6 Ways to Expand Your Cultural Knowledge

The more global the world becomes, the more diversified the workplace becomes. This means working with and understanding a variety of people from other cultures. Expanding your cultural knowledge will become even more important in the future.

In my own business I work with people in over 20 countries on a daily basis, so I get to learn a lot from them about their culture and how business works in their own countries. It\’s been a great crash course in international business that I couldn\’t get from going to college.

I\’ve been told that you really master a foreign language if you\’re able to speak to them using their own slang. Imagine someone in an office jokingly telling an employee to \”keep their nose to the grindstone\”. Someone from another culture who took that literally might be really frightened off by it. And every part of each country has their own slang. [Read more…]

The Job Market is Still a Buyer’s Market

A buyer’s market is when supply exceeds demand. This means that purchasers have an advantage over sellers and can negotiate lower prices. We usually hear this term applied to the housing market when the buyers have the advantage over sellers in the market and have their pick of choices at lower prices. Like the housing market, the term buyer’s market can also apply to the job market and right now the job market is still a buyer’s market.

This means that employers have their pick of the best of the best to choose from. And they don’t have to pay top dollar for them. With the rate of unemployment to remain high for quite a while, it’s still a buyers market out there for employers. Many employers are simply overwhelmed by the shear number of resumes they get. Some employers can get up to 1,000 resumes, making it impossible to read all of them. If they are using automated screening systems they may be missing out on some very good, qualified candidates. These systems are initially only screening for certain keywords. If you don’t happen to have those keywords you may never even get the chance to get pass the front door.

Since employers know they hold the upper hand, they will often write up a complete fantasy description that no normal person would fill. I’ve seen job descriptions that almost seemed like a joke. “Looking for super model with a Phd, 30 years experience, must be proficient in advanced computer skills, highly organized, and provide 3 pages of referrals for receptionist position.” Okay, so that wasn’t a real job description. But I have seen ones that are pretty close.

As long as the job market is a buyer’s job market, job seekers must work harder at standing out and staying up to date on as many relevant skills as possible. Actively networking in person will help you skip over some of their initial automated systems and get them to see you face to face as a human being before tossing you out based just on keywords.




Proof the Offline Job Search Still Works

The Street Smart Job Search\” I\’ve been telling people for years that you can\’t simply hide behind a computer and email out a resume. You must make a human connection. A business research company called Whale Path recently  conducted a survey to find out how employees found their employees. I\’m happy to say that my gut instinct was right all along and gives me some proof that the offline job search still works. According to Whale Path\’s findings, the majority of job seekers under the $50,000 pay range found their jobs through offline search. The new number of 46% of people found their jobs that way, which is up from 2008. This proves that your search must become a more referral-based job search. Anyone who has grown up with the Internet might not be able to imagine what the job market was like before it came along. It was much more personal. The thing is that people hire people they know and like. Period. As an employer at a small startup company, I can tell you that this is even more important. I can\’t afford to hire the wrong person. And a resume or email alone doesn\’t tell me anything about their personality, their problem solving skills, or anything about how they will relate to other people. A job interview is like a first date. You\’re always on your best behavior. It takes really knowing someone for a long time to get that information. And since you don\’t have years to get to know someone before hiring them, the next best thing is a referral from someone who has known that person for a long time. The things that I look for in an employee can\’t be determined from a resume or email. This comes from knowing a person\’s work ethic and personality, neither of which translate on paper. So, it seems if you\’re looking for a job, and especially one under $50,000 a year, tooting your own horn to everyone you know through an offline job search just might help you land a job.    

What Job Seekers in the U.S. Can Learn From Job Seekers in China

  • Don\’t be the first to name a price – This is simple negotiating 101. If you name a price too high you may not get the interview. If you name a price too low, they will negotiate from there and try to get it even lower. I know, it\’s kind of a damned if you do and damned if you don\’t situation. Let them start the negotiation.
  • Start at the bottom – Yes, I know you just spent a small fortune and years of your life in college getting a degree. But it\’s a buyer\’s market. Look at it this way, if you really work hard to prove yourself you won\’t be at the bottom for long. And you will also learn more about how the company works. Use the time to your advantage and learn as much as you can.
  • Develop empathy – By starting at the bottom you get a chance to know how it feels to step inside the shoes of the people who are the heart and soul of a company, grinding it out every day and making the company work. As you work your way up the ladder, you will have a better understanding of what they go through on a daily basis and you\’ll have skills and knowledge you wouldn\’t have if you just stepped in at the top.
  • It\’s perfectly fair to ask the interviewer upfront about what kind of job opportunities you can expect from the company. It\’s fine to start out at the bottom. Just make sure it\’s not a dead-end job.