Shape Up More Than Your Beach Body This Summer!

  • May 23, 2014

Summer is around the corner and while most of us may be concerned with losing a few extra inches around our midsection or toning up our biceps before hitting the beach shores this season, this might not be the only shaping up that needs to happen!

This summer, treat your resume like you do your bathing suit bod and you will find much more ease with your job search. You may want to evaluate your current situation and determine the best strategy to boost your chances of getting a job offer. Depending on where you stand, you may find yourself in need to bulk up, slim down or simply just tone up your resume a bit over the summer:

Need to bulk up: Is your resume looking a little bare? Need to beef it up? If you need to add to your resume, you may want to consider doing some volunteer work at local charities, alumni associations, community groups, professional interest groups, etc.

Volunteer work gives you a chance to gain important workplace skills and some extra experience. You can take it a step further by getting involved on the leadership level of an organization! Consider an elected or appointed position, the Board of Directors or possibly acting as a community advocate. Getting involved in higher levels of volunteer-based organizations will not only show you are self-motivated but will also let potential employers get to know a little more about what your passions are. Not to mention that volunteering can also lead to good job references and loads of networking opportunities. Another way you can bulk up your resume would be taking additional courses and certifications. They may require a bit of a time commitment but you’ll be able to attend them at most local community colleges and educational facilities. Listing additional courses and certifications on your resume show you have some initiative, something all employers are looking for in potential employees.

Slim Down: Feel like you have got too much weight carried around on your resume? Is it bogging you down? Slimming down your resume may be just the trick, but it can be hard to do. We’ve all felt the need to include as much as possible on our resume, but in fact, you may end up jeopardizing your chances by including too much. The most important thing you can do on your resume is to have clearly described your skills and strengths. If you’ve done this and get asked in for an interview, feel free to go in depth at that time. So make sure you trim the fat. Avoid long lists of duties for jobs you’ve held and keep it to the facts that emphasize your accomplishments and successes. The most important thing you can do to keep a lean, mean resume is to keep it straight forward and concise. As a rule of thumb for your resume, try to remember that less can actually be more!

Side note: If you are a more experienced job seeker and need to trim down your resume, a good way to do this (as well as prevent any possible age discrimination) could be leaving off the year you graduated from college. You may also leave off older, more junior-level work experience as well.

Just a little tone up: Some of you may only need a few touch-up revisions to your resume. If this is you, congratulations on winning half the battle! As you tone up your resume, you’ll want to make sure to look over your resume for keywords. These keywords will be crucial in grabbing a hiring manager’s and recruiter’s eye. If you want to spark up interest, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got keywords scattered throughout your resume. Take a look at job postings in your field to determine some of the common keywords that you should include in your resume. If you find a job you’d like to apply for and the posting lists certain skills that are required to apply, make sure you include those on your resume, too (as long as they are valid, of course). You may also want to consider adding a brief “special skills” section in addition to employment history. This can be a collection of the words that best summarize your experience and skills. Lastly, if you’ve trained and worked with certain computer programs (for ex. Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Excel), particularly if it’s unique and/or relevant to your profession, make sure you detail them as well.

Follow these tips and you’ll find yourself ready to beat the summer heat and feel your best throughout your entire job seeking process!

How Can You LEAD Even When You’re Not in a “LEADERSHIP” Role??

  • May 1, 2014
Teamwork and team spirit

What makes a leader in the corporate world? It isn’t holding an executive level role or supervising other employees. It isn’t something you can learn overnight or even with 20 years of work experience. A leader, in the most basic sense, is someone who can guide or inspire others. Many leaders are born with innate leadership skills but some learn how to lead from great role models.

In fact, leaders can be all around us from the bottom to the top of the corporate ladder. We all have the opportunity to express a number of leadership qualities, even if we don’t necessarily see it. Wherever you are in the working world, you may exhibit leadership in your everyday work.

Here are some of the ways you can LEAD without being in a “LEADERSHIP” role:

The most basic way to lead is to do it by example. If you want to lead, you should know that part of being a leader involves how you carry yourself and that others will always be watching what you do. As they say, “actions speak louder than words,” so the things you do and the way you act can be a perfect way to demonstrate your leadership characteristics.

