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Seven Things Successful Work-Seekers Do

Have you noticed there’s no auto-pilot system to steer your work search while you relax? As we noted last time, you’ll need to perform some key activities to keep your search from losing momentum—or becoming a spiritless routine.

With that in mind, here are seven things successful work-seekers do, compiled by career consultant extraordinaire Bruce Hazen. How many describe your approach?

1. In the past week, I’ve shared a personal marketing plan with at least one new person.
Do you have a personal marketing plan? If not, create a single-page document outlining your work search strategy. Then, share it with colleagues and friends so they can help you make new contacts. Sharing a resume is less helpful because it’s a retrospective document—though it can be useful if you’re looking for a job exactly like the last one you had.

2. My cell phone has a local area code.
If your area code tells a recruiter or hiring manager that you’re calling from 2,000 miles away, they’ll see you as more costly and cumbersome to deal with—even if you are actually around the corner from their office.

3. I make it through most networking meetings without mentioning the word ‘job.’
You attend events—in person—to learn and exchange information with others, not to uncover job openings. Focusing on job openings can quickly kill a conversation if your counterpart knows of none. On the other hand, most people you’ll meet do have smart, well-connected colleagues to whom they could introduce you—if you are inquiring about a relevant topic related to things you can do.

4. My relationships with executive recruiters involve me suggesting talent to them.
If you want to stay on a recruiter’s radar, refer other talented people to them. Do this not only while […]

Six Search Tips to Follow Your Personal Remodeling

Have you completed the challenging strategy work involved in revising and testing a Personal Business Model?

If so, now it’s time to shift to tactics: the hands-on search for new or different work.

As you move ahead with your search, you’re almost sure to receive rejection letters, fail to secure meetings, and have recommendations from key contacts fall through. Everybody does.

Minor setbacks like these can trigger cookie-snacking binges, frantic bouts of house-cleaning, or other time-wasting activities that slow your progress (and grow your waistline!).

So here are six work search “maintenance” tips, courtesy of career consultant extraordinaire Bruce Hazen. Consistently acting on these tips will keep you fresh and productive when your search turns mechanical, routine, or low-energy. Seeking work is, after all, hard work. Just like keeping a car or bicycle running smoothly, regular maintenance will keep you performing at your peak:

1. Attend a professional event where most of the people are NOT from your industry or profession.
If you always associate with people in the same profession or industry, you won’t appear unique. What’s more, you’ll discuss and compete for work that’s already visible among your colleagues. But attend a meeting outside your usual circle, and suddenly you’re a curiosity — with a better chance to discover undetected work.

2. Contact all your key networking partners monthly.
The most successful work-seekers are those who keep their networks “warm and informed,” so that the leads and tips keep on coming. Why would someone keep you in mind if they haven’t heard from you?

3. Record and listen to yourself answering tough interview questions.
Your Value Proposition and your accomplishment stories will always sound good in the privacy of your own head. So try recording them into your voicemail to hear what […]

How to Write a Mission Statement

Ah, the mission statement. So easy to talk about — and so difficult to write.

At their best, mission statements explain the purposes that guide organizations and their employees. They tell the world what our organizations do and why it’s important. They inspire us and give meaning to our work.

At their worst, mission statements are, well… gibberish. If we bother to read them at all, we may shrug in confusion — or even question the value of the organization’s work.

Most mission statements fall somewhere between these two extremes. Consider the following text, actually in use by a century-old, billion-dollar company:
We are strongly committed to our customers. Our ambition is to provide meaningful benefits to all our customers. We listen closely and align our activities to their needs. Our goal is the improvement of their overall quality of life, and being a trustworthy and reliable partner in their well-being.
Readers, let’s see a show of hands: Do you understand what this company does? Can you tell whether it is a service provider or product manufacturer? Does it grow food? Manufacture bowling balls? Offer retirement planning services? Who are its customers? Why does it exist?

Anyone would be baffled by the well-meaning but largely meaningless collection of sentences. Here’s one possible remedy:
Ease the suffering of the sick and injured by developing powerful, safe, pain-relieving drugs.
There, now — don’t you feel better already?

Why do so many organizations avoid using simple, specific language to explain what they do? Why do they ignore or obscure their what or their why with vague “happy talk”? The organization in the example above has been doing wonderful things for humanity for more than 100 years. Why not tell the world with easily understandable language?

