Mindy Thomas

CAREER CHAT

Career Chat – Mindy Thomas Interviews Mike Bird

Career Chat – Mindy Thomas Interviews Mike Bird

 

Mindy Thomas:

Hi, everybody. Welcome to career chat. I’m Mindy Thomas, your host. We are every Monday at 1130 and Tuesdays at 8:00 PM. With more than 4 million college graduates arriving on the job market scene. Since may, we definitely have a lot of challenges ahead for them. And my concern is that they don’t know what to do, but my guest today is a very special guest coming out of Montreal. Canada is Mike Bird. He is a generation Z career coach, and he in fact, coaches, the millennials or the generation wise, Mike, welcome to the show.

Mike Bird:

Thanks so much, Mindy. I appreciate you having me.

Mindy Thomas:

Oh, you bet. I know that your true jam is working with millennials and I suspect that that has something to do with your college to career story. Yes.

Mike Bird:

Yeah, totally. Uh, I mean, I was completely a mess when I came out of university, as I would call it in Canada or a lot of Americans would call it college. Uh, when I was in my early twenties, I was just all over the place and no real idea of how I was going to start my career. I was struggling with the fact that I didn’t really speak one of the dominant languages of Montreal, just French. I was basically a pure English speaker and I also just really, I didn’t have a strong network in place. A lot of the things that I wish for young people to have now, I was definitely without. And so that’s a big part of why I connect so well with this group.

Mindy Thomas:

I know you were an economics major,

Mike Bird:

Uh, econ minor, actually I studied science and can you see ology? But I got into econ part way through my degree, love the idea of developing sort of a different way of looking at the world so that I’m not just a scientist. I’m also someone who thinks sort of from the heart, from the gut. And it was really kind of a neat blend of things to study.

Mindy Thomas:

So in the college to career story, you faced many challenges. Could you detail a little bit for our audience about what you were looking at and what kind of obstacles there were and how did you overcome them?

Mike Bird:

Yeah, so when I came out of my college days, I was looking to become a full time football coach, which I know sounds pretty far from what I’m doing now, still in the world of coaching. I was trying to figure out how someone would hire me given the fact that I wasn’t really someone who is capable of speaking French. Most of the programs employers in this area in that industry are French dominated. Um, and so I was looking for a way to basically stay, keep the on, pay my bills and, uh, build my coaching career in athletics on the side. And I was able to do that. Uh, fortunately through a friend that came through networking, uh, was hired by someone who I’d met while I was during, uh, in the middle of my studies. And he just seen me, uh, kind of performing at a banquet event and thought, you know what? This guy can handle an event that I’m putting on, uh, entered a contract situation there. And then over the course of the next two, three, four years developed a full time role with that school, uh, while also coaching elite football outside of that.

Mindy Thomas:

Wow. I, you know, it’s very interesting that you end up now coaching the millennial generation or generation Y as we call them. I know that you also, co-hosts the career builders podcast, a weekly, uh, chat show about, you know, getting your mojo on in the career world. So let’s begin with this notion that college students need to do things right. Or do don’t they, I mean, they’re in a, a bit of a quandary right now, um, with very few positions open and 4 million students out there vying for them. What kind of advice do you have for them in terms of executing on looking for jobs and landing jobs?

Mike Bird:

Yeah, I think I’ll probably start here by mentioning the idea that getting it right right now probably is not, it, there shouldn’t be as much pressure around this as people think. The reason I say that is because about six months ago, an article came out in the wall street journal that talked about the fact that a pension fund actuaries in the United States are currently basing their calculations off of a life expectancy for people entering the workforce. Now a life expectancy of about 125 years. Oh my gosh, which is pretty stunning. Um, the article goes on to actually say that the first human that will live to 200 is likely already born. And what that means is that for people who are looking to start their careers is that their careers are going to be very, very long, much longer than previous generations been. How long will they be?

Mike Bird:

Exactly. I have no idea. I don’t have that crystal ball, but what that means is that as we get going through this very difficult time endemic at the end of the day, this is going to be a blip on the radar. That’s my opinion on a lot of people’s careers. So I think it’s fair to kind of take some of the pressure off there for people who are trying to get into what is a very tight and competitive job market, and obviously is now pushing people to be very creative. And so I encourage people to do a number of things that are kind of outside of the norm. Certainly you want to have a strong resume LinkedIn profile, be able to write good cover letters and just market yourself really effectively people. Um, but if you can kind of take that one step further and create something like a website, some kind of a content channel ways that people can actually get to know you before they’ve met you in real life, that has a huge, huge impact on the way that people approach you. I know I experienced that as a podcaster. That’s kind of how we met. And so I’m, I’m a big fan of watching people like get very creative in the way that they express themselves and the value that they can bring to an employer.

