Is it Ever Time to STOP Chasing a Dream?

The internet, magazines and even the backs-of-cereal-boxes are filled with inspirational messages, stories and exhortations. Quotes abound as HR bloggers, career coaches and life style experts share words of encouragement:

There’s big business to be had by inspiring others, pushing people to develop good habits, live their authentic lives and clarify their goals and aspirations. Depending upon one’s outlook it’s easy enough to find motivation of the spiritual, religious, financial or career-focused type. Future focused human beings, with a desire to improve their lives, may set goals and dream big as part of a deeper search for personal meaning. People may have aspirations in order to overcome adversity stemming from the death of a family member, the ending of a relationship, or the loss of a job. Sometimes it’s just a bit of restlessness or a lingering feeling that they can find enjoyment and fulfillment by doing something ‘more’ than merely holding a spot on this whirling planet we call Earth.

Positive thinking is great; much better, in my opinion, to look for opportunities than employ a “woe is me; I can’t change things” mindset.

But after a recent conversation I got to wondering if there is any validity to the opinion that there’s a shelf-life on dreams.

  • “You don’t have that many years to work before retirement; perhaps you just need to be happy where you are.”
  • “What more could you want? You have a pretty great life.”
  • “Isn’t your current life enough to make you happy?”
  • “You’ve accomplished a lot; isn’t it time to take it easy?”

I know a lot of dreamers. In some cases I could refer to them as idealists or even visionaries. I run into numerous early or mid-stage career HR professionals who know, with certainty, their desired career path; moving into a CHRO role or shifting from a generalist path to a specialization in OD or Learning and Performance. I recently met a guy who wanted to be a professional musician but put that on hold in order to take over his family’s business a few decades ago; but now he’s gigging with various bands and the plan is alive to work towards a recording contract.

Is there an expiration date on dreams? I don’t think so. 

“I’m going to dream. Maybe one day I’ll be disappointed that things didn’t work out exactly

as I’d planned, that I didn’t get to write for National Geographic, pen a bestselling novel

or win a literary award, but I will have challenged myself to reach a level that I didn’t

think I could. I would have enjoyed the process, had fun, and even for a little while,

believed all things possible.”

Mridu Khullar Relph

 

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The Dark Web of EMPLOYER References

It goes both ways of course; candidates seek information on a prospective employer AND companies search for nuggets of digestible content on a new hire.

LinkedIn profiles are examined and mined not only for information but also for contacts, connections and leads. Various and assorted chrome extensions are added to the recruiters’ toolkit and every nugget of publicly available information is dissected and served up on the new-hire-prospectus. Facebook? Twitter? Snapchat? Who are the candidate’s friends and what, if anything, can we see about what s/he posted, liked, or retweeted?

Fancy and techy and useful…sure. But sweet baby Moses if we’ve sat through one presentation or demo on this sort of stuff…we’ve sat through 100. We get it; tech is our savior and time saver. We can source and search and seek intel all day long.

Yet…

… now, here’s a guy.

He’s a friend and former co-worker who got recruited for a job. He’s been phone interviewing and in-person interviewing. He’s been researching and calling people. He’s been immersed in the voir dire phase with a bunch of know-nothings as he attempts to find out “who knows who and what and when and how did they know it?” He’s been navigating this discovery for a role, and an industry, where people are not online. Glassdoor and Indeed feedback is minimal. (I know ya’ll find that hard to believe. But it’s true.)

His personal research has revealed data-less LinkedIn profiles (if they have one at all) for all the big players. The gig is in an Amish-style industry (who said incestuous? not me?!) where outsiders are rare. Still, at the same time, previous employees and his own personal industry contacts, once known, have fallen off the grid.

Phone calls? Unanswered.

Google searches? In vain.

How, one asks, can he find any meat about that prospective employer when the only food being served is pablum? There are only slim morsels available; lovingly and expensively regurgitated on the company career page. (#EmployeeBranding!! #JazzHands!!)

“Time,” said I, “to head to the Dark Web.”

And then we giggled. Because neither one of us have any freaking idea how to actually ‘get’ to the Dark Web.

BUT… how cool would that be? A secret bitcoin/botnet place where candidates could find info – the real deal! – about their prospective employer.

Priceless.

(not Collinsworth-less) 

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I Still Like Cover Letters

mailboxI belong to numerous Facebook groups filled with members who are sourcers, recruiters, HR folks, techies, and assorted “talent” pundits. At least once per month, I swear to you, a lengthy thread emerges when someone posts something along the line of “do you still want to receive cover letters from candidates?”

People get riled up! It’s almost as hot a debate as the other old conversational standby in these groups about “Agency vs. Corporate Recruiters.” (That one, by the way, is also a crowd-pleaser; routinely getting 72+ comments within 24 hours.)

 

The “no cover letter” crowd is adamant:

  • not needed because I can find everything I want about a candidate online
  • I don’t read them anyway
  • I haven’t looked at a cover letter in 10 years!

Those who like cover letters point out that:

  • a cover letter can tell a story
  • if no one else submits a cover letter, the candidate can stand out
  • for positions that require writing skills, a cover letter is a must

I sit firmly in the “yes” camp.

I recently sat down with the folks at the Louisiana Job Connection and discussed “How to Spot a Leader Just from Reading a Cover Letter.” Really. In the article I talk about how I look for “The Four I’s” when perusing a cover letter:

  • Impact
  • Innovation
  • Improvements
  • Inspiration

As I opined, whether you’re a hiring manger, recruiter or HR gal sifting through the inbox, when you receive not only the resume/CV but also a cover letter “you can weed through all the job-search buzzwords and spot candidates with genuine leadership skills or leadership potential.”

Does that make me a dinosaur?

 

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