Archive | February, 2009

Digital Nomads-The future of the office

25. February 2009

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DigitalNomads.com is an informative site where users share experiences working away from the office; a growing workforce in the 21st century.  For a company to succeed with this option, being able to measure an employee’s performance is essential. Many people in the workforce would love to have the option to telecommute or work with co-workers off site. Working as a headhunter, I have had candidates express the desire for flexible work hours for years. Let me ask you a question, if two companies offered you the same job and title, but …

DigitalNomads.com is an informative site where users share experiences working away from the office; a growing workforce in the 21st century.  For a company to succeed with this option, being able to measure an employee’s performance is essential.

Many people in the workforce would love to have the option to telecommute or work with co-workers off site. Working as a headhunter, I have had candidates express the desire for flexible work hours for years. Let me ask you a question, if two companies offered you the same job and title, but only one offered flexible work options, which one would you choose?  Hmmmm, lets think about that…

We cannot ignore the fact that people will always have the need to congregate and work together. At digitalnomads.com, you can read about co-workers traveling together to different spots where they have wifi, turning any coffee house into an office.  For example, Panera cafe near my house has a conference table that easily sits ten people, offering a great place to work on a project. If I was a betting man, I would say telecommuting is going to grow exponentially in the coming years.   

 Article from Pittsburgh Business Times

Is business rethinking telecommuting?

Although AT&T, Hewlett-Packard and some other big companies have recently reined in employees who work outside the office, telecommuting shows no sign of abating in the Pittsburgh region.

Moreover, advocates say the practice will expand in response to the need for increased worker flexibility and convenience.

"It’s not in any way a shift to say this isn’t working," said Debra Dinnocenzo, president of Wexford-based VirtualWorks!, a company that helps businesses with telecommuting issues.

Telecommuting has become synonymous with the laptop computer, which was perfected for use by executives in the early 1980s. Amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 required cities with smog problems to reduce pollution levels, focusing on telecommuting as part of the solution.

AT&T was among the first corporations to embrace telecommuting on a big scale. By 1995, 38 percent of AT&T managers were either telecommuting or had "virtual offices," which allowed them to work anywhere, according to the company.

Technological improvements in laptops since then, combined with the emergence of the global economy and, more lately, employee concerns about work-life balance issues, means the idea will be around for awhile.

Although telecommuting has not caught on as big in the Pittsburgh area as elsewhere, Dinnocenzo said, many companies embrace the practice. There are no plans to reduce telecommuting at the Downtown office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, where around 65 percent of the office’s 84 employees work from remote locations up to three days a week, according to Director Cheryle Campbell.

"We’ve been doing this for a number of years," she said. "It’s a national HUD policy."

At PNC Financial Services Group Inc., telecommuting is spreading, according to Kathy D’Appolonia, senior vice president of work life and diversity. Employees have embraced the idea, she said, which is being offered to an increasing number of employees where applicable.

Roughly one-third of PNC’s 28,000 employees telecommute, and a pilot is underway for people who service general accounts to work from home, D’Appolonia said. About 15 people are participating in the pilot, which is expected to increase to 125 by year’s end and eventually comprise 200 people.

Fueling the telecommuting movement was the advent of high-speed Internet access in the home, according to Brenda Vester, vice president of Green Tree-based business consultant Lee Hecht Harrison. Younger employees are especially attracted to the option, she said.

"If I can get the work done, why do I have to come in here?" she said. "It’s just a different way of working.

"It’s most definitely going to increase."

But telecommuting only works well when management has an effective way of measuring performance, Dinnocenzo said, and working from home will never be possible for some jobs — think the UPS driver. In addition, some employees will find the adjustment to working out of the office difficult because of the lack of social contact.

"We’re innately social beings," Dinnocenzo said. "We actually like being together."

Still, studies have supported the value of telecommuting, including a Penn State University analysis last year that found that telecommuters reported increased job satisfaction, more motivation to stay with an employer, less stress and improved work-family balance.

