Google Turns 12: A Reminder To Keep Skills Current

Happy 12th Birthday Google
It seems hard to remember when the end of most unresolved conversations didn't end with, "Don't worry, I'll 'Just Google It' and find out ..." Yet it is only 12 years ago today that the search engine was launched by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in California on September 27, 1998.

In the 12 years since the Titanic won 12 Academy Awards, the Monika Lewinsky scandal engulfed the White House and the final Seinfield show was aired, Google has had a phenomenal impact on how we shop, bank, research and communicate with the world. It has also had a significant impact on how we work.

Need the latest stats for a presentation? "Just Google It" Need to find a printer in your local area? "Just Google It" Need some cool graphics or find out how to get to your next meeting? "Just Google It!".

What on earth did we do before? I have absolutely no idea ...or choose not to remember anyway (I'd need to Google it!)

Google is not hard to use (no doubt related to it's phenomenal success) and the more familiar you are with its features (like images, news, maps, advanced search, translator etc.etc.), the more efficient you can be at finding exactly what need and be able to use the information and tools that Google presents to you, to enhance your work.

In the last few years, Wiki's and blogs have become accepted tools for knowledge sharing in organizations, Facebook is now a significant marketing channel and e-commerce is an accepted business platform. No doubt there are many more changes on the way. Four Square, Gowalla anyone? Who knows what will be the next big thing!?!

Google's birthday is a timely reminder to keep our skills and knowledge of technology current. Whether you are aiming to keep moving forward in your career or to be excellent at the role you are doing now (or both) it is vital to continually develop your skills. Keeping pace with emerging technology is an essential part of your on-going skill development. It's an opportunity to not only, not get 'left behind' but to 'stand-out' from your colleagues through your understanding of the digital world. And it doesn't matter how young or old you are (your keyboard doesn't know if you grew up with technology or not).

Here's a couple of simple ways to know about new developments and keep your skills relevant in this area:

1. Talk with people in your organization who are familiar with / or using new technologies- this can be new graduates joining your company or the folks in the technology department

2. Follow a couple of blogs (or Facebook pages) that talk about technology so that you are familiar with the new topics being discussed, or when you are on your local news site - just swing by the technology section and at least read the headlines

3. Give the new technology a go - it can be a lot of fun!

So as we break into a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday Dear Google" keep in mind that it's important to 'keep up'.

Career Chick Hot Tip: Keep Learning!

That's all for now...


The great coffee spill incident

For anyone who read my blog last week about the great coffee spill incident on my desk last week that I took as proof positive that Multi-tasking doesn't work, I think you might enjoy this video - on what happens when BP Spills Coffee. Hilarious!

Thanks to Songsil Adamedes for sending this through - made my day!


P.S. And can I just add that the coffee aroma has only just cleared? No more multi-tasking! Now I just have to post this, read the other 7 emails I am half-way through writing, oh & and get a coffee!

Caring for people leads to glass ceiling?

Coffee to chat over - always a good idea!
Here's something to chat about over your next coffee. The Harvard Business Review reports that 'sensitive' men, that is those who are caring and empathetic run into the same glass ceiling as women.

The research findings are that the higher you go up in an organisation the culture is about tasks, actions, results.

The interesting thing is that tasks, actions and results all require people to carry them out. Perhaps there is an intrinsic fear that if we let the 'human' element in, it will be distracting, time-consuming, lead to poor decision making or all of the above?

Yet the conventional wisdom is that teams create better results than individuals. And these are made up of people too!

The thing is, there has to be room for business and caring to go together. The research on the performance of companies with more women on boards is overwhelming that diversity leads to better results. And diversity isn't just about men and women. It's about people, their skills, their knowledge, their background and their differing styles of thinking and working. The greater the variety, the greater the diversity. As the poet, Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, "We should all know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads are equal in value".

