What should I do with my life? (in brackets)

The new president has declined to participate in March Madness this year. No filling in blank spaces to arrive at a prediction of the men’s NCAA basketball champion. Maybe he’s just looking at it the wrong way. ‘Bracketology’ is simply a means to eliminate options to arrive at the best decision.

Completing a NCAA bracket is the perfect ‘trial run’ for the other major decision we face – what should I do with my life?

With a little imagination, you can use the bracket concept as a decision matrix to manage career choice, job search or your network.

In 2007, sportswriters Richard Sandomir and Mark Reiter published ‘The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything’, applying the methodology of March Madness to everyday decisions.

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“Bracketology—the practice of parsing people, places, and things into discrete one-on-one matchups to determine which of the two is superior or preferable—works because it is simple. It is a system that helps us make clearer and cleaner decisions about what is good, better, best in our world. What could be simpler than breaking down a choice into either/or, black or white, this one or that one?”

How can we apply the scaffolding of March Madness to job search? Let’s say you are totally undecided (confused, terrified, ambivalent) about your next career move. All you know is you’re not happy with your current work situation. Where do you begin?

Try categorizing your interests using the bracket system. Instead of four regions, fill in four career fields that might interest you. Next, identify sixteen possible employers in each field. Once you have your potential employer roster identified, begin your research.

This may be a good time to develop a parallel list of contacts: a bracket representing your network. Use the same four career categories and identify folks who have broad expertise in the profession. In this ‘exploration’ phase you are aggregating data about industry trends, market leaders, and potential for growth.

As you progress with your data gathering, you will begin to eliminate some organizations in favor of others. Once you get to your ‘elite eight’ employers, schedule your in-depth information interviews.

As you talk to people you will begin to establish a realistic assessment of ‘organization fit’, and evaluate your chances for success.

The ‘elite eight’ forms your target list. By the time you have narrowed your selection to eight, you should feel comfortable that each employer presents a realistic starting point in the next phase your career.

As with any selection process, you don’t have total control. The employer extends the offer and you have the choice to accept or continue to pursue other options.

The NCAA tournament lasts three weeks. If you start filling in your career brackets now, you will advance through the exploration process at a pace to be ready for interviews by ‘tip-off’ in the championship game.

Its time to add a little ‘March Madness’ to your job search, and some fun to a typically stressful routine.

 

How to use ‘bracketology’ to add a little ‘March Madness’ to your job search

This is the time of year when everyone, including the President is selecting who they believe will advance to the final four in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships. With a little imagination, you can use the bracket concept as a decision matrix to manage career choice, job search or your network.

In 2007, sportswriters Richard Sandomir and Mark Reiter published ‘The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything’, applying the methodology of March Madness to everyday decisions.

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“Bracketology—the practice of parsing people, places, and things into discrete one-on-one matchups to determine which of the two is superior or preferable—works because it is simple. It is a system that helps us make clearer and cleaner decisions about what is good, better, best in our world. What could be simpler than breaking down a choice into either/or, black or white, this one or that one?”

How can we apply the scaffolding of March Madness to job search? Let’s say you are totally undecided (confused, terrified, ambivalent) about your next career move. All you know is you’re not happy with your current work situation. Where do you begin?

Try categorizing your interests using the bracket system. Instead of four regions, fill in four career fields that might interest you. Next, identify sixteen possible employers in each field. Once you have your potential employer roster identified, begin your research.

This may be a good time to develop a parallel list of contacts: a bracket representing your network. Use the same four career categories and identify folks who have broad expertise  in the profession. In this ‘exploration’ phase you are aggregating data about industry trends, market leaders, and potential for growth.

As you progress with your data gathering, you will begin to eliminate some organizations in favor of others. Once you get to your ‘elite eight’ employers, schedule your in-depth information interviews.

As you talk to people you will begin to establish a realistic assessment of ‘organization fit’, and evaluate your chances for success.

The ‘elite eight’ forms your target list. By the time you have narrowed your selection to eight, you should feel comfortable that each employer presents a realistic starting point in the next phase your career.

As with any selection process, you don’t have total control. The employer extends the offer and you have the choice to accept or continue to pursue other options.

The NCAA tournament lasts three weeks. If you start filling in your career brackets now, you will advance through the exploration process at a pace to be ready for interviews by ‘tip-off’ in the championship game.

Its time to add a little ‘March Madness’ to your job search, and some fun to a typically stressful routine.

 

The week@work: ‘idea debt’, interview questions & women@work: #pledgeforparity & the downside of being a trailblazer

‘Idea debt’, emotional intelligence, International Women’s Day, and lessons from the ‘girl next door who loved sports’, headline our survey of stories this week@work .