A common error managers make is in equating office presence with productivity. The reality is the office is full of distractions that actually give telecommuting a 30 percent edge in productivity, according to Dinnocenzo.

"If they have their eyes open and a blood pressure, we think they’re working," she said.

And at AT&T, which has a call center in the Strip District, the number of employees who are allowed to work remotely is increasing, according to spokesman Walt Sharp. Of the communication giant’s work force of 309,000 people, half have the option of working out of the office.

"The trend is toward more teleworking," Sharp said. The recent pullback at the company only affected employees who work at home, versus the number of people who work at remote locations, a "tiny, tiny fraction" of the number who work away from the office, he said.

 

From digitalNomads.com

Recommended tools from nomads to make our lives easier

 

Microsoft Windows Live
A suite of online tools that enable e-mail, instant messenger, online data storage, photo galleries and blogging, all in one spot.
Skype
Software you can use to make telephone calls over the Internet — very inexpensively!
Google Docs
A web-based word processor, spreadsheet and presentation application suite that enables you to create and edit documents online collaborating with your colleagues.
Jott
A nifty little service that converts your voice into e-mails, text messages, reminders, lists and appointments.
Twitter
A social networking and micro-blogging tool that enables you to send updates (known as ‘tweets’) made up of 140 characters or less. Once you try it, you’ll find it addictive.
Adobe Air
A hybrid app platform designed to give users access to Internet applications without the need for a browser.
Zoho
Want an alternative to Google Docs? Take a look at a lesser known suite of online applications from Zoho. The applications are free for individuals and some have a subscription fee for organizations. Zoho’s vision is to provide its customers (individuals, students, educators, non-profits, small and medium sized businesses) with the most comprehensive set of applications available anywhere.
Open WiFi Spots
A comprehensive directory of free wireless (WiFi) hotspots across the U.S., continuously updated by your peers and searchable by city, state and zip code.
PortableApps
This suite of portable apps are a great set of productivity applications that can all run directly from a USB drive. These allow a ‘Digital Nomad’ to take all the essential tools with them and work from any computer that has a USB port.
MakeUseOf
This site has lists of all sorts of things but one that is invaluable to the digital nomad is its listing of “Top Free Hosts to Store Your Files Online”.

 

Founder of digitalnomads.com

"It used to be a common and simple question to ask “where do you work? — but not anymore."

 

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Interview from hell!

20. February 2009

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I want to break down an interview I sent a talented candidate on; the events that played out were completely avoidable. This was a new client, an agency of record for a couple of major brands. This would be the first candidate I sent to interview with this well-known agency. I was very confident that this was a match made in heaven for my client and candidate – until the day of the interview. I asked my candidate to call me when the interview was over. I see on my …

interview-from-hell-2

I want to break down an interview I sent a talented candidate on; the events that played out were completely avoidable. This was a new client, an agency of record for a couple of major brands. This would be the first candidate I sent to interview with this well-known agency. I was very confident that this was a match made in heaven for my client and candidate – until the day of the interview.

I asked my candidate to call me when the interview was over. I see on my caller ID it’s him and, confident that I will be getting feedback from a positive meeting, I asked how it went.  Well, there was air over the phone and I knew from that point on, everything was going downhill from there. He proceeds to break down his interview, where he was scheduled to meet with three senior-level management people, and tells me:

"Well Collin, the first thing I did not care for was the hour long wait in the lobby. The receptionist did not even ask me if I would like coffee or water, nor apologized for the wait." (First impressions are lasting.)

“I finally get to the first interview and he seemed frazzled from the meeting he just came from.  He proceeds to tell me he did not have my resume, nor has he had time to look it over. He muddles through our interview, interrupts to take a call, and then cuts things short to make an important meeting." (Nice.)

I said, "Ok, how did the next person you met with go?"

"He was a no show – was stuck off site. His assistant walked me to the other side of the building for my last interview, and as I was walking past the cubicles, there seemed to be a negative vibe."

