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So, you want to be a design thinker…

Originally posted on Medium

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Everyone can be a designer, but not everyone is a Designer. What’s the difference, and why should you care?

Design thinking is everywhere. Corporations are tripping over each other trying to adopt it; consulting firms are in a race to acquire design shops;universities are adding it to coursework; and the Facebook group I moderate that started as a few people interested in social innovation design floods my notifications with activity and join requests.

On one end of the design spectrum are the students, innovators, and entrepreneurs reading about this design race, and attending online courses, in-person bootcamps, and design sprints. They’re trying to figure out how to apply design thinking to their work, or how to get a job in it.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the trained Designers. They’ve dedicated long careers to visual, experience, industrial, product, and other forms of design. They have MFAs and BAs in a Design discipline. The thing everyone else is scrambling to learn more about and do, they live and breathe every day, and they don’t add “thinking” or “human-centered” to it to make it real. And no, their job is not just about making things look good. (more…)

Innovation is not Sexy

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Innovation is hard work–much harder than the headlines will admit, and much more complicated than the colored post-its let on. While researching government innovation, I’ve had the opportunity to interview several leaders of innovation teams in cities across the country–and the conclusion from all their stories is clear: innovation is not sexy work. 

Innovation is at its best when it’s supported by data, research, and lots of outputs. It doesn’t happen overnight–it takes patience. While many exciting new start-ups disappoint, the companies and cities doing real innovation that leave us pleased as consumers and citizens are putting in the time and effort to build lasting innovations, sometimes in unnoticeable incremental changes. Sometimes the output is a great new app; other times, it’s changes to a boring process that makes a big difference.   

That’s not to say that innovation is not also exhilarating. But I’d argue that the best innovation isn’t sexy–it’s not a fun and quick creative brainstorming session followed by a perfect product that solves a problem. (more…)

5 Good Reasons to Consider Turning Down a Job Offer

Photo of sticky note courtesy of Shutterstock.

Photo of sticky note courtesy of Shutterstock.

Over on The Muse I wrote about when turning down a job offer might make sense for you and your career. Just over a year ago I turned down a seemingly-perfect job because it didn’t seem like the right fit, and I haven’t regretted it a day since. You’ll want to consider mission, growth opportunities, warning signs, timing, and money. Read my advice here.

Resumes Matter

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In the spirit of trying new things and “building and shipping,” I recently launched a resume review and job search advice service that I hope to iterate and grow overtime as a side-business. Learn more and sign up here! 

Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Find a Job You Actually Like (BrazenLife)

My latest article on careers for BrazenLife

Whether you’re a new graduate, considering a career change or in the midst of a job search, it’s easy to get excited by all the job opportunities out there. It’s also easy to get overwhelmed. Where do you start looking for the right job if you don’t even know what the right job for you might be?

Numerous guides and life coaches can help you “find your passion and realize your potential.” But if you don’t have the money or time to invest in these resources, you can still make progress on your own. Start by asking yourself these three questions, which will help increase your self-awareness, narrow your job search and evaluate your opportunities.

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Networking Tips: Making an Ask

Making an ask of someone, whether for work, fundraising, your job search, or a friend, is difficult to say the least. But I’ve found again and again that it’s always better to take a risk and ask. As Deborah Mills-Scofield writes in HBR:

“When we don’t use the “Power of the Ask” we are in essence saying “no” before the question has even been asked — saying no to opportunities that change our businesses, our organizations, ourselves…and actual lives. So even if it feels uncomfortable, look for even just a small way can you use the “Power of the Ask” in your network — for someone you work for, with or manage. Make this your year of the Law of Accelerating Returns.”

I’m always working to make my asks better. So instead of giving my own advice, I thought I’d share some of my favorite articles about making asks.

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Why You Should Go Out of Your Way to Find an Awesome Peer Mentor (Brazen Life)

An article I wrote about peer mentorship for Brazen Life

Imagine…You just had an invaluable meeting with one of your mentors. You feel really stuck at work, unsure whether to take that great promotion or follow your passion with the startup that asked you to join their team. Your mentor went through a similar dilemma, and their advice was fresh and honest.

Now, what if we told you that your mentor was not a senior leader in your field, a professor or your boss? Rather, your mentor was your peer—someone at the same level as you in their career. But, you ask, how can a peer be a mentor, and why would I even want a peer mentor?

Here are four reasons why you should have a peer mentor and some key steps to building a peer mentoring relationship that will last a lifetime:

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