You may […]

The Two Groups Successful Career-Seekers Join

—by Bruce Hazen

You may know I’m a big proponent of continuous career management as opposed to serial job-finding (what I call “finding one-job-in-a-row”). Continuous career management means mindfully managing your relationship to work by asking and answering The Three Career Questions:

When is it time to Move Up? (progress in your work or in an organization you like)
When is it time to Move Out? (of a relationship, job, role, company, or profession)
When is it time to Adapt Your Style for greater success?

But did you know that there are two special types of groups that are terrific resources for answering The Three Career Questions — and that successful career-seekers consistently join these groups?

There are thousands of these groups. They are 1) professional associations, and 2) university and college alumni associations.

Still, many of us talk ourselves out of joining. If we’re searching for work, we figure we can save money by not joining. If we just landed a job, we’re too busy to join. And if we’re a mid-career professional, we may consider it a waste of time to mingle with the many professional newbies who participate.

But in the context of The Three Career Questions and continuous career management let’s see what becomes available to you by joining a professional association or alumni group.

When you want to Move Up, join to:

• Seek a mentor who, for political reasons, might better be found outside of your current organization
• Gain opportunities to observe the dress, vocabulary, and content knowledge of a professional group you want to join
• Preview more complex jobs, higher positions, or different organizations

When you want to Move Out:

• Professional and alumni associations often have proprietary job listings. Financial Executives International, for example, has an actively managed, members-only employment resource
• […]

How to Align Individual Actions with Group Goals

More and more Business Model You community members seek to align individual actions with group goals — by adopting business modeling techniques in teams, workgroups, divisions, and even across the enterprise. Here’s how one midsized enterprise, which we’ll call Ideate, is doing it.
Ideate is a 500-person consultancy that has wholly adopted business model thinking. When we stepped into its gorgeous five-story headquarters on a recent visit, we were greeted by a giant business model Canvas spanning the entryway.
Dennis, our host, explained that Ideate makes its business model clear to everyone: customers, employees, and new graduates aspiring to a career with the company.

For those new graduates, Ideation uses a clever and unusual process that combines recruiting and “onboarding” (new employee socialization).

First, it advertises “career fairs” at leading business and law schools, promising participants on-the-spot interview opportunities with Ideate consultants.

Ideate’s managing director opens each fair with a presentation of the company’s business model, giving participants insight into the sectors and customer segments it serves. Next, an Ideate consultant delivers a brief personal business modeling workshop.

Here’s where the magic happens: As the final workshop exercise, Ideate asks participants to draw personal business models depicting how they propose to create and deliver value as individual employees within the company.

Following this exercise, participants interview immediately with Ideate recruiters. These interviews focus on 1) the extent to which participants have grasped Ideate‘s organizational model, 2) the thought behind/potential underlying the Value they propose to provide to Ideate and its customers, and 3) how well their personal business models are aligned with Ideate‘s organizational model.

“This approach is extraordinarily effective in identifying high-potential recruits,” says Dennis. “Participants self-identify in terms of ‘getting’ what Ideate does — and the successful ones come close to writing their own job descriptions.”

Candidates who shine during the career fair are invited to return for additional interviews. And according to Dennis, most of those hired […]

Business Modeling for the Rest of Us

Business modeling typically focuses on designing and testing new services or products to answer a crucial, ongoing question: How can the enterprise revise or reinvent its strategy for greater marketplace success? In short, business modeling deals mainly with external customers. 

The external customer focus makes perfect sense. But most established organizations devote fewer resources to business model design and testing and far more resources to business model execution.

This execution is handled mainly by employees, all of who ultimately owe their livelihoods to external customers. Yet many employees — especially those working in areas such as accounting, IT, human resources, administration, finance, logistics, or research — have little or no direct contact with external customers. How, then, can such employees best understand to whom they ultimately deliver value?

By grasping the enterprise business model.

That’s why we’re convinced all employees should undergo basic business model training. And we’re convinced such training should cover both the enterprise model and the employee’s role in its execution.

An employee’s role in executing an enterprise model is defined by a personal business model. So once a valid enterprise model is ready to execute, the focus naturally shifts toward ordinary employees — the rest of us.

If we see organizations as living systems rather than mere economic machines, we recognize that employees deserve opportunities to develop their talents and pursue their aspirations while executing the enterprise model. 

Personal business models are in that sense fractals of the enterprise model. We might say that the shift from business model design and testing to business model execution results in a parallel shift in focus from the external to the internal environment.

Such an external-to-internal shift is being recognized by more and more community members, who are eager to adopt personal business modeling techniques in teams, workgroups, divisions, or across the enterprise. So in future posts, we’ll focus more on using personal business modeling techniques in teams and other enterprise units.

