On the Job Promotion and Training with Rick Gillis and Robert David

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives. TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.

Today’s guests are Rick Gillis, Author and Coach and Robert David, Director of Corporate Professional Programs for the UC Berkeley Extension. To hear the entire show, click here.

On the show today, the first guest talks about the importance of self-promotion on the job while the second guest talks about training and skill development for employees.

Rick Gillistraining

Rick Gillis had always been a sales guy before he accidentally got into job search coaching. He helped launch the very first job board in Houston back in 1997 when search engines were yet to get popular. It was small venture started by three people in a dining room. For the first year and a half, in absence of search engines, they provided databases and used to call and get in touch with HR people, business leaders and staffing companies. Within the first two months he was called by the Texas Employment Commission to speak to job seekers on how to use Internet for their job search.

Fast forward that to today, when he has written almost four books on job search. He had never anticipated becoming an author considering he was a sales guy. But it all started with his initial meetings with HR professionals at companies like Compaq, Exxon and so on where he went to pitch the idea of using the Internet for job search and he would have CEOs and executives come to him asking questions about this new tool. He realized there was a great interest and that led him to this career path.

Promote Yourself

In the 18 years that he has been working in this field, Gillis has learned that fundamentally the biggest problem that almost everybody has is that they are not capable of speaking to the value they will bring to an organization. “If you cannot go in and express the value you are going to deliver you’re pretty much wasting everybody’s time in an interview. It’s a mindset and it’s all about adding value. What they’re going to pay is going to take care of itself once you prove your value,” says Gillis. He provides this training to executives and job seekers and they’ve seen a lot of success.

As a business coach, Gillis realized that people are not doing a good job of promoting themselves enough on the job. He has worked with a lot of people who have been laid off in the past and in most cases the problem was that they were highly talented but neglected to promote themselves at work. He also finds very few women negotiate salary during interviews. Through his coaching he gives them the confidence to negotiate and not be afraid of losing the job. With men he has seen many getting complacent after a certain age and they stop showing their value. That is a dangerous territory according to Gillis. The key is to continuously promote yourself appropriately. “This is different from bragging and boasting. It is about communicating and informing the supervision of your values on a continuing basis. You need to take the time and find the opportunity, whether it’s at coffee or lunch, to let your boss know that you came in and devoted four extra hours of your time on Saturday helping someone in marketing get their deal together. You have to make sure that people know,” he emphasizes. Often, people have trouble identifying and quantifying their value. This idea of promoting oneself and the techniques of doing it right have found their place in his new book called ”Promote.”

From Being a Rockstar to Business Coach and Author

“When I got out of high school I wanted to be a rockstar!” exclaims Gillis. He has a complete studio setup at his home with guitars, bass and recording gear. But over the years that has become a serious hobby. After getting over the rockstar phase, Gillis worked in commercial real estate for a decade. He happened to move to Houston later because his wife got into a law school over there. He took it easy for a year trying to explore what he wanted to do when the job board sales job came his way. In fact, he says they didn’t ask him for a job but he convinced them that they needed him.

That was his first foray into the job search space. He met a lot of people who needed support and most information on the job search process is very dated. This is when he decided to dedicate his career to helping job seekers. He calls himself a digital dinosaur as he was one of the pioneers of the digital job boards business. He believes he is not a career coach but a job search mechanic who helps people get the most out of the tools that are available. He helps them successfully navigate the resume filtering software which keeps a lot of candidates out of the process. His previous book “Job!” is a primer to build resumes that successfully get through the filtering software.

What Are You Reading?

Gillis suggests reading his newest book Promote!which he recently rewrote entirely. It is about promoting oneself at work.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Rick via his website www.rickgillis.com

Robert Davidtraining

Robert David is the Director of Corporate Professional Programs at UC Berkeley Extension and is responsible for all the outreach to companies around the world to provide impactful and relevant training to staff and managers. The companies include small, medium and large-sized firms, for profits and nonprofits and government organizations.

Doing outreach for corporate clients is something David has done through his entire professional career. He finds helping companies train their people and achieve their goals very inspiring and motivating.

Current Landscape

Most firms are doing a great job of on-boarding new hires. They have extensive resources for executive education for senior level staff including 360 reviews, coaching and mentoring. Korn Ferry which is an HR recruiting firm has written about what they call the ‘vital many’ which includes all the hundreds of contributors and middle managers who are not always getting the continuous learning both in soft skills such as communication and emotional intelligence as well as hard skills such as sales, technology and accounting. Training in these areas is of great need for this level of employees.

According to David, on the education front there are five things that are must-haves:

  1. Leadership
  2. Influence
  3. Big data decision making
  4. Negotiation
  5. Innovation

For attracting and retaining talent in medium-sized companies, it is important to do surveys and identify what skills are missing and what competency gaps need to be addressed. Culture management is an area where a lot of companies have problems. Often leaders trying to find their own managerial culture err on being too harsh or too lenient. Employers can help managers succeed by encouraging them to understand that their co-workers are not their enemies, that they should lead by example and not play favorites.


David mentions the book Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Ageby Reid Hoffman and two other people from LinkedIn. One of the main themes of the books is the idea around tours of duty and that people will stay in a particular job for about two or three years which is very typical of most millennials. The company wants to keep these employees and not want them to job hop after investing time and money on their training and engagement. The struggle this issue provides is the need to continuously have the workforce trained for what’s next. Training can help address the need for forward thinking.

Personal Development

David recommends a book written by two UC Berkeley professors called “The Other “F” Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work. There are some great lessons on failure to be learned from that book. You can learn from your failures and by seeing people doing things the wrong way.

What Are You Reading?

Robert David is currently reading Are You Fully Charged?: The Three Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life” by New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath. The book focuses on changes we can make to create better days for ourselves and others.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Robert via UC Berkeley’s corporate website http://corporate.berkeley.edu

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