How LinkedIn can put a six-figure salary within your reach

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This is a condensed version of an interview with Milena Otasevic, a Stakeholder Engagement and Readiness Lead at Nike and 2017 graduate of Willamette University MBA. She used LinkedIn Premium to go from getting her MBA to a six-figure salary with full benefits in just two years. To read the full interview, click here.

LinkedIn uses an algorithm to rank profiles and ensure they are showing the most relevant profiles that are the best match.

Think of it like searching Google for a restaurant; you want to appear at the top of the list, definitely on page one!

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The first step in optimizing your profile is ensuring that you have relevant content.

Use the same words in your profile, join relevant groups, follow industry news and companies, etc. The more you attach yourself to similar content, the more relevant you will be.

Update/refresh your profile regularly so LinkedIn knows you are still relevant.

Use a nice, professional looking photo, make sure to have a good tagline/summary line to grab people’s attention, and you also want to have some positive recommendations (just like you would want to see for restaurants on a Google search)!

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You have to spend time optimizing your profile.

Optimization is a continuous process where you interact with the content and the platform that goes so much further than updating (a one time activity when you have a milestone such as a new job or education).

Focus on what you are looking for, a field of expertise.

By interacting (reading articles, liking posts, posting articles yourself) with the platform in your preferred field, you share more information about yourself, making yourself more relevant.

In order to stand out, your resume/application should try to match the language of the job description. 

Think about it, out of hundreds of applications, a human person might pick a top 30 key words ranked by the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), screen 15-20 over the phone, invite only 5 or so for an interview; so consider the odds.

Networking is very important!

Many recruiters look for candidates on LinkedIn. Other companies hire through referrals. Think about the company you are applying for and consider what their “culture” is and how they like to recruit candidates.

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By doing a lot of informationals, you can learn about the most current industry trends from people who are in the work, biggest challenges, you learn how to “speak the lingo” – to get all that information so when the time comes for an interview for your desired job, you know how to talk about it and what to emphasize.

It’s all a long-term strategy; a marathon, not a sprint.

Your career development and growth is continuous, regardless of the job you are currently doing or your employment status; networking is for you to learn more about industries, possibilities, skills needed and relevant knowledge.

If you are an introvert and find networking a little more difficult, sign up for this excellent 5-day e-mail mini course, “Introvert to Introvert.” Networking will help you learn trends and challenges in the field so when you come to the interview phase you will be prepared to think about how you can help the company solve one of their challenges and know what skills and experiences you can bring to the table to help alleviate that problem.

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Where do you start?

Start by downloading LinkedIn app on your phone and the same way you check Facebook, Instagram or any other app, be sure to visit LinkedIn as well.

Interact with the content. Follow people who are leaders in the field, companies as well. Find groups to join, read relevant articles; just engage with the network the same way you would any other platform but here with the focus on your professional interests.

Review the job descriptions and select key words and phrases common to the position descriptions.

Go back and update your profile to reflect that language. Enable your settings to tell the recruiters you are looking for positions, what kind of positions and where. Subscribe to the free trial of LinkedIn Premium and monitor your stats (number of views, number of successful applications, etc) to determine if it’s worth the money for you.

Ask friends, coworkers or professors for an informational to find out more about what they do.

Ask them to introduce you to other people you can talk to – not for jobs, but just for learning and research!

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Special thanks to Milena for being willing to share all her tips and tricks. To read the full text filled with additional information, go to the full interview, located here.

Related posts: What Intel Wants : Characteristics Intel seeks in new hires.

9 Essential Reads : Great books for those making a career change.

Interview: You’re hired! Tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile

When I began working for Willamette University MBA three and a half years ago I met a student named Milena. She was finishing up her first year in the program and starting to think about her future. Now that I am just about to finish up my first year, I’m finding myself in the same position. I admire her tremendous success since graduation and took this opportunity to reach out and ask how she attained so much success so very quickly. The following interview gives tips and tricks to use LinkedIn to your personal advantage to find the perfect job just for you and I can’t wait to get started!

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Before we get into the questions about LinkedIn, can you share a little bit about your background and personal history prior to graduating with your MBA from Willamette University?

Milena Otasevic (MO): I come from Serbia, where I worked for non-profits in the field of international education. I wanted to stay in the field of education but realized I needed to go back to school to get additional skills. One of the schools I applied to, and the only MBA program, was Willamette MBA. During my MBA studies, I decided to focus on Organizational Change, where I could use my transferable skills and work on helping people and organizations implement and adopt needed change.   

So what is your current title?  And I won’t ask your salary, but can you give me a ballpark? 

MO: I am currently working as a Stakeholder Engagement and Readiness Lead on a large enterprise-wide transformational initiative at Nike. The program is focused on Strategic Enterprise Capabilities and implementation of the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. My role is in the Transformational Change Office and our job is to drive the people side of change (communications, stakeholder engagement, readiness, learning, change impacts, etc.) My first job after graduation, I worked as a consultant and was paid $75,000 but with no benefits. My next job was as a contractor (External Temporary Worker – ETW) and I made $95,000 with health and dental. And now I am at six figures, including full benefits. 🙂 I don’t mind sharing. I am strong believer in sharing so that way others know what the market is and not undersell themselves! I don’t share until someone asks because I know people are sensitive. In Serbia, people would ask, no problem; here, not so much.