Mindy Thomas:

So content creation is one of the ways that young people can market themselves. So what are we actually talking about? Are we talking about establishing a YouTube channel? What are you talking about specifically?

Mike Bird:

Sure. Yeah, it could be a YouTube channel. It could be a podcast, the world of blogging. Isn’t quite what it was maybe 10 years ago. But if you really love writing, there’s still a space for those people. I think as well, what it means is getting really, really clear on a topic that you want to write about. And ideally it’s one that’s linked to your career or the career that you’d like to build. And as you write, as you film, as you speak, you develop deeper and deeper subject matter expertise. The process of publishing regularly forces that on the people it’s forced it onto me as a podcast, and it’s made me a better professional as a result. Uh, so it not only increases your skill level in the actual target market that you’re trying to get into. Uh, it develops something called asymmetric intimacy, which is a study, something that was studied starting in the 1950s with people who were on TV. Um, basically it says that, uh, someone like let’s just say, um, I’ll use an American name, uh, Anderson Cooper on CNN. It feels like you might know him if you’ve watched a lot of his, um, news briefings in reality, we’re strangers him and I, for example, but if you can start to actually develop some, uh, awareness between employers coming your way out can make a huge difference in terms of leaving an impression on someone.

Mindy Thomas:

That’s very interesting because we sort of develop this intimate relationship with our news anchors and I have some favorites on good morning, America that I feel very close to, but I don’t even know them. It’s ridiculous. But to your point, it’s called asymmetrical relationship building.

Mike Bird:

Yeah. Asymmetric intimacy.

Mindy Thomas:

I see. I love it. That’s just very interesting insight. So, you know, a lot of folks I’ve talked to recent college grads. I have lots of them are landing, but I have some of them that landed the interviews just as COVID was hitting and now everything is just frozen and they don’t know what to do. What’s your advice for them?

Mike Bird:

Yeah. Uh, I would say try not to kind of fall into a downward spiral of despair, as difficult as that may be. The truth is that there are some people that are going to come out of this business wise a lot faster than others. And so having a kind of a finger on the pulse of which companies may be actually recovering a little bit faster, I think it’s one way to kind of speed up your chances of getting hired. Uh, another part of it is simply continuing to build your network right now. If you can’t actually get another opportunity to interview, can you start to build connections for, in places where you’d like to interview? Can you have chance to be referred in for another interview down the road when the timing is more appropriate? And like I said earlier, just continuing to build confidence in your skills.

Mike Bird:

It might not be content creation. It could be something like volunteering. It could be pitching an internship opportunity to an employer. If you have very concrete ideas to what their problems are and how you can solve them. I think that because businesses are a little bit tight for cash, a lot of them vast majority of them, uh, there is a space for people who are willing to do a little bit of work for maybe not a lot of money, if any. And that might be one way to get yourself in a position to land a full time job as we come out of the especially,

Mindy Thomas:

That’s all great advice. And I know a lot of millennials are using technology and I am so impressed with their ability, even when it comes to real estate. Right now, they’re doing those intros and those, um, uh, the drone, uh, views of your home and using Facebook and all the social media platforms to market your house. And, um, but there are some folks that just aren’t as technology savvy, they have four connections on LinkedIn. They really don’t know a lot about, they don’t know a lot of people. And then in fact, we have the introverts of the world next week, I’m having on an introverted coach who wrote a book on how to survive out here. Um, but to your, um, in your opinion, what do you think that those folks should do clearly? The other side knows what to do?

Mike Bird:

Yeah. I mean, it’s, it is tough. And I would have said outside of COVID times, if you wanted to kind of resort to more of a traditional, offline method of developing a network, it would have been easier to go to networking events or meetups syringe, one on one coffee dates with people that were in industries that you’re interested in and going into, I would say that, um, with kind of the change in the rules right now, I think the best position people are going to be those that, that sort of adjust their sales to the changing wind and do something to kind of take a step forward in terms of developing an online presence. Uh, if you’re still more comfortable meeting people, you know, in, in more one-on-one settings and more face to face like we are right now, then continue to look to do that through your current actual network of friends, contacts, uh, you know, pick up the phone. That’s something that a lot of people in generation Y and generation Z are not comfortable doing, but it’s not that hard once you’ve done it, a small handful of thens. And it’s a really great way of building a connection quite quickly with someone

Mindy Thomas:

Piggyback on that, they’re picking up the phone, who are they calling?

