July 27, 2013


A provocation from Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch JoelThere are few books I recommend to everyone. Ctrl Alt Delete is second to make the list for 2013 (the first is To Sell Is Human, by Dan Pink). This time, Mitch Joel looks at the future of work. He asks a key question: will you be employable in five years?

You may be retired in five years but what about the people you care about in your family and community? The first step to nudging them to prepare is by making them aware.

We’ve looked at ways to stay employable over the years
With Mitch’s help, we’ll look at a fresh way to get a job in today’s new world.

Mitch Joel: Ctrl Alt DeleteThe Eight Steps

These steps are from the chapter The New Way We Work (pages 171-174). Much of the interpretation is mine.
1. Understand the process
"How do I win this job from the second they see my name?"

Focusing on your initial impact gives you an edge since few think about this. Your impact comes from what you’ve done in the past, including what’s visible online (your digital tapestry). You may still go through the traditional steps of résumé to interview to second interview to job offer but you started with a different mindset.

There’s no way for an employer to tell if you’re the right hire in advance. We decide with our hearts and justify with our heads. Employers do too. First impressions matter.
2. Present better
“Learn how to sell yourself better.”

Even with technical jobs (e.g., actuary), you still deal with people. Presentation skills are key in getting a position and advancing. There’s no downside to expressing yourself better.

You can break through your speaking barrier at Toastmasters. You get practice and critiques (Disclaimer: I oversee six clubs as a volunteer).
3. Be ready before you submit a résumé
"If you really want to be working in this industry and you have a passion for it, you have the ability to express it".

You may not be in the right place at the right time, but you can be the right person. Once you are, you can knock on Opportunity’s door. Social media gives you free tools to make your progression visible.  We're judged by the company we keep (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) and our reach (connections, followers).
Wired: how to puff up your résumé 4. Don't lie
"Tell the truth and let that truth come out on your résumé, online presence and in that first interview (should it be granted)."

How sad that this item needs to be stated. Here’s what happened to 10 people who lied (Business Insider, May 2012).

If you do want to cheat, Wired is filled with tips, including how to puff up your résumé — and get away with it (though you may not get away with it since employers read Wired too).
5. Know the industry
“Express your constant education within the industry in everything from your initial note of contact to the interview.”

You'll find lots of information online for free. Pay particular attention to what isn’t being said. You won’t know what that is until you absorb what’s visible. You might get very valuable insights that set you apart.
6. Read and write
"If you don't have a passion for reading and writing, find one."

You might wonder why this item is here. While there’s no harm in reading and writing, what are the benefits? The best way to find out is by doing. You may be very surprised. Blogging is an excellent way to publish at least some of what you write.

"Warren Buffet spends the majority of his time reading."

According to his biography, The Snowball, Warren even took reading material on his honeymoon. You don’t need to go that far.
7. Be you
"You really need to spend some serious time figuring out who you are and what you represent."

This isn’t easy. When I started working with advisors in 2005, I was told I needed to chit chat about news and sports. I even took golf lessons. I soon realized that I’d rather fail for who I am than succeed by pretending to be someone else. By being me, I got better results.
8. Network
“Network to be helpful to others first.”

You'll find Mitch at numerous events from free (e.g., we first met at BookCampTO 2009) to paid events like TED. You won’t get results if you only surface when you need something. When you’re building trust with networking, you’re making an ongoing commitment to staying visible --- even if you think you’re an introvert.


Mitch divides Ctrl Alt Delete into two parts. The first is about rebooting your business, with a focus on larger organizations. We've been looking at the second part, rebooting your life. You'll get the most benefit by reading from the start.

Today, we rarely work for the same corporation from graduation to retirement (even if that was our goal). Our careers are squiggly. When you decide to be proactive within your circle of influence, you’re more resilient and have more opportunities. Times change. We must too.

Ctrl Alt What?

If I ever meet you, I'll Ctrl Alt Delete you,
— Weird Al Yankovic, It's All About The Pentiums
These days, we restart our devices by pressing the power button, unplugging the cord or removing the battery. In earlier days, Windows-based computers often stopped working. Pressing three keys at the same time — Ctrl Alt Delete — sometimes let you stop the bad program or restart your computer.

You don’t need to be a tech nerd to read or benefit from Mitch's book. If you're not convinced, read his blog, Six Pixels of Separation. You'll (likely) see that Mitch says smart things in a way we can understand. Here’s an interview with Jonathan Fields that’s well worth watching.

Now reboot.


Podcast 230

direct download | Internet Archive page | iTunes

PS "It's one thing to dream big. It's another to think and do big." — Mitch

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