Help others and be a team player. Offer to help in every situation that you possibly can. A good leader is someone who wants to make those around them successful and help them get there. Lending a helping hand will help you establish important relationships and trust amongst your peers, too. After all, gaining trust and establishing dependability are few of the most important factors for leadership.

Show Initiative. If an opportunity presents itself, take it! Stepping forward and showing you are proactive can be a great way to lead in your organization. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions and show your boss you can lead, rather than relying on others to do it for you.

Take risks. No one can be a leader without taking some risks. Sometimes they pan out and sometimes you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, but the risk is where you can show your leadership abilities and rise up. You may even want to consider taking the risk to get involved in something even if it doesn’t fall within your immediate responsibilities (just make sure you aren’t overstepping your boundaries or stepping on any toes).

Listen. Pay attention to what people are talking about. No really, listen. People want to be heard and if you can give this to them, even for a few moments, they will respect you more for it. Plus, listening to others may lead to all new ideas and opportunities for an organization. Often times, leaders follow their own views or experience by default, when sometimes it is staff recommendations that switch on the light bulbs and spark up improvements in organizations.

Be fair. In any position you hold, you can show the strength of your personal character and corporate moral values in how you act with others. Good leaders respect each and every individual and understand the contributions they make to the overall functioning of an organization. You can exemplify fairness by making sure your peers are treated fairly in your presence and in return, treating others with dignity and respect.

Be a problem solver, not a problem identifier. While identifying a problem is an important first step (especially if no one else has the courage to speak up), it is less valuable to management than someone who is thinking of creative ways to solve the problem. A problem solver is an instant leader because doing so immediately shows positive results for company time, money, morale, etc. Be a leader by taking charge of problems, figuring out what it takes to get a job done, using your resources and resolving these issues.

Prioritize. A good way to lead is simply putting first things first. You can’t be a leader of others if you don’t understand what is most important to the company, your own boss and yourself. Setting your priorities is an important part to achieving successful results!

Stay positive. People want to work with and for people who are enthusiastic, confident and who are enjoyable to be around. You can lead simply by being positive because it in turn motivates those around you! Others may look to you as this kind of leader because your demeanor makes the days go by a little easier, makes the hard times seem like they’re not so tough and just makes the overall office a more enjoyable place to be.

In conclusion, it can be said that good leadership doesn’t necessarily happen overnight but everyone can certainly do their part to exhibit positive examples of leadership in their everyday work. However you choose to exhibit leadership in your career, never forget that being a good leader comes down to a few basic things: it’s about getting things done, inspiring and encouraging others and always being an positive example for those around you.

GOAL! Treat your Job Seeking Process like a World Cup Soccer Champion

  • May 1, 2014

With the onset of the 2014 World Cup quickly approaching, many of us will find ourselves glued to the TV as we watch and cheer on our favorite soccer teams from around the globe.

Players will bring fierce competition to the pitch as they strive to beat out international opponents for the coveted gold cup.

In many ways, the job seeking process can be compared to our favorite World Cup soccer teams. In the job hunt, the job seeker can take on the positions of various players as each represents a different stage of the process. Let’s take a moment to go through the different team positions and how they represent the levels of your job search, and what you should be doing at each stage you follow through:

Step 1 of the job hunt: You are the Goalkeeper

As a goalkeeper, you’re somewhat safe in home territory. Being in this position can be helpful at the beginning of your job search, because you’re at a point where you can step back and assess the current situation right in front of your eyes. This is the best spot to be in when you’re doing research and working on your hiring materials, such as writing your cover letter, updating your resume or filling out an application. It is also a good time to consider devising a strategy or some tactics to make the most of your job search.

Step 2 of the job hunt: Moving on to the Defensive Level

The next thing you’ll want to do is take on the role of defense. As a defender, your main task is to show that you’re willing to beat out the competition, why you’re the best fit for the employer and that you really, really want the job. Sure, there may be other good candidates out there, but at this stage, you should be able to defend your value and prove that YOU are the best choice. You can do this in a number of ways, including simply taking a proactive approach by contacting and introducing yourself to recruiters or hiring personnel to show your interest. Many job seekers wait it out for a job opening or wait for recruiters to seek them out, but taking this first step will give you an extra edge over those candidates who remain passive.

