dominate and automate the email process. Email Hunter is a nifty little tool that scrubs someone’s website for an email address, and shows you the sources where they found the email address. The best strategy is to use the extension on your future partner’s Linkedin page.

Then once you have a nice list of email addresses to reach out to, use GMass to schedule and mail merge emails that will get their attention.

You can effortlessly integrate GMass with Gmail, Google sheets, docs and Google Drive. Set up emails as either a brand new email or as a reply to a previous thread, and draft up to 8 automatic follow-ups that you can set and forget. It is an incredible tool that can save you time, energy, and stress!

5. Vistaprint

No matter how advanced we get with networking technologies, nothing will ever beat the personal touch of strong eye contact and a firm handshake. You should always be planning to go to networking events, even if you are still new in your field.

Vistaprint is a great place to make clean, well-designed and professional-looking business cards. They have plenty of templates and designs to choose from, or you can start with your logo, upload a design for them to print, or let their designers take over for you. In addition to business cards, you can also get marketing materials like flyers, brochures, and door hangers, or larger signs like banners, yard signs, and posters. It’s definitely the one stop shop for putting your designs on paper.

Be Above the Herd

With so much competition for people’s attention in today’s world, it’s important that you are staying ahead of the pack to stand out and be noticed. These tools are a great for building your professional network, finding a new job, or getting your first client.

What are some of your favorite online tools that make your life easier in all areas?

Drew Klebine: Content Marketer, Tech Writer, Philosopher, Musician

Drew Klebine is a Content Marketer, Tech Writer, Philosopher, and Musician from Pittsburgh, PA. His writings focus on modern marketing practices, software reviews, upcoming technologies, brand and product promotion, health, self-actualization, religion, and existential philosophy.

Lead writer and co-owner of uxax.org, writer and marketer for Inspectlet, InMotion, and HER Realtors.

The 1 Question Managers Need To Ask

Managing people isn’t for everyone, but if taken seriously one question will give you all the answers you need to maximize productivity:

How can I best support you?

Here’s why: support isn’t defined by the giver, but the recipient.

I asked this question in my previous management role and it did wonders for morale, engagement and performance.

The best workers are self-motivated. As a professional if you need to be externally motivated to do your job, even the greatest perks/benefits won’t make a huge difference.

Once hired in a role (assuming you’re qualified), you need to be trained with the skills to do the job, but when that on-boarding process is complete it’s your turn to soar.

As a manager you don’t need to be smarter than the team you lead. In fact, if you facilitate and support well technical skills are just a bonus.

Support is something you feel. When you are being supported you know it. If you have to think about it, it’s absent.

Your job as a manager is to help your teammates shine. At a deeper level it’s making them look better than you. If there’s too much ego involved as a manager, you’re destined to be in competition with your team rather than holding hands across the finish line.

There’s a simple way to gauge if the workers under your care feel supported: ask them.

Be specific. Ask this: on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being not at all vs. 10 feeling like a champion rate the amount of support you feel?

In a performance-based world, this approach may sound soft, but that’s exactly why it works.

A manager’s job isn’t to tell their team how to do something, it’s to clarify objectives and remove all the obstacles in their way.

Going back to my “best workers” example, when giving support you also offer respect, care and autonomy. Think about the best boss you’ve had. I highly doubt they rode you like a horse. Instead I guarantee you’ll describe your relationship with them (soft skills).

Management isn’t easy, but it’s also not rocket science. Take the servant leadership approach to managing others and you’ll be amazed at how people’s strengths will rise to the top.

Why Most Managers Fail

Are managers born or made?

The politically correct answer is made, but there are certain traits that can’t be taught.

To better understand what a manager’s role entails we’ll use the image above to guide us. Disregard the industry (information systems), but focus on the three levels: operational (technical), tactical (management) and strategic (executives).

Managers fall in the middle category which places them as supervisors of the technical workers (catalysts of the employee-customer transaction).

Why most managers fail is because they don’t realize promotion equates to learning a different skill set.

Let’s say your company makes widgets. Technical workers get better at their job when they figure out how to be more efficient (increasing productivity). But when a technical role shifts to a leadership role, it doesn’t matter how well you were able to produce widgets anymore.

Your job as a manager is to lead people who make widgets. A subtle, but powerful change that most companies overlook.

The same skills that made you a great widget maker do not translate to being a manager. If you’re trying to out-do your subordinates you’re not actually fulfilling your new job duties.

