Book Review of Mash-up: How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be Happier by Ian Sanders and David Sloly

This book contains stories of individuals who combined multiple skills to create a patchwork quilt-type career rather than limiting themselves to a single job title. The world of work used to be a single track up a ladder where we became experts at just one thing. Now our economy and our jobs are very uncertain, with new types of jobs being created at a rapid pace. To stay employed, we need to be open to change, willing to learn new skills, and watchful for opportunities that use combinations of our skills. This is the “mash-up” way of thinking.

Tim Brown, CEO of a global design and innovation firm, introduced the idea of “T shaped” people in 2005, which demonstrates mash-up thinking. T shaped people have a principal skill – the vertical leg of the T. Then they branch out to other skills as well, which is the horizontal leg of the T. T shaped people can use insights from different perspectives and look for broader solutions in solving problems since they venture outside their primary discipline.

Mash-up thinking involves development of multiple skills, so it’s important to go beyond a job title in describing yourself. The authors propose a “personal unifier” to tie your skills together with clarity. To find this, you look for the common denominator in your skills. For example, a career counselor may be a blogger, a speaker at a conference, and a webinar presenter. The common unifier may be to “communicate career management strategies.”

To expand on your unifier, it’s important to be able to tell the story of what you do for a living and make it interesting. There are three elements to a good story: 1) the impact – you use this to grab the attention of your listener, 2) communication – you must clearly state what you want your listener to know, and 3) persuasion – you must influence your listener to take advantage of the service or resource you’re offering. (Sanders & Sloly, p. 116) To help you craft your story, ask people close to you 3 questions: 1) If you were to introduce me to someone and make a good impression, what would you say? 2) Name one thing about me that stands out. 3) Why would you buy my service or product? (Sanders & Sloly, p. 118)

Reading this book will nudge you to ponder how acquiring new skills might expand your work and interests to new areas. The authors call this “adding strings to your bow.” To choose new strings, ponder your recent work and ask: 1) What have you wanted to do but have not tried? 2) Where is there untapped potential? 3) What else could you offer? (Sanders & Sloly, p. 158)

I hope this book helps you to think outside your “job title box” and explore new areas for your career development.

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services

Book Review: The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane

Can we strengthen our charisma or is it something people like Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Mother Theresa and Princess Diana were gifted with at birth?  According to Olivia Fox Cabane, it’s a myth that charisma is some innate quality we’re born with; charisma results from learning specific non-verbal behaviors.  The Charisma Myth is full of practical techniques and strategies to strengthen our personal appeal.

According to Cabane, charisma is critical in our careers and our personal lives.  Research shows that charismatic people are liked and trusted more and receive higher performance ratings.  They are viewed as more effective by their colleagues.

The three core elements for charisma are: 1) presence, 2) power, and 3) warmth.

Presence is focusing on the person we’re speaking to and tuning out all distractions, from background noise to our wandering thoughts to cell phones.  If we’re not fully engaged in listening to the other person, it will show up on our faces and will trigger a subconscious reaction in the other person.  We will be viewed as inauthentic, which is charisma Kryptonite.  So if we find our mind wandering when someone is talking to us, Cabane suggests directing our focus back to our breathing, the present moment, and then back to the person speaking.

Power is being able to affect the world around us through influence on or authority over others, money, expertise, intelligence, physical strength or social status.  “We look for clues of power in someone’s appearance, in others’ reactions to this person, and, most of all, in the person’s body language”  (Cabane, page 18).  Warmth is goodwill towards others – being perceived as benevolent, altruistic, caring, or positively impacting the world.  Warmth is assessed almost entirely through body language and behavior.

With regards to warm and power, people tend to accept whatever we project.  Therefore, charisma begins in the mind.  Body language is very important to charisma.  Our body language reflects what we think and feel.  Therefore, charismatic behaviors start in our minds.

Cabane provides practical strategies for replacing negative thoughts with positive ones supporting charisma.  There are four different charisma styles: the Authority, Visionary, Focus and Kindness Charisma styles.  We can pick the one best suited for us, depending on our personality, goals and the situation.  Lastly, she provides practical techniques for cultivating charisma in specific situations including making a first impression, making a presentation, handling a crisis or just writing an email.

I was intrigued to read this book because it had 4.5 stars from 239 reviews on Amazon.com.  I recommend Cabane’s practical strategies for cultivating a charismatic mindset to strengthen our relationships with others in our personal and professional lives.