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Thank you so much for sharing.  When you graduated in 2017, where did you look for jobs?  Did you only look on LinkedIn?  Other job websites?  Or did you use the Career Services at Willamette for assistance?

MO: I applied a combination of strategies. One of my first steps was to work with Career Services on identifying potential employers, updating my resume and LinkedIn profile and then looking for alumni and connections to network with. I had done a lot of networking over the previous two years with the local employers and one of them referred me to a position. I met with the hiring manager who had already checked out my LinkedIn profile, and luckily it was already updated with the most recent experience. Before meeting, I sent them my resume. Over the years, since first starting a LinkedIn profile, I think 7-8 years ago, I had worked on getting recommendations from previous positions, endorsements of skills and joining groups of interest, either in fields of interest or companies I was interested in. 

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You previously mentioned that you think everyone should start with LinkedIn.  With so many different online resources out there, what makes LinkedIn stand out?

MO: For me, LinkedIn is different than other platforms because along with your resume, you can expand on your experience, provide more information, connect with people from the industry and ultimately BUILD YOUR OWN BRAND. I believe that storytelling is one of the most valuable skills. It is all about how you tell the story of your brand – who you are, what your values are, your achievements, and what makes you stand out. Other online resources like Glassdoor and Monster are simply job boards – posting openings and gathering resumes from applicants. LinkedIn, on the other hand, gives the job seeker a place to create their professional identity, and the hiring manager an option to access competencies, skills, and experiences of the many candidates.

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You said you think of LinkedIn as Google; can you elaborate on that?

MO: Like I previously mentioned, LinkedIn has the job seeker side and the job poster side; first, let’s look at the job board aspect of the employer side. A hiring manager/recruiter posts a job description, required qualifications, etc. and then they set a closing date for the posting, and how to apply; nothing new or revolutionary there.  They also put certain preferences for skills they are looking for (that’s where skills endorsements come into the algorithm).  People apply and hiring managers/recruiters can access hundreds or thousands of resumes, but most importantly profiles of potential candidates. But how do they find the right applicant?  

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Quantity is not necessarily quality. My thinking is, “If I was a hiring manager/recruiter, what would I need to be looking for to find the ideal profile?” LinkedIn is a wealth of information, but also a search engine – same as Google, so recruiters will search for the best profile matching the job description and skills. LinkedIn uses an algorithm to rank profiles and ensure they are showing the most relevant profiles that are the best match. It’s the same as me searching online for a restaurant. Google and GoogleAds work on search engine optimization (SEO) and rank websites based on relevant content, quality of content, and many other factors. That’s when I started thinking about how to optimize my LinkedIn profile so it would appear at the top. There is that old marketing joke, “Where do you hide a dead body? At the second page of Google search!”

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The first step in optimizing my profile is ensuring that I have relevant content. So if I am looking for a job as a financial analyst, I want to ensure that I use same words in my profile, join relevant groups, follow industry news and companies, etc. You also want to have some recommendations (like that restaurant I mentioned); a nice photo; a good tagline/summary line to grab people’s attention. Update/refresh your profile regularly so LinkedIn knows you are still relevant. In the same way you think about SEO, LinkedIn and Google are similar from the search engine perspective.

Is it really necessary to update my profile?  Do I need to have my resume up there for the world to see?  And what needs to be on my resume?  Is it going to be important to the recruiters?

MO: In order to unlock the power of LinkedIn, yes, you have to spend time optimizing your profile; note that I say optimizing and not updating. The difference is that updating is one time activity when you have a milestone (new job, new education); optimization is a continuous process when you interact with the content and platform. By interacting (reading articles, liking posts, posting yourself) with the platform, you are sharing more information about yourself. The platform uses machine learning to recommend more relevant content for you, so the more effort you put into telling it what you are looking for, the more relevant your profile is.

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Focus on what you are looking for, a field of expertise. The only reason I have my resume posted is because that makes my LinkedIn profile “complete;” another thing the algorithm looks at. I don’t care about that to be honest; I use the main profile to provide full detail and tell a more in-depth story of my experiences. I don’t think it matters to recruiters, either. They will usually ask for the latest version of your resume. If they don’t, I advise sending it and saying,”Here is the most recent version of my resume for your reference.” Put it up to complete the profile 100%.

Do I need to search for jobs?  Or should I be waiting for someone to come searching for me?

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MO: Yes and no. Yes because – you know it – that is more info for the algorithm. I like the option on job boards to set up an alert. Find a few position titles you are interested in search for them in the Jobs tab. Add location(s) as well. And in the upper left there is a toggle button Job Alert that you turn on. Every few days, Linked in will send you an alert for similar position in the area. I like to go and check the positions out. Of course, some I might apply to but remember – everything I do is feeding my algorithm, even my bounce rate, even if I open a posting and close it quickly because it’s not a good match. So you are doing that and you can do that on any job board. On the other hand, you are also optimizing your profile for others to find. So when a recruiter/hiring manager are searching for applicants, your profile is relevant. Two birds with one stone.