In the meantime, listen to what Sushma […]

The Career-Making Skill Nobody Taught You

You’ve worked hard to build your career. You’re smart, trustworthy, and committed. You’ve honed your skills to become the best you you can be.

What’s more, you’re great with customers, a strong communicator, and you know how to empower teams. You’ve sharpened your ability to help others become the best they can be.

What’s the next step?

For 40 years, says leadership coach Susan Colantuono, traditional career advice has focused on developing yourself and helping develop others. That approach makes sense, but it’s missing a crucial “third side” of the career development triangle: understanding strategy and financials, where an organization is headed, and your role in moving the organization forward (watch Susan’s TED talk for more).

But how can you do that without getting an executive MBA, studying accounting, or taking a stint on a strategy team?

The answer is to learn business modeling: the process of defining strategy in terms everyone can understand.

In my experience, the best way to learn business modeling is through immersive practice sessions where, with professionals from diverse industries, you repeatedly build and deconstruct both enterprise and personal business models, all under expert guidance. Such sessions help you explore and clarify your professional identity.

That’s what we do at our Business Model You® workshops — please consider joining us! Our next open session is in Munich in May.

French, Dutch Editions of Online Course Debut

French and Dutch editions of our Redesign Your Career online course are now available. The new courses are taught by longtime Business Model You® community members Nicolas de Vicq and Marijn Mulders, both experienced business modeling coaches and Business Model You® Workshop and Master Class alumni. The English language edition of the course now has more than 440 students.

Large Enterprises Adopting Business Model You®

A […]

Too Busy Working a Job You Hate to Seek Work You Like?

by Bruce Hazen and Tim Clark

Are you too busy working a job you hate to seek work you like?

Welcome to the modern workforce.

Today’s professionals are famously unsatisfied with their careers. But most stay where they are until the pain of the status quo overwhelms the pain of undertaking significant change.

If you’re ready for change, here are three tips that will prepare you to swap busy work for better work:

1. Get a Bigger Theory of the Game
Most people are serial job-finders rather than true managers of their careers. That doesn’t necessarily mean they change jobs frequently. In fact, they often strive for longevity in an organization to avoid facing their lack of a bigger career picture. For many, it’s a reaction to market and organizational forces — and a dangerous default replacement for true career management. If you recognize yourself as a serial job-finder, use tips 2 and 3 below to start actively managing your career.

2. Ask Yourself the Three Questions

You have three options at any moment in your career. If you like your work and are finding success, you can Move Up. If you don’t like your work (or your boss or your employer) and aren’t finding success, you can Move Out. If you like where you are but aren’t achieving adequate success, you can Adapt Your Style. Now, ask yourself the Three Questions: Is it time to Move Up? If so, you need a development strategy. Is it time to Move Out? If so, it’s time for a transition strategy. Is it time to Adapt Your Style? If yes, you need coaching. We suggest engaging a good career consultant, preferably one experienced in personal business modeling. Alternatively, try tip 3 on your own.

3. Create […]

What Sex Workers Teach Us About Value Propositions

Here in Portland, Oregon (motto: “Keep Portland weird!”), we have plenty of kinky sex enthusiasts and professionals who serve them. And as it turns out, there’s a lot this industry can teach us much about our personal value propositions — the benefits we offer customers through our work.

Before my wife gives me the evil eye, let me explain myself.

Recently, a local publication featured an interview with a professional sex worker who specializes in kinky encounters — let’s call her Joanne. What exactly do your customers pay for? the interviewer asked.

Readers, let’s see a show of hands: How many of you immediately thought “kinky sex”?

That seems logical enough. Kinky sex is clearly differentiated from, well, regular sex. So, is Joanne’s value proposition “kinky sex”?


Joanne went on to explain that most people think her customers are strange, crazy, or even criminal. In short, most people consider them socially unacceptable.

Consequently, says Joanne, her customers are often secretive and ashamed.

But Joanne herself does not consider her customers strange, crazy, or criminal. She accepts them for who they are.

“My customers don’t pay for sex,” she said. “They pay for acceptance.”

Joanne’s insight into the benefit she provides clients highlights three key facts about value propositions:

1. Activity Differs from Value
Many of us mistake activity for value. That’s why we’re quick to describe kinky sex as value rather than as an activity. Activity creates value, but it is separate from value itself. Use the Business Model Canvas to clarify the difference.

2. Activity is Tangible, Value Intangible
Activity can be seen — it’s tangible. But value is almost always intangible. That’s because value resides within the customer’s mind, in the form of an experience or memory or emotion.

3. Value is Tough to Identify
Joanne shows […]