Step 3 of the job hunt: The most important level at Midfield

Just like in any actual soccer game, the midfield level often involves the most work because they play both offense and defense. The most important role you will play on your job seeking process will be at this level. The midfield (middle ground) is the link between all of your efforts and the best stage to set up the scoring opportunities that will later result in scoring the goal.

This is probably the stage where your interview will happen. The interview can be one of the most crucial parts to the entire process. You may have already given some reading material to the interviewer, but the actual interview itself can help a hiring manager determine and solidify their decision. This includes any personality assessments, determining your fit in a particular work environment, answering any outstanding questions, etc.

Final Step of the job hunt: Bringing it home as a Forward

Imagine this: the game is tied at Nil on the 89th minute and you’ve got one chance to make the shot. You’ll want to make sure you’ve set yourself up on the pitch and created the best opportunity to score, right? Same thing goes for the job seeking process. When your interview is over, try to find a way to stand out over other prospective employees so that you know you’ve given yourself the absolute best chance at landing the job. Make sure you have the best contact information and send a thank you letter to the interviewer. This small gesture can make a world of a difference. Even if you don’t get the job you interviewed for, this kind of good etiquette could actually end up opening other doors and leading to other potential opportunities down the line!

Wherever you are in the job search, remember that you need to maintain your focus on the end goal. Just as in soccer, there is no such thing as a fixed space or exact timeline, so keep in mind that you may interchange positions and roles according to the flow of the game (or in this case, the job seeking process). That being said, good luck job seeking and enjoy the 2014 World Cup!

Understanding the Roles of Others in the Workplace: “Trading Places”

  • February 21, 2014

We’ve all thought about trading places before in one way or another: being the pilot who’s steering your flight, the police officer writing your ticket, the doctor listening to your heart beat or the cashier ringing up your groceries at the grocery store… the list goes on and on. And if you ever got the opportunity to actually live on the other side, how do you think you would feel? Do you think about others and their responsibilities, challenges, worries and how you would treat them differently if you were in their shoes for just one day? You may find that you’ll be much more understanding simply by stopping to think about it for a moment.

One key to all successful relationships is to understand all sides. In the workplace, this also holds true. Everyone has different responsibilities and priorities and understanding where each person falls on the workplace spectrum will help you start to improve your relationships significantly! Maybe you find yourself annoyed with a co-worker or frustrated with your boss, but have you thought about their own responsibilities and worries? You may be worried about making a deadline on one piece of a project, but your boss may be stressed about the whole thing! Your boss may have another boss who has another boss to answer to – so they are probably just as stressed out as you are. It’s important to understand other roles for a number of reasons. When you understand others, you can see how different positions and responsibilities complement each other and how it all fits together. Simultaneously, you’ll be able to avoid overloading yourself, ambiguity on duties, doubling up on efforts or competing for responsibilities.300px-Swapster-Arrows1

Why are roles so important? What happens if they aren’t clearly defined? Each role at work reflects a different angle and piece of the puzzle. A clear understanding of roles can help with your personal career development, team building, relationships with colleagues and just an overall better understanding of everything around you. Roles may change because of reorganization, mergers, leadership changes, technology or whatever else the case may be – but having clearly defined roles will lead to succinct and efficient teamwork. Teams work best when there is a balance of responsibilities and team members know their roles, understand each other’s roles, can work to their strengths and manage weaknesses.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions to gain a better understanding of your role and team dynamics:

What team role do you play?
What contribution do you make?
Does your team role fit your personality, etc.?

Also consider taking a few moments to observe others and how they behave. What roles do they play? Remember, too, that it’s not just about you! It’s about your relationships and how you relate to others, so you may want to consider “trading places” for a better understanding of those around you!

