Mark Anthony Dyson: Thank you very much for joining us on our 12th edition on The Voice of Job Seekers. This is Mark and I am your host. Today, I have my co-host but before I introduce them I want to give one little housekeeping note, that is if you are listening and you are a career coach or resume writer or someone that services job seekers I just want to give you a short little invitation to go to thevoiceofjobseekers.com and press on send voice mail and leave a tip for job seekers for how they can conduct a holiday job search. This is something I want to do and sprinkle throughout the holidays. If you have any questions or concerns you can leave and email and your website which is what I want you to do anyway. Feel free to contact me through the page as well so that I can feature you even if its just for a minute or two. In the meantime, I just want to come back to our show at hand and today is the day I have been waiting for to have my crew with me they all have been contributors on The Voice of Job Seekers and I have Keith Townsend on the line and we did an episode a couple of weeks ago where we talked about Tech and Careers. Then you heard me talk to the SASSY ONE on an earlier episode and by the way that is the most popular episode so far so and it doesn’t surprise me any but Bianca has that effect on people. When she talks you are interested in what she has to say. First, since Bianca is on the line.
Bianca Thompson: Yes, I am.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Please announce yourself and give us a little background of who you are. Once again and you probably won’t have to do this to much more but just so that people can reacquaint themselves with you.
Bianca Thompson: Hi. My name is Bianca Thompson and I’ve been in the HR industry for over 10 years. And I love what I do, it’s very interesting, I love people. I have been doing different blogs with Mark for over a year now. So, its definitely been exciting and I love where things are going and I like being myself and bring you all of my Sassyness. Again, welcome to the show.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Now Mr. Keith Townsend give us your intro.
Keith Townsend: I’m Keith Townsend I don’t like people but I get dragged into different thing by blogging with Bianca. But, I’m learning to be a different person. I am a geek by trade a couple of years of blogging virtualizedgeek.com 2 or 3 years and Mark drug me into the world of podcast and blogging I’m really having a great time doing it. I’m a management consultant. I’m kind of in my reformed geek phase of my career.
Mark Anthony Dyson: (Laughs) I kind of drug him into this by accident by the way. I’m glad he came on board, he has his own videocast and also blog. What is your blog again?
Keith Townsend: It is Virtualizedgeek.com
Mark Anthony Dyson: Very cool. I want to throw out a topic and of course we did organize this somewhat so I’m not just throwing it out there I know what I’m getting ready to talk about. One of the things that is really important in the job search is what you value. Value has two sides; one is the side your ability and skills enable to do your job. That value is totally up to you. But then there is another type of value that comes in where you have to consider the things that you cherish personally. That are very important to you and that affect your job decisions and that is the kind of thing we are talking about today. We are talking about your values and your career. One of the important things that have happened in my life is being able to choose jobs at least one particular time where I just had to have a atmosphere in the workplace that really respected women and respected women work space in the workplace, their authority. That was one of the things I grew up with a good part of my life. I had my Aunt, and she really taught me about respect and respecting women. So that was important to me. I just want to throw that out to my cast members. Bianca would you like to take first shot at it. Are there values that affected your career and your decisions?
Bianca Thompson: Wow, this is a great topic and I’m going to keep it real. The company that I work for now, I think the reason I ended up there is because I respected the person that brought me in. I had a little bit of an insight and knowledge about the company and where they were going. I had a lot of respect for the person that brought me in. So I think that the decisions we make and a number of things why we make those decisions when we go to a particular company. In reality a lot of people go with whoever offers them the job especially in this type of age because the person may have been looking for awhile and they just want “a” job. Sometime people don’t think of values I think when you do put a little thought into it and when you have the luxury of time give to your job search that is something you want to consider. I totally understand you may not have the luxury of time with that being said if you don’t have that luxury of time then go ahead and find that company that holds the kind of values that you have then there is another way of still being at peace with who you are and work with a company that may not necessarily align with the things you believe in. For me is remembering that you just don’t take it personal. I follow the four agreements you cannot take it personal the everything your company do and direction in which they are going but as an employee I am here to do my job and make money and I understand that this is where my company goals are they may not be what mine are and I cannot take personal the decisions that they make because they are not in alignment in how I feel and things that I value. So, there is a way to work around it but again if you have that luxury of time to find that job that you really want and that company that you really want to work for then I definitely going down that road is the best road and again making sure you understand what it is you value what it is you want.
