Sunday, December 27, 2015

Book Review: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel

Just finished listening audiobook The FOUR Agreements. This is a must read book and by far the best book I read in 2015. 

Here is some key take aways from the book:

Don explains how to rewire our belief system so that we can create a new world for ourselves -- a new perspective of the world around us and of ourselves.

In the first chapter, Domestication and the Dream of the Planet, Don sets the stage for the book and explains how the world we're living in is nothing more than a dream world that we've been domesticated to believe is real and unchangeable. In the book, an "agreement" is a rule that we hold as absolute truth. We have thousands of agreements in life, from the agreement that these words are English, to the agreement that gravity pulls things down.
Don presents us with four agreements that he says will change our lives if we adopt them. Each of the four agreements presented reinforce the previous. The four agreements are:
Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don't take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What other say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
Don't make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
Always do your best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy, as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.

The last two chapters of the book discuss how to let go of fear and doubt and adopt these teachings. He discusses various techniques that the ancient Toltec's used and how other cultures around the world still follow similar teachings as were taught by the Toltec. 

Saturday, December 05, 2015

My learning and notes for an effective Job search

I recently finished a 3 months of Job search journey. Job search is not fun and I have learned a lot  in last few months about what works and what not. These notes I am writing for myself so that I might need to refer them again in future. I hope you will also find these tips/advice helpful. You can leave me a comment below for any further help/question and I will happy to talk to you over phone.

Making an effective Resume: 

Building an effective resume for your dream role take times specially if you are updating it after few years. Since I was updating my resume after 7 years so it took me around 4 weeks and by going through multiple review and changes. How do you know that resume or linkedin profile is effective now? Well, when # of hiring companies start to reach out to more often after you have applied. For example, when I initially started applying when my resume was not effective, I was only getting may be one query from 20 position I applied. But when my resume became effective, I was getting more than 5 responses back out of 20 applications.

Framework for making a good resume:
1. Keep is short and crisp. Start your bullet points with action verb. If you are fresh graduate or less than 5 years of experience then 1 page resume is enough. If you have more than 10 years of experience then keep in max to two pages. Look for job posting to find out market is looking for. Looks out for trend. Find your gaps, honest about it and fill the gaps
2. Focus on showing what problem you have solved rather than just saying you worked on something
3. Quantify your achievement in number to show the impact on company. Think how your worked helped company in terms of % cost saving, % revenue increase, % quality improvement, %market increase in market share, % customer increase in customer satisfactions..etc
4. Give more focus on highlighting what you have achieved in last 3-5 years. What you have been working on in last 3 years matter most to the hiring manager. In term of bullet point for each job: keep 4-6 bullet for most recent, 3-4 bullet for second recent and not more than 2 bullet point for all other jobs that you have worked in past
5. Show that you are a doer. Highlight some of you work that you may have done outside of your job
6. Some people are also making infographic resume to grab attention quickly. Its not mandatory but its up to you if you want to spend effort on making you resume more creative

Before submitting Resume:
1. Read the job description at least two times to identify the keys skills and experience that they are looking and align your resume accordingly by highlighting the matching skillets and related problem you solved.
2. Proof read your resume 2-3 times for typos, page alignment and save and send a pdf version instead of word copy.

Job Search:
Create a list of  40+ companies that is precisely ordered for job search success

My first choice is Linked: Linkedin has gotten so better in last 2-3 years that you do hardly need to go to any other job site. More of their listing are upto date, current and you can do a custom search for what target location or companies you are searching for very easily. When using linkedin not just focus on  using PROFILE & JOBS tabs but also spend time on  CONNECTIONS & INTERESTS tabs.

How many advocate and people you have - looking for a job without a good net is going to take really long time. Make job search is strategy- not personal when reaching out to Alumni. Email is good- stop asking for jobs, generalize your interest,

Indeed or Simply hired - Try both and see if they are resulting in right search and compare with Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice. Once you have identified the correct search criteria and generate a good list, use the email subscription to receive a daily email from the site.

Should we apply directly to company website? I would say yes - although I did not find very effective in my job search journey. But keep in mind that you goal as a job search to increase your funnel by using all possible means.