The thing about glass is, it has a melting point. There's no doubt it's strong - with tensile strength that can be 5 times stronger than steel. But turn up the heat high enough, between 2600 and 2800 degrees Fahrenheit (which is a little higher than my oven goes) BUT it can be broken down!

Glass is made common elements - mostly lime, sand and soda. Business culture is made of what's been done before, what has worked and what those who set the agenda are comfortable with. This too can be remoulded to deliver tasks, actions, results AND caring and empathy for people!

Take the time to enjoy a coffee and be proud of caring about the people you work with today.


Proof multi-tasking does not work...

Earlier this week I was attempting to walk, talk, get someone's attention, pick up a piece of paper from my desk and move my coffee cup off the aforementioned piece of paper. All at the same time.

Now, I know that multi-tasking is not an efficient way of working. I've talked about it in my book and it recently featured in an article I wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald about how to 'Stick To The Important Stuff' which featured the advice "avoid multi-tasking".

But the day-to-day temptation to try and do everything at the same time is strong. And little did I know that the lid on the coffee cup was not quite secure. The result is as you can see below.

A disaster.

Two rolls of paper towel and 15 minutes later order was finally restored.

I completely forgot what I was trying to do or say.

And worst of all?

No coffee for Karen. Boo Hoo.

There's a lot of research and a lot being written about multi-tasking that support that the two or five things we try and do at once are not such a good idea. Here's a selection I found that you might be interested in:

Multi-taskers bad at multi-tasking

Is multi-tasking bad for your health?

Is multi-tasking a myth?

Whatever the research or discussion, the lingering smell of coffee, that I'm not quite sure how to get out of my keyboard, reminds me that doing one thing at a time might be a better idea!

Next time I'm heading to the coffee shop!


You're Only Looking For One Job

Recently Heather Coleman from the Ferndale Career Center asked me to make a short video with some tips for people in Detroit who are looking for a job.

As I did a bit of background research on the unemployment situation in Detroit (15.5%in March 2010) I could well understand how people who have been working hard at looking for a job could be disheartened and overwhelmed at the double-digit unemployment numbers and talk of hard times for job-seekers. This is a huge challenge for the city and one that the business and political movers-and-shakers have in order to get the economy back on track.

But when it comes each individual looking for a job for themselves, the task at hand is to get just one job, regardless how many other people are also looking for work.

In the video I recorded for the Ferndale Centre I went through three of my tips for job-seekers:

1. Focus on the fact that you only need 1 job.

Don't be distracted by the size of the unemployment statistic or the number of people who you know who are also looking for work. You need to be focussed on finding only 1 job. Your next job.

2. Apply for every job as if it's the only job you are applying for.

Potential employers don't know (or want to know) how many jobs you have applied for or how weary you are of the process. They want to be convinced that you are the best candidate for the job with the most chance of being successful in the role (and the least risk to them that you'll succeed!)

To do this you need to approach each job application as if it is the only and most important role you are applying for. Each cover letter and your resume should be adapted for each and every job.

3. If the job suits you - take it - even if it is not at the level you were working at previously.

If a role is suited to you because it gives you a regular pay-check, is in your area of expertise and is with a company you are happy to work for - apply for it and if you are successful - take it. Don't not apply or take a job because it is 'below' your capability. Don't rule a job out just because it isn't at the same level that you have worked at previously.

Cream, they say, rises to the top, and once you have your foot in the door with a new employer you will be able to demonstrate your skills and new opportunities will emerge. And even if you are from the school of worst-case scenario thinking - at least it will provide you with some income whilst you search for another opportunity. In tough economic times employers understand that you need to be practical and work and 'taking a step back' for a while will not negate your previous career advancements.

To all who are looking for work, it can be hard, it can be dis-heartening and it can be a process full of disappointments. There's no disguising that it's often not fun. Treat looking for a job as a job and do it as well as you would a job. And remember you only need 1!

Successful hunting


PS There are more tips on how to 'get the job you want' in my book "Hot Tips for Career Chicks" available on Amazon!! :)