Mark Anthony Dyson: How about you Keith? What has been your experience?
Keith Townsend: You know it’s pretty interesting. Maybe about a month and half or two months ago I posted on a social media site that you shouldn’t just work for money you should really do what you want. Most people responded you know what Keith that is something that rich people say most people can’t just relate to that statement. I think that echos to Bianca’s topic. In the value we love to do what we want professionally and for that to align with our social priorities as well as our personal agenda. Not all of us have that luxury but personally in my own career especially as I have gotten older and have had more opportunities to control my work environment I have focused mainly on things that make me happy outside of work specifically if the job isn’t conducive to a great family life then it’s really not the job or career for me.
Bianca Thompson: I totally agree with what Keith just said sometime I feel like there is another company that is better suited for my personality and who I am. For right now who I am with my family this company works for me. I have the freedom to take off when I please I volunteer at my daughters school those types of things are very important to me and I can do that at my leisure at the company I’m at now. I have established the reputation where my manager knows I’m going to get done what I have to get done. It doesn’t matter if I leave the office two days a week at 4 o’clock or 3 o’clock she knows I’m going to get it done. So to me I place a high value and auxiliary on that in that position. So for me, everything may not be in alignment with my values however, that is top priority for me it works. Finding what works for you, your family, and the company go for it. It may not be everything you want, you may feel like they may need to hire more African Americans or give women more opportunity and may be some other things that are in alignment with your position or company.
Mark Anthony Dyson: The reason I decided to discuss this is because there are so many people that don’t discuss their values and they are looking for a job. As a coach I’ve dealt with people 100’s of times and they really don’t consider they don’t look far enough ahead to how all of this will play in your career. Bianca you mentioned something that I think is really critical was the fact that people are short sided and do you want a job that is going to allow you to take off when you need to in case of your kids. Or even if your kids are in college and you need to plan for some financial ways to take care of them. That may mean you may need to take a second job while they are sophomores in high school is that going to be enough to supplement your income that you have coming in already. Or perhaps you find out or don’t consider that they have a moonlighting policy which a lot of employers do. So you can’ t work that second job you have to deal with the first. People look for loopholes all the time and there are a lot of ways to get around situations when they come to them but ultimately, how would you feel if your employer isn’t meeting your needs or isn’t meeting the expectations of the values set within you?
Keith Townsend: One of the things I’ve learned over the years especially if you are a high performer employment is a two way street and I look at it in my career as a business arrangement. My employer is more than just my employer they are my client and when my client no longer meets the needs or when my client is no longer in alignment then it’s time to adjust that relationship. Just as you would in a business if you have a client that no longer meet your product offering you refer them to either your competitor or business partners and wish them the best or good luck as they grow their business or get their needs met. I look at that value proposition as being a employer and employee relationship versus everything light.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Bianca, has your values changed since you started working as a HR professional? If they have changed did you have to make a major change to the way you treated your job?
Bianca Thompson: I think because you are always changing so you think sometimes different values hold different priority levels at different points in your life so yes mine has changed. When I first started with the company I am with now my goal was to stay there 2 to 3 years then move on into Management. But my family life became what it became I thought right now this works for me and my family because of the things it allows me to do. Yes, I get emails regarding job opportunities and they look appetizing they are appeasing but I think OK to travel they want me to travel in and out of this state or if they are located in the suburbs then that means more travel time in the car. I think about those things because my time with my family is high priority and those things take me away from my family. I’m not at a point where I’m willing to sacrifice that. In the beginning I thought I was I wanted to go into Management and I know what that means being available sometimes 24/7 and on the weekend and I thought about that I said I feel like I can do more and I know I can do more than the position I’m in its easy for me but right now it works for me with my family and I’m content right now. When my child is ready to go to school who knows I might be ready to do something different but right now it works. Yes it shifted.