Can you explain ATS for me?  How do I make myself stand out?

MO: To make yourself stand out you first need to understand how it works. So with the internet, a lot more candidates are reached, meaning many more applications, with the hope that by casting a wider net, a recruiter is more likely to find the best candidate. But with the hundreds of applications on multiple platforms, it becomes too much work for a human to go through every single resume/application. The online job boards created an automated process to sift through the resumes/applications by looking for key words.

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That is why you need to make sure that your resume/application uses the job description verbiage because what the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) does is look for key word matches (exact word to exact word). In order to stand out, your resume/application should try to match the language of the job description.  Think about it, out of hundreds of applications, a human person might pick a top 30 key words ranked by the ATS, phone screen 15-20, invite only 5 or so for an interview; so consider the odds.  That’s how all the online job boards work.  I have to be honest, that is where the system breaks down for me; I have never had luck on any other job boards except for LinkedIn.

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That’s also called “the black hole” where you send you application and it just disappears. However, it soon became apparent that just because someone “stuffed” their resume with key words, they could come up as a high match but not necessarily be a good match. That’s where, for me, LinkedIn has the competitive advantage. Unlike other job boards where you just submit your resume, LinkedIn has all that other data on you – a more detailed profile and experience description, skills endorsements, recommendations, interaction with content (likes, comments), content creation (writing relevant posts), group affiliation, profile freshness, job searches, etc.; but you have to put in the effort to give it all that data so hiring managers/recruiters can get even closer to the right candidate. 

What is the best way to optimize my profile?

MO: The more you interact with the LinkedIn platform, the better your profile is.

Is it necessary to pay for LinkedIn Premium?

MO: Good question. So now you know how LinkedIn works to match employers and candidates and it’s free to use, so how does LinkedIn make money? Because they are a for-profit, acquired by Microsoft for $26 billion! One revenue stream is LinkedIn Premium, charging candidates a monthly subscription rate for certain perks (full list on LinkedIn profile) such as featuring your profile higher in searches, letting you see who looked at your profile, providing a list of skills each job poster is looking for and giving you 5 free InMail messages (to message people who are not your connections like recruiters or for networking), just to name a few.

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Is there value in that? Sure! Is it worth $24.99/month? Depends how you use it and who you ask! I would use the free month and see if you find value and if not, you can easily cancel the subscription.

How important is networking?  I really struggle with meeting new people, so this is a tough area for me to think about.

MO: MBA answer – It depends. I knew no one at Nike to network with, much less someone to refer me for a position. For both the temp and the permanent positions, recruiters first found me on LinkedIn. On the other hand, both my internship and post graduation jobs were mostly through networking with state government employees. So think about the company you are applying for and consider these questions; what is their “culture” and how do they like to recruit candidates?

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One of the biggest benefits of networking for me is not so much in knowing people in the organization, but more on the industry research side. By doing a lot of informationals, depending on how you conduct them (this is a completely other can of worms and skill set that is very coachable), you can learn about the most current industry trends from people who are in the work, biggest challenges, you learn how to “speak the lingo” (every industry has it’s own language – all jargon that means something only to people who are actually doing the job) and that’s what informationals are for – to get all that information so when the time comes for an interview for your desired job, you know how to talk about it and what to emphasize.

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It’s all a long term strategy; a marathon, not a sprint. Another reason networking is good is when you are actually looking for a job, the network you built is more likely to know someone hiring and can at least pass the information to you, if not refer you. Do you think you can do 20-30 minutes once a month with a stranger if you had prepared questions to ask? Just 20-30 minutes? And you never have to see that person again, just maintain the relationship with follow-up emails and check-ins? I think that is manageable and that’s what it takes.

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The same goes for networking events. I really struggled talking to people I didn’t know when I was fighting depression. It felt like such a huge task and it took out so much of my energy. But I always said to myself – I can do 30 minutes. And big events were even more draining. I would make myself go and I tell myself – I can talk to one person. 5-10 minutes and I can be out of there and not feel like an even bigger failure because I am not networking to begin my job search, because all I needed was feeling worse about myself. All of those interactions are practiceable.

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I’ll forward you a 5 email series I recently got on this topic and I thought it was good coaching advice (For more information and to sign up for this excellent 5-day mini course, “Introvert to Introvert,” click here) . Another reason networking is good, by talking to people you will learn about trends and challenges in the field so when you come to the interview phase you can think about “How can I help this company with one of their challenges? What skills and experiences do I have to help them alleviate that problem?”

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Doing that thought exercise as an interview prep helps a lot with confidence and that storytelling I was telling you about. I will tell you how I tell my story to give you an example but another thing easier in person. A really important distinction I want to make here: job search and networking are two distinct things. Job search and applying for jobs, everything we discussed above is one thing and you do it when you are looking for a new job. That’s all about a job. Networking is not about your job, networking is about your career.