(image source: forbes.com)

The Six People You’ll Meet at Your Next Networking Event

  • January 29, 2014

Have you RSVP’d to any networking events this year? Different people go to networking events for a number of reasons. People may attend networking events because they were invited by a friend, have seen an ad online, want to fill an open weeknight with a social event or have done some research on professional groups in the area and want to get involved. Whatever the reason may be, networking events can provide great opportunities for professionals to meet at a casual event without any pressure. These events serve as great avenues for creating new business and promoting products or services. More importantly, though, these events are meant to establish meaningful contacts and build relationships. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran when it comes to networking events or just getting started, it’s worth taking note of the people you can expect to meet. As time goes on, you’ll find there are some individuals you’re almost certainly guaranteed to meet while you’re out. So who can you expect to see at your next networking event?

The Connector – Do you know someone who seems to know everybody, enjoys meeting people and likes to help others make the right connections? That person is a connector, and they probably find great excitement at the prospect of meeting new people at events like these. If you attend a networking event and know or meet someone like this, stick by their side! How can you spot a connector? You may have met the connector through another connector, know them from a previous job, went to college together or happen to meet them by chance. Personally, these are my favorite individuals to meet. They are friendly and easy to talk to, good at listening and best of all, this can all actually work for you. What do I mean by that last part? Connectors love networking and understand the importance of it, so these are the people who will help bring people to your life and add value to your networking. At a networking event, they will introduce you to tons of great people and help facilitate your conversations; however, in the end it’s really up to you to seal the deal so don’t expect the connector to do all the networking for you.

The Promoter – We’ve all encountered this person at a networking event. You may find yourself in the midst of networking with one or several other professionals when suddenly someone quickly jumps in, introduces themselves to everyone in the conversation, shakes hands, gives their elevator speech and simultaneously hands out business cards to everyone. The promoter may have a strategy to work the room in an effort to hand out their cards. Whether they choose to only hand out their cards or exchange with others, you’ll find they talk to a lot of people but don’t stay with any one in particular for very long. In the end, it never hurts to take a card or give a card at a networking event, so go ahead and take a card from the next promoter you meet!

The Social Butterfly – Professional networking events often come in the form of cocktail hours to attract attendees with free drinks while they meet and greet; however, these events may also attract another kind of attendee: the social butterfly. This is the person who lives for the free drink and the party. At a networking event, the social butterfly will most likely hang out with people they already know and just want to have a good time. While there’s nothing wrong with having a drink or talking with familiar faces, it’s important to remember that networking events are meant for business, too! You may find that it’s all about the social aspect for the social butterfly (hence the name) and that they never even intended to discuss business at all!

The Quiet One – This may be the person standing in the corner holding onto a drink and watching the event as it unfolds. For one reason or another, you may or may not have found yourself in this situation in the past. If you see someone who is alone, why don’t you take a step up and go talk to them? They may be new to the area, have come alone, or are just as nervous as you are. They could be shy and reluctant and may be standing there in hopes someone will come up to them first. Who knows, it could end up being a great connection for your network!

The Deal Closer – This person is all about selling and closing the deal. If you encounter a deal closer, you will quickly realize it because they will likely keep the conversation focused on their products, services, etc. Opposite of the social butterfly, they are ALL about business at networking events. They want to sell to everyone they can. They may look to sell their services and even try to set appointments right there at the networking event.

The Mentor – The mentor can be your boss, an executive level individual in your organization, an older family member, friend or acquaintance. Mentors should be the people who model success principles that you can you take in your own personal life. They are great to follow and shadow at networking events because they can introduce you to other established professionals very much like themselves. These people want you to grow and succeed so they will be happy to help you in any way they can. Going to a networking event with the mentor is a great opportunity so really try to soak in as much as you can. It would be extremely helpful to take note of how the mentor interacts and behaves at the networking event.

Did we miss anyone on our list? Who have you encountered at your previous networking events?

Career Advice I’ve Learned from Tim Tebow

  • January 16, 2014

Whether you love or hate him… There’s no denying that Tim Tebow won’t be disappearing from the limelight anytime soon. The most searched athlete of 2013 is a personal favorite for many (including myself!) and he continues to remain in the headlines.