Written by Career Services Director Lisa Cook   

Leveraging Temporary Work for Long-Term Career Success

Are you attempting to transition into a new field but lack hands-on experience?  Wondering how to close your qualification gaps?  Temporary work through staffing firms can be a stepping stone to full-time employment.  Jemal is a M.S. in Human Services student who leveraged temporary work to transition from retail into healthcare administration.  He shares his story with us:

The path to temporary employment.
A former colleague and friend posted a Provider Enrollment position on social media.   Jemal was interested in this opportunity and decided to contact the company directly.  When he inquired about the opening, the company referred him to the staffing firm they used to fill positions. 

New skills to increase marketability.
Jemal interviewed with the staffing firm, expressed his interest in working for the target company, and landed the temporary position where he gained knowledge and skills in healthcare administration.  Though this position, he learned how to process health insurance forms, manage the medicaid application process, and decipher medical terminology.

Steps toward full-time employment.
After 7 months at his temporary assignment, Jemal started searching for full-time positions where he could apply his new skills.  He decided to apply for a Patient Services Coordinator opening and contacted Career Services for resume and interviewing tips.  After his career advising appointment, he visited the Career Services website and utilized the Interviewing page to develop a strong introduction, highlight his skills in healthcare administration, and confidently address common interview questions such as, “Tell me a little about yourself.”

The skills Jemal gained through his temporary position, his interview preparation, and networking efforts, helped him land a full-time position as a Patient Services Coordinator.

The next career chapter.
Jemal is continuing to hone his healthcare administration skills in scheduling, prescription refills, in-depth medical terminology, and health insurance options.  His next goal is to become a Health and Medical Services Manager, which requires several years of experience. 

Jemal shares the following words of wisdom with Walden students who are transitioning fields,” Stay committed.  I used to feel I was ready to give up, then I jumped in headstrong [into the job search] and started to believe there was something in it for me.” 

Seeking to jump-start your own career story?  Watch archived programs on temporary, contract, and volunteer work, and attend the upcoming live Interview Café:

Interview Café:  June 25th, 1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time

Targeting Temporary, Contract, and Virtual Opportunities     

Strategic Volunteering for Career Success

Finding Experiential and Job Opportunities

 

Written by Dina Bergren, Senior Career Services Advisor 

Grow Your Professional Skill Set with Toastmasters

After presenting his MBA dissertation in 2009, Walden student Vincent Lieu was approached by his instructor to join Toastmasters to increase his confidence and poise while presenting.  Toastmasters is an international organization offering many opportunities for strengthening your communication and leadership skills.   With roughly 292,000 members in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries, it is also a great way to expand your network through workshops, meetings, conferences, and networking events.  Meetings offer a learn-by-doing approach with peer to peer feedback.

Once he joined Toastmasters, Vincent began mastering various communication manuals and then moved onto leadership manuals which allowed him to hold leadership positions in Toastmasters including President, District Trainer, and Public Relations Officer.  Vincent attributes Toastmasters with improving his confidence, public speaking, and ability to present.  At work, he is more confident managing projects, sharing ideas with co-workers, and holding meetings.  Overall he feels better equipped to promote himself and his personal brand.

Vincent’s continuous involvement in Toastmasters has motivated other individuals to join, network, and expand their skill sets.  To get started, Vincent recommends that you find local meetings at the Toastmasters website and observe a few meetings.  Each club functions a bit differently so it is important to find one that will fit your needs.  If you decide to join, Vincent urges you to commit to the program and make it a journey.  You will learn many skills that you will be able to apply in a variety of situations at work, in your academic program, and in your community. 

We are thankful that Vincent shared his Toastmasters experience with us and hope you consider joining this organization to grow your professional skill set.  Vincent welcomes any questions you may have.  You may email him at vincent.lieu@waldenu.edu or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

Written by Career Services Advisor, Andrea Obrycki 

Three Lessons for Returning to the Workforce

All of us have experienced a career transition sometime in our lives.  Some transitions are short-term challenges, while others become long-term struggles that require daily persistence, resiliency, and grit.  Roseline is a PhD in Public Policy and Administration alumna who diligently maintained momentum to get back into the workforce.  She recently received an offer for a program administrator position at a large, nonprofit organization.  What lessons can we learn from her experience?

  1. Networking is the key to success.  Roseline’s road to success started when a former colleague referred her to an opening for an entry level coordinator position at a nonprofit organizationShe was concerned that she would be perceived as overqualified, yet she still followed up on the lead.   Her networking efforts landed her an interview where she was able to share her qualifications and impress her interviewers.
  1. The job search is full of surprises; stay open to new possibilities.  Roseline put in her best effort to prepare for the interview by researching the employer, working with Career Services to develop strong interviewing skills, and utilizing the Interviewing resources on the Career Services Center website.  Her confidence, knowledge, and enthusiasm generated interest in her skills and abilities.  After the initial interview, the employer invited her to interview for a different position as a program administrator!
  2. You don’t need to know everything to have a great interview.  As a career transitioner, Roseline possessed many transferable skills from her prior social work experience.  Her extensive interview preparation helped her provide specific examples of how she would handle conflict situations, and share the steps she would take to research, analyze, and implement policies and procedures.  She impressed her interviewers by translating how she would apply the knowledge from her Walden program to make a broader impact in her new role.  This ability to convey her strengths through specific examples led to a job offer!