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Your career development and growth is continuous, regardless of the job you are currently doing or your employment status; networking is for you to learn more about industries, possibilities, skills needed and relevant knowledge. We should be working on career development continuously throughout our life. A job is not the same thing as Career.

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I feel like a lot of people don’t understand this distinction and make them one and the same. Many people think networking is a chore and do it only for the purpose of finding a job. I still do informationals even today; it has nothing to do with whether I am looking for a job or not. I am not now (looking for a job), but I want to be in touch and know what’s trending, so don’t think about networking as job searching, like many people do; look at it as career grooming and development.

Okay, so the big question, where do I start?  I’m still in school, with a year left to go before I complete the MBA program – how far before completion of the program should I start making changes to my LinkedIn profile if I want to seriously use it as a tool for a new career?  Can you give me a step by step?

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MO: I would start by downloading LinkedIn app on my phone and the same way you check Facebook or Instagram or any other app, I would make sure I visit LinkedIn as well. Interact with content. Follow people who are leaders in the field. Companies as well. Find groups, articles… Just engage with the network the same way you would on any other platform, but here, with the focus on your professional interests. Then, search for positions you are interested in.

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Review the job descriptions and select key words and phrases common to the position descriptions. Go back, update your profile to reflect that language. Enable your setting to tell the recruiters you are looking for positions, what kind of positions and where. Subscribe to free trial LinkedIn Premium and monitor your stats (number of views, number of successful applications, stuff like that) to determine if it is valuable. Ask friends, coworkers or professors for an informational to find out more about what they do.

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Ask them to introduce you to other people you can talk to (not for jobs but for learning and research because that’s how I approach informationals – I am not asking the person for a job, I am learning more about what they do and researching the industry to find out if that is something I’d like to do and that’s how I present it to them in the intro email; it’s better to walk you through the process in person so we can role-play). Keep doing informationals.

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In terms of timing, it all depends on you. If you start now, you can take away some of that stress, for example with networking – you can start slow with once a month and as you get more comfortable, talk to more people vs start networking a few months before graduation and then plan to do it more intensely. So for networking, I say start as soon as possible so you can do it on your own terms. And remember, networking is career development, not a job search. For LinkedIn optimization, I also say start sooner rather than later. It takes awhile to train the algorithm and optimize your profile to come up high.

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As to actually applying for jobs, not sure if I have the best answer. Many people start early, but I personally don’t think it makes a lot of sense to start applying more than 3-4 months before you want to start the new job. Until then, invest time in networking and optimization. I don’t think many companies and hiring managers plan much more in advance than that or know prior to that time that they will need to fill a position. In the mean time, start by building the brand online and network to learn more. 

In looking at your LinkedIn, I see you have quite a few Licenses & Certifications.  Are those a good way to boost my employee value?

MO: Depends. First, do some serious research whether there are certifications in your field and how valuable they are. Some have value for employers like PMP, Scrum Alliance, PROSCI, Lean Six Sigma… (just listing a few I know). How do you determine a good certification/licence for you: 1) good old online research, 2) asking people during your informationals – “Hey, are there any certifications you look at?” (another benefit of networking), 3) go through job postings you are interested in – are there any desired/preferred licenses/certifications? Basically, do your research and leverage the entire eco-system we are talking here about. If you do find some certificates that are in job descriptions, keep in mind that might be one of the skills or search criteria recruiter enters. By having that piece of paper, your profile will jump up.

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Let’s say in my case, I want to be a Change manager, so I want a recruiter/hiring manager hiring for a position like that to find me and think my profile is relevant. Back to the beginning of the email – how would they find my profile. Probably a combination of Change Manager + PROSCI + CCMP + Oregon + ERP + or something along those lines. In that case, my profile will be more relevant if I have the certification. It is up to you to determine the cost-benefit analysis. Some of them can be quite pricey -PROSCI for example, $4,300, PMP thousands, Lean six sixma, same. You will want to make sure it will actually be necessary to make you stand out before you make that kind of investment. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to share all this information with me! I can’t wait to get started! LinkedIn, here I come! 🙂

A HUGE thank you to Milena Otasevic for being willing to take time out to share her insight on LinkedIn Premium and how to start a successful job search.

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Related Content: What Intel Wants : Characteristics Intel seeks in new hires.

9 Essential Reads: Great books for those thinking about a career change.

What Intel Wants

Are you thinking of applying with Intel? They have very specific characteristics they look for in their employees. How do you measure up?