Mark Anthony Dyson: It’s unfortunate that job seekers don’t take enough self inventory in order to make a sound career decision. Many times they just want a job. I just got an email the other day and all they wanted was a job and you can tell by the lack of focus on their resume it had all kinds of things although the education and training said one thing she did not say I’m looking for a job here or a job there. There are so many ways to split up value as far as personal value. Keith does your hobbies or extracurricular things that you do come into play of your career decisions?
Keith Townsend: It does actually, I joked in the intro that I don’t like people but I do. Running virtual geeks takes a tremendous amount of my time and it is something that is extremely important to me. It is what I use to give back to the technology community. It’s interesting at one point I wanted to write a book and I had a very direct and difficult conversation with one of my employers about the editorial freedom I needed to write and the possibility of even writing and that made me bitter. At what point, personally and I know not everyone has the luxury of saying this and I want to be sensitive of saying this at what point will my hobby the things I’m passionate about and when I say hobby it can be anything church or Bianca mentioned family at what point is there a strong enough conflict between what I do outside of work am I willing to walk away from a job? Similar to Bianca I have given it a tremendous amount of thought and it no longer based on the conversation or the title it is more specifically based on how can I work a job that would allow me to enjoy my life and my family versus working a job that allow me to make as much money as I can and go as far as I can It’s an interesting balance.
Mark Anthony Dyson: I see and can relate to the whole blogging thing, blogging takes a tremendous amount of time. There is no way to measure the impact it may have on other people or your own life. Then it becomes consideration for someone that said to me if I were applying for a regular job who said that I have to give up the blog then I will say I will have to give a second thought to take the offer. When you put yourself out there you put your values out there which your blog does eventually become a centralized part of your value then you have a pretty tough decision. Nevertheless, I want to read a part of this study from Colgate University, Self Reflections to Target Strengths and Values. And really their bottom line is you need to really consider how important your values are to your career. It says, whether you are seeking your first professional job or wanting change in career direction you must take stock in what’s important so you can honor your professional self and play your strengths and inform career decision factors in your skills, interest, values and personality. Once you have a clear sense of what makes you tick you are more likely to identify opportunities that would be your best fit. So a question I have for you is would you be a clear now if you hadn’t defined who you are before now?
Bianca Thompson: Because I have a strong since of who I am and what I want that helps me in my position take stock of what I value and going after that. Even in a job search make sure you are valuing yourself as a job seeker as an individual and not feeding yourself with a lot of negative thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts drive us into positions we have no business taking because we are working out of mode of desperation versus inspiration. We take what is right there in front of us and it can turn out to be not a good situation. When you are out there looking and you have been out there for 2 months or 2 years make sure you are taking care of you as a person and valuing who you are and knowing your skill set and knowing that opportunity that I want will come at the right time and sometimes it takes a little bit longer. Keith you may be able to ask this and you posted this you just can’t believe where you are now versus where you are going. You’ve had some career challenges and now you overcame them in abundance and that is me looking from the outside in.