Mike Bird:

They’re going to call people who ideally are in the spaces that they want to be working in. Maybe they have a friend who has a friend working in a company of interest, and you can get on the phone with them even for five to 10 minutes and arrange some sort of an informational interview. I mean, three or four really concrete questions and a healthy respect for the amount of time they’re giving, because that’s something that any busy people don’t have a lot of. Um, but getting a sense of what that company might be like if you were to work there and giving that person who is currently working in the charter company, a chance to get to know you and potentially talk about you to other colleagues who you also could have a chance to meet through that first contact.

Mindy Thomas:

Well, this is all great information for our recent college graduates. We have to take a short break, Mike, we’ll be right back. Please stay with us. Our sponsors are going to give you a little message and we’ll be right back. Thank you. It shouldn’t that we had with the cat was really entertaining and enlightening. We were able to put together some very specific steps that we as individuals can take. And it was really fun to all come together and see sort of where we’re going as a team and how we can all get there together.

Mike Bird:

We had a tremendous experience with the beat cap partners. One of the challenges that we have as an organization is to make sure that we have the right people in the right chairs doing the right thing.

Mindy Thomas:

Well, you have to have synergy. You can try to dream up ways to make sure that your group does that, or you can rely on experts.

Mike Bird:

We would recommend out partners to anybody. Who’s looking to take their organization to the next level. [inaudible] a big house. How do I look? Do I look good? My nails done once a month. I want a home last year, more than 30,000 companion animals came to us without homes. 20,000 of them were feed lines. Let’s make some homes together.

Mindy Thomas:

Hi everybody. If you are just joining us, we are with Mike Bird, a generation Z career coach coming out of Montreal, Canada. Mike, welcome back to the show. Let’s get right back to this job search and the challenges our young people are facing today using networking and online connections. How can people overcome the obstacles that they’re facing right now in connecting with others?

Mike Bird:

Yeah, so I mean, one of the great gifts of the internet is that it does kind of put a lot of the world at our fingertips, which wasn’t the case 10, 20 years ago with platforms like LinkedIn, kind of becoming what they are now. So if you have a chance to actually get in front of someone, and sometimes it’s going to take a number of cold outreach calls or messages to kind of actually find success with, um, you’ll be surprised in terms of who out there in the world is kind of feeling your pain. Maybe even live some version of your story themselves and is willing to help you out. So I strongly encourage people to, uh, definitely don’t be afraid of cold outreach and asking questions to people valuing their time, kind of something that I alluded to earlier, but really not being too intimidated by a space like LinkedIn or networking space in general, a lot of people who like to network understand that it’s usually a value exchange where people are helping one another and it doesn’t have to be quite as scary as a lot of people think it is

Mindy Thomas:

Amazing. The networking is, I think, far superior to then before COVID, it’s just, I don’t know, people are helping people and they’re just generously giving of themselves. And I, I just love what I’m seeing, uh, particularly on LinkedIn. It’s, it’s just a wonderful, wonderful platform. And you know, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’ll be left out. If you’re sitting out there and you’re saying, Oh, I don’t like to be digitally represented. I don’t need this. You do need it. And that’s a hundred percent. So when you’re talking about survival jobs, many recent grads are like, should I take a survival job? Um, while I’m waiting for those jobs to open up what you say, I say, yes,

Mike Bird:

That’s survival is the first, uh, uh, area of need for you. Yeah. You’ve got to take care of having some food in you and a roof over your head, uh, networking and running a great resume. Looks like a really distant challenge if you just can’t take care of yourself and the basic necessities. So, and I appreciate that some people have a lot more, uh, of a runway and some time and just resources at their disposal to be able to focus on networking. But yes, if you really have to take care of yourself or maybe even people around you, don’t be afraid to take a job. It’s a very noble thing to trade a piece of your life for money and the opportunity to continue to live. I’m paraphrasing a little bit from Jim Brown when I say that, but all jobs are valuable in many ways. So don’t be afraid of that. Yeah.