1. Customer Orientation

  • Listen and respond to our customers, suppliers and stakeholders
  • Clearly communicate mutual intentions and expectations
  • Deliver innovative and competitive products and services
  • Make it easy to work with us
  • Excel at customer satisfaction

2. Discipline

  • Conduct business with uncompromising integrity and professionalism
  • Ensure a safe, clean, and injury-free workplace
  • Make and meet commitments
  • Properly plan, fund, and staff projects
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Keep Intel information secure

3. Results Orientation

  • Set challenging and competitive goals
  • Focus on output
  • Assume responsibility
  • Constructively confront and solve problems
  • Execute flawlessly

4. Risk Taking

  • Embrace a growth mindset in everything we do
  • Foster innovation and creative thinking
  • Embrace change and challenge the status quo
  • Listen to all ideas and viewpoints
  • Learn from our successes and mistakes
  • Encourage and reward informed risk-taking

5. Make it An Inclusive, Great Place to Work

  • Create an inclusive environment that fosters diversity
  • Treat one another equally, with dignity and respect
  • Be open and direct
  • Promote a challenging work environment that develops our workforce
  • Work as a team with respect and trust for each other
  • Win and have fun
  • Recognize and reward accomplishments
  • Manage performance fairly and firmly
  • Be an asset to our communities worldwide

6. Quality

  • Achieve the highest standards of excellence
  • Do the right things right
  • Continuously learn, develop, and improve
  • Take pride in our work
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A huge thank you to CorDarryl Hall, Data Analyst at Intel and Willamette MBA graduate 2019, for sharing this information with us!

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They say we all have the same 24 hours, but is it just me or does that 24-hour clock go a little faster for some of us?

Productivity and time management skills are like houseplants. You’ve got to tend to them, water them, feed them, and give them a little pep talk every once in a while

Need a little productivity boost? Well, it all starts with you… Here are a couple of seeds to getting a little pep in your step.

7. A Productive Day Starts the Night before.

  • Spend some time reviewing your day & write down things you would like to achieve the next day (Why you should use a planner and finding one that works for you)
  • Set out your clothes out for the next day
  •  Prep Breakfast. Chop some fruits and veggies for a smoothie, and fill the coffee pot.
  • Practice good Sleep Hygiene.  Unplug and avoid Screen time.

6.  Have a Killer Morning Routine.

  • Don’t hit snooze. I know it’s hard, but with those 10 minutes you could get some stretching, meditation, or breathing in to start your day.
  • Avoid email or social media for the first hour of your day.
  • Start your day with three things that you can check off your to do list easily. Make your bed, practice breathing exercises, stretch etc.
  • Don’t skip breakfast

5.  Don’t Multi Task

  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Be present
  • More listening to listen. Less listening to respond. Wait to form an opinion or response until the person has completely finished speaking
  • Empty the mind. Take a few moments to be still, and then start the task.

4. Time Blocking

  • One of the most efficient ways to get things done in a timely manner
  • Set a specific amount of time for each activity, and schedule buffers.
  • Don’t forget to block out time for yourself – do something that makes you happy (Check out How to Relax without Losing your Edge)
  • Instead of to-do lists set reasonable time frames and specific intentions for those times. Get a planner! I hear Hobonichi are great

3. “Eat the Frog”

  • Your Frog is that one task you know you just really do not want to do.
  • Get it done first! One of my favorite professors told me this once, and it has been something that has helped me so much. It’s not easy to keep up but it makes everything else so much easier.
  • Prioritize, and know when it is time to ask for help.

2.  Set Boundaries

  • It’s okay to say no. It’s best to be forward, and say no rather than committing to something you don’t have to time to complete to the best of your ability.
  • Prioritize time for you. Maybe enjoy a nice hike (feel free to check out some local places here Nature Rx.)
  1.  This is the most important. Stay Curious! Productivity all starts with you always be open to learning and growing.

This is not your Grandmother’s HR: The Four Anchors for a New HR in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

In a future of work where workers live longer, and expect recognition and accommodation for their full selves, HR must find a way to manage the new worker and help businesses in managing the new work itself.  The impacts of globalization, AI, technology, and demographic and social changes present significant management challenges.  

Lisbeth Claus, from Facebook. For more on Claus’ work:

In #ZigZagHR —Why the Best HR is no Longer HR, Lisbeth Claus and Lesley Arens argue that in order to be effective in the changing workplace of the fourth Industrial Revolution, HR must reinvent itself. To help business and talent to be successful, the new HR must switch between tried-and-true processes and procedures and new ideas and technologies. Claus and Arens’ new book offers a model for how this may be be done.

As summarized by Claus, the #ZigZagHR model has four anchors where HR must rethink its practices:

#ZigZagHR-Workforce: HR must evolve from a closed to an open talent approach where they access people on a talent continuum and deploy them in a flexible, agile, fluid way enabled by technology and data.

#ZigZagHR-Stack: HR must broaden its own competencies beyond HR and integrate principles from design thinking, agile management, behavioral economics and analytics.

#ZigZagHR-Careers: HR must disrupt itself by automating its transactional activities and focus on truly managing the experience the workforce has with the organization.

#ZigZagHR-Operations: HR must balance day-to-day activities with the expectations of diverse workforce segments by customizing its offerings and letting go of control.

Lesley Arens, from LinkedIn. For more on Arens:

Brief, concise, and engagingly written, the book is both a primer for how to rethink HR practice, and a call to action. The authors want nothing less than to start a movement that will break down functional, “industrial, sectorial, and functional silos;” help us to be receptive to ideas and expertise from outside our immediate domains; encourage us in making meaningful connections between HR and other management disciplines; and turn us all into lifelong learners.