A manager’s responsibility is to oversee, support and make his/her workers under them better. This takes skills such as: motivation, empathy, time management, conflict resolution, etc.

Managerial duties are vastly different than technical skills.

Can they be taught? Yes, but the real issue is most managers weren’t hired for their leadership abilities, rather their technical prowess.

In my last role this is where my boss failed. She believed telling me what to do and keeping me on a short leash was her job. Instead what she lacked was listening skills, innovation and vision to name a few.

My message to managers is this: clarify what is expected of you.

Using a sports analogy, most managers want to be all-stars (individual high performers), but what your organization really needs from you is to be MVP (making your teammates better around you).

Managers need to be self-aware about what they can and cannot do. The quicker you realize that, the more effective your company will be moving forward.

3 Ways To Slay Your Next Interview

Resumes don’t get you hired, interviews do.

A solid resume is like having a driver’s license. It doesn’t mean you’re a good driver, but it qualifies you to be on the road.

As the traditional resume fades out, the need for strong interview skills becomes even more important.

Here are 3 ways to prepare for your next interview:

1. Do Your Research – This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Viewing the company website, about us page and mission statement is a good place to start, but not enough. Search LinkedIn for current employees from the company, connect and ask them about their experience. While you’re there locate the recruiter posting the position and request a connection to increase your chances of your application being seen. Do informational interviews with workers in similar roles. Look on Glassdoor for company reviews, both pros and cons. Browse their social media presence to observe the culture and what current issues are being discussed. There’s too much public information out there to go into an interview blindly. Finding a role that fits today is as much about the cultural fit as it is about being your “dream job.”

2. Improve Self-Awareness – One question you’re guaranteed to be asked is “Tell me about your strengths” or “What is your greatest weakness?” (sometimes both) This comes down to how well you really know yourself. If you have a hard time answering either of these questions you clearly didn’t do your homework. No matter what role you’re applying for your strengths and weaknesses shouldn’t change. In fact, if you truly want to be remembered illustrate your strengths in a past example then spin your weakness into a strength. If you’re having trouble articulating what you do well take the StrengthsFinder assessment. It will give you 5 things you excel at and their belief is there is no such thing as weaknesses, just overdone strengths. The most successful leaders in any industry are self-aware. Let that marinate in your mind for a second.

3. Lengthen the ConversationWant to know when your chances of landing the role decrease the most? When your interview ends quickly. The dynamic of a strong interview can be dictated by you the interviewee IF facilitated right. Most applicants focus on answering the questions right, but once you realize it’s a conversation it becomes more about engagement than sheer information. There’s usually a point where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. This is your time to shine. Questions such as, “How did you find this company? What does a successful candidate look like in this role? What’s a great cultural fit here?” takes the focus off you and reveals what they’re truly looking for in a fit. The last position I got hired for included 4 interviews, the first 3 being fairly short (thought I was out of the running), but the final one lasted 90 minutes in which I was offered a contract on the spot. Treat your interviews like grabbing coffee with a friend. The more you have to talk about the less it is about what you say, but how you say it that people remember. Let’s be honest, if the interviewer(s) don’t like you, even if you’re a strong candidate, there’s no way you’re getting hired. Being likable won’t land you a job, but it also can give you a leg up on the competition.

Interviews can be tough, but your mental preparation can make the greatest difference. Like most things in life, practice may not result in perfect, but it sure makes for better. Remember confidence is built over time. Follow the steps above before your next interview and expect the best outcome to happen!

Turning The Page Forward On A New Chapter In Life

If you were part of a 4 x 100 relay team which leg would you run?

I’d be first out of the gates. I love the start.

When running a relay it’s common sense to not look back or you risk getting passed up.

But how often do we look back on our lives and dwell on mistakes, misfortunes and plain ol’ bad luck?

At a certain point, asking “why” something happened is the wrong question to ask.

Instead turn the page and focus on what’s in front of you.

One of the reasons I chose coaching as a career was because I hired one earlier in life. I loved how my coach worked on my agenda, goals and pace. Experiencing that from the client’s seat made me want to switch chairs so I eventually did.

Coaching is about the future, finding solutions and asking “how.”

Any time making a career transition it’s going to be tough starting over from scratch, but your mentality towards that change will make or break you.

Did you know it takes 200 applications to land a job on average, but only 10 connections via networking to find something new?