Tebow has certainly demonstrated his leadership qualities by leading the Florida Gators to college football victory and then leading the Denver Broncos to an incredible playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2011-12 playoffs. He’s also proven that he’s an all- around team player with a great reputation amongst his former team members on and off the field. When I thought about it some more, I wondered, what if we all followed Tebow’s approach for our own careers? When you really start to look at it, Tebow has given us some great guidelines and we could really learn something from him.

 Here are five career tips I’ve learned from Tim Tebow:

Be seen as a leader, but also as a team player. Tebow has demonstrated this time and time again, allowing other players to shine at the right times and taking the backseat. This is extremely important, because while good leaders know when to lead, they also know when to step down to a supporting role. The most successful employees are the ones who know when to take a lead and when to support – and they understand that these are complementary to each other.

Always try to improve your skills. While Tim Tebow may not be a NFL QB, that doesn’t mean he’s given up on training. In fact, he’s continued to add to his already vigorous training schedule to improve on the areas where he lacks. A career is ever-changing and you should constantly explore and re-explore ways to improve your skillset as well. When you continue to improve upon your skills, you’ll put yourself ahead of the game. This applies for individuals at any level on the career scale. Even if you find yourself secure in your role, be proactive and take stock of where you’re at and see if there are opportunities to learn more and grow either individually or within your organization.

Don’t badmouth your former employers. While most Gator fans have turned on Urban Meyer after his acceptance of a position with the Ohio State Buckeyes, Tebow has stayed loyal to his roots and continuously recognizes his former college coach for his guidance at Florida. In fact, he has recently called back to his old college coach, saying that he consulted with Meyer prior to taking his new job with ESPN in December 2013. Don’t make the mistake of badmouthing former employers. While you may not have an ideal relationship with a previous employer, the fact is, you still held a position there and it’s part of your career path. Remember where you came from and what you learned along the way, and focus on the positive. When interviewing for a job, you want your potential new employer to know that you aren’t negative and that won’t badmouth your new boss or co-workers. Employers want don’t want someone who will bring negative baggage and energy into a new atmosphere.

Respect others in the game and learn from them. Tim Tebow was offered positions on the New York Jets and New England Patriots, only to find himself on the back burner. That doesn’t mean he didn’t show respect the players who were actually playing on the field, game after game. In fact, he’s been known to have said he’s respected these players and learned from their successes and failures. If you respect those around you, you have the chance to actually connect with them and ask and learn from them. At the end of the day, a little friendly competition from co-workers won’t hurt – it will propel and push you further and help you learn from your own strengths and weaknesses.

Involve yourself in activities outside of your career. Tim Tebow has had his sights on playing professional football since college, however, he also sought out to do something more. He started a non-profit organization, now called Team Tebow with a mission to “bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” I believe this goes without saying much more.. it’s always a great idea to get yourself involved in organizations within the community or getting involved with groups that fuel your passions outside of your typical work hours.

Tim-Tebow-ESPN-CollegeBe flexible, but don’t give up on your dreams. Tebow’s ultimate dream is to be a NFL QB. However, he has yet to be recruited. What options would he have? Tebow realized he could still work with football in other ways until he reaches his dream… and he’s accepted an analyst position with the ESPN SEC Network. In similar ways, we too need to be flexible to achieve our ultimate career dreams and aspirations. A perfect example of this can be found with the Jungle Gym career approach. We have an entire blog post which discusses this strategy and can be found here.


Why Santa Claus Has a Job This Holiday Season and You Don’t

  • December 24, 2013

1045529__santa-at-work_pBelieve it or not, you can pick up on a lot of tips for your own job search from Santa Claus! Let me paint a different picture of Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick. As you read this blog post, think about the kinds of traits and qualities Santa’s got that you could use in your own professional career.

After all, Santa’s got a job this holiday season, so why don’t you? Here are four lessons you can learn from Santa to improve your job seeking efforts:

He has created a need for his services – If Santa had a job description, what would it be? Santa delivers toys and joy to children and does it well. People need and want his services because he’s proven his value time and time again and shown that he can deliver better results than anyone else. Have you ever delivered great results in your professional career? You don’t need to travel across the world and deliver thousands of toys to prove your worth to employers. Think about the things you have done at previous jobs to demonstrate your professional value. Have you overcome challenges under deadlines or pressures? Have you ever gone above and beyond your tasks and responsibilities to be the better than your competitors? These are the kinds of things employers want to hear about!