Keith Townsend: This conversation I can have for more than 1 hour. In looking back in where I came from on my personal blog KeithTownsend.co I share a related story of when I was a kid. I was sleep and woke up with a rat literally liking me in my face. I was at my brothers’ house and I woke up thinking when did my brother get a cat? And it wasn’t a cat it was really a rat licking me in my face. I did not know where my next meal was coming from. Just about a few months ago, the people at JW Marriot upgraded me to a Presidential Suite because I was the best customer of the year because I had stayed there so much. There is a huge difference of where I have been the story of challenges within my career and those are just relative challenges. I spent a year in unemployment and when you talk about that how I was able to recover extremely well versus a lot of people listening to the Podcast. To help people you frame the thoughts of people because I don’t believe everyone is as blessed to be in the position I am in now and struggle with some of the decisions and things I have to make in my career but this is the topic of values and applying values to my career. Currently I am in a role where I am good at my job but I don’t love what I do the caveat of it is I have the potential to make as much money I want to make. It would mean me making a great deal of money and on the outside looking in having a great life. But only doing something I’m good at versus something I love. The advantage of coming from humble beginnings is that you can look at life and say I have a good life. Do I want to mess it up by doing something or going down a career path just because I’m good versus doing something I love to do. There is a reason psychology majors major in psychology even though they have not only 1/3 of earnings potential as chemistry majors they do it because they love what they do and they can make a livable wage doing what they love to do. When we talk about value of a career it’s not just monetary or material things that’s rewarding I guarantee everyone listening to the podcast if they get all of the career success and look for and they don’t love what they do and enjoy what they do or they don’t have a passion about what they do. What they do don’t really lead to the type of value wise life that they enjoy then they will look back and say yes, I kind of know what that idiot on Mark’s podcast was talking about it’s not just about having the career success its about a career that aligns with your values.
Mark Anthony Dyson: There are things you find out later. There could be warning signs or there could be signs that say this is really working out. I think we toggle the lines and eventually it comes out in the wash. You never think that you are wasting your time because it’s all in the exploration of who you are and what eventually becomes you. I think job seekers often because they don’t understand the value that they offer they hope that value will eventually come to them by doing this one job or one task when really in the beginning as much as you can you have to continue the search. You’re values change at different points in your life which both of you said in two different ways. If you are a recent graduate you might like the benefits fast past and traveling for work and if you have children you’d be more interested in working closer to home or more flexible schedule. These are values or career driven. They include in a small chart here intrinsic values which would be achievement values, belonging, commitment, and other things and I will include a link in the show notes to it so that people can see, work environment values that are ecstatically pleasing, autonomous benefits, comfortable income, as you mentioned Keith work content values, adventurous, advocacy, challenging, conceptualizing, creative and work relationship values, caring, competition, adversities and some others. Is it that hard to figure out when things get down to the nitty gritty in considering where your career will go next or does it shift when everything that you may lose your career and then you will have to gather what your values are. What are your thoughts?
Keith Townsend: In 2010, I literally was in the same position just as others listening to this podcast some are probably still in the position since 2010. Back in 2009-2010 I had a decent job paying well enough where I was able to support my family with just my salary alone and I lost it. I went through all of my savings; I had a house that I put all of my life savings into just to get it. I lost the house, lost the job, got to the point I was going to the public aid office. At the time, I made over $100,000 so going from that position to I have two children in college, no job, and the job market is horrible and getting a call from a defense contractor on the east coast asking am I willing to relocate my family to recreate my career I never thought it would take me.
That creates eating Papino’s pizza for about 6 months every night creates a since of urgency that I tell my kids this every night you can’t teach someone how to be hungry and that moment taught me how to be hungry again in my career. Without being in that situation I would have never considered moving away from Chicago to take a job no matter how prestigious the job without that life incident happening to me that helped me redefine where I would take my career and where it has taken me to this point. My career would not be where it is today if it hadn’t been for that life event.
