FIRE OF THE WEEK: SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES KATHLEEN SEBELIUS

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next.

SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

Kathleen Sebelius is the government official in charge of rolling out the Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov.

The website has been a debacle of the utmost magnitude since launch.

Last week, we talked about something called magical thinking. That’s when you believe all your problems are going to magically disappear if you just stick your head in the sand and hope for the best. Sebelius is this week’s magical thinker.

Instead of apologizing for the glitchy website, asserting responsibility and giving a veritable time frame for fixing the project, she is just sidestepping the glaring issues at hand by iterating the plan’s benefits and defending herself from criticism.

You will be so much more powerful on your job if you take ownership of your mistakes. If you act like Kathleen, refuse to take responsibility and stick your head in the sand, you will look like a fool.

Job Talk Daily Live – Oct 30, 2013

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THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT WORDS ON YOUR RESUME

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Uncle David has gotten every job he has ever gone for, so when he gives job-hunting advice, you better listen up. Join us every week for Uncle David’s 100% Successful Job Hunting Tip.

SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

People only read the first five or six words of each bullet point on your resume, so you got to make those words count.

Start your resume bullet point items with powerful words, such as “lead,”“created,” “initiated” and “designed.”

Instead of having a few giant block paragraphs for bullet points, you could easily break those up into multiple, eye-catching list items.

DON’T LINGER AFTER MAKING A CONNECTION

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

Whether you’re introducing two people for a blind date or making a professional connection, don’t linger after you’ve made the link. Move out of the way.

If you don’t think they’re smart enough to figure out how to work together, how to hang out together, how to love together, you shouldn’t have put them together in the first place.

Make the connection and step away.

LEARN TO DEAL WITH THE CO-WORKER YOU HATE

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

We’re not afraid of laying down the truth here at Job Talk, even if it stings. And today’s honest observation is one of the simplest and most painful truths in the job world: you can’t pick and choose your co-workers.

Or, as Auntie Evan had infamously put it, “you can’t choose them and you can’t shoot them.”

You have to make it work, whether you like it or not. We get it, you’re at your wits end. They keep doing everything wrong and you’re always picking up the slack. But if you’re starting to get emotional about it, vowing to shun them and watch as they slowly crumble to their ruin (yep, we all get like that), not only are you being a poor team player, you start looking like the problem yourself.

When you’re unwilling to cooperate, it makes it harder for your other co-workers—you  know, the ones you actually care for—to their jobs.

How do you control your emotions when you despise your co-worker? How do you make it work? You’ve got questions, we have answers:

Sit down with them: Don’t go gossiping and complaining to your boss (yet)—try and have a conversation with your co-worker. Stop avoiding them and sit down and talk with them. Yeah, you’ve got that running tape in your head going, “he’s going to tell me ‘I’m sorry,’ and he’s going to do it again.” But you’re just standing in your own way: you’re creating this conversation in your mind when you don’t even know what they’re going to say. You’re also taking away your co-worker’s opportunity to rise to the occasion. Give them a chance.

Stop focusing on being right: Yeah, you’re right. What does that get you? You still can’t choose your co-workers, it doesn’t buy you lunch and it certainly doesn’t get you promoted. If you really want to find a way to work everything out, you’re going to have to drop the notion that being right will change the situation.

Document your talks: Make sure to record when you sat down and talked with your co-worker. When you email them, mention how great it was talking to them about the problem, and that you’re excited that they’re going to now be more proactive about it. You’re codifying on paper that you’re trying to create a solution. But be forewarned: if you’re not coming into this with the intention of actually helping your co-worker, and you’re just out to be right, it’s not going to work.

They get three strikes: You’ve talked to them three times—or more—and nothing’s getting through. It’s high time to take it to the boss. Ask your boss for help; explain that you’ve tried on three separate occasions to talk to them. Remember when we said document your conversations? You now have a written record of when and what you told them. You’re not tattling on them—you’ve already taken the measures to correct the situation.

You can’t wrap everything up in a neat little bow: things can go wrong and you have to be prepared. But what you can do is put your heart into the matter and really try to help your co-worker. You come out a better teammate and better leader in the end.

WHY CUTTING OFF YOUR RECRUITER TOO QUICKLY IS A BAD IDEA

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

There’s this misconception going around that recruiters are just the matchmakers. Job hunters assume that once recruiters get you connected to the job and set you up with the interview, you should break off communication and direct any follow-up questions to the hiring manager.

That’s actually a really bad decision. Why? Because the hiring manager is going to think you’re unprofessional. He’s going to wonder why he’s hired this recruiter in the first place. And, of course, the recruiter will think you’re trying to circumvent him and hold him back from his commission.

Case in point, you’re going to get disliked from both sides, you’re going to lose that recruiting relationship and you’re going to lose the job because the hiring manager won’t trust you anymore.

Don’t abdicate communication once you’re through the door; the recruiter’s there to guide you through the hiring process.

And that goes both ways: if the hiring manager starts to go around the recruiter, you know there’s a problem. You don’t want to be playing with people who don’t play by the rules of the game.

Happy hunting!

HIRE OF THE WEEK: NETFLIX CUSTOMER SERVICE REP MICHAEL

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

Michael, a customer service rep at Netflix, with just one online chat conversation, has made a Netflix fan for life.

A man identifying himself as Lt. Norm contacted Michael with a technical issue. Michael kicked off the conversation with, “This is Cpt. Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?”