He’s done his homework – Santa Claus does research and prepares well in advance for the big day. Before Christmas, he spends all year monitoring children and learning all of the facts. You can adopt this strategy in your own job seeking process! That’s because one of the key components to succeeding in any job search is research! Have you done your homework before you’ve started applying to jobs? Doing this research ahead of time can help at every stage of the job seeking process: from using the information to tailor your resume and cover letter to knowing about the company, job title and industry when you are asked to an interview later on down the line.

He knows how to network – Santa’s got connections all over the place and he knows how to use them. He’s not afraid to talk to people and is genuinely interested in what they have to say! I’ve taken several networking courses and classes that have all taught similar strategies. If you adopt this mindset, you too will find yourself surrounded by great networking opportunities all around you. Remember: every connection can lead to another connection, so take every professional introduction as a serious opportunity to grow your connections.

He’s branded himself – Santa. That’s really all you’ve got to say to get the picture. Sure, he goes by other names, too, but he’s created a personal brand that has given him a leg-up on the competition. What does that mean? He has built his expertise and is known for what he does. When people think of Christmas, they think of Santa as the #1 expert in the industry. What have you done to create your own personal brand within your industry?

On behalf of all of us here at SkillStorm, we wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

A Business Plan that Works: Santa’s Got it All!

  • December 12, 2013

When you think of the holidays, what comes to mind? How about holiday carols and jingle bells? Maybe it reminds you of snowflakes, a warm fire and hot chocolate? Or… how about presents wrapped in colorful paper, a red suit and a white beard? If you’ve got Santa on your mind, it means that Santa Claus has done his job and done it well! There are certainly some business lessons to be learned from Jolly Ol’ St. Nick. Why is Santa so successful? Well, he’s got the tools he needs all around him and a business plan that works! Ranging from a great support staff to the right marketing tools… he’s got it all.

santa-clause-merry-christmas-p-os-kids-online-world-91934This week’s blog post follows tradition in our love for lists and we’ve created a special list in honor of the holidays!

What is Santa’s secret recipe for success?

Reindeer aka the facilitators – Santa’s reindeer have always been able to get him from place to place quickly and efficiently. They’ve helped Santa spread his holiday cheer and he’d be lost without them. Well, we may not have our own personal reindeer here in the corporate world, but we certainly have individuals in the workplace whose role is to help expand our reach every day while doing it quickly and efficiently! These individuals help businesses grow and make things easier all around. That’s why they’re the facilitators in any organization and play such a key role.

Elves aka the assistants – Santa may have millions upon millions of toys to deliver, and he certainly can’t meet this demand all on his own. So, he calls upon his elves to help match these needs. Elves are “do’ers” and basically, they get things done. They are the producers of any organization, and also vital to reaching success.

Mrs. Claus aka a main support system outside of work – Santa may spend most of his time working towards the dreams and wishes of children around the world, leaving a limited amount of time to spend with Mrs. Claus. In a way, we are all like Santa Claus – we actually spend more time at work than we do with our loved ones. Our interaction with those close to us, however, is vital. Having a strong support system at home can make a world of a difference in our professional lives, so it’s important to have at least one person you can turn to outside of work for this kind of encouragement.

Children aka the customers - Santa is great at sales! Why? Because he understands his customers, their needs and has created a need for his services in return! These “customers” need Santa, and he needs them in return. Therefore, he’s created a mutually beneficial relationship that works out on all sides. Not too bad for a guy whose known for making his lists and checking them twice!

Toys aka the product – Customers would probably agree that Santa sells the best product in the world. Why? Because it’s EXACTLY what these customers are looking for! If you listen to your customers like Santa listens to kids, you’ll be able to provide the perfect product based on the wants and needs of your customers.