Bianca Thompson: Wow, Keith I definitely admire you and that is an amazing story. My story is so different I have definitely been blessed that I have always worked. The most that have come out of the recession and things that have hit me is that I had to take a salary cut for a year. That was hard and I had to reorganize some things but I’ve never been unemployed. It is by the grace of God and even in that I don’t take security in that because I know that with companies its never personal. So if they let you go they let you go. In my mind I’m thinking, if I were to be let go today what are some of the things will I do? Honestly, when I question myself in that manner a lot of times its something totally different from what I’m doing now. And I’m like wow what would that mean, I would have to build this building or I would have to give up some things. I think that people out there like me who have been blessed and never have had that happen to us we still need to be thinking what are some of the things that I would like to do should something happen to this position. And really not hold security to I have a job and its here. I work in HR and I know that this can be gone tomorrow and I know that I could be in the process of laying people off while they could be preparing my paperwork to give to me later on that day. So I know that I don’t take comfort in it I think we all should be in the mode of hey if I wasn’t here although it may be great what would I like to do? What can I step out and start right away? We always need to be soul searching within us as far as what we would like to do. Even if the job is great and things are going fine you never know when that shift is coming and you want to be prepared and not show shock.
Keith Townsend: My gest is and this is a podcast on values in your career. And up to that point in my life and career I had a great deal of success. Again, coming from humble means versus where I was 2008 and 2009 there is a tendency especially men and I’m pretty sure women as well you put value and you mentioned it Bianca tied up in your position and it’s a exterior confirmation of who you are. You can say I’m the Director or Executive Assistant to whatever the title you hold it with pride but when all of that is stripped away from you you have what is left you. Then you have what who you are and what you values are. I thought back in 2010 I had a really good knowledge of who I am I realized when you go into a role or a job search and I no longer had the title Keith Townsend Director of such and such just Keith Townsend unemployed job seeker just like you. The Keith Townsend Director or whatever title I may have same person the question then becomes what do I allow to define me and how do I define me? Once you establish that when you start your job search it really helps you decide what you are willing to do career wise and what you are not willing to do.
Mark Anthony Dyson: That’s interesting Keith I think you said it first we are our own business. If we are our own business converging to what Bianca said we have to deal with employers it is not personal, it’s not personal with money and work. The only way it becomes personal is when we decide to lose sight of the things that you value. I’m beginning to believe we are talked out of our value, we allow employers to talk us out of our value. We think money is the issue; they are only going to offer what they are willing to pay you but it’s never what its worth. Keith and Bianca take your skill set and you’re getting paid for what you want to get paid for but you are not getting the monetary value out of it. There are other things that come into play that help you make a decision one of personal things is your family. Would this feed your family that’s part of the value system and that becomes part of the pursuit of your career. The other part is that you are not going to get the same back really; not truly that’s always going to fall short. That’s why you have to think beyond the money think beyond what compensation is. You hope to get something fair but fair and volume is not equal and it never will be. So you guys thoughts on that?
Bianca Thompson: As far as compensation and things like that, it made me think of a position that came to me. As I was reading about it I thought oh wow it sounded like fun and this would be great as I kept reading I thought no it seems like I would have to be there probably way too many hours that I care to be, also there was something in the benefits that didn’t sit well with me. It said they may or possibly offer a benefit package and I’m like what does that mean? For me, I play a lot into that that’s kind of ambiguous I’m not very clear. For me, you couldn’t be clear in the job description that you wanted people to apply for so why do I want to it hides a lot of clarity for me. Other things look great and maybe in alignment with of a lot of things I like to do but because of what I picked up here regarding benefits I don’t think I want to pursue that. Again, I think it is what’s important to you as far as value. Compensation is good but its not everything. Here’s an example on Friday, I was at work humming and a co-worker heard me and asked the question what are you so happy about? I replied, because its Friday and I’m happy. She said well I have to be here 24/7. Now I’m thinking to myself she makes a lot of money so she should be happy. That is a clear indicator that it is really not about compensation, you can have the money and still not be happy. What truly makes you happy? What do you value? It’s more important than compensation because that sister makes a lot of money and she still isn’t happy.