“I finally arrived to my last interview and the questions she asked did not relate to what I was interviewing for. On top of that, she seemed to be more interested in the sound of her own voice and accomplishments. The icing on the cake was the comment she made to me towards the end of the interview. She said, ‘ we needed you yesterday. We all are working late and my client is not happy with us at the moment.’ "  (Wow.)                                                                                                                                                                                                      

"I’m going to pass on this company Collin. I was really excited about the opportunity and heard great things from colleagues. But it is very clear that at the moment, the company is going through some issues that I just as soon avoid. I’m going to stay where I am."

This company is fundamentally sound and has great clients, yet has not taken an interest in how they represent themselves in the interview process. Companies need to take just as much of an interest in what is going on internally, as they do externally with their clients. Focusing on your company brand is critical to recruiting and retaining top talent. 

Here are a few suggestions to ensure your interview process is successful:

  • Set the tone that interviews are a priority.
  • Make sure your administrator clears the interviewer’s schedule so they will have appropriate time to spend with the candidate, along with no interruptions.
  • Develop internal training on how to effectively interview candidates.
  • After each interview, assess how the experience went for the candidate.

Note: Top talent will always be in high demand – whether we are in a good or bad economy.

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How bad do you want it?

17. February 2009

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  I was listening to a lecture from author/speaker Malcolm Gladwell, from his recent bestseller, Outliers: The Story of Success, and felt Gladwell brought up a very interesting point. He took an in-depth look at many of our greats, such as  Mozart, Rockefeller, and Bill Gates – he calls them "Outliers" – and proceeded to find a common thread as to why they all achieved greatness in their perspective fields of work. He brought up the Beatles, one of the greatest bands of all time, …

 

I was listening to a lecture from author/speaker Malcolm Gladwell, from his recent bestseller, Outliers: The Story of Success, and felt Gladwell brought up a very interesting point. He took an in-depth look at many of our greats, such as  Mozart, Rockefeller, and Bill Gates – he calls them "Outliers" – and proceeded to find a common thread as to why they all achieved greatness in their perspective fields of work. He brought up the Beatles, one of the greatest bands of all time, and pointed out that the band had a lot of touring experience prior to coming to the States in 1964 and becoming an overnight sensation. An amazing fact that many people do not know is, the Beatles went to Hamburg, West Germany in 1959 for a long period of time, performing 8-hour sets, 7 days a week, for months at a stretch as the house band for a strip club. Many experts agree that this is where the Beatles perfected their craft. When the Beatles hit the United States they were well prepared, and went on to produce volumes of award-winning work in a short period of time. To date the Beatles have sold more than 1 billion records worldwide.

Bill Gates and the Beatles conform to one of Gladwell’s central arguments: that genius, or simple success, requires about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice before it can blossom, even in a gifted individual. Among the examples of the so-called "10,000-hour" rule are the late-blooming painter Cézanne and the mathematician Andrew Wiles, who solved Fermat’s theorem in 1995.

 

Gladwell’s main point is: The Beatles, and others with the same common thread, did not achieve greatness by being average, de facto, if you really want to become great at what you do, you need to make a major commitment and sacrifice to get there. Period.

Article excerpt discussing his new book, Outliers: The Story of Success:

"Outlier", Gladwell explains, is science-speak for something that lies outside normal experience. "In the summer, in Paris," he writes, "we expect most days to be somewhere between warm and very hot. But imagine if you had a day in the middle of August where the temperature fell below freezing. That day would be an outlier. In this book I’m interested in people who are outliers – in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August."

I agree with Gladwell’s research; as a headhunter I get the opportunity to study human behavior on a daily basis, and there is a common thread as to why some talent achieve greatness, while others coast along. So the next time you ask yourself why your not happy with where you are at in your career, read this post, along with making the decision to finally committing time and energy to becoming an "Outlier."

 

Notable books Gladwell has written:

The Tipping Point (2000)
Blink (2005)

 

 

 

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Present yourself like a case study

12. February 2009

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Definition: Case study A systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. Ultimately, what does any employer want to see? Results, results, results in your past performance! Right? In general, people get overwhelmed when they start to write their resume or pull their work together. The first step is to break down your career in a case study format. You are probably saying to yourself, "I cannot put this all in my resume," and this is true. What you do is, after …

Definition: Case study

A systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results.