The Costume aka the personal brand – In order to be well-recognized, you need to have a good personal brand. It’s all part of a bigger marketing strategy. You need to be known for
something, and Santa does this better than anyone else. You can’t mistake the white beard, red coat, rosy cheeks and cheerful demeanor with anyone else. Many may try to replicate it (cough cough, “mall Santas” out there… I’m talking to you…), but few get it down perfectly. As they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery…

“Ho..Ho..Ho..” aka the catch phrase/motto – Ever get a corporate jingle stuck in your head? Or heard a saying in a commercial that’s just infectious? Well, Santa’s got his own trademark phrase. We all know that “ho.. ho.. ho..” means Santa has come to town! He’s made it his own, and no one can take that away. If you’re interested in differentiating yourself in business, why not come up with a catch phrase, a trademark or a motto?

While this post was certainly intended to be whimsical, we do encourage you to take some serious thought about your own business strategies! Next time you watch a holiday classic and Kris Kringle pops up, take a closer look – you may just learn a little something to take to work!

SkillStorm Does MOVEMBER!

  • December 6, 2013

Thank You Mo

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of mustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Mo Sistas are an important part of Movember’s success. Mo Sistas raise funds and encourage the men in their lives to get involved.

SkillStorm has participated in Movember for the past two years. With the generous support of SkillStorm’s executives matching all funds raised, SkillStorm has been able to contribute thousands of dollars toward changing the face of men’s health.

Thanks to everyone at SkillStorm who participated! The tradition continues… UNITED… we Mo!

Paul Movemberphoto 6GDC Movember2 Buckets MoWill Moimage1384539561992Movember Part II

Are you sitting on the Career Ladder? Why not try a Jungle Gym approach to move forward?

  • November 26, 2013

Lateral, downwards, sideways and upward… sounds more like a Crossfit routine than a career approach, doesn’t it?

Well my career-focused friends, just sit tight – the next five minutes will offer you newbies some great direction to get out there swinging and for those career veterans, a nice breath of fresh air as we round out 2013 and head into a new year.

The concept is very simple: the “career ladder” mindset is on its way out, and the career “jungle gym” is moving on in.

Let’s compare the two, shall we? Ladders are linear with only one distinct path to move up. There is a single trajectory here, which can be very limiting. Historically, the idea is that you stay in one field, take one step at a time to climb the career ladder and eventually, you will hit the top. Well that’s been the direction and advice given to career-driven folks for quite some time now… but how about we take a peek on over at the nice, big career jungle gym, with all sorts of twists and turns that can all lead you to the top, too? You see, taking the jungle gym approach allows you to still reach the top, but it also allows you to be strategic and flexible and come up with different approaches and choices on how to get to that desired destination.

I learned about this concept from Facebook COO and author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg. According to Sandberg, “… ladders are limiting—people can move up or down, on or off. …The jungle gym model benefits everyone.”


It seems the trends are also showing that the career ladder has been on its way “out.” According to a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, the average American had eleven jobs from the ages of eighteen to forty-six alone (there’s a great visual demonstration of this here along with additional interesting statistics if you’re curious to learn more). Sandberg nailed it on the head in her book when she suggested “the days of joining an organization or corporation and staying there to climb that one ladder are long gone.” So why not take the jungle gym approach and forge your own unique path to the top? This is what makes the jungle gym so appealing. On the way up, you can move sideways to achieve new roles and skills – this is all part of the plan. Try out a few contract jobs that will grow your skillset, continue to learn and develop, or test the waters in another industry for a change. This kind of process will also get you to step out of your comfort zone, adapt to changing circumstances and acquire new skills.

If you have some time to spare (about 22 minutes and 25 seconds to be exact), listen to this inspiring speech by Sheryl Sandberg which continues to expand upon the career jungle gym (hint: she gets into this specific topic around minute 7) – you can thank us for sharing later. If you don’t have the time and want the “meat and potatoes” right now, here’s the abridged version of her jungle gym advice:

  • Look for opportunities
  • Look for growth
  • Look for mission
  • Build your skills, not your resume
  • Evaluate what you can do, not the title they are going to give you
  • Do real work
  • Don’t plan too much
  • Don’t expect to direct climb
  • Communicate authentically
  • Remember that leadership has evolved too – this is a less hierarchical world than before
  • Embrace your calling and don’t hold back

A jungle gym approach may not always move upward right away but if done right.. it will always move onward.

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