Use LinkedIn to find decision makers and leverage your network to get your resume in front of someone in the company. Network with others to identify companies of interest and uncover the “hidden job market”. Attend job fairs where companies of interest will be present, and approach the job fair as a networking opportunity. Use quality search firms to open doors to companies and opportunities that are not posted.

Interview Preparation:

Company Research: Identify the top three strategic initiatives of the organization. What issues are keeping managers up at night. Do you search on the corporate website, Google, Twitter, the company’s page on LinkedIn, and the profiles of people who work for the organization, LinkedIn groups where they hangout, and industry groups.

Create a Behavior preparation Grid: Behavioral question sometime get tricky based on how the question is asked. I created a Google Docs spreadsheet to jot down 2-3 different stories for each behavioral question category. A preparation grid is a grid (Excel or any spreadsheet program works great here) where the rows are each “chunk” of your resume (each project, role, club, etc) and the columns are the major behavior questions: conflicts, challenges, mistakes, what you learned, what you enjoyed, what you hated, etc. If you fill in each cell with a story (or two or three), you’ll be well prepared when your interviewer asks you a very specific question.

Make a 30/60/90 days plan:
30-Day Plan/First 30 days on the job: During the first 30 days on the job, time is spent attending training, meeting team members, learning the organization’s systems and its products and services, reviewing procedures and client accounts.

60-Day Plan/First 60 days on the job: Studying best practices in the industry, setting goals for the next 30 days, meeting with supervisor to gather feedback, building relationships with your colleagues, identifying potential mentors, reviewing the efficiency of company processes and procedures, visiting other department, and continuing to attend training.

90-Day Plan/First 90 days on the job: Obtaining feedback on new processes and procedures, implementing new strategies and procedures, and addressing the three strategic initiatives.

Presentation on HBR Case: 
This applies to product or marketing managers. These days many hiring manager provide you a business problem and asks you to give them a presentation within 24 hours on how you would solve this. There are many HBR cases available on internet that you can use to practice

Create your own personal brand outside of regular job: 

This is the most effective strategy I found. There are many different ways you can create your own brand and increase possibility of getting hired quickly.

1. Write A Book. If you can write a book, then that becomes your best resume. A book shows that you are an expert and thought-leader is that particular domain. I did write a book but since my passion was in fitness so it was not directly related to my work which in tech industry.

2. Write a white paper. One of my friend shared this trick. He wrote a white paper for the problem company A was facing and send it to the company as well as their competitors. He got the interview call and received job offer in 2 weeks

3. Blog/Website/Social Media presence. I am sure that many companies soon will start looking for your Klout score. So my advice is that you start writing small blog even if you do not like writing. Get a registered domain with your name and share some valuable content on your side even if it is created by others.

4. Network and become power connector:
1.You should always lookout for making new connections. You never know when that can be useful in connecting you to your prospective employer.
2.Tap in to your college/school alumni network. Go to all your related seminar, conference and meetup and try to talk to as many people as you can.
3.Create few email template for common email so that you do not have to type them again and again when you try to connect to new people over email/linkedin/social media.

During Interview:
1. Do a power pose before you go in the interview room to fill positive thoughts and energy. Wear great cloths, feel proud of yourself, stand straight.
2. Show energy, passion, interest and curiosity. Fake it until you make it. Think about how a confident person would do, behave the same way, smile and make eye contacts
3. Have a framework to tell your stories: My framework was focused on my Interest, Education and Experience
4. Drive interview towards your strength by leaving pointer about your strength when you answer questions.
5. If you know the names of interviewer then search their profile on linked in about their interest and what they have been working on and then tailor your message according to the audience

Get Rejected? Here how I dealt with rejection:
1. When I got rejected first time, I was felling horrible because the interview went really well from my side and I was expecting a positive response. But later I found out through my network that they closed the position before hiring anyone. So you never know what exactly happen in the background and the HR person will not tell you the exact reason. The strategy I took was that my role is to keep applying without worrying about the rejections and give my best. Think of job rejection as a video game -- its not life or death, take stress as a challenge.

Give 100% of yourself. Max yourself out in whole process and Good news will come soon!