9 Essential Reads for Career and Life Transitions

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller

Times of transition and change can seem overwhelming and even terrifying. Whether it is returning to school, starting a new career, being promoted to a job that stretches your talents or juggling a new side hustle, being motivated and informed can transform a scary process into an exciting adventure.

Here are some great reads that can help you prepare for your best future.

  1. Tap into your emotional intelligence and become a better professional 
Primal Leadership book cover

The authors establish the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. In our rapidly changing, technological world, self-awareness and empathy are essential traits of visionary leaders.

2. Break out of the cycle of stress and sacrifice

Specific advice to break out of the downward spiral of stress and burnout. Emphasizes the need for physical, emotional and mental renewal.  Tips on using mindfulness, hope and compassion to maintain resonance and effective leadership in your organizations, teams and relationships.  Includes pointers on how to identify where you are in the “sacrifice cycle” and how to break out of the vicious cycle of stress and sacrifice.  Utilize the numerous exercises included in the book to become and remain an effective and resonant leader.

3. When it is time to make decisions…

For anyone with an important decision to make.  Kahneman explains System 1 (intuitive, fast, emotional) vs. System 2 (logical, deliberate, slow) thinking and how these drive decision making.  How biases impact our decision making and how we fall into the trap of thinking we are rational.

4. Are you ready for high stakes conversations?

Are you about to have a crucial conversation–one in which the stakes are high, emotions are strong and opinions differ such as ending a relationship, critiquing someone’s work or giving your boss feedback?

Check out the resource-filled blog

5. Need motivation?

Here is a new way to think about motivation—it is no longer just rewards like money (carrot and stick). Three elements of true motivation—autonomy (direct our own lives), mastery (create new things) and purpose (do better by ourselves and our world?

6. When it is time to navigate and negotiate your transitions

Essential read whether you’re negotiating salary, buying a car or making a business deal, the authors offer a toolkit that will improve your negotiation skills and help you know when to walk away.  In Part III, the authors discuss blindspots, deception and ethics in the negotiation process, providing clear explanations of how these affect real world negotiations. 

7.  The future of work: thrive and survive

Break out of that silo! Focusing on HR and using a global lens, the insightful authors highlight how the intersection of tradition and innovation impact organizations and the agile transitions needed to thrive in a future of work (the future is now) dominated by artificial intelligence, digital technology and contract work. Ideas and suggestions are transferable to those navigating the Fourth Industrial Revolution (that’s all of us!) and the disruption it has brought. The epilogue is a “manifesto” that applies to everyone, whether in HR or not.

8. Being “fuzzy” and fitting into a data driven world

Hartley is a venture capitalist who proposes that contrary to the common assumptions that the techies (majors in computer science, math) drive innovation, it is the fuzzies (those who majored in humanity/social sciences) who are truly innovative.  The soft skills of the fuzzies will be critical to achieve ongoing innovation and an integration of techies and fuzzies will be essential as we enter the world of artificial intelligence and big data. This book is perfect for fuzzies who wonder how they’ll fit into a techie world and techies who worry about the fuzzies in their lives.

9. Restructure your life for transitions

Does the traditional education-work-retirement model still work for you? The authors propose creative approaches to creating a fulfulling life with a shifting balance between work and leisure that plans for making transitions in relationships, finances, education and career during your wonderful 100 year life.

Please share your essential reads for making transitions in your life, whether it is going back to school, being promoted, relocating or any other important change.

For more about maintaining work-life balance read here

Quick, fun read on leadership

Are YOU a Good Leader? Step Up: Motivate, Inspire and Bring Out the Best in Your Team!

Do you have what it takes to effectively lead and motivate your team? A lot of the managers I have had in the past have been nothing more than bullies who boss people around. That kind of manager does not inspire people to work together or build a sense of teamwork. So what about you? What kind of a leader are you really?

Here are some tips and tricks to improve any management style.  Read on to find out how your leadership style can be improved…

1. Motivate different people in a different way; get to know your team!

Genius, I know.  Not everyone responds in the same way.  Most people are never asked by the management, “What motivates you?”

Ask your employees these questions:

  • What motivates you at work?
  • What do you enjoy about your job?
  • What would you most like to learn?
  • Who do you enjoy working with?
  • What is your greatest fear?
Feelings Questions GIF by chuber channel

Once you ask these questions, be prepared to take action.  If you can effectively use this information, it will dramatically increase your team’s motivation when they know they are being heard.

2. Clarify the outcomes; communicate, communicate, communicate!

People are unable to hit a target they can’t see.  If the direction is unclear, the results will be unclear, or even worse, completely unusable!  When in a hurry to push projects through, managers don’t always do a good job of explaining the desired result, and if employees are only given vague instructions, nothing more than their understanding comes through. 

I Dont Get It Toby Turner GIF

Clarify specifically what you are expecting:  the what, the why, the how, the how well and the by when.  It isn’t considered micromanaging to give employees more and better information.

3. Explain the reason “why”?

See the source image

People are motivated when they believe there is a worthwhile reason to do something and not just because it is a request from management.  If the reasons aren’t clear, take the time to explain the rationale, reasons and benefits of successfully completing the task.  The better you are able to do so, the more likely your employees will follow through.