Mindy Thomas:

Yes. And I think that most people know we’ve all experienced an unprecedented event and that if you are, for example, doing contact tracing right now in urine, environmental science major, we get it. We understand that you took that job, uh, and, and are contributing to society and helping in a very small way, uh, during these times you agree.

Mike Bird:

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. People should feel like that. Uh, especially if you are sort of on the front line or you’re in an, in an essential service that, uh, the lives of a lot of other people be really, really hurt in terms of just how they go about their day to day, if you were not there. So I, I believe that you should feel even more empowered in the work that you do. If that’s your situation,

Mindy Thomas:

What are some major fo paws in your mind that when we looking at resumes and LinkedIn, that you would highly suggest that our college grads not do?

Mike Bird:

Yeah. Well, the link, I think between the two, I think is one place to start off and that’s that a lot of people just sort of take whatever’s on their resume up until now. They’ve kind of put that onto LinkedIn and that’s a really big, missed opportunity. LinkedIn is a really creative space and it offers you a chance to tell your story offers you a chance obviously to meet new people virtually. But if you are just sort of taking a very technical document, like a resume and you’re putting it on, uh, you know, the internet, it’s, it’s just not going to be as attractive a thing for people to check out and engage with. That’s really what LinkedIn is about. It’s about selling yourself, not just to a hiring manager, but to people who could be in different industry verticals, people who could be your superior.

Mike Bird:

So it could be your direct colleagues, people who could be reporting to you one day. So don’t just look at it as, uh, as a copy of your resume on the resume itself. I think a lot of people just don’t tailor their work enough in that resume to the audience that they’re trying to apply to. So if you’re, um, you know, let’s just say you’re going into software development and you know, that a company is really, really on all languages like HTML five and CSS three, like the looking for a front end developer, if your resume is talking about, uh, you know, using Firebase and network routers, it’s just not speaking the same language as the employer. And you need to tweak and tailor the language so that it does resonate with the person who’s picking up the resume.

Mindy Thomas:

It’s a big challenge for folks to get that. Yes. Do I need a different resume for every job? Well, if you’re an accountant, you don’t need an resume that changes. But certainly if you’re an attorney applying for a lobbying job in Washington or a job in higher education or for a private law firm, or as an assistant district attorney, you need four different resumes. Hello. Right. Um, so I think that that’s really an important point customization, and I think some people are getting it and then there’s a whole other population that just is not others. Other tips and tricks that you have for recent graduates.

Mike Bird:

Yeah. I mean, take one step at a time. If you’re really scared to meet people, if you’re intimidated by a job posting, if you feel like you only have 30% of the criteria, there’s nothing wrong with applying to a post and seeing if it does actually connect or not. I think getting a sense of how competitive different companies are within an industry space is something that can be very, very helpful. I mean, we know this big tech firm, for example, receives hundreds and hundreds, and sometimes maybe even thousands of applications for a post, and you don’t have to swing for the fences and start your career necessarily there. It’s okay to enter the job market at the beginning of your career in a company that is not benefiting from such a strong brand and may not have its choice of candidates. And that’s where you can really, if you’re stuck, just going after sort of the dream job all of the time, it’s okay to take a more entry-level approach and then work from there. Once you have some experience,

Mindy Thomas:

I agree with you, Mike, and you know what I noticed this week, I was writing an it help desk resume, uh, for a recent graduate who cannot land an interview anywhere. And I looked at the resume. I said, Oh, I know I can do better. It turns out that this young man has been doing freelance. It consulting for the last five years. He’s been building and repairing computers since he was a young teen. And all that we have on his resume is the landscape job and which, which actually he has a manager, a manager role, right? So we’ve got non-related experience. And then we have related experience. And the way I spin it is he has been in fact, doing freelance consulting, most of it on paid, some of it paid, but doing everything that they’re for in the help desk job description, and the thought never occurred to him like, Oh, well, that I’ve been doing, but I don’t know how well he didn’t know how to represent it, but he didn’t even think to put it down.

Mindy Thomas:

Also the technical competencies, there should be a section and it turns out my client has a section this long. It was unbelievable. When I said, let me, let me see what you can do. And he relayed all this information to me. And I was like, wow, this is impressive. He now looks like a very viable candidate for these entry level helped us support it, support network engineer positions. So I think a lot of young people are selling themselves short by not including these assignments as consulting. They don’t call it consulting, but they’ve been giving away their knowledge and experience for free. In many cases. Do you find that too, also on your end?