As a life-long learner and professional, Roseline is looking forward to future challenges and growth opportunities.  We wish her the very best as she continues to contribute to her field.

Following are resources on the Career Services website to help you learn more about nonprofit organizations:

Upcoming Webinar:  Making Your Case for Salary Negotiation or Promotion
Thursday, May 15, 12:00 noon Eastern.  Register here

Archived Webinar: Building Blocks of Starting a Nonprofit Organization  
ResourcesNonprofit Resources

 

Written by Senior Career Services Advisor, Dina Bergren

Another Great Internship Success Story!

After taking some breaks to care for her family, Reneé is finally near the end of her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies program with a focus on business management and communications.  To address gaps in her work history and lack of recent experience, Reneé decided to enroll in the IDST-4003 Internship and Research course. She realized that an internship experience relevant to her career goal of managing an office would complement her degree and make her a stronger candidate in her job search.  To prepare for her internship search, Reneé used the resources on the Career Services website and made an appointment with a Career Services advisor for a review of her resume.

At the start of her search, Reneé told a friend that she was seeking an internship where she could gain experience in office management.   Her friend put her in touch with the pastor of a growing church that was centralizing church operations by purchasing its own space after renting space at multiple locations.  The pastor needed help and Reneé needed an internship. It was a perfect match with the potential of turning into a full-time position. The consolidation of church operations created a number of learning opportunities including facility management, event planning and understanding colleagues’ different learning styles.  Reneé applied what she learned in her management and communications courses. She said, “I engaged in two-directional staff management (managing up and managing down) in creating a new set of office protocols.”  She also shared lessons learned from her internship in course discussions.   And yes, the internship became a full-time position!

It often seems like serendipity is at play in career progression, but for serendipity to work, we have to know what we want and let others know so they can help. A conversation with a friend about her search for an internship led not only to an internship but to a full-time position.  Renee’s advice is to evaluate what you need and reach out for help!

Here are some resources on the Career Services website to help you get started:

Written by Denise Pranke, Career Services Advisor

 

 

 

Is Your Resume Ready for Your Next Career Move?

As a Walden Career Services Advisor, I review and provide feedback on hundreds of resumes every year. Whether you are transitioning into a new field, re-entering the workforce, looking for a leadership position, or targeting a job similar to your previous employment, you can create a resume that clearly and concisely communicates your unique qualifications, accomplishments, and professional focus.

Start with self-assessment. Reflect on your strengths. What are you most proud of in your academic and professional accomplishments?

Have clear job target in mind. With a clear job target, you can tailor your resume to highlight your skills and accomplishments that match the required qualifications for the position.

Create a clearly organized document.  Use clear section headers and consistent formatting. Avoid redundant statements and long, unorganized lists of duties and responsibilities.

Include a professional summary section that conveys your professional reputation or brand. This section should include three to five sentences that summarize your relevant experience, skills, and professional focus. For example:

Dedicated Community Leader and Adult Educator

Extensive experience in community based nonprofit management. Committed to building engaged communities around common goals through dialogue, education, and partnerships.  Hold M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Leadership; pursuing D.B.A. with specialization in Social Impact Management.

•   Mission Focused                                    •   Social Media
•   Program Development                           •   Fund Raising
•   Data-Driven Program Development      •   Staff & Volunteer Training

Write accomplishment and skill statements relevant to the position. In Career Services, we call these CAR statements. CAR statements include a challenge, action, and result.  Here are three examples that take a weak statement and turn it into a CAR statement. 

Weak:          •     Increased volunteer hours
Strong:         •     Increased volunteer hours in tutoring, administrative support, and facility maintenance from 520 hours to 1250 hours over 6 months by collaborating with local businesses

Weak:          •     Reduced costs
Strong:         •     Implemented a new inventory tracking system resulting in the elimination of duplicate orders and a yearly savings of over $30,000

Weak:           •     Improved safety
Strong:          •     Improved safety by enhancing the training curriculum and implementing a safety checklist which reduced the number of accidents by 60% over a 12-month period

Don’t forget to edit and proofread! Editing and proofreading are essential.Nothing will eliminate your resume from consideration faster than poor editing or misspelled words.

Here are additional resources to help you get your resume ready for your next career move:

This post also appeared on the Writing Center Blog.

Written by Career Services Advisor, Denise Pranke