Ultimately, what does any employer want to see? Results, results, results in your past performance! Right? In general, people get overwhelmed when they start to write their resume or pull their work together. The first step is to break down your career in a case study format.

You are probably saying to yourself, "I cannot put this all in my resume," and this is true. What you do is, after a small introduction paragraph, layout your relevant information in a teaser, bullet-point format that clearly shows results driven activity.  You can then elaborate on it when you are face to face.

Please stay away from paragraphs upon paragraphs of information on your resume. If you really have the goods, then there is no need to do this. Using a teaser-based formula is the best way to go. I am not saying to follow this to the T, but it is a great way to start breaking down your work with a benchmark formula to follow.

Caution: If you describe yourself in a job description format on your resume, this is a big red flag to my client and I. This shows me you do not have a quantitative, results-driven background, so you fill it in with job descriptive verbiage – I call this filler! Sadly, many people out there can only describe themselves in a filler format.

*Make sure when you take a job you can be relevant and impactual, so you can always explain your history in a quantitative way!

Let me know what you think with your comments.

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You ran into a great contact-now you can kick yourself!

10. February 2009

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  I cannot tell you how many times I could of kicked myself after running into a potential client or great contact I had been trying to connect with for the past year, now he’s standing 6 feet away from me in the grocery store, and I blow it!     I walked past him and said, "Hello, how are you tonight?" The only thing going through my head at that moment was, "I cannot believe I let that opportunity fall right through my hands!" I was not prepared for any …

 

I cannot tell you how many times I could of kicked myself after running into a potential client or great contact I had been trying to connect with for the past year, now he’s standing 6 feet away from me in the grocery store, and I blow it!

 

 

grocery store isle

I walked past him and said, "Hello, how are you tonight?" The only thing going through my head at that moment was, "I cannot believe I let that opportunity fall right through my hands!"

I was not prepared for any situation to present itself and it had. What I found so disappointing is how many times I allowed this scenario to play out over and over again.  Are you prepared to seize an opportunity anywhere at anytime? 

The first thing I conquered and resisted for a long time is memorizing my pitch. Yes, I said I memorized my pitch. If you don’t know your brand well enough to convey it in 30 seconds, then you need to work on it. Memorizing your pitch and making it your own helps the end result sound natural. I purchased 3 x 5 cards and started to break down my brand. I wrote down all the fundamentals of what I bring to the table, along with the typical objections people threw at me so I could overcome them. I made sure I knew what I provided as a service front, back, and sideways. I have memorized my presentation so many times that I am now prepared to deal with any situation that could be a potential opportunity. Over time, you hone in on what works and what doesn’t by trial and error.

Below is a list of questions to help you prepare for that unexpected golden opportunity:

  • Know your brand – what separates you from the pack?
  • Are you prepared to overcome objections to your service on the fly?
  • Do you have a blog or website featuring what assets you bring to the table?            business-card
  • Do you have a business card on you? (This should always be on you!)
  • Are you prepared to send information the next day?
  • Is your LinkedIn and Facebook updated?
  • Did you ask for a business card? (If they don’t have one on them always have a pen handy)

All the suggestions above are your supporting props!

Important: You will always be less inclined to approach someone if you are not well prepared to handle the situation. If you are not prepared, you will panic and allow the golden opportunity to slip away. Can anyone in this economy afford not to take advantage of all situations that might present itself?

*Being prepared = Confidence 

 This is one of the most important skills to have so you can be prepared to handle that unexpected event that presents itself. You will be confident and ready next time. It is mission critical to understand your brand and how you convey it to others.

Make your pitch a home run! small-30-second-pitch1

 

 

 

 

 

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Very cool!

