Listen, Fido, Listen

If you listen, really listen, you’ll hear what your supposed to hear. There are messages coming to us all the time and if we open our ears, we will hear.

Last week, I had the honor of attending a two-day session with a friend and colleague who is working on her next step. What will she do next with her wonderful life? And while we didn’t pin the tail and declare her new “vocation,” I could tell that she was listening, really listening. And in the right time, it will come.

I call it dogged listening. Imagine that you are a beautiful dog with big beautiful ears and there is a whistle blowing. You hear it with such attentiveness and the sound of it is magnetic. You must go to it, question it, explore it. And if it’s the right message, you start to collect what you are hearing until you eventually start to howl, because it feels that right.

When it comes to careers or vocations, I think there is a big mistake in starting with a list of titles. I could be this or that or maybe this. You end up with a list without a lot of clarity. Instead, I recommend that you become “title agnostic.” Instead open up your listening, your dog-ears, to moments when you are the happiest. What are you doing in that exact moment? What makes it a happy moment? The work itself? The environment? The people? The conversation? Listen, really listen and collect the data.

Once you have the data, you may find that when you read back, it isn’t one specific thing, maybe it’s two or three. In fact, maybe you find out that you are polyvocational. It’s okay, lots of people are and it’s nothing to be ashamed of at all. In fact, the majority of the workforce is moving in that direction. Specifically, our sandwich generations, Gen-Y and Boomers are whole-heartedly embracing the concept of having multiple vocations that make them happy. And X’rs… it’s okay… go on… check it out

Instead of woofing down lunch yesterday (notice the pun), I actually sat and listened to a musician playing at Whole Foods. Really good, Ryan Huie (listen to a bit here). I asked the woman next to me about him and she told me that Ryan is a lawyer and a musician. A real live polyvocationalist in my presence.

I wondered how many other people on that plaza were also polyvocationalists and just not out yet. Maybe there is a tv show in the making for TLC?

So, as you embrace the dog-days of summer (sorry, last pun), I encourage you to put on your dog-ears and listen, really listen. Whether it’s about your career, your love, your health…the whistles are out there ready to let you know.

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Fish or Cut Bait

Find what the fish feeds on and use it for bait.

Funny, coming from a girl who’s never been fishing.

And while I don’t mean to demean talent by calling them fish, I will say that a lot of recruiters spend a lot of time trying to fish without considering the bait or even the body of water in which they are casting a lure.

As an executive coach, I am often asked, what’s the first step in finding the best talent? Advertise! Start with Craig’s List. It’s free after all. Just throw up the job description. Well… let’s think about this a minute.

Throwing an advertisement on Craig’s List might be your best answer, but how do you know if you don’t start with an exercise that helps you fully understand the whole picture? Make an educated choice so that you can predict greater success in acquiring your talent.

A successful advertisement is as much about you attracting the right fish as it is about repelling the wrong ones. In fact, you want the wrong talent to self select out and choose not to apply. Wouldn’t it be better to have a net full of the right talent instead of just a net full of talent?

Answer the following questions and ensure the answers are captured in your postings:

  • What are the selling points for this position?
  • What are the appealing attributes of the work?
  • What are the career path opportunities?
  • What is the culture of the company? Of the department?
  • How will this role contribute to the success of the organization?
  • Ultimately, what’s in it for the candidate?

Then ask yourself, where does your talent swim?

Many recruiters flock to job boards without a full understanding if their perfect candidate even swims on that board. Maybe you’re best bet is an industry association, a niche job board, or an internal affinity group.

When looking for your next great talent, put some valuable thinking into your post and remember “No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise”. (Thanks Lewis Carroll!)