Mike Bird:

Yeah, totally. There’s a really big miss there in terms of just not seeing the fact that you’ve been providing value in other places and at the end of the day, it’s often not so much about, do you have a job title or do you have a degree that coincides with the posting? Do you just have a proven track record of, of solving the problems that are currently being faced by the employer? Because that’s why the employer is looking to hire. I think when people start to kind of flip themselves around and see the hiring process from the standpoint of someone who’s actually need of an employee, they can start to speak their language. The resume becomes a lot more customized, as we’ve said, you start to realize that, Oh, some of that experience I wasn’t really thinking too highly about is really relevant and yes, it can dramatically change the profile of something.

Mindy Thomas:

Interesting. You know, Mike, I know that you, you’re surrounded by a lot of stories in the naked city. Can you share with us just a few? Um, I think we have time for like one or two, um, about folks that have been successful, including yourself, any, um, tools that you’ve used to become more successful coming out of college.

Mike Bird:

Yeah. I wish I could say that. I was aware of what I know now. Of course, I think that’s probably true for a lot of us. What I have learned over the last 10 years in my professional life is that, uh, people hire people in. That was how I got my first job coming out of college. That’s how I got into most of the subsequent jobs that I’ve held in my life. Um, and that if we are stuck going through the process of one application after another, there’s usually a better use of our time out there that we need to start tapping into. And it’s usually related to people and deepening our relationships with them. I can think of a gentleman. I went to, um, again with my college and, uh, he was part of the football team and I was working with the team throughout my degree.

Mike Bird:

Uh, it just turned out that, uh, we had an alumnus of the school of the football program in particular, who, uh, is, was at the time and still is in NHL player age in a very big one at the time. I think he was representing about one fifth of all the professional hockey players in the NHL. And this young man basically just started a conversation with him at an event. And, uh, it led to the fact that because they had some common ground they’d experienced similar things in their lives, they obviously shared this university connection. Um, he was granted something along the lines of an internship position with him and 10, 11 years later, uh, that guy is still employed at that firm as a full blown NHL player agent. So it’s, it’s amazing just how a small, simple conversation, one relationship can dramatically shape your life.

Mindy Thomas:

Oh, that is a great, great story. You know, people, people hire people. They like

Mike Bird:

Absolutely. Yeah

Mindy Thomas:

Job. When you go into an interview and now we have the zoom interviewing. I know we have to close in just a minute, but comments on zoom interviewing for our recent grads.

Mike Bird::

Yeah. I think if you’re really struggling to be on camera and just for whatever reason, you don’t like the zoom interface and just having someone glued to you, uh, do something like, and it might sound funny, but go out and create a Facebook live and YouTube live Instagram live like practice being on camera and being yourself at the end of the day, you want to be able to show up as your best self on that interview day. And if you’re just sort of worrying about how the person is checking your lighting or whatever, it’s going to be really distracting, but the whole process of you demonstrating the value and how you can solve their problems. So go out there, be on camera and become a lot more confident as a result.

Mindy Thomas:

That’s a great way to practice the real interview. Mike, I want to thank you so much for making time today to talk to our audience. How do people reach you? How can they connect with you? Um, from my audience?

Mike Bird:

Yeah. So I would say the best, the two best ways to find me. They can go to my website, which is coach wazo.com was always my, my last name, a bird written in French, Y S U U uh, the other place that you can catch me pretty frequently. Once a week, as you said, is on the career builders podcast, they can just go to career builders, podcasts.com and listen to all of our back episodes. We’ve had a number of guests that I believe you’ve also interviewed as well. So that’d be another great place to go to

Mindy Thomas:

My mayor. Cebu CU, let’s see to my audience. Thank you so much for joining us today. We will see here. See you here next week. Same time, same place, have a great and safe, happy week. Bye everybody.

 

Your Career is Your Business. Isn’t it Time For You to Manage it Like a CEO?

Please call Professional Career Counselor Mindy Thomas, MS, CPRW, CLC, CJC, CJDC directly at 610.937.5632 or send us a message. Our offices are located in suburban Philadelphia at 221 North Olive Street in Media, PA, close to Wilmington DE, NYC and Washington DC.