The Power of Collaboration



By Mary Ann Faremouth,

 

It’s interesting how something from your past can have relevance for today. The other day, a song from the late 1960’s popular band Three Dog Night popped into my head and got me thinking. The song is entitled: “One Is The Loneliest Number.”

 

The song speaks to a relationship–or lack thereof– between a couple. As I listened to it, I was struck by how the lyrics could also relate to the relationship between a person and the world around him/herself. The isolation many of us have experienced with the pandemic might just make the words of this song meaningful for many.

 

In 1969, when this song was written, many changes were taking place in the world. There were many anti-war demonstrations about the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the most famous Woodstock music festival which took place on New York Farm, the mushrooming of peace signs everywhere, and on July 20 of this same year one of humankind’s crowning achievements when American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon and uttered the famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

 

And now, with four (4) months into the new year of 2021, how can we all take a “Giant Leap” into a better place?  How can we make our own “new discoveries”?  How can we avoid the emptiness of “One is the Loneliest Number” when there is still so much isolation, such painfully minimal interaction with co-workers, family, friends, even neighbors.  How can we move to a happier place filled with growth and challenges, especially in our careers?  That’s when I began thinking about Collaboration.

 

I recently came across an article by Claudio Fernandez-Aroa in the Harvard Business Review where he says: “The landmark research in the early 1970’s by Mark Granovetter on how people find good jobs remains relevant today despite the big changes in roles and recruitment that we’ve seen during the last 50 years.   Studying professional, technical, and managerial job seekers, Granovetter found that most jobs (especially good ones) were not acquired through direct application or other formal means”– that is, submitting a resume by mail in response to a listing (now online)–but which are now acquired “through personal contacts, who told the applicant about the position or recommended him or her to someone inside the organization.”

 

As a professional career consultant since the early 1980’s, I have seen people find jobs in a variety of ways. But I do believe putting forth a collaborative effort to work with others, tap into networking or professional contacts through groups and associations, contacting previous bosses or colleagues…are all definitely good strategies to employ to find a job or expand the one you currently have.

 

And at the very least, personal growth is probably best facilitated by talking with like-minded folks in social situations, online or in-person, who contribute their ideas and experiences that allow you to expand your vantage point to be able to become a more well-informed, interesting person.

 

I know for me personally, the many on-line courses and associations I have experienced have fostered more interesting relationships and allowed me to grow in ways I probably never would have if the pandemic had not occurred. Before the world-changing pandemic, I didn’t put forth the collaborative effort to learn from others.  And not just in the U.S, but from all over the world.

 

Let’s take a look at some key areas that relate to collaboration, that employers have told me in my 30 year career have made them seek out a candidate over some other applicant who has not put forth a more personal and collaborative effort.   Let’s see if any of these suggestions might help you to expand your skillset or add to your toolbox, even motivate you to encourage a child or relative or friend to look at employment differently.

 

1. Membership to Professional Organizations – Many of my clients who are members of one of more of the professional organizations I belong to are impressed when a candidate has invested in membership in professional organizations. That tells the prospective employer a candidate is truly serious in the industry specialization, and also that the candidate wants to foster good relationships with others who may become prospective customers, contacts, or colleagues, etc.,   Also, professional organization like Toastmasters or Rotary clubs that allow a person to expand leadership skills as well as presentation ability are looked upon in a positive light by current and prospective employers.  Additionally, the relationships a candidate develops from these associations can become invaluable in both a professional as well as personal growth area.  I have many relationships that I have had the pleasure of having in my profession that were acquired because of collaborative efforts we worked on in the past that allowed us to refine our skills for current and future projects.

 

2. Early Training and Development Organizations  – Involving young people in groups like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, etc., build life-long skills that are very transferrable to the workplace as well as life in general.  One that really stands out to me is the “Eagle Scout” program.  I have had numerous clients make reference to the skills and leadership initiatives taught in an Eagle Scout program that they hold in very high esteem. These programs teach collaborative efforts that allow young people to work towards goals with others to accomplish a task that demonstrates perseverance, team building, and focused determination.

 

3. Community Engagement – Although these efforts might have been limited the last year due to pandemic safety measures, working on volunteer programs often fosters many good benefits for others that demonstrate to a prospective employer that the candidate is perhaps the type of person that wants to contribute to the greater good of society at large.  Now, more than ever, employers are looking at people who want to “give” as opposed to “take” in the New Work World. Belonging to organizations like Big Brothers, becoming a mentor at a school, etc., never fails to impress prospective employers or customers.

 

Knowing and articulating how you collaborate with others can be an asset in the current and future job market.  Don’t let “One is the Loneliest Number” be your mantra going forward.  With careful considerations in place, whether that means wearing a mask, social distancing, vaccines, or more online activity, etc., you can make your own “Giant Leap” and experience new ways that will allow you to expand your own possibilities and opportunities in the New Work World.  And if you can make a valuable contribution to society in the process, your own self-esteem and personal relationships will grow.  It’s a win-win for everyone and you might be finding yourself singing your own “new song’ for many years to come!

 

Mary Ann Faremouth 

Mary Ann holds a CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) credential, was certified by the Board of Regents of the National Association of Personnel Consultants in Washington, D.C., and was awarded an Advanced Communicator Bronze,  Advanced Leader Bronze Awards by Toastmasters. She cofounded Jobs: Houston magazine in 1997. Mary Ann maintains affiliations with professional organizations, including oil and gas, financial, construction, IT, and structural, mechanical, and civil engineering. (www.faremouth.com)

Mary Ann’s award-winning first book Revolutionary Recruiting has been listed by Book Authority as Number #1 Best 100 Recruiting Books; #1 Best Seller, Non-Fiction, Amazon (2019); Top 20 Recruiting books, Recruitics; Readers’ Choice finalist (2019), Houston Literary Awards; Best Non-Fiction (2018), Best Cover (2019), and Best Self-Help (2018), Authors Marketing Guild. Her books support individuals and corporations, tap into each candidate’s unrealized potential to find the right person for each job, maximizing both employee satisfaction and the employer’s bottom line. Mary Ann showcases her expertise of the recruiting world on a monthly podcast for The Price of Business and weekly articles for USA Business.  Her new workbook, Revolutionary Reinvention, was recently released on Amazon. Mary Ann lives in Houston, Texas.

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