Lt. Norm went along with it brilliantly, and what ensued was a hilarious ship-themed dialogue regarding the issue. A customer service rep actually had fun with a customer.
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Instead of sticking to the script and letting his job dictate who he was, Michael let the script work for him. This is the kind of connection you need to make at your office. No matter what you do, don’t just be the script, don’t just be the job: be something more.

Making that connection and having that kick in your step will make you happier and will get you noticed.

FREELANCERS: REACH OUT TO YOUR EMPLOYERS

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

This is for the freelancers.

Stop magically thinking the places where you get your assignments from will reach out and contact you. You need to check in with them.

If you cease to be on their radar, they will stop hiring you and move on to the next freelancer.

Don’t get too secure in your position; there’s always someone else knocking on the door.

BE READY FOR ANY PROBLEM BY PRE-ACTING ON THE JOB

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

Sometimes we turn our heads and ignore one simple universal truth: that things go wrong. Equipment breaks down, people don’t keep their agreements and new systems don’t work the way you wanted them to.

What’s worse, you believe everything will be fine if you just turn the other way and wait for the problem to dissipate. We call this magical thinking. It’s believing the situation will magically solve itself.

This magical thinking is not only destroying your reputation, it’s also robbing you of opportunities to be the office troubleshooter. It’s preventing you from being a leader.

But today we’re not going to teach you how to act in times of distress, we’re going to teach you how to pre­-act.

There’s a great example of magical thinking going on in the news right now. As of August 1st, the Common Application—what high school seniors nationwide have been using for years to apply to colleges—was reincarnated in online form. Since its release, there’s been nothing but problems. The executive director of the form, Rob Killion, has expressed how everything’s going to work out and how they’re going to fix the glitchy system. October has rolled around and the online Common Application form is still experiencing major issues, causing schools to push back their early decision deadlines.

Instead of riddling high school seniors and counselors across the nation with anxiety, Killion could have reached out to colleges early on and asked them to defer their deadline, or he could of created a contingency plan before everything went so awry. But all Killion did was keep iterating how everything was going to work out: now that’s magical thinking.

You’re doing the exact same thing in your office: you pile on projects, event preparation and promises to clients and coworkers, and when the deadline rolls around and you’re running out of time, you cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Pre-acting isn’t about living in constant worry and perpetual paranoia that things will go wrong—it’s about being prepared. It’s about starting things a little sooner, checking if the printer’s working before you have to use it, making sure people are on top of things.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a worrywart all the time; you’ll probably get an ulcer from the stress. Simply acknowledge the possibility that things will go wrong if you don’t pre-act.

Here are several things you can do in advance to effectively pre-act in the office:

Catch yourself in the act of magical thinking: If you catch yourself in the act of asking “what’s the chance that’s going to happen?” it’s time to pre-act. Don’t be a gambler on the job. If the only thing you need for your meeting is the printer, check the ink, or get somebody to check the ink and check up on them to make sure they handled it.

Don’t be afraid to get up in people’s face: Yes, constantly checking in on people means you might get a little annoying. But that’s what leaders do—they get up in people’s face and make sure disaster doesn’t strike because everything was put off till the very last minute.

Do a run-through: This is exactly what Killion didn’t do. If you have a meeting the same day, do a mock meeting beforehand. Set up the chairs, refreshments, pens, paper and meeting material. It’s when you do a run-through that you notice that one thing you missed, the one thing that you would have never realized until the actual meeting.

Always be consistent: When you are arranging for people to be at an event, you will always send an email out, you will always follow up two days later and you will always make sure they’re responding to you. When you’re setting up for a meeting, you will always make sure that the pens and pads are exactly in front of the chairs and you will always check the ink in the printer. When you are this consistent, there’s no need for magical thinking: you are effectively pre-acting.

Make it fun: Pre-acting doesn’t need to be soul-draining. When you’re done setting up for an event or meeting much earlier in advance than you normally do, admire what you have done, soak in how calming it feels to have everything done beforehand, how less stressful it is to be on top of things.

Stop craving that last-minute rush: You know the feeling. You get that adrenaline rush when you do everything last minute. But this drives everybody around you crazy. Don’t drag everyone down into your last-minute fix—instead, get the rush from doing everything in advance.

Killion and his team constantly worked backwards. they didn’t prep, they didn’t do a run-through, they didn’t do anything to insure the system won’t act the way it did. Some colleges have even switched over to a competitor now. When you’re in a position where you run the show (or when you want to get to that position), you have to stop thinking magically and start pre-acting for what’s coming up.

And when you do pre-act, when you are on top of things, you become someone dependable, you become someone people can rely on, and the amazing results seem almost… magical.

TWO FAST-GROWING, HIGH-PAYING CAREER FIELDS

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 9, 2013

Two quickly-growing, high-income career fields are currently hot on the market:

Radiation therapist: This is the tech who actually takes the X-rays and MRIs. The pay is excellent: 70k – 80k with relatively little training. This field is growing fast. Just remember, you’ll need to be decent at interpersonal communication, since you’ll be talking with a lot of nervous people. If you’re not into the whole people skills thing, there’s always…

Dental hygienist: Okay, fine, the people who clean your teeth usually never shut up. But hey, the guy in the chair can’t talk back. This field is one of the fastest growing in America, expected to expand 38% by 2020. The median pay as of 2010 is just under 70k.

Also, be sure to check out our excellent job tools page for some great career-hunting resources.