4. Create an empowering environment.

It’s very important for employees to come to work because they want to be there, not simply for the paycheck.  Some important things to think about:

  • You trust who you work for.
  • You enjoy who you work with.
  • You take pride in your work.

If you are able to create that kind of a workplace, you will have an environment where your team is positively motivated.

5. Reward and recognize the good, and learn from the bad (and the ugly).

Be quick to recognize good performance and reward it when appropriate.
Recognition is verbal and rewards are tangible.  Both are powerful motivators.  You might not be in a position to hand out pay raises and promotions, but a little bit of verbal praise or a simple gift (a coffee card or movie tickets) goes a long way in showing your team that not only are you aware of their hard work, you are appreciative of their achievements. 

Jimmy Fallon Good Job GIF

On the flip side, be quick to tackle poor performance issues. 

The longer you allow these to slide, the harder they will be to correct.  Look for the best in people and understand that mistakes will happen.  When they do, learn from them, and figure out how to prevent them from happening in the future.  And if you need to have a difficult conversation, do it in private, always.

6. Be decisive.

Procrastinate GIF

Don’t procrastinate!  It’s so easy to put off the difficult tasks and decisions, but it is up to you as the leader to take a deep breath and dive in and get stuff done.  If you are trying to motivate others, you need to be as motivated in your behavior as you would like those you lead to be.

7. Delegate.

Trust your team to do their jobs.  You have trained them to step up and do the work.  Being the team leader doesn’t mean that you are there to do their jobs for them. 

Shining Schitts Creek GIF by CBC

Be very clear about what is expected from everyone and then allow them to roll up their sleeves and get to work.  When issues arise, empower them to try to find solutions without running to you first – don’t add every issue to your own to-do list.

A team works because of individual commitment to a group effort.  It truly doesn’t matter how smart, talented, driven, or passionate you are, the only way to be a great leader is to allow your team members to work well together toward a common vision and goals.  Listen.  Learn.  Motivate.  Reward.  Repeat.

To see where you stand, take this quick Leadership Quiz

High Five Team Work GIF

“If you take out the team in teamwork, it’s just work.  Now who wants that?”

~  Matthew Woodring Stover

Do relaxed folks finish last? How can you relax without losing your edge?

Resources for the adult student and all jugglers of work and life

We all know that relaxation is an important part of self-care. But we worry: if we take it easy at the wrong time, will we miss something important?

Never fear—the answer to the above questions are ‘probably not’ and ‘heck no’. In fact, recent research in psychology suggests that we need to be happy in order to be productive at work:

We have rounded up some resources to help you squeeze self-care into your day without losing momentum.  Some of these relaxations will take you away, others you can pursue right at your desk, at lunch, or on your commute. Enjoy, and share your favorites in the comments!

from Make a Powerful Point, fassforward consulting group, 2012.

Feed Your Brain.

Are you a Learnaholic? Learning new skills and developing new perspectives can help us to develop cultural competency, stay relevant, and stave off a range of ills from boredom to dementia.  

Podcasts are a quick route to a dizzying array of learning opportunities and ways to relax without turning off your brain. So dive in! Here are some of our favorites, available in the App Store or wherever you get your podcasts (post some of yours in the comments, we’d love to hear about them!):

Stuff they Don’t Want You to Know: enjoy conspiracy theories and really strange real-life stories? They’ve got you covered, from UFOs to the use of eye-tracking technology in advertising.

The Moth: real people, telling (more or less) true stories about moments that changed their lives.  Neil Gaiman talks about storytelling and why he is afraid to sing in public. Musician Gaelynn Lea talks about life on the road with a disability. Jessica Pan attempts to cure her social anxiety. You get the idea.

Splendid Table: this is the place to learn about food in all its glorious permutations, from the connections of food and cultures to coverage of the latest in the international food scene, along with interviews of famous and up-and-coming chefs, recipes, and what to do with those five jars in your fridge.

Want to stay focused on business? Check out Entrepreneur’s April 2019 list of top 25 business podcasts for entrepreneurs:

And don’t forget Audible.  A monthly subscription gets you credits you can use to get audio recordings of books in every genre, including many of the best recent books on business, economics, and self-help/professional growth:

Bull kelp at Shore Acres State Park.

Expose yourself to nature.

Americans are suffering from a massive, unprecedented case of ‘nature deficit.’  We know from the work of Richard Louv and others that even small amounts of time in contact with green space (even in urban areas!) can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and ADHD. It’s being applied on college campuses, and has its own nonprofit advocacy organization. Still need the science? Check out Louv’s groundbreaking Last Child in the Woods here).

Convinced? Here are eleven places you may not know about, within easy driving distance of the Portland/Salem corridor.

How can you find more? Try the Open Gaarden app: it allows you to locate parks, public gardens, and green space wherever you are and in other locations you choose. AllTrails: Hike, Bike and Run helps you locate trails all over the world; filter by fitness and experience level, whether you have kids or pets, need wheelchair accessibility, and more.