9. February 2009

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Transitioning from traditional to digital 360 talent

6. February 2009

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 I am amazed when I talk to some traditional talent they tell me, “I don’t know flash so I am not sure I can make the jump into digital."  Huh?  Of course you do not need to learn programming skills to get on the digital side of advertising unless you are a programmer.  What you need to do is take a proactive role in learning about the digital side of things. “It’s not rocket science folks," all the information is out there. Trust me.  Wikipedia is a great start to …

istock-transitioning-from-traditional-to-digital-post

 I am amazed when I talk to some traditional talent they tell me, “I don’t know flash so I am not sure I can make the jump into digital."  Huh?  Of course you do not need to learn programming skills to get on the digital side of advertising unless you are a programmer.  What you need to do is take a proactive role in learning about the digital side of things. “It’s not rocket science folks," all the information is out there. Trust me.  Wikipedia is a great start to understanding different terms you might not understand, for example the meaning of Digital Strategy.

 Video: Blogs in Plain English

 

Commoncraft.com is a great site with tutorials in plain English!  When you click on the link there will be a search window, put in the word “internet” and many tutorials will come up. Another example to try is: web-search-strategies.

google-slideshare-social-media

 Learning more about search commands is going to help you on your quest to become a 360-integrated talent. For example, to show you how effective Google search commands are, put in slideshare: "social media."   As you can see above, I typed in the website name slideshare, after that I put in a colon, and from there I put in quotes, "social media."  This is key to getting a search return with information only about social mediaI cannot tell you how valuable slideshare.com is for any type of research you are doing, it is a great place to learn just about anything. Searching just within a specific website can be a real time saver!

Note: Start taking an interest in learning the basic search commands on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live.

I found a great blog called Googletutor.com http://www.googletutor.com/google-manual/ they explain it in a user friendly way.

Google commands open up a new world on how to get information about advertising and marketing knowledge.  Want to know about top advertising blogs? Just go to Google and type in exactly that. Google will give you the results you are looking for by asking it in a question format.  I do recommend you get the basic search commands down from Google, it will give you more exact information.

Ad Age’s Digital section is a great read every week. You can also find many bloggers in the digital space by using Google’s blog search engine for any interest you have.

There are too many brilliant traditional people out there that have so much to give to an agency, but are being let go because they are lacking digital background. I have seen many people make the transition to a 360-integrated talent.

Let’s not forget, "a great idea is a great idea."  What is most important is understanding the audience you are speaking to.

Important: There is no excuse if you are on the traditional side to not have an online portfolio – I don’t just mean creatives – anyone. Go to wordpress.com, find a theme you like, then create a blog. It is just like a website only you can control what’s added and change the content, and you no longer will be dependent on a programmer to help you. There is a user-friendly dashboard where you control your blog and the icing on the cake is, wordpress provides wordpress visual tutorials on how to build your blog from top to bottom.  All of my sites are on wordpress.

*Creating a blog shows any potential employer that you are with the program and gives you the oppurtunity to showcase your background.

 If you want to be a player in this business you need to be constantly changing fast. I sincerely mean this. You can see all around you everyday the advertising world is moving at breakneck speed. People and agencies in our business are being displaced like vinyl records.

Remember my clients are not usually just looking for digital experience; they are looking for talent that understands traditional also.  It is critical to understand all the ways of distributing information and content (360), we would be doing the client’s brand a disservice if we didn’t. I am hoping the day comes when I don’t have a need to say traditional or digital to define the talent. 

Look at it this way, “you are halfway there!”

 

I welcome your comments.

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Quoted today in the Detroit News

5. February 2009

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Article Thursday Feburary 5th 2009 I was asked to comment on the ex- Mayor’s situation and how it affected his staff now trying to gain employment elsewhere. "This is the natural consequence of working for Kwame Kilpatrick and a response to his actions," said Collin LaLonde, an executive recruiter from Birmingham who also has a blog, www.changingfast.com, on finding new jobs. …

kwame_detroit_news

Article Thursday Feburary 5th 2009

I was asked to comment on the ex- Mayor’s situation and how it affected his staff now trying to gain employment elsewhere.

"This is the natural consequence of working for Kwame Kilpatrick and a response to his actions," said Collin LaLonde, an executive recruiter from Birmingham who also has a blog, www.changingfast.com, on finding new jobs.