That means you have 20x better chance networking than job hunting to start your new career! #stopapplyingstartnetworking

There’s always fear of the unknown, but it’s more invigorating to chase after that shiny object than chase your tail.

Imagine driving on the freeway. How much time is spent looking ahead vs. in the rear view mirror (mostly for cops)? That analogy works for life.

Don’t waste your time looking back when you can be moving forward.

Starting a new chapter in life is about attitude. It’s what you can control 100%.

Decoding The Corporate Perks Facade: What It Really Means

Google is the pioneer of offering perks to attract top talent and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

A friend of mine works at Google HQ and describes his situation as “too good to walk away from” even when he gets bored. Free food, snacks, shuttle, laundry, etc will do that.

The startup scene has escalated to the point where if you don’t offer perks, you’re not relevant. But what if I told you it’s all a facade?

I love to eat. What makes food taste even better is when it’s free. But unlimited snacks and catered lunches are a nice bonus, but far from the mission of the company.

Now I’m not knocking perks as an enhancement to the employee experience, but what I am saying is how much does it affect your decision to stay?

Look at it from a financial standpoint: free food for the entire company is cheaper than giving a raise to one (of course you have to factor in size of staff though, but you get the drift).

My point is if perks are one of the highest ranking factors in retaining your services it’s putting your faith in fool’s gold. Perks are like purchasing the newest toy. After a while it gets old, you get bored and want more.

For example when I first started working for my current company the idea of catered lunches twice a week blew my mind. Now I still appreciate it, but I found myself getting pickier with selection of choices. If it happens to be a meal I love, free lunch is great! If not, I wish I didn’t have to sit through the company meeting during lunch.

Culture is a huge factor in retention, but perks shouldn’t be too high on your list of reasons to apply/stay. Times have changed where “what you get” is as important as “what you give,” yet ultimately what your company strives for and what role you play will always outshine any perk offered.

Work wisely.

3 Ways Managing Remotely Made Me A Better Leader

Managing people is hard enough, but try doing it remotely.

On a weekly basis I spend the bulk of my hours at work meeting 30 individuals via Zoom for 30 minute check-ins. During that time we cover a myriad of different metrics that rate their performance, but I choose to focus on 3 things solely:

1. Connecting – technology has widened the talent pool, but also breeds disconnection. Instead of being concerned about physical location as a barrier, I try to immerse myself in a session as if we were in the same room. Human connection is a powerful thing no matter where you are. Relationships are formed over time through trust regardless of distance. Working remotely can present challenges yet with empathy, active listening and genuine care the virtual gap can be closed. Think of having a conversation with a friend over coffee. The same principles of building a friendship apply here. Connection is the foundation for any working relationship to thrive.

2. Community – working from home sounds glorious until you look around and realize you’re alone. If employees can feel isolated in an office full of co-workers imagine how remote employees feel. The concept of a “virtual water cooler” has been talked about, but how do you make it happen? As a suggestion, Slack is a great place to start. The platform you choose isn’t as important as it’s function. In this case it’s to organically build relationships during personal time. Instead of gathering at the lunch table or local bar, it’s responding to someone’s question, comment, photo or video. It’s not something that can be forced, nor in some cases facilitated. It takes several people in the group to take initiative and put in the effort to communicate. In fact the best interactions are when the manager isn’t involved. The voluntary part of it makes it real.

3. Cultivate – the uniqueness of each member of the team makes the whole together special. Most managers try to control employees working remotely because they have trust issues. The problem is the more policies and procedures you enforce, the more anarchy is created. Trust is built via connecting so everything grows out of that. Don’t try to mold everyone to be the same, celebrate their differences. When each person brings their unique talents and strengths to the table, why would a manager quell them? A manager’s role is to bring out the best in each person by leveraging personal strengths. If you’re not developing people as a manager you’re crushing their spirit. It’s not enough to have the right people on the bus. Each person has to be on the right seat in order to reach the promise land. My job is to allow my team to shine by getting out of their way.

As a leader managing people remotely is challenging, but a true test of your abilities. Similar to organizing volunteers, when you are stripped of power, money and resources all you have is your relationships. My belief is if you can lead others remotely, you can lead any team anywhere. If you want to test your leadership capabilities manage people from a distance. You’ll be forced to give up control, ego and certainty…and that’s not a bad thing at all.