Keith Townsend: I can echo the conversation around values, compensation, or we can take the conversation in a bunch of other ways. At what point are you willing to compromise your values for money or whatever the compensation is whether it’s the enjoyment of doing your job. Sometimes, we use the job especially if you enjoy the work and you are in the services or social services where you are giving back and there is compensation more than just the monetary compensation. When its all said and done it is very hard to find a balance that you can be given enough monetary compensation to make up what you are giving up in your time. In an hour I will be traveling to the West Coast and come back home Thursday night then Sunday night I will get back up and do it again. I’ve done this for the past year nonstop and I think I only had 3 weeks this year I haven’t had this schedule. For me it’s fine with my life because I don’t have kids that are in elementary or high school and my wife is flexible enough that she can come with me every couple of weeks. So its fine for me but when I look at my coworkers you are thinking you make a whole lot of money and they are debating whether they should go to their high school daughters graduation. That makes no sense to me, there is no job in this world where I would have to debate I don’t care how much they pay me to miss life experiences like that. The value of these conversations is that it helps other people think when you have 3 people like us have conversation and we verbalize it is its what we all think is ok to say no to my employer or no to this great promotion. I had a very robust conversation with someone who said to me the other day Keith you have a moral responsibility to the black community
Go as far as you can in your career go as far as you can because there just aren’t enough people like you in your position that can create opportunities. I’m thinking no I have a responsibility to my 5 year old granddaughter that said Papa I want you to be with me. So it can be an interesting
Bianca Thompson: Keith when listening to your story in my younger years I thought wow traveling is great. I did it once and vowed I would never do it again and I haven’t. Keith your schedule for me I thought I would just throw up traveling that much for me in my life I wouldn’t want to do that. Now like you said it works for you because your kids are older they are on their own but again you still have your granddaughter and you still want to make time for her. We still have to look at ourselves and say what is it we value? It really isn’t about the money or prestige or position. Mark as you were talking it made me think of the employees in my firm they come there because it’s a specialized industry and they are so excited about working for this world renowned firm that produce these major projects and they are short sided and sometimes they will leave really quickly and with those employees they see that their values are not in alignment with this organization and its OK. Others will stay for a while I will listen to them complain and then I will ask the question what is really important to you? Why are you still here? What do you want? A lot of times they say I love the work I love the people sometimes people are willing to making the sacrifice of making more money or moving on because they love the people they work with or love what they are doing they love that peace. I think all of that plays into how we should choose the company and sometimes the company may not be perfect unless it’s our own company so again you give and take and set priority levels of those values and what’s important to you. Keith because you travel a lot and your wife is able to travel with you and you have time to spend with your granddaughter we do need to look at that when we are unemployed or when we are looking because we can find any old thing but really is that what we want?
Mark Anthony Dyson: I did the travel thing for about a year and I went to different military bases to do workshops or one on one coaching and that helped me decide that that is really what my passion is. There are parts of it that I liked and other parts that I really didn’t like. But what I liked overcame what I didn’t like eventually. One of the things that’s important and this is some of the other values and I know we are running out of time that people consider important is the flexibility or compensation, learning, location makes a big difference, personal safety is actually valuable; how predictable a job is, decision making and how much of it you want and other things are just as important. It is very important to target a job if you want to control the value applying aimlessly and I think a lot of times people do apply aimlessly because that is what the have been taught to do go get a job not just get the job but go get a job it makes it very hard for a person to take control so when you say target a company you have to sit and teach them how to target companies and how to target opportunities and also put yourself in a position to have people reach out to you like you talked about Bianca and both of you especially Keith I know he doesn’t have to necessarily have to look he is always open for opportunities people come find them I think job seekers and people often don’t coral and grab a hold of are the things that mean a lot to them. They kind of continue on to be unhappy and that eventually affects job performance and ultimately it zaps their enthusiasm and zeal for what they used to like that now it becomes a burden because they didn’t take the values in place. Great discussion guys and we are going to end this particular segment and I thank you both for joining us.
Bianca Thompson: You are quite welcome.
Keith Townsend: Thank you Mark for having us.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Keep your ear here every Wednesday we will have fresh content. We are here to help you and add value to your job search. Thank you again for listening to The Voice of Job Seekers podcast.
Transcribed by: Char’o Safford (firstname.lastname@example.org)