Want to learn more about what’s around you while you are out? Try iNaturalist, which helps you identify plants and animals, allows you to record your own observations, and connects you to other citizen scientists through a joint initiative of the National Geographic Society and the California Academy of Sciences.

Chained to your desk? Try some nature soundscapes—if you have earbuds, no-one needs to know you are listening to the ocean. Check out these free apps: Nature Soundscapes and Pure Nature: 3D Soundscapes

Feel good and do good. If you don’t mind spending the cash you would otherwise devote to 1.5 cups of coffee, The National Park Sounds app allows you to experience recordings from specific national parks, including Yellowstone and Sequoia. Best of all, five percent of the profits go to supporting the preservation of the national parks and the bioacoustics of habitat across the world.



The neuroscience on the value of meditation is clear: in addition to the same emotional and health benefits offered by exposure to nature, meditation can actually promote the growth of brain tissue in areas of the brain associated with memory and cognition. It’s no longer just for Buddhists–companies like Google, sports teams, and the Marines are all encouraging meditation in their personnel.  How to find an app that is best for you? Whether you focus on the meditation as a wellness practice or as a spiritual journey, we’ve got some great options from the app store.

10% Happier: co-founded by news anchor Dan Harris (who also authored Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, which you can check out here) and meditation teacher Jeff Warren, the app offers lectures from prominent meditation teachers, interviews with practitioners, and guided meditations, along with a host of other resources for both learning about and practicing meditation. You can pay for a subscription, but a lot of the best stuff is free.

Buddify: Over 200 guided meditations. Can be accessed by experience level, length, or challenge (e.g. anxiety, work performance/productivity, traveling, sleep issues). Easy to use. It’s possible, but not necessary, to buy a subscription for additional content. As with 10% Happier, a lot of the best stuff is free.

Headspace: guided meditations and mindfulness techniques. Basic courses are free.

from The Atlantic, 2013.


You guessed it—recent research suggests that exercise can help us stay awake at work, but also be more productive: there is encouraging news from OHSU here that suggests that even short bouts of exercise can enhance brain function.

Yes, we all know we should exercise, but motivation and time are not on our side.  These apps can help get you started.

Fit Quote—Fitness Motivation: daily motivational quotes, customizable format, daily reminders.

Five Minute Workout: five minute workout routines you can do at home with no special equipment.

Seven: seven-minute mini workouts that don’t require special equipment, and can even be launched from an Apple watch.

Have we convinced you yet? (Willamette MBA-P peers, we’re looking at you!) Check out what one of your program predecessors had to say about the value of self-care on their MBA path.

Nature Rx: 11 sites slightly off the beaten trail

Get your recommended daily amount of nature right here.

Easy access, easy hikes:

Basket Slough National Wildlife Refuge : Habitat for threatened and endangered plants and animals including the Fender’s Blue butterfly, the Willamette Daisy, and Nelson’s Checkermallow.  Hiking, photography, and events open to the public. For more information and directions see here:

Fender’s Blue butterfly at Baskett Slough. photo from website.

Butte Falls: 1 mile trail appropriate for all skill levels. For directions and reviews see the description on here:

Lower Butte Creek Falls. Photo by Jorge Molina.

William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge: 12 miles of trails through one of the last remaining intact wet prairies of the Willamette Valley, white oak savannah, and mixed deciduous forest. For more information and directions:

Finley National Wildlife Refuge. photo from website.

Henline Falls: Hike through Western hemlock forest ending at the falls. Watch for remnants of mining activity from the 1930s! For more information and directions:

Henline Falls. photo from U.S. Forest Service website.

Sahalie and Koosah Falls Loop Trail: Two falls, and white cascades in between.  For more information:

Sahalie Falls on the McKenzie River. Photo by Jorge Molina.

Shellburg Falls Loop Hike:  An easy, relatively short trail that includes the 100-foot Shellburg Falls. Share the trail for part of the way with pastured cattle. From this trail you can also access the challenging Stasel Fall trail. For more information and directions see The Outdoor Project’s page:

Shellburg Falls. Photo by Jamie B. originally posted to Flickr as Shellburg Falls.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge: An urban refuge for more than 200 species of birds, over 50 species of mammals, 25 species of amphibians and reptiles, and a wide variety of plants and insects.

Owl at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. photo from website.

Challenging access, challenging hike:

Abiqua Falls: 5.3 miles of back trail including the 92-foot Abiqua Falls. For detailed description of the trail and information about access see the AllTrails site:

Abiqua Falls. Photo by Jorge Molina

Farther away, but worth a drive:

Clear Lake: Includes opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing. Views of the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and 3000-year-old lava fields. For more information and directions:

Clear Lake. Photo by Jorge Molina

Shore Acres State Park: Camping, historic gardens, beach access. What’s not to love? For more information :

Beach at Shore Acres State Park. photo by Monique Bourque.

Belknap Hot Springs: Open 365 days a year—two hot springs and acres of gardens. Camping, cabins. For more information and reservations:

Belknap Hot Springs. photo from website.