Are you a ‘wantrapreneur’? Journalist Oliver Burkeman debunks the belief that thinking about doing something is doing it.

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“I hadn’t seen the problem clearly until the other day, when I encountered the illustrator Kazu Kibuishi’s term for it: “idea debt”. You run up an idea debt, Kibuishi’s fellow artist Jessica Abel explained, when you spend “too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be… and too little time actually making the thing”.

Just as the accruing interest on a credit card makes it harder and harder to get back on your feet financially, idea debt impedes action. The more glorious and detailed the pictures in your mind, the more daunting it feels to start making them real.

As Gregg Krech writes in his book The Art Of Taking Action, external reality remains exactly the same after your decision to ask someone out, to write a book, or leave your job. What matters is “creating ripples”, as he puts it – actions, however tiny, that alter things in the world outside your head.”

What are the questions employers ask to determine if a job candidate possesses a solid set of ‘people skills’?  With her article, ‘7 Interview Questions That Determine Emotional Intelligence’, Carolyn Sun not only provides tips for interviewers, but explains the rationale behind the questions for potential hires.

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Here’s one example:

“Can you teach me something, as if I’ve never heard of it before? (It can be anything: A skill, a lesson or a puzzle.)
A job candidate’s answer to this question can reveal several qualities:

Whether the person is willing to take the time to think before speaking.

If the candidate has the technical ability to explain something to a person who is less knowledgeable in the subject.

Whether the candidate asks empathetic questions to the person being taught, such as, “Is this making sense?”

On March 8, International Women’s Day, the Economist “created a glass-ceiling index”, to show where women have the best chances of equal treatment at work. It combines data on higher education, labour-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs. Each country’s score is a weighted average of its performance on nine indicators.

purple-woman.jpgTo no one’s surprise, Nordic countries come out well on educational attainment and labour-force participation. Women are also relatively well represented in their parliaments; Finland and Sweden were among the first countries to allow women to vote and stand for election. Yet even there women are paid less than men for similar work. In Finland and Sweden the gap is close to the OECD average of 15%, though in Norway it has fallen to 8%.

At the bottom of our index are Japan and South Korea. Too few women there have jobs, few senior managers or board members are women and pay gaps are large—in South Korea, at 37%, the largest in the OECD. If, in the UN’s words, “equality for women is progress for all”, both countries have a long way to go.”

If you are interested additional reporting on #pledgeforparity and IWD,  Washington Post journalist Danielle Paquette wrote two stories this week for Wonkblog:

‘It’s 2016, and women still make less for doing the same work as men’

‘Pay doesn’t look the same for men and women at top newspapers’

The next story falls into the category of ‘you should be safe when you pursue your dream job.’

When sports journalist Erin Andrews graduated from the University of Florida in 2000, she began a career that eventually brought her to sidelines of college football at both ESPN and Fox Sports, and the dance floor; first as a finalist and now as the co-host of ‘Dancing With The Stars’.

Sarah Kaplan, reporting for The Washington Post summarized what happened next.

“In 2008, Michael David Barrett, who served 2 1/2 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to interstate stalking — said he chose to target her because she was popular and trending on Yahoo.”

“Erin Andrews wanted to be “the girl next door who loved sports,” she said.

“And now I’m the girl with a hotel scandal,” the Fox sportscaster tearfully told a Tennessee courtroom Monday.”

The trial and jury verdict in her favor last week is just one story of ‘The Dangers of Being a Female Sportscaster’ described by Richard Sandomir and John Branch for The New York Times.

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“Female sportscasters have unparalleled reach in an age of round-the-clock sports broadcasting and the widespread dissemination of their work across social media. There are more of them now than ever, across multiple channels and websites.

The stories Sandomir and Branch recount serve as a guide for all women@work, not just those with a high profile in social media.

“I’ll try to avoid ever being in the hall of a hotel by myself,” said Kim Jones, a reporter for NFL Network. “And I’ll allow whoever is behind me to pass me before I put my card or key in the door. You have to be so aware because unfortunately that one time out of 10,000, something can happen.”

Alyssa Roenigk, a reporter for ESPN the Magazine who also appears on the air, primarily covering action sports like the X Games, said she had rarely given her security much thought. For years, she usually walked from venues to her hotel, even late at night. But as she began to do more television and was recognized more often, she was told by her bosses to start taking the courtesy car provided by the network.

“At first I thought I was getting special treatment, and I don’t want special treatment,” Ms. Roenigk said. “It’s not special treatment. It’s being safe.”

Stay safe this week@work, create some ripples and start reducing that ‘idea debt’.