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How to avoid Crisis Reactive Mode

3. February 2009

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  Crisis Reactive mode: When you have made no prior planning to an event that could possibly play out, and now it has.   Ok, if I get hit by lightning today this would be one of the most important posts I will ever write! As a headhunter this has been a consistent problem with talent. This situation can be avoided if the right steps are in place. Let me show you in dialogue format an all too familiar scenario.   Me: ring ring “Hello?”  Candidate:  "Collin, I am in the …

crisis-reactive-mode

 

Crisis Reactive mode:

When you have made no prior planning to an event that could possibly play out, and now it has. 

 Ok, if I get hit by lightning today this would be one of the most important posts I will ever write! As a headhunter this has been a consistent problem with talent. This situation can be avoided if the right steps are in place. Let me show you in dialogue format an all too familiar scenario.

 

Me: ring ring “Hello?” 

Candidate:  "Collin, I am in the main conference room along with 40 other people, we were just laid off and they will not let us go back to our desks and our work computers have been confiscated. I am freaking out!!"

Me: "First of all, I am sorry about what has happened but you are well prepared to deal with this situation."

Candidate: "What do you mean I’m prepared?"

Me: "Well, we discussed over 2 years ago, and several times since, a proactive strategy to keep yourself optimized in the marketplace. I sent you a list and examples on how to accomplish this."

Candidate: "Uhhhh"

Me: "You agreed with me when we first discussed this that this is a great action plan to follow throughout your career."

Candidate: "Yes, this is true, but…"

Me: "So, lets calmly go down the list.  Have you made time to go to industry meetings and did you subscribe to those blogs I suggested to keep up with what’s happening?"

Candidate: "No."

Me: "Why don’t you send me your updated resume."

Candidate: "I will need a couple of days to work on that, I did not update my resume on a regular basis as you suggested."

Me: "Did you sign up on LinkedIn and the other social networking sites I suggested to keep yourself fresh within your network of influence?"

Candidate: "No."

Me: "Did you back up your work on a daily basis so you can keep an ongoing catalogue of what you have accomplished at your company, so you can show your next employer that you are effective and results driven in your role?"

Candidate: "No."

 

You get the point I am trying to make with this dialogue. It is soooo key to make sure you are working on your brand at the same time you are working at your place of employment. Putting a strategy together so you never end up in this candidate’s situation is critical! Going into crisis reactive mode plays out when you are not prepared, and not just in your career.

Sadly, when people get in this mode they end up making more poor choices on top of the event that has just occurred, myself included, “been there done that."  I know we all have time constraints; we can come up with endless excuses for why we don’t do the things we need to do – count me in again. 

 

Below is a list of things you should be doing on a regular basis:

 

  • Set up a catalogue system to keep track of all data and assets you find beneficial – it is key for all your data to be useful and searchable!
  • Get your work online – everyone should have a portfolio, not just creatives.
  • Always back up your work so you can analyze it on a regular basis, or "benchmarking.”
  • Make an effort to do some schmoozing at industry events.
  • Make sure you sign up on social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
  • Join online user groups and blogs pertaining to your area of expertise.
  • Update your resume regularly, adding in your newest quantifiable results.
  • Set up alerts with keywords that pertain to your career on Google, Twilert.com, and Indeed.com. 
  • Leverage a great headhunter to help with strategy and opportunities! “Shameless plug”
  • Know your competitors in the area and across the country.

*I am referring to all companies, not just the ones that are popular because of their hot talent.  Remember this is why we know about them – because they are doing these steps on a regular basis.

You will expand on some of the suggestions I have just made if you take a proactive interest in your career strategy and your ongoing brand development. In most situations, people had some idea that this day was coming, along with a little voice inside saying, "I have to update my resume and portfolio, I need to start networking…."

Lesson: Avoid crisis reactive mode by taking a proactive stance and strive toward a better future by anticipating and preparing for future clouds on the horizon.

I welcome your comments on this post.

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